Someone please note the date: I am about to do something I swore would never happen. I am about to agree with Oliver Willis on something, and it’s this piece of his here.
But before I go into a discussion about the leadership of blacks in America, let me spell out my qualifications for discussing matters of race: none. I am a white guy who’s lived his entire life in one of the whitest states in the union. In fact, once you get away from Manchester and Nashua and the college towns, blacks are incredibly scarce around New Hampshire.
But Oliver, as is his wont, does an incredibly shallow take on the idea. Since he’s apparently constitutionally incapable of doing so, I feel I must step up to the plate and do the heavy lifting.
The first thing that occurs to me is that the Left howls over “the religious right,” but look at the three black leaders Oliver cites. REVEREND Jesse Jackson. REVEREND Al Sharpton. MINISTER Louis Farrakhan. All ordained members of the clergy, and all all have been tainted with scandals. Conservatives are roundly condemned for even acknowledging their belief in God, yet these three clowns are actual “men of God” who are all highly politically active. So much for the vaunted “separation of church and state” we hear so much about.
The second thought I had was that there are several blacks who have achieved a great deal, and hold (or have held) high positions and are held in great esteem. They would seem naturals for the position of “black leaders,” but they have shown no interest in such jobs. Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice seem to be focused on making their mark on history for their deeds, not their race. They are more concerned with all of America than just their fellow black Americans.
And what does that get them? Usually, heaping insults and slams. There’s a black activist in Boston named “Sadiki” who calls in to talk shows whenever race comes up. I’ve heard him repeatedly speak of “Condoleeza White Rice,” “Semi-Colon Powell,” and call Clarence Thomas an “Oreo” — black on the outside, white on the inside. The legacy — and label — of “Uncle Tom” lives on.
Finally, one final question Oliver probably can’t even conceive, but I think should be addressed: do we really need “black leaders?” Or, perhaps, should we focus more on “black leaders” in the sense of “leaders who are black,” not “leaders of blacks?” Over the last 40 years, the so-called “black leadership” has evolved into an adjunct of the Democratic party, a faction that routinely shakes down the Democrats for money and other concessions in exchange for making sure the black vote for the Democrats is suitably high. And even that has been dropping of late.
Maybe it’s time to “mainstream” the black political movement into the American body politic, and away from the permenant victim status the current leadership seems bound and determined to preserve. Bring the mainstream blacks fully into the system, while Jackson, Sharpton, and Farrakhan are cut adrift and left to fade into the oblivion they so richly deserve.