What Black Leader?

William Reed, Louisiana Weekly, August 10, 2009

Instead of irate demands to correct disparities of America’s discriminatory past, Blacks who have been designated by the mainstream as our “leaders” are caught up in the drama of whether such disparities even exist.

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Blacks need advocates for racial justice in America. So if not Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, who? Black Americans make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, but on average die younger than whites, earn less money, are more likely to be imprisoned and get less education. Who has the “street-cred” to speak, and be heard, on Black issues and aspirations?

Who do you say is “da man”? Name five leading and living Blacks and undoubtedly, Nation of Islam head Minister Louis Farrakhan will be on the list. {snip} The Farrakhan Factor is activism among Blacks and avocation of a racial definition (or re-definition) of Black national identity, as opposed to multiculturalism.

Farrakhan has been a major voice on Black issues and interests for 30 years. The nationally-circulated Final Call newspaper has been a staple in African Americans’ homes since he founded it in 1979. The Final Call is in the tradition of Black Nationalist philosophies and principles of 1) Black pride, and 2) economic, political, social and/or cultural independence from white society.

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Sadly, most people naming five Black Leaders would include President Obama on the list. But, Obama has revealed himself to be ambivalent on the need to confront racial disparities. His practice has been to rely on Blacks in mainstream media to talk to African Americans. If Obama wants to reach Black America he should engage with Blacks who actually have the ear and interests of Black Americans. Black publishers, Farrakhan, et al., are the established messengers to Blacks in America.

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