Black Heritage Month: Week 3–Black Leadership

24 02 2012

Do We Still Need Black Leaders?” is the question Britni Danielle unpacked in Clutch Magazine this month. She mostly pulls from a more substantial article in the Washington Post by Kevin Powell, one of the new breed of “Black activists”. Powell writes in “Black Leadership is dead. Long Live Black Leadership“:

“This search for a national leader of the black community does a great disservice to the influential young African Americans who’ve done powerful activism, in some form, for a number of years. They hail from fields ranging from education (Dr. Zoe Spencer, Steve Jackson) to media (Melissa Harris Perry, Marc Lamont Hill) to technology (Malaney Hill, Tracey Cooper).”

The gist of both Powell’s and Danielle’s writings is that searching for a “de facto” Black leader to represent all Black concerns is futile. Leadership needs to come from a range of places in order to represent the myriad (and common) concerns faced by the varying economic, social, and political shades of the Black community. The very fact that we as a people continue to be trapped by this model means that true Black Leadership is either not recognized, or there are sectors of the community where a void is left.

While Powell’s bent and argument is decidedly left-leaning, I agree with the essence of his piece. I have long said that “Black Leaders” that are paraded in front of our face by the media and political class mostly represent themselves and their myopic point of view: whether they be an academic like Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, or a hack like Jesse Jackson. Powell makes an excellent point that the election of our first Black President, hailed with pomp, circumstance, and the supposed fulfillment of a “post-racial” America has led to dissatisfaction among the very Blacks that helped usher him into office. It is high time to chuck the model of some national voice or leader, and recognize the leadership that has already risen to address the specific faces and concerns of our communities.

And why does it always have to be about political or social activism? Back in the day it was about protecting and promoting strong Black families, communities, and supporting the education and spiritual growth of our people. The “activism” came into play by necessity–it wasn’t always the mode of operation. Activism is not all that Black Leadership entails, and often activism takes different shapes and forms. Hattie McDaniel and James Baldwin were as much activists as Sojourner Truth or A. Philip Randolph.

Merely thinking in terms of activism excludes a number of our leaders who are simply excellent at what they do, and give back to their people and the community in front of–and behind–the scenes. They lead with the fruit of their life and gifts, rather than the mounting of a soapbox. Both Powell and Danielle point out that behind the visible leadership of a Frederick Douglass or Dr. Martin Luther King were many other Black (and white) leaders and voices who partnered with these visionaries to see change come about.

My take? Stop looking for a leader, and be one.

 

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Black Heritage Month: Week 2–Black Genocide

16 02 2012

I recently read an article in Religion Dispatches by Sikivu Hutchinson titled “God’s Body, God’s Plan: The Komen Furor and Abortion as Black/Latino ‘Genocide'”. An interesting, and well-written read, though I thorougly disagree with everything she posits.

Ms. Hutchinson holds to the argument that a woman’s “right” to do with her body what she wishes should be wholesale protected by the government. It’s part of “reproductive justice” and that blanket term: “family planning”. She holds the belief that the ills suffered by women and children of color are because these services are not readily available and protected, and that the pro-life lobby and its work to eradicate abortion is part of the work to maintain a racist power structure. Huh?

Specifically in her cross-hairs is a group called The International Coalition of Color for Life, founded by Eve Sanchez Silver. Ms. Hutchinson first minimizes Ms. Sanchez Silver, a Latina, with the throwaway description of her background: “a former medical research analyst for and charter member of the Komen Foundation, has been a leading advocate against Planned Parenthood within Komen.”

In fact, Ms. Sanchez Silver is more than that–she has a very impressive background in science and research. You can read her bio and find out for yourself. She also resigned from Komen after they chose to develop a relationship with Planned Parenthood;  so the “within Komen” statement is misleading, if not false.

In typical liberal fashion, Ms. Hutchinson cherry picks and uses the most stark images and statements from the website to build a straw man argument against the notion that abortion is being used as a form of Black Genocide. She sees abortion as a necessary service to help protect women of color, and prevent the high rate of out-of-wedlock births, foster children and incarcerated youth of color. Since Roe v. Wade’s institution in 1973, the United States has legally protected a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. Yet, none of those rates she mentions have been reduced–in fact, some of them have increased. You would think close to 40 years of abortion rights would have proven her argument, but apparently not.

Ms. Hutchinson also argues that to use Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger‘s work and writings as a basis  “to vilify abortion, anti-abortion foes of color are actually savaging women’s right to agency.” Ms. Hutchinson even parades out the black leaders who were Sanger’s contemporaries, who backed her work: Dr. Martin Luther King, Mary McCleod Bethune, Ida B. Wells, and so on. This feels equivalent to certain Blacks paraded out by news organizations and political parties to prove their cause is just; however, it gives no basis of proof toward the validity of the cause just because certain people of color support it. But, I digress.

As a pro-life Black woman, I have watched this debate on both side for years. As a writer, I’ve seen the massaging of terms and wording on both sides to try to reshape the argument in their favor. Those opposed to abortion have re-crafted the language from “anti-abortion” to “pro-life”, from “crisis pregnancy centers” to “women’s centers” in order to re-frame their point-of-view. On the converse, terms like “family planning”, “reproductive rights”, and “birth control” are being used in the same way, to camouflage the fact that the act of abortion is central to their focus.

And now the latest term of “women’s health care” is being used to support the so-called pro-choice advocacy for wholesale government-funding of abortions and abortifacients.  A position strongly supported by our first Black President, who claims to “respect” religious liberties, even when he continues to trample upon them. Catholic Bishops aren’t buying it, and from their Wall Street Journal editorial, neither are David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Edward Whelan:

President Obama claims to respect Religious Liberties–offers token compromise

WSJ: Birth Control Mandate–Unconstitutional and Illegal.

I took enough women’s studies classes where Ms. Sanger’s goals and writings were presented in a glowing light, to have made up my own mind about her: she was a racist with genocidal intentions wrapped in a pretty package of benevolence.

Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist, and believed (as much as Adolph Hitler) in an elite race, and the elimination of any inferior races that would poison the well. Hitler had the Jews, homosexuals, and the infirm on his hit list; Sanger had the “feeble-minded”, poor immigrants, and minorities on hers. Her argument for “birth control” was to work toward the limitation of those inferior elements, so that superior races could thrive. Books like The Pivot of Civilization, and Women and the New Race trumpet these beliefs with brazen authority. Taken on their face, they present logical arguments that are totally antithesis to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness for anyone except those she deemed “fit”.

With 17-million (and counting) black babies aborted through the work of Planned Parenthood, the organization Ms. Sanger founded seems well on its way to accomplishing her vision. While the Rev. Al Sharpton, Michael Eric Dyson, and other supposed black leaders are obsessed with calling anyone who opposes President Obama and his policies a racist, and slapping labels of “Uncle Tom” and “House Nigga” on Black conservatives like Shelby Steele and Congressman Allen West, you hear crickets from these same leaders about Planned Parenthood’s targeting of minority communities under the guise of “family planning” and “women’s health”.

Just as W.E.B. Dubois and Dr. Martin Luther King, were seduced by Margaret Sanger’s benevolent claims to understand and assist in the “Negro problem”, we have our modern-day equivalents advocating and shilling for “women’s reproductive rights” for a number of reasons. Some have drunk the Kool-Aid, others want the media recognition, but many others either want the financial gain (read: campaign contributions) or the votes. So, not much has changed.

Like Sikivu Hutchinson, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution argues that the term “Black Genocide” is nonsense. Also like Ms. Hutchinson, Ms. Tucker uses ONE pro-life advocate (Johnny Hunter of Life Education and Resource Network-LEARN) as her whipping boy, pointing out how radical he is because he considers abortion a means to wipe out the black race. So extreme!

She builds her own straw man argument with these ridiculous statements:

“Oddly, the most vociferous critics of Planned Parenthood are also the least likely to support plans and proposals that might actually lower the abortion rate — among black women as well as among white and brown women.”

Abstinence education, and women’s centers that cater to ladies with unplanned pregnancies and offer alternatives that don’t involve termination are funded and supported by these critics she talks about. But I guess Ms. Tucker doesn’t consider those viable plans and proposals to getting the abortion rate down.

And then, Ms. Tucker trumpets her biggest fallacy: ” If birth control pills and devices were cheaper and more widely available, more women would use them. Unplanned pregnancies would drop. The abortion rate would decline.”

My young-adult niece would go to parties in Hollywood where they passed out free contraceptive samples and free condoms. When I had no insurance, this Black woman found discounts on my birth control pills. Heck, they pass out free condoms  in schools–so WHAT is Ms. Tucker talking about?

The Guttmacher Institute presented a revelatory report on Abortions in the United States. Just a snippet of their findings:

“Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use.” (emphases mine.)

So more than half of abortions sought were by women who used contraception either incorrectly or inconsistently. Ms. Tucker’s treatise has hit bottom, yet she continues to dig.

I am thankful that there is still a percentage of my people who refuse to fall for the twin ruses of “women’s health” and “women’s reproductive rights”. Organizations like The International Coalition of Color for LifeLEARNLife DynamicsThe National Black Pro-Life UnionNational Black Pro-Life Coalition, and hundreds of others, are taking a stand to battle the continued encroachment of deception and lies.

Saysumthn‘s WordPress blog did an awesome video presentation in 2010 highlighting religious and civic leaders, and every day people, who are choosing to stand up for the lives of Black babies. Though a few years old, it is even more relevant in 2012: Black Genocide: African-American Leaders Speak Out.

Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, and Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life made a statement opposing the abortion mandate housed in Obamacare. Dr. Alveda King said:

“What really is racist is singling out minorities, who now receive about two-thirds of the abortions in this country, for discriminatory treatment[…]”

 “Those of us who care about the civil rights of all Americans, born and unborn, oppose Obamacare because we oppose the expansion of the most racist industry in America – the abortion industry.”
Black people, where will you stand?




In My Orbit…

15 10 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday evening finds me circling the globes of religion and politics.

I have written a review of the fine documentary God in America for my Examiner column this week.  After you read it, I recommend seeing the documentary for yourself.  It has already aired in Los Angeles, and probably other major outlets, but you can still view it on the PBS.org website or purchase the DVDs. This is one series that is worth the price of admission, not only for its educational value, but because it puts the conversation about Religion back into the public square–where it should have remained.  “God in America”–the review.

And the Washington Post, no less hosts an opinion piece by Matthew Continetti entitled,  Five myths about Sarah Palin. Continetti lays out facts that dispel much of the rants and the chatter I get subjected to here on the Left Coast.  Whether she runs for President in 2012 or not, she daily debunks all the predictions and prognostications about her influence and viability as a political presence–I can appreciate that.

And also courtesy of WaPo, living proof the seemingly stuffy Charles Krauthammer has a sense of humor.  Your pre-election Post Mortem is both prescient and snarky!  He riffs on the unalterably damaged Carl Palladino, and gives deserved weight (and long overdue credit to Sarah Palin) to the rise of  Conservative Women.  Candidates from Sharron Angle of Nevada to Nikki Haley of South Carolina are giving the establishment, and their opponents a run for their money.  Girl Power–whoo hoo!

My favorite pull quote:

Most irresistible political name. New Hampshire Republican and Senate primary candidate Ovide Lamontagne. Sounds like a French-Greek poet declaiming in the streets of Nashua. Tragically, he lost.

Ovide, we hardly knew ye.”





In My Orbit

9 09 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What’s not in My Orbit, or everyone else’s today?  The news media, pundits, and bloggers won’t let go this “Pastor” in Gainsville, Florida who is threatening to burn the Qu’ran on 9-11.

As far as I’m concerned, they are all missing the point in fixating on Islam, Muslim reaction, and their favorite buzz word: hate.

The epistle of John says, “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  I not only question this man’s sanity, but whether he even knows God–here’s why:  Whatever you feel about Islam and Muslim extremism, is really not the point; it is categorically unloving to the victims, survivors and families of 9-11 to do such an act on the day when we remember, mourn and continue to seek answers.  It would be equivalent to anyone burning the American flag on the July 4 holiday!

But Lo, and Behold, an intrepid blogger has found a connection between this “Pastor” at Dove World Outreach Center, and the Westboro Baptist Church.  Why am I not surprised?  Good investigation and commentary: Qu’ran Burning Church Linked to Westboro…

Frankly, it’s another sad smoke and mirrors distraction from real news.  High on my list of real is Mayor Richard M. Daley (“Daley II”) choosing not to run for re-election.   I was 10 years old (and a bit of a political junkie even then) when Daley I (Richard M.) keeled over from a heart attack.  He had no plans of stepping down–the decision was made for him.  Apparently Daley II learned a cautionary tale from his Dad, and is quitting while he’s ahead.  His 21-year dynasty surpassed his father’s, along with the graft and corruption–but I digress.  His wife Maggie Daley is battling cancer, so I give him a hat tip for wanting to focus on her battle, rather than continue to line his own political nest.

There are rumors that Rahm Emmanuel wants to fill the shoes–not getting any love in the Obama Administration, it seems.  In America, there are two ways to set up a monarchy: Become a Senator or a Mayor.  For someone with ambitions like Emmanuel, a Presidential administration is small change.

My sister texted me with this message: “Woohoo the DYNASTY has CRUMBLED!!”  She expresses the sentiment of many a Chicagoan, current and former.  No matter where you live now, you never stop being a Chicagoan, nor are you disconnected from its curious form of politics.

Of course, we have an expert on this in the White House, so now the rest of the nation is getting intimately acquainted, whether they like it or not.





In My Orbit…

1 06 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Christianity and Census corruption in the crosshairs.

Starting with the dirty business of governance (or lack thereof), is James O’Keefe, intrepid citizen reporter.  After the Landrieu/Louisiana kerfuffle, he is bloodied, but unbowed, now focusing his hidden camera on the New Jersey Census Bureau.   It’s the same bad news coming from the New York Post that I blogged about in “Illustrating Absurdity” last week: the same workers being fired and rehired to pad job numbers, and posting hours that they didn’t work.  In his own words:

“I was told to take a 70 minute lunch break, was given an hour of travel time to drive 10 minutes, and was told to leave work at 3:30pm. I resigned prior to doing any data collection but confronted Census supervisors who assured me, ‘no one is going to be auditing that that level,’ and ‘nobody is going to be questioning it except for you.’ Another Census supervisor only said he’d adjust my pay after I gave him a letter recanting my hours.”

He has some choice words to say about the dinosaur media and their lack of interest in real news.  I say, go James–the gift that keeps on giving.  Undercover Census Fraud Investigation–New Jersey.

The New Life in Christ Church in Los Angeles, California is leading the way in multicultural outreach, as well as reflecting unity between two racial groups that are sometimes in conflict.

Pastor Elwood Carson began opening his church’s doors to the growing Latino community in its midst two years ago, and it is transforming the neighborhood, as well as birthing new ministry opportunities.  And Pastor Carson is not a young man–he’s 63, reflecting that a life led by the Spirit will always be the ones to usher in fresh works:

“Carson, 63, said most of the church’s longtime African-American parishioners support his focus on Hispanic outreach because it’s part of the church’s evangelical mission. But some complained and left.

‘They told me they have to deal with this at their jobs and they don’t want to deal with it at church,’ Carson said. ‘Some people don’t realize how prejudiced they are. So when they’re confronted with people from other cultures, they’re uncomfortable.'”

Blacks, Latinos worship in changing neighborhood.

My sister and brother-in-law began this type of multi-cultural work in Chicago years ago, as pastors of Evangel World Outreach Center.  It is beautiful to see the growing fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21: “that they will all be one, just as you and I are one….”

Rev. Susan Sparks, a Baptist preacher and stand up comic, no less, encouraged her fellow members of the cloth to incorporate humor in their sermons.  Humor abounded at the Baptist church I grew up in–most of it unintentional–so her message is long overdue.  A pull quote:

“‘We are preaching to people raised on sound bytes,’ she said. ‘You have to ask, is this relevant to the message and will they remember it?'”

Can I get an Amen?  Pastors urged to put the “Ha” in Hallelujah.








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