Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An African-American Woman's Voice in Modern American History

With the election of Barack Obama as America's first biracial president, the long history of race in the United States entered yet another new chapter. The many different phases of Black history, and of the civil rights struggle, have differed subtly yet importantly from each other. Each such phase requires a rethinking of the situation - the challenges and the tactics to meet them. Deneen Borelli, an African-American author, reflects on the latest changes:

Obama's election should have been a wakeup call to the traditional black leaders that their message was outdated. They should have taken a step back and reassessed their message of victimization and blame. The message needs to be recast. It should have either stopped Jesse Jackson and his friends in their tracks or perhaps forced them to strive for new relevance. So I have to ask myself - What are they thinking? Why aren't black leaders listening?

With a successful career in managerial marketing, Deneen Borelli wants to see opportunities for African-Americans. After volunteering for the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), and working with various media outlets, she came to see that there were two sets of would-be leaders in America's Black community. One set genuinely works to remove those economic obstacles which hinder African-Americans as they try to enter the middle class, and works to create a fair chance for each citizen. But the other set has no desire to help Blacks make it into the middle class; this other set of self-appointed leader seeks to enrich only itself, and in order to keep Blacks dependent on such leadership, this set seeks to keep Blacks in the status of economic and political victims. These cynical leaders needs a permanent set of victims; these cynical leaders claim to represent victims, and if there were no victims, these leaders would have no jobs. Speaking of such leaders, Borelli writes:

Here's the problem: They need to look at modern society in the twenty-first century and initiate new ways to address its problems. Surging welfare dependency in the black community, alcoholism, children continually being born into single-parent homes - these things plague this nation. And it is only getting worse because the numbers keep rising.

Understanding that the false leaders - Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Charles Rangel, etc. - have betrayed the Black community they claim to represent, understanding that these false leaders in fact work to ensure that the Black community does not make large-scale progress into the middle class, Borelli looks to a better set of leaders. She looks to leaders who have a genuine interest in creating economic opportunity for African-Americans. The false leaders actually profit only when the Black community suffers; the false leaders need to represent a community which is not striving upward, but rather they can only represent a community which is suffering in place under oppression - and so these false leaders work to ensure that this community remains economically handicapped. Of these false leaders, Borelli writes:

Their moniker and their reason for fighting is supposedly "justice for everybody" but the only ones benefiting are the guys making the noise. They are all benefiting personally. It's upsetting that they've been able to get away with this. People despise how the old guard is doing business. It's simply wrong. There's a cost to all of this. By not spending political clout on the new fight, these guys are not espousing the benefits of liberty. They are not enlightening people, nor are they advancing them. Rather they are missing the message and trying to keep the rest of us in a time warp. Here's a suggestion: Why not use your power to encourage school choice to stop soaring dropout rates?

The forward-thinking leaders are those who find opportunities and explain them to the Black community; the forward-thinking leaders are those who find obstacles which prevent Blacks from moving into the middle class and work to remove those obstacles. Forward-thinking leaders can lead by words, by actions, or by example. They are working to get Blacks in to the American economy; they are not working to damage the American economy; they are not parasites seeking to leach off the economy. But the false leaders are trying to take African-Americans down the path to permanent poverty: down the path to permanent dependency. Borelli describes the damage that these false leaders seek to inflict on the Black community:

The old way isn't working so let's pursue a new way. The Democrats are beholden to special interest groups - the feminists, unions, trial lawyers, and environmentalists. Here's an example: Jackson joins the unions' fight so he can't advocate for school choice. He'd break the alliance. But with this close-minded approach everybody suffers and windows of opportunity to try to advance people are lost.

In order for the new leaders, the forward-thinking leaders, to find those opportunities and alert the Black community to those opportunities, a change in mindset is in order: the false leaders need to get out of the way. There are excellent examples of such new leadership: J.C. Watts, Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Allen West, Armstrong Williams, Thomas Sowell, Alveda King, and many others. But this new, positive leadership can't get its message out, as long as self-serving demagogues are working to keep Blacks in poverty and in dependency. Borelli writes:

Tragically, the numbers are getting worse for blacks trapped in inner cities. Why aren't black kids improving and growing at the same rate as their peers? My opinion: It's all in the message from the career black politicians who promote big government solutions that result in stagnation and government dependence. They are playing the blame game and using the race card as their ace in the hole to avoid accountability. Hey, blame your problems on race and don't take responsibility for your life, even when you mess it up. That's easier than providing solutions. And let's face it: it keeps these guys in business.

Deneen Borelli, an articulate Black woman, formulates a clear path forward and upward for the African-American community: do not make victimization and oppression your core identity. Instead, let your core identity be that of people who find opportunities, remove obstacles to opportunities, and pursue opportunities.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Black Woman's Voice in Modern American History

At the complex intersection of race and politics - a complicated intersection in any nation, but perhaps more so in the United States than in most nations - nuances abound, and readers must be alert for the most subtle of textual distinctions. To that mix, add gender. A twenty-first century Black woman in the United States may well grow tired of the second-string leadership of that which calls itself "the civil rights movement" or the "black movement" - the replacements for original leaders of the SCLC, like Martin Luther King, Jr.

Deneen Borelli is a Black woman with the courage to speak - with the courage to demand intelligent leadership, instead of the substandard and self-serving individuals who are more concerned with lining their own pockets than with finding substantive help for African-Americans. Individuals like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have grown extremely wealthy, claiming to advocate for Black citizens; but in fact those Black citizens have seen their plight worsen, not improve, in recent years - e.g., from 2009 to 2013.

As unemployment among Blacks increased, and as their annual income and net wealth decreased, in the years after 2009, independent thinkers like Deneen Borelli want to see African-Americans make economic progress - like the progress they'd made in the previous decade. Rebuking the corrupt leadership which claimed to speak on behalf of Blacks but which actually merely exploited their leadership positions to enrich themselves, she writes:

Your time has passed and your message is dated. These days you are doing more to hurt the black community than you are helping it. And in the process, you are dismantling the greatness of the American nation. You aren't just hurting blacks with your backward tactics, but the country itself. Your archaic initiatives and your self-serving agendas need to end. It's time to fix the United States, focus on the economy, and put your outdated 1960s agenda to bed - the civil rights initiatives that began over fifty years ago just don't apply to today's world. Unless by choice, we don't sit at the back of the bus anymore. Let me be clear - we appreciated what you did, but now your old guard message needs to be modernized because hanging on to it only benefits you and hurts everyone else.

America's Black community needs economic freedom and opportunity. It does not need anger in the streets. About whom is Borelli writing?

Of course, I am talking about a long list of black leaders who understand and conceptualize today's problems by looking backward rather than forward. I am referring to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and New York's censured Democratic Representative Charles Rangel. They rose to prominence year ago by telling us that the poverty that plagued blacks was someone else's fault. Members of the black community who didn't have jobs, housing, or money to feed themselves could feel better about themselves knowing they were victims rather than failures.

While at one time in the distant past it may have been true, it is certainly no longer true to tell the vast majority of American Blacks that they are helpless victims. Beyond being untrue, it is dangerous - it is dangerous to teach people to identify themselves primarily, perhaps exclusively, as victims. The original goal of the civil rights movement was to empower African-Americans and make them independent. But leaders like Al Sharpton and Charlie Rangel are teaching Blacks that they are powerless and should be dependent. Borelli explains:

But these public figures who are leading the black population down that path need to seriously rethink their approach to civil rights issues and update their commentary. Their self-serving agendas for power and control have been obtained by playing the race card and in some cases, by declaring blacks are victims in need of special treatment. In some instances, they've even turned their victimization message into a business - claiming they are going after corporations for their communities, then oddly, benefitting personally and professionally. In some cases, investigations of black politicians are racially motivated.

African-Americans must ask themselves which leaders truly represent them, and which leaders merely exploit them. Sharpton and Rangel, it has become clear, do not act in ways which measurably or detectably benefit the Black community; Sharpton, Rangel, and a host of other similar individuals act only to gain wealth and power for themselves. Beyond not assisting the Black community, these corrupt and self-appointed leaders enrich themselves by ensuring the American Blacks do not, as a community, make economic progress. The worst possible thing for these pseudo-leaders would be an emerging Black middle class. If Blacks achieved economic success, they'd have no need for the demagogues.

It's time to fight the new fight, not the old one. It's time to drop the old rhetoric and update the cause. It's time to take some responsibility for our own actions. Let me be clear. If we want to move forward, the shackles of yesteryear's rhetoric needs to be broken down and recast. Black Americans are a great people with great potential. Sometimes, everyone needs a reminder: that individuals control our own destiny rather than playing the blame game to justify personal failures.

A new generation of Black leadership is rising: J.C. Watts, Alan Keyes, Condoleezza Rice, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, and others lead with words or by example. African-Americans can rise by engaging in the free enterprise system. The success of individual African-Americans is both a barometer and a pattern to follow.

This country elected a black president. That alone should have put to rest the constant rants of discrimination and the overwhelming demands for affirmative action to rest. No quota system here. Obama got elected because he worked hard and promoted his policies in such a way as to garish the most votes. This fixation on victimization - the decades-old vision that the plights of the black community are someone else's fault - needs to go.

Rather than being made dependent on government programs - from affirmative action to hiring quotas to welfare to food stamps - Black Americans will be free to rise when they are free to engage in a free market. Black leaders who teach them how to use the economy - not how to live off the economy - will be the leaders who bring the Black community into a prosperous middle-class existence.