Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Should we bring back the Niagara Movement?

Just finished reading Juan Williams' new book, "Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--And What We Can Do About It". For those not familiar, Williams is a journalist for Fox News.

After reading the book, I feel more and more compelled to bring back something like the Niagara Movement, the famous meeting called by W.E.B. DuBois to deal with matters pertaining to Black people. One of the major acheivements of this conference was the NAACP.

"Enough" was a fairly interesting read. Not sure what side I stand on, or I should even be on a side in this matter. I'm happy that Williams decided to step up and write something about the matter of black leadership--at least some new dialogue can begin. I also want to reiterate that there is a severe need for real black leadership on a national and global level. R.I.P. Fred Hampton, Malcolm, Martin, Khalid Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad, Nat Turner, DuBois, ...

William's uses Bill Cosby's now-infamous speech at Constitution Hall as the basis for the arguments presented in this book. Williams seems to feel that Cosby's comments were indeed justified, and he provides substance to prove the fact.

In a nutshell, Cosby expressed his anger at Black America for not taking advantage of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, as well as the overall struggles of our people during the Civil Rights movement. Cosby feels that we should no longer be blaming whites for our problems, we need to stand up as a people and work to improve our own lot without welfare, reparations, etc. He says that drug dealers and absentee fathers should be demonized in our communities, and he holds rappers in contempt for their use of derogatory lyrics.

Both Cosby and Williams are wealthy Black Conservatives. The Black Conservative viewpoint partially stands on the premise that since Blacks are capable of acheiving success on their own merit, they shouldn't have to depend on the government and social programs to survive. Many brothers and sisters hear the 'C' word and immediately shut down, but those opinions deserve a listen.

I am in agreement that programs like welfare can create a culture of dependency. I strongly believe in the ability of Black people to steer their own destiny without the help of white people. But I think that conservatives like Williams and Cosby are simply out of touch with today's black culture, and this is why their messages often fall on deaf ears.

Both these men are children of the Civil Rights Movement. They can remember the fire hoses and dogs and Jim Crow. So I can understand their dissappointment with much of today's black youth. They correctly blame parents for their lack of involvement in their children's lives. But the fact of the matter is that the Civil Rights Movement never saw its dreams fully realized. The true leaders of this movement were all killed before these changes took place. Sure we have the Little Rock Nine, but let's not forget that the damned Arkansas governor himself placed guards in front of the school to PREVENT the kids from entering. And the following year, most of the schools in Arkansas were closed for the entire year.

I hold those who put their lives on the line for freedom in the highest regard, but the truth is that their movement never acheived its goal. In fact, I feel that the motivations of the movement were skewed to begin with. I simply find it illogical for a Black person to think that they can gain freedom through marches and protests. Particularly when they protest in front of people who have been systematically trained to hate them, to dehumanize them. The best a black person can expect to gain from a protest is sympathy. Had we truly gained any real respect or rights from this movement, we wouldn't have the racial inequalities we still have today. People like Williams and Cosby have been able to slip through the cracks and gain acceptance from those whites who once denied them, so it's hard for them to believe that the movement failed our people as a whole. It's easy to throw stones from atop the hill--much harder to pitch from the valley.

These men also fail to recognize that while they were off paying their dues at NBC and FoxNews, the government continued its campaign against the black community. Let's not forget that most of our major leaders were assassinatined as part of larger government conspiracies, from MLK to Fred Hampton. Once the Panthers were 'neutralized', crack-cocaine was brought to the now-hopeless communities by none other than the CIA(check out Gary Cooper's investigation). The crack trade has perhaps been the most significant impediment to Black progress in the last twenty years, even Williams acknowledges this. While middle class neighborhoods like Watts were turned into ganglands, Cosby and Williams were off making their bread and connections. I don't blame them for doing what they did; rather I'm pointing out that their journeys to the top have taken them out of the fire. And now they're pointing fingers. Step back into the fire homies!

Their blanket condemnation of rap music and rappers is very disturbing to an artist like myself, who strives to uplift and inform the community. It makes me wonder if Cosby has ever spoken to any of these young men directly, or if they have ever tried to seek out any positive rappers before making these statements. Such condemnations are dangerous, because they make rappers defensive, rather than reflective. I cant think of a young person that wouldn't sit and listen to Bill Cosby if he approached them directly. Approach a brother like Snoop directly and speak to him, don't go on Oprah Winfrey and wag your fucking finger!

Williams also makes some very interesting comments about some of today's leaders, including AL "Snitching on the Panthers" Sharpton, and Jesse "MC" Jackson. There was talk of Sharpton being an FBI informant who helped to convict Black Panthers, and talk of both men staging fake protests for money. I always knew something was wrong with Sharpton, how can you still be conking in 2007? James Brown my ass...

More successful brothers and sisters need to follow the example of people like Jim Brown. Brown goes directly into the hood and uses his influence to work with gang members. He was instrumental in brokering the truce between Crips and Bloods in the early 90's. My homie from Cali also alerted me to the work of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who has provided jobs for thousands of blacks in California.

Let's talk people.

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