Friday, May 12, 2006
I was talking to my little sister (actually she's 27, but I had the good fortune to have been born first so she'll always be "little" to me) the other night about this very same subject and how Black folks (Black men in particular) need better role models in the community.
My little sister is single, has two degrees, owns her own home and is tired of hearing excuses from Black men about why they resort to making certain negative choices in life (she only dates guys who make as much or more than she does). I try to tell her that it's not that easy and while we all need to take more responsibility for the choices we make, there are other aspects, including racism, family dysfunction, lack of religion in the household, modern-day liberalism and a serious lack of Black male role models, that contribute to the many trials and tribulations of Black men in current-day society.
This article by Yolanda Young elicits my point:
Kimberly Oliver visited the White House two weeks ago - not as a tourist, but as an honored guest. Standing alongside the president, the 29-year-old Hampton (Va.) University graduate and kindergarten teacher with straight white teeth and smooth mocha skin was honored as the National Teacher of the Year.
Also in recent weeks, in Durham, N.C., another black woman of similar age and educational background found herself the center of attention, but not for altruistic reasons. The exotic dancer had claimed that she was the victim of an assault by white lacrosse players at Duke University.
The juxtaposition of these two women in some ways is reminiscent of events surrounding the Montgomery bus boycott, and how image can play a significant role.
Historians have noted that before Rosa Parks became the mother of the civil rights movement, at least two other women had been arrested for challenging segregation laws. But boycott organizer E.D. Nixon had feared that 15-year-old Claudette Colvin's out-of-wedlock pregnancy and rumors that Mary Louise Smith's father was an alcoholic would undercut their images. This seems harsh, but leaders such as Nixon understood that no cause succeeds without the right role model.
Today's self-appointed black leaders often act in self-serving ways, much like Kim Roberts, the dancer who accompanied the accuser and admitted in an e-mail to a PR firm that she wanted to "spin this to my advantage." The Rev. Jesse Jackson, in turn, offered to pay college tuition for the alleged victim. Wouldn't it make more sense to pay the tuition for single mothers who earn a living without shaking their "moneymakers," or support someone such as Oliver, who has helped increase test scores and skills of disadvantaged kids?
Monday, the New Black Panther Party, considered to be a hate group by some, rallied in Durham in support of the accuser. Its members also appear blinded by the camera lights. They don't seem to understand that at a time when such a high number of blacks are attending college and moving into the middle class, the movement of the 21st century is as much about living a life of dignity and civility as it is about civil rights.
This is not to say that when laws are broken, offenders should go unpunished. A stripper, if proven to have been assaulted, surely deserves to see her offenders imprisoned. One can be a victim no matter her standing in life. But when Rush Limbaugh calls the stripper a "ho" on the radio, it is exactly the type of disparagement that civil rights leader Nixon had anticipated.
Local ministers and NAACP officials have criticized the activities of the New Black Panthers. Perhaps they believe, as I do, that a black teacher of the year is a much better rallying point for the race.
Posted by Mr. Grey Ghost at 3:27 PM