Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Response to Neal's Comment...

Neal asked:

Rev. Sharpton is quite an intriguing person and personality. Who of the current ranks of black politicians/leaders do you think should step up to the plate?

Thanks for opening up the dialogue, Neal.

The last mid-term election featured more African-American candidates then I can recall in my lifetime. I'm no historian, but I'm sure some record was set. You had Harold Ford Jr. running for the Senate seat in Tennessee. You had Deval Patrick running (and winning) the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts and, though wasn't running for a seat, Barack Obama was probably the most talked about politician of the year.

What all the men I mentioned have in common is cross-over appeal. They are all Ivy League educated, well polished, intelligent brothers. If anyone should be called to step to the plate, it should be the aforementioned brothers.

Unfortunately, there a price one pays for popularity. It's hard to be a truth-teller when your success is riding on being likable...non-threatening.

Even my favorite politician of all time, Bill Clinton, lacked the courage and integrity to stick and speak to his conviction…hence his response to the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.

That's why I'm afraid for Barack Obama. As much as I want him to run for President, I recognize that he'll have to walk a tight rope until he's in office or loses...either way precious time will have been lost. Time he could have spent addressing the issues that affect the most vulnerable in our communities.

And to be honest, Neal, though I was disappointed that Harold Ford Jr. lost, I have to admit that I don't see him as a genuine leader. He's a politician and I mean that in the derogatory sense. He runs as a Democrat but his politics pander to his growing conservative base.

Ultimately, Neal, I place my hope in folks like yourself. People at the grassroots level who have a sincere concern for their neighbor and aren't in it for the celebrity or money.

It's unfortunate that the media doesn't give more attention to community organizers and grassroots activist. The media makes and breaks politicians. Ask Barack Obama (DNC Speech) or Trent Lott (Segregationist Comments).

My hope is in everyday folks who are stepping to the plate every day...they're just not getting the recognition.