Wednesday, July 16, 2008

5710: You’re Not The Boss Of Me Now.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Blacks rely on many leaders

Black America has long wrestled with the concept of a singular leader to articulate its problems, ambitions and triumphs.

Everyone can stop looking now: There isn’t one.

Barack Obama comes closest, according to a new Gallup Poll: 29 percent of blacks polled chose him when asked, “If you had to name one individual or leader in the U.S. to speak for you on issues of race, who would it be?”

What do exist are multiple leaders who each can expound upon the black experience, from fatherlessness and violence, to jobs, business opportunities and education. Six percent of respondents say Al Sharpton is their leader of choice, and 4 percent choose the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The list also includes Bill and Hillary Clinton (3 percent), Maya Angelou, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West (1 percent each).

Relying on the right leader for the right message is part of the black community’s realization that it is not monolithic. Class gains due to better education and rising incomes, for example, often trump race.

Still, structural and institutional barriers to equality exist, along with the need to leverage these gains to assume greater responsibility for one's self and larger community. Perhaps that’s why 6 percent of blacks polled indicated “myself” as their choice.

Often, though, common aspects of being black in America need to be conveyed and addressed. From one voice or many, the message must be delivered with utter clarity. Black America may no longer lean on a single leader, but it still needs leadership.

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