Rahim Islam is a National Speaker and Writer, Convener of Philadelphia Community of Leaders, and President/CEO of Universal Companies, a community development and education management company headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Follow Rahim Islam on FaceBook(Rahim Islam) & Twitter (@RahimIslamUC)
IT’S NOT WHAT THEY (WHITE SUPREMACY) ARE DOING TO BLACK PEOPLE ANYMORE. WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT IS WHAT OUR BLACK LEADERS ARE NOT DOING. OUR BLACK LEADERS HAVE REFUSED TO ORGANIZE TO DEFEND OUR COMMUNITY.
For many reasons (too many to discuss now), we’ve all collectively misdiagnosed the state of Black America. We’ve truly underestimated consciously, or subconsciously, the total and absolute damage (physical and psychological) that’s been done to Black people under the rule of White Supremacy in America for nearly 500 years. We enjoy physical freedom today yet we exhibit the behavior of a captive people and enslaved people. Are we not free to compete and fight our oppressors? I attribute this inactivity and lethargic to extremely poor Black leaders.
Who else can we blame but Black leaders? Do we blame the oppressor? Now, wouldn’t that be original? We can’t blame the oppressor for our conditions because he’s doing his stated job – it’s called White supremacy. White Supremacists’ primary goal is to maintain power and keep control over Black people. Its vicious tentacles can never be defeated in an environment where we’re all over the place (unorganized) while our opponent is mature, resourced, and organized. How in the world could any “one” Black leader or Black organization believe they could prevail against this enemy by themselves – that thought is simply stupid.
Many Black leaders are living in a bubble and haven’t truly considered assessing their own impact to succeed. Those who’ve come to this realization but haven’t come to the same conclusion that there’s no chance of winning without joining forces with other Black leaders are being intellectually dishonest, which is the worst form of self-gratification.
When will Black leaders stop dreaming and wake up to the work that needs to be done to save our group – organizing? Does anyone think that America will magically come to its senses and apologize for the cruel and inhuman treatment of Black people under their rule and/or offer to figure out ways to repair what they’ve obviously have broken? Given our history in this country is there any evidence whatsoever that one can predict that our struggle will be successful when those in power have done everything imaginable to continue to cripple us at every juncture – White supremacist are playing for keeps. Dr. King once stated, the token appointments and election of Blacks across the country will not be suffice, and to fix our problem America will have to invest billions into the Black community, which is something they would avoid at all cost. They must believe this fairy tale based on the lack of organizing by many of our so-called Black leaders. THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN AMERICA REPRESENTS THE BIBLICAL EXAMPLE OF DAVID AND GOLIATH EXCEPT THAT OUR DAVID IS AT WAR WITH ITSELF.
By any means necessary, achieving functional unity must be the highest priority amongst Black leaders. Wait a minute, I know what some are saying – we don’t need Black leaders and we can unleash this movement by going directly to the people. Everyone and every group needs leaders and leadership and depending on if someone is at the bottom of the economic ladder, the need for leadership is acutely magnified. Not believing or having trust in Black leaders is not a healthy attitude and is the legacy of slavery which we all must fight to overcome. Every individual and every group needs a head and the Black community is no exception. When you have a thousand heads, like in the Black community, this is the equivalence to not having any head. Today, the Black community has no real head with many leaders and no leadership.
The Black struggle for freedom is real Brothers and Sisters—it’s not imagined. All we must do is look at our history and the carnage that exist in our rear-view window. The late, great Frederick Douglass said in a speech about West Indian Slave Emancipation, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Embedded in this statement is the general sentiment that a man who will not fight for himself is not worth being fought for by others or a man that does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others. A man will lie down until he has the sense to stand up and Black leaders must adopt this mantra. The message of Frederick Douglass also applies to the group or a people. We can no longer wait for others to do for us what we must do for ourselves. The world is accommodating and it will cooperate with those who earnestly help themselves and will oppose those who hinder themselves – we have no excuse for why we are unable to do better in America.
Given the alarming challenges that the Black community faces, Black leaders have been unable to aggregate and align its limited resources (i.e. human and financial) in a meaningful way that has real impact. Individual solutions are meaningless and any solution must involve a significant level of organizing which must take place amongst Black leaders. The problems facing the Black community are interconnected and interrelated and cannot be dealt with in existing “individual” and “silo” strategies. They will require collective and comprehensive approaches if we expect sustained improvement and progress. Since no “one” organization can undertake a truly comprehensive strategy by itself, it requires the organization of Black leaders as an critical and crucial step towards addressing the aspect of the problems facing the Black community.
Though society, in general, is organized, it is not organized enough to address the massive disparities that continue to challenge the very existence of the Black community. In fact, the loosely organized society is an additional impediment to our efforts and requires that some level of reconfiguring will be needed going forward (are we prepared to tackle this?). Not only do the Black leaders need to be more organized for real reform to happen, there are many sectors of America’s society that must be organized and altered to support any internal plan that would be developed. Restated, all levels of government, philanthropic, large non-profits (i.e. health, education, and service delivery), business and corporate, civic, and political sectors must be organized and aligned if the Black community is to achieve success in the implementation of any plan. This is a huge task even for the most well-oiled and well-resourced organization and nearly impossible given the position we find in our Black leaders.
Black people have no one to blame for the slow levels of social growth and economic progress except its own Black leaders. Sure, the Black community has a real and determined enemy – this enemy has been alive and well for nearly 400 years. We all know that and this won’t change; however, its criminal that the Black community doesn’t have a concise and credible strategy to defend itself against its enemy. It’s criminal that the Black leaders haven’t matured enough to put any and all differences aside for the betterment of the group – any possible solutions for the Black community has been thwarted by its own Black leaders.
It’s going to take a considerably greater level of organization on behalf of Black leaders if we’re to have a shot at holding America accountable for the unbelievable wrongs that they have done to our ancestors in America – this is called REPARATIONS. While the Black community struggles with many issues, the wealth disparity is a direct connection to the insurmountable economic disadvantage the Black community was dealt with the enslavement of our ancestors. Reparations is a must both from a spiritual perspective and from an economic perspective. No solution for the Black man in America can be crafted if it doesn’t take into consideration the damage done and the need to make much needed repairs.
Despite the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the legacy of slavery is still with us, embedded in all American systems and institutions – it’s called the status quo. It’s going to take a considerable level of organizing to challenge and address the current structural and institutional racism and discrimination that is built-in to every American institution that continues to impede Black progress to overcome massive disparities within every sector in America. The bottom line is that there will be no real progress for the Black community until Black leaders come together on behalf of the entire community.