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Leadership or Pleadership?

James ClingmanBy James Clingman
Trice Edney News Wire

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” This famous quote from Frederick Douglass brings to mind the predicament of Black folks in this country relative to those upon whom we depend to put forth our demands for political reciprocity.  Are they really leading (demanding), or are they simply pleading?

The term “Pleadership” was coined by Mr. Kenneth Price, my friend and business associate from the post-Million Man March days. He used to talk about how our so-called leaders were not using our collective leverage to attain the goals we sought; instead he suggested they resorted to merely “pleading” rather than leading. Looks like the same is true in many circles today.

A quick analysis of the issues, challenges and problems we face paints a grim portrait of our position in this country and an unattractive view of our children’s future.  We are long on rhetoric and short on action, high on emotion and low on involvement, quick to react and slow to get in front of issues that will negatively impact us. And many of our “leaders” are nothing more than “pleaders” kowtowing to the whimsical winds of politics, looking out for themselves only.

Nearly two decades ago, I wrote an article titled, “If we are so smart, why are we so far behind?” The same thought can be applied to our current status, especially as it pertains to the dearth of genuine, authentic and courageous Black leadership. We are still involved with sibling rivalry among our Black organizations and even more so among our “leaders,” as they jockey for position whenever a news camera is around.  There is still a lack of what Dr. Ron Daniels calls, “operational unity,” as our “leaders” refuse to work together to achieve an overall goal for Black people in this country.

Another problem is that Blacks are unwilling, to a large degree, to follow the path of Marcus Garvey and others who advocated and demonstrated the primary importance of establishing and maintaining an economic foundation. We have opted for political empowerment instead, which always begs the question: What is the economic result of our political involvement?

We continue to discuss how Black folks can be directly advantaged by a Black president, who is now in his second term. We still petition our government for relief from generations of unfairness and inequity.  We repeat the same mating dance every two, four and six years by registering and voting for folks who have absolutely no concern for our economic stability, bringing back to mind the words of David Walker in his famous appeal: “How strange it is to see men of sound sense, and of tolerably good judgment, act so diametrically in opposition to their own interest.”

Haven’t we suffered enough from political shenanigans to finally change the way we select, promote, and follow those who pretend to be “leaders?” We are confused and child-like in so many areas when it comes to our own economic self-determination.

Black leadership or Black pleadership? Not only do we get the leaders we accept; we also get those we deserve.

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