Roger Madison, Jr. is the owner of iZania.com. I think that his commentary is powerful in a number of ways. I'm interested in your take:
Last week, the Congressional Black Caucus asked President Obama to give more consideration to the extreme crisis affecting Black communities all over the country. In a press interview Obama bluntly said that he would not propose any special initiatives for Blacks. Obama's sharp retort was in direct response to questions about how he'd solve a glaring problem and a glaring demand from the Caucus. The problem is the astronomical high unemployment rate for Blacks, especially young Black males. Latest job figures show joblessness for young Black males matches and in some parts of the country tops the unemployment rate at the height of the 1930s Great Depression.
The members of the CBC went away quietly, with a few idle threats, but no real demands to be heard. They seemed to accept the Obama administration notion that "a rising tide lifts all ships."
Who then will stand up and fight for a better outcome for Black Americans? There is a lobby and caucus for every cause in our society. Yet, when the outcomes are assessed, we are always the least of those who benefit -- from housing programs, health care initiatives, education, and jobs. Why is that?
As I listen and read about the challenges we face as Black people, I am amazed that each step we take forward is accompanied by at least one apology for Black unity. We have to quit doing that. Perhaps we are affected by post traumatic stresses of slavery, or suffering identity crises, or feeling guilty about our "affirmative action position," or feel we are the undeserving beneficiary of a set-aside program, or that we don't belong and just got over because of a handout. Whatever the case, we need to examine our situation and formulate a way to move more of us forward without apology.
Among the factors militating against our unity are the countless apologies. We don't want to seem to be too militant; we don't want to be accused of reverse discrimination, or racism; we don't want to seem ungrateful to our mainstream supporters; we don't want to appear to be separatists; we don't want to be accused of the same bias of our oppressors; we must treat others equal, even though we are treated unfairly. Often we make these apologies in subtle ways that we don't even recognize, and therefore, our progress is limited. Instead of aggressively pursuing gains, we apologize for asking for too much, and make exceptions for the high achievers. So, when Blacks make progress in corporate America, they don't aggressively seek to mentor and develop other Blacks. They view themselves as "first achievers" and as exceptions, not as pathfinders and conduits for others. That would be reverse discrimination, God forbid!
As we take stock of our progress:
Why then haven't we leveraged these individual success for more progress?
- We have a Black President.
- We have 2 Black Governors.
- We have 5 Black CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies.
- The Congressional Black Caucus has 43 elected members of the U.S. Congress.
- We have 643 Black Mayors.
- We have hundreds more elected state and local officials.
- Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population, but only 1% of the entrepreneurs.
I grew up in the sixties when James Brown ignited us with "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud!" But other voices among us said, "Don't be too loud, or too proud." And the noise subsided along with our progress. Where do these apologists come from? Why do we allow them to impede our progress?
I am tired of apologizing for being Black. Once again, let's "Say it Loud. I'm Black and I'm Proud."
After the pep rally, let's engage in some real actions to change things in our self-interests. I am looking forward to 2010 with a renewed commitment to unapologetically help improve outcomes in our virtual Black community. I invite you to join me.
What are your thoughts on Mr. Madison's commentary?