There’s a paradigm shift, a very important one by the way, that’s taking the form of a Tsunami among so-called Black leadership and the constituency that they supposedly serve. When it was learned that Julian Bond was at the Book party for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on October 3, the commentary from everyday American Blacks was: that is so refreshing to see. When the Reverend Al Sharpton finally met with Justice Thomas in his chambers recently, the response was: maybe there’s a chance that people from all walks of life, who may have felt they had nothing in common, can get together and help identify solutions to the crisis afflicting Black America. With all the afflictions plaguing the Black community, there is no room for division amongst the leadership. Through meetings and dialogue mending can occur so help can be meted out to those in need.
One thing’s for certain, with the incredible 50% drop-out of Black men, the presence of 50% of Black men in the penal system, the reality that 70% of Black families are without fathers, and 60% of births are out-of-wedlock, obviously something’s not working. Something needs to be done to change the continued downward spiral and the plight of many Blacks in America. Maybe now the uncharted territory, which seemingly was sinful in the eyes of many, is that individuals like Julian Bond; Al Sharpton; Justice Clarence Thomas; Thomas Sowell and Dr. Ben Carson need to sit down, and finally come together to find a common ground.
Freedom is about expressing opinions and being able to affect change; that is its greatest use. In this way some kind of resolution to stop this crisis before it’s too late may be reached. When I posed this idea to Rev. Al Shaprton he quipped: “we must stop allowing people to define people that we can sit down with and people we can quarrel with. I have tremendous respect for Clarence Thomas and we need these kinds of meetings because the problem in our community is too great.” Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP said, “I am 69 years old and I’ve realized that a lot of the issues that we thought we could resolve have gotten worse.” If there’s any hope of positive change it will come through conversation amongst leaders. In that way ideas can be combined and implemented for the betterment of the community. The problem is that many of these leaders have different approaches, but if there will be meetings, Mr. Bond continued, “that could begin to find solutions to this crisis then it is long overdue and I’m all for it.”
Why is it that Bill Clinton can become friends with former president George Bush and other leaders of America and have amicable relationships with people he’s disagreed with but Blacks can’t have the same type of relationships with each other? Who makes that determination given that there’s so much at stake? Why can’t there be different approaches and different solutions to what ails so many young Black people in this country? Justice Thomas, when he speaks to young Blacks around the country and in his chambers has a remarkable impact. Sometimes people try to hone in on his anti-affirmative action stance, but that’s only because he doesn’t see affirmative action as helping those who really need help. He goes out of his way to help students and underprivileged people. Why can’t Black leadership pool together? After all, America can only benefit from these alliances. Dr. King said a man shouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character and all these men are well-meaning.
Why is there a litmus test on what is Black depending on what you advocate and believe? Why is it that if you don’t fall lock-step with this mentality then you are excommunicated? Some people try to say that being Black is a state of mind, but Justice Thomas put it best when he gave the analogy of a clansman asking, “What’s your state of mind? I need to know if I can discriminate against you.” That absurd example is a morbidly humorous way of saying that regardless of what people might think people will see them as having certain physical traits. Our physical traits are inescapable: gender, race, eye-color, hair color, height; and those attributes can allow us to relate more closely to one another. There are certain things that cause Blacks to have similar outlooks in some instances, but this is no different from women agreeing on certain issues, or people over a certain height or blondes. Similarities bring us together, and that’s the desire of leaders everywhere.
The Black community, as all communities, is diverse, but rather than honing in on differences, through common objectives unity can be achieved. With such a glaring goal one would hope that people could overcome their differences for the greater good. Perhaps the methods differ, but the desire for advancement is the same. Maybe the time has finally come where the Sharptons and the Thomases have come together and realized that more can be accomplished through partnership rather than opposition.