Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Engagement Necessary From The NAACP If They Wish To Remain Relevant

NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon recently left the civil rights organization after just 19 months at the helm. I have deliberately taken some time to ponder the mess that has become the NAACP because when the story first broke, I was unsure of its relevance and immportance.

Let’s face it: the NAACP has not played a large role in the lives of the average black American since before the Reagan Administration. I cannot remember the last time the NAACP held a prominent voice within or for our community. Short of issuing a periodic report on racial profiling and hosting an annual awards show, the NAACP has been rendered completely irrelevant.

Part of its irrelevance could be the result of backlash it has felt from civil rights era supporters of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is no secret that the Association often found itself at odds with Dr. King. It seems at least plausible that the Association’s struggles in recent years (and I use that term loosely) have something to do with the ill feelings stemming from bad memories of those old-school civil rights era activists.

But there is a whole generation of black Americans who did not live through the civil rights era. The “Joshua Generation,” as Senator Barack Obama terms us (and the subset Hip Hop Generation), has never been engaged on any significant level. I am not a board member, so I cannot answer the all-important question of why. However, that engagement is necessary if the NAACP wishes to be a relevant voice within the black community as time moves on.

Sadly, I do not see any effort within its bourgeois elite membership to have this conversation. This lack of communication between the NAACP leadership and the current adult population within black America leads to the question of whether we need this organization at all. If they will not engage us, then what use do we have for them?


Anonymous said...

Over the past year or so I have taken a closer look at the general position of the african american. It seems to me that we are not being represented in our governments, school, and even in our own organizations. The question you ask is why and here is my guess. As a people we have made many advancements. We can go to school where we choose, we can eat in any restaurant, and we can vote. Unfortunately many people are blinded by this veil of accomplishments and they are satisfied with what they've got. Blaming the NAACP for a lack of civil rights activity is like blaming your mother because you don't have a job. If we as a people are not willing to go and get whatever it is that we should already have then no amount of moving and shaking done by any organization will put us over that threshold.

Brother Spotless said...

But the NAACP is supposed to be advocating for our advancement. What are they doing to accomplish the very goal they set out to do? I agree, individuals have to be able and willing to take responsibility for their own, and no organization can do that for us. But I am not asking them to do that. I am merely asking the NAACP to represent the people within the confines of the public spotlight, as they did in the past. They have to innovate and evolve with the times in order to continually hold that place within the community, something they have failed to do time and time again.

Furthermore, the NAACP has either been unwilling or unable to engage the next generation of black folks in any meaningful or substantial way.

If they can niether be a relevant organization within American activism nor engage the next generation of the people it sets a quasi agenda for, why is their existance necessary?