To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A New Civil Rights Movement?

As a white, middle-class, male I'm really not qualified to give advice to the NAACP. But then I'm not really qualified to talk about any of the things I blog about. So I'll go ahead and give my advice. Like many national organizations the NAACP is trapped in the past, unable to see new threats or come up with solutions fit for the 21st Century. A good case can be made the organization doesn't even represent most black people. Certainly not the down-trodden. Witness their opposition to school vouchers and their silence on the war on drugs, which former ACLU executive director Ira Glasser credibly points out is the new Jim Crow. While outgoing NAACP president Bruce Gordon didn't do a thing to change NAACP's positions, he did realize that the solution to many of the problems facing black communities lies less in lobbying the government for a few more hand-outs and more in self-empowerment. So I'm sorry to see him pushed out the door by the NAACP board. If you're curious about the significance of his removal, then read this op-ed by two professors in today's Washington Post. An excerpt:
This is not to say that African Americans should no longer engage in political advocacy. But this tactic need not be the sole or primary focus of the country's oldest and largest civil rights organization. For example, the condition of many black children, from inadequate health care to poor education, begs for new and creative approaches to problem-solving. Why can't the NAACP commit some of its resources, beyond lobbying the government, to addressing the social and moral crisis faced by African American children? Can't we imagine tutoring programs as part of an agenda for social justice?
People taking care of their communities? Wow. The fact that this suggestion seems radical - or maybe reactionary??? - shows just how tight the shackles of the welfare state really are. I guess for those in positions of power and influence - the NAACP board - taking members of Congress out to dinner is so much more exciting than building a daycare center, providing medical treatment to the uninsured, and teaching people how to start their own businesses. Why teach someone how to fish, when you can get them to pay you $50 a year in membership fees?

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