By Raynard Jackson – As the two supposed premier civil rights groups gather this week and next for their annual conventions (the N.A.A.C.P and the National Urban League, respectively), I want to challenge their agendas and then pose a few questions for them to answer.
When civil rights are discussed in the media, you never have the reporter define what civil rights are? When you see Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton described as civil rights leaders, what does that really mean? Who made them leaders and what is their leadership based on?
How did civil rights come to mean protections and rights based on sexual preference, gender identity, and illegal status in a country?
If civil rights theory is based on the protection of the individual and his rights; how do you then explain the constant demand for inclusion in the definition of civil rights by all kinds based on group identity?
So, now you have groups like the N.A.A.C.P. and the National Urban League expending precious political capital on extraneous issues like: equal rights for illegal immigrants (they want illegals to have every right that citizens have—access to social programs, driver’s licenses, in state tuition for colleges and universities, etc). What sense does it make to give benefits to members of a certain group (American citizens) and then to allow someone who is not a member to get the same benefit? That’s insane!
Can you imagine a non member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame demanding the same benefits as a member? They would be run out of court if they petitioned the courts for such a benefit.
Are civil rights a “universal” right and who defines what those rights are?
There are a lot of Muslim women in the Middle East that don’t want women to be able to dress like a “modern” woman, or have the right to vote. A perfect example is Saudi Arabia. While there is some demand for reform, there is significant support for the status quo. Who’s right?
The N.A.A.C.P. and the National Urban League have both lost their way. They have strayed way off course from their original vision.
Could this be, unlike the days of old, why high profile professional athletes have no relationship with these groups? Could this be why people like me will never join these groups? They are both arms of the Democratic National Committee (though they both claim to be non partisan).
If you go to both of their websites and look at who is paying for their conventions; it’s the who’s who of white corporate America.
But, why is there no financial support from any of the most successful Black businessmen in this country? People like Earl Graves (publisher of Black Enterprise, Dave Stewart, CEO of World Wide Technology, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former N.B.A. great, etc.)
If you can’t get support from within your own community, how then can you make the case for someone else to support you? In other words, do you have “skin” in the game?
Maybe there is a reason for this lack of support. Maybe these groups are not saying or doing anything that is relevant to these individuals or companies.
Political or financial capital tends to go where there is a need and where there is some hope of a return on investment. What do these corporations get in return, other than “race” insurance?
While the Black unemployment rate continues to climb above 16 %, these groups are fighting to legalize 7 million illegals who are going to compete for low-skilled jobs with the very people they claim to represent.
While the Black family is disintegrating right before our eyes, these groups are focusing on gay rights, though the Black community does not support this.
The first Black president has totally ignored his own community, but yet these groups remain silent. They seem more concerned with White House invitations and photo-ops, not a substantive agenda.
If these two groups disappeared tomorrow, would our community be any worse off? Maybe at the margins, but not in reality.
So, while these groups are spending millions of dollars for their conventions, what is the relevance of these groups to our community if their mission continuously moves further and further from its core purpose? In the military, this is called “mission creep.”
I fully believe organizations must evolve to remain relevant; but you can’t allow the organization to morph into something that is not part of the core mission. Are they about civil rights are about pursuing a liberal agenda?
I will get a lot of heat for posing these questions, but I hope we can be civil, right?
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com) & USAfrica Magazine (www.USAfricaonline.com).