Witty Wednesday-Sharpton vs. West

If you were like me, you missed the MSNBC special “A Stronger America: The Black Agenda” this past Sunday.  During the special, Rev. Al Sharpton, President of the National Action Network, and Dr. Cornel West, an author and college professor, had a heated debate about the Obama Administration.  To say the video has gone viral would be an understatement.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a big fan of Rev. Al.  I respect him and his opinion, but there’s a low chance I would go hear him speak or listen to him on the radio…if it were just him.  But he made some valid points on Sunday, as did Dr. West.  Both men are so passionate about their positions that no one, not even host Ed Schultz, could get a word in edgewise when it came to the discussion of the Obama Administration.  Dr. West feels as if the President has taken the African-American vote for granted but has not done anything significant to  support the community since he has taken office.  He also stated that Blacks shouldn’t automatically vote Democrat because party members are the lesser of two evils.  Rev. Sharpton believes that we should support the President in 2012.  He also reminded us all that President Obama cannot do everything on his own. 

Although the President still has an approval rating of 85% among African-Americans as of March 2011, that number is at an all-time low during his presidency.  I think it’s safe to say that Blacks are watching the President very closely.  We want to see results, and so far, I don’t think people are seeing what they were hoping to gain from Obama’s presidency.  I believe that the President is doing all he can, but as Sharpton said, he can’t do it alone.  This is when we need our leaders, whomever they may be, to come forward, devise an agenda, and set about making this country better for Blacks, especially our children.

What do you all think?  Who was right-Sharpton or West?  Going back to my post on Monday, do you believe that one or both of these men are our leaders?  Or should we look elsewhere?  Do you think their argument on Sunday was a poor display?  Or was it something that’s needed to get people involved?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Who Are Our Leaders?

This weekend, I once again had the pleasure of attending the “America I Am” exhibit.   I enjoyed viewing the contributions of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, and so many others.  I was excited to view things that I had missed before and review items that I saw on my first visit.  What brought the most angst to me during this 2nd attendance was naming who are our current leaders in Black America.  I couldn’t think of any. 

Yes, we do have Rev. Al Sharpton, but quietly (or not so quietly since I’m telling you guys), I’m not a huge fan.  I feel like he’s not effective.  We also have Tavis Smiley.  Kudos to him for even putting this project together.  But I don’t think he’s got the mass appeal that MLK or Malcolm had.  And of course we have President Obama.  But to me, he’s a leader who happens to be Black, not a leader for Black America.  And trust me, there’s a difference. 

We have Black politicians who have made their mark, such as Harold Ford, Jr., Jesse Jackson, Jr., Carol Moseley-Braun, and others, but it’s time that people from the new generation start stepping up.  And let’s face it-the aforementioned people (Douglass, Tubman, King, and X) didn’t run for any office; they didn’t speak from a Senate floor; they didn’t have their name on any ballots.  They saw a need, an injustice, something that was wrong and went about making it right.  Who’s doing that now?

Maybe I’m missing something.  Maybe we don’t need any leaders in Black America.  Maybe everything is copacetic with Black people and everything is fine in our worlds.  Or maybe we’re still dealing with issues of drugs, abuse, poverty, and lack of education.

What do you guys think?  Is there a need for leaders in Black America in 2011?  Or is it up to each family or community to make due with what they have?  Is there any way we can make things better for people?  There’s always going to be dissension, unfortunately, but how do we rise above it?  Maybe I should just start a coalition of trying to get my friends together and we can start working on making a difference in our communities and see how we can do something on a larger scale.  Or maybe I should just be content that I’m doing ok, and not worry about anyone else.  But when I look at my community or watch the news or read the paper, I know that not all of us are receiving the support that we need.  And that saddens me.  Sometimes we need some help, as opposed to someone always trying to bring us down. 

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.