What the NAACP
Should Do Now
by Lana Hampton
With a changing of the guard
occurring at the NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization
has an opportunity for growth and change.
It would be in the NAACP's
best interest to put itself on a more centrist course than the
one it has been on for the past 40 years. After all, the protection
of people's civil rights is not a left- or right-leaning ideology.
It is simply a responsibility.
The loss of support the NAACP
is experiencing is undoubtedly due to its lurch to the left and
the feelings of many that it no longer represents all blacks,
let alone all people.
Few would argue with the original
goals of the NAACP. It was, and, in many ways, still is an admirable
institution. But it has not changed with the times. It seems
to be caught in a time warp dating back to the 1960s. The issues
of relevance 40 years ago are not necessarily the same issues
that are important now.
Racism was undeniably the biggest
obstacle to minorities back then, but now many black communities
are overrun with crime, suffering from inadequate schools and
are plagued by an epidemic of single-parent homes (the leading
cause of poverty).
I do not hear enough from the
modern NAACP on these issues. What the NAACP needs to do is empower
poor blacks instead of constantly citing a never-ending list
of obstacles they claim hold blacks back.
Continuing to perpetuate the
victim status of blacks will only ensure that poor blacks continue
to behave like victims - and victims rarely succeed on their
own. In order to achieve this, the NAACP must be blatantly honest
about the ills occurring within some black communities. The left,
however, has made pointing out bad choices a taboo subject.
There are some who rely too
heavily on the government to sustain them. The NAACP should work
on empowering these people so they can become self-sufficient.
It's the old give a man a fish or teach him to fish situation.
There are many bright, capable
people in our inner cities who just need positive and constructive
leadership. This includes criticism along the lines of what Bill
Cosby has said. Cosby's critique is not mean-spirited, as some
contend, but merely an attempt to nudge people in the right direction.
It would also be beneficial
for the NAACP to avoid supporting causes which are radical or
just plain ridiculous. One example is its lawsuit against gun
manufacturers. As Project 21 member and civil rights activist
Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson said, "The NAACP has filed a
class-action lawsuit against gun manufacturers, in effect blaming
them for black on black crime, but statistics show guns don't
kill black people, other blacks do."
Perhaps the most crucial change
the NAACP needs to make is to actually become non-partisan. They
claim to be, but they're not. One would think the IRS investigation
of the group would be enough of a wake-up call to the civil rights
organization, but it appears their leadership is in denial about
past comments and actions.
Anyone reading NAACP chairman
Julian Bond's July 11, 2004 speech, which prompted the IRS investigation,
can see the partisan politics emanating from his address. It
has often been said that the NAACP has become the left wing of
the Democratic Party. More difficulties will arise if the group
continues to endorse a political party.
At this time, however, the
NAACP has an opportunity to make a fresh start. It began as an
admirable organization, and it can once again return to those
laudable roots. But continuing to conduct affairs in the manner
that they have for the past four decades will only lead the NAACP
Lana Hampton is a member of
the African-American leadership network Project 21. Comments
may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research.
Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries
reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those
of Project 21.
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