NAACP and others must rethink its “mission” or risk futher obsolescence
Obsolescence – the state of being which occurs when a person, object, or service is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order.
I was president of the Texas A&M Chapter of the NAACP from 1994-1996 and I count Dallas President Casey Thomas as a friend. The organization is quite dear to me.
With all that said, I see the NAACP, especially the national organization, as losing touch with the very people it is charged to serve. As the realities of race in America has evolved, the NAACP has changed very little in how it addresses the issues of the day.
If the NAACP is not leading (I said leading) the effort in cases like the Jena 6, Genarlow Wilson, and Tyrone Brown that what are they doing? The group is really trying to find its way right now, that's evident in the change in leadership that occurred earlier this year.
It was a surprise to say the least when the NAACP broke with conventional wisdom and hired executive Bruce Gordon to lead the organization. Only 19 months into the job, Gordon resigned his post as president (last March).
Gordon's vision as president did not lineup with the NAACP's 64 member board . The former Verizon exec realized the NAACP was a civil rights group, but thought they could benefit from broadening their scope. He wanted to address more of Black America's pressing needs.
Julian Bond, chairman of the board said at the time, "Put simply, we fight racial discrimination and social service groups fight the effects of racial discrimination. Service is wonderful and praiseworthy and fabulous, but many, many organizations do it. Only a couple do justice work, and we're one of those few."
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.
As the NAACP et. al. focus on hate crimes and discrimination, both of which need dealing with, who speaks for the other ills in the African-American community? We most definitely need to address the bias in the criminal justice, but the very soul of our communities are at stake here.
Take for instance the fact that from 2003-2005 a disproportionate number of African-Americans died in police custody. In that time period 2002 people died in police custody with 31.9% of those being black (appx. 639). African-Americans make up roughly 12% of the population. If your son or daughter made up that number, you would want answers.
But at the same time, if your black son or daughter died as a result of homicide at the hands of a black assailant, you would want answers as well. In 2003 & 2004, 16,276 African-Americans died as a result of homicide. More than 12,000 of those deaths were a result of firearms and if figures released earlier this year can guide us, then 9 of 10 of those deaths occurred at the hand of another African-American.
According to reports , the NAACP doesn't get involved in black on black crimes. I can understand that to an extent, but does that mean that the group is now predicated on the actions of others against us even at the expense of actions against ourselves? Take for instance the NAACP STOP Campaign. Will the NAACP go after Don Imus and Michael Richards, but ignore the Ying Yang Twins and Soulja Boy?
The NAACP needs to move forward, and by all estimations that is what Bruce Gordon was trying to do. The NAACP is working, but I hope that work is not in vain as the group spins its wheels waiting for the next national outrage. As the organization nears its 100th birthday, an audit of the way they do business is in order. Groups like Color of Change seem to have taken the NAACP's claimed mission and run with it.
The good thing is that the NAACP is not going anywhere. But as the founders of the Niagara Movement took a fresh approach to civil rights, so should its legacy organization. If the national leaders won't be moved, I have no doubt the young blood like Casey as well as the college branches will help them make the transition into the 21st Century. I count myself as part of that legacy.