THE BLOG
05/10/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Black Leadership's Blackhole

Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: King Anyi Howell

I'm a young black man in search of leadership from our community. But all I can find is heated rhetoric and finger pointing. Yes we have a black president, but that doesn't mean we have reached a milestone in black leadership. I'm tired of hearing that President Obama hasn't done enough. Are we hastily assuming that the President has abandoned our causes just because he hasn't spoken loudly enough about them yet?

Case in point: A few weeks ago, an argument erupted between Tavis Smiley and Rev. Al Sharpton on Sharpton's radio program "Keeping it Real." Their passionate discussion had a central question: Should President Obama acknowledge and advocate for the black community and the problems faced within it?

The unemployment rate for African Americans is almost 16 percent. That's an increase of seven percentage points since the recession started in December of 2007.

But no one in our community--including our leaders--has a plan to address this. I listened to the argument between Smiley and Sharpton with disgust. Their antics made me realize that black leadership is almost extinct. Both men interrupted each other. At the same time, they profess their respect and love for each other. This isn't about them; it is about our community. Our leaders need to discuss exactly what WE as a community need and how to go about meeting those needs without Obama. Stop focusing on him and start focusing on what we can do. He can't just address our community without looking at the broader questions facing the nation as a whole.

Plus, there are black leaders that seem to put their personal interests before community. Rep. Charles Rangel (D) has done a disservice to his constituents and to our community. Last week, Congressman Rangel stepped down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee after the House ethics committee deemed that he violated gift rules by accepting corporate money to travel. And that's not the only thing. Rangel is still under investigation for failing to disclose income from an overseas property. I'm convinced that Rangel only gave up his leadership post because he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. There are other politicians who claim to serve the black community, but they have left a trail of crumbs.

What I need to see is black leaders talking more about ideas. That's what's missing from the mix of visible black leaders. How are we going to fix the problems we face? How do we get more African Americans to work? How do we emerge from the recession as a stronger economic force? We need to have those discussions first before we debate the intentions of our president.

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