Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A New Beginning for the NAACP by Akindele Akinyemi


While people were enjoying the dinner at the NAACP dinner last night at Cobo Hall I still wondered about the imbalance that the NAACP continues to show in public.

What I mean is this. While the NAACP is a non-partisan organization we still see the organization dominated by the Democratic Party and their allies. We are still lopsided when it comes to this issue of party alliances.

I have said many times that we should be represented on both sides of the aisle like other nationalities. However, because the unions have controlled the flow of political power in Detroit for over 5 decades we are stuck in the mud and sinking in quicksand.

The NAACP also fights against predatory lenders. While that might be a good cause on paper you can fight that by utilizing a simple term:

Education.

For example, According to Census Bureau figures, almost 70 percent of American households owned their own homes in late 2005. Almost half of black households wereincluded in this group. But there is an unsettling problem related to this positive news. Among these homeowners, more than half of them also earned less than the median household income. With housing prices skyrocketing, this has forced many to rely on "subprime" lenders.

Subprime mortgages may initially seem like a blessing because they allow those with poor credit to get home loans. The problem is that, because a lender is considered to be making a risky investment, these loans often come with initially low interest rates that later adjust to a much higher level.

This is a serious problem because when those interest rates rise, borrowers often have trouble making payments on the loan. In March, fears about increasing subprime mortgage foreclosures caused a stock market tumble. In April, the largest independent subprime lender - New Century - filed for bankruptcy under the strain of delinquent loans.

Some are laying the blame on "predatory lenders" and calling on Congress to act. And surely, some lenders do take advantage of the less fortunate, including some black-on-black abuse. These predatory lenders and their accomplices are more interested in their broker's fees than in ensuring that borrowers can meet their financial obligations. To the extent possible, they should be prosecuted under the law.

But the crux of the problem is not only predatory lenders, it is the lack of personal responsibility. Too many people found subprime loans too tempting.Why should a lack of money keep anyone from having an SUV, Xbox 360, the latest fashions and a large house? Buy it on credit and worry about it later.

What is needed is an effort to educate potential subprime borrowers concerning the pitfalls of subprime loans. The effort needs to go further, though, and educate prospective borrowers on how to be financially responsible. The must learn to manage their finances, to save, and know when to defer large expenditures.

Federal intervention must be prudent in this case. If Congress tries to relieve those subprime borrowers of the burdens of their bad decisions, it might only further fuel the irresponsibility that led to the problem in the first place.

The NAACP failed to discuss how we need educational choices in our community. I have written time after time of how the NAACP's position on this is incorrect. While they oppose the advancement of Black children they support keeping children in failing public schools.

Why have African Americans failed to advance toward economic parity and have only progressed slightly in the other areas? Might it have something to do with those who claim to be our leaders? Instead of providing the vision and guidance that can stimulate blacks' overall success, those publicly representing our community often seem more interested in the number of blacks on TV shows or in professional coaching positions - outcomes that have limited short- or long-term benefit for our community.

If you think I am lying or fabricating this up take a look at the web sites of the NAACP and the National Urban League. Neither organization provides a set of long-term goals for African Americans to follow. This lack of guidance may help explain why the rest of African Americans appears to fight the same battles over and over again. We all know too well that it is possible to travel in circles without a proper roadmap.

In reality, this may explain why blacks experience limited progress or even decrements in our efforts to achieve parity with national averages in crucial areas such as income.

I looked at every keynote speaker the NAACP has had in the past 20 years and NONE has been a Republican (at the bare minimum a Black Republican). You can call yourself a non-partisan organization but the actions speak for itself. How can we really have a serious dialogue on any conditions in the Black community if we are not even given a forum to speak publicly? It's bad enough that urban Conservatives have their voices silenced in both the NNPA and National Association of Black Journalists and now our voices are silenced in the NAACP.

If I was a young 24 year old trying to break into politics I would ask myself why are so many Black organizations against Black Republicans in our community? What are these groups hiding from the Black community in regards to Urban Conservatives?

Didn't anyone find it strange that The National Black Pro-Life Congress, led my good friend and ally, the Rev. Dr. Levon R. Yuille and Dr. Alveda King, were outside protesting the NAACP dinner? This rally was held to focus on the fact that abortion is at a genocidal level in the Black community. Over two thirds of all Black births end in abortion, along with this a Howard University research survey of Black women show that Black woman are four times more likely to develop breast cancer in their life time as compared to their White counter part. The NAACP is not only silent on these issues of life, but regrettably they strongly support pro-choice politicians, such as Bill Clinton who was the speaker last night.

And while they showcase young adults in the NAACP it is time that these same young adults began networking with their young urban conservative counterparts if they are really serious about changing our community. Urban Conservatives do not have to join the NAACP per se but we can come together to build bridges on some key items that are necessary for our survival. I also challenge those young adults to become originators and not followers of their predecessors who continue to bash conservatives when it was conservatives that helped found the very organization they belong to in 1909.

The NAACP's embrace of showy, symbolic fights, and its blatant push of any and all Democrats, does little to solve the mountainous problems of drugs, crime, and gangs, soaring joblessness among young blacks, and the astronomical rate of prison incarceration of blacks. Nor do the annual reports cards from Rev. Wendell Anthony,and other Michigan State NAACP officials issue on racial progress in; financial services, auto retail, telecommunications, the advertising and marketing industries, foundation and corporate giving.

Who cares about a report card? If I was a state representative in Detroit I would get a "F" because I did not go along with the NAACP program. What the hell? I am not going along your left-wing platform if it does not equate with transforming my community.

Local NAACP leaders are sandwiched between the shifting upward fortunes of the black middle-class, and downward of the black poor. A tilt by them toward a hard-edged activist agenda runs the risk of alienating the corporate donors and the Democratic politicians that the NAACP leaders carefully cultivate. They depend on them to gain even more jobs, promotions, and contracts for black professionals and businesspeople, to bag contributions for their fundraising campaigns, dinners, banquets, scholarship funds and programs and increased political patronage.

If you think I am lying look at the souvenir booklet they GAVE away at the dinner last night. Do you think without these White major corporate sponsors the NAACP could do this? Yet, they frown on Urban Conservatives and call us puppets.

Give me a break. How many Urban Conservatives did I run across last night EATING? Without our contributions there would have been no dinner!!!!

This is why people like Bruce Gordon was forced out of the NAACP. Many thought he was too conservative. Gordon's corporate management style and philosophy was apparently resented by many of the NAACP's board members, it was also ill suited to tackle the chronic problems of urban poverty and discrimination. Ironically, he was the only one that was able to get President Bush to speak at a convention. He understood the power of working both sides and therefore was forced out by hardline Black liberals.

Young adults in the NAACP can redeem the organization by mounting a no-holds barred assault on such problems as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the lack of comprehensive health care for the poor, and grossly undeserved, under-performing inner city schools, and chronic double digit black joblessness. Until then, we will see the same thing at the same dinners.

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