Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tell The Old Guard to Get Out of the Way by Akindele Akinyemi


I am hearing various discussions on both sides of the aisle of how there is a desperate need for young adults to step up only to be blocked by the old guard who want to continue the status quo. We have forgotten that there is nothing more constant than change.

The change that we are seeking is being challenged by the old guard and it's immediate predecessors (the 40-50 year old crowd who listens to the rhetoric of the old guard and attempts to pass the legacy of victimhood down).

We need to rethink our leadership in our community. The community is coming to terms with a new kind of black power in which credentials have little to do with color. A quiet revolution is brewing, one that challenges time worn conventions about race and authority.

For the old guard of leadership the unions traditionally has been the political powerbase of movement in our community. The old guard stressed the importance of elected school boards, big government ran schools, and a social paradox to solving Black America's problems. The old guard relied heavily on the NAACP and National Urban League and every now and then some accepted Black Theology and Black Cultural Nationalism as a means for salvation in our community. The old guard stressed the importance of political power first before economic power and stressed race first before anything else.

Today, the post-Civil Rights generation is passing the 40-year-old mark. Many of them received higher education credentials in the early 1980s and became professionals or worked in corporate America. Some have been active in social change movements doing great work with smaller, lesser-known organizations, and a few have raised millions of dollars.

Right now we have the leaders of the new school clashing with the old guard of leadership in our community. It is happening on BOTH sides of the political spectrum.

The NAACP has great potential to breed and create leadership that will work for us. However, when someone brings up values or Free markets to the old guard they are looked upon as a thorn in the side. Will the Young Adult committee of the NAACP take things to the next level or follow the ways of the old guard? From what I heard at the NAACP dinner I think some of them are ready while others need nurturing. I am still waiting for some of the young people to evolve without sounding like a mouthpiece for someone else.

I have quietly observing the conflict between Rev. Horace Sheffiled and Rev. Charles Williams. Both are part of the National Action Network. Sheffield is of the old guard while Williams is part of a new generation of leaders. There is conflict on both sides of this issue, yet both are men of God.

I am observing the Black Nationalists community deal with the issue of Powernomics by Dr. Claude Anderson. While grassroots activists are talking about Africa Town some young Black economic activists are pushing for a fee market capitalistic society in our community.

The old guard wants to save Detroit Public Schools while the young Black middle class are using educational choice (charter schools, etc) to educate their children.

The old guard wants to raise taxes while the new guard wants to lower taxes.

The old guard ARE STILL pro-union while the new guard are less likely to get behind the unions.

The old guard attends churches with a more political feel to them while the new guard attends churches with a more family based or prosperity-oriented foundation to them.

So the level of leadership is different.

The Young Democrats will not reach out to Young Republicans because the old guard has imprinted in their minds that we are evil and lost when that is not the case.

If you look at the makeup of the Democratic Party here in Detroit alone it is comprised of old people with old ideas and their representation is old (John Conyers is in his late 70s, Debbie Stabenow is in her late 50s and I cannot tell you how many old union people are just that old with stale ideas and are still using the same racial rhetoric that they did 4 decades ago). The Young Democrats are not even taken seriously. Why? Because the Young Democrats are the new guard.

When you talk about Young Black Democrats this dynamic become even more challenging. The old guard tries to instill hate and fear tactics on our young Black Dems in Lansing and in Wayne County Government. Instead of encouraging them to work both sides of the aisle they are taught since day one to hate Republicans and save the unions. In other words carry on our old, stale version of leadership.

On the other hand the Republican side is just as ridiculous. Grassroots Republicans are not even taken seriously in the Republican circles because of the money factor. Never mind your values, your family relationships and your personal relationships with Jesus Christ, make that money. When we want to REALLY stress the value system we are blocked at the highest level.

The old guard in the Black Republican movement can be no better. While they give us excellent advice on some points they too bash Democrats harshly. They do this because of the decades old beatdown of Black Republicans in our community and because most young adults have no working knowledge of the history of the Black Republicans as it relates to the Civil Rights Movement we are looked upon as Uncle Toms.

Both parties have used Blacks as pawns for their own gain. This is not even a liberal or conservative argument. It is no wonder so many young people do not get involved in politics and church. Both parties are full of it. And because we have State and Federal leaders in these parties that put Blacks on the back burner we need a different appraoch to politics. Sit down dinners can be used.for networking while fosterning a relationship on both sides of the aisle will help urban communites. A poor person is not looking at you because you are a Democrat or Republican they are looking at you for HELP.


The level of immaturity of young people in both parties comes from the lack of mentoring. That is why we have so many young people running for office in our community on both sides and have no knowledge of the issues or even know what the position they seek to hold means.

We have some Black Republicans who want to get in with other races of people so bad that they forget who they are and where they come from. I do not mind working with White people and Hispanics but I have always stressed the importance of taking pride of where you come from. That goes for any race of people because we have made a tremendous contribution to the human race. If you reject Africa and have bought into this American system without understanding who you are you are in serious trouble.

While the old Black Republican leadership nationwide talk about the importance of values (which of course I do not have a problem with at all) and the history of the Republican Party (which is extremely important) I do not hear a lot of us talking about local, state, county and national conservative policies as it pertains to Black people and other minorities. We are so busy breaking each other down to the lowest common denominator that it is no wonder that Black Republicans cannot win elections. We cannot run on an anti-LGBT platofrm and go to a NAACP candidate forum thinking that we can be taken seriously. I will not take you seriously and I am your fellow Black Republican. If I will not take you seriously then what do you think the rest of the audience is going to think of you. In fact, I urge ANY Republican running in Detroit to PLEASE consult with someone who knows this game before you go out and make an ass out of us as a whole.


The solution is simply this. The new guard must present original ideas to bring back to the community. The world is global so we have to do our homework by researching, listening to ideas and becoming part of the innovation ourselves. Dr. Ron Walters is part of the old guard of academia and so is Dr. Thomas Sowell. While both have made tremendous contributions to academia in our society when I read their works it sounds like something from the past. I am ready to turn on TV or radio and hear young people debate the issues to create solutions.

The Emerging Leaders of this day and time have arrived. I saw leadership at the NAACP dinner, Freedom Weekend, the Republicans for Black Empowerment, Young Democrats, Young Republicans and many more. I see it in the churches and other religious institutions.I saw the emergence of the Black Republicans during the DeVos campaign and Keith Butler campaign.

It's time for the old guard to take on a more advisory role and encourage young people to run for office, sit on executive committees as well as Board of Directors for companies or schools.

The new guard must be ready to stand up to the responsibility or else get out of the way.

If I have lied or told the truth in this message please let me know.

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