Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Urban Conservatives On A Mission by Akindele Akinyemi


Older black leaders in Detroit are likely to identify racism as our city's most important problem. On the other hand, younger urban conservatives consider education and economics the most pressing issue. While racism still exists, younger urbanites aren't as pessimistic as older ones.

The question becomes this...are there generational differences among urban leadership? If so,the change must be a good thing. I mean, don't you feel that it's finally time for the younger generation of blacks - with their conservative ideals and energy - to step up and lead. Urban communities in places like Detroit and Indianapolis desperately needs the contributions and perspectives of a new generation of black politicos.

We, as younger blacks aren't as willing to seek dependence on big government and DHS. We do not see Social Security as the Jesus Christ of our retirements. Younger urban conservatives like me also acknowledge the pitiful state of education in our neighborhoods and are more willing to see more educational options as a viable alternative.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and El Hajj Malik Shabazz took the baton from W.E.B Dubois, Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey. They made great strides. It is now mandatory for younger urban conservatives to be given the baton of leadership and to work with equal vigor and dedication to advance our race for the welfare of our entire nation.

Older black politicians participated in the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement, but they seem resistant to the attitudes of the new generation that resulted from their good work. Younger blacks attended desegregated schools. We are more likely to have advanced degrees and identify themselves as political independents. We have more confidence in our country's institutions like banks and big business. We also believe we are headed in the right direction overall in this country.

Young, politically active blacks conservatives like me grew up at the end of the civil rights movement. We watched and heard about the struggles of our parents and grandparents. We've experienced racism, but we realize we aren't living in 1959. Things are different in 2007. We face different struggles and opportunities. Because of these differences, we cannot afford to pretend we live in past. We must use the issues, tools and resources unique to our current situation.

We are now experiencing the silver rights movement. According to John Hope Bryant, the Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, the silver rights movement is

a concept that documents and validates the next phase of civil rights: the empowerment movement not only of American minorities, but of majorities as well. That is, we transition beyond giving a fish, beyond teaching to fish, to owning the pond itself.

Across the country, younger and more conservative blacks are challenging - and sometimes winning - elections against older incumbents. Although challengers primarily come from the Democratic Party, black Republican candidates are also surfacing in record numbers. Revolutions, however, almost never occur without a counterattack from the ruling establishment. Liberal leaders like the ones here in Michigan are pumping money into the campaigns of challenged incumbents who toe the party line. And incumbents are waging smear campaigns against young challengers.

At their recent convention back in July, the NAACP exhibited old guard's mentality. With tired boycott threats, name-calling and scare tactics, it's obvious they feel their power deteriorating. New membership drives are a priority, and they are willing to do anything necessary to stop their membership from going downhill. They are now trying to recruit members in prisons. But their failure to acknowledge current trends will ultimately prove futile with younger voters.

Young urban conservatives are beginning to make their presence known. In 2008 our numbers will continue to grow. Older black politicians are still selling pessimism, but they will soon find that my generation is unwilling to purchase those old, worn-out goods.

Sounds like we are on a mission. A mission for transformation.

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