Thursday, October 27, 2005

More Leaders Of Black Productivity And Fewer Leaders For Black 'Civil Rights”

More Leaders Of Black Productivity And Fewer Leaders For Black 'Civil Rights”

As I listened to Professor Cornell West speak at a forum surrounding the book “When Affirmative Action Was White” I could not help but notice his perspective and compare it to the history that I was exposed to earlier in the week having visited a customer of mine.

For Dr. West the solution to Black people's problems were three fold for today. First Black people must unite against the “War In Iraq”. This would codify our opposition to Western Imperialism and White Supremacy. Next we needed to join in with Tavis Smiley's “Black Covenant” Movement that was christened in January at his “State of the Black Union” conference but after which I heard little about. Finally Black people had to link up with the activities surrounding the upcoming “Millions More Movement”. (West's speech occurred a few weeks prior to the event).

In listen to Dr. West's views it is clear that he sees Black progress in the context of a struggle against White overreaching beyond what they should rightfully claim. He focused on years of oppression and how Affirmative Action should be used to reset the clock and give Black people their just due. He talked about how prior American policy was in fact “White Affirmative Action” as Black people were denied the benefit of these policies that White folks used to heal themselves from the Great Depression and post war America.

He and other speakers wasted no opportunity to comment against the “Right Wing Conservative” domination that is in place today. They, it appears, are the biggest threat to Black America.

My conclusion about Dr. West's vision is that if Whites behave themselves, Blacks will then prosper. Since he did not talk about what Black people need to do in the context of White folks acting properly I have to believe that we will naturally rise, absent anything else.

I couldn't help but to contrast Dr. West's perspective with the rich history that I was exposed to earlier in the week. I went to a technology conference in support of a large national railroad company that I support. We were treated to a dialogue with the CEO of this 12 billion dollar company as he talked about how his work force of 44,000 people were facing big challenges in the years ahead. Starting in 2008 and through 2014 more than 40% of his workforce will be retirement eligible. In them resides much of the corporate knowhow. He is depending on us, his vendor partners to increase the safety and efficiency of his operations as he brings in a new crop of employees and has them to operate his “E-Enabled Railroad” into the next century.

He talked about the “Work Force Of the 21st Century”. A question from the audience had him to focus on the state of the local school system and how the dropout rate was unacceptable. He talked about his company's support of a local school in which his employees are credited time for going into schools and exposing them to a world that they are not privy to in their normal course of life.

They talked about all of the employee training, with a particular emphasis on safety training. He told of how employers are being retrained and redeployed as technology makes their old job obsolete and opens up opportunities in other areas.

On the second day of the conference we had the option of taking a tour of the train operations or touring the rather large collection of art that this railroad had amassed. I chose the art tour. The corporate historian told us that most railroads have a tremendous amount of history stored in their archieves. The founder if this particular company requisitioned several artists during the early part of the late 19th century to head into the western part of this country and capture the brilliant natural landscape with the hopes of having people to travel in the West rather than vacationing in Europe as was fashionable at the time.

The bulk of the paintings, however, focused on the culture of Native Americans. These artists captured the daily lives of many of the original people of this land. All of the paintings were done in a respectful manner and served as a small keyhole to the broader world of study of the hundreds of tribes and the unique culture that they all represented.

Now there is little doubt that these same railroad companies who made passenger and cargo transportation easier for Anglo-Americans who were participating in the economy that was established by the USA at the time to further populate the lands of that where these Native Americans lived and there were plenty of wars and blood shed as the battles ensued over control of the land. At the same time someone living today and making such an assessment simply can't abstract themselves from the benefit that they are receiving by living in this land today.

Circling back around to the discussion about Dr. West – ABSENT from the dialogue that I hear from Dr. West and other Black Activists is the presence of a VEHICLE to lift Black people to where they aspire to be. While the owners of these railroad companies grew filthy rich providing services to the people who demanded them – they also operated as the foundation for the economic boom of America that Dr. West and all others reside in. Countless thousands of jobs were created and trillions of dollars of wealth as been created form their network of steel rails. America would not exist in it's present form absent the railroads.

My challenge is to dislodge the heavy Leftist THEORY of a Dr. West and others who have power in the Black community from the actual map of events that we as African-Americans must follow as we walk a path to prosperity.

The railroad is not JUST a tale of exploited workers, and Pulman Porters who were confined to a race based context to Indian wars. This industry served as one ingredient to the recipe of America's success. In my view Dr. West and others who dominate Black consciousness from the left have not the entire perspective and set of components that are necessary to bring Black people to the “healed state” while we maintain the standard of living that we aspire to.

We need a new class of leaders who work to balance out the worthy concepts that are put forth by some of these thought leaders. Their efforts will surely bring more of these abstract thoughts of prosperity and independence to life.

12 comments:

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Brooklyn said...

I wonder if Dr. West followed any of his suggested "solutions" to attain his reported 6 digit income?

Why do these supposed "black leaders" always want us to submerge our individuality into one of their group causes, i.e. marching, protesting, as if simply by our common skin color we all have the same concerns of someone on the other side of the country?

You never see these charlatans telling their kids to drop everything and join some protest march. Their kids are ensconced in exclusive private schools being educated as to how to master the American economic system while we are supposed to wait while they get around to fixing the failing inner city public school system.

These are no leaders, they are opportunists and I think most black people see right through them. You only need to look at the anemic turnout to the "Millions More March" to see that.

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