By Raynard Jackson
I was once told, “Be what you are looking for. If you want friends, go be a friend; if you want love, go love someone and if you want happiness, go make someone happy.”
As I have reflected on this simple, but yet profound statement, I have found most of the major Black organizations are woefully hypocritical. They refuse to be what they are looking for.
Groups like the NAACP, The National Urban League and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) constantly complain about the lack of diversity in corporate America.
These groups claim they are always told by corporations that they “can’t find” minorities for board or employee positions. They, in turn, accuse the companies of not being serious about diversity. To a large extent, these groups are right. But what I find amazing is that these same groups do the very same thing they accuse corporate America of doing. The elections this month showed that America is becoming more diverse and that diversity is here to stay. But, what is ironic is that within Black organizations, there is no diversity of thought.
The aforementioned groups pretend to be non-partisan or bi-partisan. However, when you look at their leaders, they are all unabashed Democrats or very liberal in their thinking. When they are challenged on this, they claim they can’t find any Black Republicans to get involved. Sounds familiar? When they have their annual conferences, they will put one token Black Republican on a panel (against five or six Democrats) so they can boast about being inclusive. Sounds familiar? Mind you that no Blacks Republicans are ever involved in the planning or have any input about who will appear on a panel. Sounds familiar?
If these groups would admit to the obvious—that they have a liberal bias –at least they would be honest. But to insist, as they do, that they are not biased flies in the face of the truth.
Why has Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the CBC not demanded that these groups – and their own organizations – reflect diversity? How can they in good conscious demand from Corporate America what they are unwilling to provide themselves?
According to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 76 percent of Blacks identify themselves as Democrats. However, 5 percent are Republicans and 16 percent prefer the independent label, though many independents lean toward the GOP.
Back in the day, you had prominent Black Republicans on the board of the NAACP and the National Urban League. This forced both political parties to engage with these groups. Today, these groups have become vestiges of the Democratic Party where one party takes them for granted and the other just ignores them. Sure, they still have some Republicans on their Boards, but they are usually in the background.
From what I can tell, no established Black newspaper endorsed Mitt Romney over President Obama. Yet, Democrats refuse to spend any advertising dollars with them. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk free? Obama spent more than $ 2 billion on his campaign and very little money with the Black media. Granted, Republicans are guilty of the same slight.
Interestingly, not one member of the CBC contributed to Obama’s campaign this year. Not one. And there were only seven CBC contributors in 2008, according to OpenSecrets.org. Politicians, perhaps more than any other group, should understand the importance of campaign contributions.
Making our major organizations more politically and intellectually diverse doesn’t cost a cent. Are liberals really so insecure about their beliefs that they are afraid of having their ideas tested in the market place of ideas?
Blacks must get back to the days when we held spirited debates about what’s best for our communities. If an idea is worthy of implementing, it should be worth defending. And if it can’t be defended, maybe it was never a good idea at all.
With all of the problems we face – high unemployment, low educational accomplishment, crime, a dwindling middle class, among others –new ideas are needed now more than ever. Over the past four decades – under Black and White presidents – the unemployment rates for Blacks have been double that of Whites. Whatever we’ve tried in the past simply has not worked. And our community has been the real looser.
If we are ever going to change our predicament, the least we must do is create an honest dialogue between all segments of our community. Otherwise, we’ll never be what we’ve been looking for.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com.