The notion that people in Black communities are hurting is nothing new. Neighborhoods and communities that have historically been under served, under educated and under supported, have been feeling the pain of joblessness and economic despair for a very long time. What’s new is that the pain is now moving upward. With indiscriminate haste, the current economic crisis has been laying waste to 401k plans, retirement funds and college savings accounts. It’s no longer just the usual suspects that are being affected. All of a sudden the “majority” is hurting and the country has mobilized into action.
Some say that America is experiencing the worst economic crisis since the great depression. Folks in Black (URBAN) communities are being hit the hardest as unemployment numbers for Blacks approaches 11 percent. But while stocks on Wall Street continue to lose vale–and personal savings are decreasing, the election of our first Black President has created a growth industry in urban communities across America. The business of leadership is going strong with no signs of being adversely affected by the economy.
Employing the most sophisticated marketing strategies and the most savvy public relations teams, Black political leaders are popping up all over the tube lately. Contrary to our Presidents insistence that change will come from the “Bottom Up,” Our new crop of exalted, enlightened and forward thinking leaders often appear on television by themselves; disconnected from those they represent, and providing viewers with their plans for transforming our communities. One is left to believe that there are scant few in the Black community who have any sense of the challenges facing our communities, and even fewer working on them.
But while the light that’s being cast on high profile Blacks has intensified, it’s also become very narrow. The spotlight has made these “superstars” unwitting (or not) accomplices to marginalizing the work normal folk who, may be less sophisticated in their approach but are no less committed to the cause.
There are people like Dilettante Bass and Shareef Nash (featured in the latest segment of “From The Bottom Up”) in cities all across this country. Every day they get up and do the unglamorous but necessary work of human and cultural revitalization. These are the future leaders who’ve put skin in the game with no expectation of a reward other than the advancement of the communities in which they live.
These young leaders must be mentored and nurtured. The stage is large to be shared with these ground troops. Our leaders can surely turn their spotlights into floodlights and take the efforts of these future leaders out of the shadows and make the job of creating change from the bottom up a whole lot easier.