Monday, December 5, 2011

Black Civic Organizations: I’d Like Mine Straight with No Chaser Please!

When I was a kid, I remember hearing stories from my parents about great civil rights organizations and movements.  There was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), who under the legal brilliance of Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston, successfully argued Brown v. The Board of Education before the Supreme Court.  There was the Harlem Renaissance, where a collection of artists, musicians and intellectuals from novelist Jessie Redmon Fauset  to  philospher Alain Locke challenged, changed, and lead the conversation on black aesthetics, music, and intellect.  There was the Civil Rights Movement, where black leadership stood tall and fought for the rights of African-Americans under the fiercest opposition imaginable.  And then there were the Black Panthers, an organization deemed terrorist because they chose to fight fire with fire.  Many members in these organizations and movements paid the ultimate cost - their lives.

Well, my friends, the days of strong black civic organizations are over.  These organizations are nothing more than watered down versions of their former selves.  Of course, other than skinny jeans wearing, weed smoking, Lil' Wayne fans, there is no real social movement in the black community.  Interestingly, enough, there are more black organizations than ever.  These organizations do no more than raise money and smile for newspapers and television.  Here is my take on how the top five black civic organizations fail the African-American community.  I'll  rate each one with up to 5 of the coveted Old Guru stars to give you an idea of how they are performing.  Check it out after the jump.

1.  NAACP 
First up is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  First and foremost, the name is horribly outdated.  Okay, now I won't be petty, I understand why they keep "colored" in the name - its part of the history of the organization and reminds us of progress we've made.  

      Now the NAACP states that it exists to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic rights of all persons.  Hmmm, but I can’t actually say they are doing that.  Remember, this is the organization that resourced Thurgood Marshall during his quest to expose judicial inequities across the nation, sentencing disparities in the military, and education discrimination in Brown v. Board.  So what are they up to now?  Well, their presence was minimal during the Troy Davis execution.  I mean they made a few television appearances with his sister, but did they have any real clout?  Uh, no!  Did they flood the courts with amicus briefs?  Nope.  How much did you see them during the trials of the Jena Six?  Where is their "Fight the Smears website for Obama?  Why do they hire so few black lawyers?  How are they tackling the problem with the uneducated masses in the black community?  What about the violence in urban neighborhoods?  What about the alarmingly high unemployment rate for blacks?  Honestly, I could go on for the rest of this post about these clowns, but there are four more organizations to cover, so I'm moving on....reluctantly.  They get 1 out of 5 Guru stars.   ★☆☆☆☆

2.  BLSA
      Now, I'll take it a little easy on the Black Law Student Association because it is the only completely student run organization in the country.  As wonderful as their independence is, it actually hurts them. See law students are incredibly busy and tend to drop things when it competes with school work.  If there was some sort of adviser or attorney-director that could ensure continuity from year to year, maybe this organization wouldn't have the problems they have.  

      What problems do they have?  Hmmm, for starters, most employers come to their job fairs to check a box only - and then they actually brag that they don't plan to hire anyone.  In addition, BLSA is almost non-existent in the social fight, save for information on their webpage, and the culture is incredibly superficial - in short, it is a fashion show.  The conferences and meetings are filled with these well dressed black students that do what?  Well they meet and socialize and then socialize some more and then they give all the national leaders these wonderful awards.  But they don't prepare amicus briefs advocating BLSA's position in major civil rights cases, they don't contact media venues to express dissatisfaction with America's social policies, and they don't act as watchdogs for companies, organizations, or politicians that take actions counter to the improvement of social and economic conditions of the black community.  Most importantly, they fail to target their biggest source of members - historically black colleges and universities (HBCU's).  And they don't do much to give college students a heads up on the rigors of law school.  Even more so, I've never heard of a law school prep class offered by BLSA. Have you?  Again, I cut them some slack because the organization is completely student run.  Because I'm nice, BLSA gets 2 Guru stars.  ★★☆☆☆


      3.  NBA
      Ok, so BLSA serves as sort of a feeder organization to the National Bar   Association.  Think of the NBA as the black counterpart to the American Bar Association. Honestly, after my experiences with BLSA, I wanted nothing to do with the NBA. Now you would think that since most members of the NBA come from BLSA, the two would have sort of a mentor/mentee relationship and that the NBA would resource and support BLSA as much as possible.  Uh, not so much. There practically is no relationship between the two.  The NBA rarely sends representatives to any BLSA event, (ie, conferences, job fairs, panels) and BLSA doesn't really promote the NBA.  

      Additionally, the NBA is horribly managed and in my opinion, is an embarrassment to the legal field.  For example, the organization is having financial problems because they have issues recruiting and retaining members.  How do they deal with that?  These dudes, throw lavish parties during campaigning and for incoming presidents costing upwards of $50,000.  WTF??!!??  Who does that?  Then, their national presidents are hand picked by the NBA's inner circle three and four administrations out.  That's right, as a member, your vote means nothing.  And no, you can't work hard and perform well enough for the organization to earn the title of President.  You must impress the inner circle and participate in the big parties and then you might have a chance.  Not to mention that they are non existent in state and federal level court filings.  These guys should employ its lawyers all over the country to wreak havoc on the GOP's ridiculous stance on immigration, its position on the Affordable Health Care Act, its desire to stymie the economy by saying no to everything, and its blockade of federal judicial appointees.  In addition, the NBA should take the Tea Party head on and organize voter registration drives, education campaigns, call centers, rallies, and they should establish political headquarters in all major cities.  SMH on this one.......  For its lack of gumption, the NBA gets 1 Guru star.   ★☆☆☆☆

       4.  CBC

       And now my personal favorite, the Congressional Black Caucus.   Now this organization, made up of  black Congressmen and Congresswomen, researches and writes policies to improve the socio-economic status of the African-American community.  Now before I go smooth off on the CBC, let me just say that I think it is imperative to have an organization that can use congressional influence to improve the plight of blacks.  IF THEY WERE ACTUALLY DOING IT!  I'm not kidding but I want to earl each time I attend a CBC event.  Attending a CBC event is really is like attending the Grammys. Everyone of the members get an award for something, when nothing is actually being done.  They throw these big lavish parties in the good part of DC, all while unemployment is off the charts among blacks in the city.  They do ziltch regarding social issues other than talk on television, kick it at their Puff Daddy parties, and amend the html codes on their website.  This organization is all talk, talk, talk.  Everytime someone tells me they attended a CBC event, I ask them, "Well, what happened?"  Their response is always, "Well... they talked." And its members walk around like the Wu-Tang Clan, complete with a 25-man entourage.  They epitomize a do nothing Congress because they minimally effect the social economic status in the black community.  All I can say is epic fail.  And that's being generous.    Accordingly, the CBC gets 2 Guru stars.  And that's only because Obama was a member. ★★☆☆☆

      5.  Rainbow Push Coalition
      Now this organization is run by Mr. I Am Somebody himself - Reverend Jesse Jackson.  You would think an organization run by a sixties era powerhouse would have more power and clout to pressure Congress or governments to improve social conditions in the black community.  In fact, the only thing they fight is custody issues with Mr. Jackson - Jesse if you're nasty.  But seriously, when was the last time you saw  Rainbow Push at a school in your neighborhood? When was the last time you learned something from the Reverend other than you are somebody?  When was the last time Rainbow Push held a major television conference to discuss the abysmal national testing scores in our black schools?  What are they doing about the violence in schools?  What is their mandate on internet bullying?  What about our young people getting AIDS?  Again, this is a do-nothing organization that exists for the self edification of its Chairman. The Rainbow Coalition gets 1 Guru star because I couldn't figure out how to give a half star. ★☆☆☆☆

      Sound Off!!

      1.  Do you know of civic organizations in your community that talk the talk but don't walk the walk?

      2.  How can those organizations actually meet the missions set forth in their non-profit applications?
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