Friday, September 23, 2005

Katrina's Dirty Laundry

Is it wrong to forget the past? Are we doomed to repeat history if we do forget? No, we repeat history because human events inevitably operate in cycles: from extreme to extreme, all based on the never-changing nature of the human being. First you are a slave, then you rebel, obtain power and enslave others. They rebel, obtain power and enslave yet others. It is a fact of human nature that those who are inclined toward power for the sake of power are inherently incapable of having compassion for the people they leave behind -- even if those people are their very own selves. And history, as we know, is written by the very powerful winners.

What are the current African-American leaders doing? Nothing of any substantial impact -- that's for sure -- this rut has been dried and cracking for a generation now. And a lot of it has to do with a lack of real leadership. Jesse Jackson -- I'm sorry to say -- simply doesn't project the appearance of power, and his adventures in adultery (especially considering that he is a man of the cloth, so to speak) were the nail in the coffin of his well-established political impotence. Similarly with Al Sharpton, (another man of the cloth, notably) there are fundamental problems with his ability to appear serious and capable. His ridiculous coif alone is a mockery of African-American dignity. Louis Farrakhan (yet another man of the cloth -- is this a requirement for African American leadership?) is another faulty figurehead. His historical association with the Black Muslims at the peak of their corruption (including his probable role in the assassination of Malcolm X) is a major dent to his credibility. As are his racially-insensitive statements about other minorities.

It is the leaders' job to lead their people toward claiming back everything the institution of slavery and its aftermath took away from them. Every-day-people have basic needs they must address -- their larger battle against racism in the United States perpetually plagues them, but they are not in a position to alter centuries of racist culture on a large scale. They can fight their small, but significant daily battles, but substantial and lasting change is only ever achieved through revolution. Malcolm X knew that. And Martin Luther King, Jr. eventually realized it, when he stood against Viet Nam -- his first break from the security of his clergy. Who will the next leaders be? Perhaps we must seek the unconventional -- people like Kanye West who have the financial and public clout to speak out and rile the masses toward change. It is only a matter of time before the next major civil rights movement for African Americans takes shape.

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