Two case studies of a leadership gift that keeps on taking; and the mislead who just keep on taking it… “…About three dozen friends and supporters of Cunningham attended today’s hearing. The judge heard from several current or former officials at various child advocacy agencies inside and outside Alabama who asked for mercy or leniency….” (1) And no one (save the prosecutors) was there to ask for Mercy, Leniency and Justice for the poor people who were permanently harmed by her actions. (2) And, having “lived” in public housing, it should have given the mayor a view and an incentive to help those in the greatness need; once he moved into a powerful and influential public housing home as an elected official.
“Patrick Cannon, who rose from public housing to become mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, was arrested Wednesday by the FBI and accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes – including $20,000 in cash delivered in a briefcase last month to the mayor’s office”—Charlotte Observer 3/27/14
“Gayle Cunningham, the former executive director of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, was sentenced this afternoon to two years in prison for her guilty plea to charges related to the theft of nearly $500,000 from the agency…”—Birmingham News 3/27/14
The end of an era, is in many ways the beginning of the end of so many believing in the meaning of this life being wholly (and unholy) captured in the gathering of material wealth. Perhaps, the time has come for all good persons to recognize that we have passed into a new era of extreme Black self-centeredness. This new Black leadership reality suggest that one should not just simply ignore your struggling brothers and sisters; that is, to fail, in a biblical sense, to become their keepers and protectors. Rather, this new movement would suggest that in fact, one should steal from those who can least afford to be stolen from; and who suffer the most from a derelict leadership style. And here we encounter the primary problem; those Americans who are poor, disenfranchised and in the greatest need of principle leadership, find their greatest needs abandoned at the worst possible moments. It’s a time that you: Get what you can, as much as you can, and hurt any who can’t get out of your way! In one of the articles the main perpetrator was earning $150,000/year plus benefits. Why I wonder, could she not live comfortably on a 150K salary in the state of Alabama? The great Bob Marley once sung that: “A hungry man is an angry man”; meaning that the desperately hungry poor are angry enough to act outside of the “legal” parameters erected and supervised by those who exploit them; and who because of that exploitation, are themselves “well-fed”. But none of the bad players in these two sad stories seem chronically impoverished or hungry; and so the question is, why?. If the last 30 years has taught me anything it is that the era of the African-American servant leader, the era where leadership meant that you gave much more than you received, the era where you sacrificed your personal wealth and wellbeing on behalf of the despised, the oppressed and the downtrodden, is over. Where are the Fannie Lou Hamer, The Medgar Evers of our world; the too numerous to name or count millions, who saw the “cause” as a reason to make hard sacrifices, not as a way to make hard cash. It is so difficult for me to recognize this age, or to even recognize how I could even fit into its ethos. Sometimes I feel like I have been awakened in some distant frightful future for which I am strangely unaware, estranged and a stranger to everyone around me. Where is the historical-philosophical continuum from the Civil Rights/Black Power era? Are we at the place where it is every individual for themselves, and their biological families and friends? There seems to be no honor, no commitment to values that transcend the crude acquisition of the base “creature comforts”. It seems (my thinking lately) that what is missing is so fundamentally easy; and so independent of the ability of “White America” to influence or blame; it is our thinking on those things having to do with morality and ethics. I recently had a discussion with a friend concerning what I think is one of the most fraudulent and misapplied ideas of the modern era. The idea that these types of “thefts” constitute a conspiracy by “White Folks” to “set Black leadership up”. Beyond the fact that I believe that this view grants White America too much strategic planning power. For how in this age of highly decentralized and instant electronic information flow can this “conspiracy” be accomplished? How in the era where the NSA can’t even stop a midlevel bureaucrat like Edward Snowden from releasing major classified document concerning the high level spying methods by the National Security Agency(NSA) toward US citizens and our international friends; be capable of keeping quiet a “conspiracy” of the magnitude that could stretch from NYC, DC, Louisiana, to North Carolina and also make its rounds in Birmingham Alabama? No, these criminals (who happen to be Black) are no more being “set-up”, then a bank is setting up a bank robber simply because it exist as a bank. These folks are no modern-day version of “Robin Hood”; they are not out to funnel money from “the man” to the suffering masses; no, they are nothing but flat-out thieves caught stuffing their pockets; colorless in their immorality, and shameless in their ability to only see “color” as an opportunity to exploit those whose interest they claim to represent. Their behavior is worthy of a social-psychological study; for these criminals are not the hopelessly undereducated, unemployed young Black man selling weed on the corner; these folks actually have an education, jobs with a more than adequate income; is this the greatest expression of: “Black on Black Crime”? The Republican-Tea-Party-Right-Wing leadership crowd make their intentions clear; they don’t care about poor people, the health or any other type of care for the poor. They want to return Black people in this nation back to an era when the rights and aspirations of Black America (Called: knowing and being in their place) were ignored at best, and destroyed and brutally trampled at worst. The mere presence of a President Obama is an affront to their philosophy of White American exceptionalism, entitlement and exemption from the rules of fairness. Understandably, they see their leadership (elected or otherwise) as an instrument of denial, denigration and disenfranchisement. But, I wonder; what on earth are these “Black (phenotypically speaking) Leaders thoughts on the role and purpose of leadership? Do the plight of the suffering poor ever cross their twisted minds? Just what were they thinking; and, what are they thinking now?