Pseudo leadership and black groupthink

Armstrong Williams
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Posted: Oct 05, 2004 12:00 AM

Black groupthink and the pseudo leaders that tout it are destroying the black community.

The black pseudo leader is the community activist who is dedicated solely to getting us to pay attention. Nattily dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit, he stands tall at phony press conferences, studding his speech with racially charged words that solicit knee-jerk reactions from the crowd.

The black pseudo leader is a parasite. He nourishes himself on the suffering of others. He exists by satisfying the mob's voracious appetite for excuses and easy solutions. If there is no easy solution for the complex problems of racism in our country, the black pseudo leader will create one. In a calm baritone he will talk about reparations. Sure, that causes people in the crowd to pump their fists in support. But what does it actually do to affect progress?

Racial revenge fantasies do not confront the fact that the tenets of liberalism have failed us by putting us in the mindset that we need handouts in order to be successful. Racial revenge fantasies do not confront the fact that black Americans no longer need the Democrats to broker public policy for them. Racial revenge fantasies do not focus us on political activism because it is consumed with the notion of retribution for past crimes. We need to support choice and market-based reforms that will prepare us to achieve the American dream. Instead, our leaders spend all their time cleaving to century-old crimes and stirring racial tensions because this is how they make a living. That is why we've been held back. Every leader that comes forward has his or her own agenda. Like the old saying goes, "easiest way to control the mob is to agree with them."

This is, of course, empty leadership, and it marks a sad decline. During the heyday of the civil rights movement, our community leaders were not apt to become household names unless they accomplished something great, something galvanizing. Now our leaders know that they can achieve this perch by pumping us full of vitriol about how all the problems we face as a community are the result of other people's sins. They fill their speeches with the sort of racial rhetoric that shocks people into paying attention. And we have come to confuse the attention they receive with genuine leadership.

Julian Bond, Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer, Jesse Jackson and Marion Barry are not leaders. They do not talk about the complex problems that confront our communities. Instead they distill these complex issues into racially-charged sound bites that get their swollen faces on TV. This is not leadership. It's hype. And it encourages a sort of racial groupthink that conditions the public to think and act a certain way. Every black person in this country knows that he is not supposed to support Republicans. Does it matter that the Republicans are doing more to clean up our rotting schools and give our kids a sense of future possibilities? Apparently not. Apparently it is OK if a white person supports Republican reforms, but if a black person does, he is a racist.

Similarly, it's OK for a white person to be against affirmative action, but if a black person comes out and says programs like this are encouraging victim status and that this is inherently damaging, he is labeled and dismissed as a "racist." This is racial groupthink: we all have to think and act the same way, or we're called traitors. These cultural norms keep us in line. They ensure that the black community is the easiest voting block to control and to take for granted.

This is having a disastrous effect on the black community. Ever wonder why some black people succeed and others don't? How can you expect to do well, to thrive in society, if you are obsessed with racism? I see it all the time - black business people who refuse to even network with white people because they feel it makes them a sellout. This black groupthink has gotten to the point where we're willingly cutting off our own business opportunities. Limiting the amount of capital flowing into our community does not help us achieve progress. It just keeps us stuck on a dead-end street of self-righteous indignation.

Sellout is just a term that people use to enslave us and keep us distracted from real problems. Sure, racism exists. Look at the White House - it's the oldest white boys club in this country. But throwing your arms up and claiming racism does nothing to break down those racial barriers. You must invade these fields traditionally reserved for white men and break down stereotypes from the inside. This doesn't happen if we spend all of our time standing on the outside shouting racism.

Sadly, that's what our so-called leaders are encouraging us to do when they tout this myth of the angry black man who deserves justice. This myth is appealing because it acknowledges the horrible crimes that have been visited upon our community. But it is dangerous because it encourages us to alienate ourselves from the opportunities that exist. Even more dangerous is the fact that we have failed to produce a new mythology, a new set of images that might encourage our community to think of itself as something other than socially-alienated victims.

Until our leaders dispense with the groupthink and take a hard look at the problems facing our community, until they seek to embody a new mythology and break free from the myth of the forever victim, little will change.