Thursday, July 15, 2010

Calling the race-hustling Reverend

The black blogger Aaron Laramore in If You Have to Call Al Sharpton for Help With Your Own Mayor, You Have No Power, tells of Sharpton's recent visit to Indianapolis, and writes, "He's here at the urgent behest of local ministers, some of whom pastor the largest black churches in Indianapolis, to help them pressure Mayor Ballard to meet with them regarding the police beat down of a teen during an arrest. Sharpton is scheduled to make several appearances around town and give a speech this evening at 7:00 at Eastern Star Church."

What does this signify about black leadership? "I'm not sure I can conceive of a more visible display of political impotence and irrelevance on the part of these ministers," says Laramore. "If you have to call in an out of town race hustler like Al Sharpton, in order to get the attention of the mayor of your own city, you are irrelevant."

Laramore claims that this scene has been played out in the past, when these ministers tried to make demands on the city's previous Mayor and administration. "This is all reaction that will not result in significant change and stands as an example of how faith leadership in Indianapolis fails to expand and develop the strategic value of their connection to thousands of people."

But do these elites really have a connection to "thousands of people?" Or are members of their congregations weary of the familiar pulpit bombast that ensues each time a "race incident" presents an opportunity for exploitation? Such black "leaders" are eager to show their constituents that they, at least, have the power to engage the Almighty Al Sharpton in their cause, as they hope for some of his luster to rub off on them.

Sharpton is a man for all seasons, and willingly answers the calls even of distressed white folks. Thanks to the white Don Imus who, during his radio troubles in 2007, resuscitated Sharpton's career, almost singlehandedly, the black race hustler still earns a comfortable living doing what he does best. And he is now the host of three (three!) radio programs here in the New York area. So, if white folks, like Imus, aren't calling for the good pastor Sharpton to forgive them their "racial sins," black preachers are keeping him busy hounding their political enemies.

Laramore concludes, "When you call Al Sharpton in from out of town just to have a conversation with your own Mayor, you are missing the boat."

See also here for Laramore's take on this recent NAACP Convention: "I wanted to find something to be encouraged about in this speech, I really did, but color me totally unimpressed. Black folk catching hell and she's touting school snack programs? the opening of a few college chapters; so-called curriculum reforms to teach civil rights history? That's it? That's the best you've got to tout as achievements? The speech has a constant focus on the wrongs done to us, not nearly enough of anything about problem solving in our communities. It was heavy on platitudes, way light on substance."

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