There has got to be a better way of refuting criticism than constant repetition of, “I know you are, but what am I?”
The NAACP and the Tea Party have engaged in a back-and-forth for more than year over accusations of racism. The public rift began after NAACP President Ben Jealous unveiled a resolution condemning racist elements within the Tea Party.
In a 2010 interview with ABC News, Jealous said, “For more than a year we’ve watched as Tea Party members have called congressmen the n-word, have called congressmen the f-word. We see them carry racist signs and whenever it happens, the membership tries to shirk responsibility.”
He made it plain how the Tea Party could make amends: “if the Tea Party wants to be respected and wants to be part of the mainstream in this country, they have to take responsibility,” Jealous said.
The Tea Party’s response could be characterized as “na-na, na-na, boo-boo.” Shortly thereafter, they claimed the NAACP were the real racists in the room.
Fast forward to nearly a year later, and we’re right back where we started — only this time it’s black Tea Partiers hurling insults at the NAACP.
On July 24, the NAACP will be holding its 102nd annual convention in Los Angeles. Ready to greet members outside the L.A. Convention Center will be protesters from the newly formed — and black led — South Central L.A. Tea Party.
Yes, the Tea Party is now in South Central.
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a right wing preacher and president of a group called Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (B.O.N.D), which is organizing the rally with South Central Tea Party members, told the blog African America reports, the reason for the protest was that the NAACP “has supported left-wing policies which have created dependency, destroyed black families, and hurt race relations.”
Peterson further chastised the NAACP for “spreading lies” about racism within some of the Tea Party membership, called the civil rights organization “tools of the Obama administration,” and suggested the organization is full of hypocrites on the subject of crime, given that “black thugs attack white Americans and commit crimes in flash mobs across the country.”
It’s the kind of rhetoric that makes the likes of Herman Cain and Uncle Ruckus grin themselves into a tizzy. I especially grimace at Peterson’s claim that the NAACP supports “black genocide” by way of the pro-choice stance adopted by the national board of directors in 2004.
Some may agree with other criticisms aimed at the NAACP. B.O.N.D.’s director of public relations, Ermias Alemayehu noted that at a time when the black community is plagued with a bevy of issues, should the NAACP really be focused on CNN’s lack of prime time black anchors?
Of course, there have been instances where blacks were left stupefied by the NAACP; like the symbolic burial of the n-word that was much ado about nothing. It’s no secret that the civil rights organization has lost its luster — and painfully so — among young black Americans.
Yet, while the NAACP’s relevance has diminished that doesn’t mean now’s the time to welcome some de facto group of black right wing extremists. If Rev. Peterson and his ilk want to talk about archaic policies and points of view, they should look in the mirror, rock back and forth and repeat after my namesake, Michael Jackson: “I’m gonna make a change for once in my life”
The last thing black people need is some pseudo bastions of morality disingenuously telling us that our problems are signs of “a spiritual battle between good vs. evil.” Culture wars aren’t going to feed, house, and employ black people.
Similarly, running behind the Tea Party, an organization that not only rarely if ever mentions our needs, but also is a phony grass-roots group funded by billionaires, won’t magically solve our problems either.
For the record, there are cases to be made about black devotion to Democrats on principle as well as the fallacies behind black America’s love for politicians like former President Bill Clinton. However, if you want black people to get real about the left then you sure as hell better afford them that same courtesy with the right.
B.O.N.D. seems averse to such a move, opting instead to mouth off a bunch of nothing that means just as much to black people at large. That might get grab them headlines for now, but in the end it gives Rev. Peterson as great a chance at becoming as viable a political leader to black Americans as Harry Potter.