Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Al Sharpton: Are We Shooting Another Messenger?

Well, yesterday, predictably, activist Rev. Al Sharpton waged a protest against the New York city police killing of Sean Bell and subsequent judge's decision that they were not guilty. Predictably, he was arrested; and just as predictably, the stories have become more about Sharpton than the reason for the protest. The stories do raise good questions, but are they little more than another version of shooting the messenger?

They say Sharpton is an egotistical maniac who craves attention like a new-born babe craves mommy's nipple. They say ole Al just loves to hear himself talk. They say he's never seen a microphone, bullhorn or perm he didn't like. True.

Moreover, they say that Sharpton's involvement in the Sean Bell case is no more than a temporary publicity stunt and that what's needed is a national black political movement to identify, coordinate, promote and defend black interests. Maybe, but wait a minute. Are you blaming Sharpton for a lack of a strong national political movement to protect black interests? What's stopping the NAACP, the Urban League or other traditional civil rights organizations from coming to the assistance of Sean Bell's family? As the brothas say at the coffee shop, "What's the deal, Holyfield?

The real deal is that these traditional black organizations like the NAACP, who once fought for black folk's civil and human rights, are now run by old leaders whose management skills over time has either bankrupted their organizations financially or led them into political irrelevance. Consequently, they have left a vacuum that has been filled by black advocates like Rev. Al Sharpton or Re. Jessie Jackson. You say that filling of the vacuum is nothing but opportunism. I say maybe, but it's also a necessity. And I ask you in earnest: if the Sharpton's and the Jackson's don't help victims like the Bell family, who will?

But Sharpton's critics are right about one thing: black people do need to stop merely reacting to one wrongdoing or another such as the sad Sean Bell episode in different states and set up a national organization that will prioritize black interests, defend and extend those interests. But until then, perhaps we should spend less time shooting messengers and focus more energy on laying bare and doing something about the injustices that lead black advocates to shining microphones in the first place.


SagaciousHillbilly said...

I really do love Al. I believe he is one of the true liberal voices in Amurkkka that doesn't pander or play coy with politics. Whenever I see Rev. Al on some talk show or news panel I listen. He almost always goes right to the point and doesn't mince words. As a result I see him less and less these days.
He's brash, he's a blow hard and he's a unapologetically self promoting. So what? He's usually right and I love the guy.

MacDaddy said...

sagacious: As an advocate, I think he plays an important role. It's easy to go after messengers. It's more difficult to go after those who make advocates necessary. p.s. Tell your son hello for me.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

When you go after the messenger, you distract the audience from the message. Very effective for those who don't want the message heard.

Message sent.

Anonymous said...

If his message is legitimate I'm fine. When its not, I'm not okay with it.

MacDaddy said...

Symphony: I agree. Though messengers shouldn't be shot, they also shouldn't be exempt from criticism. This includes Sharpton. For example, the brothas over at Electronic Village and the Sistahs over at What About Our Daughters rightly criticized Sharpton and the NAACP for the despicable incident at Dunbar, where both Sharpton and the NAACP took the side of thugs and rapists over a black woman and her son. Yes, advocates can be scrutinized as well.

Yobachi said...

I read an article on somebody's blog not too long ago that pointed out that it's the media that chases Al and Jesse more so than the other way around, by demonstrating how they don't cover certain stories unless those two are involved.

I noticed this with the Jena six situation, the corporate media almost refused to cover it for 3 months from the time Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune broke it nationally in May, then when Sharpton was invited down to speak at a church in Jena in late July, almost every major news entity covered it at least online; then when he left they went right back to not covering it again.

Al Sharpton brings some of the bad criticism on himself, like advocating to get the Dunbar Village rapist released, and acting like a pre-madona super star (not to mention having that conk in his head); but by-and-large the media just uses him as a lighting rod and ignore his message, and white people just use calling him a racist too focus on him so they can ignore the issue that they don't want to deal with.

Likewise, Negroes on the sidelines who do nothing, really need to shut their traps about what he's doing since they aren't doing anything. It's not the NAACP and Urban League that need to step up; they're jokes. It's everyday do nothing but complain Black folk who need to step up; or at least shut up.

Danielle said...

I applaud Rev. Al for pushing on this matter. Sean Bell deserves justice. We do need to re-examine and not just react, but Rev. Al has a place in this fight.

He's not perfect and I wished he'd hollered as loud for the victims of Dunbar Village, but that's a topic for another time.

MacDaddy said...

Yobachi, Danielle. I agree. I know this isn't the major reason the Bell family is doing this. But I hope that, through Sharpton's assistance in bringing exposure to Bell's killing, they're able to get lots of bucks from New York City in a settlement. Sometimes, that's all city officials understand. Thanks.

Kellybelle said...

I agree with you. I did this play about police brutality. The playwright's son was assaulted on his own father's front lawn in a very tony neighborhood. The playwright said the first thing her lawyer told her was NOT to call Rev. Al and co. if they wanted to win the case. They didn't and they won.
But, if Rev. Al didn't show up, who would?