Just two days ago Frank Ritter asked where was the "black leadership we so desperately need?" He is likely to get volumes of hate mail for that column. However, he may have been saved from all that additional reading by another columnist appearing on the Tennessean’s editorial page. New York Times writer Bob Herbert has now joined Ritter in asking black leaders to step up.
Herbert opens with this salvo:
One of the cruelest aspects of slavery was the way it wrenched apart black families, separating husbands from wives and children from their parents.
It is ironic, to say the least that now, nearly a century and a half after the Emancipation Prodlamation, much of the most devastating damage to black families, and especially balck children, is self inflicted.
Another Herbert complaint was the "self-imposed ignorance" of the "legions of black youngsters turning their backs on school." Again, he found it ironic that blacks are doing to themselves what whites forced upon them in the days of slavery: denying them an education.
The problem, Herbert notes, rests squarely at the feet of black leadership who refuse to look inward to fix problems.
The problems facing black people today are comparable in magnitude to those of the Jim Crow era . . . There were leaders in those days who were equal to the challenge.
Today, Herbert concludes, "there is a vacuum where our leadership should be."
One of my wishes for 2006 is that it be the year when we can start discussing race without being called racists. Frank Ritter and Bob Herbert have provided a good start.
(Note: I can’t find a link to Herbert’s column on the Tennessean’s site. I have a feeling it may be related to the Times’ decision to make all of their content available only through their paid web site. I wonder how that’s working out for them.)