“I thank God that most of the money that supports the NAACP comes from Black hands; a still larger proportion must so come, and we must not only support but ‘control’ this and similar organizations and hold them unwaveringly to our objects, our aims and our ideals.”
W.E.B. DuBois wrote those words in the Crisis magazine in 1915. Ironically, what was written in the Crisis has now become the crisis in the NAACP and other so-called Black organizations.
No ‘Black’ control
Established in 1909 by White folks, Blacks put their money up and supported the NAACP.
Now the NAACP and many of its local chapters would go out of business if they did not receive money from non-Black corporations and individuals whose “controlling interests” have reduced the NAACP to paper-tiger status in many of our communities.
Fast-forward to 2017. NAACP interim president Derrick Johnson has to defend the relevancy of the supposedly Black civil rights organization by saying, “If you move across this landscape and in many communities, the NAACP is the only vehicle individuals have to raise their voice and ensure that democracy exists.” If the NAACP is the “only” vehicle we have, Black folks are in a world of trouble.
Johnson said Donald Trump’s policies, statements, and actions hurt “all” Americans, and the mission of the NAACP even refers to “equality of rights of ‘all’ persons,” which is inconsistent with its name, i.e. the “advancement of colored people.”
Voting cures all?
Then Johnson pulled out that tried and true, tired and tepid NAACP mantra by saying voting remains a major subject for the NAACP going into next year’s midterm elections.
“For the first time, I can agree that this is the ‘most important election’ coming up…Voting is paramount,” he said.
He also addressed several NAACP concerns including racist statues, monuments, and flags on public property (no mention of the Edmund Pettus Bridge or Stone Mountain); the NAACP’s willingness to meet with Trump, but only to discuss policy “proposals” (not demands); and the domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, Va.
Reaching once again into the NAACP toolkit, Johnson said voting is the catalyst to improve communities and change public policy, and added this confusing statement:
“Those who have the right to vote have say. Those who don’t, don’t. Your vote is your currency. If you’re bankrupt and you go to the store, you can’t purchase anything. If you’re exercising your currency and you collect that currency with others who have your interest, you can purchase the grocery store.”
What’s he saying?
All I can say is, “SAY WHAT?” I also repeat something Abraham Maslow said: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will see every problem as though it’s a nail.” In the NAACP’s eyes we have the same problem, so we should use the same tool, and therefore get the same results, right?
Other than Bruce Gordon, NAACP leaders have for decades told us that voting is the answer. Obviously, they have no other solution and no other tool except a ‘hammer’ to offer Black folks.
What’s next? The NAACP will help prepare and offer solutions to register voters. Don’t we know how to do that by now?
The best thing about the national NAACP is the work of Sherrilyn Ifill and her staff. I truly admire and respect her, as well as the work done by some of the branches around the country.
But other than that, to the question of “What’s new at the NAACP?” the answer is: “Absolutely nothing!”
James E. Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. His latest book, “Black Dollars Matter! Teach Your Dollars How To Make More Sense,” is available on his website, Blackonomics.com, and Amazon Kindle eBooks.