Friday, August 29, 2014

Get Rid of the NAACP?

April 21, 2009 by  
Filed under engage, race

Shortly after President Obama’s election, there was lots of Internet chatter on the need for historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). No matter my personal qualms about the NAACP’s focus and relevance, I am hard pressed to believe that the advancement of one colored person justifies the end of the entire civil rights organization.

In Sunday’s Washington Post Outlook section, the Washington Post editorial staff surveyed ten members of the opinion-writing intelligentsia on “institutions and ideas the world could do without.”  Responses, with accompanying opinion pieces, included prom, tenure, vice presidents, television, and the NAACP.

In detailing why the world could do without the NAACP, author Jonetta Rose Barras indicts the NAACP on its annual Image Awards and likens the organization to a “favorite elderly relative, telling you the same story every time he sees you.”

Watching the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual Image Awards in February, I found myself asking the question I always ask: Why, in an age of integration, do blacks still need our own Oscar-like program to honor “the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts”? Come to think of it, why do we even need the NAACP?

The organization is as anachronistic as colored-only water fountains and white-only bathrooms. Its racial focus perpetuates the evils it claims it wants to eradicate, and its audiovisual rendering of America as “them vs. us” abets the nation’s balkanization.

In its heyday, the NAACP was a bulwark against racism: It protected African Americans and demanded economic equity. It deserves praise for helping alter American society. But its mission and method have become obsolete.

You’ll get no argument from me, especially after the illustrious giving of “image awards” to people like child molester R.Kelly and Tupac after he had been charged for sexual assault. Yeah, quite the image of black progress!

To be sure, Jonetta Rose Barras shares many of our collective frustrations with the NAACP, and advocates for its “get with the 21st century” update in mission.

The NAACP doesn’t have to become a permanent wing in the new black history museum on the National Mall. It can save itself by abandoning its arcane, analog view of the world and accepting that the 21st century is all high-def. It could expand the definition of “colored” to more than just blacks. Or it could adopt the Bill Cosby agenda and go deeper inside the black community to address beliefs and behaviors that block greater advancement.

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  • Eric K. Foster

    Late on this response, but no way. Remember, Barack Obama won much to the chagrin, utter surprise and disenchantment to the right wing. Now, their tactics of supressing minority voters, eroding the Voting Rights Act (the VRA is already being heard at SCOTUS) and other forms of election day obstruction will be employed during President Obama’s reelection.

    In fact, I think the NAACP’s sole focus may have to be voter protection and voter registration (can’t ever get registered enough as a people) considering the backlash the president will face in a few years. NAACP. Now more than ever. In fact, my check and donation form are looking right at me now.