Sunday, May 18, 2008

The NAACP and their vision problem.

A couple of months ago I met a gentleman in D.C. by the name of Kevin Myles. Kevin is the President of the Wichita branch of the NAACP, and I found him to be down to earth, sharp, and conscious. Most of all, he got it. He understood that the only way that the NAACP was going to truly become relevant as an organization, was to embrace the future, adopt to the changing ways of the information super highway, and organize around it.

The fact that I met Kevin at a bloggers technololgy conference was proof positive that he had his head in the right place, and we talked about his organization (the NAACP) and the future of other traditional civil rights groups like it.

I remembered Kevin today when I read about the NAACP selecting a new national president, a brother by the name of Ben Jealous ( I love that name). Oxford educated, Ivy League degree, Rhodes Scholar, community organizing since he was 14. (Did I say Jealous or Obama?) He clearly has all the right credentials, and I love that fact that he is only 35 years old. At least the elders at that venerable organization are starting to look in the right direction. Nothing against some of our older traditional leaders, but I was tired of the recycled preachers and the old boys club from the traditional civil rights movement. Here in Philadelphia the President of the NAACP is a self promoting, egomaniacal loof ( that's a backwards fool for those of you not familiar with field speak). He is one of the reasons that I stopped paying dues to the organization years ago. They were out of touch with the younger generation, and they closed ranks and refused to listen to other voices or let anyone else take an active role in the organization's direction.

Now, of course, we don't need them anymore. We can organize ourselves. Thanks to the Internet we can raise money, organize around causes, and get important messages out to each other.

The NAACP has approximately 500,000 members around the country. But Color of Change, an Internet activist group based out of California, has about that many people signed up and ready to go as online activist. Groups like the Afrospear (sphere), a coalition of bloggers of color, have over 100 active blogs with the power to organize and reach readers with their message. So while the NAACP has the brand, they need to recognize that they must adopt to change and try to combine the power of their brand with the technology now available to them.

Mr. Jealous is an old newspaper man (former executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association), but I am hoping that he can divorce himself from the traditional thinking of the old old black media, and move into the 21st century. He should be able to, because he is obviously a smart man, and he is young enough to understand the nuances of the new phenomenon that is online activism.

Kevin Myles understands it. But he is just one man from one of many NAACP branches around the country . He has started a blog for that chapter, and he has a vision of synthesizing the traditional message of the NAACPP with online activism and organizing. I wish him luck, because old habits are hard to break.

When W.E.B. DuBois and Ida Wells-Barnett started this great organization in 1909, I am sure that they never dreamed that it would grow into the powerful organization that it eventually became. But sadly,today, the NAACP is in trouble-- They were forced to lay off a third of their staff because of budget shortfalls--, and if their leadership don't get their heads out of their asses and stop enjoying the smell of their own shit, this once great organization will be reduced to just a footnote in history.


Christopher Chambers said...

The former prez was a Verizon exec who was supposed to e the cash conduit to Mr. Charlie...he didn't last. Mr. Jealous was a favorite of Julian Bond, who is suspect and thus you wonder what Jealous's angle might be. I'm not suspicious; my point is just that this dude might not be the young turk savior we're hoping for. The proof's in action. The current Mayor of Detroit was supposed to be so--and look how that bastard's messed things up.

They need to cut the 64 member board down to 10. They need to chuck ALL of the fossils, including Bond. They need to start challening the very corporate bigshots from whom they $ lest they become the Urban League. They need to re-embrace the NAACP LDF, which pulled away from them under similarly stupid NeeShee (nigga shit, e.g. ignorance and drama) and become a fully synthesized, comprehensive force. They need to stop the Hollywood crap wih the Image Awards and make them awards for public service, education.

It can be done. My Baltimore posse will be watching...

Francis Holland said...

Kevin Myles is a very positive member of the AfroSpear and a great interface between the AfroSpear and the old NAACP.

I hope that the 66 members of the NAACP Board can each get to know the knew president well enough to work out a set of priorities upon which everyone can agree. Or, maybe they should just make the structural change of decreasing the size of their board?

How did it ever get so large anyway, looking at it from an historical perspective?

Anonymous said...

As much as I appreciate blogging there is a difference between simply belonging to a group by signing up and sending in some money.

I'm not, by any means, defending the NAACP and defining it as an organizations for others to follow.

We just have too many 'name only' organizations. That is not meant to criticize Color of Change or the Afrospear.

We need less newsletter organizations or as Robert Putnam called the phenomenon--letterhead proliferation.

Lola Gets said...

Kevin is alright with me too. Although, hes still on my list (as are you) for talkin' bout my raggedy car.

I hope the NAACP gets its act together - theres still more they can accomplish!


Anonymous said...

Hey Field:

Interesting points. The NAACP has had problems because people have misunderstood their role in the civil rights struggle. As most recall MLK and others had to form their own organizations to carry on the fight because the NAACP's mission was to fight discrimination in the courts and through federal and local legislation. Thus they have been effective in cases such as Brown v. Board of Ed and the national Labor Committee was instrumental in getting some progressive labor law passed.

In essence it is a black middle class Civil Rights organization and because of this and its focus on legislative change and legal change it is limited. I work with one locally and people assume that the NAACP puts on a cape and fights everyones individual battles. However it does not and can not.

It leads me to bring up the fact that black folks in the 21st century have to come up with a varied strategy to deal with our issues. The internet advocacy is great but we have to keep in mind many of the black masses do not own or have access to computers consistently. We still need sincere, dedictated, unbought organizations that are dedicated to the cause of civil and human rights, that can still go door to door and host community meetings and organize protests and whatever else.

Thus as in the past we need organizations that can deal with the day to day struggles we face as black people middle class, working class and poor. During the Civil Rights movement there existed a plethora of groups SNCC and SCLC are probably the most well known but there were lots of groups because different groups had different focuses and some could reach certain segments better.

Brother Field too many of our people act now as if racism doesn't exist rather than acknowledging that unless some real change in our social/political/economic system occurs this is one of the things that we are going to continue to experience. And unfortunately many of us choose to ignore the issue of racism in our society and close our ears to our brother's pleas until the monster knocks on our door. Which makes what you do Field quite honorable because it appears that you could go about your business without being bothered with whats happening to the other half.

So I always wonder out loud why in every community black churches and other well meaning organizations don't pool their resources and set up a center with a small staff equipped to deal with the racism that we are sure to experience in the workplace, broader society or at the hands of the police or civic authority. Even one person paid by the community to trouble shoot would make a difference.

I really would like to have folks feedback on an idea like that.

Anonymous said...

It t'was Marcus Garvey, who observed upon visiting the NAACP, everyone there was damn near white.

It t'would seem that they (the NAACP) are returning to their olde land-marks.

Most Definitely Cullud

A Most Fitting Replacement For Julian Bond

wst... said...

dont trust rhodes scholars!

field negro said...

" The internet advocacy is great but we have to keep in mind many of the black masses do not own or have access to computers consistently. We still need sincere, dedictated, unbought organizations that are dedicated to the cause of civil and human rights, that can still go door to door and host community meetings and organize protests and whatever else."

"mellaneous" that is a great point,(I think symphony is saying the same thing) and it is one of the shortcomings of the www. But from an information standpoint we still have a huge advantage now over what those hardworking heroes in the fifties and sixties had, and we should take advantage of it.

LOL at Lola. How are things in D.C.? Do you have a new car yet? I swear you should set up a donate to Lola fund on your blog :)

Chris, why aren't you and your Bamore posse trying to shake up those old heads?

field negro said...

we saw that? How is my favorite La. blogger? And what's going on down in the "boot"?

baatin. said...

great post, field. couple of things: today is the first day i've been to their website, and i was disappointed. one of the things the obama campaign realised early was the power of branding. they came up with a sleek, smooth logo, nice light blue color, and a muter red than say, screaming hillary's, or staid mccains. the naacp needs to rebrand, and quite frankly, needs to clarify whether it represents all minorities, all americans or just black people. i was seriously pissed when they invited rev. wright to detroit. what does that say to other ethinic groups in the country? another point is that their name needs an upgrade. even i have trouble, for some reason, with 'COLORED PEOPLE.' that phrase just reeks of latent racism to me, and echoes to a past that perhaps we need to move away from.

Anonymous said...

We'll see how much authority this new President has and what their agenda is. In seeing how they react to situations involving Black on Black crime - zip - and on violence against Black women and children - Dunbar Village - as examples their purpose is extremely limited in who and what they support. They ignore the needs of the majority of the community when they only focus on Black victimization by white people or ignore the criminal mentality of some of the Black men they defend. They're part of the Civil Rights Industrial Complex which in my opinion just seeks to serve their own interests.

AAPP said...

What's up brother Field, I plan to have Kevin Myles on my blog talk radio program tonight (Sunday) at 10 PM, I'm sure the new NAACP President appointment will be part of the decision. All the internet connection to the NAACP will not help the NAACP if the mission does not change and the large board is not made smaller. Julian Bond and the board are part of the problem for the NAACP at this point, as Julian is an elder statesman who has failed to change with the times. It's my sense that he has outlived his usefulness at the helm of the organization.

Kevin Myles is one of the many progressive NAACP branch Presidents. like a branch on a tree, the branch relies on the tree roots for its survival. The root of the NAACP is in decay, it requires a tree expert with solid background and experience repairing broken organizations.

I'm reminded of a article I read recently about problems with storm damaged trees. The article said:

"Damage to a windbreak or shelterbelt may range from slight to complete devastation. While the damage may seem unbelievable, and the windbreak unsavable, there may be portions or individual trees that may be saved. Before deciding to remove the entire planting look for what may be saved. Even a damaged windbreak will continue to provide some protection.

When evaluating a damaged windbreak look at the trees individually, the damage to each tree may be different. Although a tree may have suffered severe damage to one or several of the branches, the tree may be able to recover. If the damage is restricted to less than one third of the crown there is a good chance that it will recover. Trees with damage greater than one third generally will not function for a long time, but may be worth saving until new trees are established."


"Trees with damage greater than one third generally will not function for a long time, but may be worth saving until new trees are established."


Keep up the good work FN.


PS: lola what's up!

Don said...

They were out of touch with the younger generation, and they closed ranks and refused to listen to other voices or let anyone else take an active role in the organization's direction.

it always amuses me whenever i reflect back and realize how the very speakers of my generation x; our struggles, our success, the causes, and building injustices were the same voices who spoke against the very concerns we raised

almost like willie lynch planted the seed itself.

kid said...

Maybe the members of Color of Change and other groups should join the NAACP and change it from the inside.Since their membership is different than the UNIA (no whites allowed)progressive whites and other minorities could be urged to join.

isonprize said...

64 board members.

There's your problem right there.

field negro said...

Whazzup aapp? I am sure that will be a nice show with Kevin. Tell him hi for me.

"Maybe the members of Color of Change and other groups should join the NAACP and change it from the inside"

kid, joining is one thing, having some input is quite another. These folks tend to be very protective of their power and influence.

Mac Daddy Tribute Blog said...

field: Kevin sounds cool. And i'm sorry if I sound repetitive, but the NAACP's board needs to change. They keep changing figureheads, when the real problem is the board. And it's not just its huge numbers. What the real problems seems to be, and the real infighting seems to be about, is that it can't decide if it wants to be an advocacy organization (especially legally) or a social service organization and get some non-profit crumbs from white funders ala Urban League.

It's the confusion in terms of mission that causes problems with various branches and that has gotten them in bad shape financially.

If Mr. Jealous should fail, I don't think the black community will be too hard on him. Sadly, the word has gotten around that it's not a particular figurehead but the NAACP's board that's the problem.

Anonymous said...

..No one asked this average white's guy's opinion, and it's probably not worth much, for obvious reasons, but from this side, it would appear that the NAACP is out of date, and that a new paradigm should replace it, with multi-factoral components, funding, and technology...I believe athletes and entertainers could be extremely helpful as leaders in this area, so long as they are willing to work at the task diligently, really focus on the issues, and stay away from "Pop" types stereotypes and myths ( e.g., O.J is innocent, the U. S. Govt. invented AIDS, no man was ever on the nmoon, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Julian Bonds likes to hire people that will do what he says and when they don't they are forced out. I don't see anything changing while he's in that position.

Anonymous said...


I think it is wonderful news that they selected new blood into the organization. The time has come to make new changes and breath new life into an aging organization. I attended a NAACP dinner in the Newark, NJ branch a few years ago celebrating its 90th year as a branch, and have to say that there weren't many people under the age of 40. In fact, I liking the event as a senior citizen convention, and there is nothing like sitting at the table with a group of folk who need to be in bed by 9:30. The organization has lost its connection to the younger generation. You have a generation that does not relate to the previous as their experience are different, and the organization has to address those concerns as well.

However, the younger generation needs to be understanding of the older generation, come together, and build a bridge. The NAACP is not a perfect organization, but has made some major contributions.

By the way, if anyone is living in the New York area, i recommend seeing the play "Thurgood," with Laurence Fishburne. I saw it this afternoon, and it's a very good play with a wonderful performance by Fishburne. There is also a new biography about Ida B. Wells entitled, "Ida: A Sword Among Lions" by Paula J. Giddings. I think it's one of the first biography about Wells, or perhaps it is the first. Yes, Field, I am a bit of a nerd with an interest in learning and reading about history.

ZACK said...

Why are you bad mouthing the President of the Philly Chapter Field? Did he exhibit House Negro behavior?


But great post. And I started to be "Jealous" of Mr. Jealous. But I don't have to be. He's a role model for young guys like me with no hope for the future because the economy sucks. Aw damn! I'm depressed again. Can anybody give me an internet hug?

Hathor said...

I think the NAACP should return to its roots, challenge laws that unjustly effect citizens. Can we start challenging the constitutionality of the drug laws. Be involved in providing lawyers where ones can not afford it and not get caught up in who is deserving. To try to do better than the public defenders. Or be at least to provide legal expertise in difficult cases. Be involved in organizing old and new media so the word can get out and on time with veracity.

Need to focus on the justice system.

Anonymous said...

I'd like for them to focus on available apprenticeship for just out of high school students in blue collar jobs such and carpentry, plumbing, etc... Build the base that cares about their neighborhood. I'm not talking about school even. They way it used to be older people used youngsters to get a job done, and the guys learned something from it. Really it's always been done this way. Beats most of the fast food/ throwing boxes/ weed eating options. Soon they can start their own small business. Just my 2 cents. Advancement doesn't have to focus on lawsuits and defending criminals. Most African Americans don't need that anyway.

La♥audiobooks said...

Sorry field, I stopped taking the NAACM seriously when I realized they don't seem to have the black female's interest at heart.

SjP said...

You know that the NAACP has no power when President Dumb A*ss saw no reason to come before this major Civil Rights organization until this year. What do they do besides the Image Awards? SjP

field negro said...

Zack, you really need to cheer up my man. Don't be so hard on yourself. And I am secure enough in my manhood to give you a hug, albeit via the Internet :)

"What do they do besides the Image Awards?" sjp.

Has it really come to this for the NAACP? This is all they seem to be known for these days.

And are right about the female issues, they don't seem to have any they support. In fact, they were on the wrong side of that "Dunbar Village" mess.

Anonymous said...

Neg-gre-tah-roes puh-lease,
the N-trouble-A-D-P ain't got no kind of nothing for yah:


Anonymous said...

nsangoma is colour struck...therapy needed....

Michael Davis-Dallas Progress said...

I second Field's comments about Kevin. I haven't met him but like what he's trying to do. I hope the board members listen and heed.

KMyles said...

Field, Thank you for the shout-out bruh... I really enjoyed meeting you and I look forward to working with you in the Future... (We can never have too many strong and competant attorneys...

And Lola, I'm going to work my way off of your list. (We're gonna pay-pal you a better car :-) Rock & Field will lead the effort)

But all jokes aside, I will get an opportunity to meet and talk with the new President Ben Jealous this Thursday. In fact, we'll be attending a Leadership conference together all weekend, and I plan to listen to his thoughts and plans for the organization and also to share my vision with him. I'll let you all know how it turns out...


Anonymous said...

We can argue about how 'unfair' the drug laws are and stay with the Black people are victims of whitey meme but what needs to be addressed is the fact that a lot of Black people are committing crimes. Some people need to be locked up! Life is hard and we don't always make the best choices but I'm not willing to experiment with my safety and life on the premise that someone was sent to jail for a longer time than necessary. I KNOW historically many trumped up charges have been levied against innocent people, but some of those 'innocent' people were innocent of that particular crime they were sent to jail for NOT innocent of being a criminal or operating from a criminal mindset.

I'm not saying Blacks are committing crimes more than other ethnic groups or the level of crime deserves special punishment either. I also don't want a huge net cast to unfairly prosecute people. Then we'd have a police state with more people being arrested and the Prison Industrial Complex pumping out harder "prison for profit". There needs to be across the board reform.

But since my family has personally experienced that crime statistic of Black man between certain age being murdered - in my case it was my 21-year old brother who worked at a bank and was a junior in college hanging out with friends on the porch DOING NOTHING but being Black. Some guy just decided to open fire on a bunch of people because he had nothing better to do that day and still walks free due to insufficient evidence, but has a rap sheet, I say lock them up before they are free to commit a worse crime than the one they may currently be charged for because it might be YOU that gets to benefit from 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances.

field negro said...

Hi Kevin,hope all is well my brother, and it is nice to hear from you.

Let us know how things work out with Mr. Jealous.

BTW,I am still waiting for that legal work we discussed to come my way;)

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]They were out of touch with the younger generation, and they closed ranks and refused to listen to other voices or let anyone else take an active role in the organization's direction.[/quote]


Of course it should come as no surprise to you that I am no fan of the NAACP 2008 edition.

While they have elected a new president, Julian Bond - the man who has done more measurable harm to the organization than anyone else who I can think of - REMAINS atop the organization.

With the organization's membership in the Leadership Council On Civil Rights - it has abandoned its roots in the basements of Black churches and have instead become just another left wing activist organizations under the umbrella that the LCCR provides them cover. For the first time in the organization's history they took a position on abortion - claiming it to be an important "civil right" for Black women. Margaret Sanger could not be prouder of today's organization.

It is interesting that you and others point to the electronic presence of this new president per development of the syndication web site of the National Newspaper's Association.

It is puzzling regarding how as one who follows the death and violence on the STREETS of Philadelphia and other places where African-Americans frequent around the nation - the focus is instead of this man's keyboard skills. What more than these subjects are impacting the ADVANCEMENT of Colored people than the issues that the NAACP is inept and evasive in dealing directly with?

In my view the NAACP is nothing more than the ground forces for the Democratic party into the Black community where no White Democrat dare tread by himself.

Constructive Feedback said...

Field Negro:

Recall about 4 weeks ago we debated the national economy? Specifically our long term debt position? I told the "Field Negroes" that the Big 3 entitlements pose the biggest economic threat to the nation in the long term?

I recall that many pushed back and claimed that the MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX was the net largest drain on our nation's finances.

Here is what the USA Today has to say about it all:

Taxpayers' bill leaps by trillions

The federal government's long-term financial obligations grew by $2.5 trillion last year, a reflection of the mushrooming cost of Medicare and Social Security benefits as more baby boomers reach retirement.

That's double the red ink of a year earlier.

Taxpayers are on the hook for a record $57.3 trillion in federal liabilities to cover the lifetime benefits of everyone eligible for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs, a USA TODAY analysis found. That's nearly $500,000 per household.

When obligations of state and local governments are added, the total rises to $61.7 trillion, or $531,472 per household. That is more than four times what Americans owe in personal debt such as mortgages.

The $2.5 trillion in federal liabilities dwarfs the $162 billion the government officially announced as last year's deficit, down from $248 billion a year earlier.

Big new liabilities taken on in 2007:

• Medicare: $1.2 trillion.

• Social Security: $900 billion.

• Civil servant retirement: $106 billion.

• Veteran benefits: $34 billion.

The multitrillion-dollar loss is a more meaningful financial number than the official deficit, says Tom Allen, chairman of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, which helps set federal accounting rules.

Medicare has an unfunded liability of $30.4 trillion.

That means, in addition to paying all future Medicare taxes, the government needs $30.4 trillion set aside in an interest-earning account to pay benefits promised to existing taxpayers and beneficiaries. The amount is sure to rise when the oldest of 79 million baby boomers — 62 this year — reach 65 and become eligible.

Just insuring that your readers are the most "read" and up to date individuals on the Net.

Anonymous said...

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