by Michael Coard
Kanye West said, “I like Trump.” He also said, “I love this guy [Trump].” In addition, he said, “When I put on this … [MAGA] hat, it made me feel like Superman.”
And about a week ago, Trump’s senior adviser tweeted that Ice Cube, using his so-called “Contract With Black America,” is collaborating with Trump on his so-called “Platinum Plan” that miraculously is supposed to inject a half a trillion (that’s trillion with a “t”) dollars into the Black community.
But neither Kanye nor Cube is a Black leader. And neither one’s opinion should be taken seriously by the Black masses. And that’s primarily (albeit not exclusively) because they’re mere rappers. Allow me to explain.
Black rappers are not Black leaders. And generally speaking, neither are Black athletes, Black singers, Black actors, or any other Black celebrities. In other words, White rappers, White athletes, White singers, White actors, and other White celebrities aren’t considered White leaders by White people, are they? White folks have White elected officials and White political organizers and White civic authorities and White respected scholars and the like as their leaders, so why should Black folks have anything less?
Allow me to quote Brother Malcolm X who in 1963 profoundly stated, “Show me in the White community where a singer is a White leader or a dancer … is a White leader. These [Blacks who were mentioned earlier in the speech] aren’t leaders. These are puppets and clowns that have been set up over the Black community by the White community and … usually say exactly what they know that the White man wants to hear.”
And as pointed out this year by Milca Pierre in an article published at revolt.tv, “In 1973, journalist Tony Brown hosted a ‘Black Journal’ television special featuring the time’s most prominent Black leaders. Audiences were tuned into a roundtable that included thought leaders such as Kwame Ture, formerly known as Stokely Carmichael, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Angela Davis. Other voices included politicians such as Congressman Louis Stokes, then of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, while organizations such as the National Business League, National Urban League and NAACP were represented by Berkeley G. Burrell and James D. Williams, respectively.”
Pierre’s phrase “thought leader” is a perfect one because it includes the essential prerequisite for Black leadership, which is thought—i.e.,“thinking.” And thinking, for Black leaders, means reading, researching, studying, analyzing, synthesizing and articulating for the purpose of formally or informally organizing to fight for Black liberation, justice and equity. Although that doesn’t necessarily mean that a Black leader has to be a nerdy bookworm and powerful orator combined, it does mean knowing what you’re talking about.
How does a Black person become a Black leader (meaning a Black “thought leader”)?
Well, first of all, any of us can become a Black leader. And by anyone, I mean everyone—including rappers, athletes, singers, actors, and other celebrities. But they gotta “put in work” by reading, researching, studying, analyzing, synthesizing and articulating for the purpose of formally or informally organizing to fight for Black liberation, justice and equity.
That means they gotta know the names of all, most, or at least some key people and also know what those people said and did (even if they don’t necessarily agree with everything those people said and did). And if they don’t know about those people, they must be willing to learn.
The list (which is a partial one due to the space constraints of this article) of those people includes the following ancestors and the following elders.
Yaa Asantewaa, Ella Baker, James Baldwin, Julian Bond, Shirley Chisholm, Septima Poinsette Clark, John Conyers, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Fannie Lou Hamer, Fred Hampton, Hannibal, Dorothy Height, Imhotep, Sundiata Keita, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Mansa Musa, Nefertiti, Huey Newton, Queen Nanny, Gabriel Prosser, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, C. Delores Tucker, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Ida B. Wells, Malcolm X, Shaka Zulu, and others.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, Angela Davis, Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, Assata Shakur, Bryan Stevenson, Maxine Waters, Cornel West, and others.
I’m not saying all Black rappers, Black athletes, Black singers, Black actors, and other Black celebrities shouldn’t speak as leaders about Black issues. After all, there are some who have “put in work” by reading, researching, studying, analyzing, synthesizing, and articulating for the purpose of formally or informally organizing to fight for Black liberation, justice and equity.
Those persons include, for example, the likes of Chuck D, J. Cole, Talib Kweli, Janelle Monae, Colin Kaepernick, Harry Belafonte, etc. in the present and the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, etc. in the past.
Therefore, in conclusion, I must make it quite clear that I am not saying all Black rappers, Black athletes, Black singers, Black actors and other Black celebrities shouldn’t speak as leaders about Black issues. I’m simply saying to them what my grandmother used to say to us know-it-all kids: “Sit yo ass down and learn sumthin’ before you stand up and say sumthin.”
(Michael Coard, can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as at AvengingTheAncestors.com.)
Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune