COLUMN: Leadership should be taken in new way

Anthony Head is a graduate student and writes Black Man Talking

If you haven't seen me since Wednesday however, you should know that I indeed fell victim to an extemporaneous visit to the barbershop. While I'm humbled at the compliments of my new haircut, "You look so clean!" "You left something at home -- [deafening silence] -- your hair!" "You look smarter," it seems that compliments on my writing have flowed freely as well. I have noticed that I'm a good writer as long as I'm not writing about him or her. As to be expected, people tend to "feel me" more when I pen narrative that acquiesces their point of view. This week, I hope the focus of my narrative does not diminish my perceived writing ability.

Ironically, it was Thomas Jefferson who said, "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppression of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day." By pulling a few tricks out of my critical thinking bag, I present a series of scenarios, and why some of you may disagree with me fundamentally. ("Man, and until this weeks column, he was a good writer!")

In W.E.B. DuBois' "Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil", he said on Judgment Day he'd forgive the antebellum South for many things including slavery and the Civil War, with one exception, "...one thing I shall never forgive, neither in this world nor the world to come: [is] its wanton and continued and persistent insulting of black womanhood which it sought and seeks to prostitute to its lust. " While the old South will never rise again, others have found more ingenious and pervasive ways to insult womanhood.

If you willingly perpetuate misogyny (the hatred of women either physically, mentally or spiritually) through any medium, be it written, spoken, music or on television, then as a proverbial eunuch, we are at odds. If you perpetuate a dehumanizing practice of physical and or mental abuse, reminiscent of chattel slavery (hazing), as my great-great-great-grandmother, who was a slave endured, then as the grown child of a free man, we are at odds.

It was Mahatma Gandhi who said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." If the rhetoric of "revolution" "reparations" or "recompense" drip from your lips, yet the rancid bile of inaction or perpetual complaint oozes from your pores, as an agent of change, we are at odds. If your heart is set on freedom yet your actions contribute to an oppressive pedagogy of racism, classism, or sexism, as one who stands firmly against such blatant denials of "inalienable rights" we are at odds.

If you embrace the proud heritage, history and tradition of your ancestors, yet endorse behaviors that are the antithesis thereof, as one who has an umbilical cord that traverses the Atlantic, we are at odds. If you speak of brotherhood and sisterhood yet cannot speak to your brothers or sisters on the street, then as a member of a global family, we are at odds. If you offer the proverbial "helping hand" as trite comment, but when one comes to you humbled and in need, they are forsaken, we are at odds.

Lastly, there are among us the intimidated, the weak of mind, and the spineless. They who, to the detriment of our communities, find anything amongst us to divide us -- be it organizational affiliation, religion, sexual orientation or shade of skin- we are not only at odds, you are the antithesis of all that is uniting and progressive, the cancer of which we must cure our communities of.

It's time that we start holding each other accountable. One can only blame antiquated systems of education, ethnocentrism, and economic systems for so much, so long. For me, accountability came with responsibility. I recognized that with all the evil in the world (well, Muncie), I am ultimately responsible for my actions. To be successful here and throughout the rest of your lives, I would suggest taking advantage of all the opportunities available to you here at the university. Make the most of your education by fully participating in it.

Remember that some of you may well be a role model to an otherwise impressionable underclassman. Take responsibility by being consistent in your inconsistent behaviors and consider the consequences of your decisions before acting upon them.

The African American leadership of the new millennium must be unlike that of the old. The complacent, foot shuffling beast of social, political, and economic burden is no more. If you feel a tightening in your chest, drying of the mouth or moistening of the palms, you may be of "the Accused" whom I am at odds with. If not, then have a happy week! (Can anyone tell I've been reading Frantz Fanon?).

Write to Anthony at neonnegro@blackplanet.com.


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