In my opinion, the last leader the African American community was honored to know died on April 4, 1968. That leader was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You see, there is a distinct difference between leadership and management. Leadership not only communicates a vision, leadership also helps others understand the vision, understand how the vision will be accomplished, what’s necessary for the accomplishment, and rather than placing blame for problems along the way, accepts responsibility for those problems. In short, the buck begins and ends with leadership. Then, there’s management. Management is just that; managing. In my opinion, management is simply getting by. The boat may be lost, but as long as we remain afloat, everything is okay. The problem with leadership and management is that far too often, people confuse one for the other. Leadership is Jim Brown. Management are those members of the NFL who once took a knee with Kap, but once he lost his job, they quickly stood. Leadership is Malcolm X. Management are the current leaders who only seem to respond to the needs of the community when the cameras and social interest show up. Leadership is Steven Biko. Management is waiting for someone else to speak the truths of your community, waiting to see if everyone else agrees, and following up with a bold Yes! A leader is able to make a rigorous decision. Management sometimes makes ruthless decisions. The difference between rigorous decisions and ruthless decisions is simple; overall impact. A rigorous decision is tough to make in the beginning, but in the long term, there will be noticeable improvement or growth. Ruthless decisions are often those decisions that are made to either delay pain or fear. Ruthless decisions hurt yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So, here we are. Our society has become so politically correct that leadership seems both unwanted and unwelcome. The stands that need to be taken aren’t, and the stands that are taken, from my vantage point, shouldn’t. Across the urban communities of the nation, schools are failing, and we are still talking about improving test scores and closing the achievement gap. How about we do away with the test and actually educate our children on the ways and snares of life? We are graduating children from high school that can’t write checks, do mathematics without a calculator, or write in clear and cohesive sentences. We sit quietly and watch the things that our ancestors lived and died for demolished. We sit quietly and watch our neighborhoods become gentrified to the point where we can no longer afford the house that we have lived in for generations because we can no longer afford the taxes. We sit quietly by and watch our communities become breeding grounds for the things that we once considered deplorable. We have lost our voice and our way. We’re lost. The time has come for us to speak with substance and live with purpose. The time has come for us to begin to change ourselves in order to change our circumstances. Right now, we are on a plane with no pilot. I promise you; it doesn’t matter how tight you pull the seat belt, if no one is willing to take the wheel, we are all going to emotionally, spiritually, communally, intellectually, and to some degree, physically perish in compliance. Personally, I’m done with well dressed and articulate managers. I’m keenly aware that these managers are working for leaders that have interests other than my own and the needs of the community in which I live. I refuse to watch the annihilation of my people because the rest of the world is either unwilling to watch or unable to care. This isn’t a soap box, this is a hope box. I hope that others will be willing to do the same. We need better schools. We need community improvements. We need real representatives in our democracy rather than pimps in pin striped suits with American flags on their lapels. Because true leadership is no more, members of management are allowing our children to be hung from gold ropes with diamond nooses. Because leadership is often times controversial, management does all that they can to be disassociated with true leaders. Leaders are willing to sacrifice their pay for their people. Management will sacrifice their people for their pay. We need powerful voices for the majority rather than well calculated financial choices for a few. We need. Now, when I say that we need, I am not asking. I am demanding. You see, a while ago, I accepted, that I, too, am a leader. I know that some form of leader exists in all of us. We all see something. With that being said, say something. Do something. Do something. The world is in need of change. Let’s begin today. If we aren’t willing to begin today, when tomorrow comes, you have inadvertently given members of management permission to improve themselves at your expense. The key to your cage is in your hands. Stick your broken hands through the bars, open it, and be free. Patrick.
As always, this week, please do something for someone other than yourself for no reason at all other than to make their lives better. Also, if you make it to where you’re going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us. Always choose love.