Blacks should be careful about following the leader

Instead of giving accolades to blacks who are in power simply because of their skin tone, it is vital for blacks to support leaders that aim to uplift their people. When blacks honor those in power who ignore black issues, a false veil of black progression arises.

These kind of leaders are a detrimental to our race.

When blacks in power make decisions that impede black progression, I yearn for an increase in leaders that truly aim to benefit the black community and those who cannot be compromised for money or social mobility.

Blacks who sell their businesses to non-black companies for profit allow the power of the black community to decline and simultaneously give non-blacks the ability to promote black entities while controlling the behind-the-scenes action.

The owner of Essence magazine, Ed Lewis, sold the second largest magazine owned by blacks to the non-black firm of Time Inc. in January, following the similar release of BET to Viacom by Bob Johnson five years ago.

Johnson said that the owners of Essence magazine had “an obligation” to shareholders to sell the company to Time Inc, according to

“Black businesses will have to realize that to be in business takes precedence over being black, if you’re going to grow your business,” he said.

Johnson said white-owned companies “see the growth potential of the African-American market – the second fastest growing group in the country.”

If white-owned companies are able to see the potential of the “African-American” market, why are powerful blacks like Johnson and Lewis releasing that power?

Although Ed Lewis, will be non-executive chairperson and founder of Essence, the loss of another black owned company affects the power of blacks as economic producers.

Powerful blacks that sell black-owned companies for profit are similar to black leaders that ignore the black agenda.

Some blacks, such as Condoleezza Rice, current secretary of state, Colin Powell, former secretary of state, and Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas have climbed the political ladder, but have not strongly advocated for the issues of their people.

Rice is the first black female Secretary of State. But given the history of her tenure as President Bush’s National Security Adviser, in which she did nothing to champion for blacks issues, Rice’s position will most likely not positively affect blacks. Although Powell resigned from his position, he did not bring black issues to the forefront of his agenda while working for President Bush.

According to, the personal success of Powell and Rice should not be confused with the advancement of black Americans as a whole.

Unemployment is high, crime pervasive and poverty endemic. For every one that makes it to the top in America, many are left at the bottom.

Both leaders rose from poverty to successful political roles, yet they acquiesced to an administration that ignored blacks and the poor by failing to challenge the actions of the president against these groups.

Not all blacks in powerful positions have abandoned the needs of their people. Many black leaders such as Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Sen. Barack Obama are positively representing the black community.

Ironically, some black leaders that constantly fight for the advancement of blacks are subject to harsh criticism and ridicule from the mainstream society and members of the black community. Leaders and representatives such as social activist Al Sharpton, educational advocate Bill Cosby, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan are examples of leaders who have endured harsh criticism, but continue to speak on the state of black America.

Black leaders are not expected to be perfect representatives, but they should aim to make changes that will help their people.

Blacks should determine who their true leaders are instead of allowing mainstream society to do so.

Ebonie Ledbetter is a freshman newspaper journalism student from Atlanta. She can be reached at