Dr. Lisa Nelson
October 3, 2012
The Crisis in Black Leadership
“The Crisis in Black Leadership” is one of the essays in the book Race Matters written by Cornel West and published in 2001. West is a well-known professor, author, and critic of social issues affecting African Americans. West graduated from two prominent American Universities, Harvard and Princeton. In “The Crisis in Black Leadership”, West carefully discusses the problems and makes compelling arguments as to why there are shortage of genuine black leaders, but his points are not without shortcomings. Although West leadership classifications are well thought out, they are dominated by insinuations and his criticisms. One of such insinuations comes with West's idea of the Black Political Leadership. West was always quick to point out what was lacking in the present day black political leadership, yet he never provides any solution or examples of what he is referring to. An example of this is his description of the “race effacing” managerial leader whom he criticized for trying to reach a large white constituency while keeping a loyal black one (59). Thomas Bradley and Wilson Goodes as model of Black political leaders who tend to embrace progressive development while silencing the prophetic leaders. The argument here is disappointing and confusing because it raises more questions than answers. Why is it wrong to work cooperatively with other races or with the political mainstream? Does he believe or advocate violence as a means of achieving fairness? Another criticism comes against West's definition of “race transcending” prophetic leader”. In
his view, Harold Washington was one of this kind of leaders. The description that West offers for this category is “an elected official and prophetic leader with personal integrity and political savvy, moral vision and prudential judgement, courageous defiance and organizational patience”(61). Once again, he has failed to...