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Is A Half Loaf Really Better Than None?
3/26/2014 4:54:41 PM

By Barney Blakeney

I’ve got some good friends. I’m a talker, they allow me to talk. I’m also quite vehement in my speech sometimes. My best friends indulge me that way also.

So the other day as I ranted about the lack of quality leadership in the Black community a new friend just listened patiently until I’d talked myself out then offered, “Well, half a loaf is better than none.” I‘d been ranting about a conversation I had earlier in the week with an elected official in the Black community. We were talking about something that is common knowledge, a subject with which most astute people are familiar. I was astounded when the elected official demonstrated no knowledge of the subject.

Now I know people get busy and we’re not all tuned in to the same things at the same time. But some subjects - for example the candidacy and selection of Glenn McConnell as President of the College of Charleston - are so publicized you’d literally have to be living under a rock not to know about it.

Amazingly, homegirl had no clue about what I asked her. Actually, I thought the sister was just jerking my chain. There’s no way this chick could not be aware of this deal, I told myself. But sure enough, homegirl really had no clue.

Now if the sister was an elected official in my high school graduation class’ reunion activities, I’d have no problem with her ignorance. But this sister is part of the group that makes decisions about how we all live and influences those decisions. How could this woman not be aware of a situation that is shaking the fabric of political activity in Columbia every week? The only answer I came up with is that the girl is totally out to lunch. Again, that would be cool if her sphere of influence is limited to which joint our class will hold our next crab crack, but to have someone in a leadership position who is ignorant to the activities that shapes the community in which we live scares me.

Black folks, we have got to do better at choosing the people we elect to lead us. We have elected this individual to lead us time and time again, over and over. After decades in the position, I can’t think of any single contribution to our collective progress that individual has made. She’s a good person and a hard worker, but homegirl has been ineffective.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Black folks must scrutinize our leadership - social, political and religious- more discriminatingly. John may be a nice guy, John may attend my church, John may be my lodge brother and John and I may have grown up together. But if John can’t get the job done for my community, I don’t need to elect John to a leadership position. John and I still can be church brothers, lodge brothers or bosom buddies with a more capable person in leadership.

Speaking of Glenn McConnell, look at how other folks choose their leadership. Despite all the opposition there has been to McConnell’s selection as College of Charleston president, the folks who make the decisions obviously have an agenda in mind. And you can bet your last money honey, they’ve selected McConnell because they know he can fulfill that agenda. Ain’t no ifs, ands or buts about it. We may not know or understand that agenda, but they do and they’ve chosen the person they feel best can make it happen.

What does that say to Black folks? It says - at least in my opinion - that you must have an agenda, identify the candidates who best may meet that agenda, then choose the best candidate. It’s got nothing to do with how great friends we are. Can you get the job done, baby? Can you get the job done?

For the last 40 years, since the Civil Rights Movement ushered in our ability to elect our own leadership, we’ve been dilly-dallying around with shysters who either didn’t know what they were doing or had agendas of their own expecting they’d act in the best interest of the collective Black community. That ain’t happenin’.

The selection of Confederate advocate Glenn McConnell as president of one of our most essential higher education institutes should awaken our community. Black folks must realize there are some social dynamics taking shape which will require our best and brightest minds in leadership positions. Some folks are about to turn this thing around, ya’ll, in ways our kids can’t imagine. My friend said half a loaf is better than none. I agree that when searching for the right stuff, you sometimes have to settle with something close until you find it. I think the Black community has spent the last 40 years functioning with something close.

Well, it’s getting close to dinner time. That half loaf ain’t gon cut it much longer.

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