The cohort of black business people and politicians who pass for African American leadership is at an impasse, and so is the rest of black America. Our leaders have failed to produce economic development models for inner cities and poor black enclaves that benefit the people who live there now.
Not only is the black leadership class unable to create jobs at living wages for the hundreds of thousands of black families that desperately need them, they can't even describe to the rest of America how such a thing might be done. The black leadership class dares not acknowledge the acute shortage of low and moderate income housing, or publicly question programs like HOPE VI which exacerbate that shortage. The black leadership class have proven powerless to prevent the nationwide imposition of separate and grossly unequal education, the disastrous application of high-stakes testing and the use of "No Child Left Behind" to discredit and defund public education. African American business and political leaders even lack the political imagination to rally their constituencies against the growth of a racially selective crime control and prison industry that has criminalized an entire generation of black youth, with far-reaching economic and social consequences.
With some notable exceptions like Reps. John Conyers, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Cynthia McKinney and Maxine Waters and others on the national stage, and a modest number of similar local office holders, black elected officials have generally proven unwilling or unable to defend the very democratic openings that made their own emergence on the national scene possible. Rather than leading the fight to preserve the public sector with its disproportionate share of black workers and inherent susceptibility to democratic influence, many black officeholders and appointees have eagerly embraced and sought to profit from privatizations. They have served as key players in the long term diversion of public resources into private hands, and become willing accomplices in the spatial deconcentration and disempowerment of black communities.
Leading the nation in numbers of black millionaires and ruled by black mayors for more than thirty years, the city of Atlanta provides the best example of the failure and duplicity of the black leadership class and its idea of economic development. . .