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Leadership and/in the Black Conscious Community, fact or fallacy?
(A call for Righteousness, Critical Thinking, and Self-leadership)

January 16, 2018

by Torre` Brannon-reese

The recent (December, 2017) social media clash between Dr. Umar Johnson and Mr.
.Tariq Nasheed is indicative of a generation sorely lacking in the way of ethical, morally sound, authentic and effective Black leadership.

Their (Johnson and Nasheed) foolish tirade however, may provide us with an opportunity to address some substantive issues that for too long, have gone unchecked, namely, concepts called Black Leadership and a majestic place entitled, the Conscious Community. And just as is the case with agent-orange, aka, Jr. Hitler, aka, donald trump, the negligent behavior of these two gangster/scholars articulates a clear snapshot of the cultural landscape, giving us insight into the relative mindset of hundreds of thousands of people of African descent, desperately seeking intellectual stimulation, human rights, spiritual enlightenment, cultural inspiration and purposeful living.

My objective in writing this piece has less to do with chastising the two culprits mentioned herein and more to do with communal self-checking, and personal/collective growth/development & responsibility.

A good question to ask may be, why are so many people following internet-based leaders who, contemporaneously, are representative of so many other ego-centric, ineffectual, fraudulent leadership types? Further, at this juncture, and after a tumultuous history of witnessing the assassinations of several of our beloved young warriors, (Medgar, Malcolm, Martin, Hampton, etc.) do we really we still need leaders? If so, what defines Black leadership and what criteria should we assign to those who dare to lead?

At the intersection of Black & Leadership, we find the popular notion of the existence of something called, the Black conscious community? What is the conscious community? Does such a thing/place truly exist? If so, what are its defining characteristics and further, what are the established criteria by which one gains membership into this esteemed body? For example, does the conscious community insist that one dress in traditional African garb and read so many Black or African themed books? Are we Baptized into the conscious community after attending a certain number of events and symposiums facilitated by Afri-Centric scholars, authors, spiritual figures, leaders, etc? Must one forfeit her/his traditional religious beliefs and practices, IE; Christianity and its various denominations, Baptist, Pentecostal, 7th Day Adventist, or for that matter, Islam? Must one change his/her name to an indigenous African name to become “conscious?” Finally, does achieving a state of consciousness equate to achieving righteousness? ethical wedding dresses

These are rather perplexing questions, whose answers are subject at best, especially if one were to judge these concepts based upon the juvenile behavior exhibited by our two popular subjects (Dr. Umar Johnson and Tariq Nasheed) central to this writing; for both of these classy gents are considered leaders and simultainiously, enjoy charter members status in the conscious community; they give both a bad name say you?

As I pose these questions, I suppose that I myself by some measure, am part and parcel of a kind of, the conscious community.
As a contributor of more than 25 years of community cultural/political activism, youth advocacy, raising my daughters, producing a Malcolm X legacy event, a Black Themed Film Festival, (I’ve Known Rivers) co-founding an internationally known A’capella Soul/Doo Wop, all Black male vocal group, (Street Corner Renaissance) and founding a Black male mentoring/life mastery program, (See a Man, Be a Man) many folk I represent have bestowed upon me the title, leader. Yet, in my career, I’ve never saw it necessary to gift myself with a dynamic title, or artfully cuss out other persons (leaders) with whom I disagree. A child of the deep south, I was taught to deal face-to-face with my enemies, work it out man-2-man in private settings.

In fact, as I bring this writing to an end, and contemplate the term, leader, I am more inclined to use the word, “representative.” For it is true that Leaders are in fact, representative of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of their people.

Traditionally, In the Black community, nicknames are therefore bestowed upon charismatic figures by the people, such as; Iceburg Slim – (Robert Beck) Sugar Ray – (Robinson) the Brown Bomber – (Joe Louis), Detroit Red – (Malcolm X), H. Rap (Hubert Gerold Brown), Black Moses -(Harriet Tubman).

True leaders are humble by nature as their greatness is codified via the people whom they organically inspire. Thus, there is no need or room for self-gratification, or self-exaltation above and beyond the people whom they represent, aka, Prince of Pan Africanism, humm?

Finally, if we are conscious, we need then to develop the intestinal fortitude and lead ourselves. Our own intellectual curiosity should inspire us to read books, study, research and think critically for ourselves. In this way, we can listen to anyone, critique their philosophies and theories, and draw up our own analysis & conclusions. No sense wearing our “leaders,” out with thousands of questions, non-actions and eternal mis-direction.

We'd do well to champion our own destiny, take responsibility for the lives we wish to live, dare to be the kind of people whom we aspire to become, and make manifest the world we desire to live in. –

And the next time two seemingly intelligent men decide to berate and dehumanize each other via social media, maybe we just ignore them..

Peace, Love & Soul,
Torrence Brannon-Reese, MSW / USC,
Founding Director, FAMLI, Inc. /
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See A Man, Be A Man is a male mentoring/life skills mastery program at Locke High School created to inspire, uplift, educate and grasp the attention of at-risk young ...

Note: A valued shot of me and my late, great activist/educator friend, Steve Cokely,
Circa 1998.