African Americans at the Crossroads: The Restructuring of Black Leadership and the 1992 Elections

African Americans at the Crossroads: The Restructuring of Black Leadership and the 1992 Elections

African Americans at the Crossroads: The Restructuring of Black Leadership and the 1992 Elections

African Americans at the Crossroads: The Restructuring of Black Leadership and the 1992 Elections

Synopsis

Lusane uses the 1992 elections as a prism to explore Black community leadership and offers a long-term vision of Black empowerment and resistance, inside and outside the electoral arena.

Excerpt

The problem with most conventional analyses and scholarly critiques of political change is that analysis and criticism always begin with old scenarios, well-worn frames of reference and second-hand guidelines for problem solving. Analysts begin by reviewing the "record"; the records of leaders, their stance on the current issues and their political backgrounds. Readers are told who counts now and who is likely to count in the near future based on who has counted in the past as a "key player." Criticism of the issues focuses on their clarity in relationship to recognized expectations and the conformity of current alternatives to established sides and lines of division. As a consequence, every new insight, every new assessment is constrained by an umbilical cord tied to a political heritage that may or may not be legitimate. To expand on a cliche, few things in the political world may be really new but nothing is born old.

The linkage of current politics to the past, however congenital, will only be clear once the "current" is consigned to the past. The task for issue-oriented analysis, therefore, is to assess the issues in the immediate context before consigning them to claims of political paternity. We need to know who is involved and what they are doing, not what happened to leaders who were involved and what is being done by leaders usually at center stage. If good political analysis sometimes requires a bit ofname dropping, it should not require that we carry those names any further than necessary to clarify the issue.

Clarence Lusane is exceptional because he does not do that; he does not submerge his analysis in political background before he has committed himself and his readers to the issues at hand. He looks at an issue from all sides but he does not look first at the established black leaders to determine what the extent ofthe political problems before us is and what the significance of the issue is. He looks for what is in the background of an issue and where its roots are embedded, but only as the findings and needs of the present may dictate. In this study one finds, for example, analyses of the backgrounds of . . .

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