It’s Time for a Black Feminist to Head the NAACP
On Sunday, NAACP President Ben Jealous announced he will resign at the end of the year to spend more time with his family. Jealous took the helm of the 104-year-old civil rights organization in 2008 at a time when complaints abounded that the organization was out-of-touch. Five years later, the NAACP has been re-energized, with thousands of new young members, a staggering influx of revenue, a social media presence where none existed before, and hundreds of thousands of new voter registrations.
Jealous, a long-time community organizer and a grassroots activist at heart, was instrumental in revitalizing the NAACP as an organizing force for a wide range of issues, including racial disparities in the criminal justice system, immigration reform, stop and frisk, voting rights, the repeal of the death penalty in four states, and, to the chagrin of some of its more members, marriage equality.
Despite a handful of missteps, the NAACP has been far from absent from the fight for gender equality. And women leaders have been central to the NAACP since its inception. Still, some critics have argued that the NAACP hasn’t focused enough on the concerns of Black women. In 2010, the lead blogger at the site What About Our Daughters wrote that the NAACP was quick to throw Shirley Sherrod under the bus after conservatives, led by the late Andrew Breitbart, accused her of making racially divisive remarks at an NAACP event. Sherrod’s remarks turned out to have been taken out of context, and Jealous ultimately apologized, but the damage had already been done. Another blog post also criticizes the NAACP for failing Black women and girls, noting that the NAACP’s policy objectives “are definitely not in the interest of Black women and girls who live under the tyranny of violent oppression.”
So the question remains: What can be done to center more of the NAACP’s activist and organizing work on issues specifically of concern to Black women? Should a Black woman be appointed the next president of the NAACP?
[read the rest at RH Reality Check]
Imani Gandy (ABL)
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