NAACP

*It’s a done dada.

As EUR previously reported, the president of the Los Angeles National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Leon Jenkins announced his resignation Thursday evening amid an every growing call for his removal after it was discovered that he was set to honor Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with a Humanitarian Lifetime Achievement award on May 15.  The award was a follow up to the Lifetime Achievement award bestowed upon Sterling from Jenkins and the L.A. NAACP in 2009.  Sterling wasn’t getting the award because he did something particularly worthy of honoring, but rather because like with a lot of non-profits and their honorees, he fell into one of three categories—elected official, celebrity, or donor.

African-Americans in Los Angeles were embarrassed by the news that the NAACP was honoring Sterling—and rightfully so.  We had no idea.  You have to understand that before Sterling’s most recent racist comments were publicized, neither Jenkins nor the local chapter of the NAACP were names the average Black person in Los Angeles would point to as representing Black people on any issue.

And that wherein lies the problem.

The NAACP today, for better or worse is the organization that non-Blacks look to as representing all Blacks.  So when Jenkins accepted money from Donald Sterling and chose to honor him for his donation, it was as if Jenkins said, “it’s all good” and “you’re alright with African-Americans” to Sterling.  But it was not all good and he was not alright with Blacks.

Donald Sterling’s feelings towards Blacks and “colored people” had been made clear years ago.  In fact, if the NAACP had spent more time in the community with the people it claims to represent, it would have known that the Donald Sterling’s of the world are the reason why African-American’s can’t find housing and employment in Los Angeles.  Sterling had a history of not renting to Blacks and not hiring them as property managers, facts that came out during several high profile lawsuits in Los Angeles.

There is a huge disconnect with the local chapter of the NAACP and the people–that’s clear just from the location of its office which is not in the city of Los Angeles and housed inside of a shopping mall.

I am hard pressed to recall the last time that the NAACP in Los Angeles held a town hall meeting with the African-American community. With a record number of Blacks unemployed, homeless, and hungry, even I don’t look to the NAACP as being the organization that addresses the real needs of or advocates on behalf of Black people.

And this is why Leon Jenkins had to go.  I don’t think that Black people in Los Angeles are anti-NAACP, but they are against foolishness and no one likes to be embarrassed, especially on something as serious as honoring a known racist.  I mean c’mon, this is L.A.

Had Sterling’s most recent racist comments not been made public, the fact of the matter is, the Los Angeles NAACP would still be honoring him on May 15 and most of us wouldn’t even have known about it until the photos showed up in the local newspaper the next week.

The bottom line now, is that in order for the NAACP in Los Angeles to survive past the few members it has, the organization is going to have to rediscover its grassroots and reconnect with the people it says it represents.  The NAACP in Los Angeles needs to hear directly from the people what the people’s issues are. They need to learn how to operate and communicate with transparency and understand that going forward the community will hold the organization accountable as it did with Mr. Jenkins.

I will say that for those African-Americans in L.A. interested in the future of the NAACP, it is on us to resolve ourselves to joining, or in my case re-joining the organization to help see that it returns to its glory days of doing good work on behalf of the people.  In Los Angeles, Black people have enough problems to go around.  Between all of the organizations claiming to represent us, including the NAACP, there should be no reason why we can’t move the Black agenda forward in Los Angeles collectively.

I’m looking forward to that town hall meeting with the NAACP here in Los Angeles.

Jasmyne A. CannickJasmyne Cannick, 36, is a native Angeleno and writes about the intersection of politics, pop culture, and race.  She can be reached online at www.jasmyneonline.com.  Follow her on Twitter @Jasmyne.