Well, that’s not exactly true. But when the NAACP decided to appoint (why do I want to say “hire”?) 35-year old Benjamin Todd Jealous as its President (story here) they made the narrative here pretty predictable. Whereas when Bruce Gordon (Jealous’ predecessor) was appointed the narrative was that the NAACP was going corporate, the narrative now will be that the NAACP is attempting to rejuvenate itself by attracting youth (or at least “younger members”).
People have been making the argument that the old guard of black leaders have been less than interested in handing the reigns over to a younger generation for some time. We saw this when Newark Mayor Corey Booker took two tries to unseat Sharpe James. And the claims calling for a new “hip-hop politics” are often not so much about hip-hop as much as they are about youth. In fact I’d argue that much of what passes for substantive discussion of black politics lately has revolved around the discussion about the need for “new leaders” and “new approaches” and “new blood.” These arguments are at their base nothing more than beefs about folks getting their turn.
When Kweisi Mfume resigned I wrote this in response, noting three central flaws: the NAACP focuses on political rights rather than expanding economic rights, it is highly centralized with a bloated executive board, and it is largely an organization of middle and upper-income African Americans. How do any of these things change with the appointment of a leader like Jealous, as opposed to anyone else?