On April 3, 2008, Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and Richard McIntire, NAACP national spoksperson apologized privately for the press conference called by the West Palm Beach Branch of the NAACP and Al Sharpton during a podcast, The Black Women's Roundtable, but publicly claimed they were misrepresented and their views distorted.
NAACP employed a “Muddying the Waters” strategy bringing up unrelated issues when the only criticism levied against the NAACP was its decision to hold a press conference to find injustice without showing that that there has been any injustice.
NAACP national spokesman, Richard McIntire, repeatedly stated that the suspects have a right to bail.
The Florida State Conference President said that the West Palm Beach chapter was wrong and has been counseled.
NAACP said it does not have a stance on Dunbar Village-yet they HAVE spoken on the case, they are just on the wrong side of the fight.
A ResponseThursday evening the Black Women's Roundtable, in conjunction with What About Our Daughters?, interviewed NAACP Florida State Conference President Adora Obi Nweze and NAACP National Director of Communication, Richard McIntire.
During the podcast, just as it has before the email campaign, the NAACP displayed its profound disrespect for the intelligence of Black people everywhere.
Though we are content with the NAACP's decision to discontinue advocating for the Dunbar Village rapists, we are not content with their attempt to contradict themselves and obfuscate the facts regarding the e-mail campaign.
MUDDYING THE WATER STRATEGY
The email campaign launched against the NAACP has been a very tactical one. Contrary to their assertions, the NAACP has not been criticized for the sum total of their mission, but rather their defense of the indefensible.
During the interview, the NAACP mentioned school suspension disparities and hurricane relief efforts as an attempt to shift attention from the sole issue that raised ire in right-thinking BlackAmericans with a grasp of the concepts of right and wrong.
Though there may be differences in opinion on the most pressing issues, the only criticism levied against the NAACP was its egregious decisions to find injustice where no one can show there has been thus far.
HOW CAN THEY NOT HAVE A STANCE?
The NAACP has made the decision to not take a public and definitive stand on not only Dunbar Village but what the tragedy epitomizes. To refresh all of our memories the NAACP stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The word that undoubtedly stands out in that name is 'advancement'. When the mothers and daughters of an entire community are prey for domestic terrorists, when rape is utilized as a tool of revenge and hate for a community's women how is that NOT an issue that hinders the advancement of ourpeople? Lets be clear, the NAACP has decided to speak out on Dunbar Village, they were simply on the wrong side of the fight.
NO INDIVIDUAL CASES
The NAACP is an organization rife with contradictions. Obviously, if there are two contradictory statements, then one of them simply is not true. Mr. McIntire stated the NAACP does not concern itself with individual cases, however Jena 6, Michael Vick, and Genarlow Wilsonimplies the opposite.
The NAACP felt compelled to inject its name and time into these cases often times by doing nothing more than making a statement. Why do these cases deserve a public statement but support of the Dunbar Village victims (before missteps and chiding) did not deserve publicsupport?
RIGHT TO BE FREE
Several times Mr. McIntire stated the suspects have a right to bail. Bail can be denied thus it is not automatic. In the state of Florida, men have been denied bail for child pornography. With the DNA evidence and statements by at least two of the defendants expressing guilt, the community (the people) are best served by the detention of the suspects. Innocent until proven guilty does not inherently mean bond is given. The NAACP stated they wanted to ensure the process moved forward. However, they did not (and presumably can not) express howthe process had been stalled nor who was preventing due process.
PUBLIC DEFENSE AND PRIVATE APOLOGY
During the podcast the NAACP leaders attempted to apologize privately for something that was done in public. The West Palm Beach NAACP branch is not some rogue element of the NAACP. There is an established environment within the organization that gave a sense of comfort that allowed the local branch to speak for the rape suspects.
The NAACP leaders subtly and gently put the onus on the local branch but they are an agent for the national NAACP and they spoke on their behalf. Initially, the National NAACP stated in a widely-circulated press release that its position was misrepresented in the email campaign. Not only does this show the dichotomy of how they have handled the situation (publicly defending and privately admonishing), it also highlights their strategy to publicly attack the bloggers whorightly decried their actions.
During the interview they stated the NAACP performs numerous acts, supposedly ones that support victims and not criminals, that simply don't receive the attention. The NAACP is complicit in this one-sided media and public attention. They didn't hold the press conference attheir local branch, they created an image sure to send a statement, because every move is a calculated one meant to send a message. They stood with the families of the suspects before the State Attorney's office. When they want attention, they know how to get it.
In this case the NAACP walked blindly and did not analyze the situation for what it was, a heinous crime. They saw Black males in the justice system and went on autopilot. When will the NAACP not speak on behalf of a Black criminal? How does continuously and exclusively advocating for the criminal faction of a community advance the community?
WE REMAIN VIGILANT
The NAACP needs to do publicly what it did privately last night -- state they were wrong and apologize. Particularly since they stated bloggers were wrong. They can't have it both ways - we were not both wrong.
BEYOND THE RELICS
In the end, it is unfortunate that as we celebrate the life, work and legacy of a great American, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., we must see yet another step toward decline for an organization meant to advance Black Americans. King believed that "in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." It leaves a lasting impression when Black organizations are reticent to speak and act on behalf of true voiceless and vulnerable victims, and instead speak loudly for those focused on the destruction of our community.
For more information about this Dunbar Village Campaign, you can visit any of the following blogs:
Friday, April 4, 2008
Open Letter: The Silence of Our Friends--Response to the NAACP Interview Regarding the Dunbar Village Press Conference