Are Black role models different than White ones? General use of the term means a "person who serves as an example, whose behavior is emulated by others". The image of the "First Black" in a position in the mainstream is usually made as a reference to social roles to which all should aspire. Taking an evaluation of some "first Blacks" brings questions of their competence and whether they've shown qualities other Blacks should imitate.
As the 66th United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was called by Forbes Magazine "the world's most powerful Black woman." As Rice became a player in the establishment's "ole boy network" she pivoted away from issues of race. A preacher's daughter, the Queen of Chutzpah is primarily known as President George W. Bush's major accomplice in making false assertions that lead to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Rice has been called a "war criminal" by some. According to a Senate intelligence report "Condi" made the first known approval for the CIA to use water boarding techniques as early as July 2002.
Rice's predecessor, General Colin Luther Powell was the 65th United States Secretary of State and the first Black to hold the position. His 'good soldier' legacy will forever be marred because most detailed U.S. case for invading Iraq was laid out in a U.N. address by Powell. He admits being duped by the Bush Administration and the CIA. While Rice is classified as a ring leader in the plot to go to war, the gullible Powell was just as culpable in the roles he played. Powell also played a key role in the 2004 coup that took Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power. TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson says "Colin Powell is "the most powerful and damaging Black to rise to influence in the world in my lifetime".
Franklin Raines is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Fannie Mae, the congressionally chartered firm started in 1939 to offer mortgages to Americans wishing to become home owners. A product of Wall Street served as President Bill Clinton's budget director. He was Fannie Mae's CEO from 2000 until 2004; but under his reign Fannie Mae went deep into the practice of buying mortgages based on almost no or no money down given to borrowers who could not afford them. During the time Raines received bonuses and salary over $90 million. In 2004 he was offered "early retirement" after the accounting practices used during his tenure to secure top executive bonuses were shown to be fraudulent.
E. Stanley O'Neal, African American chairman and CEO of the world's largest brokerage firm, Merrill Lynch, was forced to resign after his company, which had invested heavily in the collapsed sub prime real estate market, recorded over $8 billion in losses, the biggest in Wall Street history. O'Neal, 56, was one of five African Americans to head a Fortune 500 company and the first to become a chief executive of a Wall Street investment firm. Named CEO February 12, 2002, and within three years after taking over, O'Neal had eliminated 24000 jobs. In his exit, O'Neal pocketed a compensation package worth $28 million.
To compensate for the continual exclusions of Blacks from positions of power in this society, the mainstream media labels people like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Stan O'Neal and Frank Raines "leaders" of and "role models" for Blacks. But, it's not unpatriotic for us to question what kind of role model these "first in their fields" have been for Blacks.
The prevailing thought is that Black youngsters need role models drawn from legal, business and education professions to counter under-achievement and involvement in crime. Too often the role models for young Blacks are celebrities and rappers who glamorize crime, guns or gaming. How are the aforementioned "gangstas" any different in what they do? Shouldn't some of our public role models be someone from where we live, who hasn't forgotten where s/he came from, how s/he got to where s/he is now and always looking back to see who s/he can help?
William Reed – www.BlackPressInternational.com