2012-11-30 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

The Winds Of Change Blowing At NAACP
Commentary By Timothy Aaron-Styles


Timothy Aaron-Styles Timothy Aaron-Styles Finally, after decades, there appears to be the possibility of authentic change at, and for, the Far Rockaway NAACP – change that has the potential to benefit both the organization and the community.

A long time coming, it seems that organizational members have finally, not only come into the awareness that the group has, in fact, been stagnant, but that they themselves have been their own worst enemies. Their own “enslavers.”

Just as we individuals can, eventually, wake up and meet the enemy – realizing that we have been our own greatest obstacle – so too can an organization discover that the “shackles and fetters” that have held them collectively in bondage have been instruments and thinking selfimposed. But, alas, what is an organization but an entity consisting of individual people. Humans.

In the distant past, I was a vocal advocate for change and transformation within, of and for the organization, as were so many others. However, the leadership and members, at those times, where just as staunch in their self-defense and against those of us who really did have the best interest of the chapter, its members and the community in mind and heart. It’s okay, though. See, timing really is everything. It takes longer periods of time for some to realize what others may have known long ago. Thing is: seems that at some point most people would wake up and not continually oppose the truth-tellers and change advocates who are motivated by the best interest of everybody.

Must the messengers ALWAYS be opposed initially, then forgotten and then their message eventually accepted, adopted and then the messengers, themselves, forgotten about and still denied? Nonetheless, here we are in 2012 and there is a faint remnant of hope.

So, rumor has it that the potential new leader of Far Rockaway chapter of the NAACP will be Fred Lewis who, in the past, made several unsuccessful bids for political office. In 2012, the NAACP leadership position is perfect for Fred Lewis and he is perfect for the position.

Lewis is articulate, intelligent, savvy and capable of effective diplomacy. His personality and skillset seems suitable for effectively negotiating, mediating and moderating dissimilar socio-political positions and interests, as well as any conflict that might arise within the organization or external to the organization, i.e. any public and community situation that might arise that warrants the organization’s involvement. Is Fred Lewis perfect? No. But he is perfect for this responsibility at THIS time.

Not to disparage the character, competency, commitment or credibility of Ed Williams – the current President of the Far Rockaway chapter. No – not at all. Everyone likes Ed Williams. It’s just that, there comes a time when it really IS time to step aside for the sake of the greater good. No – for real. Really.

And when that time comes, those who are in leadership positions who really, really, truthfully have the best interest of the organization, its members, its constituency and the community in heart and mind, will recognize the time has come to move out of the way and joyfully pass the baton. Those who are truly motivated by a higher calling of service to humanity know that it isn’t about them as an individual at all. It’s about the “the People.” Sometimes one’s staying in a place and one’s presence might eventually become THE obstacle. The problem. No matter how well-intentioned one might be.

So now, the NAACP stands at its own crossroads. Can it now become an organization of real and significant relevance in and to Rockaway?

Is this change of leadership sought by organizational members a (w)holistic and authentic change that they, themselves, need to embrace for themselves as individuals? Will they be committed to changing the counter-productive culture of the organization itself?

With the possibility of new leadership, maybe the organization can branch out and address some of the other issues and concerns that are part of the national NAACP’s professed agenda such as media diversity, economic justice, environmental justice and health. Surely each of those national issues and concerns are relevant to what is and isn’t happening in Rockaway.

If Fred Lewis does ascend to the leadership of the Far Rockaway chapter/ branch of the NAACP – if he can achieve measurable and identifiable productivity for the organization and concrete effectiveness in, and for, the community, who knows – he might prove himself worthy and capable of ascendancy to State leadership of the organization.

Then again, if he can successfully transform the Far Rockaway branch into a viable agent for change and bona fide progress, it might prove just as easy for him to run and win a future bid for City Council or State Senate.

I just hope that if Lewis does become the new leader that he has the patience and commitment to stay and fight the enemies that might still be lurking within and that he has the willingness and humility to leave when it is his time to leave knowing that he will be able do so leaving behind a real positive and significant legacy that his eventual successor will be proud to continue and build on.

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