Three cheers for Oprah Winfrey in establishing the Leadership Academy for Girls—South Africa. Isn’t it wonderful?—this business of Blacks taking charge of the taking care of Blacks; this idea of not sitting, bowl in hand, at the pity-pity-poor-boy end of other people’s table; of not seeking the approval of others in order to do what’s right for our current and future generations; and, most awesome of all, this business of seeing the Black community as one that extends beyond the physical and cultural borders of this or that continent, this or that country, and this or that island.
As is customary in February, we reflect on the wrenching sacrifices and contributions of people of African descent in the United States. It is cause for celebration that some of us, thanks to those sacrifices and contributions, have become so wealthy that we can afford to finance a $40 million-plus school for 152 of the most wretched little girls on earth and stock it with nice things like beds, 200-thread-count sheets and fluffy duvets, a beauty salon, a yoga studio, computer and science labs, indoor and outdoor theaters, fireplaces and roomy closets. It is even greater cause for celebration when one of us actually does so, sour noises notwithstanding, so that those little girls can turn their minds to becoming leaders instead of worrying about keeping warm on a South African winter’s night.
Surely, all the comfy things that are good for the goose are just as good for the gander, wherever the gander may roam.
Of no less significance than Oprah’s Academy and all that she has quietly done in the Black community of the United States is the work of Stephen Carryl, M.D., Roy Streete, D.D.S. and so many others, like Lenny and Joy Grant, founders of Loving Hands of Hope, www.bylovinghands.com , who are increasingly taking charge of the taking care of Black people in and outside the US. We highlight this trend in health care in the cover story and industry focus of this issue of TNJ. It’s a trend that illustrates what Michelle Quiles refers to as “distributed leadership,” where, she says, “there is no single leader, no savior coming, but everyone is a leader and acts that way.”
Quiles is the founder and chief executive of Female Think Inc., an online personal growth and learning source for women. At the beginning of the year, we spoke of leadership and responsibility: Whose responsibility is it to change our fate? Ours. In Quiles’ words, “Those who are in a position to effect change, whether financially or through their own influence. The responsibility is ours and we have to keep sharing that theme.”
And whose responsibility is it to tell the stories of those who effect such change? Again, ours. “We have to return to our culture of oral history; we must become oral story tellers, telling our children the stories of our past and how we got to where we are.”
So here’s to Oprah and to the expanding nucleus of enlightened thinkers and doers. How do they spell leadership? B-T-C-T-C-B, Blacks taking charge of the taking care of Blacks.
Sour noises notwithstanding.
By Rosalind McLymont