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In a recent New York Daily News  op-ed which garnered mostly snickers and jeers, Rev. Al Sharpton, or as he was referred to by one snarky reader in the comments section – “Rev. Simpleton” – anointed himself sole heir to Martin Luther King’s dream and proclaimed that King’s dream had been nearly fulfilled in New York.

During a brief moment of deliberation about the cases of Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo in his piece, Sharpton reflected the following, “…during these times, we were all forced to take a stern, hard look in the mirror to see how our own shortcomings and preconceived ideas may have contributed to a climate of hatred and animosity.”
Yes, if you utter the wrong words at the wrong time or offer up your wallet too quickly, New York City’s finest are predisposed to stick a plunger up your hiney or fill your body with bullets. It happens.

And when Rev. Sharpton’s ex-wife and daughter were arrested in Harlem after a traffic stop, I’m guessing that ‘just happened’ too. Back then though, Rev. Al Sharpton lashed out at what he called the “unfair treatment” of his ex- wife and daughter by New York City cops. How far we’ve come since 2009.

Rev. Simpleton is a charlatan. I’ve been preaching this mantra to anyone who’ll listen for longer than I care to remember. But it’s always a positive development when the person you’re dissecting adopts an active role in his own undoing. Reverend Al has revealed himself to us. He, and those like him (Rev. Jackson & Co.), have always and continue to use MLK’s legacy as the preferred currency for their personal asset accumulation.

The hustle may change, but the game remains the same.

In a society of haves and have-nots, where strengthened clusters of haves are recapturing wealth from the have-nots, Al Sharpton is being leveraged by the super-elites to convince African Americans not to trust their lying eyes. He tinkers around the edges, blustering about one thing or another, but never having any beneficial impact on the community he claims to serve.

At this point, I feel that I’m beating a dead horse – both figuratively and literally. The vast intellectualism in the black community has been replaced by self-interested quackery. Al Sharpton runs a media firm while Jesse Jackson heads an entrepreneurial conglomerate – evidenced by his annual Wall Street Project. These two men don’t bellow from the good book of anyone’s pulpit every Sunday morning, don’t focus the bulk of their energy on their flock, nor do they abide by Christian principles and thus, their titles are mere symbols intended to hone your attention on the very things that they are not – honest men with moral cores. Henceforth, I will be referring to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson absent their title of Reverend. By doing so, I aim to elevate content above symbolism.

What’s made clear from Mr. Sharpton’s camouflage of 21st century disparities is that the African American community is 1) devoid of principled leadership and 2) having their views misrepresented on both the national and international stage. More than any other time in history, African-Americans are in dire need of an action plan.

First up on our to do list should be recasting the spotlight of leadership elsewhere, preferably as far away from Sharpton and Jackson as possible. How do we do that? Glad you asked.

1)    Resist any impulse to defend Mr. Sharpton or Mr. Jackson in conversation, even on Right wing blogs or among mixed crowds where the impulse is strongest. Instead, deflect the conversation to a thinker who you believe is a better surrogate than Sharpton or Jackson.  The person you choose could be anyone; entrepreneur, professor, writer, essayist etc.  Just be sure the person has a strong record of working with ideas and creative solutions.

2)    Call up your media outlet when you turn on the tube and see Sharpton or Jackson’s serpentine smile on any of the major news networks.  Ask why these men are given your proxy? Make your displeasure known. Further, advise them that the views espoused by these men do not reflect your perspective or that of the broader African American community.

There is hope that we can remove Sharpton and Jackson from the conversation and allow for the re-emergence of men like Clarence Jones. In a recent op-ed published in The Guardian, Jones – who was also Martin Luther King’s speechwriter and counsel, said what all African-Americans know is true: Dr. King’s dream remains unfulfilled.  It’s somewhat reassuring to know that we have at least one stalwart in the room whose not toiling away King’s legacy in exchange for proximity to power. It’s a rarity these days.

Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, and

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