Hey folks, this will be a relatively short update on the continuing dialogue between our own Jill Tubman and the NAACP. The complete background exists in the following posts

The NAACP Doesn’t Care About Black People

The NAACP & The GOP: Dodos of a Feather?

Reactions to NAACP Doesn’t Care About Black People

“Julian Bond” Responds to JJP’s NAACP Doesn’t Care About Black People

I strongly urge you to read all the posts, but it’s on the most recent post that I’d like to provide some insight. Jill was clearly livid in her response (and I might understand that after all the phone calls she’s been getting), but her original critique remains valid. As we’ve discovered from a very credible source, the “Julian Bond” response was not actually from Julian Bond. It was written by the VP of Communications, Leila McDowell. Not only that, no one else in the organization saw or vetted this message before McDowell sent it.

That is troubling, to say the least. There appears to be no overall communications strategy at this vaunted institution, and during the current time of rebuilding coupled with urgent needs in the area of discrimination and injustice (mortgage crisis, police profiling, violence against women, healthcare), any organization that intends to be effective must have its communications shop in order.

I didn’t take McDowell’s responses personally, but I had not been dealing with her. While she was clear in her point that the NAACP is behind technologically and working, albeit slowly, to fix it, she avoided most of the substantive critiques Jill raised in her original posts and many of the ones you raised in the comments. It’s not just about having a website or opening youth chapters, and I don’t really think this is Jill’s sour grapes on having her contract rejected. The absence of the NAACP from Blogging While Brown and the shared experiences of other black bloggers being rejected after seeking to engage the organization is what remains problematic, not the lack of widgets and twitter posts.

We know change takes time. We know it takes more than clicks on a website to be an effective activist. There is still vast potential in amplifying the efforts and needs of the truly entrepreneurial local NAACP chapters duking it out everyday, for example. The question I’m left with coming out of this exchange, however, is who is in charge of communicating these challenges and a larger vision at the NAACP. Long email missives and early morning phone calls that evade the toughest questions don’t feel like a healthy communications strategy to me and instead reflect on yet another leadership challenge facing this organization.

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