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Straight No Chaser: Be Careful Who You Follow Into Battle

Op/Ed By Gloria Winston


gloria newBe careful who you follow into battle.

Some who claim titles, and want you to believe they are capable leaders, may sometimes be wolves in sheeps’ clothing, mouthing the words of UNITY, but, in fact, are more supportive of their personal agendas being on front street.

We are guilty of overstating the problems that exist in our community at times, but few have actually been engaged in the call for action.

And, those who have been, in many cases, are so humble and sincere, they haven’t felt the need to call a press conference, or wait for the cameras to roll in order to press on.

They are the true leaders in this community.

And, although they may, at times, have received some press, being on TV, radio, and in the media is not what has motivated them.

The main problem in Rochester has been the people who are loud, and wrong, empty kettles, and those who have personal axes to grind.

They are the people who have been looking for opportunities to humiliate anyone who has not been in agreement with their methods.

My vision may be failing, but it is not gone yet, because I can still see those who, on a daily basis, have been doing their part, and are sincerely attempting to lead.

And, those who have run into difficulty, and the naysayers who are constantly calling for unity, have seldom met their alleged opposition.

My personal experience has been that if you rely on media reports, and others’ opinions, as opposed to investigating issues and personalities for yourself, that may make you ignorant in the longrun.

I do recognize the world does not revolve around me, and my beliefs; however, I do take the time to go to someone, particularly if I helped elect them, and ASK what it is I want to know.

On the other side of this, there have been many people whom I perceive to be lazy and ignorant, because they have sat there, on social media, day after day, claiming to not understand why someone has done something, but, they haven’t taken the time to sit down face-to-face with that person, and ASK what their question may be.

Those people have, instead, seemed to rely on the alleged intellect of fakers in this community.

The fakers have done more to polarize, and cause problems in this community, than to create an environment of respect and acceptance for everyone, even when they have been in disagreement.

But, only a true leader knows how to heal wounds, and not constantly open and create new ones.

Because I am a dinosaur, I also recognize the fact that I may see things differently than many of the young folks who have been all over social media claiming they want answers.

However, I believe going to the source to get your answers will always be the smart thing to do.

How can stating and restating your issues on social media be the way to get answers, when going to the source of the issue is the only way?

It seems to me, social media has done more to help destroy the potential for relationships than to build them.

And, many on social media have seemed to just be lazy, and waiting for someone they perceived to be a leader to give them all the answers.

But, sometimes these so-called leaders have done nothing more than spit venom, and may be incapable of giving solutions.

Disagreement is healthy, but so is respect for someone else’s opinion.

As someone who has lived long enough to be called an elder, I can only thank God I was raised to respect mine.

And, I can only thank God I have lived long enough to remember when we did not have one person of color in the city, county or state governments.

I am thankful for the progress we have made as a community, no matter how slow it has been.

Progress is progress.

I am also thankful the political process has worked so effectively that we now have humble giants leading our community.

Giants like, Mayor Lovely Warren, Monroe County Legislators Ernest Flagler Mitchell, Vince Felder, and LaShay Harris, and Henrietta Town Democratic Leader Simeon Banister.

This community has also allowed the intelligence of Dr. Leonard Brock to make itself known.

As a result, instead of publicly criticizing any of them, we should first get to know them, and what their values are.

None of the people I’ve mentioned as examples of leaders need defending.

The mayor certainly does not.

Her record of positive accomplishments, and initiatives, are not some big secret.

And, those who missed her State of the City address can easily find the video online, if they sincerely have questions, or concerns.

However, the mayor, like many politicians, has had her share of political enemies.

That is why I believe any dislike of her has got to be either political or racist, because, when you take the time to get to know her, and spend time in her space, you will see what those who’ve supported her already know.

She is the real deal. So far, politics have failed to change her.

She is the same loving and caring person who was initially elected.

Mayor Warren genuinely cares about her constituents, and the community.

She is not a so-called “mayor for black people,” just because she happens to be black. She is a mayor for all people.

Ernest Flagler-Mitchell and Vince Felder are also genuine people.

They are not waiting for the cameras to catch them working. They are working.

They respect and protect all women.

I don’t know if they are both men of God, but what I do know is I like their style, and that they can be trusted.

You won’t find them standing behind a tree, throwing rocks and hiding their hand.

They are not going to run you up a tree, and convince you to go out on a limb, while they are the ones sawing the limb you may be sitting on. They are not fakers.

And, what I know about LaShay Harris and Simeon Bannister’s character is that, they too, are not just bringing their egos to the game.

They have had great teachers, and come from a foundation of honesty first.

Hopefully, LaShana Boose-Stanford will soon join their ranks.

But, before some of you put the paper down, and start talking about who I did not mention, please keep in mind, I chose to highlight the political newcomers this time around.

Just because some names were not mentioned, does not mean I haven’t considered those people to be leaders.

Adam McFadden has certainly developed into a fine leader.

He has made a name for himself, both locally as well as in the in the national arena.

And that exposure can only benefit our community.

Of course, there are others. But, I digress.

And now, because I am not a gatekeeper; I salute the newbies, the next generation of leadership.

I also encourage everyone, at the sound of my voice, to get to know them.

You owe it to yourself to get first-hand, not second-hand, information.

Therefore, I encourage everyone to take the time to get to know their leaders, and I encourage everyone to be careful about who they allow to lead them into battle.

Otherwise, some of you may get led to slaughter.