To this day, many black officeholders depend on the perception of ongoing, widespread racism in order to remain competitive in the electoral process. They underplay the dramatic improvements in economic and social status experienced by many American blacks over the last 40 years. Large numbers of their constituents, particularly those who came of age during the overt racism of the past half-century, continue to believe that the problems confronting the black lower class stem primarily from racism.

Here lies the greatest missed opportunity of the civil rights movement. These leaders never prepared for the day when God would change the hearts of the white establishment and they would have no choice but to start treating their brother with equality, fairness and justice under the law. Their entire public image, their very legitimacy as political and cultural spokesmen, was predicated on the rhetoric of a black-versus-white war. As Justice Clarence Thomas once observed, the civil rights revolution missed a larger point by merely changing the status of minorities from invisible people to victimized people.

Not only do many black officeholders need to reinvent their public image to keep up with the times, but they also need to promote a cultural shift that will trickle down to their constituents.

A second cultural shift needs to come from the public to hold these black officeholders accountable. These officeholders need to truly represent and advocate the economic and social interests best for the people. Otherwise, all they are doing is manipulating the trust of the people with baseless racism and continued balkanization of our nation.