Ferguson and Race: Missed Opportunities in Leadership

By | November 26, 2014

By guest blogger Sadako Red [see disclaimer]

[November 26, 2014] By now everyone on the planet knows that a white policeman killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri and was not indicted by the local Grand Jury. As expected, there were some looting, rioting, shootings, damage to property, etc. etc. etc. Ferguson is a case of race relation stunts and missed opportunities by senior leaders in our government.

There are plenty pundits pontificating about the killing, but of course you know that. The embodiment of the failure of our media is the fact that they have very little knowledge about incident. Are you listening to them? If you are, don’t tell me because it can only make me sick. Media reporters are neither experts nor are they experienced – anyway, they will not see a backlash for being dead wrong.1 It’s not about ratings, well maybe a little about ratings, but more about being on the bandwagon for the latest cause célèbre. Sadly for us all, they mislead and misdirect us from the important to the insignificant. Ah, once again I’m digressing on the decline of our media’s honesty, notwithstanding their decades-long tumble into partisanship and insincerity.

As regular readers know, my belief on race is rather simple – race is irrelevant – irrelevant because it is not our genetic skin pigment that matters in our actions, but our character. Gee, someone already said that about character: the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. No doubt many think I’m stupid or perhaps racist … okay? Am I insulted? Am I distressed? Hardly. In Ferguson, a thug teenager thought he could get away with robbing a store; he was wrong. Being black didn’t make him rob the store and it didn’t make him take on a police officer which got him killed. It was simple stupidity.

What matters is that so many leaders had an opportunity to remove race as an issue and address the real problem in this case. Instead they decided to make it all about themselves and race. Let’s name names! What leader missed the greatest opportunity to lead? What leader did the greatest damage? Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, could have followed through on his view that Americans are “cowards” when it comes to “having a conversation about race” – instead he punted. Al Sharpton, advisor to President Obama on race relations and self-appointed black leader, injected himself by making provocative remarks, inflaming the community by deception and continues to damage that small community and does so with impunity. The facts have become irrelevant and no one cares.

Federal influence has been disjointed and inappropriate. There appears to be little coordination with the state’s governor office (where was the National Guard?) or coordination of message (what’s this about?). We heard from President Obama, Holder, Sharpton, and a many attorneys – each with a different spin on events. Plus they were pushing local law enforcement around, interfering with the investigation, and trying to influence the outcome (if reports are true).

The best senior leaders don’t miss opportunities to provide sound, united leadership. In Ferguson they missed by a mile.

You can find me on the web. Just look and find my writings on “leadership”.

Author: Sadako Red

Disclaimer: I chose the pen name Sadako Red in order to remove any notoriety reflecting on my other real job as a very senior executive in the Department of Defense. Naturally, my opinion is my opinion only and despite DoD wanting to associate with my fine work, they cannot have it. Trust me, they want it. Trust me, they can’t stand for it.

Sadako Red’s Previous Posts:

* The U.S. Army, Race Relations, and Manhood

* Race: Leadership and the Lack of Leadership

* A Failed Management Culture in the VA

* Race Trumps and Leadership Fails

* Race, Character, and the Government

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[1] I watched CNN, Foxnews, and NBC the night the announcement came in – November 24th. The next day I listened to talk radio – Geraldo and Rush. The bias was not what surprised me. As I expected, no one talked about missed leadership opportunities … well, Rush Limbaugh did some.




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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.