In our society, or more importantly, in our city, many of our elected officials are problem-driven leaders. This means that they often spend time searching for problems or issues within the community, hoping that uncovering them will provide much-needed substance to their constituency. You know what this looks like — you’ve seen it and heard it time and time again. It’s the citing of cyclical studies and anecdotal data showing disparities exist within all facets of life, from business to education, and a failure to act on it.
That is, we secure the data, but often do not push for data-driven solutions.
We desperately need a paradigm shift from being problem-driven to solution-driven.
Too much time has been spent pontificating on the plight of the Black community without providing the solutions to mitigate the problems and issues we face. Being a solutions-based leader would mean that our elected officials are not only aware of the problems that plague our community, but that they are solely focused on finding tangible solutions to those issues through policies and proposals at the local level.
The cry from the conservative community is that limited government could remedy the reliance on government to cultivate these desperately needed solutions. In general, limited government is the idea that people should have more rights over their lives, and that they generally know what is best for them, systemically limiting the government’s power.
Subscribing to the idea that government officials know what is best for you takes away your individual freedom to determine outcomes in your life. It leaves you waiting for others to produce, progress and provide for you.
When dissecting the totality of this issue, the idea of “for, with and by” comes to mind.
The sense that we are essentially “on the menu” rather than “at the table” has resonated in many communities. Politicians will sometimes make decisions for our community without input from our community. In some rare instances, we are provided the illusion of inclusion, giving the impression that politicians make decisions with our community. (Usually, these opportunities are reserved for elite Black members of society.)
The fact is that we hardly experience proposals or ordinances by the community. It is imperative that we take on the mantra of “nothing about us without us.”
I have discovered something rather interesting while analyzing how Black communities leverage power: We practice the conservative principle of limited government under a different name: community-led. Over the past few years there has been a concerted push for more projects, more developments and more institutions that are community-led. This method is used when community members work together to identify goals that are important to them. From there, they develop and implement plans to achieve those goals and create collaborative relationships internally and sometimes externally — all while building on the social capital of community strengths.
This practice shifts the expectations from elected officials into the hands of the members who make up the community, thereby limiting the government’s power and only incorporating partners they deem necessary. For us to employ this method most effectively, members of the community would have to be consistently engaged and committed to bettering their community. The commitment would have to encompass putting in their time, energy and mind wealth toward the betterment of the community. We would have to be engaged civically on all levels and within both political parties, working with whoever is willing to align with our priorities. We must gain the knowledge and learn how and when to leverage government agencies to suit our needs for each project.
The power in shifting our leadership style and exercising limited government allows us to self-direct our own resources and success. My request is that we implore these conservative tactics in the Black community of Indianapolis to create change and shift the paradigm of power. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, “When I liberate myself, I liberate others.”
Whitley Yates the director of diversity for the Indiana Republican Party, political commentator and JD Candidate at IUPUI McKinney School of Law. You can email comments to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.