In her best-seller Dead Aid, noted African economist Dambisa Moyo said that what is needed for many poor countries suffering from corrupt, incompetent or ineffective leadership is a "benevolent dictator," whom she defined as someone who is brave and powerful enough to push through necessary reforms.
Despite the debate that ensued after she released that book (which, by the way, I recommend), instantly that conjured the image of an archetype long spoken of among black folk in business and politics: the HNIC.
No need to spell out what that acronym means here (fine -- if you're that young, it means "head Negro in charge"), but if you make it plain, based on what Moyo was describing, an HNIC is that person who can come in, take control, get everyone behind him or her, straighten out the books and frankly scare the hell out of anyone who would dare challenge the foundation set up by an HNIC.
So when I looked at Detroit last week and ached for my hometown, I remembered, of course, Coleman Young, the five-term mayor who reportedly had the acronym engraved in a plaque on his desk. Young was a controversial firebrand who was long accused of corruption himself. He could be abrasive, as well as opaque when it came to the media, and he stayed in at least one term too long without grooming a protégé. The type of HNIC the city needs now would not have these shortcomings but would set the kind of tone that the mayor did, and would have learned from Young's mistakes.
Right or wrong, Young was seen as a leader first. The charismatic person everyone wanted to get behind and support. An HNIC in this case would be someone with the tenacity and the obstinate positioning on what is right for the city, its finances and its infrastructure. Without that type of leadership to hold a place like Detroit together, and have voters expect no less when they go to the polls, the result is the absolute governmental calamity the city has undergone over the past decade.
The conviction this week of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on racketeering charges illustrates that point. He's not the only one who got in trouble: Two dozen city officials, including former City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, wound up incarcerated based on the same FBI probe that eventually led to Kilpatrick's guilty verdict.
Source: The Root | Madison Gray