query: immigrant leadership

colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Wed Dec 6 21:26:15 CST 2000

[ed: Kevin is responding to David's December 3 message critiquing 
mainstream notions of leadership.]

From: "CSIO.tsne.org" <CSIO at TSNE.ORG>

Hi, David, great questions. Not to be too classical in response, but Paolo 
Freire's timeless "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" has a great chapter on bad 
leadership development called 'Divide and Rule.' It's page 136 in my edition.

In it, Freire talks about how leadership development in much of community 
development work divides communities.

Most leadership training courses, he argues, "are based on the naive 
assumption that one can promote the community by training its leaders - as 
if it were the parts that promote the whole and not the whole which, in 
being promoted, promotes the parts."

He argues that raising up selected leaders "hinders the emergence of 
(community) consciousness and critical intervention in a total reality." 
The other way to do it - going to the community as a whole - results in 
that "either the former leaders grow along with everyone else, or they are 
replaced by new leaders who emerge as a result of the new social 
consciousness of the community."

I think, too, that lots of community development groups don't create 
strategies for the whole community to critically analyze social conditions 
and develop strategies and work plans to address them. In this broader 
view, leaders are people who are constantly engaged in helping their whole 
community figure out what to do and how to do it. Leaders can leave and 
others arrive and the community will still stay vigilant if its members 
have grown in the process. This democratic notion of leadership - the 
leader as an organizer - as you say is missing in so much of "leadership 
development" strategies today.

Good luck,
Kevin Whalen, Center to Support Immigrant Organizing

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