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Leadership Paradigm Shift

June 1, 2009

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s 2001 comment that her experiences as a Hispanic woman would enable her to make more sound legal judgements than a white man has certainly got the Republicans wound up. Labeling her as a racist, however, has taken political vitriol to new heights. Does this indicate the GOP’s frustration – and desperation – as a party that can’t get its act together?

As I read about the Sotomayor mahem on the weekend, I read an interview in the Toronto Globe and Mail with Dambisa Moyo, a Harvard/Oxford educated African woman who has taken up the charge to oppose aid to Africa. She argues in her new book “Dead Aid” that Western aid to Africa has not only restrained the continent’s development but actually increased poverty. Her ardent belief is that Africans must be in charge of their destiny and determine how best to develop. Celebrities like Bono and Bob Geldof, not to mention international development economist Jeffry Sachs, and Western politicians do not understand Africa’s needs. Dumping billions of dollars in aid has not produced any quality of life improvements for Africans. Sachs even took to accusing Moyo of endangering the lives of Africans, stating that her ideas are “…absolutely pernicious.”

So with these perspectives (one by a respected female Hispanic judge and the other by a well-educated and articulate African woman) we encounter a paradigm shift, in which the traditional wisdom of white, male political leaders is being challenged. But can this not be done in a constructive manner, whereby those feeling threatened open their frame of reference and hear what people like Sotomayor and Moyo are actually saying.

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