Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Has the Rights Movement been Hijacked?

Written by: on October 31, 2021

Shelby Steele is a liberalist turned conservative libertarian author, columnist, documentary film maker and a Robert J. and Marion E Oster senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is very well known for his specialization in the study of race relations, multiculturalism, and affirmative action. In this sociology book, ‘Shame’, Shelby reveals how well intentioned but ineffective social programs like affirmative action have failed in correcting the negative effects of racism, militarism, and sexism, and have instead actively harmed the same American minorities and poor they were intended to help.[1] The irony and shame, is the failure of liberalists to acknowledge the failure of these programs and instead they have legitimized these programs for their political expedience, on the premise of a morally bankrupt America that the liberals seek to redeem. The conservative right wing on the hand seek to defend the American dream by reviving the founding principles of individual freedom and merit-based competition which they believe will bring equality. These two groups and their convictions have therefore polarized America as each side digs in to outdo the other.

Steele specifically believes that true freedom for Black Americans will be a game changer rather than the modern liberals’ vision of a new America through affirmative action, social welfare policies,’ identity politics’ and group preferences, and other social interventions to fight poverty. It is true freedom for all that will bring true equality where everyone, including the African Americans and other minority groups will each take responsibility to solve their problems, instead of perpetuating ‘white guilt’ and the resultant benevolent paternalism. Steele believes that the benevolent paternalism of white guilt only serves to injure the self-esteem, if not the souls of the minorities in ways that the malevolent paternalism of racism did not.[2]

Benevolence has its place in bring relief in the time of crisis but its perpetuation can and will result in dependence and an entitlement mentality that kills initiative and perpetuates poverty and disenfranchisement.[3]  As a missional obligation. liberal left is therefore making political capital of the white guilt and the entitlement mentality of the minorities which is selfish. As Christian leaders, we are called to defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy (Psalms 82:3), as a missional obligation. Steele stands out as an advocate for the minorities and has the courage to speak boldly about the systems that work against the wellbeing of  the minorities. Courage is a virtue that is very important for a Christian leader to make a difference in a world where the systems favour the rich and the dominant male gender and discriminate against the minorities and the female gender. Leadership is more about leading people to bring about the necessary change in society or in organizations.

I work among the poorest communities in Africa and witness the injustices and other struggles that the poor and especially women and children go through on a daily basis. While this situation is unfortunate and an eyesore, it creates an opportunity for the Christian leader to intervene and bring change as they advance the Gospel message of hope to a desperate world. It is a missional opportunity that the church should sieze to defend the poor and the fatherless and bring justice to the afflicted and the needy. It is a call that as a Christian, I have responded to and will continue. As I undertake my studies for this doctoral program, it is my hope that I will be equipped as a leader to leverage my leadership position and knowledge to create more positive impact with the Gospel of Christ among the discriminated and marginalized of this world.

The civil society always starts with good intentions as the advocates of the disenfranchised of the world to champion their course. As Steele points out, many times the good intentions are overtaken by greed and selfish interests. The well-intended programs that are aimed at bringing relief to the disenfranchised are hijacked by other interest groups to pursue their selfish self-serving interests at the cost of the very people they were meant to help. Such is the situation in America where the minorities continue suffer by means of the benevolent paternalism that is intentionally orchestrated and fueled by the liberal left and as means of perpetuating themselves in power. The question that every Christian leader should ask is “what are we doing to bring the necessary change in our areas of influence that God has placed us. Jesus for us is a great example of a transformational leader who boldly took on the challenges that were facing the vulnerable people of his days of His earthly ministry. The Church needs such courageous men and women who will step out of their comfort zone and cause the necessary change in their society.

When the political systems and government fail to help the oppressed in society, it is the challenge of the church and individual Christian leaders to step out in faith and courage and become the light of the world and the salt of the earth. The church and the individual Christian leaders should be proactive in seeking those opportunities’ in our localities as well at the national and international level to bring positive change. This is a challenge that I wish to extend to the cohort members to be the salt and light wherever God has stationed us, it should be the test for leadership and courage. As we step out in couage and boldness, it is important to be dependent on God and to seek his guidance and specific knowledge from His word, as we also seek to be well equipped in this doctoral program. As Steele emphatically says in his book that the liberals have refused to acknowledge the failure of their interventions, does this constitute the hijacking of the rights movement for political expedience?


[1] Shelby Steele. Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country. (New York, NY, USA. Basic Books, 2015).

[2] Shelby Steele. Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country. (New York, NY, USA. Basic Books, 2015).pg 1

[3] Ibid. pg 2

About the Author


Mary Kamau

Christ follower, Mother of 3 Biological children and one Foster daughter, Wife, Pastor, Executive Director of Institutional Development and Strategy in Missions of Hope International, www.mohiafrica.org.

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