African Americans believe the country’s current leadership is not compassionate enough to build bridges with diverse cultures in the United States and abroad.

Source: Newswise — A majority of African Americans believe the country’s current leadership is not compassionate enough to build bridges with diverse cultures in the United States and abroad, according to a new survey commissioned by Spelman College Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.The nationwide study reveals seven out of 10 African Americans do not believe in the United States’ current leadership to build bridges among diverse cultures here and overseas. Conversely, more than half strongly agree that building bridges would more effectively address or solve critical global issues such as AIDS and other health epidemics (59 percent) and race relations (nearly 59 percent). The survey also reveals:

• White Americans (nearly 62 percent) are slightly more likely than African Americans (nearly 59 percent) to strongly agree that building bridges could help improve race relations.
• African Americans (57 percent) are more likely than Whites (46 percent) to believe that bridge-building could more effectively address disaster relief but less likely than U.S. Latinos (64 percent).
• African Americans are least likely to say that the war in Iraq could be better addressed by building bridges.

“It is evident that African Americans, as well as all U.S. citizens, are concerned that we are not connecting with one another in ways that would allow us to solve the critical issues of today,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., Spelman College president and author of "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations About Race." "The ability to connect and understand people of different races, cultures and genders to develop mutually beneficial solutions is an indispensable skill necessary for effective leadership."

Further, the survey reveals that Americans overall agree women of color (African-American, U.S. Hispanic, Native American and Asian/Pacific Islander) should take a greater stance on critical global issues. African Americans lead other racial groups in this agreement (43 percent) while White Americans are least likely to agree (nearly 28 percent). African-American women (66 percent), in particular, feel the greatest sense of responsibility agreeing with the statement more than the other minority groups of women surveyed.

“Women of color have been elevated to top leadership position in several nations around the world,” said Jane E. Smith, Ed. D., executive director of LEADS. “This is an opportune time for us to identify how people in the United States – men and women – view the capabilities of women of color and the way in which their leadership talents can be maximized to better address national and global issues.”

A Woman of Color Could Be President and Thoughts on Condoleeza Rice
As the leading historically black college for women, Spelman College conducted the survey to explore the issue of women in color in leadership positions and discovered that nine out of 10 African Americans are confident that a woman of color could perform as well as or better than a man or White woman as president of the United States. African-American women, in particular, are more likely to agree with this premise than White, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American women.

“Women of color have effectively managed homes, jobs, businesses, schools, families and community activities for years,” said Dr. Smith. “However, to a large extent, their energy, skills, ideas, talents and innate abilities to create a spirit of communication and cooperation have largely been ignored by public and private sectors.”

When asked about Condoleeza Rice’s skills as an effective bridge-builder, African Americans are least likely to agree that she could get the job done. Asians/Pacific Islanders show the greatest support for the Secretary of State (50 percent vs. 35 percent of Blacks), followed by Latinos (47 percent). Among women, a small percentage of White women (nearly 27 percent) believe in Condoleeza’s bridge-building abilities more than Black women (nearly 25 percent).

To elevate the discussion on women of color in leadership and bridge-building positions, the Spelman College LEADS Center will host the 2006 Leadership and Women of Color Conference, May 10 – 11 in Atlanta. The conference will explore and identify the unique leadership skills of women of color and how these attributes facilitate the domestic and global bridge-building process. The two-day conference is designed to foster frank and engaging dialogue between men and women of all cultural backgrounds on relevant best practices. Speakers include United States Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral, City of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young and Vabah Kazaku Gayflor, minister of gender and development in Liberia. Conference registration is available online through May 3 at http://www.spelmanwomenofcolorconf.com. Walk up registration will be available on the day of the conference.

Survey Methodology
The Spelman Leadership and Women of Color Survey was conducted via telephone. The total sample size was 1,178 respondents, ranging from 25 years of age to over 60 years. Respondents were randomly selected from 25 major metropolitan areas around the country. Each subset was 200 or more people that included African-American women (299), Hispanic women (201), White women (259), other women of color (215: Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American) and men (204).

Spelman College:
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is the only historically Black college in the nation to be included on the U.S. News and World Report's list of top 75 "Best Liberal Arts Colleges — Undergraduate," 2005. Located in Atlanta, Ga., this private, historically Black women's college boasts outstanding alumnae, including Children's Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; U.S. Foreign Service Director Ruth Davis; authors Tina McElroy Ansa and Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson. More than 83 percent of the full-time faculty members have Ph.D.s or other terminal degrees and the student-faculty ratio is 12:1. Annually, nearly one-third of Spelman students receive degrees in the sciences. The students number more than 2,186 and represent 43 states and 34 foreign countries. For more information regarding Spelman College, visit: http://www.spelman.edu.

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