A discussion of race, politics, media and the like… What I see is what you get.

Yeah Jesse Jackson Messed UP…But He Still Speaks for US!! (Written July 13, 2008)

First, I need to preface my comments by reiterating that I am a huge Obama fan and will be voting for him come November and that I love it when we can talk openly and honestly about issues like this.Jackson supported Obama in his bid for the Illinois State Senate seat and he was onboard for Obama’s presidential bid before Obama had any name recognition or the head of steam he has now…For too long we have sat in front of our TV’s and just accepted the information that was being spouted without a deeper grasp of the “game” that is the media. And for too long we as Black folk have watched as white-owned and operated and spearheaded media groups have fed us a very biased account. We know this and complain about it to ourselves and in barbershops and during family discussions over Thanksgiving dinner but in situations like this, where Jackson, admittedly, made some very crude and downright mean comments on a “hot mic” that were not meant for public consumption about a candidate that we as a people believe in and has our full support, Black leaders do not get the benefit of the doubt from Black people. (Unity btw that is rarely seen by Blacks on a mass scale in this country since before I was born). When I say we KNOW that the media is biased towards Blacks what I mean is…we KNOW that mainstream Black thought has no avenue to be heard on TV. We are not the headliner of any mainstream show (ie Olbermann, Chris Mathews, Bill-O, Sean “Insannity” Hannity and the like) and it is rare that you hear a Black person that is not giving their stamp of approval to the notion of white supremacy and nodding their head in concert with a more conservative way of thinking (ie Rev Eugene Rivers, Juan Williams, Lee Elder, Armstrong Williams, Rev Joe Watkins and the like) I know…I know…get to the point Bruce….OK here it is… How many of you have really thought about the fact that these comments were recorded on a “hot mic” on Fox News (a notoriously right-wing network that has been out to dismiss and defame Jackson for years) By no means am I excusing Jackson’s comments but I think a real critique must be levied on a news network that has consistently shown Blacks in a negative light. This same network (Fox News & Sean Hannity) got snippets of Jeremiah Wright’s speeches and looped it for 6 weeks straight and in the process really hurt Obama’s stance among white-americans and could have cost him the nomination or better yet the presidency that we want him to have so desparately. In that 6 week period Jeremiah Wright stood mute and without comment but where was the outrage in the Black community about how those, other-wise true statements by Wright, were used as a wedge to white-America? It was only after Wright stood up for himself, his community and his church did Blacks show any fury…and guess where they aimed their fury…at Jeremiah Wright…. for speaking his mind about this racist society…not the systematically racist media that refused to give Wright’s comments any context. So who is exhibiting the crabs in a barrel syndrome? How many of you have heard Jackson speak on the need for personal responsibility of Black fathers and the Black community? I have. How many of you have heard Jackson give his unwavering supprt to Obama before anyone including members of the Congressional Black Congress did? I did. How many of you understand his broader point which is…that Barack has spoken to Black constituencies ONLY on topics which placate white-america (i.e. the issue of responsibility of Black fathers) but he is reticent to discuss how government should have a role in righting generational wrongs or governments role in creating an urban policy that will help big cities or governments role in affirmative action or reparations (whether it be free schooling, or a check or an entreprenuerial tax break for Black businesses). My point is…in order for Obama to win the presidency he must be Black enough to get our support but not too Black to alienate whites (We all know this) The FACT that he has to walk this tightrope, to me, makes it clear that this country continues on its same racist trajectory. When have we ever asked white canidiates to not be too white as not to alienate us? We don’t. These same white candidates rarely speak to our issues or our interests but we vote for them anyway. Jackson understands this political game and is making the point that Obama needs to speak to our issues like he speaks to Latino issues, Jewish issues, white-working class issues, Gay issues etc.. Don’t we deserve that??I must say this too. There seems, to me, to be a more sinister work at play here. In every newscast I have heard there seems to be a running theme of how there is some rivalry or jealousy brewing in the Black community between Obama and Jackson. Old thinking vs new ideology. There seems to be a need to put us against each other whether it be Obama vs Jackson or Jackson vs Sharpton or Farakhan vs Obama or Bill Cosby vs Michael Eric Dyson etc.. Let me be the first to say there is no rivalry in Black America. There may be a difference of opinion ideologically but there is no rivalry. All of these leaders want the best for Black America. They all believe in Black responsibility, Black self-reliance and a higher moral standard but they also should believe in the role of government, to which you and I pay our tax dollars, to uplift our community socially and economically. BOTH/AND not EITHER/OR. Just becasue we went to Howard and we root against Morehouse at Homecoming doesn’t mean we don’t have love for them on the Yard, right? The idea that some of you are “tired of the old school “so-called” civil rights leaders of yesterday who are full of $%^&” is frankly demeaning and mean spirited. If you don’t agree that Jackson should have made the comments then say that (I agree by the way) but to defame his character goes a bit too far. This is the same man who has continually spoken out for our community and like it or not we stand on his shoulders. It is precisely because of the “old civil rights leaders” that you and I have the positions that we have today. And just like we stand on their shoulders, Obama stands on Frederick Douglas’ and Shirley Chisolm’s and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton’s collective shoulders. If there is any jealousy on Jackson’s part he should be ashamed. But the fact remains, I don’t see that as a reality considering his very early and steadfast support of the campaign from its inception. These are the same folk that marched, bled, died and saw their counterparts assasinated for the specific purpose of uplifting Black people. I will always LISTEN to my elders even if, in the end, we disagree. We atleast owe them that.I think it is clear that we must look for media that tells our stories from our unique point of view and that has not been historically negligent and biased to our history. I urge all of you seek out Black talk radio like Sharpton’s nationally syndicated show, Warren Ballentine’s and Joe Madison’s nationally syndicated shows. All of these shows can be heard on XM radio and Sirius is another good option as well.I love the discussion and I think it is our duty to bounce ideas off of each other. The discussion is the main thing. Let me know what you think…. Much love Black people…


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