Thursday, September 20, 2007

On “Acting White”

I recently read a report that Jesse Jackson had taken a shot at Senator Barack Obama concerning the current situation in Jena, LA. It appears that Mr. Jackson in an interview said that Senator Obama was “acting white” because he is not outraged enough publically about the situation in Jena for Mr. Jackson’s taste. It is no secret that I am not a fan of Mr. Jackson. I have written on a few occasions about my feelings for him and Mr. Sharpton. However, this to me elucidates why Mr. Jackson was never a serious contender for President, ever.

He later told the newspaper that he did not remember making the remark, but State reporter Roddie Burris told FOX News that Jackson's "acting like he's white" comment came during a 45-minute, one-on-one interview Tuesday after an hour-long speech at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. Burris said he stands by his report.[1]

I have two problems with this report. First, is the fact that Mr. Jackson would make such a statement clearly pandering to a Black audience, as if to gain some credibility for himself and his failed attempts at being a viable candidate for President. Mr. Jackson was always seen as a Black candidate and was never given serious consideration, precisely because of these types of statements. What Mr. Jackson fails to understand is that Senator Obama is a viable candidate because he is not allowing anyone to label him as the “Black” candidate; he is a candidate that happens to be black. This is a very important distinction for anyone trying to become President of all of the United States. While, it makes good copy and may gain him some “street cred” by becoming embroiled in the Jena 6 incident, it would also define him as the “Black” candidate.

This is just another attempt by Mr. Jackson to stroke his enormous ego at the expense of another Blackman; something Mr. Jackson has a history of doing. I don’t think he has gotten over the remark of Senator Biden that Obama is the first mainstream Black contender for President and he continues to take little shots at Senator Obama as being “too white”. Now let’s remember that Mr. Jackson is a supporter of Senator Obama, man with friends like these, huh?

According to the article, Jackson called the incident in Jena "a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment," and said Obama's failure to seize the opportunity to highlight what he describes as a disparate approach to prosecuting whites and blacks demonstrates his weaknesses as a candidate.

“If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena,” Jackson said at the historically black college.[2]

This statement typifies why Mr. Jackson was never taken seriously as a candidate for anything, he was never trying to win. All he was trying to do was broker himself into a position to be “the Black spokesman” for financial and personal gain. By allowing himself to be defined by these types of issues, you may bring attention to the situation, but at the same time you allow others to pigeon hole you. Mr. Jackson never understood the subtleties of politics and race in America and it appears he still hasn’t. What this statement demonstrates Mr. Jackson is your weakness as a candidate and as a “so-called” supporter. If you had ever been a truly viable candidate you would not have allowed your campaign to be sidetracked by grandstanding opportunities, but you were never one to pass up a chance to grandstand. To my knowledge Mr. Jackson has never been elected to any office, so what gives him credibility in how to win elections?

While I support speaking out against the racial implications presenting by the situation in Jena, (I am wearing my black today to show solidarity) it would be foolish for Senator Obama to try and turn it into a campaign issue. What Mr. Jackson fails to understand is you have to win in order to govern, there is no moral victory; just ask Al Gore. Fortunately, there is already a groundswell of moral outrage at the situation in Jena. Now, if the situation in Jena had been completely ignored by the MSM that would be one thing and would require all Black leaders to speak out, but this is not the case. I believe that the Senator has made it clear that he decries the situation in Jena has made this public statement. As a national candidate I think the Senator should continue to keep his eye on the larger picture and not be sidetracked, situations like Jena have been happening for many years and will continue to happen. Senator Obama turning it into a campaign issue will not change that fact, but will only go to help limit his appeal during a critical time in the campaign.

The second issue I have with this report is how Mr. Jackson has tried to back away from the statement, further demonstrating that he is not to be trusted by anyone. You see the truth be told, Mr. Jackson was not that close of a confidant to Dr. King as he has for years cultivated in the media. He was an outsider, when the meeting was going on in the Lorraine Motel, Mr. Jackson was outside in the parking lot. Mr. Jackson if you are going to criticize your candidate for President in public, atleast have the balls to admit you did it. Obviously, you felt it was a big enough issue to reprimand him in a public forum why not step up and say this is where I have a problem with the Senator, let your concerns be known.

Of course, if you were truly on the inside you would have been able to register your concerns in person and not have to do it through a third party interview. As usual, Mr. Jackson is trying to portray himself as an insider when it appears he is an outsider.


[2] Ibid.

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