Friday, May 17, 2024

Jesse Jackson Nutty? No!

July 11, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( Rev. Jesse Jackson’s comment, expressing his desire to castrate Senator Barack Obama, was very nutty.

But Jackson isn’t a nut. The manner in which he expressed himself reveals resentment, envy, and latent hatred towards Obama. Still, he echoes legitimate concerns.

Jackson’s right that some people may misread Obama’s criticism of Black males who don’t step to the plate and involve themselves in the rearing of their offspring as an invitation for open season against Black males. Bill Cosby was scorned by some people when he also said Black males needed to take more responsibility.

Certainly, there’re no shortage of ultra right-wingers and conservatives, especially in the Republican Party, who downplay the role of current and historical governmental neglect –such as focusing resources on the prison industrial complex instead of schools and jobs training; and somehow always being able to finance multi-billion dollar wars while cutting education budgets– in narrowing the opportunity choices available to Black males.

Often, these hostile elements make it appear as if it’s just a question of making the “right choices” in life. The racist ones even claim lack of Black male achievement is genetically predetermined. The debilitating cost to the community of the prison industrial complex can’t be underestimated.

It’s established fact that countless Black males are currently incarcerated for crimes for which White males wouldn’t receive long prison terms as Senator Jim Webb has noted. Some are even innocent.

A front-page article in today’s Wall Street Journal highlights some of the costs and gloomy prospects. The article features Sarah Coleman, who is taking care of three great grandchildren, ages one, three and five. She doesn’t know where the mother, her granddaughter is: the fathers of the children are incarcerated. Coleman barely has enough to eat, let alone care for the children.

Clearly, Jesse has a point. Something extraordinary is required in cases such as this, when it’s too late for personal responsibility to relieve the burden.

The article also notes “children of jailed parents are five to seven times more likely themselves to end up behind bars….”

But of course, Senator Obama is right and merely echoes the message that emanates from Black places of worship every Sunday and in some Black homes–that our children have a much better chance of surmounting life’s obstacles when both the mother and father are involved in rearing them.

The problem is that for years, the only message that resonated was that government was responsible for all of the woes in our communities. Nothing was said –at least not by prominent politicians– about the need for assuming personal responsibility.

It’s an important point; in fact, it must be turned into a crusade. Black men are ready. This was clear when Louis Farrakhan called for a March and more than a million Black men showed up. That movement died off because there was no clear singular mission or crusade that followed.

At the end of the day, governmental neglect –which is merely a continuation of policy that started with the enslavement of African peoples– will continue, until it is effectively challenged and ended when more Black people take the reins of government, at all levels. That’s why Senator Obama’s march to The White House is historic in many ways.

In the meantime, we can’t wait for change to come from above.

Black men –and women– must indeed step forward. The beneficiary will be the entire Black community.

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