Jesse Jackson’s Jaw Jappin’

By Patricia Wilson-Smith 

If by now, you still need a reason for why I started BWFO, you need look no further than  the man who was once considered one of the most important black leaders in this country – Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Earlier this week, Reverend Jackson, a self-proclaimed Obama supporter, let slip during a 45-minute one on one interview with a reporter from South Carolina’s “The State” newspaper, that in not responding more strongly to the now well known “Jena 6″ case in Lousiana, Senator Obama was “acting like he’s white”. 

I shuddered when I heard this too. I’ll take a moment and let your shudder die down – it’ll be tough though, because it comes in waves doesn’t it?

Yes it does. So as a proud member of Black Women for Obama, and a sworn defender of the Senator, I have to respond. The problem is, when I think about Jesse Jackson’s latest shenanigans, the only thing that comes to my mind is – why? Why is it so easy for a man like Jesse Jackson to let such toxic words fall from his mouth about a man who is our first real hope for a President who, well, isn’t white, and who has done more than what’s necessarily required of him to denounce the horrible situation in Jena, Lousiana?

I’m tempted to end my musings here with a “beats the heck outta me”, and a “thank you and goodnite”, but I can’t, because I’m genuinely puzzled. I’m confused, and yet strangely fascinated by what could have possibly motivated Jesse Jackson to say such a thing. So I am here tonight to offer up some possible theories. I welcome yours (clear throat).

Theory # 1: Jesse Jackson is the king of the political “player haters”; perhaps he simply can’t stand to see another African American man get so close to something that was so unattainable for him. Sounds plausible,  but then the man did endorse Senator Obama back in March of this year, so though it’s theory number one, it’s not the strongest.

Theory # 2: He’s a secret agent and under-cover attack dog for the Clintons. This theory has legs, my friends. Jesse Jackson has been a close personal friend of the Clinton’s for years. What if – just work with me for a moment – the Clinton campaign secretly hired Reverend Jackson to pretend to be an endorser of Senator Obama’s, in order to get information about the inner workings of his campaign? And worse yet, what if he was really engaged by the Clintons to spout off at the mouth about the slightest gaffe the Senator might make, in order to bolster support for the Clintons with blacks? I mean THINK ABOUT IT – there are still dyed-in-the-wool Jackson supporters out there who think the man’s mouth is a prayer book. I’m just sayin’.

Theory # 3: The real Jesse Jackson was abducted years ago by alien life forms, who cruelly left us stuck with a talking and remarkably human-like Jesse Jackson doll with a bad micro-chip. Hmmmm. 

Theory # 4: (And the more likely theory) Foot-in-Mouth-Syndrome. The glare of the national spotlight, and a tendency to deal with all issues in a trigger-happy, speak-then-think way has once again cast a gloomy cloud over Jesse Jackson’s presumably well-intentioned rainbow.

I mean, are we really surprised? Has Jesse Jackson exactly shown himself to be careful in speech, thought, or action in the past? [Insert resounding 'hell no' here]. This is the same man who made the ‘Hymietown’ remark during a time when he himself was actively campaigning for President. The same man who carried on an extramarital affair while at the same time serving as ‘spiritual counselor’ to President Clinton during the Monica Lewinski debacle. The same man who once said he was ‘sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust’. Geesh – Jesse Jackson is a member of the foot-in-mouth Hall of Fame.

Don’t get me wrong, peeps. Jesse Jackson has also done plenty of good work, and has been a tireless stalwart for the black community since the days of the Civil Rights Movement, though it’s been hard to miss the fact that some of his actions over the last several years have seemed more like opportunities to increase his personal visibility and net worth than genuine attempts at working to change the black condition in this country.

That’s what’s so dangerous about his careless remarks – when a man who in almost all other ways, claims to have the best interests of the down-trodden minorities in this country at heart, goes and spouts off at the mouth about anything anytime he wants, it lends credence to the idea that many have that he’s really only ever trying to draw more attention to himself. And in taking his little jab at the Senator, he unknowingly crossed the line from plain old diarrhea of the mouth, to committing what in my mind will go down in history as one of the classic goofs of all time.

See, what-had-happened-was, after Jesse made his little remark, the Obama Campaign disclosed that the Reverend’s very own son, Jesse Jackson Jr., had actually advised the Senator (in part) on what his official response to the Jena 6 case and the trial should be  (no – you understood correctly, but go back and read it again if you need to). Yes! It’s true! Our friend Reverend Jackson:

  • Inserted himself into the limelight surrounding the Jena 6 case, once again squeezing out a spot in the national spotlight for himself while…
  • The Obama Campaign looked to the Jr. Jesse Jackson to help Senator Obama craft an official stance on the Jena 6 case, just in time for…
  • Big Daddy Jackson to carelessly tell a reporter that in delivering the very same response that his son helped come up with, Senator Obama was ‘acting too white’.

Too funny. So in essence, Jesse Jackson Sr. thinks Jesse Jackson Jr. acts too white, and what we really have here is a private family matter between a father disillusioned by his son’s sense of his own racial identity, and a son who clearly doesn’t call his Dad on the weekends to tell him how he spends his work week.

My suggestion to Mr. Jackson is that he lay down his weapon (his big mouth), take a deep breath, and figure out how he can keep from destroying any legacy he might have left from his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. He would do well to start by not attacking the one man who in all his actions and deeds has proven that he has the best interest of all people at heart, especially African Americans and those who are disenfranchised, or have been forgotten by modern day politicians and their heartless brand of politics.  He would do well to end by somehow choking back the urge now and forever more to belittle anyone’s actions by saying they’re acting ‘too white’. What the hell does that mean, anyway?

Finally, my fervent wish for Jesse Jackson is that he find a clue at the end of one of his rainbows and drag his politically, socially dated butt into the new millenium and find a way to help deal with this nation’s problems in the context of the new realities in which we find ourselves – one where people no longer refer to others as ‘too black’ or ‘too white’, and one where a black man can really become President of these United States, and is not relegated to just running on a national platform aimed at bolstering his street cred and eliciting the blind faith of black men, women and children in communities nationwide who deserve better. I’m just sayin’.

About Patricia Wilson-Smith

Patricia Wilson-Smith is a freelance writer and author of the romantic comedy "Duped By Love". She is a regular contributor to She Unlimited Magazine, and covers special events as a special on-air correspondent.
This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Commentary, Did You Know?, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Jesse Jackson, Michelle Obama, Politics, The Campaign Trail. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Jesse Jackson’s Jaw Jappin’

  1. sagereader says:

    Hold up. Wait a minute. How do you know Jesse Jackson even said that Obama is “acting like he’s white”?

  2. Dax says:

    because it was on an interview on fox news. we watched it happen. i dont understand the big problem though, if we are all brothers and sisters under gods eyes then why is it offensive to act too white or too black? arent we all equal and the same in the eyes of the lord?

  3. Robert says:

    Nice article but you didn’t go far enough in your evaluation of the African-American concept of “acting white.” It is the outward evidence of an inner conflict (inferiority complex) about being Black. I think it was most popular during the 1950s when Blacks hot-combed and greased their hair to hide the kinks. Today, however, “acting white” is a perjorative used by non-achieving Blacks against successful Blacks.

    It is tempting to put the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the latter category because of his failed presidential bid in 1984 but to do so would be to deny all that he has done for his race. And he has done a lot, which space does not permit me to list here. His 1984 bid for the presidency may have prepared America for Obama’s success today.

    Be critical of his recent comments but don’t deny him the accomplishments of his past performance.

  4. scott-white-male says:

    As a white man, I never understood why Jackson was given so much power. I do understand there needs to be groups to pursue racism, but he seemed to ‘yap’ all the time about everything.
    The news media should not be giving him the attention he receives. He is not a nominated official on race, but he seems to be the go to guy for ‘black relations’.
    If someone picked up the role for ‘white relations’, and the press used the guy as the go to ‘white man’, I’d be pretty pissed off.

    Anyway, I found your site through google- obama. Good luck with it.
    Obama 08

  5. scott-white-male says:

    Also, what the hell is acting white. This man is sheltered if he honestly feels that way. Don’t make friends based on race, or you’ll end up close-minded.

    Just fyi……..

    I hope Im not overstepping too much here when I say this. Take this as close-mindedness if you want….. Obviously I dont know the issues. This is just what I see.

    If you want to fix race relations, fix popular culture. Too many people portraying themselves in a negative light. How you present yourself through attitude and appearance plays a big importance in success, sometimes even more so than the skills of the job.
    I’m just telling you the truth as honestly as I can. People should be outspoken against artists that portray themselves negatively…with the little interaction some people have with black people in predominantly white regions, expectations may form from lack of experience.
    Stereotypes will always form on their own, but you have a little more control as a group if you support thsoe in the spotlight that represent the image you want.

    I remember Chris Rock bugging Bill Cosby at the TV awards show(forgot thename, dont usually watch…). Bill Cosby was pretty cold to Rock. Cosby’s show was an intended or unintended positive platform of influence on those without little experience with black people and popular culture. Rock on the otherhand is an unintentioanl influece with his stereotype conforming comedian act. He may be funny, but he goes a long way with youths looking for that route of social acceptance. Everyone wants to be cool, and ‘Rock’ certainly appeals to the youth. and again…anything in popular culture will lead to stereotypes via inexperience.

    of course I dont think anyone should avoid stereotypes to be someone they’re not. Just I think some people homogenize themselves trying to fit the popular image. And when people do that, stereotypes grow stronger.

    Obviously my idea of how people should act is just open-minded, but I know the world will never work that way. I find people with different cultural backgrounds more interesting and conformity on both ends of the spectrum as idiotic.

    So obviously I disagree with Jackson. There is no way for a black man to act like a white …or black. If you yourself believe all black people act the same way or should, you sure as hell shouldnt make it a crusade of yours to represent them. Being black isnt a belief or ideal. Its just a skin deep observation.
    I wouldn’t go so far to say he’s racist, but I’m going to have to take some time to think of a term to be use in its place.

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