Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama and being black enough: What color is justice?

Now it’s not enough to be black in the world of Jesse Jackson. You also have to act black.

According to South Carolina newspaper The State :

Jackson sharply criticized presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for “acting like he’s white” in what Jackson said has been a tepid response to six black juveniles’ arrest on attempted-murder charges in Jena, La.

When it comes to justice, is there a difference between black and white? Are some things criminal when done by whites but not criminal when done by blacks, or the other way around? More importantly is the standard of conduct for a black candidate different from a white candidate?

So if Obama is “acting like he’s white”, how does that mean he’s acting? And what about the other contenders? Are they acting black and white–or red and blue? The press release from the Obama offical campaign website:

Today I stand with those who stand for justice in Jena. The thousands of Americans from every race and region who have descended on this small Louisiana town carry forth the legacy of all those who sat at lunch counters and took freedom rides to strike a blow against injustice wherever it may exist. When a noose hangs from a schoolyard tree in the 21st century and young men are treated in a way that is not equal nor just, it is not just an offense to the people of Jena or to the African-American community, it is an offense to the ideals we hold as Americans. I renew my call for the District Attorney to drop the excessive charges filed in this case, and I will continue my decades-long fight against injustice and division as President.

Similar press releases were issued from the offices of major Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. No comments at all came from the official websites of top-tier Republican candidates Rudy Guiliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.

And what exactly does it mean to “act black”?

“Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment”, said Jackson.

But commenter Fred on Obama’s campaign blog disputes that characterization:

I know Rosa Parks. I love Rosa Parks. And Mychal Bell (the ring-leader of the Jena 6) who has become the cause celebre for the same crowd that was last spotted at Duke University extolling the virtues of a conniving stripper who tried to ruin the lives of three young men is no Rosa Parks.

Mychal Bell was in a group of black students that knocked a white student to the ground and continued beating him after he was unconscious, leaving him blind in one eye for three weeks. Some of the same individuals were involved in another racially charged incident between three black students and a white student at a gas station in a black neighborhood.

So what is the politically correct “black” response? “The lives of six young black men are being ruined”… charging them with crimes has “the power to ruin their prospects for a happy and prosperous future”. The only proper response is to “drop all charges” and “grant immediate reprieves to any of the young men who are convicted”, according to an on-line petition. After all, the noose incident was seen by the black community as a “threat”, but the white student who was beaten blind and unconscious was only attacked “with sneakers”. For anyone who thinks this is a caricature of “black” thinking, the petition got 145,000 signatures.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton can go rushing down there and reinforce the idea that it’s okay to hurt someone as long as they’re white. After all, it’s good publicity for the voter registration drive. Or is it.

Maybe the Reverend Jackson can galvanize some black voters to register and vote with this issue, and maybe for now Obama will go along with the political strategy in order to reach this voting block.  But when it comes right down to it, how many people want a black president and how many people want an American president? The only reason Obama has gotten as far as he has in American politics is his ability to work within the mainstream.  If he is seen as merely a tool of black leaders who can fetch him whenever they want for whatever crackpot cause, instead of a leader in his own right, he will quickly end up in the backwaters trying to cater to a very limited group of voters, who, quite frankly, don’t turn out to vote.

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One Response to “Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama and being black enough: What color is justice?”

  1. New Poll: Obama’s Race - The Seminal :: Independent Media and Politics Says:

    […] New Hampshire. Oprah and Ted Kennedy have endorsed him, while Jesse Jackson has complained that he’s too white. It’s a muddled picture. With that in mind, do you think Barack Obama’s race will play a sizable […]


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