Presidential candidate Barack Obama may be wondering what he has to do to get a break from a Chicago pastor.
Another religious leader has created a stir within Obama’s campaign and the nation by making inflammatory remarks against the presumptive Democratic nominee. You’ve no doubt heard them by now.
Rev. Jesse Jackson is the culprit this time around. He was doing a taping on a Fox News cable program. During a break, Jackson leaned over to fellow panelist Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, vice president and chief of medical affairs for United Health Group, and said: “See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith-based … I want to cut his n–s off …Barack … he’s talking down to black people.”
Jackson was speaking into a dead mic, as it’s called in the news biz-when you’re off the air but your microphone is still recording.
Worst, Jackson appeared to make a slashing motion with his hand. It was a familiar spot for Jackson. While running for president in 1984, the longtime Democrat sank his already slim chances with his infamous “Hymietown” comment about a segment of New York’s Jewish community.
His recent controversy has also turned into a public relations nightmare.
He’s been doing the mandatory damage control, but with all that, it’s easy to overlook one fact-he had a point.
Now, there’s no denying he went about it the wrong way. Seeing Rev. Jackson using language that he rightly has chastised others for using is totally unbecoming of a man of his stature.
It also hints at a deep-seeded professional jealousy on Jackson’s part toward Obama, who’s had a remarkable political rise in a very short time. I, however, winced a bit when I heard Obama’s speech delivered at a Chicago church on Father’s Day. Addressing the predominantly black congregation, a mostly cheering congregation, Sen. Obama offered up this wisdom: “There’s a reason why our families are in disrepair. And some of it has to do with a tragic history, but we can’t keep on using that as an excuse.”
“Too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes. They’ve abandoned their responsibilities. They’re acting like boys instead of men.”
I can understand the fact that Sen. Obama is, in part, speaking from personal experience as his father was not around during his formative years. I will also concede that we live in a time when too many black males are not taking care of their responsibilities as fathers, not giving their daughters a strong enough representation of how a man should treat them and not giving their sons the tools to end the cycle.
But I feel that Obama, as a candidate for president-particularly one that has captured the imaginations of so many in the African-American community-he should have a lot more to say about what unequal playing field many urbanized blacks are faced with. Although, he acknowledged the Civil Rights issues that plague the black community, he offered no plan to solve them nor did he offer specific examples of what needs to change from a political perspective.
I realize that Obama must walk a tightrope during this campaign, one that even the most skilled aerial acrobat would find a challenge. He wants to appeal to minorities and Caucasians alike so as not to ostracize his supporters. Any hint of “Al Sharptonitist,” could lead to a cakewalk victory for John McCain. But why be so critical of the shortcomings of black fathers simply because he is half black?
Do you really think he would go in a white church and point out all of their shortcomings of whites in such a flippant manner? All nationalities have their issues. Black men have not cornered the market and if you’re going to single out a group to chastise for being a certain way, then why not offer what you can do to change it?
Rev. Jackson may have been out of line by implying a desire to symbolically castrate the presidential nominee, but he was on the money about him talking down to black people. What I say to Obama is this: Austin is the largest community in Chicago yet it does not have a sufficient amount of high schools, after school youth programs, businesses, job training facilities or mentoring groups. These are all issues that should be considered as important as the shortcomings of dads, which are indeed considerable. Once he lectures his political peers in a similar fashion from the pulpit of the U.S. Senate, things may begin to change.
But will he?