Jackson’s Anatomy

As many of us have heard by now, the Rev. Jesse Jackson had less than appropriate things to say about Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D). Not content to say that the senator had been “talking down” to black people, the reverend, in very un-reverend-like language, suggested that he wanted to remove a part of the junior senator’s anatomy beneath the waist.

I am not often a defender of Sen. Obama, as I believe his policies will take the country in the wrong direction where the government, rather than individuals, has all of the answers and all of the power. At the same time, what we heard from the Rev. Jackson illustrates the mindset of a relic from a bygone era where the government and “the man” were out to suppress blacks, versus a new voice for change embodied by Sen. Obama.

Indeed, what was it that sent the reverend into a rage in the first place? Sen. Obama recently spoke before a group, talking of self-reliance and the need to stay in school. Bemoaning a culture where 50 percent of black children are raised by single mothers, Sen. Obama wanted to know where the fathers were and how destructive a one-parent household is to African-American communities.

Sen. Obama further noted that most black students will not become the next basketball star or rapper earning millions through fame and fortune. Again, the senator encouraged students to stay in school and receive an education in order to obtain a good, well-paying job.

Comedian Bill Cosby has come under attack from the old-school black establishment for such views, and now it is apparently Sen. Obama’s turn. Rather than embrace the failed policies and the blame mentality embraced by the Revs. Jackson and Al Sharpton, Obama in this instance spoke truth to power about the need for blacks to stay in school and look to themselves rather than government to help them succeed in life.

And Sen. Obama’s reward for speaking the truth about the conditions many in Black America face today? An accusation that the senator is “speaking down” to blacks and a vulgar comment made about Sen. Obama’s anatomy.

This story is a keen reflection of the anatomy of the Rev. Jesse Jackson and those who cling to their stature from days gone by, when people of color sought the leadership and the protection of civil rights leaders who fought for equal rights and protection under the law. The dawn of the 21st century has not been kind to those who look to the past and assail wrongs decades old rather than look to the promise and future of how America will heal her racial wounds and divisions.

It seems Chicago isn’t big enough for two former community activists with oratorical gifts who seek and shine in the spotlight. It is time for the Rev. Jesse Jackson to yield the spotlight to the next generation of black leaders — and not a moment too soon.