Black conservative commentary

 

Jesse Jackson: Can We Please Just Move Along?


by Lisa Fritsch

 

A New Visions Commentary paper published January 2004 by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited.

As the 2004 political campaigns heat up, Jesse Jackson is making the rounds to rally support for liberal candidates and stirring the pot on hot racial issues.

Officially in my hometown of Austin, Texas, to speak to the African-American Chambers of Commerce, he crammed more into this visit than a simple speech on business. As usual, much hype and controversy surrounded his visit as he continues to proclaim his himself the voice of equality for minorities.

Not only is it erroneous to insinuate that blacks need a leader, it is an insult to be led by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Who elected them?

Setting aside for a moment the issue of our needing to be led, if we are to have a leader, he should have character and dignity. If our aim is to improve education, why not have a leader with a solid education or background in teaching to push for progress in our schools? If we want our young black men to respect women and stop having out-of-wedlock children, is it too much to ask that the man leading us not have fathered a child out of wedlock while married? And, if we desire respect from the police, should not our leaders support the police in their fight against crime - including against our own - instead of coming to the aid of scandal for publicity's sake?

During Jackson's Austin visit, he said our children must be able to "live together in a multiracial, multicultural society." To accomplish this, he may want to cease the archaic talk about the "fight for equal opportunity." Instead, let kids know equal opportunity already exists. It's theirs for the taking when they respect their teachers and other adults, study in school to be their best and make abstinence a priority. He might also tell police officers we will stop taking up the causes of black criminals so that racial profiling will die along with black-on-black crime.

The need for a black leader, however, is at least as outdated as it is unproductive. Should these leaders be inclined to promote racial healing instead of continually fueling the fires of animosity, we might be onto something. Why, after roughly 40 years of leadership in the fight for equality, are these people still preaching the same stories of discontent and despair? If they are true leaders, shouldn't we expect to see light at the end of the tunnel by now?

What's really going on is that Americans, so desperate for racial cohesiveness, are letting these people move in on a societal cash cow that they are now unwilling to abandon.

In Jackson's case, he's president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. He has made a very lucrative career out of fighting on our behalf. But if he was unable to portray us as underdogs, Jackson would fade away. And how is it that he is allowed to wholly represent us? It's because he preaches that we are unequal in the eyes of discrimination, and so many of us believe him.

Not until he and his disciples move on will blacks receive proper representation and respect. As long as they continue to "lead" us, we will be seen merely as followers - a monolithic race that depends on the shakedowns, threats and tirades of these unelected and, at best, shifty black men to make our case.

If we are to ever move along as individuals and thrive in this multiculturalist world that Jackson speaks of, the first step is to move it along without the usual representatives who continually discredit our ability to think and speak for ourselves.

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(Lisa Fritsch is a member of the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership network Project 21.)


Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.

 


 

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