Time for Jackson, Sharpton to Step Down
Pair See Potential for Profit, Attention in Imus Incident
By JASON WHITLOCK
I’m calling for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the president and vice president of Black America, to step down.
Their leadership is stale. Their ideas are outdated. And they don’t give a damn about us.
We need to take a cue from White America and re-elect our leadership every four years. White folks realize that power corrupts. That’s why they placed term limits on the presidency. They know if you leave a man in power too long he quits looking out for the interest of his constituency and starts looking out for his own best interest.
We’ve turned Jesse and Al into Supreme Court justices. They get to speak for us for a lifetime.
If judged by the results they’ve produced the last 20 years, you’d have to regard their administration as a total failure. Seriously, compared to Martin and Malcolm and the freedoms and progress their leadership produced, Jesse and Al are an embarrassment.
Their job the last two decades was to show black people how to take advantage of the opportunities Martin and Malcolm won.
Have we at the level we should have? No.
Rather than inspire us to seize hard-earned opportunities, Jesse and Al have specialized in blackmailing white folks for profit and attention. They were at it again last week, helping to turn radio shock jock Don Imus’ stupidity into a world-wide crisis that reached its crescendo Tuesday afternoon when Rutgers women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer led a massive pity party/recruiting rally.
Hey, what Imus said, calling the Rutgers players "nappy-headed hos," was ignorant, insensitive and offensive. But so are many of the words that come out of the mouths of radio shock jocks/comedians.
Imus’ words did no real damage. Let me tell you what damaged us this week: the sports cover of Tuesday’s USA Today. This country’s newspaper of record published a story about the NFL and crime and ran a picture of 41 NFL players who were arrested in 2006. By my count, 39 of those players were black.
You want to talk about a damaging, powerful image, an image that went out across the globe?
We’re holding news conferences about Imus when the behavior of NFL players is painting us as lawless and immoral. Come on. We can do better than that. Jesse and Al are smarter than that.
Had Imus’ predictably poor attempt at humor not been turned into an international incident by the deluge of media coverage, 97 percent of America would’ve never known what Imus said. His platform isn’t that large and it has zero penetration into the sports world.
Imus certainly doesn’t resonate in the world frequented by college women. The insistence by these young women that they have been emotionally scarred by an old white man with no currency in their world is laughably dishonest.
The Rutgers players are nothing more than pawns in a game being played by Jackson, Sharpton and Stringer.
Jesse and Al are flexing their muscle and setting up their next sting. Bringing down Imus, despite his sincere attempts at apologizing, would serve notice to their next potential victim that it is far better to pay up than stand up to Jesse and Al James.
Stringer just wanted her 15 minutes to make the case that she’s every bit as important as Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma. By the time Stringer’s rambling, rapping and rhyming 30-minute speech was over, you’d forgotten that Tennessee won the national championship and just assumed a racist plot had been hatched to deny the Scarlet Knights credit for winning it all.
Maybe that’s the real crime. Imus’ ignorance has taken attention away from Candace Parker’s and Summitt’s incredible accomplishment. Or maybe it was Sharpton’s, Stringer’s and Jackson’s grandstanding that moved the spotlight from Tennessee to New Jersey?
None of this over-the-top grandstanding does Black America any good.
We can’t win the war over verbal disrespect and racism when we have so obviously and blatantly surrendered the moral high ground on the issue. Jesse and Al might win the battle with Imus and get him fired or severely neutered. But the war? We don’t stand a chance in the war. Not when everybody knows “nappy-headed ho’s” is a compliment compared to what we allow black rap artists to say about black women on a daily basis.
We look foolish and cruel for kicking a man who went on Sharpton’s radio show and apologized. Imus didn’t pull a Michael Richards and schedule an interview on Letterman. Imus went to the Black vice president’s house, acknowledged his mistake and asked for forgiveness.
Let it go and let God.
We have more important issues to deal with than Imus. If we are unwilling to clean up the filth and disrespect we heap on each other, nothing will change with our condition. You can fire every Don Imus in the country, and our incarceration rate, fatherless-child rate, illiteracy rate and murder rate will still continue to skyrocket.
A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him.
We don’t respect ourselves right now. If we did, we wouldn’t call each other the N-word. If we did, we wouldn’t let people with prison values define who we are in music and videos. If we did, we wouldn’t call black women *****es and hos and abandon them when they have our babies.
If we had the proper level of self-respect, we wouldn’t act like it’s only a crime when a white man disrespects us. We hold Imus to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. That’s a (freaking) shame.
We need leadership that is interested in fixing the culture we’ve adopted. We need leadership that makes all of us take tremendous pride in educating ourselves. We need leadership that can reach professional athletes and entertainers and get them to understand that they’re ambassadors and play an important role in defining who we are and what values our culture will embrace.
It’s time for Jesse and Al to step down. They’ve had 25 years to lead us. Other than their accountants, I’d be hard pressed to find someone who has benefited from their administration.