Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jackson Vs Obama

Former civil rights leader and self appointed spokesman for all Black Americans Jesse Jackson recently accused presidential hopeful of "acting like he's white" in regards to the case of the Jena Six, stating that "If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena."

I think the fact fact that Obama is not acting like JJ is actually one of his strengths. Jackson could never stop being an activist long enough to be a serious political candidate. He has always tended to focus on incidents rather than issues which ultimately worked both to his detriment and marginalization. Obama, love him or hate him, on the other hand has focused on the bigger picture and avoided swooping in uninvited for photo ops and sound bytes. In fact I posit that part of Obama's success has been the fact that he has focused on the forest rather than the trees.

As for the "acting white " comment its as ridiculous as it is offensive. As neither of Obama's parents are American blacks and his family isn't lacking in much financially its unfair to measure him by the same stick one would use on oh say Tavis Smiley. While I have no doubt that he has experienced discrimination repeatedly I strongly doubt that he was immersed in Black culture from birth and that (and his parents good fortune) separates him from your average Black American. Additionally JJ's comment reflects an attitude that I've seen used amongst black coworkers as a form of peer pressure to enforce conformity and given the difference in the levels of performance I've seen between the speaker and the target it always seemed to me to mean one thing, "Stop that, you're making me look bad."