Dear Jesse Jackson: You’re Wack
Dear Jesse Jackson,
You’re wack. I’m really not sure how else to say it. Honestly, that is the first thing that comes to mind. Something as simple as the words “You’re Wack” truly summarize how I feel about you and your so-called leadership skill set. You’re tactics have always been questionable, but after last week’s fiasco involving LeBron James‘s decision and what was taking place in Oakland, you solidified your wackness to me. Allow me to explain…
It’s no secret that LeBron’s ESPN special “The Decision” reeked of self-serving lameness and culminated in an announcement that made him appear more sheep than shepherd. However, it overshadowed a very significant trial that involved a black man being fatally shot by a police officer. You may have heard of the victim. Does the name Oscar Grant ring a bell? If it doesn’t, I’m not too surprised and I could somewhat understand your wackness. Because if you didn’t know who Grant was, I would understand why you opted to release a statement regarding the reason Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was treating “King” James like a slave rather than discuss the justice Grant’s family and the entire community was denied in California. Somehow, I believe you do know about Grant but your attention only follows the cameras. That’s why this latest example of your inability to separate the issues that are important to a community from those that are important to your own selfish interests have me disgusted with you.
I wasn’t too pleased with your phony tears when Barack Obama won the presidential nomination when back on June 6th of 2008. Remember saying you wanted to “cut his nuts off” during a Fox News broadcast where you thought your microphone was off? Nor was I too happy when you said Obama was “acting white” when he hadn’t addressed the Jena 6 situation. I swept that under the rug as Messy Jessy being Messy Jessy as usual. I’ve always thought that you and Al Sharpton were media whores but still found an appreciation in the fact that you have been able to rally the community against a number of social issues. You two are the only black leaders recognized by the media. Unfortunately, you are all we got—outside of musicians and athletes—when it comes to speaking out on society’s ills on a broad medium. Which is why I expected you to release a statement regarding Oscar Grant’s shooter being convicted of involuntary manslaughter and the possibility that Officer Johannes Mehserle would serve less than two years for killing an unarmed man. I’m sure you heard the city of Oakland was none too pleased with the verdict and took to the streets in protest of yet another sequence of events that left a black man dead and a police officer with a slap on the wrist.
But perhaps you were too busy waiting to see if LeBron James was going to pick a sandwich or a wrap on ESPN. If you weren’t Jesse Jackson—the civil-rights activist who was voted by an AP-AOL “Black Voices” poll as “the most important black leader”—then perhaps I could forgive the oversight. It was quite difficult to find anything on Oscar Grant with every media outlet focusing on James’s world changing decision. CNN’s job is to report the biggest story, so I expected them to roll with LeBron over Oscar. We’ve never been that important when it comes to the media. Unless we are the ones doing the shooting—jump shot or pistol. But for some reason I expected that you, of all people, would have kept a close eye on what was transpiring in Oakland.
In the event that you missed it, I figured you would say something a day or so later. While Oakland’s community united as one to protest the decision, some of the protesters drew negative attention to the situation by breaking into a Foot Locker and setting things on fire. That’s where the majority of the media attention came from. I thought maybe you would be disgusted by how the media shunned the civil injustice and chose only to show minorities destroying the city. I thought that would have upset you.
Apparently, I was wrong.
The fire that caught your attention was the one that burned LeBron jerseys in Cleveland. The shots you heard were the verbal ones that Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert fired toward James after his departure from Cleveland for greener pastures in Miami. It was the biggest story in the news. And what did you do? Fan the flames.
Three days after both the Grant verdict and the LeBron James circus, you issued a statement saying Gilbert’s comments put LeBron in danger and likened James to a “runaway slave” while Gilbert was the “slave owner.” Allow me to be clear: I am not completely at odds with your statement on a much grander scale than LeBron and Gilbert. I can see the parallels between the black athlete/owner relationship to that of the slave and master (the book Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden outlines it very well). However, I do not think that was the case with Gilbert’s inflammatory (and ill-advised) letter. I looked at it more along the lines of a man who just found out his woman had been cheating on him after he gave her everything she wanted. Gilbert was a man scorned. A slave driver? I don’t see it. But I digress.
What I saw from you was an opportunity to enhance your visibility by issuing an accusatory statement which would allow you to capitalize on the attention that James was getting. I didn’t see someone who cared about the community as a whole. I saw a decision made by you that was as self-serving as the decision James made on ESPN. You desired the circus that would follow you as you juggled the analogy with the coordination of blind leper. It was about as ill-advised as both Gilbert’s open letter and LeBron’s hour-long special. But that isn’t the problem here.
The massive issue I had was your ability to spend time on this particular issue while the issue that needed your expertise attention was virtually ignored. You spoke briefly to TheRoot.com and glazed over the issue. There was no statement issued to the media or even the Rainbow/PUSH coalition Website. But you know what I did find on the site? You lamenting on LeBron James and Dan Gilbert. To say that your priorities leave something to be desired would be putting it kindly.
You are greatly accomplished at becoming an attention whore. Had the media flocked to Los Angeles and Oakland, I’m sure you and Al Sharpton would have followed. But since it garnered little attention, you gave it the same. You fed the hype machine. To be quite honest, LeBron’s decision affected me a sports fan, the Oscar Grant trial affected me as a man. I don’t have to worry about James killing my peers in cold blood. It is LeBron James who has to worry about police brutality against his peers. LeBron’s decision didn’t kill Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and Aiyana Jones. It’s police brutality that leads to the demise of our brothers and sisters. And it needs to be checked. You’re supposed to know better than that, Messy Jesse. I’m not a big fan, but I thought you would at least rally the nation around the issue. But you failed, miserably.
I thought maybe you would have said something regarding the August sentencing date for Mehserle (which has since been rescheduled to November if you weren’t paying attention) so we can unite and take a stand if the judge opts to give Mehserle two years or less. I’ve seen nothing. It’s just as important as the judgment, but I forgot that you were too busy judging Gilbert. By November, you probably will forget about the situation as a whole. Maybe there will be another high profile black athlete making oodles of money and you’ll have to rescue him from the slave drivers, too.
You let me down Rev. Jesse Jackson. I never expected much out of you, but this is the minimum and you couldn’t even give us that. If I could fire you as our leader, I would. We “pay” attention to you, so we should be able to fire you from your job as Black Leader. Right?
You’ll probably never read this letter, but don’t be surprised when people see you in the street and say “You’re Wack.” Maybe then you’ll pay attention.