Jesse disses Obama in Chicago Sun-Times Op-Ed piece



Brotha Jesse is pissing outside of the tent again, this time its in the form of an op-ed piece in the Sun-Times. After reading it, give me your take.  Is Jesse’s criticism valid and is his timing right?  He’s endorsed the brotha and is pulling even with Miss Hillary in Iowa.  This piece begs the question of whether Jesse really wants Obama to win.

Hat Tip: By Rev. Jesse Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times  

Can Democrats get the votes they need simply because they’re not Republicans? You might think so in this presidential campaign. African-American and urban votes are critical to any Democratic victory. Bill Clinton won two terms without winning the most white votes. His margin was the overwhelming support of black voters. George Bush learned that lesson; that’s why his campaigns spent so much effort suppressing the black vote in key states like Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. His victory margin was the tally of votes suppressed or uncounted.

Yet the Democratic candidates — with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign — have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention. No urban agenda is given priority. When thousands of African Americans marched in protest in Jena, La., not one candidate showed up.

Democratic candidates are talking about health care and raising the minimum wage, but they aren’t talking about the separate and stark realities facing African Americans.

The civil rights movement succeeded in ending segregation and providing blacks with the right to vote. But the end of legal apartheid did not end the era of discrimination. And the ending of institutionalized violence did not end institutionalized racism.

Patterns of discrimination are sharply etched. African Americans have, on average, about half of the good things that whites have, and double the bad things. We have about half the average household income and less than half the household wealth. On the other hand, we’re suffering twice the level of unemployment and twice the level of infant mortality (widely accepted as a measure of general health).

African Americans are brutalized by a system of criminal injustice. Young African Americans are more likely to be stopped, more likely to be searched if stopped, more likely to be arrested if searched, more likely to be charged if arrested, more likely to be sentenced to prison if charged, less likely to get early parole if imprisoned. Every study confirms that the discrimination is systemic and ruinous. And yet no candidate speaks to this central reality.

African Americans are more likely to go to overcrowded and underfunded schools, more likely to go without health care, more likely to drop out, less likely to find employment. Those who do work have less access to banks and are more likely to be ripped off by payday lenders, more likely to be stuck with high-interest auto and business loans, and far more likely to be steered to risky mortgages — even when adjusting for income. And yet, no candidate speaks to this central reality.

The result is visiting a catastrophe on the urban black community. I and many others campaign for young people to stay in school, to graduate and not to make babies until they are prepared to be parents. My son and I write and teach about personal financial responsibility. Personal responsibility is critical. But personal responsibility alone cannot overcome the effects of a discriminatory criminal justice and economic system in generating broken families and broken dreams.

The Rev. Martin Luther King saw the movement to end segregation and gain voting rights as the first stage of the civil rights movement. The second stage — to gain economic justice and equal opportunity in fact — he knew would be more difficult. Now, 40 years later, it is no longer acceptable for candidates to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to entrenched discrimination and still expect to reap our votes.

22 thoughts on “Jesse disses Obama in Chicago Sun-Times Op-Ed piece

  1. dblhelix

    I imagine that the significance of the timing and placement of this op-ed is the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum this Saturday.

    The Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum is an element of Urban Dreams’ non-partisan Project V.O.T.E. (Voting Opportunities Through Education). Urban Dreams is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization. It is the nation’s only presidential forum in which all candidates have the opportunity to answer essential concerns of African-Americans and Latinos. The non-partisan event began with U.S. Presidential candidate debates in 1984 and has figured prominently in the Iowa caucuses. It is recognized as the oldest, continuous minority forum for presidential candidates in America and one of the longest-running presidential debates in the nation. For further information, visit

  2. Chesapeake

    On one hand, Jackson’s right. John Edwards is absolutely the only candidate who has addressed issues uniquely relevant not just to black America, but to the black world. It’s crazy that more blacks have not taken note of that.

    On the other hand, Jackson is wrong. Surely, he did not just have this revelation that Obama and Clinton are benign and uncommitted when it comes to commitment to social, educational, health, and economic equality issues; nevertheless, he still supports Obama. That’s inexplicable!

  3. Cliff

    Let’s throw a theory out there.

    Let’s just say that Obama is a strategist who is playing like he is an advocate for liberal whites exclusively, and completely ignoring the overall urban/black agenda, just to get in. Maybe he thinks that general democratic vote, is more geared towards the agenda of liberal whites, and they, somehow, have more power in numbers. If they are the majority then the majority rules, but are they the majority of registered voters for the democratic party? I do believe that he really does love his people, but somehow he thinks that white liberals have more national influence than us.

    Maybe he does not realize that if he addresses our agenda, he will still have white liberals in the palm of his hand. You know why, the black agenda provides sufficient equality among all people. He’s is probably scared to embrace the issues concerning his own people, because he may feel that he will lose the majority of white democratic votes if he does so.

    “Bill Clinton won two terms without winning the most white votes. His margin was the overwhelming support of black voters.”

    Reverend Jackson, that is pretty smart, but let’s not forget what skin Obama is in. The majority of black people in this country love white people more than themselves, so this particular fact is not surprising, given that we have not gotten justice in this country “one day” since we have been here and finally, after “450 years, masa’ done come to save us”.

    I don’t this that he is a sellout pretending to be a revolutionary, I would rather think that he’s a revolutionary pretending to be sellout. Furthermore, I would like to assume he is strategic revolutionary.

    If he actually is a sellout, not pretending at all, then the pressure of the black and urban majority weighs much heavier on one of their own, than that of the oppressor.

  4. Rikyrah:

    I thought I was the only one who thought that.

    But, then again, if Jesse’s so sweet on Edwards, why doesn’t he go ahead and endorse the man?

    However, I think this Op-Ed piece is nothing more than an attempt from Jesse to inject himself into the political discourse because the usual Democratic suspects aren’t inviting him to the party – which continues to illustrate how irrelevant he has become to the cause, because he spent too much time being a corporate extortionist.

  5. dblhelix

    TPJ: However, I think this Op-Ed piece is nothing more than an attempt from Jesse to inject himself into the political discourse

    Exactly. The B&B Forum is this Saturday. Opportunity to grab some attention.

  6. It does sound like Jesse is injecting himself into the political clusterfuck, lest we forget him. It seems that his support of Obama may have always been a mixed blessing. Didn’t he accuse Obama of “acting like he’s white?” over the Jena 6 mess back in September?

    How far the mighty have fallen. I know many people, white and black, who taped the keynote address he gave at the ’88 Democratic convention. I, myself, did not have a working television that year, but the man could speak..and the crowd was moved. It must really chap his ass to hear that Barack Obama is the first viable black candidate for POTUS.

  7. Denise

    I don’t have a problem listening to anything Reverend Jackson has to say. The way I see it, he’s earned the right to be heard, even if I disagree with him.

    It’s gonna take a little more than a $5K necktie and Brooks Brothers suits for me to write off the black folks who – despite some personal failings – never got too grand raise a ruckus when needed.

    Go ‘head, Reverend. Say what’s on your mind. I’m listening.

  8. dblhelix

    Denise, yes. My point is that it isn’t necessarily an act to undermine — the placement and timing is appropriate.

  9. Why is this conversation about whether Jesse wants Obama to win, rather than on what black folks need?

    Do we exist for them, or they for us? Or maybe none of the above?

  10. Mr. Bruce,

    What black folks need will never be addressed in the context of a normal Presidential campaign by a brotha who thinks he is a viable (crossover) candidate. It most certainly will never be addressed by a candidate used to the red-carpet treatment in every black community that she visits. As long as she remembers Big Mamma’s favorite scripture and throws in a little somethin about Harriet Tubman or Sojourner Truth, she’s good.

  11. Perhaps then, the real question is when we will have the courage to imagine a politics outside the make-believe world, a politics that really does address our people’s needs.

  12. Greg aka Farrod

    Shelley Wynter, a black conservative with a radio showhere in Atlanta, was dissing everyone who’s not for Obama, saying that ‘his record, and the fact that he was a civil rights attorney shows that he is pro black’.

    Any thoughts?

  13. Bruce, I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of waiting for another Black Leader to come and save us.

    I’ve said this before: We are our OWN DAMNED LEADERS and we’d best be about the business of SAVING OUR DAMNED SELVES. ‘Nuff Said.

  14. Tess


    Why no report on Obama’s surge in Iowa? If the Safe Negro wins Iowa, will you shoot yourself in the face or eat crow?

  15. Not SB,

    But, if he wins Iowa, I’m going to be LMAO. I will watch every political pundit possible…because you know they will be shaking their heads, going WTF? if it happens.

  16. salt

    Edwards is the best candidate in this race. We don’t need all of the atrocities in the world blamed on a black guy. With an Obama win comes the expectation that he can solve the race problem with the waving of a magic wand. The whites who do support him support him because they want to be absolved of their racial guilt, and put a black face on foreign policy. People need to be less concerned with symbolism and the first black or the first woman, and more concerned with implementing justice. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, as long as the job gets done. People say Edwards is far left? Shoot, these same people can’t fill up their cars with gas, are drowning in debt, losing their homes but will never admit that they feel, and in fact are vulnerable. Obama and to a lesser extent Clinton, are what people want, Edwards is what we need.

  17. Chesapeake

    Rev. Jackson is just one of many who recognize Edwards’ leadership. Harry Belafonte, he of dignity and high standing, endorsed John Edwards today! It’s a great match, and a statement for those who know Belafonte’s role from the early Civil Rights fight and funding through as recently as his work to stop gang violence and calling Bush the terrorist he is.

    Take Belafonte’s endorsement over Oprah’s and Bab’s, without a doubt! Edwards is no joke or fluke!

  18. Rhonda

    I think nobody played the role of the safe negro better than Harry Belafonte throughout his life so…oh please.

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