Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Great Read -- from "The Root" -- an African-American Online Forum

I've been looking in on The Root" quite frequently since stumbling upon it. It's very good! Lively, provocative, real, down-to-earth and profound in a lot of ways.

You might want to make it a favorite and check in on it a few times a week...

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I think we need to cut Jesse Jackson some slack, though. He need not worry that he "missed out" on making history, in case he is concerned about that. He certainly made history for a very long time. He was in the civil rights fight when the going was rough and dangerous -- it took Martin Luther King, Andrew Young, him and many others to challenge the conscience of this nation and make us realize the disparity in the opportunities open to people because of their color.

I do think the time has passed for the politics of anger. I think Jesse Jackson's shortcoming was never his passion, but instead was his lack of compassion for the people who just didn't "get" what all the fuss was about (rednecks, bigots, racists). I have the same short fuse when it comes to bigotry, so I'm not picking on him. It is indeed hard to be patient while people "grow up" from racist upbringings and try out a new set of ideas. It takes generations, not weeks or years... That stinks, but it's the truth.

Jackson has been so focused on the "problem" (focusing on those who try to shut down African-American advancement in every way possible) that he forgot to look around and see how many African-Americans were and are going around the fuss being made and getting on with their lives... starting businesses... families... integrating neighborhoods and schools... making friends and partners and colleagues of many white folks...

Jackson, like Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is still very, very angry. And he's earned that right. But it won't win him any elections this year. We're looking for peace and a sense of calm (to the degree that we can have it in this convulsing global environment) this year. Being angry is counter-productive. It creates a backlash, the opposite of what it hopes to achieve...

It may have taken a black man like Obama, raised mostly off the mainland (in Hawaii and the Philippines -- as it took Sidney Poitier in the entertainment industry earlier in the last century) to be able to transcend what the U.S. "white attitude" has been up until relatively recently regarding people of color.

I think that attitude is changing even as we speak and as younger people step in and start voting and making decisions. We've known for years that we needed to treat everyone the same way we want to be treated... but it has always been easier to just go with the flow and not rock the boat too much.

Those who rocked the boat paid for it -- mightily -- the past 100 years -- and more. White and black. (Let's not forget the whites who walked, fought and bled side-by-side with those who struggled in the south, and those in power who took the steps necessary to turn things around.)

Today it seems nearly everybody is a Freedom Rider, because it's easier now.

Back then, most of us just prayed...

But never forget: Jesse Jackson was there. On the balcony when Martin Luther King died -- and he has been at it every day since. I don't think he'd make a good President -- but he's a great American.

He doesn't need to apologize for being who he is. I hope he'll soon figure out that who he is, is quite enough.

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