More on Jackson, Sr. and the Historical Context of Black Male Mutilation …

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on July 11, 2008

First, one has to ask – why does he have a problem with Obama’s reflections on Black men and fatherhood? It’s not like he hasn’t commented extensively on the same issue. But, the problem is not so much with what Rev. Jackson’s comments stem from – clearly there’s a bit of serious political jealousy taking place – it’s that he used one of the most vile and unseemly racist references to express it.  There is a very ugly and nightmarish history behind Black male mutilation, from slave punishments to Southern lynching mobs. To use it within the context of a “hot-mic” discussion on Black family issues is beyond poor taste – it shows ignorance. This is the sad part: that an iconic African American man, a supposed legend in the civil rights movement, who is reported to have seen or experienced the injustices he long fought, is using the mutilation of another Black man to support a political argument.

“There could have been dozens of other things he could’ve said to express his disagreement with Sen. Obama or he could have simply exercised the media savvy he’s so famous for, realized microphones were on and simply kept quiet.

“The other sad aspect of this controversy is that Jackson has created something that not only severely taints his legacy, but will now become tasteless fodder for national conversation, sound-bite hungry talking heads and late night stand-up jokes.  This is not funny – and there is a serious and justifiable concern that pop culture, dominated by a predominantly White entertainment institution, will absorb these comments and trivialize the historical context of their meaning.  Since a major Black public figure such as Rev. Jackson can say it, others will think it’s not a problem for them to say it.  That’s simply not acceptable and it only serves to pour fuel on already sensitive racial fire.


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  1. Holly B. said, on July 13, 2008 at 3:57 am

    I’m white, female and elderly – I don’t claim qualification to know about how genital mutilation of males has occurred historically.

    I do know, though, as a human being, how evil even the THOUGHT of it is.

    I know equally, and from the same wellspring of basic humanitarianism, how thoroughly evil it is to genitally mutilate females. Yet it’s done in many parts of the world, not just talked about. I’d suggest a discussion here on that, if none exists yet. Female genital mutilation is the precise equivalent of removing a man’s – ah – pride and joy.

    I was raised with absolutely no bigotry. Moreover, a former student of my dad’s, who stayed in touch with his old professor until my dad died, was a man I knew well. He was the first black man I ever met, and nobody could convince ME that blacks were inferior! Not with a man like him in this world. He influenced my youth profoundly, and I adore him for it.

    This article resonated with me entirely, and opened my eyes to a dimension of Rev. Jackson’s comments I hadn’t been aware of.

    Thank you for writing it.

    I must contribute what I know here. After the assassination of MLK, I heard that man on local TV often (Chicago area) blathering about “lily white” this or that. It was clear and profound racism. Which was why, when many Americans thought a black president was a good idea (and so did I), I couldn’t consider supporting him. I have always detested the man, and earlier in my life I came under fire as a bigot because of it. Being against any black leader equated to racism, but that just wasn’t so. My dislike was focused entirely on this one individual, and with good reason.

    Time and again, his hippocrisy has emerged, like calling New York “Hymie-town” among other neato stuff.

    I’ve been greatly heartened to see the progress black folks have made in the last few decades. Though tons remains to be done, what they’ve already achieved is astonishing. And I can’t imagine how wonderful it will be, especially for young black males, to have an example like Barack Obama to use as a role model. Black males have been held down and maltreated, but have also (collectively speaking) descended in their morality over the years. It became so endemic that it was “cool” to be that way. Nor is that gone, even yet.

    There is much magnificence that has gone to waste. Now it seems possible that that waste can be halted and reversed. I hope I live to see it. Young black males have needed a good role model to help them reject that destructive aspect of black culture. They haven’t had one. Until now. Until Obama. For a while, I had great hopes of Michael Jordan being that role model. He seemed such a good man, a devoted family man, etc. Then we learned of his rather unlovely underside. It grieved me.

    There’s only one thing I don’t care for about the present-day black rights movement. It still emphasizes black rights, rather than acknowleding that the REAL issue is HUMAN rights, and is not a battle between races in the least, but a battle between the bigoted and non-bigoted. Of ANY color.

    Why is this important? Because racism doesn’t just exist in whites. I see passionate hatred OF whites by blacks any time I might choose to go looking for black peoples’ opinions. By keeping black rights an issue only for blacks, it obscures the wider issues that allow many forms of abuse to occur in our country. No abuse is tolerable, to anyone, but by separating black abuse as an issue, the umbrella issue gets clouded. Women’s rights, for instance, should NEVER have been separated from black civil rights. They are ONE AND THE SAME. They should have worked together, in perfect accord, from the very outset.

    Besides which, it isn’t only blacks who support black rights! Googobs of Americans, of all races, support them, too. We should combine, rather than divide, which is why I am so thrilled to see Obama, trying to do JUST THAT! What a wonderful president he’d make.

    Black vs. white is NOT the issue. The issue is haters vs. nonhaters.

    I’ve heard the white racism personally. White racists don’t hesitate to dump it on me. They think because I’m white, I’ll either agree with them or at least hold my tongue. They’re wrong. I peel their skins verbally. But I hear the same kind of hate among blacks. And it is JUST AS WRONG from them as it is from whites.

    Let me add a point here. I’ve read much written by blacks online, and it’s extrememely clear to me that black women are feeling like the most unloved segment of our society. It occurs to me that they have a point. Whether men love them or not, these ladies deserve the same respect and fair treatment anyone else gets. And many of them ARE extremely lovable. Whether black or any other color, American males should give some of their kindness to black women, to give them heart, to help them KNOW they are worthy human beings. Pat them on the back. Boost their morale. Tell them WHY they count in this world. They have, indeed, suffered horribly from the complexities of our culture. Let’s give them more than just a break. Let’s give them a reason for their eyes to shine with hope and love of life.

    Racists are bigots, who prefer to hate than to understand or make friends. We have multitudes of them in America. Every single racist, of whatever color, SHAMES our nation. And in a very real sense they are NOT true Americans.

    In addition, a racist is essentially a coward, a bully, and an inadequate personality. No exceptions.

    If you believe one group of people is “more human” than another, you are saying you do NOT agree with our founding documents. Rather than “all men are created equal,” they prefer to believe “some people are more equal than others.”

    I am passionate about bigotry, but particularly racism and sexism. Any bigotry, though, is the embryonic form of genocide.

    Given time and world enough, ANY bigotry can gather enough of a power base to enable it to begin KILLING the people they hate. Not only CAN they do this, it is inevitable that they WILL.

    It is time for all of us who are NOT bigots to become extremely aggressive, particularly within our OWN races, against the racist people we encounter. It is no longer enough to merely ignore them or brush off the venom they spew. Bigotry is as serious an issue as genocide. We must all begin taking it THAT seriously.

    We can never eliminate all bigotry. But we can hold it down, put dents in it, thwart it, shame it, make it hide and slither in shadows, and put tooth marks on it.

    It is every unbigoted citizen’s duty to do this. Because if we don’t, the bigots will become a majority.

    Every human life on this planet is precious, and every person on the planet should have reverence for the sanctity of those lives, as equal to their own lives.

    Anything less isn’t civilized, but is barbaric and bestial.

    Again, thanks for the new perspective.

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