Cut out cutting it off

This most recent controversy involving Jesse Jackson once more proves that men of the cloth are just like anybody else. It can't be denied that he has racked up some impressive accomplishments during his 40+ years in civil rights, but like many powerful people, there is also evidence suggesting he has abused his power.
I wasn't particularly surprised to learn that he had fathered an out-of-wedlock child. He and his wife married quite young, with a baby on the way, and marriages based on do-the-right-thing, whether with the involvement of the proverbial shotgun or merely parental pressure, are usually not a blueprint for fidelity. That matter was entirely between husband and wife.
I've always respected people who lived under segretation, something I was not required to do, and even more so those who did something about it, which required great courage. However, Jesse did slide on my respect meter with that incident regarding the franchise (I can't even remember which company it was), where he threatened to stage a boycott against the company because no blacks owned franchises. Just like that, one of his sons became a franchise owner. Maybe I'm wrong, but it smacked of a deal being made under the table.

That aside, as well as putting aside the unfortunate choice of phrasing when he spoke of wanting to "cut his [Barack Obama's] nuts off," I do believe that Barack's speech could - no, make that *should* - have acknowledged that he wasn't speaking to all black men when he urged them to take care of their children. To someone who doesn't know better (and several million people probably fall into this category), it sounds as if there isn't a single black man in the country (other than Obama himself, of course) who is a true father to his children. If I were a black father with a strong involvement in the lives of my children, I would have been insulted that there was no mention of them.
I'm all for you, Obama, but publicly chiding black men like they're all but from the same cloth strikes me as pandering to a part of the population whose votes you need. I can just picture that particular portion of the American population nodding in agreement when they hear you talk about living up to one's parental responsibilities. Remember that there are quite a few who are doing the right thing by their offspring.
It seems to me that there's some (non-literal) castration being done on both sides.

Speaking of abusing power, has anyone heard about Charles Rangel's holding leases on four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem's most prestigious complex, the Lenox Towers? He actually uses one for office space, a clear violation for an apartment house.


dee said...

Hey Bettye,

Jesse needs to close his mouth. I'm just surprised he can still talk at all with his foot in there already.

i beg to differ as far a s Charlie Rangel goes. My former pediatrician had offices on the first floor in this building, so that is not a violation so far as I know. Who freaking cares if he has 4 apartments if he pays for them? Sounds like sour grapes from that fellow who was heckling him during the press conference.

Gwyneth Bolton said...

Good points, Bettye! Obama better than anyone should know that black men are not monolithic... And Jesse has pretty much always been an opportunist... *sigh*


bettye griffin said...

I know what you mean about your kids' peditrician's office. I'm a native New Yorker who grew up in a Mitchell-Lama complex for middle income residents, and there were law and dental offices on the ground floor, with all the necessary permits and no doubt a commercial rent. But the Congressman was using an apartment on a lower floor (not the ground floor) that was meant for residential purposes in a city with affordable rental housing is scarce just doesn't seem right to me. As for the three other apartments that he rents for personal use, combining apartments seems like more of something you would see in a condo than a rental apartment, particularly if drywall was torn down in the combining process, but I will say that if he's paying for them, rent control or not, that's his option. But if he can't find space in which to work in those combined three apartments, I do think he should give up his "office" so it can be rented as someone's home.

It's okay; we can agree to disagree. Thanks for commenting!

It was gracious of Barack to accept Jesse's apology, but if I were Jesse and Barack wins the White House, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting to be invited to a state dinner!

shelia said...

I don't like it when folks group EVERYBODY in the same box. Sometimes we are bad about doing it ourselves. I know more people who grew up in 2 parent households than 1 parent households and I know I'm not the only one. There are plenty of Black men taking care of their kids and have been so "we" as people need to stop believing what the "media" likes to put out there.

Another sterotype (which is totally off subject) is that there are more Blacks on welfare than Whites. Well until I worked for Social Services I did believe that. I know the truth and learned a valuable lesson about stereotyping.

Reference Mr. Jackson, he seems like he's hatin'.

DonnaD said...

I agree with what you said about Jackson, Bettye, but I disagree about your points about Obama. Yes, there are good men who are doing the right thing by their children (my hubby being one, as I'm sure your hubby is too).

And while no one should be painted with an "all or nothing" brush, it's the good black men who should be cheering Obama on because the sperm donors out there are giving them a bad name! His point is valid and a good father shouldn't take offense because it's not him that Obama was talking to. It's like the saying, "Throw a rock into a pack of dogs; the one that barks is the one that got hit."

As for Rangel - there's more than enough problems here in Chicago for me to be concerned with than whether he's violating a lease law. If he is, go after him! If not, why bother?

Dee Savoy said...


I have to admit I still don't care what Rangel was doing with his apartments, but you'll be pleased to know he gave up the one he was using as an office.

BTW, I agree that black men are not a monolith, but having worked with children for more than a decade, I can say that those who do NOT have a father in their life, regardless of race, in general, do less well than others. I applaud anyone who encourage fathers to play their proper role. However, we've got to start honoring those men who are living up to their responsibilities, too. Not every man is a deadbeat. However, do I beieve that's what Jackson meant by his comments? Wanna buy a bridge in Brooklyn? Puhleeze.

All the best,

bettye griffin said...

Shelia, Donna, Dee,
Thanks for sharing your viewpoints. I did read in the Times yesterday that the Congressman will be giving up his office. I expected as much. It was really all he could do, since it says in black and white that the apartment is for residential purposes only.

I do feel for the folks who are searching for places to live that are both affordable and decent. I left New York nearly 20 years ago with my first husband for this very reason.

Adrianne said...

Late to the party, but I disagree that Obama painted everyone with the same brush. Men who are doing the right thing, knew he wasn't referring to them and those same men know which men he was referring to. With 7 out of 10 children born to single black mothers-someone needs to say something. Obama is offen thrust in the position of if he says anything he's accused of talking down if he doesn't say anything then it's-why isn't he addressing black issues.
I appreciate everything Jackson has contributed to the civil rights movement. I don't always agree with everything he says-when I can figure out what he's saying-but I respect it. Jackson, like most powerful people, have a problem with relinquishing some of that power and influence to the new man on the block.

If anything, IMHO, Jackson has more of a record of telling black people what to do. I remember when Clinton was caught in the Lewinsky scandal and he race to the White House for spiritual conseling and took his Baby Momma with him on the trip. (Of course we found out about the affair much later.) Then he's going to have some elaborate media blitz funeral about burying the N-word-waving his fingers at those who uses the word and then gets caught using the word at of all places the FOX channel. I could go and on-as you can see-but I'll end it here

bettye griffin said...

Thanks for commenting, Adrianne! I think that part of my dissatisfaction with Barack's comments have to do with the way they are percieved by the rest of the country, who do tend to (and probably will continue to) see every black person in the same light. I can just visualize non-black citizens nodding their heads and saying, "Why is my tax money going to take care of all those men's brats?" I do think it's rather important to make a distinction. No, it's not something white people have to do, but unfortunately that's just the way it is. I also believe in humility and not coming off sounding like you're above the fray, which can be a very fine line sometimes.

I think your opinion on Jesse's reluctance to relinquish his power after being a major black voice all these years is dead on. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us.