Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hate to See Brothers Acting Like This

What a sad day for African-American men all over-- to see one of our leaders all over the airwaves having to apologize for disparaging remarks made about another brother.

Yes, I'm casting this in terms of race and gender.

Rev. "Keep Hope Alive" " I Am Somebody" Jesse Louis Jackson (I learned his full name in elementary school) apparently was caught talking privately about Senator Barack Obama when he thought his microphone at Fox News Channel was off, he reportedly made references to wanting to cut off part of the Senator's anatomy.

Conservatives bloggers like Ken Shepherd at NewsBusters have had a field day with this -- as have many of the tabloids.

I watched with interest as NBC first reported this story last night as a developing story (with NO VIDEO) on Nightly News. By the time the Today Show hit the air this morning, they had the sub-titled video so we could hear the remarks for ourselves.

Yes, it is a good story and had I been producing the morning news (as I did for more than five years) I would have prominently played it in my newscast as well. But, that's beside the point. The media are simply doing their job.

This report by Lee Cowan, updates the controversy.

Strictly from the perspective of another black man-- I'm just of the opinion that you don't talk about another brother -- who you supposedly support-- behind his back.

As men, we have to be willing to confront our brothers when we think he's/they're wrong-- and deal with the issue.

I think Rev. Jackson handled this the wrong way-- choosing to gossip about it with yet another man of color in a public place.

I'm all for free speech. But, if you have a beef with a brother confront him on it-- debate him on it-- publicly, even. Then, let it go.

There's a policy difference here between Rev. Jackson and Senator Obama on individual responsibility vs. government accountability.

Should the government (i.e. through faith-based initiatives) be pouring money into churches to solve problems or should be problems be settled from within the communities where they occur?

His political motives aside, Obama's call on Father's day for men to be better fathers was a timely message. His acknowledgement at a predominantly black church that too many fathers are AWOL is the truth. Just look at the number of single moms in our churches today.

But, that's old news. Obama's speech is old news. Even the reactions to his Father's Day speech by people like Dr. Marc Lamont Hill (Temple University American Studies professor)are old news.

"What I don't want Barack to do is let the government off the hook." Hill said in an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel.

Hill tried to articulate the position that Jackson has -- noting the "structural and societal issues" and "draconian child support policies" that might explain absentee fathers.

I applaud him for bringing out those issues while trying to see Obama's points about individual responsibility.

This is the way that black men ought to be handling their business. Use the public square-- bring the issues front-and-center.

Don't relegate them to disparaging remarks in private.

I understand why Rev Jackson had to apologize. I'm glad Obama's campaign accepted the apology.

What happened this week reflects poorly on all African-American men. Yes, I know those from other races also bad-mouth, demean and criticize others behind their back.

But, when there are so few of us out here in the spotlight, it behooves us to take the higher road.

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