The Politics of Race

This is somewhat off topic from the normal focus of this blog, but I couldn’t resist.

Yesterday the story got out about Rev. Jesse Jackson’s slip on the open mic. Ignoring the part about castrating Obama, since that is just the way some people talk, as apparently Jackson does, the bigger issue is what he was so angry about.

Jackson apparently is upset because he believes that Obama talks down to Black people about personal responsibility. What’s interesting about this whole thing is that it shows that there is a clear shift in the role “race” will play on the national stage.

Jackson represents a different way and a different time. Which, by the way, doesn’t mean that I think we don’t still need hard civil-rights leaders like Jackson or Al Sharpton. I am glad they are out there and on my and the Black community’s side.

But Obama does represent a changing of the guard to a more race transcending way of doing things. And I think at the end of the day, it is hard for people of Jackson’s era to accept the passing of the torch, even though getting to this point is what they have spent their lives dedicated to. Believe me, I understand that it must be tough for Jackson. To be both excited that the way he paved has paid off, but to also know that this young guy, Obama, is now the one every one will look to for the lead on the Black community.

So in a way it was sad to see what happened yesterday. But I think it is just part of the process, albeit a clumsy part due to Jackson’s gaffe, of the changing of the guard. Obama’s ascendancy does not and will not solve “racial’ strife but it does indicate that times are indeed changing. It should not be surprising that it will take a while for the transition to be accepted by all, and no one ever said it would be smooth and without incident. No major cultural shift ever is. And if you haven’t recognized it yet, we are definitely going through a major cultural shift.


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