So, What Color Can I Be?

Jesse Jackson has been established as a leader of the Black/Negro/African-American community by . . . by . . . well, himself–and the media who are there to catch his every word:

Jesse Jackson on Wednesday night criticized Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) for voting against the Democrats’ signature healthcare bill.

“We even have blacks voting against the healthcare bill,” Jackson said at a reception Wednesday night. “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”

The remark stirred a murmur at the reception, held by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation as part of a series of events revolving around the 25th anniversary of Jackson’s run for president. Several CBC members were in attendance, including Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who’d introduced Jackson. Davis, who is running for governor, is the only black member of Congress from Alabama.

Just a “murmur”? Wow, some folks are remarkably far gone. Based on the color of my skin, I am required to vote in accordance with position which is held/supposed to be held by the rest of the people with my skin color? What hubris.

Jackson said later that he “didn’t call anybody by name and I won’t.”

He added that he wasn’t saying that black lawmakers must vote a certain way. Instead, they should vote the interests of the people in their districts, and he said the healthcare bill would help Alabama because it’s one of the poorest states in the country.

“The poorest people need healthcare protection,” Jackson said. “They have the highest infant mortality and the lowest life expectancy. They’re dying from lack of access.”

I don’t have the time to go into all of the incorrect assumptions which are held in that last section, but I would like to address one. Jesse Jackson’s premise seems to be that “black lawmakers” are only representing poor districts. How does one reconcile this with reality? I suppose that he would consider any black lawmaker who represented a non-poor district (and who might even lean conservative in his/her voting) to be an Uncle Tom. Then again, that’s just about exactly what he is saying here, isn’t he?

I’m thankful for this:

Davis referred to Jackson’s 1988 run for president in a statement, issued through his office, that said he would not engage Jackson on his criticism.

“One of the reasons that I like and admire Rev. Jesse Jackson is that 21 years ago he inspired the idea that a black politician would not be judged simply as a black leader,” Davis’s statement said. “The best way to honor Rev. Jackson’s legacy is to decline to engage in an argument with him that begins and ends with race.”

Race/ethnicity is too often a tool which is used to divide people who are literally of one blood. Here’s hoping that Jesse Jackson will understand the error of such foolishness and have the grace to apologize.