Where, How, When and To Whom

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Last week, the Rev. Jesse Jackson uttered what surely will become one of the most memorable — and crudest — comments of the 2008 campaign. (See above.)

Eric Easter, writing on EbonyJet.com, says that "it's not just what you say, it's where, how, when and to whom that matters as well." It highlights what some see as a growing disconnect between Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and several prominent African Americans, who argue that he is moving to the center and catering to white voters too much.

How did you react to Jackson's comments? Do you agree with the sentiment behind them?

Comments

 

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Jackson is just jealous of Obama's following. Obama's message is simply that everyone has to pull together and stop blaming their problems on others or the past.

Sent by Ken Ayer | 2:46 PM | 7-14-2008

My concern about Obama's recent comments is that he seems to speak for non-Black audiences, defining their issues and saying how he will address them; whereas, he appears to be talking TO or lecturing his with African-american audiences.

His approach gives the appearance that African-americans have a lock on social dysfunction.

Sent by Kevin (Mack) | 2:57 PM | 7-14-2008

I am an African American woman who believes unfortunately Obama is in an untenable position. I think it is about subject matter not timing. He would have been critized by activists at any time with this message because Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpon, et al have benefited from "white guilt" and victimization. He is under great scrutiny. It is clear that Jackson and others are using their bully pulpit to force their agenda at the risk of hurting Obama's chances of winning the election.

Sent by Ixchel McKinnie | 2:58 PM | 7-14-2008

There is something puzzling about this whole discussion, and it is the fact that Barack Obama is neither "black" nor "white", he is just an extremely intelligent and charismatic human being. The fact that the skin-color genes passed onto him by his mother are mostly recessive does not make him more or less black than white. And if, like Jessie Jackson, you do believe that "blacks" and "whites" are two separate groups, then you are racist.

Sent by Isabelle Fleuraud | 3:05 PM | 7-14-2008

The tragedy of the off color Jackson remarks reflects a larger issue in the black community -- the crabs in the barrel phenomenon. It is almost beyond belief that Obama, of mixed ancestory (like most African Americans in these Uninted States), is not "black enough" in the eyes of the "black establishment" and among the "black intlligencia." It is almost unimaginable that it might be thought by anyone that John McCain or Hillary Clinton is not "white enough" to be president, yet, Obama must bear the burden of being "enough" with regard to his racial identity.

There are enough very serious problems in the world and in this country that this topic should no longer be worthy of news print or talk radio discussion.

Jackson and others want to continue to make race political, when Obama is arguably the most qualified candidate ever to address this most sensitive and complicated of issues. It seems Jackson and others with grievances feel that only they can advance this (and other causes) as it relates to the black community. Perhaps the black community has outgrown the need for "black" leaders of old, and would be better served by national leaders.

Sent by Marcus Phillips | 3:06 PM | 7-14-2008

The tragedy of the off color Jackson remarks reflects a larger issue in the black community -- the crabs in the barrel phenomenon. It is almost beyond belief that Obama, of mixed ancestory (like most African Americans in these Uninted States), is not "black enough" in the eyes of the "black establishment" and among the "black intlligencia." It is almost unimaginable that it might be thought by anyone that John McCain or Hillary Clinton is not "white enough" to be president, yet, Obama must bear the burden of being "enough" with regard to his racial identity.

There are enough very serious problems in the world and in this country that this topic should no longer be worthy of news print or talk radio discussion.

Jackson and others want to continue to make race political, when Obama is arguably the most qualified candidate ever to address this most sensitive and complicated of issues. It seems Jackson and others with grievances feel that only they can advance this (and other causes) as it relates to the black community. Perhaps the black community has outgrown the need for "black" leaders of old, and would be better served by national leaders.

Sent by Marcus Phillips | 3:06 PM | 7-14-2008

Welcome back Neal-you were missed. Your guest Eric Easter finds fault with Sen. Obama for giving a speech on fatherly responsiblities to their children on father's day. Claiming that it was the wrong speech, wrong day and wrong population. Meaning that father's day is the wrong day to talk about fathers, the Black community is the wrong place to talk about these issues, and that a more uplifting topic should have been chosen? He goes on to further say that Sen. Obama should not speech about Black issues during his address to the NAACP tonight.
I am sure this all seems completely rational to Mr. Easter but not to anyone else above the age of 7. His comments are simply beyond reason and logic.
The bottom line is that some members of the African-American community (especialy civil-rights generation who were previous Sen. Clinton supporters), have disdain for Sen. Obama. To these leaders, Sen. Obama will never be "Black enough" due to his African and bi-racial heritage. Anything he does or says will always be wrong or insufficent.

Ironically, these are the same leaders who talk the talk but have let down the African-American community time after time.

Sent by Stephanie | 3:23 PM | 7-14-2008

Jesse Jackson is a racist individual that only cares about being in the news. He plays the blame game rather than focus on personal responsibility.

Sent by Kristine | 3:28 PM | 7-14-2008

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have built whole careers stirring the racial pot and urging whole populations to become professional victims by abdicating personal responsibility.
Sen. Obama don't play dat.
Reverend Jackson is off da chain.

Sent by MO | 3:59 PM | 7-14-2008

One must feel pity for those whose every thought and action is influenced by obsession with the color of their skin. It would seem that this obsession is hard to let go of even when it is clear to the beholder that it is no longer valid. As with most addictions intellect is overuled by emotion.

Likes and dislikes will never go away. Be bigger than petty preferences and prejudices. Get used to it and get over it.

If you sow love you reap love. So it is with fear and distrust. We all need to put aside old differences and pull together. This nation is in deep trouble and needs us all to unite. Let us prove wrong those in this world that do not believe that diversity is positive or even sustainable.

Sent by MILTON THORNTON | 4:06 PM | 7-14-2008

I think Obama is free to express his mind freely.
To the extent the black community (or some of its leaders) takes issue with his words is the "burden" of free speech.
Bottom-line, there are real problems that plague the black experience in the USA.
In several instances they do not receive the kind of attention deserved. Don't get me wrong, I think that upbeat, forward-looking speeches have a place. However, putting forward the tough issues is never an easy conversation nor always warmly accepted.
I give Obama credit, he documented that his grandmother had "negative views" of blacks but she still loved him. That's very deep and not that easy to share with a nation of millions. I'm certain there were whites that did not like that portion of that speech. However, that's Obama's experience!
Its what makes him different and also draws people toward him. Finally, his unique experiences and his ability to articulate them are what might make him our next President.

Sent by Jerry | 4:12 PM | 7-14-2008

I tried so hard to get through to your broadcast today without success. Mr. Easter made a statement today that assumed he knew the mind of Sen. Obama and that he(Easter)is well familiar with the Black church. He said wrong speech, wrong day, wrong audience,. I differ on all points. Black men who do not parent their children as well as other men who do not do so need to be told daily. For the black communities across this country the black male in the best of circumstances is in crisis and it begins with parenting. The church Black Church is a plce where these same irresponsible behaviors go on among the membership as well. As a 68 year old father, grandfather, Sunday School Teacher and retired Early Childhood educator, I work with church youth who have teen and pre-teen pregnancies. The girls have the babies and the boys go on to be teens and have no real responsibilty for parenting their off-spring. The church is a microcosm of society and the community at large. In Milwaukee where I am over 65% of our black babies are to single parents, overwhelmingly that single parent is female. And he says Father's Day is for honoring fathers? Yes it is, but it is also the day that focuses on this issue of males and black males in particular being only sperm donors.
Senator Obama has a "Bully Pulpit" right now and thank God he's using it.
Rev.Jackson who betrayed his marriage and family should keep his mouth shut, pants zipped, or maybe someone should cut his n_ts off!!!

Sent by Wallace D. Johnson, Jr | 6:19 PM | 7-14-2008

People are talking about Rev Jackson like he is some kind of moron with less than noble aims for Barack and the American condition. Anyone with a passing interest in history will know that without Jackson there is no Barack. It was Rev Jackson's runs in 1984 and 1988 that changed the rules under which the Democratic party apportioned its delegates resulting in Barack winning the nomination. So criticize Jackson's choice of expression, but please respect the stature and absolute contribution of the man to America's continuing attempt to live up to its famous creed.

Sent by Bernard | 6:32 PM | 7-14-2008

Enjoyed your show today. Your guest on today's program, Mr. Easter repeatedly mentioned African American activists and their "concerns" about Mr. Obama's statements, but what was so very clear to me during the discussion was that these "activists" and "leaders" are very much so out of sync with the majority of the populous that they are supposedly speaking for and representing. We have a problem when a people group has an illegitimacy rate of over 60% (and even the African-American "leadership" has contributed to this statistic.) To make matters even more disheartening is that anyone who boldly confronts these issues are villified for pointing this out or for even attempting to address the problem, and on Father's Day none the less. Every issue that they are purportedly concerned with eradicating... health care disparities, education, HIV , poverty, teenage pregnancy, chemical dependency, joblessness, etc. in most cases, has direct links to whether or not a father/father figure is in the home or active within a childs life. And while this correlation has statistical truth we need not just fathers but good fathers, parenting and lovingly raising their children. I do believe it is time to stop blaming anyone other than ourselves as Afican-Americans for our current state as an ethnic group. Are inequalites and discrimmination still issues that face our community today? A resounding YES! But the ever salient point is if we will hold ourselves accountable and make it harder to place ourselves in positions of easily falling into stereotypes and lowered expectations then I truly believe our situation would change dramatically. As my grandmother always stated, "do not hand anyone any reason to keep you down"!!! And sadly so for many years this is just what many in our community have been doing.

Sent by Camryn | 8:11 PM | 7-14-2008

Mr. Easter didn't answer the question poised by Mike; Where would Senator Obama's Father's day message been appropriate? if not on Father's Day ... in a Afro-American church. When, where, how and most importantly WHO is going to be ALLOWED to address the tragedy of 70% of illegitimate births each year in our community? Why can't we hold people accountable... responsible for their actions?

Mr. Easter said Jesse Jackson's comments had "nothing to do with subject matter" and "people have been saying this for years" and "sacrifices blacks fathers on that day" and lastly "it was a coded message to white listeners"
Herein lies the problem we have had for years: a representative/leader (editor) in our community has an opportunity to communicate the reality of our future(millions of NPR listeners) and he drops the ball.

It is so unfortunate we don't open our eyes and see how many generations have been lost to violence, addictions and death.

Sent by Annie | 9:26 PM | 7-14-2008

Jesse Jackson should be ashamed of himself! We are a nation that needs a leader like Barack Obama; a strong, intelligent individual who is able to see through racial barriers and get to the other side of the issue(s). Jesse Jackson appears to be an attention-seeking has-been. I am a caucasian woman who would be proud to have Barack Obama as our next President. Tamara

Sent by T. Geist | 9:46 PM | 7-14-2008

why does not just run as an American and drop the hyphen.
I really felt bad when he stated fathers should read to their childern, he could have stated that a father should
make a commitment to a family, not run off. Childern without both parenets have the worse grades in school and spend the most time in the jails.
If the ethnic groups can solve that problem, many of the racial trouble
will be eliminated--it applies to all--white black, by-racial etc.
The trouble is proverty and lack of
motivation to get ahead---we all can not
go t Harvard law school.

Sent by Donald Miller | 12:58 AM | 7-15-2008

On the contrary, it is Jesse Jackson that talks down to black people by assuming that the "Talented Tenth" are the only thinking black folks at the party. Barack Obama speaks to everyone as fellow adults. He talks to all audiences the same. Sen. Obama calls on us to see the possibility and work to achieve our dreams. He calls on all of us to acknowledge our issues of the past and then move forward together to build a better tomorrow.
Jesse Jackson and sadly Andrew Jackson are stuck in that old frat boy mind set that dictates "a brother has to pledge" before he can join there exclusive club. Sen. Obama is not seeking permission for the white or black establishment. He is bringing an agenda that will serve the entire nation.

Jesse, Andrew and all the rest of the old guard should recognize that a new sheriff is in town and they had better get with the program or retire to their respective rocking chairs and congratulate each other on the job well done...40 years agi!

Barbara B. a 56 year old African American woman

Sent by Barbara Blackmon | 1:30 AM | 7-15-2008

IT is too bad mass media is more concern with the Rev. Jackson poor
choice of words directed at Senator
Obama, then the exposure for the talented poor such as I.IF I called
Mr. Obama a Great guy I would still
face systematic denial.

Sent by jerry a. Myers | 3:07 AM | 7-15-2008

Obama could "no more denounce Reverend Wright than he could his own white grandma".....So long Grandma, I've got an election to win!

Sent by Sue | 12:28 PM | 7-15-2008