Thursday, November 23, 2017
Rev. Jesse Jackson and Black America’s Ghetto Pass Conundrum
By Jasmyne A. Cannick (Columnist)
Published July 31, 2008

Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., emphasis on the Sr., is obviously displaying the early signs of senility.

How else do you explain his blatant use of the N-word during that now infamous whispered conversation during a taping of "Fox & Friends" on July 6?

"Barack…he's talking down to black people…telling n–s how to behave."

The fact that Jackson, a self-described civil rights advocate used the N-word is not that surprising in the scheme of things.  I mean after all, we are talking about Rev. Jesse Jackson.  This is the same Rev. Jackson who had an affair with a staffer that resulted in the birth of a daughter.  And the same Rev. Jackson who has made a career out of using his birthday as a personal corporate fundraiser to the tune of millions.  Simply put, he is not without flaws.

Rev. Jackson, like others, have been pimping the Black civil rights movement for decades with the help of the mainstream media, there’s nothing new there.  The reality of the situation is, if the media would stop looking to Jackson to represent all things Black, and open the door for new voices, voices under 50, and yes—female voices, we might not be having this discussion today.

However, what I am trying to understand is what makes one Black man’s use of the word any worse than another’s?  I mean, in the grand scheme of things, Jackson’s use of the N-word on Fox, a network that by and large isn’t being watched by the majority of Black people, isn’t nearly as bad as the use of the word by today’s rappers whose exposure far exceeds Jackson’s, yet I don’t see us all up in arms over that. 

While Jackson did verbally castrate Obama with the "I want to cut (Obama's) nuts off" comment, where’s the outrage over Black men who are acquitted of having sex with underage girls, even though it was videotaped?

I also remember a certain boxer convicted of rape who upon his release from prison was given a parade in his honor.

If you ask me, we’ve got our priorities all screwed up.

Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me.

As a Black female, I find it hard to take seriously the national outrage over Jackson’s comments when we don’t exhibit the same outrage over brothas in our own community who have done far worse simply because we like their music or they are a sports athlete.

Obama is a big boy who knew what he was stepping into when he announced his candidacy.  He can defend himself, and if for some reason he can’t, he’s got Michelle and a staff of hundreds.  Instead of being so quick to jump to the defense of Obama, we need to jump to the defense of ourselves and stop with the “selective” outrage and ghetto passes.

Calling someone the N-word and threatening to “cut nuts off” under your breathe doesn’t compare to the damage done by and to masses of Black folks everyday who call each other niggas and worse and listen to music made by other Black people calling them niggas and worse.  And it certainly doesn’t compare to the physical, emotional, and subliminal damage that’s been done to Blacks by internationally known recording artists and sports athletes who prey on young women, and get a pass from us. 

The real harm being done to Black people isn’t coming from Jackson or Obama, it’s coming from us and our ghetto pass policies that prevent us from getting our priorities straight and keep us distracted.

At 30, Jasmyne Cannick is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class, sexuality, and politics as it relates to the African-American community.  Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and Ebony Magazine.  A regular contributor to NPR’s ‘News and Notes’ and <> , she was chosen as one Essence Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World.  She can be reached at or   

Categories: Opinion

Get the Los Angeles Sentinel App!


LA Sentinel
in your pocket:

© 2017 Los Angeles Sentinel All Rights Reserved • A Bakewell Media Publication

Contact UsAboutMedia KitCorrections & Misprints

Terms of ServicePrivacy Policy

LA Watts TimesTaste of Soul

Close / I'm already on the list

Subscribe Today!

Don't be limited anymore! Subscribe Now »

** Existing subscribers, please Login / Register for Digital »

Subscribe to The Los Angeles Sentinel for only $5.99 $3.99 per month, with 1 month free!

Relax in comfort each week as you read the printed newspaper on your own time, delivered weekly to your home or office. This subscription also includes UNLIMITED DIGITAL ACCESS for all of your devices. Includes FREE shipping! One easy payment of $3.99/month gets you:

Subscribe Now »