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Jesse Jackson Uncovers "Racism" Yet Again
By: John Perazzo
Wednesday, May 30, 2001


IN DECADES PAST, Martin Luther King, Jr. led civil rights crusades in places like Selma, Birmingham, and Montgomery to draw attention to the racial injustices that characterized our nation at that time, particularly in the Jim Crow South. Participants in the demonstrations, freedom rides, boycotts, and sit-ins of the 1960s dedicated themselves to the noble task of ending segregation and paving the way to a more just society. For awakening our nation's conscience regarding these matters, we owe them a great debt of gratitude.
IN DECADES PAST,

Martin Luther King, Jr. led civil rights crusades in places like Selma, Birmingham, and Montgomery to draw attention to the racial injustices that characterized our nation at that time, particularly in the Jim Crow South. Participants in the demonstrations, freedom rides, boycotts, and sit-ins of the 1960s dedicated themselves to the noble task of ending segregation and paving the way to a more just society. For awakening our nation's conscience regarding these matters, we owe them a great debt of gratitude.

Yet the nobility of their monumental victories render, by comparison, utterly pathetic the trivialities upon which their present-day successors in civil rights leadership now focus their attention. Because the United States has evolved to a point where black Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson calls it "the least racist white-majority society on earth," contemporary activists must search ever more diligently to uncover examples of the dreaded white racism which they contend still plagues black Americans with undiminished aggression.

Consider Jesse Jackson's current call for a consumer boycott of Toyota Motor Company, in retribution for what he terms the company's "offensive" marketing materials. The object of Jackson's disdain is a promotional postcard, distributed by the automaker mostly in nightclubs and coffee houses, that shows a smiling black man with the likeness of a gold Toyota sport-utility vehicle adorning one of his teeth. According to Jackson, this "example of extreme stereotypes" has caused "widespread outrage and indignation among African Americans." "The only thing missing," said Jackson at a Chicago news conference, "is the watermelon."

Presumably Jackson expects us to believe that the roots of bigotry and anti-black sentiment run so deep at Toyota, that the company's advertising department was simply unable to control its overwhelming impulse to demean African Americans, and consequently produced the "offensive" postcard. Apparently we are also to believe that Toyota was willing to forgo the profits from potential car sales to black customers, in exchange for the psychic satisfaction its ad crafters and executives supposedly derived from producing racially offensive promotional literature that they knew would alienate those same potential patrons. Or perhaps Mr. Jackson would take a different approach and suggest that racism is so ingrained in the minds of Toyota's hierarchy, that those who created the ad were actually blind to its potential to offend.

What Jackson does not seem inclined to consider is that such "blindness" might not be rooted in bigotry at all, but rather in a genuine absence of any malicious impulse to caricature and demean blacks; that is, it may never have remotely occurred to the advertisers that blacks in particular ought to be associated with gold-toothed smiles- or watermelons, for that matter. But predictably, Toyota's very plausible explanation- that the ad was aimed at a "young and very trendy audience" with an emerging trend called tooth art- meant nothing to Jackson. Nor was he moved by the fact that the ad, notwithstanding its alleged shortcomings, featured a black face which under most circumstances would have pleased this celebrated champion of proportional representation. But alas, the criteria to which whites must conform even while attempting to satisfy Jackson's wishes are filled with complexity and subtlety.

Most importantly, while Jackson shakes an indignant finger at Toyota's "transgression," he directs African Americans' attention toward inconsequential nonsense. While he paints white bigotry and racial insensitivity as black America's most serious problems, he continues to say nothing of the scourge of fatherless-ness that is decimating the black community more ruthlessly than racism ever could. Seven of every ten black babies today are born into homes where there are no fathers, a fact that condemns them, statistically, to alarmingly high probabilities of living in poverty and eventually spending time in prison.

Harvard Professor Stephan Thernstrom reports that the poverty rate for black children living in single-parent homes is nearly five times greater than for those living in married-couple families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income of fatherless black families is scarcely one-third as high as for two-parent black families. Neither the alleged bigots at Toyota, nor those at all other American corporations combined, could harm African Americans as deeply as the demise of black two-parent families.

The more we study the numbers, the more they boggle the mind. Regardless of race, children raised without fathers comprise an astonishing 70 percent of our nation's long-term prison inmates and youths in reform institutions. Regardless of race, each year a boy spends without a father increases his likelihood of future incarceration by about 5 percent. And regardless of race, children from fatherless homes are characterized by much higher-than-average incidences of academic failure, placement in special-education classes, behavioral disorders, drug abuse, and such psychiatric problems as depression and anxiety.

Clearly fatherless-ness is bound to have ruinous consequences for any segment of the population wherein it is widespread. It just so happens that ever since 1987, the childbirth rate for unmarried black women has actually exceeded the corresponding rate for married black women the first time in American history that any ethnic group has found itself in such a disastrous predicament. Incredibly, however, "civil rights" champions such as Jackson are content to turn a blind eye toward this tragic scourge of the black community, and instead tell African Americans an egregious lie: that what most ails them can largely be traced to the doorstep of racist whites. Hence a concocted irrelevancy like the current Toyota "crisis" consumes Jackson's considerable passions, while the conflagration that consumes black America burns on without comment.


John Perazzo is the Managing Editor of DiscoverTheNetworks and is the author of The Myths That Divide Us: How Lies Have Poisoned American Race Relations. For more information on his book, click here. E-mail him at WorldStudiesBooks@gmail.com