02-21-2019  6:36 pm      •     
Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-Il) Special to the NNPA
Published: 19 October 2011

Democrats and Republicans chant in unison: "Jobs, jobs, jobs."
President Obama offers an American Jobs plan, but Republicans use the filibuster in the Senate to kill it and a Republican majority will not consider it in the House.
House Democrats offered a heftier jobs bill, but it is ignored by the majority in control.
Republicans offer more of the same - tax cuts for the rich whom they call "job creators" - but they have put no actual jobs plan on the table.

As a result, 15 million Americans still languish, officially unemployed, with another 10 million underemployed or so discouraged they have stopped looking for work.

One of the leading Republican candidates for president, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, was recently found to have taken friends, colleagues and contributors hunting on a ranch widely known by the name on a rock at its entrance called N****rhead.

While in the past, unacceptable language used by Minister Louis Farrakhan was overwhelmingly condemned by a House resolution, Republicans voted down a similar resolution that would have condemned Perry for taking his friends to hunt at a place with a racially offensive name.

Republicans protect their own from charges of racism and the press doesn't vigorously pursue the issue because Herman Cain says, "It's time to move on." Apparently, since he's an African American and isn't upset, no one else should be perturbed. Democrats, meanwhile, don't want to discuss it because it's a distraction from their jobs message.

But ask yourself this: What if brushing aside racism when it raises its ugly head is actually diverting and delaying the jobs discussion? What if Herman Cain's presence in the race is actually camouflaging the fact that President Obama's jobs plan (and virtually anything else he proposes) is actually being blocked, not just by conservatives, but by White conservative Republicans determined to use any means necessary, including race - as both Republicans and Democrats have done in the past - to defeat America's first African American president?  If Herman Cain was not in the race, could the press really ignore Gov. Perry's hunting site with no apology for its name or use?

Why is the word so offensive?  Well, historically, the use of the "N" word by Whites often preceded an act of violence by the perpetrator(s) (e.g., hanging) or by the victim responding. Viola Liuzzo and Rev. James Reeb were called N-word lovers before they were murdered. More recently, James Anderson was murdered in Mississippi and the young white perpetrator reportedly said, "I ran that n****r over."

If the American people were to conclude that White Republicans were actively working to defeat Barack Obama because of his race, they would overwhelmingly reject the Republican Party, its candidates and proposals, and understand more clearly a Republican strategy of blockage and obstinacy.

The heart and soul of "conservatism" is the South.  When racism was rampant, it was the solid Democratic South.  In today's "post-racial" society it's the solid Republican South – except for the African and Hispanic American congressional districts.  But why would the poorest, least educated, most ill-housed and most unhealthy region of the country be solidly conservative?  Conserving such poverty seems unnatural. 

Throughout history, the rich - be they slave-owners or possessors' of other wealth or power – have fought to conserve their privilege. They used the fear to manipulate both Blacks and Whites politically, keeping them separated and holding them back from rebelling. Leaders have long been adept at playing the sides against one another to ensure they wouldn't join forces to fight their mutual state of unemployment, poverty, lack of health care, housing and education.

Poor whites were not told the truth about the Civil War – they were never alerted to the fact they were actually fighting to protect the slave owners' economic self-interest.  Instead they were told they were fighting for states' rights.  Rather than join the Civil Rights Movement in the '60s, poor Whites were told to stay away because African Americans were being manipulated by "communists" and "socialists" like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Interestingly, those same words are being connected to President Obama today.

The first 15 presidents of this country avoided resolving the race issue, and the result was an explosion: the American Civil War. And when white politicians know the American weakness on race, and exploit it politically, we can never really get to the jobs discussion.

Dealing with and getting beyond "N****rhead" may actually be the key to addressing the needs of the American people and unlocking a real discussion on jobs.

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