Is Barack Obama too white?

Jesse Jackson was quoted as saying Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was “acting like he’s white” for not speaking out more forcefully about a racially charged schoolyard beating in Louisiana.

Wednesday’s (Columbia) State newspaper said Jackson made the comment about Obama and the Jena, La., case after speaking Tuesday at Benedict College, a historically black school. “If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena,” Jackson said in his remarks after the speech, according to the published account.

“Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment,” Jackson said. In 1965, demonstrators were attacked by police with billy clubs during a peaceful voting rights march in Selma, Ala. “Bloody Sunday” shocked the nation and helped bring attention to the voting barriers that kept blacks from the polls.

Jackson later told the newspaper he did not remember making the “acting like he’s white” comment about Obama, who is black.

On Wednesday, the civil rights activist said in a statement that he was “taken out of context.” It said he commended Obama “for speaking out and demanding fairness on this defining issue. Any attempt to dilute my support for Sen. Obama will not succeed.”

The newspaper’s deputy managing editor, Steve Brook, said the newspaper was standing by its story.

The Illinois senator, in a statement late Wednesday reacting to Jackson’s comment, said “outrage over an injustice” such as in the Jena case “isn’t a matter of black and white. It’s a matter of right and wrong.” Obama cited earlier statements in which he “demanded fairness” and said they “were carefully thought out with input and support” from one of his national campaign chairmen — Jesse Jackson Jr., a Chicago congressman and son of the elder Jackson.

Obama issued a statement last Friday, after a state appeals court threw out the only remaining conviction against one of the black teenagers accused in the December attack on a white schoolmate in Jena.

Obama said he hoped the decision would lead the prosecutor “to reconsider the excessive charges brought against all the teenagers in this case. And I hope that the judicial process will move deliberately to ensure that all of the defendants will receive a fair trial and equal justice under the law.”

On Sept. 10, the senator said: “When nooses are being hung in high schools in the 21st century, it’s a tragedy. It shows that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation to heal our racial tensions. This isn’t just Jena’s problem; it’s America’s problem.”

Jena is a mostly white town where racial animosity flared about a year ago when a black student sat under a tree that was a traditional gathering place for whites. A day later, three nooses were found hanging from the tree. Reports followed of racial fights at the school, culminating in the December attack.


  1. keith

    I’m sorry, but accusing Mr. Obama that he is “acting like he is white” is probably one of the most racist comments I’ve heard in a long while.

    Such comments are particularly disgusting coming from a Baptist minister. Aren’t we all supposed to be loving one another? How this man continues to have any credibility in the national discourse is quite beyond me.

    What is also disgusting is why Mr. Jackson (and others like him) are continually given a “pass” by the media when they play such blatant race cards. Where is the outrage? Where are the cries of hypocrisy?

    And, when (as Dr. Martin Luther King so ably enjoined us to do) are we FINALLY going to begin regarding people NOT by the color of their skin but, rather, simply by the strength of their character?

  2. adamrussell

    I still havent heard a good defense of the jena 6. How do you speak out for 6 people that beat up 1 person so bad they put him in the hospital? Its indefensible.

  3. vietnam vet

    vietnam vet
    What about the white kids that beat up a black kid, hit him in the head with a bottle and put him in the hospital. these white kids were not charged, but the back kids were???????

  4. SEAL

    I don’t know much about what is going on in Jena but I doubt Jesse Jackson made that comment or if he said something that included Obama and acting white it was twisted by the local press which is obviously part of the racial problem there.

    However, Jackson is,also, a big part of race problems – every where he goes. Why is it people like him don’t realize how prejudiced they are? It is people like him and Sharpton who make race issues out of everything they can that continue to stir the racial pot. This one may be legitimate with a small town of white racial bullies but Obama said it perfectly. The issue is about what is right or wrong. And if 6 on 1 is what truly happened, racial prejudice cannot excuse that. However, these are kids, not adults, and that is how it should be handled.

  5. Donnat

    This is why you were never seriously taken as a candidate, Jesse, and Obama is. America is more than your narrow special interests and there are other problems besides racism that need a solution and quickly.

    Obama didn’t fall into that trap and I’m glad. I think he’d make a spectacular president. Donnat

  6. adamrussell

    vietnam vet
    What about the white kids that beat up a black kid, hit him in the head with a bottle and put him in the hospital. these white kids were not charged, but the back kids were???????

    If you are implying that the black kids shouldnt be charged because some white kids werent, thats insane. If the white kids did it they should be arrested too, obviously. We arent looking to build an anarchy here.

  7. Obama for Prez in 08


    All you have to do is research the issue, put your own biases aside, and think objectively. Justice was not done in the first place that’s why it’s now blown into a big deal.

    While no consequences were brought on the white kids who hung nooses a blantant racial offense and hate crime in my opinion.

    The black kids were tried for attempted murder and as adults in a court of law for kicking one the white perpetrators butt for the offense.

    I’m not condoning the violence of the black kids, but the extremely lope sided responses from the authorities caused the racial overtones to be exploited.

    The kid who got beat up was treated and released the same day. He attended a school function that night.

    As for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, these guys are corrupt opportunists, and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

  8. adamrussell

    When 6 people beat 1 person unconcious that is attempted murder regardless of what happened before. There is no excuse, and it does not become a lesser charge.

  9. SEAL

    Whoa! In order for it to be attempted murder the prosecutor must prove that they “intended” to kill the guy. Otherwise, it is assault with intent to cause bodily harm. “Intent” is what determines the charge. Unless one of the assaillants states (admits) that they intended to kill the guy or there was a weapon involved, it will be almost impossible to prove attempted murder if the 6 have a decent lawyer.

    Where kids like these get themselves in real trouble is ignorance of the law and not thinking. One kid says, “We’re gonna kill you,” just to scare and not actually meaning it but telling the truth when arrested or on the witness stand. Of course, any lawyer that would allow one of these kids to take the stand in adult court to be cross examined by a prosecutor is an idiot. And, as I recall, in most states they cannot use anything a juvenile says without his lawyer or parent present. However, it has been a long time since I worked in that area. Laws change.

    There was one kid I had to arrest during a parental child abduction case where the abducted child killed the abducting parent and admitted that he did his damndest to kill his mother to me and two others present. But the state could not use his admission because he was only 12 years old. That was a sad case because the mother was the good guy and the father had brain-washed the kid to hate her.

    Fortunately, the state took custody and ordered the kid to a shrink for as long as it took to get his mind back on track. He only spent 6 months in detention and then went to a foster home. I saw him a couple of years later and he seemed to be OK. He said he understood how his father used him. No charges were ever filed against the father.