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Jesse Jackson declares his support for Paula Deen

MB Miller

Rev. Jesse Jackson has created considerable controversy among African Americans by agreeing to come to the aid of Paula Deen, who is under fire because of past racist remarks. While most people would undoubtedly agree that everyone is entitled to redemption, the damage to the black psyche caused by the bigoted South has by no means been as yet cured. Deen’s problems are primarily financial.

When Jackson launched his ministry in Chicago some years ago, he often wore at his weekly services a black turtleneck sweater, a gold chain around his neck, and a resplendent Afro hairstyle. At the end of the service he would invite the congregation to participate in a call-and-response declaration.

Jackson would say “I am!” and the congregation would repeat it. Then he would say “somebody!” and the congregation would follow. After the third recitation the congregation would be excited. It was apparent that the people were not quite so enthusiastic about themselves before the communal declaration.

The lack of respect and the diminished opportunities endured by African Americans has weighed heavily on their self esteem. There have been few examples of the racist conduct inflicting damage on the bigots. In this case the Food Network, Smithfield Foods, Walmart, Target, Caesars Entertainment, QVC, Novo Nordisk and Random House have all severed ties with Deen.

The message is clear. Openly bigoted behavior can be very costly. Why should Jackson believe it is beneficial to African Americans for corporate America to decide that such behavior will be acceptable in the future and there shall be no financial penalties?