Samuel L. Jackson is a respected black actor who appeared in more American films than anyone during the 1990s. In April 2000, he appeared on the cover of Architectural Digest, along with Clark Gable, Natalie Wood, William H. Macy, Hedy Lamarr, Marilyn Monroe, Bing Crosby, Doris Day and Claire Danes. Surely the Jackson family celebrated the actor's appearance on the cover, and the glowing inside piece on their lovely home. Wrong. Because Jackson shared the cover with other celebrities, his wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, wrote to the magazine and accused it of racism:
"It is with sincere regret that I write to tell you how disappointing it is to see my husband, Samuel L. Jackson, featured in the lower left-hand corner on the cover of your April 2000 issue," wrote Mrs. Jackson. "It seems a very odd and racist placement. In the magazine racks of most establishments you don't see him at all; perhaps that was the point. I hardly think anyone is really more interested in all of the dead people you chose to prominently display . . . ."
More recently, the actor implied racism on the part of the National Basketball Association for severe punishment of athletes involved in the Detroit Pistons/Indiana Pacers' brawl in Michigan:
...[I]t kinda looked like a, you know, black-athlete-beatin'-up-white-fan fight more so than, you know, athletes versus fans.... It looked like it was [a racial element], and I'm sure Commissioner Stern had to defuse that situation, like getting rid of the bad guy. But you can't deprive a guy of makin' a livin' all year, just because he did something like that.
Actor Will Smith blamed racism for the AIDS epidemic. "I firmly believe that it is quite highly possible," said Smith, "that the AIDS virus is the result of genetic warfare testing."
Richard Williams, father of tennis sensations Venus and Serena Williams, also has three stepdaughters -- one is an actress and singer, one is a lawyer, and one, now deceased, attended medical school. His view of America's "race relations"? "In America," says Williams, "black people doesn't really have an opportunity at nothin'. . . . It's kinda bad bein' black in America."
Polls find young blacks less likely to call racism America's No. 1 issue. A Time/CNN poll found 89 percent of black teens consider racism in their own lives to be "a small problem" or "not a problem at all." Twice as many black teens as white believe that "failure to take advantage of available opportunities" is a bigger problem for blacks than discrimination. Polls and focus groups show younger blacks less likely to identify themselves as Democrats, and more likely to support partial privatization of Social Security, school vouchers and the abolition of race-based preferences. This spells trouble for the Democratic Party and its monolithic black vote.
Horrors! The Democrats may have to find another card to play.