What if people chose movies the Jackson way? What if blacks only saw movies about or starring other blacks? What if sports fans only saw players or teams that consisted solely of athletes who looked like them?
Back in 1980, an advertising magnate named Ted Stepien purchased the abysmal Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. Stepien thought he had a formula for success. White fans, he said, like to watch white players. Because the Cavaliers' stadium was then located between Cleveland and Akron, a demographical area that is predominately white, Stepien felt fans would come if the players looked like them.
Stepien employed the Samuel L. Jackson formula. He stacked the team with white players for the white fans. Stepien made a series of bad player trades that hurt the team's competitiveness for years. The team played even worse than before. Embarrassingly, the league eventually instituted the "Stepien rule," forbidding any team from trading its first-round pick in consecutive years. The team also drew even fewer fans. White fans, Stepien learned, did not enjoy watching white players lose anymore than watching black ones lose.
Confused? According to the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., a black president is a problem -- for black people: "A white president, frankly, could be pushed a great deal more than we would push President Obama because nobody would accuse him or her of having partiality toward African-Americans. So it's a tough spot. It also means we still have a long way to go in terms of race relations in this country, and the President has, I think, moved through these troubled waters about as well as any African-American could, becoming the first black president."
Cleaver says black lawmakers make fewer demands of the Obama administration than they would have under a McCain presidency. To follow Cleaver's logic, blacks should have voted for McCain because he would not be labeled as preferring blacks -- unlike the way a black president would be so labeled.
To sum up, Rep. Cleaver tell us that he expects a black president to do less for blacks than would a white president. And actor Jackson tells us that he votes for blacks just because they are black. This might explain why moviegoers stayed away Jackson's recent movie, "Snakes on a Plane."
Why, how could people decide whether to see the film -- without knowing the race of the snakes?