Jesse disses black achievers

Posted: Dec 21, 2000 12:00 AM
Reverend Jesse Jackson recently phoned president-elect George W. Bush. Presumably, Jackson called to begin a working relationship. Remember, the black vote went almost exclusively to Al Gore, accounting for nearly 20 percent of Gore's votes. Why, then, should George W. Bush begin a "working relationship" with Jackson? Only a couple weeks ago, at a pro-Gore rally, Jackson thundered, "Today we stand surrounded, Jeb Bush on one hand, Miss Harris on the other, George W. and Cheney comin' from behind, the Supreme Court of Florida. But we will not surrender. Our hopes are alive. Our dreams are alive. Our faith is alive. God will see us through. It's dark, but the morning comes. Don't let them break your spirit." Apparently, Jackson got no satisfaction from his call with Bush. A few days later, in Los Angeles, Jackson pronounced Bush's presidency "a coup d'etat," noting "justice delayed is justice denied." Obviously, Bush's black appointees -- Colin Powell for secretary of state, and Condoleezza Rice for national security adviser -- don't impress. Apart from the total lack of support Bush received from blacks, the president-elect should snub Jackson for a far more important reason. Jackson's demands -- affirmative action, set-asides, no school vouchers, anti-privatization of Social Security, high taxes -- hurt the very people he purports to represent. Jackson's incessant victicrat whining ignores the tremendous growth of the black middle-class. And, while Jacksonites complain, other blacks roll up their sleeves, work hard and get results. A personal example. The Web site published an article called "Black Writers Cracking the Booklists." Author Njeru Waithaka complained of the inability of black writers to crack the major bestseller lists. She quotes the founder of a black consumer marketing company, who complains that the "overwhelmingly white publishing industry has historically ignored the black market. ... There are successful (black) authors who do not make mainstream bestseller lists because the lists are not monitoring the stores where their buyers go." Of The New York Times bestseller list, the nation's most prestigious, Waithaka said, "The list ... uses a secret tabulation of 'statistically weighted' sales from chain stores, independents, newsstands, supermarkets, price and warehouse clubs and from wholesalers working with gift shops. It omits Christian, specialty stores and book clubs in which many books by black authors are sold." According to her, "Black writers are still haunted by ... the need to convince white publishers that black authors are capable of writing books with universal appeal." So I wrote to "Dear Ms. Waithaka, At the risk of sounding self-serving, what about me? My book, 'The 10 Things You Can't Say in America' (St. Martin's Press), debuted in September 2000. After premiering at No. 5,400, the book reached No. 1 on It made The Wall Street Journal bestseller list, and reached No. 9 on the venerable New York Times bestseller list. So now, do you want to give a brother some love?" Another example of unrecognized achievement. For years, I subscribed to the black Cleveland news weekly, the Call and Post. In 1993, when black entrepreneur Reginald Lewis died, the newspaper wrote nothing about Lewis' death. Who is Reginald Lewis? In 1983, Lewis, a Harvard lawyer, purchased McCall Pattern Company. Lewis streamlined the company, improved efficiency and the bottom line, and sold it, earning a profit of more than $50 million on his investment. From there, Lewis purchased several divisions of Beatrice Foods, the former conglomerate. At the time of his death at age 50, Lewis ran a company whose revenues topped $2 billion. For some perspective, the sales of the second largest black-owned business, Johnson Publishing, stood at $316.2 million. But no Reginald Lewis obituary in the Call and Post. No article. No editorial. No op-ed piece. Nothing. So I wrote about Lewis and his achievements, sending the article to several area newspapers, including the Call and Post. The Akron Beacon Journal published the article, in which I said, "If Reginald Lewis were a writer, they'd have given him a Pulitzer. If a baseball player, he'd have made Cooperstown the first year of eligibility. If a movie producer, Oscars for best movie, cast and screenplay ... He played the game, neither demanding nor receiving special consideration ... Like most astonishingly successful business people, he leaves behind both friends and enemies. But all agree on one thing. He was a tough, fierce and aggressive deal-maker and hands-on businessman who believed in himself." Only after Cleveland mayor Carl Stokes urged the Call and Post to publish the article did the newspaper run the piece. Somebody once said there are three types of people: those who watch things happen, those who make things happen, and those who wonder what happened. While black leaders demand government intervention to "level the playing field," other blacks achieve, take risks, and start and grow businesses. To Jackson's chorus, "Keep hope alive," black achievers say, "Who said it was dying?"