If you’ve been following the growing #blacklivesmatter protest movement over the last couple of months, you may have noticed that the publicly celebrated (and often ridiculed) civil rights era leaders (ie. Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton) have been getting the extreme cold shoulder from at least a few of the millennial generation leadership that’s on the ground and doing work. The divide between generational leadership has been increasing for years, with tales of co-opting from one side and accusations of unsophisticated, lack of committed movement building being made from the other. Rapper turned activist Che ‘Rhymefest’ Smith decided to share his perspective on the matter in an open letter to Rainbow PUSH’s Rev. Jesse Jackson. Read on for what he had to say.
“On behalf of Black America I’d like to offer our sincerest apologies to some people who’ve been unfairly cursed, shamed, ostracized and exiled from many parts of the black community’s conversations, solutions and planning sessions. We were tricked. You saw America’s game for what it was and chose to speak Truth to Power and speak a message of Power to the Powerless. These people I’m speaking of are victims in a long tradition of black self-hate, ignorance and systematic manipulation. You were right, we were wrong. Please forgive your people.
“Man #1: Rev. Jesse Jackson
“From your work with Dr. King in “Operation Bread Basket,” to helping negotiate the freeing of American soldiers held hostage in Iran when our own government could not get the job done, you’re not only a Black hero but an American Patriot. You’ve helped to launch countless black professionals, millionaires and CEO’S through your advocacy, pressure, strategic planning and if need be, protesting of institutions. You compelled them to be more inclusive.
“I can understand why some white folk don’t like you; your organizing skills are dangerous and unmatched. When you ran for president in ’88, you gave the world and a 26-year-old man named Barack Hussein Obama a blueprint for how it can be done. Many don’t like to admit the truth. There would be no President Obama if there first wasn’t a “Run Jesse Run” campaign. You laid the foundation for how to go from organizer to politician.
“Rev. Jackson please understand when Obama was running in ’08 it was a very sensitive time in Black America. Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we were about to see something new. A real life Black President. We were finally gonna be equal, or so we believed. Just as we believed as Buffalo Soldiers we’d prove ourselves equal fighters and lovers of America, capable of sharing power. We thought as Tuskegee Airmen we’d finally proven ourselves. Athletes like Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson, artists, authors and yes, black politicians all hoped that their amazing accomplishments were finally good enough to thrust themselves and their people into equality within white supremacy.
“You knew better, didn’t you Rev.? You’d been through it. That fateful night on Fox News your wisdom spoke before your brain could filter it, before four years later when we slowly saw it for ourselves.”Barack speaks down to Black people, I WANT TO CUT HIS BALLS OFF, HE SPEAKS DOWN TO BLACK PEOPLE.”
“As I look back now at the offensive way our first Black president, whom I supported at the time of his first campaign, lectures Black audiences about our responsibilities as parents, the need to pull our pants up, stop eating KFC and playing Xbox all day, while simultaneously creating jobs for other communities that hate his guts, presenting no plan of action for Black employment or creating legislation that protects our schools from mass closings as well as our children from this hedge fund sponsored common core crap, you were right. We dismissed you, we screamed you out of Ferguson. We said things behind your back and in your face that we wouldn’t say to our worst enemy, and in fact hadn’t said to any of our enemies to their faces or otherwise.
“You’ve done your job well Reverend, never talking down to our people but lifting us up with hope and actions. You’ve continued to love an ungrateful hurt people.
“I apologize to you for us.”