Jesse Jackson Jr. just compared Barack Obama to Jackie Robinson in his role as first black person actively campaigning for the presidency. Those familiar with Jackie Robinson’s story know why Robinson was chosen to be the first black person to compete in Major Leaugue Baseball.
Although Robinson was extremely talented, there were black players with more talent such as Satchel Paige or Josh Gibson. Robinson was chosen because of his personality, his easygoing and inoffensive personality. The challenge for Robinson as a black baseball player wasn’t his athletic ability but his ability to deal with white racism.
As a baseball player, Robinson received death threats, numerous racial taunts and was spat on and attacked by opposing players. All the time he dealt with indignities in a gentle way, turning the other cheek. Robinson became one of the first few acceptable mainstream Negroes. Robinson would use his status later in his life to criticize other unacceptable Negroes like Muhammed Ali for his ‘un-american’ behavior.
In many ways the comparison has held true. Obama has had to endure racist attacks from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, turning the other cheek, not even mentioning their attacks or the Republican powers structure behind them. The Republicans have attacked him on his name, his race, his background, his religion and his wife and besides telling the Republicans to “back off my wife” he has endured the attacks with humble dignity.
Even when Obama criticized an attack were he accused the McCain camp of saying he didn’t look like the Presidents on the dollar bill, he was accused of playing the race card. Obama has received criticism in the black community for not responding forcefully to incidents such as Sean Bell and the Jena 6.
Jackson Jr. went on to say, “No one wants an angry African-American in the White House” just like no one wanted an angry black baseball player on the field in the fifties. The U.S. has a history of only accepting talented “non-threatening” black males such as Nat King Cole, Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis and Michael Jordan, while those equally talented who have shown anger and emotion and responded to attacks like Jack Johnson, Muhammed Ali, and Jim Brown have been cast as villains.
Maybe this is why Obama has chosen Biden as a running mate. As an old white man, America is comfortable with seeing Biden show anger and Biden can do all the attacking that would cast Obama as an angry black man.
Watch GritTv reporters discuss the price of being Barack in a historic race: