Jesse Jackson’s Allegations: Putting it Into Perspective

TOMMY BENNETT JESSE JACKSON

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH Coalition are denying the allegations by a former employee that Rev. Jackson engaged in “harassment, retaliation and discrimination” as the result of his sexual orientation. Tony Bennett, who is gay, made a long list of disturbing accusations against the pastor, arguing (among other things) that he was treated unfairly for being gay.

Click here to read the allegations against Rev. Jackson

Bennett originally filed a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Rainbow Push issued a statement saying, in part, that “The organization does not condone or tolerate discrimination in any form….[Bennett’s] inflammatory allegations are an attempt to malign Reverend Jackson and the organization, and are hurtful and harmful to the progressive community.”

Bennett has accused Rev. Jackson of having him escort women to his room for sex and forcing him to clean up the room after Jackson had sex. He also referred to incidents during which Rev. Jackson allegedly made comments that were of an uncomfortable sexual nature. He told a story about an especially interesting incident in which he was asked to take notes in Rev. Jackson’s room in the middle of the night, rub cream between his legs, etc.

I’ve worked with Rev. Jackson on multiple occasions, appearing on his show more times than I can count, so I guess you could say that I’ve seen him up close. But as close as one man might be to another, he can almost never vouch for another man’s sexual decisions (I went through this dilemma when a friend of mine was accused of rape 20 years ago). I am not here to say whether or not Rev. Jackson engaged in any of the odd things that Mr. Bennett claims the reverend did. Of course, I hope none of this is true.

What is certainly true is that this has been a tough three years for Rev. Jackson. His popularity and public image have taken a bit of a nose dive since that unfortunate “cutting your nuts off” incident with President Barack Obama back in 2008. After being frozen out of the White House, I noticed that people began to speak of Rev. Jackson in a manner which implied that perhaps his best black leadership days might be behind him. Perhaps things will turn around, but it’s hard to know what life has in store for you when you hit the age of 70.

The decline in Jackson’s public approval saddens me, primarily because I believe one can never quickly dismiss 40 years of dedicated service to the African American community. While many of us see the glamour that comes with being in the public eye, almost none of us see the discomfort, stress and inconvenience of carrying such a broad set of expectations. For everything that Rev. Jackson does right, there is a line of people wishing to point out what he did wrong. But the truth is that almost none of us have what it takes to walk in this man’s shoes for as many years as he has done so, and that’s a simple fact.

With that said, I sincerely hope that none of what Mr. Bennett says is true. Public figures are often the target of efforts to embarrass or ridicule them, so we shouldn’t believe anything without seeing the evidence. At the same time, Mr. Bennett is right that there are some in our society who deem themselves to be untouchable, so this kind of abuse occurs regularly across America. No matter what comes of the investigation into these allegations, nothing can change the fact that I respect the work that Jesse Jackson has done for the black community, and those who choose to curse his name may want to reconsider their perspective.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Jesse Jackson’s Allegations: Putting it Into Perspective

  1. Pingback: Jesse Jackson’s Allegations: Putting it Into Perspective – Dr. Boyce Watkins Blog

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  4. Dr. Watkins, I agree that Rev. Jackson has been an a tremendous force for equality and change in American culture. One should not dismiss him lightly. We will need his wisdom in the coming days.

  5. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Jesse Jackson’s Allegations: Putting it Into Perspective « Black News, African American News

  6. Pingback: Dr. Boyce Watkins: Jesse Jackson’s Allegations: Putting it Into Perspective « Black College Students

  7. Pingback: Jesse Jackson’s Allegations: A Perspective « WhitmanSchoolofManagement.com

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  9. Pingback: Jesse Jackson’s Allegations: A Perspective « Scholarship in Action, Dr Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

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  13. CREE-EIGHT

    This at the same time that Malcolm X is alleged to have been bisexual. Both the deceased icon and the breathing one have been under the public microscope and surveilled for 40+ years. Why now? I smell the ususal suspects/ Racist Man/Woman trying to destabilize black people even further by cunnunigly encouraging us to dismiss the most basic of boundaries–male/female.

  14. The ‘blacks’ who believe in a ‘white’ man’s faith and ‘God’. Which I like to call their ‘omnipotent being’ are studying books they have been conditioned with from birth. Generation after generations of blacks teach their children a religion born from slavery. They did not bring bibles with them from Africa and read them while chained together for months in the hulls of ‘white’ owned, Jewish financed slave ships. The belief system is derived from antiquated dark-age ignorant men. All religions are meant to control large masses of people, but the weakness of the human mind will not grasps the reality and understanding of how insane it is to believe things created by men who lied to say they got it from an omnipotent being. humanoids lie.

    You wonder why blacks are murdered all over the diaspora? The same people who introduced you to their styles of worship are murdering you and pillaging your lands! Our ancestors were brought here and we lost our rights to our own lands. If our particular tribes had their own beliefs or methods of worship all that has been either distorted, wiped away or of course replaced. We don’t have much that is genuinely ours!

    All this to say that Christians still have a difficult time accepting that some human are born with different builds, different minds, different hope and dreams. The Christians etc., are so crazy in their beliefs that they are ready to attack others who are different and try to make them what they are not, or make them believe what they don’t wish to believe.

    This is all just another human fault that causes death and destruction and more harm than good. But you can’t tell zealots and madmen this. Every individual tries to rationalize their beliefs, or spiritualism, or religions, but they are all more than likely derived from the Christian/Catholic styled faith or the Jewish/Islamic faiths. All of these can get people abused and/or killed.

  15. One thing is for sure, Jesse Jackson is a rich man, who never held a job in his life. So to say what he had done for the black community is your opinion. Jesse, help himself at the expense of the black community. The black community did not asked him to work on their behald, he choose to do so, because he saw where he could make a living at it.
    If you look at all these so-called black leaders, the kind of life they live, and the life the poor black that they claim to represnt. Their lives is quite different. I do not know Mr. Bennett, but I would say let the truth come out
    if he is guilty so be it. We run around worshipping tnese men and women as it they were ordained by God, to lead us. If he was as pure as he want us to believe, and as Godly as he claimed how come he has a little girl in Los Angeles, out of wedlock?.
    Sometime I have to question some of us, the way we are gullable, and willin to follow therse men. Jesse Jackson, is no Martin Luther King, Frankly he is not qualefied to carry Dr. Kings jack strap.
    Dr. King, and Marcus Garvey, were the only two black leaders I have any respect for, they paid their due, and their debt to society, the rest of them are all PIMPS to me.They are there for the money, and nothing else.
    As I said I do not know Mr. Bennet, but I do believe that Jackson, is a phoney, who will shake down his mother for a dollar.

  16. Nickie

    You have a point.

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