Jessie Jackson Sr. needs to get a grip and then he needs to do what I assume will be a re-read of the following quote in Bound for the Promise Land.
“They litter the forest floor, sometimes inches deep, nature’s bed of nails. The seed pods of the sweet gum tree, common in the forests of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, are large, round, and covered with spiny, prickly burrs. The spines pierce the calloused, unprotected feet of terrified runaway slaves. Struggling to contain the involuntary impulse to wince in pain, the fugitive slaves hesitate, knowing a moment taken to pause or cry out could end their dream of freedom. The lucky ones had shoes. The children never did, and they suffered the most. How ironic the sweet gum would be so cruel.”
The feet of these runaway slaves were not clothed in Nike LeBron VII PS gym shoes. Their pockets were not fat with even a miniscule portion of the interest earned on LeBron’s $100 million income. They were not leaving Maryland because they, as free agents, were going to the city of their choice.
Without a doubt, Dan Gilbert threw a temper tantrum on paper. And, it was really a bad idea. Maybe nobody told him that writing when you are that pissed off is good for the psyche but circulating it is bad for your relationships and your reputation.
Dan Gilbert’s letter shows how a business owner can react when the bottom line is threaten. It shows how raw an individual’s emotions can get when there is a sense of betrayal. It demonstrates what can happen when you are convinced of your rightness and the other person’s wrongness. But none of this is even remotely related to runaway slaves or their slave masters.
Rev. Jackson says the Basketball League should challenge Dan Gilbert. I say the ghost of runaway slaves and all of their descendants should challenge Rev. Jackson. Whether his statement was due to his concern for LeBron, his ignorance about the plight of runaway slaves or his thirst for media attention, it is an example of blatant irresponsibility especially coming out of the mouth of the man who insisted on being thought of as the spokesperson for African-Americans.