Not even a full week after the media exploded in hubbub over the Rev. Jesse Jackson being caught on tape saying he wanted to snip Barack Obama's cookie jar, and the pundits speculated over how "the" black community would react, another talking head has stuck his foot in his mouth...in my humble opinion.
I thought we here at Burnettiquette World Headquarters and dozens of other blogs and column spots made it clear that one of the biggest mistakes the pundits were making was to assume that Rev. Jackson was "the" leader of "the" black community.
I thought we made it clear that there are multiple communities among African Americans and other black Americans. I thought we made it clear that there was never an election to pick a designated national black community leader. I thought we made it clear that no king had been crowned, not even figuratively, since that King was taken away from us.
And yet, in the midst of a field of punditry that likes to suggest its the conservative pundits only who perpetuate this notion that black folks need to be led around by the nose, I watched Hardball last night on MSNBC, and listened to Chris Matthews pose the question: Who's leading African Americans, Barack Obama or Jesse Jackson?
Notice that question isn't book-ended by quotation marks, because I'm going from memory here, and may be off by a word or two. But the gist is there. And BTW, I've never heard anyone accuse Matthews of being a conservative.
Call me crazy, but I still say that was an outrageous question. I don't have anything against Matthews or the rest of the folks whose job it is to analyze the news and speculate about what it means. I've been on shows before and shared my opinion.
But not one of those pundits or journalists or folks who dwell in that gray area between, including Matthews, would never look at the camera with a straight face and ask who's leading white Americans.
I know they wouldn't ask that question, 'cause if nothing else, they might be afraid of some of the answers they'd hear.
Plus there's that whole silly fairness thing - you know, the one about trying to avoid painting groups of people with one broad brush.
One more time for the pundits on both sides of the political aisle: black folks don't need a king. We didn't pray for a king. We didn't ask the media, of which I'm a proud member, to give us a king. Many of us were satisfied with the King who was taken too soon, back in the day. We're not the complaining frogs in the pond in Aesop's fable. All we need, like every other American, is that level playing field on which we'll be able to access our equipment locker without hindrance so that when its our turn at the plate we won't be empty handed. We'll be brandishing the heftiest bat available.