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Jesse Jackson and Racism

March 20, 1988

I found it highly amusing that Kevin Phillips, in his article "White Votes for a Black Preacher 'Jacksonize' the Nomination Battle" (Opinion, March 13), should mention Gary Hart and Donna Rice in the same paragraph in which he assumes that "Jackson's 1988 political success in no way makes him a plausible presidential nominee." After all, isn't the media to blame for invalidating the candidacies of both these men, and for reasons which have nothing to do with their current proposals or political records? I have yet to read an article in The Times which comments on Jackson's platform without mentioning his color. (I think we've all noticed that he's black by now.) Certainly Michael Dukakis' Greekness doesn't receive this kind of attention. Has it occurred to Phillips (or the rest of the media) that they are not pointing out the existence of racism, but are perpetuating it?

I personally know a great many people who have expressed a desire to support Jackson in the primary, but feel it's pointless because they've been brainwashed by writers like Phillips into believing he doesn't have a chance. This is circular reasoning, because it is true that Jackson can't win if none of us vote for him because we think he can't win. And by the way, for a man who doesn't have a chance, he's sure getting a lot of votes. The numbers show that Americans don't want a "Jacksonized" Richard Gephardt or Albert Gore, they want the real thing. After all, the majority of citizens in the United States are not WASP males; America is, and always has been, a melting pot. Perhaps when and if the media stop perpetuating the myth that Asians, Hispanics, Jews, blacks, gays and women are all unfit for our highest public office, the old lie will die. As Jackson says, "It's time for a change." (By the way, in case you're wondering, I'm white, Jewish and female.)

CLAUDIA MILES

Los Angeles

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