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Commentary on local issues, viewpoints of residents and community leaders, and letters : 'Set Up to Fail' : An African-American says that hate and anger feed a cycle of despair and self-defeat. He calls for black men to let go of resentment, embrace responsibility and exercise discipline in their lives.

April 11, 1993|JESSE L. PETERSON | Jesse L. Peterson, 43, is founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), a nonprofit organization formed in 1990 to "rebuild the black community by rebuilding the black man." The organization has groups for men, women and youths, sponsors a homeless outreach program and workshops for entrepreneurs, and offers group, family and substance-abuse counseling. Peterson was interviewed by Mary Helen Berg. and

What we realize is that the problems in the black community are due to the failure of the man. The black man is not self-reliant, self-controlled or self-contained. He is insecure and always looking to someone else to take care of him--his mother, his wife, the government, welfare programs, affirmative action. The father is not an example in his home and not an example in the black community.

And as a result we have chaos.

The black man is set up in his home to fail. When the father is not there as an example to him, the mother is left to deal with the child. The mother is angry about that responsibility and she passes her anger on down to the children. They in turn resent the father for not being there and they begin to resent the mother for the pressure that she puts on them. They become angry and frustrated.

When they grow up angry, they don't know how to deal with the system. They're told by black politicians like Rep. Maxine Waters, state Sen. Diane Watson and the Rev. Jesse Jackson that nothing is their fault--it's the white man's fault. So they believe that "the white man is trying to hold me back."

This was the same mind-set I had until I was about 37. Then I probed my own background and I began talking to other black men, in churches, in homeless shelters. Nine times out of 10, these black men didn't have fathers. If they did have a father, the mother was running the home and the father was still weak. As a result, they all had the same conflict that I had and were trying to resolve it through drugs and sex and violence on the black woman.

What they don't realize is how they are being controlled by black politicians. From the day of birth, these politicians tell us that we are Democrats, liberal-thinking, that the white man hates us and that we are Baptist.

These so-called black leaders use racism as a way of building their own agendas. These leaders use racism to keep people angry at each other so they will have work to do.

For example, Maxine Waters was recently asked if she thought there would be riots following the upcoming trials of the four officers in the Rodney King beating. She pretty much said: Yes, if we don't get what we want, if we don't get black juries, if the officers are not found guilty, there will be a riot. She's setting it up for a riot to happen.

Leaders like her are hypocrites and they don't care about our people at all. We don't need leaders. We need examples. We need to lead our own lives.

When I realized that, I could see how to start my own business. I wanted to start my own business but I had always believed the white people wouldn't loan me money because that's what Jesse Jackson has been telling me all along. Because I was hateful, I couldn't see there were other avenues.

Once people let go of the hate, they'll realize how to live with their family, their wife and their community.

And once we let go of the hate, we need to prove ourselves through hard work, discipline and self-control or we'll never know who we really are. White America will never see that we are people of character.

The white people have done all they can for us, how much more can they do? The more they do, the more we require of them. The white people came to our community, we blamed them for our problems. We did the same with the Jews and now it's the Koreans. We keep blaming someone else so we don't have to look at ourselves.

There is prejudice out there but it's not just white on black and it's something that we have to overcome. Some say that if the white man would just give us everything that we want, then prejudice would go away. But that's a lie, that would just create another problem.

I've been called "Uncle Tom," "house nigger," I've been called everything for these opinions. . . . We've been through a lot. But as a man of principles and values, I live what I speak and hopefully I'm an example for someone else."

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