- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

Jesse Jackson has one of the most lucrative notes in America.

He jets around the country to make certain blacks are amply represented in whatever operation that comes under his racial radar. If the numbers do not satisfy his sense of justice, he goes to those in charge and wonders if there is a problem.

Not wanting a problem, those in charge inevitably make a cash donation to one of Jackson’s life-affirming causes, and everyone walks away happy.

Jackson is a man of the cloth, after all, and the clergy is accustomed to receiving cash donations from the masses.

Where the money goes after it lands in Jackson’s basket is anyone’s guess, but he does have expenses and the additional responsibility of a love child.

Jackson put NASCAR under his radar a few years ago and discovered that auto racing is a notoriously white endeavor.

Of course, NASCAR, as a governing body, is not actually responsible for the complexion of its adherents. Auto racing teams are bankrolled by corporate sponsors, all of whom are essentially betting that the object of their monetary love will wind up in the winner’s circle.

Black, white, red, brown or whatever, corporate sponsors don’t really care.

Green is their color preference, and the green increases in proportion to the air time granted to their products. Winners receive a whole lot more air time than losers, with the exception of the air time devoted to Annika Sorenstam and her black Callaway cap last week.

Nike has embarked on a similar venture with LeBron James, betting more than $90million that one day the teen will be the best in the NBA. It is a huge gamble, but that is how the sponsorship game is played.

NASCAR officials could have made these various points to Jackson instead of donating at least $250,000 to the reverend’s pet projects the last few years.

In the end, though, what is money among close friends? It is easier to write a check than wage a stimulating debate with one of America’s leading poets.

That is another quality of Jackson. He is a poet, and most poets do not really eat all that well if they are solely dependent on their verses.

If Jackson held a will-read-poetry-for-food poster on a street corner, he probably would not be in a position to fund his causes. He would have to read poetry each day and would not have the time and finances to meet with NASCAR officials and other racially conscious business leaders.

Critics of Jackson, in objecting to the nature of his livelihood, rarely offer any worthy employment alternatives. The man has to make a living, and it is not his fault he has stumbled onto this occupation.

No one has to give him money. It is not as if Jackson threatens to beat anyone up. He just threatens to throw out a rhyme or two, and that usually motivates people to reach for their wallets. He accepts the money, as most anyone would.

What would you do if NASCAR wrote you a fat check after you inspected the driving teams and noticed that Asians were vastly underrepresented?

You probably would take the money, because it would be the right thing to do and you would not want NASCAR’s officials to feel insulted.

As it is, NASCAR really should have more Asian drivers, and now that the point has been made, a check made out to this space would be greatly appreciated.

It is not against the law to be a bean-counting racial hustler. It is what it is, and the work is never done.

The black/white numbers thing cuts a lot of different ways. Blacks, as 13 percent of the population, appear to be over represented in the NBA, for whatever that is worth, and underrepresented in the sport of curling.

Who knows why this is?

Jackson has not put curling under his radar yet, although the sport appears highly vulnerable to the charge of exclusion. Jackson might want to check out hockey, too.

He has a lot of counting ahead, especially if, as suspected, many of these operations have a secret handshake in their bylaws.

You know how it is with the secret handshake. If you don’t know the secret handshake, you are not allowed to pass through the door.

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