A Good Strong Slap by Kimberley Jane Wilson

A New Visions Commentary paper published March 2001 by The National Center
for Public Policy Research * 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington, DC 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail [email protected], Web http://www.nationalcenter.org.
Reprints permitted provided source is credited.

Jesse Lee Peterson has written a book. This is an accomplishment by any standard, but it’s almost a miracle in Reverend Peterson’s case. According to conventional wisdom, Jesse was doomed from the moment he was born.

He had every possible strike against him: born poor and black to an unwed teenage mother who couldn’t bring herself to love him. On top of this, he had a cleft palate that left him with a speech impediment. He never met his father until he was 13 and saw him only infrequently after that.

In 1968, a teenaged Peterson landed in California just in time for the sexual and moral revolution. Not good. Societal taboos and conventions were breaking down, leaving many a soul washed up in the wreckage. Drugs and shockingly easy access to welfare made it possible for the country boy from Alabama to spend several years of his life in a wasted haze of rage and shiftlessness.

Jesse Peterson was like many young black men are today: adrift, angry and convinced that it was all the fault of the evil white man.

Peterson isn’t proud of those years, and you can almost feel the relief that seems to rise from the pages of From Rage to Responsibility when he shifts his focus to telling how he pulled his life out of the pit it was in.

First, he returned to God. Second, he looked at his life and realized that the rage and hatred in him all stemmed from the unhappy situation with his mother who rejected and left him and his father who slid out of the picture before he was born. Peterson forgave both and moved on. Today he is the president and founder of a community based organization, Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, which seeks to "rebuild the family by rebuilding the man."

From Rage to Responsibility will undoubtedly send many of its readers into a rage. Why? Because Reverend Peterson is telling hard truths. If political correctness is your religion or you subscribe to the go-along-to-get-along theory of life, then From Rage to Responsibility will shock you. The black family is in trouble and Jesse Lee Peterson is not afraid to name the names of the folks who helped to get it that way.

He fearlessly attacks white-girl-feminism as an outside force that has nothing to do with the real lives and needs of black women. Reading this section suddenly reminded me of an example of this. Some years ago in Harlem, black parents requested that an all-girl school be set up along with another one for the boys. These concerned parents behind this plan would be the best shot their kids could have for an intense, all-academic environment. Feminists who’d probably never set foot in Harlem for any reason fought the proposal, and rejoiced as it died.

Reverend Peterson goes on to offer an explanation for the dangerous rift between black men and women and clearly explains what black men need to do about it. He reminds readers that Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a proud bigot who thought black people were unfit to breed. Today, most abortion clinics are located in – you guessed it – minority neighborhoods.

While the reader is digesting these facts, Reverend Peterson also has very strong words for the civil rights establishment. If you’ve ever suspected that many of our so-called "leaders" are in business for themselves, Reverend Peterson confirms your suspicions. Despite the remarkable progress black Americans have made in the last 30 years, most of our "leaders" insist on painting a gloomy picture and on creating the impression that we are half a step from slavery. Reverend Peterson believes that they do this because, as long as black Americans are down, these folks are making a profit.

In many cheesy B-grade movies, there’s a scene where someone becomes hysterical and the hero or heroine steps forward and either slaps the person or snaps, "Pull yourself together!" From Rage to Responsibility is like that good hard slap. It’s a short book, but it packs an enormous punch and should be required reading for anyone who feels the least bit uneasy about the state black America finds itself in today.

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