Jesse Jackson's Mistress Claims Blacks 'Scapegoated' Her
July 7, 2008 - 7:22 PM
(CNSNews.com) - The woman who bore Jesse Jackson's illegitimate child and was at the center of a tabloid scandal-fest in 2001 is now out with her first public comments on the subject, including harsh criticism of the black community for "scapegoat[ing]" her.
Karin L. Stanford, the former director of Jackson's Washington, D.C., Rainbow/PUSH office, wrote a chapter in the new book "Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race & Themselves."
Stanford's chapter, while not directly naming Jackson, details her relationship with him and offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life at the height of the scandal that hounded the married civil rights leader.
"I was attacked by friends, strangers and the black press without mercy, my only moral support coming from a few close friends and my family," Stanford wrote in a chapter entitled "Wolves at the Door." Stanford is currently a professor of Pan African Studies and African American Politics at California State University in Northridge.
"Black religious leaders and congregations prayed for him (Jackson) and his 'family,' but not for our daughter (Ashley) and me," Stanford complained in the book. Jackson admitted he was the father of the then-20-month-old child in January 2001, following an article in the tabloid National Enquirer.
Stanford said the "black media" and "black establishment" turned on her and labeled her "a political stalker," a "gold digger" and an "opportunist," despite the fact that she refused tabloid financial offers to tell all about her relationship with Jackson.
Stanford noted that the black community and the media treated Jackson far differently than it treated her.
"My partner made a public statement acknowledging that he was Ashley's father. Coming at a time when [former] President Bill Clinton was being crucified for lying about his affair with a White House intern, my partner was praised by the media for his honesty," Stanford wrote.
"Although my partner did not attempt to protect my good name, I rushed to protect his," she added. "I became the scapegoat in an orchestrated effort to protect a black male, and part of that protection involved destroying my credibility."
'Enchanting fairy tales'
In the book, Stanford details the behind-the-scenes relationship she had with Jackson.
"We had so much in common. I admired him, and he respected me. Our work relationship turned into friendship, then a romantic partnership, with the trappings of the enchanting fairy tales my grandmother had once described to me," she wrote.
"But my life was not a fairy tale. My Prince Charming was not single, and I was his employee. He assured me that his marriage was non-traditional," Stanford added.
Stanford, who survived breast cancer, became pregnant with Jackson's child in 1998 and ignored her doctor's advice to abort the child due to the possible risk to her health. "At first, I did not tell my partner about the life forming inside of me. I was afraid that the revelation, if made public, could damage his reputation and political ambitions," Stanford explained.
When she eventually informed Jackson of her pregnancy, Stanford said she "was gratified when he pledged to face his responsibility to stand by our child and me." And Jackson has participated in his daughter's life in the years since the public revelation, according to Stanford.
"Although her father (Jackson) had originally caved into the pressure to disassociate himself from our daughter, he has resumed a relationship with her," Stanford wrote.
Jackson's financial support for Stanford came under fire in 2001, when the conservative National Legal and Policy Center filed a formal IRS complaint against Jackson's Citizen Education Fund (CEF).
One part of the complaint alleged that the CEF failed to disclose on its tax return payments to Stanford allegedly totaling $40,000 in relocation funds and $3,000 a month in support.
After the complaint was filed, Jackson announced that the CEF tax return would be amended to reflect the payments to Stanford.
Stanford believes many African American women have faced the same treatment following the revelations of their sexual relationships with powerful black men.
"I soon realized that in one fell swoop, I had joined the pantheon of women who -- in the process of living, loving, and carrying out their lives -- become seen in the black community as pariahs, women scorned, fatal attractions preying on the lives of famous black men," she wrote.
Stanford also stated that once her relationship with Jackson became public, "a high-level position promised to me by the Democratic National Committee was delicately revoked. "I was also quietly vetted out of all [Democratic] party activities," she added.
Stanford compared her plight to that of Anita Hill, who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991 of sexual harassment.
"... Hill was excoriated in the press for having dared to challenge a black man's career ambitions," Stanford wrote.
She also compared herself to two women involved with former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson -- his ex-wife Robin Givens, who accused Tyson of physical assault, and former Miss Black America contestant Desiree Washington, who accused Tyson of rape.
"[J]ust as Givens had been criticized for 'going public' about her husband's abuse and chastised for 'gold digging,' Washington was demonized for charging Tyson with rape," Stanford wrote.
R&B singer R. Kelly, who was charged with 21 counts of child pornography, was even protected by the black community, according to Stanford.
"... black supporters of Kelly had called the [underage] teenager a 'slut' and hurled other insults at her ... Two years later, Kelly was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and invited by the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses to perform at its annual benefit concert," Stanford wrote.
A spokesman for Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition told Cybercast News Service that he was "unfamiliar" with Stanford's chapter in the new book and had no comment.
See Earlier Story:
Jackson to Revise Tax Return With Data on Mistress (March 8, 2001)
E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.
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