Jesse Lee Peterson is hardly part of the silent majority.
Because nothing about him silent.
The radio, TV and book voice roars with points that turn on some, turn off others in America.
“Racism is an illusion,” says Peterson. “It doesn’t exploit people. The anger that black people have starts in the home, not from white people. Racism isn’t holding black people back. The problem is that black leaders keep them in a state of anger.”
He tries to take that leadership from his conservative side:
· As a frequent guest on Sean Hannity’s hit Fox News Channel show.
· With “The Jesse Lee Peterson Radio Show” that airs throughout the South and online.
· Through his Los Angeles-based, family-advice organization, BOND, or the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny.
· As an ordained minister who makes his case on the speaking circuit.
· Via three books, the latest of which is “The Antidote: Healing America From the Poison of Hate, Blame and Victimhood.”
Peterson, loud and clear in his weekly WorldNetDaily column, is just as outspoken on the pages of “The Antodote”:
· “Blacks in the United States are the freest and wealthiest group of blacks anywhere. If black America were a country, it would be the 16th wealthiest nation in the world.
· “As many as half a million black babies are killed in the womb each year — roughly three times the rate of white babies. . . . Some black lives apparently don’t matter at all.”
· “For political reasons, black leaders supported these other minorities (Hispanics, Muslims), even if it meant selling out black citizens to do so. This has never been more obvious than in the support of black political leaders for illegal immigration. . . . They look at people sneaking into the country, illegally taking jobs that poor blacks and whites might have otherwise had, and see only future Democratic votes.”
Andrew Klavan, a crime novelist out of Southern California who has covered Peterson, lauds the reverend: “Jesse talks directly out of his life, out of his own struggles with anger, his own search for forgiveness, and out of his Bible reading - and with no regard whatsoever for the current racial narrative. Where we've all been so brainwashed into thinking of a black man's struggles as intimately connected to his blackness, Jesse refuses to do down that rabbit hole. He's a man. His experience is a man's experience. His wisdom is a man's wisdom. His answers are human answers. In this race-corrupted day and age, that makes everything he says riveting and original.
“The guy is unbelievably authentic. It's not that he's politically incorrect. It's that the category of political correctness doesn't seem to exist in his mind. As far as I can tell, he does not give Damn One about what he's supposed to think or say. He says what he means, what he knows. The minute he starts talking, his absolute fearlessness is the first the thing you notice about him. It's a God Thing, I think. He's got the Bible to back him up. You don't like it, file your complaints with the Lord and good luck.”
Peterson started out 66 years ago on a plantation near Eufaula, Ala., with his grandmother and cousins. Their tiny house had no bath, shower or running water.
Making it tougher was an absent father. Then his mother and new husband moved with their children and left Jesse with Grandma.
Jesse’s father barely came by. Filling that void was Grandpa.
“Sometimes during the school year I would stay home to help with the plowing and the planting, the picking of cotton and the harvesting of crops,” Peterson wrote. “Now, if that is not an ‘authentic’ black experience, I am not sure I know what is.”
Peterson found his way to California and found a job transcribing on computers at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, but wanted more.
He searched for a business he could start without much money and found one: a janitor service. He dived into double duty, working morning to afternoon inputting at the hospital, then till midnight cleaning buildings.
In seven years, his company grew to seven full-time employees.
By 1990, he heard another calling. He sold the janitor service and had enough money to start BOND. “I was called by God to do this,” he says.
To strike out on his own, he had a hurdle to leap: fear.
“Because I was not raised by a father, I didn’t have a good example of how to start a business,” he said. “I also had to overcome anger. The offspring of anger is fear. When God took my anger away, He took my fear away. Now I was not afraid of giving it a good try. I didn’t have fear to hold me back.”
Having been ordained a minister by the state, Peterson started bolstering the group that today counsels 160 people at any one time, with a staff of 10 and an annual budget of $500,000, much of which comes from donations, plus his speaking fees and books.
The Peterson Principle
“I’m proud of the fact that I’ve never gotten one dime from the government,” he said. “I’ve worked hard.”
Especially with books. Before “The Antidote” came “From Rage to Responsibility” in 2000 and “Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America” in 2003. He was building a brand — black conservative with strong opinions that, he says, “opened so many possibilities.”
All the while, he gained traction on the TV shows of Geraldo Rivera and Phil Donahue, plus radio interviews and a newsletter — while keeping his BOND focus on “rebuild the family by building the man. It’s all about getting people to overcome anger, blame and victimhood. We teach people to judge based on character rather than color. We encourage men and women to get married, stay together and raise families. We teach people to be independent thinkers and to be self-sufficient so they’re not relying on the government for jobs or handouts. For those interested in starting a business, we provide resources and mentors to help them get started.”
As for Peterson’s own life, he’s never been married. He has a son from a relationship decades ago and now has several grandchildren.
That son, the name of which Peterson wants private for security reasons, is in his early 40s and lives in New York. Jesse relates how the young man gave him a joyous gift one day with a phone call: “He had overcome the anger in his life. I felt like the man wandering in the desert who finally found a spring. . . . I’m blessed that God returned my son to me.”
Hence Peterson’s advice to kids at BOND:
“Overcome your anger from that feeling of lack of love. I show them that they have to forgive and do well in school. If they do that and network, they can make it.”
That networking helped Peterson make a national imprint. He met Hannity’s sister years before running into the TV and radio star. That led to a friendship with Hannity that regularly lands Peterson on the conservative personality’s Fox program.
One reason opinionated shows want Peterson is his refusal to pull punches. He swings hard amid an America boiling with Ferguson, Baltimore and Chicago:
· “White Americans have to overcome their fear of being called racist.”
· “We have to arrest and punish the criminals.”
· “People have to get back on their feet alone. Quite spoiling them. We need tough love.”
In His Corner
Cheers come from fellow conservative radio voice Dennis Prager: “There are many admirable traits that a good person may possess — honesty, integrity, compassion, among others — but there is one trait that very few people have. That trait is courage. . . . Jesse is fearless. Or to be more accurate, he does not allow fear to govern his behavior or speech. I have no idea whether or not he has fears. I only know that fear plays no role in his work. He answers to God and his conscience.”
Klavan is another journalist glad to have met Peterson: “As best I can remember, I was waiting to give a sales talk at Thomas Nelson publishers, and picked Jesse's first memoir off a shelf and paged through it. I was caught. I took the book home and read it and thought: I gotta talk to this guy. I wound up doing a profile on him for City Journal, and if you read it, you can almost hear me spluttering with awe at the guy's honesty. Since then, I've become a supporter and I hope he considers me a friend.”
Bucky Fox is an author and editor in Southern California.