THE EDUCATION OF TYREKE SMITH: IS IT TIME FOR BUCKEYE NATION TO STAND AGAINST FELLOW BUCKEYES?

One does not have to enter into an in-depth analysis to realize that the average white sports fan can simultaneously cheer for and celebrate black male athletes while remaining indifferent to their well-known struggles in American society. If we learn nothing else from the Colin Kaepernick fiasco, it is that your average white sports fan wants their sports entertainment devoid of political commentary involving racial matters. I am confident that the refrain, “Just play the game, Goddamn it!!!!!!” has dropped off the lips of more than a few sports fanatics.

As a proud alumnus of THE Ohio State University, I am not surprised that the above sentiments represent the viewpoints of a vocal section of BUCKEYE NATION. Verification of this point is offered by my fellow members of BUCKEYE NATION reacting so tersely to a little T-shirt worn by football recruit Tyreke Smith. Mr. Smith, a 6’4” 255 lbs. “can’t miss defensive end prospect” from Cleveland Heights High School arrived at Ohio State’s most recent football camp wearing a T-shirt adorned with a poignant message regarding an omnipresent fear harbored by so many young African-Americans. The alluded to message is a succinct representation of young African-Americans perception of how outsiders, many of them black, consider their presence and worth. The message that has angered significant parts of Buckeye Nation to demand that Head Coach Urban Meyer rescind a scholarship offer to Tyreke Smith reads as follows: “I hope that I don’t get killed for being black today.”

The response to Mr. Smith by a very vocal segment of Buckeye Nation on Ohio State football message boards has been filled with unconscionable condemnation that relates the posters belief that this young man is unworthy of representing THE Ohio State University in any form. When viewed from an emotional position, it is evident that the alluded to fans are offering Smith a quid pro quo arrangement, meaning that if he ceases his attempts to provide commentary on America’s obvious racial problems, they will welcome him into Buckeye Nation with open arms.

To the chagrin of this segment of Buckeye Nation, it appears that Smith has no interest in such a Faustian Deal. According to the Buckeye recruit, “I felt I should wear it because I’m big on the African American culture and know the struggles that our race goes through…Being the individual I am and the spotlight I have, I felt that people would get the message if I wore the shirt.

White sports fans have historically failed to realize that the athletic feats black male athletes perform in sold-out arenas and stadiums are only a minuscule part of their daily existence. In all honesty, playing the game is the easiest part of their day as the sports arena is one of the most race-neutral places in American society; that is if they can be so focused on the game that they do not hear the racial barbs being hurled at them by white fans. The problems begin once they take off their uniform and have to emerge from packed arenas as relatively unknown black males. Even racial apologists such as Charles Barkley and clueless sportswriters such as Jason Whitlock realize that they are only a moment away from a racial incident with either a law enforcement officer, an average white citizen, or a hate-filled fellow black man that could end in lethal violence for reasons that have little to do with them.

When you think about it, the constant trials-and-tribulations of black people in America is a subject that whites of various political leanings and socioeconomic status have little understanding or consideration. It is safe to say that the average white citizen equates the raising of racial bias issues with a routine attempt by blacks to escape personal responsibility for their station in life. And why should whites feel otherwise? Anyone with even a superficial understanding of racial prejudice and institutional racism will tell you that even the most non-racist white person invariably benefits from racism during their daily existence.

So I am neither surprised nor amused by rabid white sports fans ability to check sports websites for information regarding the health status and availability of their favorite black athletes while never relinquishing blasé feelings relating to the fragility of black male lives. The above contradictions are nothing new and will most certainly never disappear in a nation whose midwife was the labor of stolen Africans, and economic might bolstered by King Cotton. Despite our collective hesitation to admit it, that is who we are as a nation.

Unfortunately, I think that young Tyreke Smith is going to learn that in America, Race is a subject “where fools rush in, and Angels fear to tread.” These lessons will be learned regardless of the institution that he chooses to attend because when it comes to racial matters, Martha and the Vandellas said it best, you have “Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide.”

O-H

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

THE INGREDIENTS OF MANHOOD: A MESSAGE TO MY SON ON FATHER’S DAY

Dear Son,

As you well know you have been born into this world as a male, something that I frequently remind you is different from being a Man or even understanding Manhood. Although this may seem confusing, it is nevertheless true, a person’s age has very little to do with them being a Man. Manhood is not bestowed upon a person because they have reached a certain age because they have produced several children; son, I tell you that those who believe such things are foolish in every way that you can imagine.

Manhood is a status not easily earned; it takes years of personal development and life experiences for one to gather the ingredients that compose what we know as manhood.

This letter is written for the specific purpose of informing you of the several qualities that you will need to develop if you desire to become a man. Now you can rest assured that this list is not comprehensive, you should feel free to add additional items to the list as you see fit. However, it is most certainly a good starting point for you not only to ponder but also eventually pass on to your son at an appropriate time.

Son, there are several essential ingredients that you will need before grasping the concept of manhood. Later communications will go further in-depth regarding what each of these qualities means, as well as why they are so important to your development.

Consider the following ‘ingredients’ the foundation of manhood.

  • Acknowledging a Higher Power
  • Strength
  • Honor
  • Kindness
  • Diligence
  • Commitment
  • Sacrifice
  • Patience
  • Consideration of Others

As I mentioned above, this list is most certainly not ‘the definitive list,’ however, it is an excellent start for you to begin measuring yourself against.

Take a moment and honestly measure yourself against it. If you are having difficulty fairly measuring yourself, seek the help of others who know your actions, behaviors, intentions, and thoughts well.

Son, it is supremely important that you never lie to yourself regarding whom you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. The inability to evaluate oneself honestly, if that is indeed a problem, is a character flaw that must be addressed on your road to manhood.

So take the high road and evaluate yourself because only you truly know if you possess qualities such as kindness, sacrifice, patience, strength, and honor.

Sincerely,

Dad

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

(Excerpt from the soon to be released book, DEAR SON: A Roadmap to Success for African-American Males)

WHAT A SHAME: DONALD TRUMP BECOMES THE LATEST AMERICAN POLITICIAN TO CALL FOR ASSATA OLUGBALA SHAKUR’S HEAD

I have lived enough life to realize that people in possession of some semblance of politico-economic power often convey their true intentions within a palatable message individually crafted to rally an unthinking horde. Trust me when I say that this is standard fare for the politically powerful in this nation. In many ways, the above tactic allows them to generate support via the use of strong keywords that never fail to raise an always-existing blood lust among the unrighteous to a boil.

The moment that I heard that Donald Trump was planning to reverse Obama’s efforts to re-establish relations with Cuba, I knew that the name Assata Shakur, a sixty-nine-year-old grandmother, would be hurled by this nation’s leader. In many ways, Assata Shakur’s Cuban exile reminds one of a ‘Cold War’ period that has recently been ratcheted up by the repeated allegations of Russian interference in the most recent Presidential election.

Unbeknownst to the vast majority of African-Americans and the chagrin of American law enforcement agencies, Cuban President Fidel Castro granted former Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and Black Liberation Army leader Assata Shakur political asylum over thirty-years ago. To Castro’s credit, he has offered similar protection to many African-American political activists such as Robert F. Williams, Huey P. Newton, William Lee Brent and Eldridge Cleaver. Despite the derisive statements habitually propagated to the American public about the Cuban “dictator”, during his life, Castro offered refuge to African-Americans who were unjustly persecuted by the American judicial system. From American politicians and law enforcement officials perspective, the Cuban leader’s granting of a haven for African-American activists served as an inexcusable blemish on not only his but also his nation’s record.

Make no mistake about it; the pursuit of Assata Shakur undoubtedly displays the indomitable will of American law enforcement officials and agencies at Federal, State, and local levels to correct what they perceive to be an inexcusable wrong. Indicative of this thirst for vengeance, the United States Government placed Assata Shakur on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Many have wondered why America has pursued Assata Shakur with such desperation.

The answer to the above question revolves around a shootout between members of the Black Liberation Army and the New Jersey State Highway Patrol on May 2, 1973. Although there are conflicting stories regarding what occurred during the altercation, there are several things that are factual and therefore unchanging. Facts state that a New Jersey State Trooper stopped a vehicle carrying three members of the Black Liberation Army; Assata Shakur was a passenger in this vehicle and wanted by law enforcement agencies for her determination to secure the liberation and salvation of her people, a dedication that led to her assuming a prominent role in the Black Power movement. Law enforcement agencies alleged that Assata was “the mother hen who kept them all shooting.” Evidence gathered from not only the scene but also the hospital that Shakur was taken to after being shot by a New Jersey State Trooper, definitively prove several things: (a) she had not fired a weapon that night, (b) she had been shot while sitting in the vehicle that she was traveling in, (c) she was shot with her hands up, and (d) she was partially paralyzed along one side of her body as a result of nerve damage caused by the trooper’s bullets. However, little of that mattered as the State of New Jersey decided that Assata Shakur must pay for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper.

Further aggravating American law enforcement agencies is not only the swell of support Assata Shakur received while she stood trial for the incident mentioned above but also her subsequent escape from a maximum security facility after a murder conviction. Making matters worse for law enforcement officials was the reality that they were never able to re-capture Assata during the five years between her harrowing prison escape and her unceremonious arrival in Cuba.

Assata’s escape is akin to consistent irritant to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies that have been rubbed raw. The greatest indicator that American law enforcement agencies, as well as this nation’s elected officials, are still riled by Assata Shakur has been their repeated attempts to recapture her. For example,

  • In 1998, the United States House of Representatives passed Concurrent Resolution 254 that requested that the Cuban Castro-led Government expeditiously return Assata Shakur to America. The measure passed with a 371 (yea) – 0 (Nay) vote.
  • In the same year, the United States Senate passed the same piece of legislation, Concurrent Resolution 254, by a unanimous vote.
  • In 2005, the United States Department of Justice entered the fray in a major way when they increased an already hefty award for Assata Shakurs capture to $1,000,000.00
  • In 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that was headed by the tyrannical J. Edgar Hoover and his Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) when the pursuit of Shakur began, not only placed Assata on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, but also raised the bounty on her head to $2,000,000.00. The FBI now characterizes Shakur as a ‘domestic terrorist.’

Since she escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in Union Township, New Jersey, Assata Shakur has morphed into a never-ending irritant to powerful whites and evidence that white power is not immutable. There is no doubt that it is Assata’s defiance that has heightened white political leaders’ maniacal pursuit of her for the past thirty-plus years. Put simply; in the minds of white politicians and law enforcement authorities, Assata is a rebellious slave whose escape inspires others currently ensnared by the chains of mental slavery and economic exploitation.

It is through this prism that I view both Donald Trump’s call for Assata’s return and the commentary of current U.S. Senator (New Jersey-D) and Cuban-American Bob Menendez. According to Menendez, Trump’s “announcement is a step in the right direction to reverse an ill-advised and misguided Cuba policy that has failed to deliver on its promises, left the Cuban people worse off, and allowed American fugitives, like wanted terrorist and cop-killer Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakru), to escape justice.”

I most certainly would love to state that figures like Trump, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Menendez or those that occupied similar political positions before them are not serious about their decades long pursuit of Assata, however, I have witnessed the actions of unwise men for far too long to believe that their dedication to such a task does not match that of a “radical Islamist” that they are quick to denounce. Assata Shakur’s existence holds the potential to inspire droves of politically conscious black people who agree with her fight against the Capitalist principles and white world supremacy that this nation has come to represent more forcefully than any that ever existed before its creation. Predictably, the alluded to inspiration that Assata provides to black freedom fighters is just as strongly felt by opponents such as Trump, Christie, and Menendez. From such individuals perspective, Assata and her kind (Mutulu Shakur, Fred Hampton, Bunchy Carter, Geronimo Pratt, Karl Hampton, Huey P. Newton, Tupac Amaru Shakur, William Lee Brent, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Rush, George and Jonathan Jackson, and the list goes on and one) are analogous to the free blacks that white slave-holders wished to repatriate to Liberia and Sierra Leone as their non-bonded status gave their enslaved brothers and sisters radical ideas and desires for freedom. Hence it should be expected that a figure such as Donald Trump would publicly call for the head of our beloved sister Assata Olugbala Shakur.

At this moment, it is imperative that Black America’s response to these demonic actions not only be a vociferous “No! No! No!” but also be prepared to extend our anger further than mere rhetoric or casting a vote within the very system that oppresses us. We must be willing to follow Assata’s revolutionary example by every means imaginable.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Please support Independent Black Scholarship; it’s the only way that we are going to free our minds.

Author, Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

Author, ‘Foolish’ Floyd: The Life & Times of an African-American Contrarian

Author, O’Bruni: An African-American Odyssey Home?

 

ALL EYEZ ON ME: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO POLITICIZE YOUNG BLACK AMERICA

Although it may sound strange, I was saddened by the prospect of a biopic titled All Eyez on Me based on the life of Hip-Hop icon Tupac Amaru Shakur. Ironically, it is Tupac Amaru Shakur’s complexity and multi-dimensionality that birthed my reservations regarding this project. At the center of my concerns was a fear that a mere biopic from some random Hollywood studio would fall far short of capitalizing on this gripping story by failing to tell this story in a courageous manner that exposed the most recent generation of youth around the globe to the genius that I knew as Tupac Amaru Shakur.

Unfortunately for Tupac’s legacy, my fears and consternations regarding this project have come to fruition. Put simply; the makers of this biopic have dropped the ball at a crucial moment and thereby wasted a never to be retrieved opportunity to raise the consciousness of a nation regarding contestable issues such as Manhood, Race, and Culture.

After viewing All Eyez on Me it is clear that the filmmakers were doomed from the beginning as the traditional two-hour time constraints placed on a big screen biopic is too brief a period to convey the life of a figure whose life mirrors sixties radicalism and the ends-justify-the-means materialism that had come to represent Black America at this present moment.

If Bigger Thomas was Black America’s Depression Era Native Son, Tupac Amaru Shakur holds the same position for his generation. The life of Tupac Amaru Shakur reflects the hopes of Black Powerites, the failings of black love, the pain of being entrapped in a disassembled urban community, and the joy of occasional, fleeting triumphs.

It is the multi-dimensionality stated above that eludes so many writers and filmmakers who attempt to capture both the essence of Black America and the life of Tupac Amaru Shakur. Make no mistake about it, Tupac was an elusive character who at opportune moments willingly adorned himself with every caricature that supporters and opponents place on African-American males: revolutionary, thug, intellectual, hoodlum, genius, emcee, Panther, prophet, prognosticator. Tupac wore all of these hats for a gawking audience that somehow managed to not see the purity of Tupac’s soul despite his eagerness to reveal its contents to anyone willing to listen intently.

There is little doubt that Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X serves as the defining moment in the politicization of legions of African-Americans across several decades, All Eyez on Me held the same potential. Unfortunately, this biopic is a convoluted mess of missed opportunities. Instead of digging their heels in and sacrificing elements of entertainments by accentuating significant political issues and matters that Tupac faced throughout his entire life, filmmakers too frequently abandoned this noble path in favor of stereotypical clichés of “ghetto” behavior that ultimately degraded both black men and women.

When considered in its entirety, All Eyez on Me is at best a superficial portrait of Black America’s most prominent post-Black Power Era figure; yes, I do believe that Tupac’s influence extends well beyond that of former President Barack Hussein Obama. What is most disturbing about this biopic’s failings is that Tupac Amaru Shakur’s story holds so much potential to explain the rocky road that Black America has traveled during the past four decades. In every way, the glaring failings and missed moments that mar this biopic are inexcusable. Such issues are made more significant when we realize that this grand opportunity to offer a new generation the biting social and political commentary that undergirded Tupac Amaru Shakur’s entire existence is a missed opportunity that will never be reclaimed as we will never see another Tupac as long as we live.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

WHY I AM SERIOUSLY CONCERNED WITH THE BLACK HISTORY COURSE OFFERING AT SURRY COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Although I would love to support the recent decision by Surry Community College to offer a course on African-American History, I have grave concerns regarding a decision that many of my contemporaries are immediately celebrating. Now please do not mistake my ambivalence to the addition of the course as a sign that I have lost my desire for African-American studies, because I haven’t, however, this issue raises a host of questions that sit at the core of the education of the next generation of African-American activists. The alluded to questions are rarely posed in a culture of political correctness that causes African-Americans to obsess over a consideration of the feelings of others instead of a desperate pursuit of uplifting the race. At the present moment, Race is an arena where “fools rush in, and Angels fear to tread.”

The Surry Community College course addition will be taught by Rick Shelton, a white male instructor who plans to have “students analyze how the African-American identity, born in bondage, changed with the rise and fall of slavery in the United States, they will also be pushed to view blacks beyond the traditional stereotype simply as victims and will explore the ways in which black women and men took control of their lives to leave a lasting impact on America’s history and future. Upon completion of the class, students should be able to analyze significant political, socioeconomic, and cultural developments in the history of African-Americans.” My considerable consternation regarding this course being a representation of African-American Studies is found in this statement.

It ‘s not hard for me to pinpoint my reservations regarding this matter, I simply take significant issue with African-American Studies courses that defang the discipline via curricular offerings that recall Black America’s storied past without any intention of preparing the next generation of black activists for action. Put simply; I abhor courses that are little more than academic exercises whose objectives could be achieved via trivia cards. At the core of my fear is that if African-American studies courses are not led in the correct vein, they are minstrel-like, meaning white history courses in Blackface that no longer serve as training grounds for the next generation of “Race men and Race women.” The continuing need for politically astute and historically knowledgeable African-American youth to lead the struggle for “the liberation and salvation of the black nation” leads me to cringe at the Surry Community College course offering.

Mr. Shelton’s hope that “upon completion of the class, students should be able to analyze significant political, socioeconomic, and cultural developments in the history of African-Americans” falls well-short of the activist training ground that is African-American studies at its best. Make no mistake about it, the failure to use African-American studies programs as a training ground for the next generation of social activists’ works against any future progress toward the advancement of Black America.

I hope that you comprehend why I look at this situation as a double-edged sword. I do take delight in the appearance of an African-American studies course on yet another collegiate campus; however, I also cringe at the fact that it is in no way intended to be used for the uplift of Black America.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

Committed to investigating, examining, and representing the African-American male, men, and manhood by offering commentary regarding the status of Black Men and Black Manhood as it relates to African-American Manhood, Race, Class, Politics, and Culture from an educated and authentic African-American perspective aimed at improving the plight of African-American men and African-American Manhood in regards to Politics, Culture, Education, and Social Matters.

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