A LOOK BEHIND THE VEIL: THE SILENT SUFFERING OF BLACK PROFESSIONALS AT FOX NEWS

In the timeless classic, The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois penned the following regarding the awakening of his racial consciousness and the subsequent falling of a “veil” between himself and the white world. It is this metaphorical “veil” that has served as a formidable obstruction that limits understanding between every racial/ethnic group in our diverse nation. Du Bois relates that

In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys’ and girls’ heads to buy gorgeous visiting- cards–ten cents a package–and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, –refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt

Experience has taught me that the majority of whites are primarily concerned with finding reliable paths to improving their socioeconomic status, concerns that usually trump any participation in some vast conspiracy to extend African-Americans politico-economic marginality. Now the above statement most certainly does not cancel out the collusion of groups working together to protect politico-economic interests from rivals; in a Capitalist society, such politico-economic strategies are to be expected. Such efforts are neither strange nor peculiar. In fact, while African-Americans repeatedly accuse others of colluding and working against the collective interests of Black America, the alluded to strategies sit at the core of our calls for “Black Power.” Consider the following directives regarding the creation of “Black Power” by Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton.

The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise. Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. By this, we mean group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society. Traditionally, each new ethnic group in this society has found the route to social and political viability through the organization of its own institutions with which to represent its needs within the larger society . . . the American melting pot has not melted. Italians vote for Rubino over O’Brien; Irish for Murphy over Goldberg, etc.

There is a consensus among the politically astute that politico-economic solidarity is crucial to any population “getting ahead in America.”

Unfortunately for the sake of racial tranquility, the separation that politico-economic collectivism requires tends to construct a veil that reminds one of Du Bois’ metaphors. Put simply; group efforts to circulate dollars among their own and mobilize political currency tend to unintentionally create an increasing unfamiliarity with other racial groups and ethnicities. Hence, whites are rarely provided a view beyond the “veil” that shrouds the daily realities of Black America.

Whites’ inability to see beyond the “veil” explains their ignorance regarding the tremendous challenges that black professionals face on a daily basis. Whites ignorance regarding black life is prominently displayed via their failure to understand that many black professionals consider a strategy of “eat shit and grin” as their most reliable path to professional success.

Despite what many opponents may believe, African-American professional’s public silence regarding the many indignities they routinely face does not mean that such events are neither serious nor damaging. Many black professionals hesitate to share the insults that they experience out of fear that others would doubt their authenticity. Nevertheless, shocking racial incidents in professional workspaces are relatively common for African-Americans.

I am confident that few Americans would be shocked to find that Fox News, that bastion of Conservative political thought, has found itself mired in a controversy involving African-American employees. I am also convinced that most will understand that black employees within Fox News have adopted the strategy of “eat shit and grin” as a means of surviving what can only be considered a hellish workplace.

Two African-American female employees of Fox News, payroll manager Tichaona Brown and payroll coordinator Tabrese Wright, have recently come forth with shocking claims regarding the treatment they and other black employees received within the alluded to institution. Brown and Wright allege a workplace filled with “top-down racial harassment” and inappropriate behavior by Fox News Comptroller Judith Slater. They allege that Slaver made “numerous racially charged comments, including suggestions that black men were ‘women beaters’ and that black people wanted to harm white people physically.” As if that were not bad enough, the duo accuses Slater of forcing black employees to engage in “arm wrestling matches” with white female employees as well as “forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors…”

Within a nation where racial animosity is an integral aspect of its identity, it is tough to believe white protestations that racial hatred does not exist within American workplaces. It appears that white’s feigned ignorance regarding racial matters absolves them from taking a definitive stand against racial bias and discrimination. One thing is sure; Fox News has much company among American corporate entities and institutions in making African-American professionals silence regarding racial hostility a pre-requisite for continued employment.

White silence within Fox News regarding the above incidents of racial bias is yet another moment where individuals have allowed their financial interests to silence their moral compass. It is this expression of cowardice that leads me to believe that the majority of whites have little interest in looking behind the aforementioned “veil” that separates them from their African-American contemporaries. Unbeknownst to whites, their failure to take definitive action against racial bias in the workplace makes them accessories to the crime. Whites conscious decision to neither address nor counter-balance these occasions of workplace racial bias through tangible action are not only sickening but also makes one wonder how they can look at themselves in the mirror.

Maybe it is best that White America not peak behind the “veil” that shrouds so much of Black America’s misery and pain, at least if they do not see such things they will not have to carry the burden of being an accomplice to such matters on their shoulders.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

COULD THE MOST SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLE TO NEW BLACK LEADERSHIP BE AN OLD-GUARD CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS THAT REFUSES TO GET OUT OF THE WAY?

One of the best things about being an African-American Studies Professor working at a Historically Black University (HBCU) is the opportunity to witness the sheer brilliance that so many of our young people possess. Although much of that raw intelligence is dormant, the most important thing is its presence. I am certain that it is during this process of politicization that I am more potent as an educator.

One of the consequences of my focusing a significant portion of my studies upon sixties-radicalism is that I have a thorough understanding of the critical role that HBCU students played in the development and maturation of movement strategies, tactics, and goals. One can only lament what would the struggle for black liberation have been without the names of African-American student leaders such as Diane Nash, John Lewis, Stokely Carmichael, Huey P. Newton, and Bobby Seale.

Unfortunately for the sake of black liberation, it appears that an old guard Civil Rights leadership forged during sixties radicalism has forgotten the path that they traveled to positions that they have held for far too long. Contemporary black leaders failure to maintain the pipeline of African-American students entrance into the struggle for racial equality has slowed, if not entirely stopped this process. The primary consequence of such action has been the siphoning off of African-American collegians potential political contributions by a host of other movements whose agendas have little to do with the fight for racial equality. One needs to look no further than the relatively recent women’s marches that a host of African-American women participated in under a banner that paid scant if any, attention to the peculiar issues facing black women. The struggle for racial equality has never had the luxury of being headed by a politically inefficient leadership cadre that allows others to siphon off vital activist energies needed to raise the African-American community out of a multi-generational politico-economic marginality that has no end in sight.

Considering the above matters, I am confident that you can understand how pleased I was to learn that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) had launched an outreach effort called “CBC on the Yard” that is to occur on HBCU campuses throughout the nation. A recent press release stated that “The goal of the tour is to listen, involve, and mobilize students to effect change in their communities and to get their thoughts on the direction of the country and issues that affect their lives.” The alluded to outreach efforts are focusing upon three of the traditional avenues of black uplift; voter participation, the civil rights movement, and financial literacy. Such efforts are a most encouraging sign.

In many ways, this move by the CBC to engage African-American collegians is akin to an admission that many members of this congressional entity have forgotten both the path that they have traveled and the lessons of an energetic Civil Rights Movement.  According to CBC Chair, Cedric Richmond (D-La) “We often think that young people have a lot to learn from us, but we also have a lot to learn from them, especially now when they’re the folks launching and leading Black Lives Matter and other grassroots movements. If we’re going to create a more perfect union for Black families, we have to listen, involve, and mobilize young, Black leaders, and ground zero for many of them is an HBCU.”

There is little room to debate Richmond’s contention of HBCU’s being “ground zero” for the cultivation of the next generation of African-American politico-economic leaders, however, it remains to be seen if the much-needed intergenerational discussions are accompanied by a necessary relinquishing of leadership positions by an old-guard leadership cadre that considers themselves fixtures in the fight for racial equality.

Make no mistake about it, the voices of the newest generation of African-American activists have arrived via social media outlets that old-guard Civil Rights leaders and organizations have no control over. It has been the unfettered access provided by social media that has provided this latest generation of potential black leaders an efficient means of avoiding the principal obstacle to the rise of new leadership within the black community, black leaders whose old ideas and strategies expired long ago.

One thing is sure; there is a desperate need for innovative thought as old stratagems and tactics of yesteryear have failed to mobilize the masses of black folk within racial equality struggles. Although I am certain that they will never address this matter, the only real issue blocking the ascension of a young cadre of black leadership is the gracious exit of an aged Civil Rights Leadership; if I had to venture a guess, I would say that old-guar Civil Rights leaders will do what they have always done and held on for dear life to their ‘positions of importance’ as it is their only point of relevancy in an ever-changing society that they are too old to keep up with.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

How Conspiracy Theories Continue to Work Against Black Liberation Efforts

I am confident that if you have been anywhere near a member of the so-called “conscious community” that you have noticed their propensity to engage in a medley of conspiracy theories. The alluded to individuals have an uncanny knack of weaving together events that on the surface have no connection whatsoever. The fact that their fanciful anti-intellectual creations are not supported by any evidence does little to dissuade them from propagating such foolishness to anyone within a one-hundred-mile radius. The typical conspiracy theorist spends incredible amounts of their time unraveling things that do not exist. Consider for a moment the recent Steven Stephens case. For most sane individuals it is a case of a mentally disturbed African-American male murdering an elderly black man for no apparent reason. These conclusions are significantly bolstered by the fact that Steven Stephens not only filmed the incident himself but also posted the crime and a subsequent recording of himself confessing to the crime on Facebook. Such a mountain of evidence is a mere molehill to your typical conspiracy theorist.

In a move that would be shocking to those with little exposure to the twists-and-turns that occur within the minds of conspiracy theorists, conspiracy theorists seized the Facebook postings and ran with it in their usual manner. According to such individuals, we were duped as the entire tape was a perfect ruse to divert us from something that had already occurred or was on the verge of happening. During a recent discussion with a self-styled conspiracy theorist, I questioned his perspective regarding the Steven Stephens shooting via the existence of a dead body, a grieving family, and a distraught police chief. His response, “they have all gotten paid off. I am telling you that this is an orchestrated event created to divert your attention from a yet to occur event.”

Probably the most disturbing thing about the constantly multiplying and increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories is that a major portion of the so-called “conscious community” cannot resist engaging them. Unfortunately for the sake of black liberation, the alluded to “mental masturbation” sessions are sufficient to keep conspiracy theorists busy for an entire lifetime. This busyness guarantees that vast segments of the so-called “conscious community” will never focus the bulk of their mental energy and physical activities toward the planning, creation, and execution of politico-economic liberation plans.

I am confident that we can agree that a better use of the mental energy expended upon conspiracy theories is for such individuals to turn their focus toward researching matters that could have a positive impact on the black liberation struggle. At this late date, we do not have the luxury of spending even a single moment investigating foolish nonsense conspiracy theories; those energies must be directed toward the development and execution of a plan to tangibly improve the lives of black men, women, and children. Anything else is yet another display of black cowardice, inefficiency, and ineptitude.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

Steven Stephens: A 20th Century Bigger Thomas? (Black America’s Native Son)

Experience has taught me to expect the inquiry regardless of the venue or situation. Whether while being interviewed or in the aftermath of an exhilarating lecture regarding the dilemmas facing African-American males, someone will ask “What is the greatest issue confronting the black male today?” To the chagrin of interviewers and audience members, my answer to this poignant query is never singular as the foremost problems facing African-American males revolves around mutually reinforcing issues of mental illness and their adoption, due to both socialization and their environs, of what can only be termed a toxic manhood that possesses the ability destroy all that they contact.

The wicked cocktail of mental illness and toxic manhood is the only explanation for the actions of Steven Stephens, the African-American male who not only murdered Robert Goodwin Sr. (74), a defenseless elderly black male on a Cleveland, Ohio, street, but also uploaded his heinous crime onto Facebook. Although Black America reacted with horror to Stephens’ diabolical actions, the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of us know several black males whose existence mirrors that of Steven Stephens; a personable individual, who on the surface fails to exhibit the wear-and-tear of being black in America publicly, yet is privately straining under the weight of being a have not in the land of plenty. The alluded to frustrations feeds directly into the dawning of a daunting query of “Is life worth living?” Such internal strife has reverberating repercussions for all around them. Unfortunately, it appears that the appropriate motto for disassembled black communities in every inner-city may very well be “A place where life is not worth living.”

Considering the mantra that “you cannot change what you do not acknowledge,” it is past time Black America shed their thread-bare lie of being shocked by regarding the actions and activities of the Steven Stephens found within their environs. If we were serious about improving our community, we would stop feigning ignorance and acknowledge that we have normalized public indecency and uncivilized behavior toward within the black community. It is not accidental that Steven Stephens murdered another black man as a means of expressing his frustrations at the two black women to whom he was closest, his mother and a former fiancé.

It is imperative that we not miss this opportunity to at least examine, if not address the cause of the development of angry, brash, illogical, directionless, socially inappropriate African-American males whose moral compass is a toxic manhood possessing more power to destroy themselves and their community than Hurricane Katrina. We must face facts that figures such as Steven Stephens are a reflection of who we have become as a community; cold, distant, foreign to one another, combustible, and dangerous to ourselves. When considered in this light, it is clear that today’s troubled African-American male is a modern-day Bigger Thomas, meaning Black America’s Native Son. Such individuals reflect the frustrations, contradictions, and sadness that has been comfortably situated in our hearts for so long that we no longer notice its presence. For better or for worse, it is who we have become to each other.

And for that reason, we should all weep.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017.

HOW A GROUP OF EIGHTH-GRADERS FROM ARNOLD MIDDLE SCHOOL REMINDED ME OF WHY I DO WHAT I DO

Like everyone else, I am susceptible to growing weary while performing the mentally straining and emotionally exhausting heavy lifting required to provide the next generation of African-Americans even a remote possibility of succeeding in a society where their inferiority is an absolute given. There are periodic moments when one’s will to continue this never-ending fight is nearly extinguished; without fail, a symphony of doubt, frustration, and questions regarding the seeming futility of the struggle appear as the weary blues. The only balm to the mental and emotional exhaustion mentioned above is the occurrence of some event that reminds you that it has not all been in vain. Unfortunately, the alluded to validation cannot be ordered on command; instead it arrives via unexpected sources at opportune moments.

Recently I was approached regarding my willingness to aid The Collegiate 100 — a subsidiary of the 100 Black Men of America — an organization of extremely impressive African-American collegians that are simultaneously positioning themselves for success while lifting others as they climb the ladder of success, via addressing a group of 8th Graders from Arnold Middle School during a scheduled campus event. Mentors selected these 8th Graders for a host of reasons. During my adolescence, they would have been labeled “at-risk youth,” a term that indicated more about environs than intellectual capabilities and prowess. I knew such a group very well as years ago I carried a similar label. I accepted the assignment without hesitation.

As usual, I arrived early to the 9:30 event and busied myself researching topics for future blog postings, however, slightly before the scheduled start time, a cadre of students, the majority of them currently enrolled in one of my History courses arrived and began their preparations for the young scholars’ arrival. Within minutes our “guests of honor” arrived, took their assigned seat, and were listening to my presentation regarding issues such as self-responsibility, planning, and the development of a familial educational legacy. Put simply; my address sought to inform these young people that they are the primary determinant of their success and the future of this entire nation was resting upon their broad and sturdy shoulders.

One of the promises that I made to myself as a student was that if ever provided the public speaking opportunities that I would never replicate the droning and draining lecture style of orators who operated out of an old authoritarian style of I lecture and you passively listen to my brillance. Put simply; such characters left no room for interaction with by the end of their address was an auditorium full of inattentive listeners. Hence, I always consider it essential that I interact with my audience via a “Question and Answer” segment.

As previously mentioned, the desperately needed jolt that re-energizes those who have grown weary of the Herculean task of uplifting Black America invariably comes at an opportune moment from unexpected sources. I am proud to relate that I received a much-needed jolt from this group of 8th Graders who dared to betray a steely silence that always accompanies persons of their age by peer pressure. To my delight, this group engaged me in an unusual manner that simultaneously displayed their brilliance, intellectual curiosity, and previous exposure to success formulas resting on personal accountability. Their mentors are to be applauded as these children demonstrated an unusual ability to answer an array of issues presented to them in a manner that betrayed their youth. Their superior intellect was displayed at every turn except when I queried “Where do you plan to be five years from now?”

After several questions regarding by background, my alma mater, the degrees I have earned and books that I have written, most were shocked to learn that I was a first-generation collegian. As expected, the conversation turned toward questions surrounding why they should attend a Historically Black College or University.

The question, poised by a brilliant young lady on the left side of the auditorium, was a particularly piercing one of “Since you have been to a white university and now work at a Historically Black University, why should we come to an H.B.C.U.?” Although I have much love for my alma mater, THE Ohio State University, to the best of my ability I explained to this attentive audience that at a place such as Prairie View A & M University “You will not only be invited into, but also joining and embraced by an esteemed tradition of black thinkers, educators, and professionals who are dedicated to aiding you in traveling down a road that they created for your success. You matter mightily at this place from the moment that you make the decision to enter and well-beyond your exit. You are going to find that we will nurture you, challenge you, and guide you every step of the way as you pursue your dreams, goals, and aspirations. At this place, we are serious about producing productive people.”

By the end of our interaction, the vast majority of these individuals had expressed their intention to become Prairie View Panthers and vowed to keep in touch during their high school tenure. As I gathered my belongings and prepared to exit the venue, one young man rushed up to me and related the following, “I thought about where I will be five years from now. I am going to be sitting in your History class right here at PVAMU.” I could do nothing other than smile at him and respond, “Sir, I’m looking forward to it. And I truly mean that.”

As I ended my exchange with this obviously brilliant young man, one of the chaperones for this youth group approached me and stated the following. “You probably don’t remember me, but I was one of your students.” I searched my mental Rolodex for him, yet came up empty. He continued, “I looked different back then. I had a big Afro and gold fronts (teeth). However, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all that you did for me. I am assuming an Assistant Principal position next week.” I could do nothing but laugh at the fantastic news and responded, “From gold fronts to Assistant Principal?” We both shared a hearty laugh at the development.

One thing was sure, as I exited the building, I knew that these young people had made an indelible impact on me; an impact that re-charged my emotional state and simultaneously reminded me of why I do the work that I do.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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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