A HAIR CUT WOULD SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS: WHY MICHAEL VICK’S ADVICE TO COLIN KAEPERNICK REVEALS HIS STATUS AS A BROKEN MAN

I remember it like it was yesterday when Dr. Julianne Malveaux, the former President of Bennett College dropped this nugget of wisdom regarding institutional racism and the forgiveness it affords white males. In her famed style, the remarkable economist remarked that ‘a skinhead ain’t nothing but a white boy who needs to grow some hair. And when he does, he can walk into any company and be assured of securing some semblance of employment, regardless of his qualifications for the position.’

The alluded to wisdom that Malveaux shared with a room full of African-American collegians was daunting, yet true. Every American should realize that white privilege is enjoyed by whites regardless of their effort to secure it or desire to receive it. Hence, it is puzzling, if not bewildering to hear former NFL Quarterback Michael Vick, a black man who once was the personification of a thug in the eyes of white America, offers the following advice to Colin Kaepernick on FS1’s show “Speak for Yourself.”

“First thing we’ve got to get Colin to do is cut his hair. Listen, I’m not up here to try to be politically correct…I don’t think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle. Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You’re already dealing with a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable.”

Vick’s uninformed diatribe continues below,

“(I) didn’t listen until the end, until I was going through the turmoil and the hardships…Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field…It’s not about selling out.”

When one considers Vick’s words, it is evident that life’s experiences have taught him the primary lesson that educator Jane Elliott reveals as the only path for black people to get ahead in America, “Conform!!!! Act white!!!! That’s how you get ahead in America!!!!”

As an educator privileged to watch thousands of young black males transform during their undergraduate years, I have always found it humorous when a figure that white America and a particular segment of ‘well to do’ black America would consider a ‘thug’ transforms into “the company man.” The company man is ironically a desperate attempt by the disenfranchised to replicate the persona and worldview of those that have historically taken glee in vilifying him. The alluded to figure is impeccably groomed, never found in anything less than designer clothing, and arrives at informal social gatherings dressed business casual. Shockingly, the alluded to transformation often extends far beyond physical appearance as it affects their word choice and diction; I swear that a few of my students picked up a strange accent that vacillates between British and French to complete the transformation. This persona that Harlem Renaissance Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar termed “the Mask” is always an uncomfortable fit for those that consider it an indispensable accessory.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

 

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.

 

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

(Paul Laurence Dunbar)

There is no doubt that those who wear Dunbar’s “mask” do so with the realization that it is the most certain means of having their material needs satisfied. However, if given enough time, these same individuals will realize that they have made a lopsided deal with the Devil that ultimately leaves them as one of the “tortured souls” that Dunbar writes about in his poem.

In many ways, Michael Vick’s advice to Kaepernick is revealing as it displays what he has learned from his very public troubles. Apparently, Vick believes that one must curry favor with white power-brokers ‘by any means necessary.’

I guess that silly is as silly does, and Michael Vick’s silly advice to Kaepernick has actually achieved one thing for certain; that being, it has ensured that he is firmly entrenched as the starting Quarterback on an All-Star team of unwise and stupid athletes who should have been benched long ago when it comes to addressing racial matters, a duty they are incapable of doing well.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

An Unwise Choice: An Open Letter to Black Men About Umar Johnson from a Sister Who Loves You

I am most certainly disturbed and bewildered by Umar Johnson’s continuing relevance in the struggle to liberate Black America. I am confident that you agree with my summation that Mr. Johnson is the most polarizing figure Black America has seen since Clarence Thomas. To some he is a breath of fresh air, to many others, he is a traveling con man selling hope for a better tomorrow to the droves of oppressed confused black people. Make no mistake about it, you either immediately embrace or exert extreme caution when it comes to this verbal wizard who possesses an uncanny ability to mesmerize black men. Johnson’s siren call comes in the form of seductive rhetoric that taps into their innate urge to assume what they consider their rightful position as “head of household” if not an exiled African “King” in the North American wilderness.

As a black woman, I would be disingenuous if I did not relate that the seemingly unending support Umar Johnson has received from my brothers is simultaneously shocking and offensive. For myself and the vast majority of black women, Mr. Johnson’s incantations for a return to the good old days when black men ruled their homes and communities with an iron-fisted authority that no one dared to challenge are eerily similar to white racists calls for a return to the good old days when a woman knew her place, children were to be seen and not heard, and homosexuality was a sexual deviance on par with child molestation.

Although Mr. Johnson’s supporters will deny it, their manhood constructs are merely a dastardly inheritance of tyrannical patriarchal that they were bequeathed by their white male fathers. In every way, Umar Johnson’s expression of masculinity is nothing more than a minstrel show of white patriarchal constructs.

It is time that the black community divests from the draconian position that one’s gender is sufficient for the leadership of anything. My brothers fail to realize that they have picked up their oppressors tools and dedicated their lives to replicating his immoral pattern of oppression within their community. The irony that Umar Johnson’s male supporters fail to realize that their movements to ‘uplift’ the black community are a haphazardly constructed garment that is held together by the anger of black males that is demanding not only silence from dissenters but also an intrusion into the personal lives of those under their reign. It appears that when black males’ steep emotional investment in Umar Johnson combines with natural impulses to take their rightful place as “the head” of everything they encounter, reason and logic are suspended.

The fact that thousands of black men would champion the flawed, antiquated perspectives of Umar Johnson is frightening as it reveals their failure to understand the inherent dangers associated with patriarchy and toxic manhood constructs. I pray that those I honestly consider my brethren can divorce themselves from the seductive emotionalism of this charismatic charlatan known as Umar Johnson, return to their senses and understand what Audre Lorde meant when she admonished oppressed people seeking liberation that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” What Umar Johnson is doing is not dismantling white supremacy, he is attempting to build a black version of it that will oppress all of those within our midst who disagree with his irrationality and inconsistencies.

K.V.J.

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

 

A MESSAGE FOR THE PANTHERS: WHY J. EDGAR HOOVER CONSIDERED GRITS TO BE THE GREATEST THREAT TO THE NATION

On the surface, it appeared to be a humorous quip posited by Roger Guenveur Smith during his one-man stage performance The Huey P. Newton Story. The moment that I allude to is when the critically acclaimed actor channeled the spirit of Huey P. Newton and remarked that Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) Director J. Edgar Hoover charged that the most significant internal threat to the United States of America was Grits. Yes, you read that correctly. J. Edgar Hoover believed that the single-greatest threat to the internal security of the greatest military empire mankind has ever known was Grits!

Although it may shock many, the truth in this one-liner outweighs its comedic undertones. At worst, the statement conveys a dual truth: (a) Hoover feared the Panthers Free Breakfast for children program and (b) The F.B.I. Director was correct in his summation that the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (B.P.P.) Free Breakfast for Children Program was the single-greatest threat to the internal security of the United States of America.

If the droves of individuals who have laid claim to the B.P.P. revolutionary mantle understood such substantive matters they would abandon their reactionary activism and seek to understand why the F.B.I. Director took issue with the Free Breakfast & Lunch for Children Programs. Dare I say, that such a move would be the most significant move the black liberation movement has made in the past four decades.

Despite the voluminous criticism that Black Powerites hurl at the memory of J. Edgar Hoover, few can reasonably dispute his brilliance or the tenacious manner with which he executed his sworn duty to protect the United States of America. Were these new Panthers serious about the liberation of Black America they would have long-ago realized that it was the B.P.P. development of young black minds, not guns that raised the ire of Director Hoover and all those he represented. The alluded to attacks can be credited to the reality that the framework for the rise of any people is found in the development of a revolutionary ethos among both male and female children.

I routinely encounter self-proclaimed revolutionaries who fail to realize the revolutionary nature of the Free Breakfast Program. I have discovered that the most expeditious manner in which one can deal with such individuals is to remind them of Malcolm X’s assertion that “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children.”

It did not take the F.B.I. Director long to understand that the Panthers were using their Free Breakfast & Lunch for Children Programs to nourish the bodies of black children while simultaneously providing a relevant education designed to liberate their minds from the chains of white world supremacy.

Hoover understood that the Free Breakfast for Children Program was growing the next generation of Black Revolutionaries via lessons, songs, and chants that muted mind-numbing children rhymes such as Old McDonald had a Farm or The Itsy Bitsy Spider. When viewed from the correct perspective, it is clear that of all their community service projects, it was the Free Breakfast for Children Program that held the greatest potential to uplift Black America. Those involved in this community service project received so much pro-Black information that there was little room left for the standard school curriculum to enter. Make no mistake about it, it is the exposure to Panther ideology and lessons that produced Tupac Amaru Shakur.

In hindsight, there is little debate that of all the points on the Black Panther Party’s 10-Point Platform and Program current Panthers are fascinated with Point #7 — “We Want an Immediate End to Police Brutality and Murder of Black People.” There is little debate that Point #7 is crucial to the survival of black people in America. However, it does not outweigh Point #5 in regards to securing liberation for Black America.

Point #5

We Want Education For Our People That Exposes
The True Nature Of This Decadent American Society.
We Want Education That Teaches Us Our True History
And Our Role In The Present-Day Society.

We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.

Were I permitted the opportunity, I would urge those leading these recent manifestations of the Black Panther Party to reconsider the fixation on the gun and turn their attention toward recreating both the Free Breakfast & Lunch Programs for Children as well as unearthing the curriculum that was poured into the minds of our children. Let us never forget that the minds of our children are by far our most valuable resources, especially when it comes to the liberation and salvation of the black nation.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Discussing the Holocaust: How a Simple Discussion Shows Why We Must Supplement Our Children’s Intellectual Diet

It has been stated that children are sponges that absorb everything around them regardless of its truthfulness or accuracy. While being interviewed by a reporter regarding the flap between Jay-Z and the Anti Defamation League, my son was sitting close by listening to the discussion. Once it ended, he offered the following. “My teacher taught us about the Holocaust.” As a History Professor, I am always interested in hearing how such important topics are addressed by K-12 educators. I must share that although I was interested in what my son was about to share, I realized what he had been taught before he spoke.

I was unsurprised when my brilliant son shared that the Holocaust occurred during World War II with the Nazi’s killing Jews. Even the expectation of such a grossly slanted depiction of the historical record did not prevent me from cringing. The alluded to negative response was less about my son and more about the impact that such misinformation would have on the minds of American school children.

I have always taken issue with discussions of genocide or “The Holocaust” for one simple reason; it appears that the Jewish community has trademarked the concepts and words for their exclusive and highly beneficial use. When speaking about the most common use of the term “Holocaust” most dictionaries define it as follows.

Holocaust: Destruction or slaughter on a mass scale.

In many ways, it is ironic that I, a former fellow at the United States Holocaust Museum, have spent untold hours combating those who strategically seek to cordon off the word Holocaust in regards to its non-religious usage for the Jewish community. Despite their vehement and always volatile protestations, it is clear that although the mass slaughter of persons of Jewish descent is a crime against humanity that should never be forgotten, we must also realize that such an occurrence was not a one-time occurrence. Although I have no interest in comparing genocides, American teachers are remiss when they fail to discuss the multiple and simultaneously occurring Holocausts that laid the foundation for Western Civilization. Most notably, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the extermination of Indigenous Americans across the North American continent as well as throughout the Caribbean. In many ways, the removal of historical atrocities against non-white populations sits at the core of why there is so little sympathy for the contemporary plight of the aggrieved populations. Without an understanding of Manifest Destiny — the belief of Anglo-Saxons that their expansion across the entire North American continent was both justified and inevitable ‘by any means necessary’ — it is impossible to understand the current plight of the Indigenous population. The ‘white-washing’ of history in this matter allows for whites to believe that the Indigenous Population’s primary problem results from personal failings such as alcoholism and not the actions of marauding whites who had neither a care for their humanity nor their survival.

It is for this reason that it is imperative that we supplement the academic diet that our children are being force-fed on a daily basis in American schools. Because if we don’t they will develop a perspective singularly rooted in a fallacious belief that the reason we have not is that we have not worked hard enough. And as you well know, nothing could be further from the truth because no one has worked harder than African people to build this nation called America.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

A Low Down Dirty Shame: What the Video of Maia Campbell Reveals About Ignorant Black Males

I recently received a communication from a trusted female friend who issued a very poignant assertion that doubled as a general indictment against African-American men.

We are supposed to jump on every injustice that happens to the black man, but we seem to be their main punching bag! Sharing that video is an insult to us all!!!!

As soon as I read the comment, I realized that it was emanating from grave disappointment with black men. The impetus behind the communication was a “viral video” of actress Maia Campbell who suffers from a bipolar disorder that affects 2.3 million Americans.

The alluded to video captured the In the House star as a physically and mentally disheveled mess in desperate need of the kind of professional help that extends further than an earnest attempt to pray away the “demons” by some prayer circle. Viewing the video caused my heart to break for this young lady. As expected, the lens of love and understanding that I used to view Mrs. Campbell was not matched by other members of our community who used this unfortunate matter to hurl derisive comments in her direction. As if things could not be any worse, it became apparent that it was a black male who not only captured but also promoted the shocking images.

For reasons coded in both our DNA and historical record, African-American women have looked to African-American men for some semblance of protection; unfortunately, in the new millennium it has become increasingly common for those reasonable expectations to be ignored by a sector of black males, a population that is distinctly different from African-American men, who now view black women as prey to be hunted, subdued, and released back into the wild after they are of no further use to them. It is this behavior that led to the poignant assertion that,

“(Black women) are supposed to jump on every injustice that happens to the black man, but we seem to be their main punching bag!

Now I am most certainly aware that the vast majority of black women believe that they have always supported and defended black males regardless of the situation and received very little in return. Such feelings contextualize the repeated conflicts that occur between black men and women. One of the primary mistakes that the combatants on both sides of the aisle make when deciding to attack what they unwisely consider their adversary is a failure to pinpoint those that they intend to battle; put simply, it appears that hurt, anger, and disappointment paves the path for each of us to generalize and indict all black men or all black women as the source of our turmoil.

Despite an understandable emotionally charged knee-jerk reaction, the truth of the matter is that the scrap of a human being who captured Maia Campbell on video is not a fair representation of the black men that I know; he is a black male biologically, yet devoid of any of the qualities necessary to be crowned a black man. It is fair to characterize persons of this ilk with the following descriptors: ignorant, unlearned, socially inappropriate, devoid of common sense, and absent even a semblance of consideration for the community that has nurtured them. Predictably when this Negro was pressed as to why he recorded the referenced footage, he related the following.

Y’all n****s would not be mad if I posted a white girl. If I would have ran into muthaf***king Hillary Duff/ Lizzy McGuire and she was asking for crack and sucking d**k at the gas station for money for crack, I would have posted her, too…This ain’t no mental disorder this b***h is just high as f**k.”

When one considers all that the above language and worldview convey, it is easy to understand why others look at this population of African-American males with amused contempt and pity.

In regards to the assertion that black women

“…are supposed to jump on every injustice that happens to the black man, but we seem to be their main punching bag!”

I have little response other than to warn black women to not generalize and fall into the trap of allowing a few ignorant fellows to represent the essence of black manhood. If nothing else, it is imperative that we ostracize this class black male and work toward healing the willing and able in our midst. I am confident that she would agree that this process becomes more difficult when idiots such as the one referenced above are included and therefore permitted to continue their pattern of mischief and destruction.  

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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