Category Archives: African-American History

HAVE YOU NO SHAME?: WHY ESPN OWES BLACK AMERICA AN IMMEDIATE APOLOGY FOR AUCTIONING OFF ODELL BECKHAM JR.

Rarely do I find myself using the same quote to address two separate issues in thirty minutes. Unfortunately, I have been forced to reiterate the biblical phrase (Luke 23:34) “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” that Yeshua ben Yosef (Jesus Christ — The Messiah — Jesus the son of Joseph) uttered when asking his heavenly father for a measure of mercy for those perpetrating an unconscionable evil that they did not understand.

As I am confident that you can imagine, the initial time that I cited Luke 23:34 on this date was in a posting addressing Trump’s blatant contradictions regarding the Alt-Left and the fact that there are “good people” within their ranks.

My subsequent usage of “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” has been caused by a colossal misstep by the Entertainment Sports Network (ESPN). Although I have never participated in a fantasy sports league, it is apparent that it is that time of the year for NFL fans to draft their teams as evidenced by ESPN’s fantasy sports mega fest. Inexplicably, the decision-makers at ESPN put a special touch on this year’s coverage; they auctioned off New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a gallery of white sports enthusiasts.

Although this decision by ESPN in the wake of the Charlottesville terrorist attack and Trump’s angry retraction of a condemnation of the KKK, White Nationalists, and the Alt-Right, to hold what amounts to a modern-day ‘slave auction’ is bewildering.

If nothing else, the above incident once again proves that when it comes to blind spots, whites reign without a rival. Although I always fight against the urge to generalize, however, on this occasion it appears that I am on relatively safe terrain to indict whites who would fill a political spectrum stretching from Antifa to the Alt Right with the charge that they are suffering from a witches-brew of racial insensitivity, cultural blindness, and historical illiteracy. Such a context makes me say, woe to every “minority population” that is ruled by such a blind society. Reinforcement for this view is found in the fact that millions of whites watched this spectacle and apparently found nothing wrong with it as many of them considered the auction process exhilarating and entertaining enough to seek to replicate it during the construction of their fantasy leagues.

When whites wonder why Race still matters in this nation, never do they consider that it is their many interlocking illiteracies (cultural, social, political, and historical) that are to blame.

Although I am confident that the following will bother most readers, however, racial bias, white bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and institutional racism is woven into the fabric of this nation and will never recede from its bosom; it’s in our blood as a nation. American bigotry has been a fixture for so long that it is unsettling to consider who we would be if we were not fighting each other in a desperate pursuit of survival.

When you think about it, if this nation were absent racial conflict, there would be no population known as “white.” The only reason that “whites” exist is the presence of an “other” population that causes a multi-ethnic group of Europeans (English, Irish, Polish, Italians, Russians, and Germans) to rally against persons of African-descent on a continual basis. If you doubt this assertion regarding the defining effect that the descendants of enslaved Africans have on the development of “whiteness,” please tell me where else in the world do you find “white people” on the face of the globe? Where do “white people” hail from? Where is “white” land? Whether they like it or not, they exist as “whites” because “blacks” are their historical rallying point.

My understanding of such matters allows me to not be upset by the Alt-Right, Trump, or even the imbeciles at ESPN who failed to recognize what should have been the obvious racial overtones associated with auctioning off an African-American athlete to a crowd of eager whites who were jumping out of their seats to purchase that big black buck.

As a social commentator and writer on racial matters, I rest particularly well at night because I realize that there will ALWAYS be something for me to write about.

However, I will tell you one thing that I have never been able to comprehend. How is it that in a nation that has been haunted by racial matters for four centuries that neither blacks nor whites have any real understanding of what led to either the rise or perpetuation of America’s most peculiar problem. I am confident that you agree that if they have no knowledge of the rise of racial conflict in America that there is no conceivable way that they will ever develop and execute a plan to eradicate it.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

HARSH FACTS ABOUT THE FBI’S COUNTER INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM OPERATIONS AGAINST THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY

While public disclosure of the FBI’s nefarious activities eventually led to the COINTELPRO closure, by then its goals had been accomplished. Elaine Brown succinctly sums up the feelings of those victimized by the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program when she declared: “These motherfuckers intended to kill every one of us.”  There is no doubt that the Black Panther Party was the target of vociferous local, state, and national level attacks, between 1968 and 1969, the Panthers suffered 739 arrests and paid over 4.89 million in bail fees.  Another Panther Party member reflects, “Even though we knew that we had COINTELPRO to deal with on one hand and the police on the other. We had spies sitting all around us and working with us in some cases.”

FBI Director Hoover and his underling’s fanatical dedication to the Law ironically led to their routinely breaking these very Laws. FBI informant D’Arthard Perry, also known as Othello, later confessed that on several occasions he witnessed agents placing “…illegal weapons and various items of contraband into household[s] and offices belonging to the Black Panther Party.”  Even the US Senate was forced to conclude that “although the claimed purpose of the Bureaus COINTELPRO tactics was to prevent violence, some of the FBI’s tactics against the BPP were clearly intended to foster violence, and many others could reasonably have been expected to cause violence.”  Despite an FBI agents claims that “[o]ur basic policy was to divide and conquer…I can guarantee that nobody was saying, ‘Let’s get these guys killing each other,’” the evidence and recollections of COINTELPRO victims contradict such disclaimers.

Jane Adams, Deputy Associate Director of the FBI’s Intelligence Division, reported to a Senate Subcommittee,

None of our programs contemplated violence, and the instructions prohibit it, and the record of turndowns of recommended actions in some instances specifically say that we do not approve this action because if we take it, [it] could result in harm to the individuals.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the facts contradict Adams’ recollections. A subsequent Senate Committee Report took both Adams and the FBI to task for their nefarious activities in relating the following.

Because of the milieu of violence in which members of the Panthers often moved we have been unable to establish a direct link between any of the FBI’s specific efforts to promote violence and particular acts of violence that occurred. We have been able to prove beyond doubt, however, that high officials of the FBI desired to promote violent confrontations between BPP members and members of other groups, and that those officials’ condoned tactics calculated to achieve that end.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Book excerpt from Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Narrative History of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

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

Books published by Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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

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

O’Bruni: An African-American Odyssey Home?

Old School Advising The New School: The Important Message Jay-Z is Sharing with Young Black America

I learned long ago that knowing your audience is critical to any attempt at delivering an excellent lecture. It is this understanding that sits at the core of my concerted efforts to go beyond the daily recommended allowance of our story in every portion of history that I teach my overwhelmingly African-American audience. I consider it essential to not only developing a significant connection to the young people I instruct every day, but also a crucial component in both the illumination of the American historical narrative and their politicization.

Considering such efforts to build historical moments around the black presence, a recent lecture regarding the rise of Conservatism, Ronald Reagan’s Presidency and Reaganomics framed within a larger discussion of the incubation and birth of Hip-Hop Culture is relatively standard. As I am confident that you can imagine, few topics capture the attention of my students like that seductress we call Hip-Hop. Although I am proud to admit that I love Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture, every discussion that I have with young African-Americans regarding the topic painfully reinforces one unmistakable fact; I cannot “catch the beat” that they are grooving to.

The always expanding gap between my generation and more recent generations regarding Hip-Hop was solidified with thick concrete when one of my students proudly proclaimed that it was not Rakim, KRS-ONE, Scarface, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Nas, or Grandmaster Melle Mel — each of these names was unfamiliar to my students — who had earned the right to sit on the mythical throne of greatest emcee ever, it was Drake; yes, you heard me correctly, Drake!!!! While recovering from the shock of such a foolish statement another student chimed in with the following assertion, “all I want to do is dance; I don’t care about the lyrics. I just want to boogie.”

Honestly, I would have been more taken aback by this stupidity was it not for prior interactions that informed me of contemporary adherents to the temple of Hip-Hop ignorance regarding the most significant popular culture creation ever. Were my students more aware, they would realize that Hip-Hop Culture is their greatest inheritance; a gift that allows them to express to the entire globe what it means to be young, gifted, and black in a hostile nation. Hip-Hop Culture offers each succeeding generation of Black America a conduit for cultural expression and political commentary. Although it is a bitter pill to swallow, all who love Hip-Hop eventually understand that their time at the forefront of the culture expires far too soon, and at that moment they must step aside and watch as a new generation guides this entity that we love in ways that we never imagined; in every way, Rap is a young man’s game.

Ironically, it is this expiration of one’s influence on Hip-Hop Culture that provides forty-something-year-old African-Americans a unique, although not always appreciated, opportunity to view past mistakes and a chance to warn current hip-hop heads of the snares and traps they are bound to encounter. Hindsight allows the regretful and weary traveler to view the distance they have traveled and the long road ahead; a distance that they will never complete.

I am confident that it is the regret that flows from missed opportunities that led famed emcee Jay-Z to hurl the following lyrics from his song “The Story of O.J.” at the current trendsetters driving the priorities of young African-Americans via Hip-Hop Culture.

I bought every V12 engine.

Wish I could take it back to the beginnin’

I coulda bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo

For like 2 million

That same building today is worth 23 million

Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo…

“You wanna know what’s more important than throwing away money at a strip club? Credit!!!!!”…

Fuck livin rich and dyin broke

Jay-Z’s lyrical diatribe succinctly conveys the important lessons he has learned during the past two decades for those who are at the beginning of a similar journey down the bumpy, often unpaved road we call life. Only those who oppose the advancement of Black America could take issue with the lyrics.

There is little room to debate the reality that Hip-Hop Culture and Rap Music is a young man’s game whose ownership is in a word, fleeting. This fact does not mean that the rap game is not in desperate need of a recalibration that will hopefully inform the current generation of what Hip-Hop Culture is at its best moments; political, progressive, profound, and prophetic. This reality compels me to applaud Jay-Z for his latest lyrical offering, if nothing else, it displays that “Hov” has spent significant portions of the past two decades fulfilling lyrics from his song Moment of Clarity.

We as rappers must decide what’s most important
And I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them
So I got rich and gave back, to me that’s the win/win
So next time you see the homie and his rims spinning
Just know my mind is working just like them (rims, that is)

Good job, Hov!!!!!

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