Category Archives: African-American History

Reconsidering the Activist Legacy of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on MLK Day

It is quite the conundrum for one individual to simultaneously occupy a position as one of its most notable and noble citizens and one of its most misrepresented in the public arena. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is that individual. In the historical recollections and reconstructions of progressive-minded Americans, Dr. King is celebrated as “the dreamer” who encouraged our populace to strive for a moment when racial identity was no more notable than eye color. In these well-worn historical reconstructions, “the content of one’s character” was all that mattered. Unfortunately for King’s legacy, the alluded to reconstructions sit at the core of why most historians agree that Dr. King’s legacy has been skewed, if not intentionally misrepresented during the half-century following his assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Rest assured that I am not particularly disturbed if you happen to be one of those people who take issue with the above contention that the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has been misunderstood and therefore misrepresented in the 50 years since an assassin’s bullet silenced “the dreamer.”

This day that has been set aside to honor Dr. King always leads me to reflect on Dr. King and how much of his message to the world has been overshadowed, if not totally silenced by the monumental words this American icon delivered on August 28, 1963 during ‘the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.’ In many ways, it is ironic that it is Dr. King’s gradually increasing radicalism that occurred during the post-March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom period of his public life that has remained hidden from an American populace that remains enchanted by his hopeful words delivered on that late August day in 1963.

Those who have studied Dr. King realize that the most significant aspects of his role as a Civil Rights activist. According to historian Anthony Quinn, “Dr. King is remembered as ‘The Dreamer’ whose greatest goal was the ending of racial discrimination. That is only part of his story, so that makes it at best a partial lie.”

Ironically, most of those who will stand on stages celebrating Dr. King’s legacy is totally aware of the ideological transformation that Dr. King underwent after his vaunted March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom speech. It is not a stretch to state that those fashioning themselves as King supporters have imprisoned his legacy by ignoring the increasing radicalism that occurred during the last five years of his life. When considered in the harshest light possible, such individuals could be considered opponents to Dr. King’s final vision. According to Mike Hinton, “The Dr. King that was speaking out against poverty and the Vietnam-War is a figure that would disturb the vast majority of Americans. It is one of the reasons why we don’t deal with it. We prefer to portray Dr. King as an accommodating, self-sacrificing, and eternally optimistic figure who never tired of the economic equality occurring throughout this nation. And that is simply a lie, a lie of major proportions.

An examination of Dr. King’s post-March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom speeches and writings reveal a radicalized figure that stands in stark contrast to the long-suffering accommodationist tag that has been unfairly affixed to the Civil Rights icon for far too long. The alluded to latter writings and speeches reveal a Dr. King that would frighten many of those who have claimed ownership of his legacy for the own selfish reasons. It is during the post-March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom period that Dr. King offers the following view of America’s misunderstanding regarding the path to racial justice. According to Dr. King,

[W]ith Selma and the Voting Rights Act one phase of development in the civil rights revolution came to an end. A new phase opened, but few observers realized it or were prepared for its implications. For the vast majority of white Americans, the past decade — the first phase — had been a struggle to treat the Negro with a degree of decency, not of equality. White America was ready to demand that the Negro should be spared the lash of brutality and coarse degradation, but it had never been truly committed to helping him out of poverty, exploitation or all forms of discrimination. The outraged white citizen had been sincere when he snatched the whips from the Southern sheriffs and forbade them more cruelties. But when this was to a degree accomplished, the emotions that had momentarily inflamed him melted away,

When Negroes looked for the second phase, the realization of equality, they found that many of their white allies had quietly disappeared. Negroes felt cheated, especially in the North, while many whites felt that the Negroes had gained so much it was virtually impudent and greedy to ask for more so soon.

King feared that since many Americans foolishly considered the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts a magical cure-all for the nation’s race problem, its failure would disappoint many.

Dr. King realized that Lyndon Baines Johnson’s 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act secured equality on the law books of America, a feat that must not be ignored as Blacks had never been equal in the eyes of the law at any earlier period in this nation’s history, however, this theoretical equality had no impact on the average Negroes day-to-day existence, particularly in regards to delivering jobs, money, or housing. If allowed to speak today, I am quite confident that the Dr. King who has been silenced by the heaps of adoration placed on his “I have a dream” motif would take powerful whites and conservative blacks to task by reminding them that although the alluded to legislative acts secured theoretical equality for the Negro, the subsequent stage, the exercise of equality, had yet to occur. According to King,

“(t)he practical cost of change for the nation up to this point has been cheap.  The limited reforms have been obtained at bargain rates.  There are no expenses, and no taxes are required, for Negroes to share lunch counters, libraries, parks, hotels, and other facilities with whites.”

There was no equivocating in King’s mind that whites, including the so-called liberals that Minister Malcolm X routinely took to task, were not prepared to share politico-economic power with Black America. This reality simultaneously served as a crushing blow to the hopes for racial justice for thousands of politically naïve blacks pursuing integration and emboldened an insurgent population of young black activists seeking liberation “by any means necessary.” According to Dr. King,

…had taken the President, the press and the pulpit at their word when they spoke in broad terms of freedom and justice . . . The word was broken, and the free-running expectations of the Negro crashed into the stone walls of white resistance.

Dr. King predicted that the white community’s resistance to racial equality would invariably push an impatient group of young black activists toward an impatient “Black Power” politic. The radicalizing figure that Dr. King was transforming into after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom articulated an interesting, yet totally ignored by contemporary depictions of the Civil Rights icon, view of both the language and imagery supporting Black Power politics. Although the extreme shift in movement strategies and goals saddened King, the Civil Rights stalwart was sensible enough to realize from whence the articulated disappointment emanated. From Dr. King’s perspective,

Many of the young people proclaiming Black Power today were but yesterday the devotees of black-white cooperation and nonviolent direct action.… If they are America’s angry children today, this anger is not congenital. It is a response to the feeling that a real solution is hopelessly distant because of the inconsistencies, resistance and faintheartedness of those in power.

The conscious decision of today’s black leadership to ignore the teachings and lamentations of a radicalized King can only be considered an inexcusable betrayal of his most powerful moments as a race leader. It appears that the alluded to leaders are ashamed to publicly state Dr. King’s developing belief that whites did not possess a moral compass capable of guiding them toward any semblance of racial equality. Even a cursory examination of Dr. King’s public life reveals that by 1965, the year that LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act and the Watts Rebellion occurred, King abandoned persuasive speeches aimed at the white man’s morality. One is left with no other conclusion than, Dr. King no longer believed that white Americans would ever abandon their devout commitment to racial bigotry and discriminatory activities.

The above realities led Dr. King to realize that the most sensible path to Black liberation was for African-Americans to forego a continuation of failed efforts “to integrate into a burning house” and pool their politico-economic resources for the uplift of Black America. Although many find it comforting and politically expedient to ignore these facets of Dr. King’s intellectual legacy, such dishonesty seeks to hide Dr. King’s final efforts at saving this nation from a future of unprecedented racial conflict and economic inequality. During the last twenty-four months of his life, Dr. King dedicated much of his time to addressing the cavernous gap between this nation’s rich and poor. Such a focus serves as the catalyst for the following statement.

As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good checkup at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent.

As evidenced by ‘the Poor People’s Campaign’, Dr. King’s final social movement, we must also not forget that Dr. King was in Memphis, Tennessee, the location where he would be assassinated, speaking on behalf of sanitation workers striking for increased wages and better working conditions, ‘the Dreamer’ had awakened and made several important conclusions regarding America. Most notable of these conclusions was the realization that mankind was “…caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

It is Dr. King’s assertion that we are inextricably connected to one another that should motivate and guide those who seek to honor Dr. King. It is the only path that we have to avoid a harsh judgment that the Civil Rights patriarch warned us about. According to Dr. King, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

It is this final call that best represents Dr. King, however, such an expression will continue to be ignored because it places the onus for activism on the backs of everyday Americans. Dr. King’s call means that each of us, particularly those to whom much has been given, are existing under a mandate that orders us to loosen our grip on worldly things to pursue the sweetest things that this world has to offer, yet has never experienced: racial equality, gender equity, universal health care, and the ending of hunger throughout the planet to name just a few.

James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2018

The Umar Johnson Chronicles: Why The Most Recent Battle among Black Leaders is a New Low for the Conscious Community

Could it be that it is our existence in a society where every moment can be recorded and distributed around the globe with the push of a button that explains the latest “Umar Johnson chronicle?” Consider for a moment that at the present moment, the fermentation process of a “beef” is a simple formula of harsh words + cell phone + internet access. Unfortunately for Black America, this recipe for voluminous discord among self-proclaimed “black leaders” requires minimal thinking and effort.

One needs to look no further than Umar Johnson to discover the process self-proclaimed leaders take to distract their followers from substantive issues in favor of reality television like silliness and banter.

Although it may shock many of our people, public feuds between “black leaders” neither began nor will it end with Umar Johnson. In fact, a cursory examination of the storied history of Black America reveals a series of conflicts extending well over a decade. Consider the following public feuds between notable black figures and organizations as evidence for the above assertion.

  • Booker T. Washington vs. W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Booker T. Washington vs. William Monroe Trotter
  • E.B. Du Bois vs. Marcus Garvey
  • Elijah Muhammad vs. Malcolm X
  • Malcolm X vs. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Stokely Carmichael
  • SCLC vs. SNCC
  • Philip Randolph vs. John Lewis
  • Huey P. Newton vs. Maulana Karenga
  • BPP vs. US
  • Fred Hampton vs. Jeff Fort

Unfortunately for Black America, the above list is far from exhaustive. However, I believe that my larger point that black leaders have always battled each other for the right to guide their people toward the ultimate goal of liberation via a host of programs and strategies has been proven.

Yesterday, Washington and Du Bois bickered over the path to black liberation, today we have what can only be termed the “Umar Johnson chronicles.” Put simply, the “Umar Johnson chronicles” are a sad saga with predictable twists-and-turns and a host of characters that Johnson calls on during moments when the glaring spotlight that has been focused on him appears to dim. In many ways, this series that follows a charismatic, yet woefully flawed anti-hero always ends with Umar surviving to cause discord another day like a modern-day Afrocentric Brer Rabbit.

As with most silly things of little worth, the “Umar Johnson chronicles” not only mesmerizes a largely uneducated segment of Black America as episodes of Love & Hip-Hop but also has led them to literally cheer and root for Umar Johnson as if he is a sports franchise. The alluded to figures mistakenly believe that every episode of the “Umar Johnson chronicles” holds the same significance as substantive disagreements between authentic black leaders such as Malcolm X and Dr. King or Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Du Bois. The “Umar Johnson chronicles” remind one of a poorly written one-man stage play that although entertaining to adoring audience members, fails to convey a single substantive message.

Despite what can only be termed a natural impulse of marginally educated portions of our community and vowed opponents to grasp the most salacious events that occur in Black America and use them as an accurate barometer of who we are as a people, the truth of the matter is that few of the figures involved in the “Umar Johnson chronicles” have a legitimate claim to black leadership. Generally speaking, I have found the list of characters to be charismatic, yet poorly read, devoid of an executable plan, reactionary, totally reliant on phrase-mongering, and what Huey P. Newton would term counter-revolutionary in their understanding of the multi-faceted issues and dilemmas facing our people.

If anything, Umar Johnson’s rise and longevity, as well as the other savvy social media stars masquerading as “black leaders” proves is that a significant segment of Black America is desperate in their desires and the means that they are willing to take to alter the plight of black folk. In many ways, “it is the best of times (meaning our people are fervently desiring an opportunity to uplift the masses of our people) and the worst of times (technology has made the path to prominence for charismatic leaders with no real plan or commitment to our people far too easy)” for the movement.

As previously mentioned, public disputes among black leaders is nothing new, in many ways debate is a necessary part of political maturity and the dawning of economic savvy for any population. However, that is not what is occurring in the “Umar Johnson chronicles.”

It is hard to argue against the assertion that the repeated pissing contests between a host of tragic characters are counter-revolutionary. When considering these moments, my mind reverted to a long-ago conflict that occurred among Civil Rights luminaries. The alluded to discord occurred between the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy (Dr. King’s right-hand man) and the legendary organizer Ella Baker. After watching King and Abernathy address an audience of Civil Rights workers in a manner that clearly displayed that they were seeking to see who could work those in attendance into a more frenzied state with their copious amounts of rhetorical wizardry, an angered Ella Baker hurled the following accusations at King and Abernathy. “What is this? A sophomoric oratorical contest? We have the lives of our people on the line at this very moment and you go before the people and do this!!!!” I fear that not even Ella Baker would be heard by either Umar Johnson or his shifting cast of characters, over the raucous laughter and adulation that their cult-like followers bestow on them at every opportunity.

Once again, this most recent battle between self-proclaimed leaders is nothing new, however, it is undoubtedly the most shameful moment in the history of black leadership.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Foolish Floyd Denounces the Boycott Christmas Movement

As I took my seat across from Floyd in the always busy and bustling Frenchy’s Chicken restaurant, I innately sensed that Floyd was ‘chomping at the bit’ in regards to beginning what invariably would denigrate into a verbal battle over a yet to be determined topic. Although at times like this, I would have appreciated good ol’ fashion fellowship and brotherhood building, I had dealt with Floyd B. Foolish long enough to know that any discussion that we engaged in would eventually turn into a debate that he would attempt to win through attrition, not logic. Put simply, Floyd had an uncanny ability to wear me down with his voluminous illogical views of racial matters that were in many ways like an unrestrained raging bull that held the potential to attack anyone in its vicinity. When Floyd began one of his diatribes, no one, and I do mean no one, was safe.

By the time that I reached our agreed upon location that defiantly stood as a pillar of the community that separated, with the assistance of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Texas Southern University, a Historically Black University, from the predominantly white University of Houston. However, one only needed to step inside of Frenchys to discern which population supported this culinary institute as nearly one-hundred percent of the patrons were African-American. In many ways, the University of Houston with its hulking structures was the intruder in this area.

I did not even look to see if Floyd was sitting at one of the picnic tables that serve as the sitting area at this Frenchy’s location, I had more pressing matters at hand. At the top of that list of priorities was a gnawing hunger that I think my stomach and I agreed could only be addressed by “the King special.” On the ride to Frenchy’s Chicken, I worked myself into a devout belief that I deserved, not necessarily needed, the King Special. For $9.99 the King Special included 3 Wings, 2 Pieces of Dark Chicken, and a choice of either Dirty Rice or Fries, of course, I added a drink to wash it all down.

After placing my order with one of the most country sounding, yet overly hospitable, young ladies I had ever met, I waited a few seconds and my much beloved King Special was placed in front of me. As I turned to find a seat, there was Floyd’s bald-headed self vigorously waving his hand in a desperate attempt to get my attention. I believe that Floyd thought that I would use any opportunity to avoid his company, a statement that was neither totally true nor totally false. There was no doubt that we had fallen into a classic ‘love/hate’ relationship.

I approached the picnic table where Floyd sat with several other patrons and received my initial sign that I should be prepared for a particularly contemptuous debate as Floyd began his ghetto soliloquy prior to my sitting down.

A smiling Floyd shared the following. “We all saw you on television.” His words were matched by his spreading his arms to include the entire table of diners, none of which I had ever met.

And all that I can say is that you and the rest of those Black Power niggas are nuts!!! Do you really believe that Black people who love Jesus more than anything in the world would boycott Christmas?” Floyd took his voice up several octaves to accentuate his point. “Boycott Christmas??? You niggas are crazy as cat shit.

After hearing Floyd’s initial salvo which was his unique way of revealing the subject matter that we would be discussing today, every fiber of my body wanted to raise up from my seat and find another space to enjoy my King Special before I engaged Floyd and what appeared to be his gang of like believers. Apparently, Floyd knows me much better than I give him credit for as he admonished that I had “better not think about leaving this table because we need to talk about this mess right here.

It was then that I noticed that a few of the people at the table were in possession of the latest copy of an editorial I had written for a local black newspaper that was available throughout the black community for free, of course, it was available at Frenchy’s. And if these strangers assembled around the table had the latest issue of the paper, that most certainly meant that they had my latest editorial regarding the “Boycott Christmas movement” that I had already been attacked over by my Nationalist compatriots, most notably my beloved cousin Kareem Rawls. I was shocked that Kareem, and many others, were taken aback by even the title, Why the Boycott Christmas Movement is Destined for Failure.

WHY THE BOYCOTT CHRISTMAS MOVEMENT

IS DESTINED FOR FAILURE

We are approaching that magical time of year when Americans spend money that they do not have in an effort to shower their loved ones with gifts. As with most things, African-Americans have a peculiar relationship with Christmas. Many within our community not only embrace the occasion but also take every opportunity to joyously remind you that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, while others take an oppositional position that would make Ebenezer Scrooge blush.

Those who have politicized the Christmas season propagate their belief that African-Americans participation in the Holiday works against their best interests as it causes them to support the very people and system that has oppressed them for nearly 400 years.

I think that the calls for African-Americans to abstain from Christmas are at their best foolhardy and unrealistic. Those segments of our community making this call are going to find themselves as frustrated this year as they have been in past years and are destined to be in the future. Dare I say that they are slightly crazy because they fail to understand that “If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.” In their case, they have received failure every year as droves of African-Americans spend their money Christmas shopping.

It is time for the Nationalist community that has repeatedly attempted to get African-Americans to stop supporting those who have not only worked to ensure but also profited from their marginal politico-economic status to abandon their current course that reminds one of Nancy Reagan’s infamous ‘Just Say No’ campaign.

A much more productive tactic is to instruct African-Americans what they should say yes to. Considering that the ultimate goal of Black Nationalists economic plan is to circulate the Black dollar within the African-American community, a much more productive tactic is to propose a 1-to-1 ratio, heck even a 10-to-1 ratio would be an improvement in regards to the monies Blacks spend outside and inside of the community. Put simply, maybe we should consider a campaign prodding those who are bound to extend the tradition of spending truckloads of money this coming Christmas to spend a portion of those dollars within the African-American community. A call could be made that requests that for every $10 African-Americans spend with businesses outside of the community that they voluntarily spend $1 with a black business.

Now I am certain that many are aiming for a total boycott of Christmas and there is no doubt that they have valid points, however, at this moment such a staunch stance is going to result in continual failure. Many African-Americans are either unaware of or paying little attention to their demand. The only way of salvaging the spirit behind the Boycott Christmas movement is to approach it via a milder form that encourages those who are spending their monies this holiday season to make a concerted effort to circulate a few of those dollars among their own.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.      

© Manhood, Race, and Culture

Although I was looking directly at Floyd when I related that I stood by each and every word of my editorial, that statement was intended for any and everyone seated at the table, particularly those who had taken issue with my argument that the ‘Boycott Christmas’ movement was bound to fail because it was too extreme. I believed that we needed a much milder approach that would usher our people toward a routine of patronizing Black businesses during the holiday season; it would be a start that could quickly turn into a tradition.

When I first approached the table, Floyd had intentionally given me the impression that those assembled around the table were associated with him in some way, shape, form or fashion; nothing could have been further from the truth. My assumption, that Floyd strategically led me towards, was horribly wrong as the people assembled around this table were not allies of Floyd, rather regular diners who happened upon one of our weekly debates/arguments. To my delight, these people were total strangers to Floyd and most likely rational in their thought patterns, at least I hoped so. Lord, knows that I could only deal with one ‘Foolish Floyd’ at a time.

The first hint that the eight or so individuals assembled around the picnic table were not supportive of Floyd’s peculiar brand of political illogic, came from a gentleman decked out in what amounted to a handyman’s uniform. This brother whose age I would estimate to be around fifty eagerly jumped in with a verbal flurry that quickly related his belief that my position was flawed because it did not give the African-American community its due respect.

Brother let me ask you one important question. Why should we not totally boycott the Christmas season? Not the parts that deal with our family’s gathering together and whatnot, however, it is time that each member of the Black community, our community, do their part to uplift the masses. When you really think about it, we are not asking for much by requesting that they not purchase goods this Christmas season. You can achieve that goal by simply sleeping every day; it is not the most intensive request. Especially for a people whose ancestors were enslaved and forced to work from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night.” It did not take me long to realize that this brother’s position, although somewhat critical of my relatively mild plan, was totally critical of Floyd’s non-sense. I giggled internally as it dawned on me that this brother was on the verge of learning why any discussion with Floyd held the potential for unrestrained violence.

Floyd enthusiastically jumped in with a boisterous assertion aimed at the working man that “Now this is something that I don’t get to say very often, but man you’re crazier than this fool right here. Why should we have to miss out on all of those gifts and showing those that we love how we feel about them? You can rest assured that I have and will be buying plenty of gifts for my lady friends. They love receiving gifts.” With a sly look on his face, Floyd shared that “After they get their gifts, then they give me my gift; if you get my drift.

At this moment, one of the ladies sitting around the table, whose diction and word choice immediately indicated that she was most definitely an educated sister directed her commentary toward Floyd, “But brother don’t you realize that by purchasing gifts from the very people who will not hire you, or anyone who looks like you, amounts to nothing other than damaging the Black community to the benefit of others who will take those black dollars and build up their own communities. We’ve seen the whites do it, the Asians do it, the East Indians, the Arabs, and only the Lord know who will be the next group to build their community off our backs.” I simply sat back and let the sister have an unencumbered shot at Mr. Popular. “Brother Malcolm once stated that we run our neighborhoods down when we allow others to come into our midst and take our financial resources. And he was absolutely correct!

Never daunted by any argument, regardless of its soundness, Floyd quickly responded with a rhetorical question that called upon him to overemphasize his southern-drawl. “But aren’t we Americans and therefore free to participate in whatever holiday we desire and also free to spend our hard-earned money on whatever, whenever we want to. You Negroes are the only ones in this nation always talking about boycotting this and that to get your way. No other group, not the whites, Asians, Irish, Russians, Polish, or Germans ever calls for a boycott of another group.

Feeling as if my head was about to implode from Floyd’s asinine political observation, I hurriedly stated, “Others don’t have to issue boycotts within their communities because through economic solidarity they ensure that every business in their neighborhoods is owned and controlled by their own.

It was during this moment that I decided to direct a simple question at Floyd. “When was the last time that you saw a black-owned Bar-be-cue restaurant in a white community? I’ll answer that for you!!!! You have never seen such a thing. However, it is common to see Chinese, Japanese, and Italian restaurants serve as fixtures within any African-American neighborhood that you visit across this vast nation.

A beautiful mocha colored young lady joined in the conversation and asked Floyd, “Not only that but when will the time be correct for our people to start their own businesses and for the community to seriously support their efforts? What is the Black community’s rock-bottom? We are already beggars in regards to the white man and employment.” She continued her attack upon Floyd with the admonishment that “We are darn near parasitic in regards to other races. We live off of the job opportunities that they begrudgingly gift to us. Can’t we get milk from a cow like the white man? Can’t we develop our own technology that the world could benefit from? Or are we truly inferior as others have so often charged?

Apparently, this young lady’s commentary set Floyd off as he flew into a furious rant that contested her final point, “are we inferior to others?!

Floyd angrily chimed in, “Inferior? Inferior to the white man? Although I would never attempt to speak for anyone else, I am most certainly not inferior to anyone. I choose to do what I want to do and when I want to do it. I am a free man who makes his own choices.

To my surprise, Floyd’s aggressive tone did not send the young lady into retreat; in fact, she went on a more vociferous attack. “Now you say that you make your own choices, however, you can’t manage to make the best choice for not only you but also your people. The choice of either supporting a total Blackout of Christmas and supporting those who raid our communities financially or concerted efforts to include African-American businesses during this year’s buying season should be an obvious choice to an independent thinking man as you claim to be. If you cannot bring yourself to make the obvious choice to support Black businesses in the Black community, you are either an imbecile or a traitor to your own kind. The equivalent of an economic suicide bomber within the Black community, however, you shouldn’t worry too much about it because you have a bunch of company.

I did my absolute best to conceal the absolute glee that I was experiencing at this moment; this discussion had most certainly not turned out the way that Floyd anticipated. He absolutely refused to believe that his backward thinking was in many ways an anomaly among African-Americans, particularly if they were educated, progressive-minded and forward thinking. Although Floyd would never agree with this assertion, the truth of the matter is that African-Americans have been, and always will be, inextricably linked together.

After being berated and intellectually destroyed by this young lady, I expected Floyd to remain silent. Unfortunately for everyone assembled around the table, Floyd’s silence lasted all of five seconds. It was at that moment Floyd rose from his seat, closed the styrofoam container holding his remaining pieces of chicken, and summarily told the entire table, “Ho! Ho! Ho! Y’all can all, kiss my Black ass.”

The entire assembly of strangers burst into raucous laughter.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

How The Left Has Lost Its Way: Calling All Panthers, All Weathermen, All Progressives and All Leftists to the Front, Today’s Activists Desperately Need A Historical Lesson

Although I realize that this will sound peculiar, it nonetheless needs to be said. The relative non-response to the Republican Party’s “tax reform” efforts proves once again that significant sections of the Left, particularly within Black America, have abandoned, are afraid, or unaware of prominent class issues in this nation. I must say that their dereliction of duty by what can be termed a traditional Leftist coalition has occurred at a particularly inopportune moment.

There is little room to debate that the Left has allowed their traditional narrative regarding economic inequities to be hijacked by an illogical Republic Party argument that reminds one of late 19th Century populism. This strange narrative has caused many poor and working-class Americans to believe that the wealthy are interested in either economic equality or fiscal fairness. Oh, how I long for a return of the identity politic driven sixties radicalism, a period filled with diverse groups expressing a righteous indignation at economic disparities.

In many ways, it is shocking that monetary matters that have historically possessed the ability to mobilize poor and working-class American workers have been trumped in the new millennium by the haunting specter of Race. I must relate that it has been interesting to see the manner in which poor and working-class Americans have developed a belief in the false narrative that it is other poor and working-class people of differing races/ethnicities who sit at the core of their economic hardships.

One needs to look no further than the obvious racial animosity existing among Leftists at this present moment for verification of the previous assertions. In many ways, it is impossible to believe that today’s progressives are the grandchildren of sixties radicals who resisted the divisive nature of Race. Although issues of Race have always factored into the actions of American workers, however, it was relatively rare to witness the rise of political postures that amounted to poor and working-class whites adopting a political stance that amounts to their “cutting off their nose to spite their face.” There is really no other way of explaining Trump’s ability to capture huge swaths of white voters with hollow words filled with no real intention than to attribute it to a white populace whose economic problems have birthed a familiar weariness with matters of race and diversity.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that Trump’s ascension was bolstered by the intra-movement racial conflict that was occurring between black and white Leftists. Despite what black progressives would prefer to believe, the truth of the matter is that whites are not the only entity in this coalition that abandoned prior productive political positions such as inter-racial cooperation as a significant segment of Black America also retreated from traditional Leftist relationships in favor of a new political perspective that was best expressed in their opposition to whites, regardless of their political leanings/affiliation.

In place of the aforementioned stance of inter-racial cooperation has arisen a myopic and heavily flawed formula that advocates for Black America to turn inward and work toward the creation of a parallel society that could exist and operate without the of whites. Such a political development has rendered traditional black political positions of inter-racial cooperation and coalitions a political relic of yesteryear. Sadly, the mutually beneficial inter-racial alliances that groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Peace and Freedom Party forged during a highly volatile and racially charged sixties protest era in a concerted attempt to activate the slogan of “All Power to the People” has long ago been forgotten my a new generation of young black leaders whose only political priority never strays from an overemphasis on Race and racial matters.

Unfortunately for poor and working-class Americans, the alluded to spirit of inter-racial cooperation that has historically proven to be their most reliable weapon against a greedy and avaricious wealthy class has been replaced by a terse xenophobia that mandates that today’s Leftists view each other skeptically, if not with a venomous hostility. Consider for a moment that while Conservatives make significant in-roads to this nation’s coffers, many black activist groups have seen sophisticated political positions devolve into a singular focus of opposing “whitey” at every turn, regardless of the issue or situation. It is this pedestrian understanding of American political matters that have facilitated the disruption of inter-racial cooperation among Leftists that the Right gleefully exploits.

What an unfortunate moment this is to be on the Left, particularly when one realizes that the historical record indicates that the most assured path forward is the development of productive mutually beneficial alliances among a highly diverse population of progressives.

There is no clearer illustration of the present spirit of non-cooperation among black activists than a recent “New Black Panther Party” meeting I attended. One of the initial things I noticed as I entered was that there was not a single white present. Although the absence of white radicals is partially attributable to their shifting political priorities, I am certain that the main reason for their absence was the bitter hatred spewed by groups such as the New Black Panther Party. As expected, the tone and tenor of the speeches conveyed an unmistakable perspective that whites were neither welcome nor needed in Black America’s pursuit of racial equality. The historical record that contradicts such a position matters little to these types of revolutionaries.

I intently listened as these neo-Panthers dressed in paramilitary gear ranted against all things white and supported all things black. I am convinced that in their rush to don paramilitary uniforms and posture with guns that they missed fundamental Panther historical lessons that made the Black Panther Party what it was. I am convinced that their lack of knowledge would sadden Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton, Elaine Brown, Kathleen Cleaver, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver.

After exiting this meeting of the people, I could not shake a gnawing feeling that maybe every segment of the Left is woefully ignorant of the inter-racial coalition building that preceded them. Obviously, the alluded to historical illiteracy curtails contemporary strategies and strengthens their better-versed opponents.

I seriously doubt that this latest reiteration of the Black Panther Party is aware of the original Panthers working relationship with white radical groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society or the Weathermen for what Huey P. Newton considered mutually-beneficial reasons. Unfortunately, the alluded to ignorance regarding the utility of coalitions and alliances with like-minded groups fighting the same enemy compromises the achievement of reachable goals. One is ultimately left with an unfortunate query of are the various groups found on the Left even fighting for the same goals? It is sad that such a question has to be asked, and even more disappointing that I cannot offer a definitive answer to the most mundane of all queries.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017