I have issued the comment that “there is dignity in all work” to my male students so often that I honestly cannot tell you from whence this observation emanates or when I first uttered what I consider an ode to manhood. One thing is for certain, the dignity that flows from labor is a cornerstone of manhood.
Although it would be impossible for me to count the many black male students I have advised that “there is dignity in ALL work,” I am confident that number reaches into the thousands. Of all the lessons that I hope they retain from my courses, the concept that labor paves the way toward the securing of their goals is arguably the most important.
During the past two decades, I have engaged thousands of black males desiring directive regarding the path to manhood; a destination that is nearly inaccessible to young black males without the aid of appropriate mentorship and guidance. I have learned that the vast majority of black males have little understanding of what a man ought to be and ought to do. For far too many black males, a solo journey down the path to success is similar to a failed navigation of unfamiliar terrain without the assistance of either a roadmap or illumination; we tend to travel alone and in the dark. What makes this inefficiency extremely unfortunate is that others have successfully navigated the alluded to terrain; however, many of those who have arrived at a destination of success have forgotten to aid subsequent generations of black males seeking success.
One of the most shocking things about the road to success is that although the road can be arduous and unpredictable, the tools needed for the journey are relatively limited, yet must be applied with an extreme discipline. The alluded to tools are,
Selection of a goal.
Development of a detailed plan to achieve the desired goal.
Strict adherence to that detailed plan via focus, diligence, and hard work.
Unrestrained courage to pursue your goals.
Without the invaluable illumination that mentorship provides, the vast majority of African-American males are oblivious to the snares, pitfalls, and cliffs littered throughout the path to success. If one considers former Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton’s advice that “people learn from observation and participation” valid, it is imperative that successful African-American men give back to their community by guiding succeeding generations of black males in the development of a plan for success.
I am confident that many African-American males are sighing, “If only it were that easy.” The have frequently been ignored by those that they seek to help for one simple reason; they are devoid of the renown or celebrity status that bequeaths its possessor with instant credibility. In many ways, this unfortunate reality is the impetus for me using the words of Tupac Amaru Shakur at this particular moment.
Tupac shared the following advice to young African-Americans regarding hard-work, the vehicle that those pursuing success must use to travel down.
“You have to work from one point to go to another. So I admire work ethic, I think it should be reinforced through out our neighborhoods, that everybody should work hard, practice makes perfect, you have to be diligent with what you want, you have to apply your self, you have to motivate yourself.”
Life has taught me that ultimately we write our own story by either using or refusing to use the tools of planning, diligence, focus, and courage; I pray that the next generation of African-Americans craft the perfect life filled with their achievement of their most unrealistic hopes and wildest dreams. Such a life is there for the taking and one that is worth living.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017
I was once advised that the most reliable path to success was paved by locating an individual currently experiencing the success that you desire and to replicate what they have done to achieve your desired success. When this sage advice is really considered, it makes much sense that if you replicate the path that a successful person has taken, more times than not it will lead you to similar success. I have heard this formula articulated in the following colloquial manner, “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.”
As I write this posting there are droves of African-American males throughout this nation needlessly protesting the recent victory of President-elect Donald J. Trump. If provided the opportunity to address these individuals, I would ask a simple one word question. Why?
Now rest assured, I am neither a Trump supporter nor a Clinton loyalist, however, I am a person who is never sidetracked from discovering what actually works in the political arena. Failure to do such denigrates one’s political voice, regardless of how loud or disruptive it may be, to little more than “white noise” that will be indecipherable to others.
Unfortunately for African-American males who have voiced their angst regarding Trump’s victory in American streets, they need to understand that their righteous indignation is a far-cry from a formidable political attack.
Generally speaking, in the moments following a racially-inspired physical attack, it is common to hear African-American men making great use of colloquialisms such as “Let’s fight fire with fire” or “by any means necessary”, so I find it particularly disingenuous when that position is abandoned during what can be best termed seasons of political disappointment. Make no mistake about it, they have been attacked, maimed, and disoriented by Trump unexpected Presidential victory.
If those African-American males who are aimlessly voicing their displeasure at the results of the 2016 Presidential election were to abandon the emotionalism currently governing their behavior in favor of a commitment to “fight fire with fire” they would finally be on the path to creating a political platform capable of expressing what apparently appears to be an incoherent expression of unending frustrations and fear. It is time that African-American males come together and begin constructing a political movement that I term the African-American male agenda 2020. The production of such a document should serve as a litmus test that we will use to evaluate the worth of those aspiring to gain entrée to the millions of votes within our possession.
There is little room to debate that the way forward is the development of totally independent institutions within our community that are owned and operated by politically astute Nationalist-minded African-Americans; any resistance to such a development serves as definitive proof that we still do not understand the path to liberation.
If there was one observation that I would like to leave with African-American men, it would be the following. Public protests, although an important aspect of the political arena, did not win Trump the Presidency, rather it was a political machine that spoke to the voluminous angst of disenchanted Americans of various hues and socioeconomic levels. The Trump campaign proved that they were willing to win ‘by any means necessary’ even if it meant advancing a political narrative that only the truly uneducated could believe was under girded by truth.
So the time has come for African-American men to “fight fire with fire”. It is time that African-American men abandon the irrationality that naturally flows from being reactionary, our usual form of political engagement, in favor of a well-thought out long-term plan aimed at developing stable and sturdy expressions of “Black Power”.
It is time for African-American males to leave the emotionalism, dogmatism, and irrationality out of our politico economic designs, come together in a spirit of brotherhood, develop plans, and then execute them with a seriousness that reflects our dedication to construct something for future generations of African-American.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016
There is absolutely no doubt that the ascension of Donald J. Trump to the office of the Presidency has not only shocked the nation, but also had a seismic affect upon the entire globe. The most politically astute among us are openly admitting that they have absolutely no idea of what is to come. Such uncertainty is understandable for anyone who viewed President-elect Trump’s tepid acceptance speech as it should have impressed upon them that he does not even know what is to come.
I know that so many within the African-American community were fearful at the prospect of Trump succeeding President Barack Hussein Obama into the White House, well those same people must be terrified now that what many political pundits considered an impossibility has come to fruition.
Although I will not cavalierly dismiss Trump’s victory as if it does not matter, it most certainly does. However, I am particularly puzzled at the African-American reaction to Hillary Clinton’s disgraceful political downfall. Many within our community are behaving as if the ‘Black Agenda’ was a major aspect of Clinton’s political platform.
Make no mistake about it, it wasn’t. There were neither back-room deals nor promises made to Black America by Clinton. Put simply, there is no need for political strategizing when dealing with a people whose vote is understandably taken for granted for reasons such as, whom else are they going to vote for?
What makes me absolutely certain that there were no secret deals arranged between the Clinton campaign and Negro leaders regarding the “Black Agenda” is the unavoidable reality that there is no “Black Agenda”; at least not one that reflects the needs and desires of the masses of African-Americans. Even if there were a “Black Agenda”, African-American politicians have yet to develop a reliable vehicle that would allow them to wield what should be an Excalibur for the collective good of Black America.
I am certain that those who believe that a political season expires will not understand that Black America must be about the business of preparing for the next series of political activity at the local, state, and national levels. It is that understanding which prods me to issue this call for African-American men to begin constructing an agenda that surmises the issues (positive & negative) that we are facing, assesses what should be at the top of our political priorities, and paves a path forward that will lead to the ‘liberation and salvation of the Black nation.’
We must seize the present moment and be about the business of constructing an agenda for African-American males. What will this agenda look like? I have absolutely no idea, I do not portend to be an oracle with all of the answers regarding this matter.
I fervently pray that African-American men are able to embrace this call and come together as brothers guided by love and an unending desire to uplift the entire African-American community. Can we please let our love for one another supercede any disagreements and discord that may arise over dogmatic and religious minutiae? Let’s move forward in love, in power, and with an unending love for ourselves as African-American men and those that depend upon us for courage and leadership.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016