Category Archives: African-American Men

WHERE ARE THE REVOLUTIONARY BLACK LEADERS TODAY?

“Here – at this final hour, in this quiet place – Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes -extinguished now, and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought – his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are – and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again – in Harlem – to share these last moments with him. For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought her, and have defended her honor even to the death.
It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us – unconquered still. I say the word again, as he would want me to : Afro-American – Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men. Malcolm had stopped being a ‘Negro’ years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American and he wanted – so desperately – that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans too.

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain – and we will smile. Many will say turn away – away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man – and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate – a fanatic, a racist – who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them : Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.

Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: ‘My journey’, he says, ‘is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States. I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our Human Rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a United Front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other.’ However we may have differed with him – or with each other about him and his value as a man – let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now.

(Ossie Davis, 1965)

There is little doubt that Malcolm X remains the ‘gold-standard’ of black male leadership. For the vast majority of those involved in any facet of the current black freedom struggle, Malcolm X serves as the North Star of Black Manhood.

I am quite certain that it was Malcolm’s display of a courageous manhood that inspired SNCC worker Cleveland Sellers to posit that ‘the problems facing Black America will be solved by black men and black men alone.’ The historical record indicates that Sellers’ strand of thinking remains the most popular view of the black man’s role inside and outside of the African-American freedom struggle.

Consider for a moment the “traditional” roles that black men are expected to fill within their community.

  • Head of household
  • Priest of the home
  • Primary Material Provider
  • Protector of the home
  • Revolutionary Leader

Make no mistake about it the duties assigned to African-American men are critical to the continuing existence of black folk in America.

The fact that African-American existence is consistently perilous makes it critical that we take a closer look at how contemporary black leaders conceive manhood. Put simply, within black America what does a revolutionary black leader look like at this moment?

Before I begin, let me issue the following qualifier regarding the primary pre-requisite to black leadership in today’s Black liberation struggle, that being an individual who has someway or somehow been able to generate a substantial following within the African-American activist community. Such a qualifier is necessary to make this topic somewhat manageable in this space.

When considering the type of male leadership that has curried favor with a sizable population of the African-American community, there are several qualities that contemporary black male leaders possess.

  • Charisma
  • Substantial Social Media Presence
  • Tendency to become involved in Public Spats with other Black Male Leaders
  • Willingness to implement a ‘scorched Earth’ policy when challenged by anyone at any place or at any time.

In many ways, contemporary black leaders’ actions and articulations put one in the mind of a mundane reality television star.

Probably the most disappointing aspect of contemporary black male leaders flows from the many qualities that they neither possess nor need to remain atop their perch. The qualities include, but are in no way limited to the following items.

  • Historical Illiteracy
  • A gross absence of political astuteness
  • Lacking the courage to either speak truth to power or develop reasonable plans to attack white power structures
  • Failure to engage and comprehend an essential literature base
  • Psychologically unbalanced
  • Inability to be governed by a reliable moral compass
  • Socially inappropriate in their interactions with (black men and women)
  • Incapable of developing and then implementing a logical plan aimed at addressing the politico-economic, social, and cultural problems negatively impacting their people.

Put simply; it is safe to term contemporary black leaders “anti-Malcolm’s” as they are devoid of all of the qualities that endeared Brother Malcolm X to the Black community.

The great historian John Henrik Clarke once noted that today we have Hollywood revolutions that do not begin until someone says “lights, camera, action.” Unfortunately, I believe that Dr. Clarke was correct in his summation of contemporary black leadership, as it is undeniable that they are more interested in own self-promotion than in liberation of the masses. The alluded to figures appear to be primarily concerned with speaking engagements that produce nothing more than an increase in their bank accounts and increased television exposure that increases their fame. If nothing else, this pursuit of fame via social media and television guarantees that they are most definitely not leading their people down a revolutionary path, because even the Last Poets told us that “the revolution will not be televised.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

“Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?”: How Desegregation Played a Pivotal Role in Removing Black Male Teachers from the American Classroom

I have come to understand that when I teach the Civil Rights Movement, there are several things that I can expect. One of the most prominent is that the vast majority of my students believe that the desegregation of America’s schools was an undeniable positive occurrence in black education. From their myopic perspective, school desegregation provided a highly sought after route to black liberation with its infusion of better materials, facilities, and teachers. Trust me when I say that the vast majority of my students believe that the U.S. Supreme Court mandate to desegregate the schools “with all deliberate speed” was an unequivocal positive for Black America. As I am confident that you can imagine, my viewpoint conflicts with such a perspective.

The manner in which my students battle against my nuanced criticism of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision reveals a shocking emotional investment that shows a strident belief in meritocracy; the idea that if you work hard in America, success will eventually occur. Experience has taught me that the most certain way to undress school desegregation is via the following query; “How many of you had an African-American male teacher during your K-12 experience? Please do not count any teacher who was involved in school athletics in that number.” There may be a few students who indicate that they have had such an indicator by raising their hand. However, a brief survey reveals that very few students have had more than two African-American male teachers who were not attached to some athletic sport during their K – 12 educational endeavors. This unfortunate reality provides a perfect opportunity for me to query, “To what do you attribute that fact?”

As I am confident that you can imagine, there is a litany of excuses/explanations for the absence of African-American males from the teaching profession.

  • “Teaching doesn’t pay, so they refuse the work.”
  • “Being a teacher is woman’s work.”
  • “Too many of them end up in prison and not college.”

I am confident that the flawed explanations would continue into infinity if I did not stop them.

None of my students possess enough knowledge to trace the absence of African-American male teachers to the cause of this matter, the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

When discussing this issue, I frequently take Malcolm X’s position and ask my charges if they are confident that it was a wise decision to abandon black schools to integrate with a hostile white community? I remind my students that they are integrating with a community that has publicly articulated a non-desire to have African-Americans anywhere near them unless it was in a subservient role that bolstered their monopoly upon limited politico-economic resources. My students are not alone in their myopic view of school desegregation. Integrationist oriented Civil Rights leaders also failed to understand that the integration of American schools would have an unconscionable impact upon not only the minds of African-American children but also ensure the disappearance of black male teachers. Malcolm X considered the decision to integrate so unwisely that he admonished his moderate Negro leaders that “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children.”

Over sixty years after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered school desegregation, it is evident that African-American male teachers are the primary victims of desegregation. Consider for a moment that before the Brown v. Board of Education decision, educators made up over fifty percent of the black professional class; male teachers were approximately half of that population. Things have certainly changed since Brown in regards to the presence of African-American male educators. At this present moment,

  • 75% of American teachers are female
  • 83% of American teachers are white
  • Less than 2% of American teachers are black men

In hindsight, it is evident that Brown blocked a robust pipeline that consistently delivered black male educators to black schools.

After Brown, white school administrators efficiently replaced black male teachers with white women. The alluded to occupational displacement was motivated by an extreme desire by white managers to avoid an agreed upon racial taboo that forbid the placement of African-American men in positions of authority over any white, most notably a white female. An irrational paranoia that reduced African-American males to a monolithic population whose greatest desire was sexual contact with any white woman motivated this decision. Put simply, the pipeline that routinely produced black male educators before Brown was not only halted but also deconstructed by the Supreme Court order.

It is this historical reality that has forced a consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Southern University, Tuskegee University, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Alcorn State University and Claflin University) to join in an endeavor that is ironically being called Project Pipeline Repair: Restoring Minority Male Participation and Persistence in Educator Preparation Programs (Project PR).

Project PR, supported by a $1.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is seeking to “eliminate social and economic barriers” that preclude the presence of African-American male teachers in today’s classrooms.

I hope that Project PR is a resounding success as we are in dire need for African-American male teachers who could serve as educators and mentors to the next generation of American youth, regardless of their race, gender, or ethnicity. However, as an individual who has studied Race in America for the better portion of his life, I am slightly perturbed that this movement to restock this nation’s schools with African-American male educators is occurring without any discussion regarding why there are so few of them at this present moment. The historical record shows that their absence is not due to social dysfunction or personal flaws, rather it results from white school administrators discriminatory hiring practices in the wake of Brown. It was their dastardly decision that facilitated the disappearance of black male educators from American schools and the subsequent decline of a quality education for African-American students.

The historical record definitively proves this matter. Until this nation places this conversation within its proper historical context, it is not only doing itself a severe disservice but also extending one of its greatest traditions of conveniently excluding significant aspects of its storied tradition of discrimination and racism. Until we tell the truth about American racial matters, this nation will continue to be haunted by this demonic spirit.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

“Do or do not; there is no try”: ABANDONING EXCUSES AND DEMANDING EXCELLENCE FROM BLACK MALES

I long ago realized that the least likely locations provide important nuggets of wisdom. When such a moment occurs, I always gather these amazing words of wisdom and integrate them into my life. Life has also taught me that just as I did not anticipate the arrival of these illuminating thoughts; my use of them will likewise be impromptu.

I must tell you how pleased I was when my son took an interest in Star Wars, a movie series that I grew up watching. Our mutual affinity for the Star Wars series has provided many a moment of bonding and intense conversation regarding good versus evil, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and “the force.”

As any doting parent would, I have done my absolute best to help my son create a path that will lead him to be an engineer, his chosen field. I am confident that you under why I strategically aim each recreational purchase at developing his prodigious mind and keeping him in what he terms “master builder mode.” So it was only natural that this Christmas he would be gifted builder sets with moving parts, batteries, and even one that ran off of solar energy.

After a morning of spending time with family and opening gifts, my son retreated to his room and became engrossed in constructing a mechanical arm that included several different power sources and over 300 pieces that only a “master builder” could build. The ability to remain on task is most certainly one of my son’s strengths, so I was not surprised when he dedicated several hours to his new building project before emerging with it in tow. However, I was shocked when he frustratingly related, “I keep trying to get this thing to work, and there is something wrong with it. Dad, the construction plans are wrong.”

I was confident that there was nothing wrong with the building plans. And to my son’s dismay, I related that fact to him before telling him that he needed to deconstruct the entire project until he found his error. As expected, this frustrated teenager remarked, “I have tried and tried. Nothing is working.”

It was at this moment that I used one of my favorite lines in the Star Wars series that was voiced by Jedi Master Yoda. “Do or do not; there is no try.” James pivoted and headed back to his room with his failed project in tow. In less than fifteen minutes, he returned with a completed project in hand and a smile that communicated everything that I needed to know about the problem he had confronted and conquered on his own.

Were I permitted, I would point every person toward the words of Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Such a life philosophy is the lynchpin capable of transforming our hopes and dreams into achieved goals. You must never cower in the face of difficulty as it is merely an obstacle standing between you and your goals. So go forth and become one with the force as you make your hopes and dreams a living reality.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Abandoning Your Right to Righteous Indignation: Why Are African-Americans So Quick to Forgive Those That Do Evil?

A unique quality found among African-Americans, particularly those who fashion themselves Christians, has been their remarkable ability to forgive whites who have done evil to them. I am confident that either you have heard of people who are quick to forgive regardless of the offense or you may very well be one of those individuals who believe that your ability to forgive is a prerequisite to you reaching Heaven. Now, I am most certainly not trying to judge if you should or should not forgive those who have done wrong to you, however, I do feel that the swiftness that our people forgive encourages additional attacks from whites.

The forgiveness offered Dylann Roof is the most recent example of African-Americans ‘turning the other cheek’ in regards to an unbelievable white assault. In case you have forgotten, Roof is the murderous white South Carolinian who entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and executed defenseless black parishioners as they prayed. Although I was not shocked that prior to the haze of gun smoke clearing, black Christians had already forgiven Roof for the evil that he had intentionally perpetrated against their beloved community.

It appears that in our rush to be ‘good Christian folk’ that we have avoided significant portions of crucial scripture. The alluded to scripture could revolutionize the thinking of black Christians if African-American pastors emphasized them. For example, in Luke 22 Jesus tells His disciples to go and get swords because he not only knew that his time on Earth was short, but also the lives of those who followed him would also be in peril after he left.

For African-American Christians who may experience lethal violence at a moment’s notice, a scripture that gives them the right to self-defense should be tattooed in their soul. Black Pastor’s and their congregants consciously choose to accentuate portions of the Bible that emphasize forgiveness and pacifism; thereby, placing the entire black community in constant peril from a host of predators of different shades, philosophies, and ethnicities.

African-Americans rarely receive the type of forgiveness given to whites by black people. I guarantee you that there is someone in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church who hurried to forgive the murderous coward Dylann Roof for his demonic actions, yet remains upset with a fellow parishioner for some disagreement that happened decades ago over a serving tray that came up missing after a church banquet.

What makes this matter worse is that Roof has neither asked for forgiveness nor issued an apology. In fact, a recent journal that jailers took from his cell revealed his true feeling regarding those praying black Christians that he shot down. “I would like to make it crystal clear. I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.” Roof is a creature who does not deserve our forgiveness; he is a man who has earned God’s wrath and vengeance.

Unfortunately, there appears to be something about the black psyche that causes many of us to abandon an entirely justifiable position of righteous indignation when the offender is non-black. I believe that the quick forgiveness that we offer whites is the single greatest sign that the problems affecting African-Americans begin in their minds. Put simply, somewhere along their life path, a significant portion of blacks has learned to fear whites.

The alluded to desperate attempts to avoid confrontation with whites goes a great measure toward explaining why so many black males refuse to issue any challenge to white men in crucial realms such as education or employment. At the present moment, droves of black men display their cowardice by avoiding academics and adopting a lifestyle that precludes them from being taken seriously anywhere other than some inconsequential urban street corner.

Make no mistake about it, African-Americans readiness to forgive those that do them wrong encourages whites to heap more oppression onto their plates. If I could, I would advise African-American pastors to abandon traditional ‘love those that do evil to you’ sermons and replace them with the spirit of Henry Highland Garnet. Garnet believed that there was only one path forward and it was represented in the following quote. “Let your motto be resistance! Resistance! RESISTANCE! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.”

I already realize that these words will fall on deaf ears, so keep marching forward Christian soldiers, always take the high-road, fight the good fight, it will lead to you having a stronger bond with God as you will be praying on a continual basis about your earthly problems and sufferings. In the end, I believe that God will rebuke you for your cowardice and admonish you for not honoring Luke 22 and picking up a sword to defend yourself and fellow believers from the evil that you knew were at your doorstep.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Why are Black-on-Black Crimes Rarely Solved: Should African-Americans be Considered Accessories to the Rampant Crime in Our Communities

I could never blame anyone for coming to the conclusion that there is a segment of Black Chicago that is totally out of their mind. Hence, the recently taped abduction of a mentally challenged teenager is not as shocking as it would be under normal circumstances.

Although I consider the latest actions of Jordan Hill (18), Tesfaye Cooper (18), Brittany Covington (18), and Tanishia Covington (24) to be little more than another ‘sign of the times.’ There is absolutely no reasoning that could ever justify their abduction and torture of Austin Hilbourn (18) a white man who reports are indicating has some mental challenges.

I believe that I am speaking for the vast majority of sane African-Americans when I say that the four black Chicagoans that police have taken into custody not only deserve the current charges of aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, but also additional charges.

The Chicago Police Department swift movements to solve this crime are commendable. I am certain that the fact that the perpetrators themselves recorded their demonic actions greatly aided the investigation. This morally repugnant episode raises an interesting question, why aren’t Black-on-Black crimes solved as quickly as the offensive attack perpetrated against Mr. Austin Hilbourn?

The most readily available answer to the above question is an incorrect response that law enforcement personnel, many of whom are African-American, do not care about criminal activity in the black community. Now, I would never dismiss my personal engagement with a few officers whose lack of interest in black-on-black crime was evident and say that a few officers just do not care about the safety or well-being of African-Americans. However, such an explanation does little to explain why black-on-black crimes often go unsolved. I believe that the most honest reason behind why black-on-black crimes go unsolved is the African-American community.

Considering their peculiar second-class citizenship status, African-Americans have become adept at responding to a hostile white community at a moments’ notice. From their initial arrival on the North American continent, experience taught all persons of African descent that their time to deal with the hostility and brutality of marauding whites could come not only at any moment but also without the slightest provocation. Considering such a context, African-Americans developed survival strategies to protect themselves and their loved ones from hostile outsiders. One of the most prominent adaptations was to become insular as a community. Put simply; blacks closed off the hostile outside world in a desperate attempt to protect their own; particularly the men who were most likely to be seized and lynched by a white mob for a perceived offense or challenge emanating from either that particular individual or the community in general.

Law enforcement officers frequently led the alluded to ‘lynch mob’ pursuing African-American males. Hence, it should not be surprising that to this very day that the average African-American male tenses up when in the presence of law enforcement officers. The harsh reality that American laws have consistently proven detrimental to their existence makes African-Americans staunch non-cooperation with law enforcement officers understandable. One would be hard-pressed to convince African-Americans that law enforcement officers are not continuing this tradition in the twenty-first century.

However, this tradition of not cooperating with law enforcement personnel has been seized by a criminal element within our community for opportunistic reasons. An immoral and unlawful element within our community has publicly demanded silence regarding their illegal activities and uncivilized behavior. I applaud this population for the manner in which they have been able to seize a historic cultural adaptation and use it as a cover for their evil doings; unfortunately, Hip Hop Culture has been the perfect conduit for this transference of misinformation.

Although their mantra that ‘snitches get stitches’ is rather poetic in a ghetto fabulous kind of way, it betrays the solidarity that generations of African-Americans displayed against a hostile external enemy. The actions and activities of the criminal element within our midst are having the same effect that marauding white terrorist had throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries respectively. The only difference is that the criminal element in our midst begs us not to report them to the proper authorities. However, one must take their hat off to this thuggish element when you consider that they have been able to get such values integrated into our cultural diet and belief system. We now find elementary school children attempting to “persuade” their peers to ‘not snitch,’ often via violent attacks that they are amazingly filming and posting on the internet.

Obviously, the mantra ‘snitches get stitches’ has no place within our community and serves as yet another example of how we have indeed lost our way. Of all the things that we need to be poetic about, lawlessness and criminality are not on that list.

Make no mistake about it; this is a call for the African-American community to be vigilant against the black evil-doers who are attacking and ‘bringing the community down.’ A decision that would terrify those within our midst who commit a crime and continually live in an uncivilized manner that is unreflective of how African-Americans have ever lived.

If we are serious about cleaning up the African-American community, it is the time that we expose those individuals who consider our residential areas as havens for their criminality. Failure to do so makes us accessories to the destruction of our community and ensures that our children will never have a safe space to grow to their full potential.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017