Category Archives: African-American Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In regards to the assertion that black women

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

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

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

Why so many of the Young, Black, and Educated Women I Know Have Yet to Find Their Black Knight in Shining Armor

I have come to understand that my personal discomfort with certain discussions has no impact on others insistence that I participate in them. Such situations invariably revolve around my interactions with my female students who fit the following description of being young, black, and college educated.

Although I often shy away from engaging them in what must be their favorite discussion of who will they marry. I am confident that you understand that this “elephant in the room” discussion of the absence of young black men in collegiate classrooms across the nation is equally uncomfortable and disconcerting because I desperately want to give the young ladies who listen to my lectures at least a modicum of hope that all is not lost in regards to their desire to be courted by and eventually marry a black man that caters to them to no end. Unfortunately, any hope that I provide for them is tempered by their observation that their hopes of finding their equal in regards to education, finances, and social status are severely curtailed by the sheer absence of black males in collegiate classrooms across the nation.

According to a recent Brookings Institute Study, of all female populations, African-American women have the least opportunity of marrying an “equally yoked” male from their racial group. Make no mistake about it, phraseology such as “equally yoked” is a synonym for equal socioeconomic status and educational attainments. According to Brookings Institute researchers, there are simply not enough available black men for successful black women to become “equally yoked.” Such realities lead us to a daunting question of “What is a girl to do?”

According to the researchers mentioned above, for African-American women who refuse to entertain suitors of another race, the only reasonable solution for them is to drastically alter their understanding of what it means to be “equally yoked.” Put simply; black women could dramatically increase their pool of marriageable black men if they curtailed their expectations and “married down.”

Historically speaking, declining marriage rates and an evaporating pool of educated, marriage-minded, black men to choose from is a relatively new phenomenon that has occurred over the last half-century. Ironically, these matters have unfolded during what many projected to be moments of racial advancement. The moments that I allude to are President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s ushering in of racial equality on the law books of America via the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts. The following chart offers compelling information regarding the marriage rates of black women before advanced stages of racial integration.

 

The myriad reasons that there are so few young college educated black men for like stationed black women to marry are well known: flawed educational system, the absence of suitable role models, female-headed households, dereliction of duty by black fathers, incarceration, homicide, homosexuality, unemployment, and drug abuse. According to the Brookings Institute study, “The lack of marriageable men in the black community is affected by the very high rates of incarceration and early death among black men compared to white men. Among black male high school dropouts, 60 percent will be dead or incarcerated before the age of 35.” Indeed, death or incarceration serve as significant stumbling blocks in the marriage process.

Consider the following chart created by the U.S. Department of Justice that highlights the horrific effects that the war on drugs had on African-American men; an impact that has severely curtailed the number of “marriageable” black men to this very moment.

Considering such realities, one has to consider what the viable options are available to college-educated African-American women who would rather remain single than date, let alone marry, outside of the race?

Making matters worse for black women is the harsh reality that there is a segment of black men who hold a comprehensively negative view of them. As evidenced by their public proclamations of being willing to date outside of the race, many black men of varying socioeconomic status and educational level have vowed to not only date but also marry exclusively outside of the race.

It may be the time that a harsh truth that “education has never done anything for the heart” is taught to young college-educated African-American women. Put simply; there is no correlation between an increase in socioeconomic status and one’s ability to be a suitable mate. If one did not know any better, it would seem that the principal concerns of many educated black women do not revolve around issues of compatibility, love, and commitment, rather a man’s earning potential.

In truth, far too many black men and women have used grossly flawed evaluation criterion such as physical appearance or a person’s style of dress to inform their decision regarding an individual’s potential to be a mate. We have allowed these fleeting qualities to eclipse more everlasting qualities such as integrity, honesty, fidelity, and love.

I am confident that we all agree it is the time that we all, male and female, take a step back and tailor our likes and dislikes, wants and needs, to fit ourselves regardless of what others may think or say about our choice. Failure to do such is doing a major disservice to the most important person in your life, yourself.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

WHY BLACK WOMEN MUST BE CAUTIOUS WHEN DEALING WITH THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT

It has always saddened me when people harboring good intentions are ensnared in unnecessary conflict; particularly when the dispute revolves around substantive issues that could be easily solved.

So I am confident that you can imagine how disturbing it was to listen to the endless debate among our community regarding the participation of black women in the new women’s march. A firestorm of rhetoric revolved around matters such as should black women have abstained from participation due to the past betrayals their kind have experienced within feminist movements or do not the interests of black women coincide with those of white women. It did not take long for a legitimate debate to devolve into a mess of vitriolic hatred and name calling.

Most disappointing of all is the reality that this matter is a relatively fundamental issue that a cursory understanding of the history of American race and gender dynamics would quickly solve. So I offer the following to those whose emotions remain heightened and their vision clouded by an issue that has driven yet another wedge among an already divided African-American populace.

To the question of should black women have participated in the women’s march, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Now I am certain that there is a segment of black women who will rejoice at this firm assertion, as well as a part that will instantaneously recoil at the assertion. I am asking each of these adversaries to pause for a moment and understand that my firm belief that black women should have participated in the historic march comes with a few conditions.

The paths to understanding the conditions and qualifiers that must be attached to African-Americans engagement with any political movement is to an understanding of the large difference between joining a movement and creating an alliance.

At the center of the public outcries regarding the participation of black women in the women’s march focused on the fact that by joining that movement one is now beholden to an agenda that does not reflect the totality of the political issues facing black women.

Historically speaking, movements headed by elite white women have failed to accommodate the issues facing poor and working-class women whose status do not mirror their own; rest assured that the unrepresented includes a significant population of white women as well as black.

Alice Walker, the famous thinker, and promoter of womanism, poignantly accentuates this point by highlighting that the issues facing black women are different from those facing the elite white women who lead the feminist movement. Walker reminds all of this difference in her reverberating assertion that “Womanism is to Feminism as purple is to lavender.”

Most critics of black women’s participation in the women’s movement agree that instead of joining a feminist movement that has at opportune moments muted the voices of African-American women and thereby needlessly prolonged their pressing political issues. According to such individuals, if black women formed their organizations to promote a developed political agenda highlighting their problems and promoting solutions to their grievances, they would then be on the road to liberation. Had black women taken this reasonable course of action, they would have been positioned to negotiate a mutually beneficial alliance that allowed them to simultaneously work toward the amelioration of pressing issues that faced all women, regardless of race or economic status, and still maintained their focus upon their political agenda.

It is time that African-American activists graduate with an understanding there is nothing wrong with creating a mutually benefiting alliance. However, they must also understand that when such a political arrangement is no longer helping either party, it is time to abandon the agreement.

Put simply; I see absolutely nothing wrong with black women’s participation as allies in a feminist march as there are issues that affect females regardless of their racial identity. However, history has taught us that it is unwise for black women to join feminist movements as their voices will invariably be muted at critical junctures when the specter of race appears.

History is very clear that our path to liberation does not include joining white-headed movements and groups whose leadership tends to have pervasive ‘blind spots’ when it comes to race and class. The only reasonable path to liberation in regards to political matters is found in the developing of black agendas and political currency before pursuing mutually beneficial alliances with non-black groups. Failure to do such not only reveals how little black leaders know about liberation and guarantees that they will continue their grandest tradition of “talking loud and saying nothing.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

‘I’VE SEEN THIS BEFORE’: WHY THE POLITICAL DILEMMAS OF BLACK WOMEN ARE RARELY ADDRESSED OR SOLVED BY ANY POLITICAL MOVEMENT AND WHAT THEY SHOULD DO ABOUT IT

Yesterday, the largest single-day protest on American soil occurred with a diverse crowd of men and women taking to American cities in the following numbers.

  • Atlanta (250,000 protestors)
  • Chicago (250,000 protestors)
  • Boston (250,000 protestors)
  • Denver (200,000 protestors)
  • New York (350,000 protestors)
  • Washington C. (500,000 protestors)
  • Los Angeles (500,000 protestors)

For comparison’s sake, a relatively modest 250,000 assembled for the 1963 March on Washington.

This historic assembly appears to be a serious attempt at renewing American democracy by issuing a powerful statement against the new Presidential administration. However, as with most political matters in this nation, one has to question will the peculiar issues facing the African-American community, in this case, black women, be acknowledged, let alone ameliorated in this rising tide of political activism.

The above concerns regarding the addressing of issues facing African-American women, many of which flow directly from black men performing a perverse blackface minstrel performance that mirrors white male patriarchy, are reasonable when one considers the historical subordination of such matters by both Black Nationalist and White Feminist leaders.

One must remember that political elitism facilitated white feminist leaders inability to acknowledge that the issues facing white, married, heterosexual, wealthy women in no way covered the complex problems facing black women, a flaw that forced African-American women to forge their path toward gender equality about both white women and black men. Noted intellectual Alice Walker acknowledged the differences found within the struggles of black and white women with her reverberating comment that “Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.” Put simply, the Black Nationalist and Feminist movements often fail to represent, let alone solve, the issues of black women.

Hopefully, those leading this reiteration of female political agitation are astute enough to realize that racial matters are a significant negative in the lives of African-American women and must be addressed with the same intensity that patriarchy has historically been. Failure at this mundane task dooms African-American women to assume their usual position behind not only white women but also behind black men.

A close reading of history displays the ease with which black women are made invisible. African-American women are frequently asked to choose which is the greater part of them, their gender or race as if they can easily split not only their identities but also their political desires. Far too frequently, Black women have been too female to be a significant element in the African-American freedom struggle and too black to be considered full partners in the feminist movement. It is a damning quandary that can never be solved.

So as many bask in the after-effects of the historic nature of this march, a historical achievement only in the number of participants I might add, the politically astute are carefully examining the political agendas that emerge from this latest push for women’s rights.

I hope that this time things will be different for black women and they will assume the ‘nasty woman’ persona that so many of their white sisters have historically embraced. I pray that there are more than a few ‘nasty black women’ in our midst who are willing to advance the politicoeconomic needs of their sisters “by any means necessary,” even if it means strategically separating themselves from other movements at opportune moments. The tendency of African-American women to mute their voice due to what often appears to be a desperate desire to maintain decorum in the face of political pressure from other groups must cease if black women are serious about solving their issues.

I pray that all of the previous activism and political experiences black women have engaged in have prepared them to avoid a repeat of past moments of activism that left them at the back of the bus. Hopefully, black women have grown weary enough of being “Sick and tired of being sick and tired” that they step forward with a collective consciousness that emphasizes both their unique identity and the resulting issues that flow from it with an uncommon fervor. History has taught us that the only women that have ever changed the world have been “nasty women,” it is the time that black women accepted that fact and make it a policy going forward that their political agenda is the only one that matters.

At least that is what I hope and pray for them.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

The Look: Michelle Obama Represents Black America Yet Again

There are moments in any African-American professionals life where they are forced to attend events and interact with a class of persons that are morally repulsive and therefore beneath them. Unfortunately for those African-Americans forced to enter such situations, decorum and professional expectations often mute our disgust for the event and the major players involved.

The above situation forces one to make a critical decision, do you follow your heart and the heartfelt advice of Malcolm X to “tell that man just how you feel” or do you preserve your professional credibility and literally ‘eat shit and grin.’

Michelle Obama has once again reminded Black America of a familiar tactic that anyone caught in a situation where decorum prevents them from speaking their mind could use. I simply call it “the look.”

Make no mistake about it, it is not happenstance that it was Michelle Obama who shot ‘the look,’ a subtle sign of disapproval that conveys a clear disapproval, yet is subtle enough that it offers a thin veil of plausible deniability. I am confident that if a patent search were conducted, we would find that someone black woman long ago, possibly a peer of Madame C.J. Walker, licensed ‘the look.’

So the next time that you find yourself within an uncomfortable professional setting drum up the spirit of all of those black women who have used ‘the look’ to display utter disgust for those around them. What am I saying?
African-American women don’t need to be told to do that; it is a standard part of the toolkit that they use to navigate a hostile world on a daily basis.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017