Category Archives: Black Men

ARE THERE ELEMENTS OF TRUTH BEHIND WHITE BIGOTS NEGATIVE VIEW OF BLACK MALES?

As I am confident that you can imagine, in this internet age there is no better place to discover how people feel about an issue than message boards. The cloak of anonymity message boards provide, emboldens people to freely express thoughts that they would never share in the presence of others. Put simply; message boards allow users to let it all hang out literally.

Considering my affinity for the message board, I found the following post by an unidentified male whose frustrations regarding American racial matters could not be anymore exacerbated to be particularly riveting. The post, aimed at African-American males, reads as follows,

You are NOT victims anymore. You are the bad guys now. You have your hand out for more freebies. You won’t take responsibility for yourself. You have a 74% illegitimacy rate. You are 13% of the population but you commit 65% of the crime. You produce nothing. You contribute nothing. You take and just want more. You don’t think the laws should apply to you. You blame others for your own decisions. You don’t try in school. You don’t try at work. You have no concept of personal responsibility. You don’t see the direct connection between your own decisions and the impact on your quality of life. You can’t imagine how hard it is to make it in the world, because you never try. You think you can have quality of life without earning it. You don’t raise your children with any morality. You celebrate violence and misogyny. You defend the inexcusable. You beat your domestic partners. You think you are owed something, when you’re not. At this point you are not victims of the bad guys, You ARE the bad guys. I’m tired of my tax dollars being used as handouts to these THUGS.

As I am confident that you understand, I take significant issue with the broad strokes that this anonymous poster used in his racially-tinged commentary; however, there is little room to debate the reality that the comments are not only heartfelt but also reflective of a disturbing reality framing his worldview.

Although I do not embody any of the negative characteristics mentioned above, I will not deny my association with a host of individuals whose dereliction of duty is reflected in the angry post. Let’s be honest, we all know a few African-American males whose behavior lends credence to the pervasive present-day caricatures of African-American males.

Unfortunately for the African-American community, it appears that such individuals are rarely addressed out of fear that the airing of our dirty laundry will accomplish little more than the unintentional validation of white bigots scurrilous belief system and viewpoint. Despite the fervent desires of African-American males enslaved by a moral compass, the ignoring of roguish socially irresponsible African-American men has done nothing to uplift the community; in fact, our collective delay has allowed for the alluded to populations irresponsibility to have a more significant impact on both the black family structure and the African-American community.

Despite the negative repercussions that any attempt to address and curb the multi-faceted dereliction of wayward black males will have upon the community in the short-term, it is past time to move past such concerns and forcefully address this matter in an efficient manner.

If we do not address this issue, it will grow increasingly worse, and we all know that our community cannot afford such an occurrence.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

 

AM I STILL MY BROTHER’S KEEPER? HOW SHOULD WE ANSWER THIS QUESTION IN 2017

There is probably no more hopeful phrase found in the lexicon of African-American men than “I am my Brother’s Keeper.” Within that short five words, declarative sentence lies an unyielding hope that has bolstered the hopes and aspirations of droves of African-American men at some low-point in their life.

Unfortunately for black men, in the 21st Century, this declaration of their commitment to being a solidified force against anything that threatens them or the millions of unknown African-American men that they have no tangible connection to has become little more than rhetorical phrase-mongering.

Let’s be honest about this matter, the vast majority of African-American males harbor some form of “beef” with one another for reasons that even they cannot articulate. The rage that so many black men express to their counterparts does not have its genesis in any particular offense, rather, it is the payoff of being raised within a society that maligns “blackness” at every turn. Put simply; black-on-black rage is a predictable by-product of being socialized to view “blackness” as an omnipotent negative and an omnipresent problem by an oppressive white media and non-representative educational school curriculum.

There is no room to debate that this socialization serves as the primary context for both the development of a toxic manhood and daunting view of all things black. It is this reality that makes the answering of the important question of “Am I my brother’s keeper?” a convoluted mess. I have found that those who answer this query with an unequivocal “YES!!!!” are completing what amounts to a socially appropriate ‘nicety’ that reveals their failure to analyze this matter correctly. Truthfully, a much better question is, “Do black men consider each other brothers?”

Despite our fervent desire to answer this question affirmatively, the truth of the matter is that it should only be answered on a case-by-case basis as our kind has been infiltrated by a host of individuals who maintain a single-minded priority to get ahead materially, even at the cost of compromising our collective well-being. Consider for a moment the sentiments of the late Tupac Amaru Shakur who cryptically foretold his demise at the hand of a “brother” in his classic track Only God Can Judge Me. Tupac asserted “And they say that it’s the white man that I should fear. But it’s my own kind doing all the killing here.” As you well know, Tupac is not the only “brother” who has looked down the barrel of a gun that his “brother” was holding for some unspecified reason.

In many ways, those, such as myself, who are holding on to an old collectivist racial construct are operating out of a make-believe black solidarity that has little grounding in either a mythical past or a frightening present. I am not ashamed to relate that my current interactions with African-American males are governed by an all too real caution and well-deserved skepticism; issues that an extremely vocal minority of black males has made necessary.

So although I would like to relate that “I am my brother’s keeper confidently,” I simply can’t. My resistance to fully embracing this rhetorical cliché is a result of my living long enough to realize that Chuck D’s admonishment that “Every brother ain’t a brother” carries significant weight. With the benefit of hindsight, I have begun to view tales of a universal brotherhood that glued black men together in past times as little more than a well-spun fable. In many ways, it does not matter if such times ever existed as the present is all that matters. And it is this present moment that leads me to the realization that I am not every black man’s keeper because very few of them have either behaved as or have the intention of ever being my brother. Unfortunately, the traditions that forged a collectivist racial identity is largely vanquished from Black America and within that ruin lays the reason that “every brother ain’t a brother.”

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

Is the Proper Training of Black Males the Initial Step in Saving Chiraq from Ruin?

Within African-American communities and neighborhoods, black males set the tone for much of what does and do not occur. Under optimal conditions, black men have served as providers and protectors for the African-American women and children in their midst. The benefits of being a provider and protector served as the wind beneath the wings of the soaring manhood that was the very essence of black men.

During times past, it appeared that the vast majority of African-American men took their job of modeling manhood with the utmost seriousness. It was impossible to listen to the life-lessons that these men shared or observe their daily dealings with an invariably hostile white populace and not understand that the primary job of black men was to protect and provide for your family in a host of ways.

One thing is for certain, the men of my father’s generation, although far from perfect, had a well-developed sense of ‘what a man ought to be and ought to do.’ In the face of unbridled occupational discrimination and unending prejudice, the alluded to men were unshakable pillars of their community. Unfortunately for the entire black community, it appears as if those pillars have gradually faded away. More troubling is the reality that there are too few replacements for the men who displayed our grandest manhood traditions.

A person needs to look no further than the ‘Windy City’ to understand the remarkable changes that have occurred to African-American manhood over the past half-century. With the benefit of hindsight, it is evident that the most expeditious path to the unraveling of any community is for its men to lose their understanding of ‘what a man ought to do and ought to be.’ The present state of Black America proves that when critical masses of males abandon steep manhood traditions, things fall apart. The “Windy City” is a notable example of such an occurrence.

There may be no more succinct representation of the pernicious evils occurring in Chicago than residents abandoning its traditional moniker of the ‘Windy City’ for a much foreboding ‘Chiraq’; a play on words that likens the great American city to the war-torn nation of Iraq.

At this moment, Chicagoans of every hue, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, faith, and political affiliation are debating what should be done to save the “Windy City” from roguish African-American males whose toxic manhood is damaging everyone around them. Make no mistake about it, the actions of black males whose propensity for the Black-on-Black crime makes the Capone Era look like child’s play, sit at the core of the “Windy City’s” problems.

Considering the historical conflicts between the African-American community and ‘the boys in blue,’ Black Chicagoans find themselves in an ironic quandary. Should they turn to local law enforcement officers for aid in addressing lawless black males or is there a better in-house solution to this dilemma?

Up to this point, many African-Americans throughout the nation have refused to seek redress via law enforcement agencies out of fear of retribution and a desperate desire to not contribute to the incarceration of African-American males that Michelle Alexander so powerfully details in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

There are significant sections of Black America that are disturbed by any assertion that the path to peace is the removal and warehousing of black males in this nation’s penitentiaries. However in a city that witnessed,

  • 713 Killed by gunfire
  • 3665 Wounded by gunfire
  • 4378 Shot

Most agree that something definitive must occur.

The majority of Black America has rightfully tired of this sordid tale of African-American males choosing to live wayward lives that accomplish nothing more than increasing the dilemmas they face in America at an unconscionable rate.

What can be done to address this dilemma? One thing that will most certainly not positively affect this issue are calls to absolve a criminal segment of Black America from being responsible for their actions by citing typical dodges such as squalor, inferior educational institutions, urban decay, and limited economic opportunities. The above explanations, although important to understanding the daily realities found within the vast majority of impoverished African-American enclaves, do not provide the lawless permission for their criminality and uncivilized behavior.

A more productive path to ameliorating the issues facing black males is for the African-American community to address the matters facing black males via manhood training proactively.

Yes, it is the time that we return ‘back to basics’ by teaching African-American males the basics of ‘what a man ought to be and ought to do.’ It is in understanding the path and many obstacles that prior generations of black men confronted and conquered that vital life lessons are discovered. I am certain that the tools the alluded to men used were basic tools such as:

  • Honesty
  • Hardwork
  • Entreprenurialship
  • Diligence
  • Commitment
  • Strength
  • Honor

Unfortunately for wayward black males, until they are socialized to understand that the above qualities are the path to their liberation and not get rich quick criminal schemes that invariably lead to either the penitentiary or the grave, there is no hope. Cities such as Chiraq have definitively proven this fact.

The time to take control of our destiny is now and the path forward begins with manhood training that paves the path for black males to become African-American men.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017