Category Archives: Black Popular Culture

Children’s Rhymes: Why the eagerness to hear Nicki Minaj’s response to Remy Ma is crucial to understanding the present state of Black America

I particularly like the saying of “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.” Put simply, if you desire to see a particular result, you simply have to repeat the actions and decisions that led to the result that you seek to repeat. Despite what many think, success is far from being accidental, in fact, it results from the adherence to several logical steps. It is the science behind “luck” that guarantees that the same people will experience success while others languish in a pitiful mediocrity.

When one reflects on it, the above quote may be the most efficient way of explaining unceasing African-American politico-economic powerlessness. There is little room to debate the reality that African-Americans repeated failure to prioritize pressing politico-economic issues has led to their consistent position as the have-not’s regarding important matters.

Recently, the general foolishness that rules the lives of so many negroes was reiterated yet again when I noticed that hip-hop icon Nicki Minaj was the top trending story in Black America. Apparently, out of all of the issues facing black folk (rampant unemployment, alcoholism, police brutality, domestic violence, the disappearance of black children, the sexual exploitation of black girls by forces within and foreign agents from outside), the “rap beef” between Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma supersedes them all.

Although I would love to attribute this foolishness to yet another routine engagement of African-American youth with an inconsequential black popular culture moment, however, I do not have that luxury as many of those mesmerized by this absolute nonsense are adults whose attention would be better served on a host of other important issues such as raising their children, improving their credit rating, or even pursuing long overdue entrepreneurial endeavors. Consider for a moment that at a time when African-American women are being attacked by non-black men as they shop, African-American children are disappearing from their homes for one reason or another, and injustice continues unabated for the members of our community at every turn, huge swaths of Black America have somehow managed to ignore such matters and create sufficient psychological space to eagerly await Nikki Minaj’s response to Remy Ma’s Shether.

What a stupid people we have become.

At a moment where African-Americans are outperformed in every societal measurable, the cowardice of our population, especially African-American men, is best displayed in their refusal to engage their opponents in the realms of education, business, or politics. Instead of battling their opponents in meaningful areas, African-American men do their fiercest competition via video games while black women display a similar level of ridiculousness by denigrating other black women regarding hair weaves, designer bags and clothes, not to mention their ferocious commitment to maintaining copious amounts of unnecessary drama, usually regarding a no-good man, that serves as stifling agent to their advancement.

I am confident that in due time, Nicki Minaj will respond to Remy Ma in the same vein that Jay-Z responded to Nas, or LL Cool J responded to Kool Moe Dee, Canibus, MC Shan, MC Hammer and Ice-T. Beyond the sheer entertainment value that it provides, these rap battles are in a word, worthless. However, I doubt that their absolute lack of utility in the uplift of Black America matters one iota to the droves of hip-hop heads perched on the edge of their seat awaiting Minaj’s response. One thing is for certain, if African-Americans continue to make useless black popular culture occurrences their top priority, they will pursue their age-old pattern of lagging behind all other groups in every important facet of life. Despite our most fervent attempts, there is one rule that we will never conquer, that being, “If you do what you always did, you are going to get what you always got.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Underground Returns: The Epic Series Returns

There is undoubtedly no more anxiety producing historical subject for Americans than the institution of American chattel slavery. The manner in which the vast majority of Americans, regardless of their race or ethnicity, avoid any contact with this dastardly, yet crucial period of their history reminds one of the lengths that Greeks would go to avoid even a glancing gaze at the mythological character Medusa.

As an educator who routinely teaches courses that traverse the issue of American chattel slavery, I now recognize the detached, even embarrassed look adorning the faces of my African-American students the moment that the enslavement of stolen Africans was raised; during previous moments I mistakenly identified their iced over gaze and slumped posture as indifference regarding this portion of their historical record.

Quite possibly the most illogical involuntary psychological decision that the vast majority of African-Americans make regarding the enslavement and exploitation of their ancestors is to care the shame and burden of the African Holocaust on their broad shoulders, a tremendous burden that other Holocaust victims such as the Jews and indigenous populations of the West have never carried.

There is little room to debate the obvious reality that African-Americans are ashamed of their ancestors’ enslavement, a past that is made significantly more robust considering that their refusal to associate with Africa, their ancestral homeland, means that their story begins in either the hull of a slave ship or on some unidentified slave plantation.

It is a collective shame flowing from American chattel slavery that facilitates the vast majority of Americans failure to understand a period of history that forged the very foundation of this so-called democratic nation. Despite the in consternation that this time of history instantaneously causes, the truth of the matter is that the story of American chattel slavery is a dynamic story with unexpected twists-and-turns, villains, and heroines. Trust me when I say that it is imperative for every American to tune into the groundbreaking show Underground.

Although I realize that there are many who will without viewing the show consider Underground yet another show depicting the domination of persons of African descent by Europeans, they could not be more incorrect. The writers of Underground have succeeded in displaying the depth of this period of American history by not only displaying the resistance of enslaved Africans at every turn but also tapped into the diversity of thinking regarding ‘the peculiar institution’ within the white community. Viewing this show leaves one with the realization that not only did the institution of chattel slavery affect not only the stolen African, but also the Europeans who were invariably divided regarding not only the presence but also the utility of masses of black laborers.

So do yourself a favor and tune into Underground, trust me when I say that it is not only an emotional rollercoaster ride but also an unusual path to enlightenment that every American desperately needs.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017.