Category Archives: Education

“We Sick Boss?”: The Unfortunate Tendency of “Educated Blacks” to Value White Schools over H.B.C.U.’s

Considering that I am approaching the half-century mark, I hope that most people understand that there are some viewpoints that I will never abandon. And when I say that I will NEVER abandon them, I mean it. In regards to many of these issues, I cannot envision a scenario where my perspective will ever change on substantive matters such as how I measure professional success. Although I am aware that many consider my refusal to budge a character flaw commonly referred to as stubbornness; I consider it a sign of integrity.

The above topic of how I measure professional success served as the battleground for a contentious battle between myself and a former collegiate classmate. Although we are both African-American Studies Professors, our viewpoints could not be more divergent.

As is our usual routine, a rather mundane discussion transformed into a significant disagreement regarding how professional success should be measured. This disagreement began the moment that I took significant issue with his belief that after toiling for years at a small religious-based black college his arrival at a “prestigious” white university signaled that he “had finally made it.”

I must tell you that my anger increased as this “brother” denigrated H.B.C.U.’s while lauding predominantly white institutions. To be honest, I felt as if I were stuck in the middle of an unaired episode of The Boondocks, I knew better. My mind could not resist bringing forth the imagery of Malcolm X who took those who believed that their decreasing proximity to whites was a valid measure of professional success to task via a crude historical analogy regarding a House Slave and a Field Slave. According to Malcolm, the House Slave loved his Master so much that if the Master got sick he would ask, “What’s wrong boss, we sick?” There is little doubt that my former collegiate classmate not only identifies with whites, but also has integrated their value system and priorities into his worldview. Put simply; they are his measuring stick.

This matter led me back to a quip that famed educator Jane Elliott articulated. “If you want to get ahead in America, act white.”

Despite my most fervent attempts, I have not been able to shake the conflict mentioned above as it reveals so much about a class of Black America who have been given significant opportunities, yet have failed to “stay the course” and work toward the liberation of those individuals and institutions that have yet to arrive. It is no stretch to assert that such individuals are of no utility whatsoever to the Black Community as they have been ‘brainwashed’ by an educational system and socialization process that will never cease its denigration of Black America.

What a waste of opportunity. They should be ashamed of themselves, however, such realizations escape them.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017

 

WHY HAVE SO MANY OF MY STUDENTS NEVER READ THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X?

During my nearly two decades as an African-American Studies Professor, I have learned many lessons regarding the U.S. educational process and its impact on the minds, imagination, aspirations, and psyche of African-Americans. I am confident that you agree that one of the most unfortunate by-products of the American educational system is that the vast majority of black children matriculate through the system without any understanding of the unique historical circumstances or the contemporary plight of what it means to be black in America. It is not a stretch to assert that after engaging in the American educational system, African-Americans are better versed in the history of every other race than their own., there are few things that cause more anxiety than the realization that I am on the verge of entering a classroom full of African-American collegians that have no idea of the African-American experience. I literally have to brace myself for the experience. And what an experience it is.

Personally, there are few things that cause more anxiety than the realization that at the beginning of each semester, I will enter a classroom overflowing with African-American students who know little, if anything, about the black experience. I literally brace myself for the daunting experience.

I am confident that most would be shocked to learn that my students arrive in my classroom bereft of either an understanding or desire to engage the black experience. In fact, it is common for students to rebel against the reading of classic black texts such as Chinua Achebe’s, Things Fall Apart or Alex Haley’s classic monograph, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The alluded to displeasure is so significant with many students that they actually emit an audible groan with faced with the prospect of engaging the black experience.

Incredibly, I have had students pursuing a reliable escape route from dealing with the past experiences of Black America object to reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X on religious grounds.

Considering that such antics occur every semester, I am prepared to subdue them via a simple question that illuminates the cavernous holes in the vast majority of African-American students K – 12 educational experience. The question is a relatively mundane one of “How many of you have read Anne Frank?” Invariably, every hand rises. I then ask the overwhelmingly black audience, “How Many of you have read The Autobiography of Malcolm X?” Rarely does more than one or two hands rise.  I follow these initial queries with the following one. “Now which of these texts, The Diary of Anne Frank or The Autobiography of Malcolm X do you think is more applicable to your life? The story of a Jewish girl hiding in a closet or one that follows the life of Black man in America who to this day is revered as one of the most significant figures of the twentieth-century?” My students never dispute this poignant observation.

Although I hate to admit it, it appears that the primary catalyst to my student’s resistance to engaging The Autobiography of Malcolm X or any other classic black text is that somewhere along their travels, they have learned to devalue the contributions of black writers and historical figures. If anything, they seek a refuge from the stigma associated with blackness, even if that soft landing spot causes them to ignore the harsh realities that they are facing on a daily basis. The alluded to desires communicates a deep-seated self-hatred. If they are not careful, African-Americans perspective of their people can closely mirror that of white supremacists.

Let’s be clear on this matter, I have no problem with students reading The Diary of Anne Frank, I consider the text to be significant enough to have visited the location where the story occurred. Hence, I will never refute the story as an indispensable part of Human history; however, I also recognize that such recognition and reverence is due African-Americans stories as well.

It is an understanding of the phenomenal impact of education on the mind that has led me to address this matter. When one considers that humans are social beings, meaning that we learn everything that we “know” through either experience or lessons gleaned from others, education sets the foundation for our values, priorities, and worldview. The fact that education sits at the center of our understanding, the influence of school teachers should never be de-emphasized.

If permitted, I would love to ask the committees and decision makers that champion the worth of Anne Frank’s story and dismiss The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the following questions.

  1. What is your rationale for including The Diary of Anne Frank on the must read list and not The Autobiography of Malcolm X?
  2. Why do you consider Anne Frank’s story of more valuable than Malcolm X’s?
  3. What impact do you think that a K – 12 educational experience devoid of any African-American books has upon the minds of students regardless of their racial identity or ethnic background?
  4. What does it mean when school districts fail to include any classic stories that center upon African-Americans or the African-American experience?

The consequences of African-Americans not learning their history should be obvious — low self-esteem, an absence of knowledge of self, and being turned off from the discipline of history, if not the entire educational experience. Although often ignored, the truth of the matter is that black children are not the only population damaged when the African-American story is left out of the standard American History/Social Studies curriculum; it damages each child, regardless of race or ethnicity by enveloping them in an unnecessary ignorance. The absence of the black experience in the curriculums of American school systems causes the following issues.

  1. It allows for the development of woeful ignorance in regards to African- Americans and their historical experience.
  2. Gives the impression that persons of African descent have never contributed anything to society; thereby, allowing for racism to grow like a wildfire.
  3. The lack of any understanding of the African-American experience or contributions throughout the annals of time severely taints any racial discussions.

It is out of a desire to cease the never-ending racial animosity between American racial/ethnic groups that I call for those power brokers who select reading materials for American school children to consider the stories of myriad races and groups. History clearly dictates that the only weapon we have against ignorance is education. Considering such truth, it is long overdue for American children, including African-American children, to have access to classic black texts and authors, it is the only weapon that we have against pervasive racial animosity and angst in the new millennium.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

WHY IT IS CRUCIAL THAT WE SUPPORT PRAIRIE VIEW A & M UNIVERSITY IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE HARVEY

Although I am confident that the question of “What can I do?” is a common request from those seeking to aid those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s passage through the Houston area. When I received this query from a former student who matriculated from Prairie View A & M University, I considered it, weird.

The alluded to student’s communication not only expressed a desire to aid the victims but also implicitly requested my advice regarding how he could make a significant and meaningful impact. I am confident that my response which was heavily influenced by the belief that “charity begins at home” simultaneously excited this young man as evidenced by his involuntary response of “I can definitely do that!!!!!”

My advice to this young man whose degree from Prairie View A & M University has paved the way for him to teach around the globe was to make a much-needed donation to his alma mater. As previously mentioned, my belief that “charity begins at home” is a guiding principle for all that I do, however, that was not the primary motivation behind my advice. The primary motivation behind my advice flowed from an official notification I received from the University informing all of the present state of the PV Panther family (students, staff, and faculty). The alluded to communication indicated that many members of the Panther family were displaced and scattered as a result of Hurricane Harvey, a natural disaster that had “the nerve” to pre-empt the start of our Fall Semester.

The University’s response to those impacted by Harvey has been to offer monetary aid and every other assistance imaginable regardless of the injury they have received.

Hence, it was easy for me to encourage this young man to begin his charitable giving at his alma mater as it is the correct thing to do. Now, this communication is most certainly not intended to prevent you from donating money to the Red Cross or any other relief entity. However, it is designed to broaden your vision of charitable giving and remember both Texas Southern University and Prairie View A & M University in this time of stress and strain.

As evidenced by the following communication, the students of PVAMU have taken the initiative to address and would greatly appreciate your assistance in this matter at the present moment and going forward.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, the Power Administration sends our deepest prayers to all those adversely affected by this unprecedented weather event. All of us have been impacted in some way from this natural disaster. We want to assure everyone that we have been diligently planning ways that we can help our surrounding community in alleviating some of the loss that many have suffered.

We, as a whole, want to introduce Panther P.U.S.H. which stands for Panthers United to Serve and Help. This is a new initiative designed to assist the community in any type of natural disaster or any unforeseen catastrophic event. Through Panther P.U.S.H., we have set up a GoFundme, so that PVAMU students, staff, and faculty can donate to the relief efforts. To donate, please visit:https://www.gofundme.com/pvamupush. We also invite those on campus to donate critical items, to those in need. In addition, we want to gather teams to help with physical community building for those who have lost homes and other resources near and dear to them.

It is in these times of struggle that we must unite as one – this human thing to do. We must push through the sadness of the situation internally and externally to continue to uplift our community. Prairie View A&M University and the surrounding community have suffered many adversities throughout our collective history, but we have always maintained, triumphed and thrived when we’ve worked together to overcome. This situation will not be any different. We encourage you to donate to our Panther P.U.S.H. GoFundMe efforts, and we look forward to continuing to serve the entire PV family.

Kendric D. Jones, SGA President

Xante Wallace, SGA Vice President

Once again, we must be very mindful that although it is important to give back to others, we must also realize that “charity begins at home.”

P.V. ——— “YOU KNOW!!!!!!!”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

IT’S TIME FOR THE CONSCIOUS COMMUNITY TO END THE UMAR DEBATES AND TURN THEIR ATTENTION TOWARD EDWARD BLUM

When it comes to grievances regarding substantive issues, there is a seismic difference between how African-Americans and non-black populations react. The latter never limit their response to attacks on their group to like-minded individuals within their community. Consider for a moment, the following case.

During a recent radio show addressing the Proctor & Gamble commercial about racial bias, several African-American callers chimed in with their feelings about the issue. However, it was not until a white female called in to share not only her feelings but also what action she had taken. This anonymous caller stated that she called the company to both express her feelings regarding the matter and inform them of her decision to no longer remain a “loyal customer” to their products. Notice that her angst moved into definitive action that extended further than condemnation shared with friends and family.

In many ways, it appears that the training African-American activists undergo amount today to little more than ill-planned public marches/protests that amount to nothing. It does not take a genius to realize that the antiquated protest strategies of yesteryear that serve as a template for contemporary protests — mass assemblies, the carrying of placards, wearing of T-shirt’s with catchy slogans, and the singing of a modern rendition of We Shall Overcome or Amazing Grace — will never move the race forward.

Black America’s contemporary opponents have neither feelings nor a moral compass when it comes to substantive matters such as land ownership, political power, finances, the development of school curriculums, the incarceration of black men and women, or access to higher education. If we learn nothing else from the historical record of being black in America, it should be obvious that our opponents are deadly serious about developing and executing resources to buttress their already existing politico-economic monopolies.

While African-American activists remain at each others throat regarding anything associated with Umar Johnson, the enemy has remained busy formulating and executing devious plans to ensure African-Americans second-class citizenship status. Consider for a moment that while black activists have argued, debated, and fought one another regarding Umar Johnson, Edward Blum has been neither addressed nor ‘dealt with’ by our revolutionary class.

I am confident that our failure to address Blum is largely a by-product of the unfortunate reality that the “conscious community” has no idea of who Edward Blum is or how destructive he has been to Black America. I doubt that many realize that Blum is spearheading several initiatives to obliterate African-Americans access to higher education via well-orchestrated attacks on Affirmative Action.

Edward Blum is a “legal strategist” whose life purpose is curtailing African-Americans access to higher education by bringing court cases against Affirmative Action programs via the Project on Fair Representation; an organization that Blum founded in 2005. Blum is the only member of the group. Although there is a natural inclination to dismiss the Project on Fair Representation as a joke as it has a membership of one, such dismissive ness would be a gross error as the organization has been instrumental in bringing six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Affirmative Action. Blum’s organization has emerged victorious in four of these cases.

Unbeknownst to most people, Blum was behind the recent attack on the admissions practices of the University of Texas involving Abigail Fisher, a white female who claimed that Affirmative Action policies worked against her entrance into the institution. Fortunately for Black America, the Fisher case failed; however, the alluded to failure angered Blum to the point that he has doubled-down on his efforts to prevent African-American students access to higher education.

Blum’s most recent activities revolve around a new organization called Students for Fair Admissions that recruits non-black students who have been denied admission to selective universities with the intention of filing lawsuits on their behalf. At the present moment, Blum has targeted Harvard University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison as his most recent targets. Make no mistake about it, Blum is extremely dedicated to this cause as evidenced by his creation of social media propaganda such as the sites,

Each site is an obvious ploy to find plaintiffs — at this present moment Asians are being solicited — for additional cases and dispense information regarding what he terms “reverse racism.”

What follows is the front page of Blum’s Harvardnotfair.org page.

Were You Denied Admission to Harvard?
It may be because you’re the wrong race.

Harvard is a great university and we know it’s tough to be admitted. But Harvard continues to use an applicant’s race and ethnicity as admission criteria even though a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision essentially forbids these practices. We believe that’s neither fair nor legal and we are committed to ending Harvard’s racial preference policies in court.

If you have been denied admission to Harvard, we want to hear from you. Please fill out the form below. After doing so, we also encourage you to join our organization, Students for Fair Admissions, the group that has filed a lawsuit against Harvard.

Most disturbing of all is that Blum has been allowed to issue these attacks against Black America without any significant resistance. It appears that if attacks on the black community do not include either shocking violence or sensational news coverage, our community remains dormant as important substantive matters are decided. It is for this reason that I think it is time for the so-called conscious community to move on from what can be appropriately termed the Umar debates — I understand that this matter is far from settled — and turn their focus to individuals such as Edward Blum whose plans for Black America are unconscionable and a much more significant threat to our future than anything that Umar Johnson could ever conceive.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Will Black America Fail to Respond to Donald Trump’s Planned Attack on Affirmative Action Before it is Too Late?

Color me extremely amused at the recent implosion of the Trump administration. In light of the public battles that seemingly emanate from this administration, it seems appropriate to call its members “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”

Even in the midst of discord displaying that there are few things high-ranking members of the Trump administration agree on, there is consensual agreement that they will do their best to obstruct every path out of poverty for Black America. It is this common ground of resisting the advancement of African-Americans via an attack on Affirmative Action on collegiate campuses that has provided new combatants Donald J. Trump and Jeff Sessions ample room to lower the volume on their public feud.

In many ways, this most recent attempt by the Trump administration to reduce the number of African-American students on collegiate campuses excavated a familiar predicament of being, “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” for most African-Americans.

In reality, this attempt to challenge Affirmative Action during college admissions via a flimsy argument that the policy violates whites equal protection under the law rights provides the clearest view of both why so many Americans voted for this polarizing figure and the Trump administrations foremost goals and objectives. A segment of America has selected Trump to “make America great again” by hitting a reset button that allows for whites to become the preferred population when it comes to employment opportunities and seats at American universities. There is no other logical or illogical explanation that would explain the current political climate and the imminent attack on Affirmative Action policies.

In many ways, this attempt to deny African-American students access to higher education validates a long-held suspicion that whites seek a monopoly over every American resource. Consider for a moment the frequent refrain from whites that it is the cavernous educational achievement gap that is the catalyst behind racial disparities. This relatively straightforward argument blames Black America for its impoverished position. According to whites, if only blacks would alter their priorities and place their emphasis on education over rap music, literature or gold teeth, and marriage over producing children out of wedlock they would be saved. I am quite certain that many a white political pundit has mused if blacks would focus their attention on education, the poverty that has ridden them as a biblical curse would expire.

Consider for a moment the following quotes from white powerbrokers regarding the ultimate utility of education.

  • Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive: easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.

Peter Brougham

  • It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time — for we are bound by that — but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time.

T.S. Eliot

  • What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the human soul.

Joseph Addison

  • Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.

Robert Frost

  • Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.

Abigail Adams

  • What we have learned from others becomes our own reflection.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The above quotes lead one to believe that Trump’s attack on Black America’s access to higher learning is borne of a dogged-determination to extend the ‘have not’ status of Black America well into the new millennium. In fact, it is not unreasonable to believe that when judged by history that the Trump administrations most crowning achievement may be the lengths that it went to protect the interests of whites.

I wonder, how will Black America respond to this blatant attack?

The disappointment surrounding the Trump administrations plan to begin “…litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions” should be merely the sound before the organized political activism of astute and angered black populace.

Only time will tell if Black America has reached a level of political maturity that allows it to rally in a fight against a substantive political issue such as the Trump administration’s pending attack on Affirmative Action that far outweighs relatively trivial matters such as Umar Johnson’s proposed school.

If history is any indicator, we should expect Black America to once again drop the ball by failing to arrive on the political battlefield with the seriousness this matter requires. Failure to organize our politico economic currency with the intention of confronting those entities that seek to obstruct traditional avenues of advancement will doom future generations of Black America. Most disappointing of all is the reality that we could prevent such events if we cared enough.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017