Category Archives: Politics

THE EDUCATION OF TYREKE SMITH: IS IT TIME FOR BUCKEYE NATION TO STAND AGAINST FELLOW BUCKEYES?

One does not have to enter into an in-depth analysis to realize that the average white sports fan can simultaneously cheer for and celebrate black male athletes while remaining indifferent to their well-known struggles in American society. If we learn nothing else from the Colin Kaepernick fiasco, it is that your average white sports fan wants their sports entertainment devoid of political commentary involving racial matters. I am confident that the refrain, “Just play the game, Goddamn it!!!!!!” has dropped off the lips of more than a few sports fanatics.

As a proud alumnus of THE Ohio State University, I am not surprised that the above sentiments represent the viewpoints of a vocal section of BUCKEYE NATION. Verification of this point is offered by my fellow members of BUCKEYE NATION reacting so tersely to a little T-shirt worn by football recruit Tyreke Smith. Mr. Smith, a 6’4” 255 lbs. “can’t miss defensive end prospect” from Cleveland Heights High School arrived at Ohio State’s most recent football camp wearing a T-shirt adorned with a poignant message regarding an omnipresent fear harbored by so many young African-Americans. The alluded to message is a succinct representation of young African-Americans perception of how outsiders, many of them black, consider their presence and worth. The message that has angered significant parts of Buckeye Nation to demand that Head Coach Urban Meyer rescind a scholarship offer to Tyreke Smith reads as follows: “I hope that I don’t get killed for being black today.”

The response to Mr. Smith by a very vocal segment of Buckeye Nation on Ohio State football message boards has been filled with unconscionable condemnation that relates the posters belief that this young man is unworthy of representing THE Ohio State University in any form. When viewed from an emotional position, it is evident that the alluded to fans are offering Smith a quid pro quo arrangement, meaning that if he ceases his attempts to provide commentary on America’s obvious racial problems, they will welcome him into Buckeye Nation with open arms.

To the chagrin of this segment of Buckeye Nation, it appears that Smith has no interest in such a Faustian Deal. According to the Buckeye recruit, “I felt I should wear it because I’m big on the African American culture and know the struggles that our race goes through…Being the individual I am and the spotlight I have, I felt that people would get the message if I wore the shirt.

White sports fans have historically failed to realize that the athletic feats black male athletes perform in sold-out arenas and stadiums are only a minuscule part of their daily existence. In all honesty, playing the game is the easiest part of their day as the sports arena is one of the most race-neutral places in American society; that is if they can be so focused on the game that they do not hear the racial barbs being hurled at them by white fans. The problems begin once they take off their uniform and have to emerge from packed arenas as relatively unknown black males. Even racial apologists such as Charles Barkley and clueless sportswriters such as Jason Whitlock realize that they are only a moment away from a racial incident with either a law enforcement officer, an average white citizen, or a hate-filled fellow black man that could end in lethal violence for reasons that have little to do with them.

When you think about it, the constant trials-and-tribulations of black people in America is a subject that whites of various political leanings and socioeconomic status have little understanding or consideration. It is safe to say that the average white citizen equates the raising of racial bias issues with a routine attempt by blacks to escape personal responsibility for their station in life. And why should whites feel otherwise? Anyone with even a superficial understanding of racial prejudice and institutional racism will tell you that even the most non-racist white person invariably benefits from racism during their daily existence.

So I am neither surprised nor amused by rabid white sports fans ability to check sports websites for information regarding the health status and availability of their favorite black athletes while never relinquishing blasé feelings relating to the fragility of black male lives. The above contradictions are nothing new and will most certainly never disappear in a nation whose midwife was the labor of stolen Africans, and economic might bolstered by King Cotton. Despite our collective hesitation to admit it, that is who we are as a nation.

Unfortunately, I think that young Tyreke Smith is going to learn that in America, Race is a subject “where fools rush in, and Angels fear to tread.” These lessons will be learned regardless of the institution that he chooses to attend because when it comes to racial matters, Martha and the Vandellas said it best, you have “Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide.”

O-H

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

WHAT A SHAME: DONALD TRUMP BECOMES THE LATEST AMERICAN POLITICIAN TO CALL FOR ASSATA OLUGBALA SHAKUR’S HEAD

I have lived enough life to realize that people in possession of some semblance of politico-economic power often convey their true intentions within a palatable message individually crafted to rally an unthinking horde. Trust me when I say that this is standard fare for the politically powerful in this nation. In many ways, the above tactic allows them to generate support via the use of strong keywords that never fail to raise an always-existing blood lust among the unrighteous to a boil.

The moment that I heard that Donald Trump was planning to reverse Obama’s efforts to re-establish relations with Cuba, I knew that the name Assata Shakur, a sixty-nine-year-old grandmother, would be hurled by this nation’s leader. In many ways, Assata Shakur’s Cuban exile reminds one of a ‘Cold War’ period that has recently been ratcheted up by the repeated allegations of Russian interference in the most recent Presidential election.

Unbeknownst to the vast majority of African-Americans and the chagrin of American law enforcement agencies, Cuban President Fidel Castro granted former Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and Black Liberation Army leader Assata Shakur political asylum over thirty-years ago. To Castro’s credit, he has offered similar protection to many African-American political activists such as Robert F. Williams, Huey P. Newton, William Lee Brent and Eldridge Cleaver. Despite the derisive statements habitually propagated to the American public about the Cuban “dictator”, during his life, Castro offered refuge to African-Americans who were unjustly persecuted by the American judicial system. From American politicians and law enforcement officials perspective, the Cuban leader’s granting of a haven for African-American activists served as an inexcusable blemish on not only his but also his nation’s record.

Make no mistake about it; the pursuit of Assata Shakur undoubtedly displays the indomitable will of American law enforcement officials and agencies at Federal, State, and local levels to correct what they perceive to be an inexcusable wrong. Indicative of this thirst for vengeance, the United States Government placed Assata Shakur on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Many have wondered why America has pursued Assata Shakur with such desperation.

The answer to the above question revolves around a shootout between members of the Black Liberation Army and the New Jersey State Highway Patrol on May 2, 1973. Although there are conflicting stories regarding what occurred during the altercation, there are several things that are factual and therefore unchanging. Facts state that a New Jersey State Trooper stopped a vehicle carrying three members of the Black Liberation Army; Assata Shakur was a passenger in this vehicle and wanted by law enforcement agencies for her determination to secure the liberation and salvation of her people, a dedication that led to her assuming a prominent role in the Black Power movement. Law enforcement agencies alleged that Assata was “the mother hen who kept them all shooting.” Evidence gathered from not only the scene but also the hospital that Shakur was taken to after being shot by a New Jersey State Trooper, definitively prove several things: (a) she had not fired a weapon that night, (b) she had been shot while sitting in the vehicle that she was traveling in, (c) she was shot with her hands up, and (d) she was partially paralyzed along one side of her body as a result of nerve damage caused by the trooper’s bullets. However, little of that mattered as the State of New Jersey decided that Assata Shakur must pay for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper.

Further aggravating American law enforcement agencies is not only the swell of support Assata Shakur received while she stood trial for the incident mentioned above but also her subsequent escape from a maximum security facility after a murder conviction. Making matters worse for law enforcement officials was the reality that they were never able to re-capture Assata during the five years between her harrowing prison escape and her unceremonious arrival in Cuba.

Assata’s escape is akin to consistent irritant to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies that have been rubbed raw. The greatest indicator that American law enforcement agencies, as well as this nation’s elected officials, are still riled by Assata Shakur has been their repeated attempts to recapture her. For example,

  • In 1998, the United States House of Representatives passed Concurrent Resolution 254 that requested that the Cuban Castro-led Government expeditiously return Assata Shakur to America. The measure passed with a 371 (yea) – 0 (Nay) vote.
  • In the same year, the United States Senate passed the same piece of legislation, Concurrent Resolution 254, by a unanimous vote.
  • In 2005, the United States Department of Justice entered the fray in a major way when they increased an already hefty award for Assata Shakurs capture to $1,000,000.00
  • In 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that was headed by the tyrannical J. Edgar Hoover and his Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) when the pursuit of Shakur began, not only placed Assata on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, but also raised the bounty on her head to $2,000,000.00. The FBI now characterizes Shakur as a ‘domestic terrorist.’

Since she escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in Union Township, New Jersey, Assata Shakur has morphed into a never-ending irritant to powerful whites and evidence that white power is not immutable. There is no doubt that it is Assata’s defiance that has heightened white political leaders’ maniacal pursuit of her for the past thirty-plus years. Put simply; in the minds of white politicians and law enforcement authorities, Assata is a rebellious slave whose escape inspires others currently ensnared by the chains of mental slavery and economic exploitation.

It is through this prism that I view both Donald Trump’s call for Assata’s return and the commentary of current U.S. Senator (New Jersey-D) and Cuban-American Bob Menendez. According to Menendez, Trump’s “announcement is a step in the right direction to reverse an ill-advised and misguided Cuba policy that has failed to deliver on its promises, left the Cuban people worse off, and allowed American fugitives, like wanted terrorist and cop-killer Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakru), to escape justice.”

I most certainly would love to state that figures like Trump, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Menendez or those that occupied similar political positions before them are not serious about their decades long pursuit of Assata, however, I have witnessed the actions of unwise men for far too long to believe that their dedication to such a task does not match that of a “radical Islamist” that they are quick to denounce. Assata Shakur’s existence holds the potential to inspire droves of politically conscious black people who agree with her fight against the Capitalist principles and white world supremacy that this nation has come to represent more forcefully than any that ever existed before its creation. Predictably, the alluded to inspiration that Assata provides to black freedom fighters is just as strongly felt by opponents such as Trump, Christie, and Menendez. From such individuals perspective, Assata and her kind (Mutulu Shakur, Fred Hampton, Bunchy Carter, Geronimo Pratt, Karl Hampton, Huey P. Newton, Tupac Amaru Shakur, William Lee Brent, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Rush, George and Jonathan Jackson, and the list goes on and one) are analogous to the free blacks that white slave-holders wished to repatriate to Liberia and Sierra Leone as their non-bonded status gave their enslaved brothers and sisters radical ideas and desires for freedom. Hence it should be expected that a figure such as Donald Trump would publicly call for the head of our beloved sister Assata Olugbala Shakur.

At this moment, it is imperative that Black America’s response to these demonic actions not only be a vociferous “No! No! No!” but also be prepared to extend our anger further than mere rhetoric or casting a vote within the very system that oppresses us. We must be willing to follow Assata’s revolutionary example by every means imaginable.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

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Author, Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

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ALL EYEZ ON ME: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO POLITICIZE YOUNG BLACK AMERICA

Although it may sound strange, I was saddened by the prospect of a biopic titled All Eyez on Me based on the life of Hip-Hop icon Tupac Amaru Shakur. Ironically, it is Tupac Amaru Shakur’s complexity and multi-dimensionality that birthed my reservations regarding this project. At the center of my concerns was a fear that a mere biopic from some random Hollywood studio would fall far short of capitalizing on this gripping story by failing to tell this story in a courageous manner that exposed the most recent generation of youth around the globe to the genius that I knew as Tupac Amaru Shakur.

Unfortunately for Tupac’s legacy, my fears and consternations regarding this project have come to fruition. Put simply; the makers of this biopic have dropped the ball at a crucial moment and thereby wasted a never to be retrieved opportunity to raise the consciousness of a nation regarding contestable issues such as Manhood, Race, and Culture.

After viewing All Eyez on Me it is clear that the filmmakers were doomed from the beginning as the traditional two-hour time constraints placed on a big screen biopic is too brief a period to convey the life of a figure whose life mirrors sixties radicalism and the ends-justify-the-means materialism that had come to represent Black America at this present moment.

If Bigger Thomas was Black America’s Depression Era Native Son, Tupac Amaru Shakur holds the same position for his generation. The life of Tupac Amaru Shakur reflects the hopes of Black Powerites, the failings of black love, the pain of being entrapped in a disassembled urban community, and the joy of occasional, fleeting triumphs.

It is the multi-dimensionality stated above that eludes so many writers and filmmakers who attempt to capture both the essence of Black America and the life of Tupac Amaru Shakur. Make no mistake about it, Tupac was an elusive character who at opportune moments willingly adorned himself with every caricature that supporters and opponents place on African-American males: revolutionary, thug, intellectual, hoodlum, genius, emcee, Panther, prophet, prognosticator. Tupac wore all of these hats for a gawking audience that somehow managed to not see the purity of Tupac’s soul despite his eagerness to reveal its contents to anyone willing to listen intently.

There is little doubt that Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X serves as the defining moment in the politicization of legions of African-Americans across several decades, All Eyez on Me held the same potential. Unfortunately, this biopic is a convoluted mess of missed opportunities. Instead of digging their heels in and sacrificing elements of entertainments by accentuating significant political issues and matters that Tupac faced throughout his entire life, filmmakers too frequently abandoned this noble path in favor of stereotypical clichés of “ghetto” behavior that ultimately degraded both black men and women.

When considered in its entirety, All Eyez on Me is at best a superficial portrait of Black America’s most prominent post-Black Power Era figure; yes, I do believe that Tupac’s influence extends well beyond that of former President Barack Hussein Obama. What is most disturbing about this biopic’s failings is that Tupac Amaru Shakur’s story holds so much potential to explain the rocky road that Black America has traveled during the past four decades. In every way, the glaring failings and missed moments that mar this biopic are inexcusable. Such issues are made more significant when we realize that this grand opportunity to offer a new generation the biting social and political commentary that undergirded Tupac Amaru Shakur’s entire existence is a missed opportunity that will never be reclaimed as we will never see another Tupac as long as we live.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

HAS THE NAACP OUTLIVED ITS UTILITY

Truthfully, it is an assertion many activists have whispered for a lengthy period; less tactful persons have boisterously asserted it in the public arena. The issue I am alluding to is a daunting query of has the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) outlived its utility. Created in 1909, the NAACP was formed out of a desperate desire by a collective of predominantly white moralists who were repulsed at the 1908 Springfield (Illinois) Race Riot and what the event meant for their beloved nation. Although rarely discussed, there were very few African-Americans involved in the NAACP’s creation, W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells-Barnett were the most notable of that initial cadre.

For much of its existence, the NAACP has served as legal arm for the historic battles to subdue institutionalized racism in an America that was slow to change. It was the NAACP that brought the action to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., contention that the struggle for Civil Rights in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” would be a protracted battle fought in both American courts and the hearts of its citizenry.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., warned whites that their post-Voting Rights Act celebrations communicated an erroneous belief that America had conquered race.  King vehemently dissented against such naïveté and advised that the solution to persisting racial inequities lay in the completion of two increasingly difficult stages.  According to Dr. King, the initial step toward racial equality, the securing of legal equality, was achieved with the signing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. King posited that the next stage, the exercise of justice, would be much more challenging. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reflected,           

[W]ith Selma and the Voting Rights Act one phase of development in the civil rights revolution came to an end. A new phase opened, but few observers realized it or were prepared for its implications. For the vast majority of white Americans, the past decade — the first phase — had been a struggle to treat the Negro with a degree of decency, not of equality. White America was ready to demand that the Negro should be spared the lash of brutality and coarse degradation, but it had never been truly committed to helping him out of poverty, exploitation or all forms of discrimination. The outraged white citizen had been sincere when he snatched the whips from the Southern sheriffs and forbade them more cruelties. But when this was to a degree accomplished, the emotions that had momentarily inflamed him melted away,

When Negroes looked for the second phase, the realization of equality, they found that many of their white allies had quietly disappeared. Negroes felt cheated, especially in the North, while many whites felt that the negroes had gained so much it was virtually impudent and greedy to ask for more so soon. 

There is no doubt that the NAACP has spent the bulk of its time engaged in the initial stage, securing equality on the law books of America, and scant time addressing the more difficult process of exercising equality. It is in that gap between legislative equality and the exercise of equality that the vast majority of angst and discord within black America remains. Put simply; it is this cavernous hole that facilitated the abandonment of traditional Civil Rights courtroom activism for direct expressions of resistance such as that provided by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committees (SNCC).

In time, court cases led by figures such as Charles Hamilton Houston, Constance Baker Motley, and Thurgood Marshall were replaced by physical confrontations with Jim Crow and strategies such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s vaunted “Panther Patrols.” In time, it became evident that the NAACP’s propensity to shy away from such direct battle facilitated their marginalization in the minds of the common man and woman. In many ways, the NAACP was never an organization of the people; it represented their interests. However, it did not have many opportunities for those outside of Du Bois Talented-Tenth to participate in a significant way.

In the new millennium, the NAACP’s disassociation from the masses of black America has become even more pronounced. The emergence of grassroots activist groups such as Black Lives Matter has shined a spotlight upon this occurrence. For decades, the NAACP has rested on its well-deserved laurels as the most iconic organization in the nation. If nothing else, the NAACP’s reputation preceded it. Historically speaking, NAACP leaders were never forced to compare themselves to what many considered lesser groups such as SNCC, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Mississippi Freedom and Democratic Party, the Black Panther Party, or the Black Liberation Army.

The venerable NAACP existed above much of the dirty work that served as staples for lesser groups. Outgoing NAACP President Cornel William Brooks articulated as much when he related that “We (NAACP) do not crawl on the ground! We do not fall prostrate before problems! We are not relegated to the dust! We are not insects! We are an American iconic institution! We are the NAACP!” Ironically, it is Brooks, the figure who has worked tirelessly for the past three years to reposition the organization that sits at the center of the NAACP’s push for increased relevancy via a “transformational retooling” aimed at attracting the attention and loyalties of an emerging cadre of young activists. Inexplicably, the NAACP’s current leader is being jettisoned out the door as this initiative expands.

The deposed President articulated the primary problem facing the NAACP when he remarked that the organization “has fallen behind the times…it has been less effective in countering racism today, while Black Lives Matter and other protest movements have exploded.”

Although difficult to comprehend, it appears that the NAACP’s “transformational retooling” is born out of a jealousy/envy of grassroots activist groups such as Black Lives Matter that have managed via social media savvy, not necessarily an activist agenda or political accomplishments, to garner both the loyalties of a new generation of activists and the attention of national media outlets.

Instead of remaining in their traditional lane, NAACP leaders are apparently seeking to leave their throne of dignity and descend into the horde of the unclean masses via “an organization-wide refresh” to address the “audacious challenges…(presented by) today’s volatile political, media and social climates.”

The historical record shows that the NAACP’s most significant utility has been when they entered courtrooms and spoke for those who had been intimidated into silence by institutional racism. I fear that in its rush to recreate itself as young, hip, and cutting-edge activist group that the NAACP is vacating a much-needed role in the movement in exchange for fleeting moments of fame. I wish that someone would tell the NAACP board that there is much danger hidden in their desperate attempt to attract a new generation of activists. This courting of young activists makes the NAACP analogous to a retiree appearing at a club for twentysomething’s with wearing a Kangol and a litany of gold chains hanging around their neck attempting to fit in using eighties lingo such as “chill, dope, and chick.”

I am most certainly not saying that the NAACP should shutter its doors; however, there is little doubt that this movement to become something that it never was in a new millennium that it has never seen, is not only bizarre, but also dumb. If provided the opportunity, I would plead with the NAACP to not refashion itself as a rival to emerging activist groups such as Black Lives Matter. Such action not only betrays the NAACP’s historic role, but also leaves a cavernous hole in the continuing struggle for racial equality. Bolstered by a century of activist experience, the NAACP should be seeking to serve these emerging groups in an advisory capacity, not making moves to dissipate the power that has been mobilized in a technological world that old-guard Civil Rights groups will never be able to understand or keep up with.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

 

 

 

A NEW MILLENNIUM ESAU: WHY THE SAGA OF JEREMY JOSEPH CHRISTIAN REPRESENTS SO MUCH ABOUT WHITE AMERICA

There are a few things that are certain about human beings. One of them happens to be that if you want to know what a person thinks, the most reliable path to such information is allowing them to speak freely. I guarantee you that if you allow a person to speak long enough that they will reveal with laser accuracy what they are thinking about a host of topics. This life principle has served me well.

“Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedoms…You call it terrorism. I call it patriotism.”

When I heard Jeremy Joseph Christian spew the above phrase during his initial court appearance to all within earshot. I resisted a compulsion that far too many of my contemporaries succumb to of dismissing the above statement as little more than the ramblings of a mad-man. Rather than excusing the referenced litany, I now realize that Jeremy Joseph Christian is a new millennium representation of what this nation means for so many angry, hopeless, and disenchanted white males. The alluded to individuals are analogous to a reincarnated Esau who has had their birthright stolen from beneath them.

The inheritance that the alluded to modern-day Esau’s feel that they have been swindled out of is America. There is a segment of White America that believes that America ‘is a nation founded by white men and should always serve the interests (economic, social, and political) of white men.’ It is this inheritance of riches and many privileges that white males feel that they have been swindled out of by the arrival of other groups. It is the loss of an absolute monopoly over national resources that sits at the core of the angst expressed by the Jeremy Joseph Christian’s of this nation. Such individuals are principally angered at the daunting reality that white men are no longer permitted to be, WHITE MEN. Put simply, persons such as Jeremy Joseph Christian wish that they could recreate a yesteryear environment when the judgment of white men shall never be questioned, the intelligence of white men never held up for examination, and it was a given that minority populations would never step out of their place.

Let’s be clear on this matter of white males being swindled out of their birthright; it is not as if they have lost their political and socioeconomic monopolies in contemporary America. They still have control over the vast majority of resources that minority populations must rally together in a desperate attempt to capture if they desire to continue to exist. The ire of the Jeremy Joseph Christian’s of this nation is raised by even the slightest challenge to the king’s ransom of power, wealth, and influence that their predecessors have in their minds bequeathed to them.

The great comedian Paul Mooney once remarked that he breaks down and cries when he sees a homeless white man because “it is such a waste of whiteness.” When viewed in that light, a figure such as Jeremy Joseph Christian and the other young whites residing in the alt-right political community fail to realize that their path to success is readily available, in fact, one is hard-pressed to cite any significant impediments to white success beyond personal laziness. Just consider for a moment, the heights that a young white male such as Jared Kushner has risen within this nation without ever speaking a word publicly.

Nevertheless, white males such as Jeremy Joseph Christian who have miraculously found a way to be white and male in America without finding a modicum of success feel that the presence of others are the reason that their success has been elusive. Such individuals are masterful at avoiding any personal responsibility for their dire plight as evidence by these common excuses.

  • If the Mexicans weren’t here, I could get a job.
  • I can’t get ahead because I have to pay for the lazy blacks on welfare.
  • The blacks have all of the jobs.
  • The Muslims don’t pay taxes and don’t respect our freedoms.

It is not difficult to see that individuals such as Jeremy Joseph Christian have declared war on anyone that they consider competition for any American resource that they believe their ancestors bequeathed to them. Such people were ready made for Trump’s slogan of “Let’s make America great again.” An implicit reference to reversing the clock to a time when Niggers knew their place, all women were barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, and no one was alarmed when white mobs served as accuser, judge, jury, and executioner for those who dared to attempt to swindle a white man out of his birthright.

Unfortunately for disenchanted white males’, their desperate attempts to turn back the hands of time will continually fail. You know, when you think about it, it must be a heck of a position to be a white male in a nation created by white men and still find success elusive.

What is a white man to do? I will tell you what I will do; I will follow Paul Mooney’s lead and just cry the next time I see poor white folk because they have truly wasted the greatest gift that an American seeking power in this nation could ever receive white skin.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

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