Category Archives: Race

#Me Too: Why Has Black America Remained Silent About the Sexual Predators in their Midst?

I am quite confident that if you speak with an African-American man, they will tell you that at some point in their life they have had a private exchange with a black woman that forever changed their soul. We never publicly speak of this secret moment for reasons of delicacy and respect. However, the alluded to exchange remains so prominent in our heart and soul that it often causes us to stare at the man in the mirror as we wonder what demons hide in the hearts of men.

Most devastating to the black men who have had this deep conversation is that it usually occurs with someone that we love, cherish, and trust: a lover, our wife, a family member, or our best female friend. The topic that I am alluding to is the far too frequent occurrence of rape or sexual assault of African-American women at the hand of some black man that is far from a stranger.

When I think back over the relationships that I have had with African-American women, I now realize that at some point in our engagement the vast majority of them confided in me that at some point in their lives that they had been harassed, sexually assaulted, or even brutally raped. Unfortunately, the only commonalities in their stories were that they all knew their attackers and not a single one of them was ever convicted of their crimes. Each of these women decided at some point to either not report the crime or end their engagement with an unresponsive criminal justice system. Most revealed that they refused to go through the same charade that their mothers, aunts, and girlfriends experienced after similar assaults.

As an African-American male, I find it a strange phenomenon that there is a segment of black men who have decided to prey on African-American girls and women in a manner that conveys a deep and unending hatred. In fact, the commentaries and viewpoints of so many black males are so standard that I am no longer shocked to hear their tales of sexual conquest, not to mention financial exploitation, of apparently naïve African-American women whose educational attainments and financial resources vary widely. Truthfully, there was a time when I thought that such viewpoints were a sign of ignorance, small-minds, and an absence of loyalty to the Race. Those days are gone as experience has taught me that individuals holding draconian beliefs about black women are found even within the African-American Freedom Struggle.

I find it to be peculiar that black males can pledge their loyalty to “the liberation and salvation of the black nation” while operating from a “physical might equals right” ethos in regards to their dealings with black women. The referenced individuals have somehow found space to publicly pledge their allegiance to the Race while operating out of a highly-flawed manhood construct. Rarely is it discussed that the alluded to manhood constructs are white male patriarchy in blackface.

The sexual exploitation and rape of black women within the activist community is nothing new if we believe the shocking commentary of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). Carmichael answered a question regarding the role of black women in the African-American freedom struggle as being “prone.” Carmichael’s quip translates into the role of black women in the movement is on their backs with their legs open. Even the Black Panther Party (BPP), the Vanguard organization of sixties protest politics, had so many problems with Panther “brothers” attempting to exploit Panther “sisters” that BPP leadership expelled members for the offenses.

I long ago decided that I would do my best to remain on the right side of events, even if it meant me taking a stance against the actions, activities, and intentions of African-American men. It is this commitment to righteousness that spurs my rejection of the perverse forms of toxic manhood that I see so many of my contemporaries and students using as their moral compass.

Although rarely discussed in public spaces, flawed manhood constructs are as damaging to black men as the pernicious and publicly discussed evils of bigotry, discrimination, and institutional racism. In many ways, faulty manhood constructs that mandate black males assume personas of hyper-aggression, irresponsible sexual lifestyles, and pervasive social responsibility is the final nail in the coffin in regards to their maturation.

Unfortunately for Black America, until black males are socialized into appropriate forms of black manhood, none of the women in our community are safe from sexual assault or rape. Not your mother, aunt, sister, or daughter. None are safe!!!!!!

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

 

I Told You So: Denise Young Smith Rides the Shifting Winds of Public Opinion

Colleagues,

I have always been proud to work for Apple in large part because of our steadfast commitment to creating an inclusive culture. We are also committed to having the most diverse workforce and our work in this area has never been more important. In fact, I have dedicated my twenty years at Apple to fostering and promoting opportunity and access for women, people of color and the underserved and unheard.

Last week, while attending a summit in Bogota, I made some comments as part of a conversation on the many factors that contribute to diversity and inclusion.

I regret the choice of words I used to make this point. I understand why some people took offense. My comments were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry.

More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.

Understanding that diversity includes women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and all underrepresented minorities is at the heart of our work to create an environment that is inclusive of everyone.

Our commitment at Apple to increasing racial and gender diversity is as strong as it’s ever been. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but there is much work to be done. I’m continually reminded of the importance of talking about these issues and learning from each other.

Best,

Denise

A SLICK SURVIVAL STRATEGY: WHAT APPLE VICE-PRESIDENT DENISE YOUNG SMITH’S COMMENTARY ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IS AN INTERESTING SURVIVAL STRATEGY THAT MANY AFRICAN-AMERICANS USE

As an African-American male who is also a first-generation collegian and one of the few to reach the heights of educational achievement in earning a Doctorate of Philosophy, I can attest to the fact that the path I have traversed has been largely devoid of others who look like anyone in my family.

When I reflect on the alluded to path, it is in many ways astounding how few of my peers matriculated from high school to college, not to mention how many were “weeded out” by various methods when it was time to pursue graduate studies or attend a desired professional school. Put simply; from my, and every other “minority”, the stony road we traveled was the antithesis of diverse as it was absent black or brown faces, regardless of gender, political leanings, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation. So, I am confident that you can imagine my surprise when Denise Young Smith, a black woman who serves as Apple’s vice-president of diversity and inclusion revealed this week that if I knew what to look for, I would have realized that the lily-white overwhelmingly male environments that I trudged through were the epitome of diversity.

During a recent speech at the One Young World Summit, held in Bogotá, Colombia, Young Smith took individuals such as myself to task for our belief that there is little diversity to be found in a room filled with nothing but white males. According to the Apple executive, “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” In many ways, it is frightening to consider that a person who knows so little about diversity and inclusion holds such an important position at Apple. I am saddened to report that prior to her current post, Young Smith served the company as its vice-president of Human Resources.

In the alternative universe that Young Smith has created to maintain her employment, matters of diversity and inclusion have devolved into being unique human experiences such as do you prefer U2 or the Rolling Stones, is your favorite flavor of ice cream Butter Cream or Vanilla, or do you prefer your pizza cut in slices or squares. According to Young Smith, “Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.” Quite possibly the most befuddling aspect of all is that Denise Young Smith must have dealt with these issues during her ascension within Apple, a company whose workforce is, you guessed it, predominantly white and male; these numbers are fairly standard for Silicon Valley companies.

In many ways, Young Smith’s failure to understand the seriousness of diversity reveals a common tendency of a cadre of black professionals who consciously choose to serve as obstructionists motivated by a selfish strategy that betrays the very spirit of the motto of the black club women’s movement of “Lifting as we climb.” Instead of helping others during their ascension, figures such as Young Smith have implemented a strategy of feigning ignorance regarding racial matters and issues of inclusion that they pray will aid their survival in Fortune 500 companies. Sadly, Young Smith shares that she has been “playing this role for a very long time.”

Negroes of Young Smith’s ilk should be ashamed of themselves, however, one must possess a moral compass to come to such realizations on their own; instead, it is shifting political winds and public condemnation that births contrition in such persons. In reality, their contrition, which always occurs in the form of a public apology is merely another layer of their desperate attempt to stabilize their current employment status. Hence, I am absolutely certain that Young Smith will apologize after the public backlash regarding her controversial speech. Unfortunately for those seeking a career within a Fortune 500 Company, such individuals have learned how to expertly navigate shifting public opinion and always live to obstruct the path of others for another day. I guess when we really think about it, by sharing her deplorable thoughts Young Smith is displaying a form of diversity, it is just so unfortunate that it is the kind that no one should aspire to.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

“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

 

How Cam Newton’s Black Power Salute Exposes How Little We Know About the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

One of the most unfortunate by-products of being an African-American Studies Professor is that it seemingly invites a vast array of individuals with varying levels of historical knowledge to discuss various Race matters with you. Far too often, I find myself at the center of what evolves into contentious debates that would not be an issue at all if my challengers had any understanding of African-American history. The most recent incident occurred in the wake of Cam Newton raising a “Black Power fist” that reminds one of the mid-sixties Black Power Era.

The alluded to individual was exhilarated by Newton’s gesture; however, that euphoria dissipated when Newton later expounded on why he made the polarizing gesture. According to Newton,

The message is unity for me, black, white, different minorities around America. That’s my message. I want everybody to come together. We get nowhere separated. People feeling oppressed and people that are rich looking down on other people, you don’t get nowhere with that. We all are created equal. We need to find some kind of way to come together to make the situation better. Because where we’re going now, it’s not healthy at all.

It would not be an overstatement to state that the so-called “conscious” brother mentioned above was disgusted with what he considered Newton’s failure to stand firm for the Race. The referenced disgust was verbalized via derogatory name-calling.

As I expected, this “conscious” brother turned his attention toward me. Let me first say that I routinely avoid such engagements as those seeking my perspective have already made their minds up regarding the incident. I have found that the most unproductive discussions that I have had regarding racial matters involved individuals seeking to claim the vacated mantle of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

Trust me when I say that the vast majority of people who aspire to replicate legendary Black Power Era figures of yesteryear — Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, and Fred Hampton — know little about the ideological underpinnings that supported their revolutionary platforms. Instead of studying the revolutionary polemics of such individuals that highlight the impact that Capitalism has had on race, class, and gender within Black America, they rely on a menagerie of innuendo, rumor, and Youtube videos that produce little more than sophomoric “hate whitey” phrase-mongering.

It is this understanding that the individual that was seeking to engage me regarding Cam Newton’s “Black Power fist” gesture knew little about Panther ideology that led me to avoid what was destined to be a significant debate regarding the matter. Prior discussions had already taught me that such individuals have no comprehension that the Black Panther Party was able to be pro-black without being anti-white, particularly when it came to poor and working-class whites who were being exploited by Capitalism.

If those seeking to claim the Vanguard position of the African-American Freedom Struggle and walk in the steps of the Huey P. Newton led Black Panther Party had a real understanding of Panther ideology, they would have embraced Cam Newton’s insinuation that this nation needs a “rainbow coalition” of activists to address persisting socioeconomic equalities throughout the entire nation and recognized that at that very moment Newton was channeling the spirit of Fred Hampton. It was the Chairman of the Chicago branch of the Black Panther Party that initially used the phraseology of a “rainbow coalition” well before Jesse Jackson stole the term. If they cared to study, aspiring Panthers would understand that Hampton’s call for “Black Power for black people, White Power for white people, Brown Power for brown people, Red Power for red people, and Yellow Power for yellow people” was not a betrayal of the Race, rather a clear sign of political sophistication that eludes contemporary black leaders and theoreticians.

A figure such as Cam Newton should be applauded for his statement as it signals an uncanny understanding that it is Capitalism that we must fight against, not white people in general. It is the study of relevant materials that is most sorely needed in today’s black freedom movement and not a fixation on iconic images such as Panthers carrying guns and Angela Davis’ Afro. Until this latest generation of black freedom fighters realize that it is Capitalism, not White America that is the true enemy of our people, we will continue being busy and achieving very little as we continue our grandest tradition of failing to understand that it is the destruction of exploitive Capitalism that is the actual goal and not the overthrow of the prevailing racial order so that Black America could have her vengeance in oppressing those that have exploited her for so very long.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017