Category Archives: Relationship

A Low Down Dirty Shame: What the Video of Maia Campbell Reveals About Ignorant Black Males

I recently received a communication from a trusted female friend who issued a very poignant assertion that doubled as a general indictment against African-American men.

We are supposed to jump on every injustice that happens to the black man, but we seem to be their main punching bag! Sharing that video is an insult to us all!!!!

As soon as I read the comment, I realized that it was emanating from grave disappointment with black men. The impetus behind the communication was a “viral video” of actress Maia Campbell who suffers from a bipolar disorder that affects 2.3 million Americans.

The alluded to video captured the In the House star as a physically and mentally disheveled mess in desperate need of the kind of professional help that extends further than an earnest attempt to pray away the “demons” by some prayer circle. Viewing the video caused my heart to break for this young lady. As expected, the lens of love and understanding that I used to view Mrs. Campbell was not matched by other members of our community who used this unfortunate matter to hurl derisive comments in her direction. As if things could not be any worse, it became apparent that it was a black male who not only captured but also promoted the shocking images.

For reasons coded in both our DNA and historical record, African-American women have looked to African-American men for some semblance of protection; unfortunately, in the new millennium it has become increasingly common for those reasonable expectations to be ignored by a sector of black males, a population that is distinctly different from African-American men, who now view black women as prey to be hunted, subdued, and released back into the wild after they are of no further use to them. It is this behavior that led to the poignant assertion that,

“(Black women) are supposed to jump on every injustice that happens to the black man, but we seem to be their main punching bag!

Now I am most certainly aware that the vast majority of black women believe that they have always supported and defended black males regardless of the situation and received very little in return. Such feelings contextualize the repeated conflicts that occur between black men and women. One of the primary mistakes that the combatants on both sides of the aisle make when deciding to attack what they unwisely consider their adversary is a failure to pinpoint those that they intend to battle; put simply, it appears that hurt, anger, and disappointment paves the path for each of us to generalize and indict all black men or all black women as the source of our turmoil.

Despite an understandable emotionally charged knee-jerk reaction, the truth of the matter is that the scrap of a human being who captured Maia Campbell on video is not a fair representation of the black men that I know; he is a black male biologically, yet devoid of any of the qualities necessary to be crowned a black man. It is fair to characterize persons of this ilk with the following descriptors: ignorant, unlearned, socially inappropriate, devoid of common sense, and absent even a semblance of consideration for the community that has nurtured them. Predictably when this Negro was pressed as to why he recorded the referenced footage, he related the following.

Y’all n****s would not be mad if I posted a white girl. If I would have ran into muthaf***king Hillary Duff/ Lizzy McGuire and she was asking for crack and sucking d**k at the gas station for money for crack, I would have posted her, too…This ain’t no mental disorder this b***h is just high as f**k.”

When one considers all that the above language and worldview convey, it is easy to understand why others look at this population of African-American males with amused contempt and pity.

In regards to the assertion that black women

“…are supposed to jump on every injustice that happens to the black man, but we seem to be their main punching bag!”

I have little response other than to warn black women to not generalize and fall into the trap of allowing a few ignorant fellows to represent the essence of black manhood. If nothing else, it is imperative that we ostracize this class black male and work toward healing the willing and able in our midst. I am confident that she would agree that this process becomes more difficult when idiots such as the one referenced above are included and therefore permitted to continue their pattern of mischief and destruction.  

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

“It ain’t my fault!!!!!!!”: Black Men Respond to the Insinuation that they are Responsible for Declining Marriage Rates in Black America

The swift and poignant response I received after a recent post linking the cause for spiraling marriage rates in the black community to the steeply declining numbers of young, educated, and professional black men unleashed a long-simmering anger of outrageous ferocity.

As I began to receive calls and read emails regarding the posting, it did not take me long to realize that black men had long ago tired of being blamed for the failings of the black community, particularly failed marriages and the unprecedented increase of single female-headed households. Put simply, accomplished black men are no longer willing to silently carry the bulk of those social maladies alone, if at all. The emotional intensity of the alluded to responses was so significant that I felt compelled to revisit this topic sooner, rather than later.

The public protestations regarding my earlier posting emanated from a cross-section of Black America, male and female, young and old, formally educated within the academy and those who earned their stripes via the school of hard knocks. I personally knew a few of those who responded, others I had no prior exposure to beyond sporadic social media postings. Nevertheless, engagement with this highly diverse population of Black America made one thing painfully clear, this conflict over love and matrimony is Black America’s latest internal Civil War, a conflict that has raged uncontrollably over the past fifty-plus years.

It may have been my pre-existing relationship with many of the responders that led me to consider their impassioned protestations over the data included in my earlier posting as more than irrational complaining. The referenced data base that pointed to young, educated, and professional black men as the primary reason for declining black matrimony rates raised the ire of all responders in an uncommon way.

After pondering on this matter, it is obvious that black men feel that the conclusions presented by the Brookings Institute presents a partial portrait of why so many educated black women are not marrying black men. One of the most poignant responses emanated from a former student who took significant issue with the insinuation that he, and those like him, held any responsibility for black women’s failure to find everlasting love.

There are plenty of single (gainfully employed) black men actively looking for black women…(I have found that) It’s nearly impossible to meet and develop a meaningful relationship with a woman that’s outside of your social circle. Most people I know that got married met their wife through friends or friends of friends.

As for collegiate women, I know some (grown) women that would club them over the head for complaining about their inability to find marriage-minded educated and professional black men. From ages 16-23 women hold ALL the cards. Men don’t really get the upper hand in the dating game until about age 26 and up. I think these women are just hopping on a convenient bandwagon to take the light off themselves and their poor choices in men.

The above sentiments were echoed by a Brooklynite school teacher. “C’mon, black women need to stop all of this complaining about there not being any good black men available” the educator lamented. “The truth of the matter is that for many of the sisters who are supposedly seeking an educated black man, they are their own worst enemies. I cannot tell you how many sisters that I dated prior to getting married (to a black woman) who quite simply were impossible to get along with, particularly if you displayed genuine interest in them without any significant problems. I mean after a while, who wants to be bothered with someone who is being difficult for the sake of being difficult. Oh, I forgot. They aren’t being difficult, they are being STRONG black women. Well, if that is what a strong black woman is, I don’t want any parts of it.”

As I read through the litany of comments, it became obvious that the experiences of so many educated black men are not reflected in data used by the previously referenced Brookings Institute study.

Yet another brother communicated his utter disbelief in what he termed the consistent lie that there are gangs of educated black women who are actively seeking educated, professional, and financially stable black men as husbands.

Please don’t mistake me, I’m not arguing the validity of math, but with so many of my patnas’ (sic) with college degrees, no kids, making good money and actively searching for a black wife it seems odd whenever I read things like this. If they’re in such high demand they’d be off the market, no? I won’t throw shade at the sistas, after all, they’re not some homogeneous hive mind but it’s worth noting that the attentions of some are usually grabbed by another “type”… IJS

Although many relationship experts attribute much of the discord between black men and women to “bad timing”, many African-American men refuse such escapism. A former college roommate offered the following analysis.

I have learned that far too often, black women are not seeking the good guy until they have been psychologically damaged, given a couple of children, and then decide that such associations are not working for them. When you think about it, there is no greater sign of a flawed set of priorities than the decisions that so many black women make regarding their personal lives. I actually had a female friend tell me that she would never settle in regards to her selection of a mate. However, over the past fifteen-years I have watched her select men that even Stevie Wonder could see did not represent any of the things that she wanted for her life. There was some type of disjointing that had occurred in her statements regarding what type of man she desired and the type of man that she welcomed into her bed. For her, settling meant finding a gainfully employed, educated, and professionally successful brother who was not about the B.S. Just crazy, I tell ya!” 

The black men who contacted me regarding the previous posting all agreed that researchers who focus solely on data bases are missing the mark and should turn their lens toward examining the socialization and priorities of black women prior to using numbers to explain such matters. “It is in this arena that they will find the actual reason that so many educated black women have failed to find suitable mates” according to a Houston-based Engineer. Indicative of such thoughts was the following litany I received from an anonymous brother who asserted that “in their own pursuit of success, black women have been socialized into believing that they need neither marriage nor black men. So it is predictable that women who have been raised to believe that they must be prepared to take care of themselves, by themselves, would hesitate, if not outright refuse to rely on black men in any situation. I know married sisters who have secretly hidden money from their husband, just in case things go awry. When you think about it, they are only married on paper, not in the truest sense of the word.”    

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once communicated the following. “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” After hearing and reading the responses of many accomplished black men regarding their culpability, if not outright responsibility, for the declining rates of marriage for educated black women, I am certain that they agree with Disraeli’s quip.

And that most certainly ain’t no lie.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Why so many of the Young, Black, and Educated Women I Know Have Yet to Find Their Black Knight in Shining Armor

I have come to understand that my personal discomfort with certain discussions has no impact on others insistence that I participate in them. Such situations invariably revolve around my interactions with my female students who fit the following description of being young, black, and college educated.

Although I often shy away from engaging them in what must be their favorite discussion of who will they marry. I am confident that you understand that this “elephant in the room” discussion of the absence of young black men in collegiate classrooms across the nation is equally uncomfortable and disconcerting because I desperately want to give the young ladies who listen to my lectures at least a modicum of hope that all is not lost in regards to their desire to be courted by and eventually marry a black man that caters to them to no end. Unfortunately, any hope that I provide for them is tempered by their observation that their hopes of finding their equal in regards to education, finances, and social status are severely curtailed by the sheer absence of black males in collegiate classrooms across the nation.

According to a recent Brookings Institute Study, of all female populations, African-American women have the least opportunity of marrying an “equally yoked” male from their racial group. Make no mistake about it, phraseology such as “equally yoked” is a synonym for equal socioeconomic status and educational attainments. According to Brookings Institute researchers, there are simply not enough available black men for successful black women to become “equally yoked.” Such realities lead us to a daunting question of “What is a girl to do?”

According to the researchers mentioned above, for African-American women who refuse to entertain suitors of another race, the only reasonable solution for them is to drastically alter their understanding of what it means to be “equally yoked.” Put simply; black women could dramatically increase their pool of marriageable black men if they curtailed their expectations and “married down.”

Historically speaking, declining marriage rates and an evaporating pool of educated, marriage-minded, black men to choose from is a relatively new phenomenon that has occurred over the last half-century. Ironically, these matters have unfolded during what many projected to be moments of racial advancement. The moments that I allude to are President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s ushering in of racial equality on the law books of America via the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts. The following chart offers compelling information regarding the marriage rates of black women before advanced stages of racial integration.

 

The myriad reasons that there are so few young college educated black men for like stationed black women to marry are well known: flawed educational system, the absence of suitable role models, female-headed households, dereliction of duty by black fathers, incarceration, homicide, homosexuality, unemployment, and drug abuse. According to the Brookings Institute study, “The lack of marriageable men in the black community is affected by the very high rates of incarceration and early death among black men compared to white men. Among black male high school dropouts, 60 percent will be dead or incarcerated before the age of 35.” Indeed, death or incarceration serve as significant stumbling blocks in the marriage process.

Consider the following chart created by the U.S. Department of Justice that highlights the horrific effects that the war on drugs had on African-American men; an impact that has severely curtailed the number of “marriageable” black men to this very moment.

Considering such realities, one has to consider what the viable options are available to college-educated African-American women who would rather remain single than date, let alone marry, outside of the race?

Making matters worse for black women is the harsh reality that there is a segment of black men who hold a comprehensively negative view of them. As evidenced by their public proclamations of being willing to date outside of the race, many black men of varying socioeconomic status and educational level have vowed to not only date but also marry exclusively outside of the race.

It may be the time that a harsh truth that “education has never done anything for the heart” is taught to young college-educated African-American women. Put simply; there is no correlation between an increase in socioeconomic status and one’s ability to be a suitable mate. If one did not know any better, it would seem that the principal concerns of many educated black women do not revolve around issues of compatibility, love, and commitment, rather a man’s earning potential.

In truth, far too many black men and women have used grossly flawed evaluation criterion such as physical appearance or a person’s style of dress to inform their decision regarding an individual’s potential to be a mate. We have allowed these fleeting qualities to eclipse more everlasting qualities such as integrity, honesty, fidelity, and love.

I am confident that we all agree it is the time that we all, male and female, take a step back and tailor our likes and dislikes, wants and needs, to fit ourselves regardless of what others may think or say about our choice. Failure to do such is doing a major disservice to the most important person in your life, yourself.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

TRADING PLACES: HOW MANY BLACK MEN HAVE CHOSEN TO ABANDON THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES BY TRADING PLACES WITH THE WOMEN IN THEIR LIVES

Although the exact date that Pastor Johnny R. Heckard shared the message eludes my mind, that does not matter because it is much more important that the sermon’s content remains prominent in my mind.

As was his tendency, Dr. Heckard used an unconscionable, yet scripturally grounded, verbal assault to admonish the Mount Calvary Baptist Church congregation, particularly the males, that one of the most troubling aspects of Black America is the manner in which the roles of African-American men and women have reversed.

The entire church shook as Rev. Heckard’s baritone voice boomed “We now have men asking women, ‘Do you make enough to take care of a man like me?’” As one would expect, this piercing question elicited a symphony of ‘Hallelujah’s,’ ‘Preach,’ and ‘Walk with it’ from the overwhelmingly female audience. Ironically, the overwhelmingly female congregation filled with women who never realize that they are partially responsible for the production of son’s who will become worthless African-American males, as well as hurriedly “laying down their religion” to allow a financially and emotionally parasitic grown man into their lives.

For me, Pastor Heckard’s sermon was surreal as it was a powerful rebuke of a cast of characters I recently encountered in a local barbershop, a place that could also be called the black man’s country club.

Anyone who has been to a real black barber will tell you that you are destined to engage a cast of characters with incredible stories regarding life. Without fail, there is always a few ‘brothers’ present who will share stories regarding their refusal to support the women in their lives and the inventive methods they use to escape responsibility for the women in their lives.

Although hilarious at the moment, upon reflection these tales sadden me because I realized that there are a silent woman and children in the background of each story.  African-American males dereliction of duty routinely compromises the present and future opportunities for the women and children that rely on them for things that extend further than financial contributions. There is no possible way that any attentive introspective person could listen to these fantastic barbershop tales and not realize that as Dr. Heckard’s sermon pointed out, the dynamics between black men and women have dramatically changed.

Unfortunately, I am uncertain if even Dr. Heckard’s criticism would have caused even a moment of self-reflection upon the most dynamic performers one finds in any local barbershop as they appeared to be devoid of either a sense of pride or an inkling of morality. If nothing else, the alluded to individuals were a public testimony that so many African-American males had voluntarily retreated from the traditional role of provider and protector that Black men have traditionally occupied. The increasing numbers of such individuals highlight the depths of trouble that our community is experiencing at this present moment.

It appears that the days of the average black man being able to simultaneously occupy many roles that vacillated between displaying the ‘cool pose’ while among their peers, being the primary breadwinner in their homes, spending precious time with offspring, and being unconscionably chivalrous toward their wife are no more.

This abandonment of our traditional position within our community begs a simple question of, ‘Why has this occurred?’

A thorough answer to the above question is multi-faceted, complex, and involves shifts in the American economy, the African-American community, and the educational system that has simply not served as much utility to African-American men in particular. I am certain that you agree that this space is much too small to address each of these areas. So I will turn my focus toward the addressing of one of the essential parts of this problem; that being, the lack of socialization regarding manhood within the African-American community.

Although many have created complex formulas and equations relating to the extension of manhood from one generation to the next, in actuality the process is incredibly simple. Boys learn the duties, role, and expectations of Manhood and therefore how to ‘be a man’ by engaging and learning from Men. There is nothing racially specific about this as it is the same socialization process that occurs generation-after-generation around the entire globe.

Unfortunately for the African-American community, there has been a disruption in this tried-and-true socialization process that taught ‘What a man is and Ought to do’ for African-American boys and girls.

Although it is often not a formal process, any examination of the transference of manhood ideology reveals some form of a ‘rites of passage’ program that teaches agreed upon understandings of what it means to be a man in a particular society. The referenced ‘rites of passage’ training not only shows the expected duties but also constructs rigid parameters regarding activities that are impermissible. Generally speaking, any actions that result in hurt, harm, or damage to others are located in the realm of the impermissible and logically lead to the shunning of those who have even flirted with such things.

Indicative of the African-American community’s failure to instruct succeeding generations of black boys on what they should and should not do has been them making the realm of the impermissible and inappropriate their official residence. Making their dastardly lifestyle more damaging is the black community failing to banish those who have compromised it from its midst. Far too frequently, it appears as if their negative behavior earns them kudos from females who are also devoid of an understanding of what either a man or woman ‘ought to be and ought to do.’ Make no mistake about it, the selfish life that far too many African-American males have adopted damages the entire community.

Considering the blockage that has led to a significant segment of African-American males not receiving appropriate Manhood training, it is not surprising that we have devolved to an unprecedented moment in our history that sees immoral and misguided Black men viewing Black women, in the words of Dr. Heckard as a survival mechanism. And trust me when I say that such maneuvers are certainly not a positive manhood quality.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016

Honoring My Wife Shawna L. Jones on our First Anniversary

One year ago today, I followed the wise council of my inner-circle of friends, the guidance of God, and my internal impulse and married Shawna L. Grace. We both understood that we were attempting to do something that others believed to be impossible, that being, have a mature, grown-folks expression of what can only be termed “Black Love”. Although many may expect me to say something that is cliché such as ‘It doesn’t feel like a full year, because it has been so smooth and easy’ on our Anniversary Date; however, such a statement would not be reflective of my relatively brief walk with this amazing woman.

I am blessed to be present to tell you that our initial year has been far from easy, solely due to an unexpected health issue that turned our marriage upside down a mere 5 weeks after our the day that we shared our vows.

Although it was difficult to realize in the midst of the storm that my illness placed me within, in hindsight I can say that I was actually placed me in a most fortunate position as it allowed me to learn things about my mate that it often takes others a lifetime to discover. Most notably her qualities of commitment, unconditional love, steadfastness, attentiveness to my most crucial needs, and being self-sacrificing. These things have been revealed to me at an incredibly accelerated pace.

For my wife, her vows of ‘in sickness and in health’ were tested immediately. Just take a moment and imagine that during that crucial period of bonding that the one that you have pledged your love to before friends, family, and most importantly God, fell seriously ill. Rest assured that I am not speaking about a ‘typical illness’, slightly over 30 days after our wedding day, I lost the ability to speak, developed blood clots in my left leg, and found myself hospitalized on life support facing the amputation of my entire left leg. I have come to understand that things were incredibly grave as my blood work indicated that certain numbers were triple those that any human body could withstand. I cannot tell you how many times that my Doctor’s and Nurses related that it was a miracle that I was alive.

In the midst of this storm stood my beloved wife who needed to make crucial decisions regarding my life at literally a moment’s notice. Although partially devastated by the situation, she, with the help of a team of incredible M.D.’s, was able to make the best decisions possible and keep me in the land of the living.

During this time, I have come to learn so much about my wife and the village of believers that she has around her, I am convinced that it was ‘the fervent prayers of the righteous that availed much’ that miraculously ushered me through this dire situation. Each day and each moment that I was blessed enough to experience in the land of the living was gifted to me by God as he honored the powerful lamentations of the ‘prayer warriors’ that my wife called together for this redemption project.

I must tell you that my recovery process was long and arduous as I had to learn to speak again, stand again, walk again, etc. I often tell people that I went through this process physically, while my wife went through it psychologically. I watched as Shawna not only busied herself attending to each and every need that I had, many of which I was totally unaware of, while religiously neglecting every one of hers. She in many ways gave up a period of her life so that I could live and build toward a better day.

It has been through my wife’s sacrifice that I truly came to understand what Love is. I have come to recognize that the most significant expressions of Love aren’t always fragrant like roses or sweet like her favorite molten chocolate cake from J. Alexander’s. Oftentimes, Love is expressed in an unending self-sacrifice that calls you into catering to your mate’s needs when they are incapable of addressing them.

I must relate that my wife is truly my best friend, one of the funniest people I know (just don’t tell her that I said that — don’t want it to go to her head), my confidant, my ‘help-meet’, who has shown me over the past 365 what type of dynamic and courageous woman that she is. Shawna, I love you in ways that cannot be expressed with words and appreciate all that you do as a wife in equally unutterable ways.

I literally owe you my life; I would not be here in the land of the living if you had not interceded on that Saturday morning when you realized that something was most certainly awry. It is for that reason and a host of others that I today express to you my unending love and commitment to this union that we have chosen to create.

I look forward to many more Anniversaries’ with you and am most certain that we will continue to do what we do and show the world that ‘Black Love’ is possible without any of the usual B.S. that seems to needlessly appear.

Rest assured that even if we are one day separated by death that I would diligently search through a million lifetimes to find you again, and again, and again, because I can’t imagine life without you. You are truly God’s promise to me. And I will continue to show you through each and every action and thought that I not only Love you unconditionally, but also with a commitment that nothing, not even death, could ever defeat.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016