A Delayed Response: Twenty-Three Years After Magic Johnson’s Announcement and We Still Have Not Learned

It was one of those “I remember where I was at when _______” moments that rocks you to the core. I remember very vividly that I was in my dorm room on November 7, 1991, when my best friend came in and announced, “Man, Magic Johnson just announced that magiche has Aids.” Although we had all heard of the disease, I had already had a close family member die from the disease after contracting it from intravenous drug use. However, in the early 90s, there was an unspoken belief in the African-American community that the disease was one that only gay men contracted through sex.

In the early-nineties, Aids was little more than an urban legend to many of my contemporaries. Not even Magic Johnson’s announcement that he was ending his professional basketball career as a result of contracting something called HIV changed that fact. Apparently little has changed during the nearly twenty-five black aids 2years since Magic Johnson’s announcement. Magic Johnson was so affable and engaging that many of us felt that we actually knew him. One would logically expect this unprecedented moment to have changed Black America in unconscionable ways, unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

The Center for Disease Control relates that African-Americans are currently the group, above all others I must emphasize, most affected by HIV. As of 2010, African-Americans were acquiring HIV gayat a rate eight-times greater than the white population based on population size. “Gay and bisexual men account for most new infections among African-Americans; young gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 are the most affected of this group.” (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/racialEthnic/aa/facts/index.html)

According to the Center for Disease Control the following facts are true:

  • African Americans accounted for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents (aged 13 years orblack love older) in 2010, despite representing only 12% of the US population; considering the smaller size of the African American population in the United States, this represents a population rate that is 8 times that of whites overall.
  • In 2010, men accounted for 70% (14,700) of the estimated 20,900 new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African American men (103.6/JL King100,000 population) was 7 times that of white men, twice that of Latino men, and nearly 3 times   that of African American women.
  • In 2010, African American gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men**brepresented an estimated 72% (10,600) of new infections among all African American men and 36% of an estimated 29,800 new HIV infections among all gay and bisexual men. More new HIV infections (4,800) occurred among young African American gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) than any other subgroup of gay and bisexual men.
  • In 2010, African American women accounted for 6,100 (29%) of the estimated new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. This number represents a mimidecrease of 21% since 2008. Most new   HIV infections among African American women (87%; 5,300) are attributed to heterosexual contact.c The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African    American women (38.1/100,000 population) was 20 times that of white women and almost 5 times that of Hispanic/Latino women.

Source (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/racialEthnic/aa/facts/index.html)

Unfortunately, the numbers do not lie. The greater question facing the African-American population, I use the word population and not community intentionally, because a community bonds together to aid one another and solve common problems, I am personally unsure if we are a community, is a simple one of ‘how long will you act as if this issue, and a host of others that pivot upon matters of personal responsibility, should not be at the forefront of issues on our collective agenda. Maybe it is time that we lay the cross of victimization down in regards to repeated reactionary responses to racism and begin with a stern movement toward socially responsible individualism.

On this date, the twenty-third anniversary of Magic Johnson’s announcement that he had contracted HIV, I think that it may be imperative that we each take a moment to recognize those that have fallen victim to this horrendous disease, but also take nickiproactive steps on an individual and collective basis to address the matter. As a college professor, I am constantly bombarded with the issues of unprotected sex among collegians, I hear male students, hetero- and homosexual, bragging about their sexual conquests; rarely do I hear any mention of safe sex or any type of protection being used. I am almost certain that similar conversations occur among my female students. Regardless of if we want to admit it or not, we are each inextricably linked with one another and my Lord, what a tangled weave have we created?

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

Will the Real Panthers Please Stand-Up?: Protecting the Panther Party Legacy and Image

It was not until I reached my forties that I began to understand a malady that commonly affects my elders, that being their forgetfulness. I considered it hilarious when they filled in the gaps caused by receding memories with sensational recollections that amount to little more than half-truths. I mention this for one simpleHuey and Bobby reason; recollections and reconstructions from yesteryear cannot be trusted. Faulty memories lead each of us to unintentionally change historical events. Of all the protest groups that attempted to achieve revolution during the highly-volatile 1960s, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the Vanguard of the Black Power Era, has been victimized by historical revisionism than any other group.

The reason that this matter weighs so heavily upon my mind is that I am currently exposing my survey class to the Panthers. Although I am no longer surprised, I remain a bit stupefied by how little my students, whom I think are smart and courageous, know about African-American History. In their defense, they have not been eldridgeexposed to Black history during their K-12 educational experience. When asked what they know about The Black Panther Party, they struggle to name the Panther Party’s co-founders, any of the points on their ten-point platform, or the ideological underpinnings supporting the group. Instead they rely upon popular misconceptions that portray the Panthers as a vagabond group of lawless, criminal-minded, racist, irrational militants.

In addition to knowing next to nothing about the Panther Party, my students have no clue regarding the luminaries who made up the organization. The names Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Fred PantherHampton, Kathleen Cleaver, Geronimo Pratt, Lil’ Bobby Hutton, Elaine Brown, Eldridge Cleaver, Assata Shakur, Bunchy Carter, Mutulu Shakur, William Lee Brent, Bobby Rush, John Huggins are all foreign to my young students. My students are not alone in their woeful ignorance of the Panthers.

To my amazement, several contemporary groups that have seized the Panther name are equally oblivious as they have betrayed the very foundations of the organization with their myopic, xenophobic, misogynistic, politically directionless posturing that they illogically believe is revolutionary politics. They are not only out of step withAssata the Panther legacy, but also damaging the Panther brand in a manner that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) could never achieve. The vast majority of these expressions of Panther politics are ill-informed half-witted cries from directionless individuals seeking to aid their community in some manner; although their intentions are admirable, good intentions fail to mask their ignorance of Panther ideology as it is so much more than posturing with guns, shouting “Black Power”, and trying to scare white people.

Even a cursory examination of Panther Party politics reveals that the basis of Panther ideology was a Ten-Point Platform that called for things such as: freedom, jobs, housing, and education relevant to KCLeaverBlack people, an end to the exploitation of the Black Community by all Capitalists (including Black ones), clothing, and justice. Although it is understandable that many people remember the Panthers only for the guns, the group’s greatest legacy had nothing to do with guns. I allude to their often forgotten community service programs:

  • Free Breakfast for Children
  • Free Grocery Giveaway
  • Panther Patrols
  • Sickle-Cell Anemia Testing
  • Physical protection for the Black Community against external aggressors
  • Free Lunch Program
  • Free Ambulance Service
  • Legal Defense Fund

The above activities represent the Panther spirit, not the faux groups who are attempting to co-opt their image and legacy by brandishing weaponry that is today as useful as the Hollywood props used in contemporary actions movies.

Huey P. Newton, one of the Panther co-founders, recognized that it was imperative that we work within our community to stabilize and strengthen it. Only after Black folk were taken care of were we to gobpp4 forth in a revolutionary manner. This is a lesson that too many of the contemporary Panther groups have forgotten. Many of these new groups are merely posturing and “talking loud and sayin nothing.”

I would like to warn those who are best termed the “paper Panthers” of this admonishment from Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton. “The revolutionary is a doomed man as he will either die in the revolution trying to achieve revolutionary change or successfully lead a revolution and then be discarded by bunchythe people as he has outlived his utility.”

So my question is how many African-Americans are willing to bypass these faux Panthers with their juvenile antics and enlist in a true expression of Panther Politics? The Panther Party is here waiting for you.  Who is willing to take on that challenge? If you’re courageous enough, the Panther Party would love to hear from you.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

Love of My Life: How a Decline in Rap Lyrics Threatens Black America’s Existence

For those of us who either currently love or have at some point in our lives loved Hip-Hop Culture, there is an unspoken issue marring contemporary manifestations of what can be best termed the nuclear bomb of American pop culture. The issue that I refer to is the steep decline in all manner of lyricism from content to word choice that we are witnessing today. Lyricism is the very pivot that controls the contemporary and future direction of Rap Music and by extension the minds of those so deeply steeped in this culture that they could not extricate themselves if they tried.

Such matters are particularly important when one considers that Rap Music has served as the soundtrack for the lives of at least the past five generations of African-Americans. Rap Music has been so central to our lives that it serves as a veritable bookmark for our existence. For instance, many of us remember exactly where we were when we heard our favorite rap song for the first time.

Personally, I remember hearing Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid in Full moments after I quit my summer job in what could have been Rakimconsidered the coolest way possible. When I reached my vehicle preparing to drive off in a blaze of glory, I heard Rakim spit into the mic, “I dig into my pocket and all my money is spent, so I dig deeper and still coming up with lint.” I simply mused that it was going to be a long summer because I knew that I had no money coming in at all.

Considering that rap music serves as the soundtrack for many important moments in most people fifty years old and below, the lyrics found in these recordings have most certainly helped shape ygour belief systems and worldview like none other. The reality that rap lyrics have impacted such a wide-swath of African-Americans, one must cringe at the ascension of contemporary expressions of Black culture found in today’s rap lyrics by today’s rap superstars such as: Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Young Jeezy, YG, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Drake, and a host of others.

As a person who loves Hip-Hop Culture in general and Rap Music specifically, I involuntarily whence when I hear the diction of homie quanYoung Thug and Rich Homie Quan, the metaphors flowing from YG’s recording “My Nigga”, and the hyper-sexualized image of Nicki Minaj. Not to mention the rampant promotion of immorality, drug trafficking, and dysfunctional behavior that flows from all of the aforementioned artists. In the words of The Notorious B.I.G., “Damn, things done changed.”

It appears that the racial uplift messages that supported the race for so long from artists such as Chuck D., KRS-ONE, Rakim, and Nas NAShave receded into a never to be revisited cultural cavern. Today, one is hard-pressed to find politicized artists taking a public stance against state repression like Paris, Ice-Cube, or Dead Prez.

The absence of politicized artists committed to uplifting the race from a poignant informed position weakens both Hip-Hop Culture and the African-American community. Unfortunately, politicized KRITartists such as Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, and Big K.R.I.T. are rarely reaching national airwaves; and the Hip-Hop community is much the worse for it. One thing is for certain, the longer that the politicized lyricist is muted by radio stations the worse it will get for the Hip-Hop community because they will have nothing other than a consistent stream of non-sense and materialism spewed at them from emcees who apparently do not know any better.

Unfortunately, such drivel will serve as the soundtrack for the next generation of Hip-Hop culture adherents. Such a prospect is grand verbalizerfrightening if we are to believe X-Clan’s Grand Verbalizer Funkin Lesson Brother J when he remarked that “ignorance is not a trend.” The failure to re-situate the politicized emcee at the apex of Hip-Hop culture will invariably lead to our race spiraling into further ignorance; and that is a scenario that should never serve as the soundtrack for anyone’s life.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

* Please join Manhood, Race, and Culture on Nu Power Radio from 6:00 – 8:00 PM EST (November 4, 2014) at 917-889-8059 for an exhilarating discussion over this post.

Doing Your Part, I Did Mine: A Message to Black Collegians to Vote

Do Your Part:
With midterm elections looming, this is the moment when droves of people stress, beg, and plead for you to vote for their candidate. A few weeks ago a political group came to the university which I attend, Prairie View A&M University, tFerguson 2o register and encourage the student body to exercise our constitutional rights and vote in the upcoming election. While the woman was speaking to the crowd, one fellow student muttered under his breath “give me one good reason I should vote.” This is my attempt to address that particular student, and others who have that same query.
I believe we should vote because we have an obligation to our ancestors who fought for us to have these rights.  During Jim Crow our great grand parents and grandparents faced unspeakable lynch6adversity and prejudice. We have all seen the images of the civil rights movement: water hoses, dogs, and night sticks were tools used to keep black people in their “place.” They fought and suffered for their right to vote and be active in the political process. But they did not just suffer for themselves. They suffered for future generations of African-Americans.
 In the last five decades, since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, there have been significant changes to the American landscape.  For example, an African American man is the most powerful man on Black-Children-Chain-Gang-1900searth. Recently, I exercised my rights and went to early vote. As I got out of my vehicle and walked up to the polling place I could feel the connection I have with my grandmother and grandfather who fought so vigorously so I could enjoy all of the rights and privileges  that I have today.  I exercised my right and fulfilled my obligations. On Tuesday November 4th, will you?
Alexander Goodwin
#ManhoodRaceCulture

 

Committed to investigating, examining, and representing the African-American male, men, and manhood by offering commentary regarding the status of Black Men and Black Manhood as it relates to African-American Manhood, Race, Class, Politics, and Culture from an educated and authentic African-American perspective aimed at improving the plight of African-American men and African-American Manhood in regards to Politics, Culture, Education, and Social Matters.

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