Can You Hear Me Now?: Why We Should be Encouraged by the OU Sigma Alpha Epsilon Incident

On occasion, a nation is provided an opportunity to point its citizenry in a new and unprecedented direction. These milestones are what a nation will be judged upon by future generations. When the Plessy v. Ferguson decision (1896) sanctioned ‘separate but equal,’ this nation’s powerbrokers, all of them white, sae3were issuing an unmistakable statement regarding race in America. Similar statements were made with the Sweatt v. Painter decision (1950), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), as well as the Civil Rights (1964) and Voting Rights (1965) Acts, respectively. This nation’s powerbrokers capitalized upon these moments to speak loudly, and definitively, upon a homegrown racial problem.

The recently released video of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity — University of Oklahoma chapter — provides this latest generation of whites, citizens and powerbrokers, the opportunity to address race matters. And make no mistake about it, racial matters still matter in America. The video, posted by a African-American student organization, Unheard, was aimed sae4at University of Oklahoma President David Boren with a simple statement of “Racism is alive at The University of Oklahoma.” Unbeknownst to outsiders, and denied by insiders, there is always racial animosity at predominantly white institutions between nearly every possible entity and the African-American students enrolled there. It appears that the group Unheard was created in response to a hostile racial climate on the OU campus. As their name puts it, they, and the droves of their Black peers enrolled at predominantly white institutions feel as if they are Unheard.

Unbeknownst to most whites, for the vast majority of African-Americans these are the critical moments during racial matters as we pensively wait for whites, ordinary citizens and powerbrokers, reaction. OU’s African-American students must have been eagerly awaiting their University leaders and student peers reaction to a video that shows a few white students chanting “There will never be a Nigger in SAE. You cansae 1 hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.” Will they respond with a mediocre politically correct statement or will they respond swiftly, convincingly, and with a hammer of authority against those who have offended the righteous? Will there words relate an anger, disgust, and intolerance for prejudiced and discriminatory statements and activities within that institution of higher learning? Quite possibly the only gift that discriminatory behavior provides is that it provides an opening, a platform of such, for whites to reveal their position on race matters.

So they waited for the response of the white powerbrokers; fortunately, the wait was brief with President David Boren responding in less than an hour with a statement that “if the video is indeed of OU students, this behavior will not be tolerated and is contrary to all of our values. We are investigating.” Boren should be commended for relating a threat to throw the fraternity off the OU campus if the allegations were found to be true.

Relatively speaking President Boren was a bit late to the party with his denunciation of SAE, as its National President Bradley Cohen had already related that he was “…not only shocked and disappointed but disgusted by the outright display of racism in the video.” President Boren does not have to worry about shutting down the SAE fraternity as the group’s national headquarters has already closed it and issued an apology that reads, “We apologize for the unacceptable and racist behavior of the individuals in the video, and we are disgusted that any member would act in such a way.”

The OU student body also deserves credit for their swift response to this issue. It appears that someone spray-painted the SAE fraternity house with the words “Shut it down.” While others are planning a candle-light vigil aimed at healing the racial divide on their campus and in this nation. I consider this moment, a confessional moment for whites. Put simply, the fact that they desire to discuss race matters implicitly reveals that they acknowledge its presence in the new millennium. The fact that the student body, University President, and the National Headquarters of SAE, have all acknowledged the presence of the pernicious evil of racism in their midst and denounced it with an unprecedented swiftness and authority gives us hope for the future regarding race matters; because until we seriously address this nation’s race matters, race will continue to matter.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015

Freedom’s Silhouette

No one doubts that Liberty is a Lady, in fact we call her by that very name. However, many forget that “Freedom” is a similar damsel who has proven to be particularly sensitive to the actions of any suitor who approaches. She is quick to leave, yet extremely loyal to those she chooses to embrace with her entire being.

I must relate that “Freedom’s” beautiful silhouette makes all fall to their knees. Put simply, her beauty is unrivaled in this earthly realm.

For African-Americans, “Freedom” has proven elusive and illusory. Many thought that she would open her arms to America’s dark brother with Lincoln’s Emancipation silhouette 1Proclamation, however, they were in error as her beautiful silhouette remained what many thought was a distant mirage. Many believe that it was not until President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts that “Freedom’s” beautiful silhouette intertwined with the descendants of enslaved Africans in this land of the free and home of the brave. We finally received our first intimate kiss from “Freedom” with the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as America’s first African-American president on January 20, 2008.

Our closeness to “Freedom” has taught the entire race one unmistakable fact, the things that you did to get her are required to remain in her embrace. Even a cursory glance of the present state of affairs reveals that there is significant discord occurring in African-Americans relationship with “Freedom”. One would be justified in asking the question, does “Freedom” love African-Americans anymore?

The evidence of such discord is the reality that our children are being killed in the streets by those who invariably go unpunished by the justice system. Laws are again being interpreted in a manner that makes the murder of Black men justifiable. Not even this nation’s highest ranking elected official, President Barack Hussein Obama, is safe from unprecedented insult and blatant bigotry.

At some point in our relationship, “Freedom” backed away from what we erroneously thought was bound to be a long lasting love affair. “Freedom” not only ignores us, but also questions if we ever loved her.

What happened to this relatively new relationship? Apparently “Freedom”, like her sister “Lady Liberty” grew tired of us silhouette 3forgetting to continue doing the little things that initially earned her embrace. We no longer display the resolute strength of Fredrick Douglass and courage of Harriet Tubman, we have allowed the cunning of Booker T. Washington to fade away, not to mention our total abandonment of a Du Boisian intellectual brilliance that highlighted what “Freedom” “Justice” and “Liberty” were about at their core. No longer do we apply the multi-faceted attacks of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or Malcolm X; we arrogantly behave as if “Freedom’s” embrace will last forever.

While enchanted by Freedom’s Silhouette, we allowed Hip-Hop Culture to become a larger influence upon our children that our historical story. No longer did we prod them toward educational endeavors, rather we wove a thread-bare lie that only a jump shot or rap song were capable of uplifting them from the multiple poverty’s (educational, economic, and social) that their contemporaries appeared mired within. It appears that we became extremely comfortable in our relationship with “Freedom” when Barack Hussein Obama was sworn into the Presidency.

“Freedom” has left us, and we must act expeditiously if we ever hope to feel her embrace again. We must remember the things that gained her attention in the first place. We must remember that hard work and perseverance earned her respect. silhouetteCourage caught her eye, while economic and political collectivism caused her to embrace us. It is only through the application of such priorities that we will be able to re-establish our relationship with “Freedom”. Hopefully this next embrace will allow for us to experience much more than her silhouette, because I am certain that she would be the first to tell us that there is so much more to see than that. Now we just have to regain her attention.

Patron Payton

#ManhoodRaceCulture

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015

Two Societies (1965 – 68)

One of the most daunting aspects of the Civil Rights Movement for many African-Americans is that it was largely concentrated in the South and did not address the issues that impacted the lives of Black Americans residing in this nation’s urban centers. The following video displays the extreme difficulties that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his staff had with dealing with non-Southern regions in their pursuit of improving Black life. Put simply, King, and his aides, failed in a contentious battle against Chicago’s venerable Mayor Richard Daley.

Reconsidering Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise: Does it Provide a Key to Saving Black Males?

On September 18, 1895, Booker Taliaferro Washington ascended a stage in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Cotton States Exposition and delivered the speech that led to his, along with W.E.B. Du Bois, becoming the leading “race man” of his time. The alluded to speech that many critics refer to as “the Atlanta Compromise” because of its conciliatory tone and BTW2absence of demands upon a segregated South pointed African-Americans toward building the Black community from the bottom up. Washington admonished his people that “Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom.”

Considering the current plights of African-American males where the median earnings are $37,290, a significant distance from the $48,099 all other males’ earnings, and 40% of African-American males ages ‘16 and up’ had zero earnings for the entire year, it may be time to revisit Booker T. Washington’s formula for success. Shockingly, 1 out of every 4 Black males lived below the poverty level in 2013.

Although many may question the desire to re-evaluate Washington’s position that we should “Cast our financial hopes down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions…Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us gm3are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour, and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life…” As an educator who lectures throughout the nation, I can attest that significant portions of African-American males are directionless regarding their future. Absent future goals, our young men are understandably directionless. From Washington’s perspective they have failed to “…draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful.”

For many African-American males, their engagement with higher education is a lesson in futility. The greatest evidence of such is that for African-American males age 25 and up, 48% have attended college at some point in their lifetime. However, only 17% have matriculated from institutions of higher education with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Statistics indicate that there is little difference between those who did and those who did not graduate from an institution of higher education in regards to how they match up to their white contemporaries. Degreed African-American males not only lag behind their white counterparts in every gm2economic measure, but also inexplicably refuse to divorce themselves from a system that does not reward them financially. They refuse to embrace entrepreneurial opportunities and service the needs of a Black community with $1,100,000,000,000.00 (yes, 1.1 trillion dollars) to spend.

Non-degreed African-American males all too often find themselves involved in the criminal justice system. The incarceration rate of African-American males is triple that of other American males and more disturbing is the reality that approximately 34% of all working-age African-American males not incarcerated are ex-offenders convicted of some type of a felony. black males 2Let’s face facts, these African-American males will never conquer the societal stigma that whites place upon them, what many consider to be the only path to ‘gainful employment’. Similar to their degreed brethren, it appears that entrepreneurship is their only path to financial stability or success.

I can hear Washington lamenting to contemporary African-American males that “It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities…The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house.”

Within this contemporary context of African-American males lagging behind in every measurable economic/financial category, it may be time for our community to re-evaluate our propensity to view sagging pants“higher-education” as a natural fit for all of the young men in our community. Particularly when one considers that many of them have never explicitly expressed any interest in ideas, theories, and books; for many, their only priority is discovering a way to provide for themselves and their dependents.

It is this pursuit of money, which is often needlessly blocked by societal hurdles that leads to their involvement in the American criminal justice system. Booker T. Washington’s advice that the majority of us will live by our hands is not only applicable today, but also relates a immediate need to ‘double-down’ on efforts to teach African-American males ‘skills and trades’ that can be combined with basic business training that paves the way for them to not only be certified in their profession, but also provides the necessary resources for them, regardless of their criminal background, to become entrepreneurs.

So often we have heard that the small business owner is the backbone of this nation’s economy, it may be time for African-Americans to assume that critical role and abandon the centuries-old tradition of begging black economics 2whites for jobs and provide opportunities for African-Americans to circulate the $1,100,000,000,000.00 that they have and give away to other communities due to a lack of viable black businesses offering needed services beyond barber/beauty shops and funeral homes.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015

 

Houston We Have A Problem: What the Snatching of Steve Francis’ Chain Tells Us About Black Males

One of the primary problems affecting Black males today is that African-American men hesitate to speak up about the foolishness they witness daily; in fairness, many of African-American men have tired of repeatedly attempting to correct Black males in their foolish ways. One of the most significant concerns that leads African-foiAmerican men to not chastise the few is an extreme desire to avoid substantiating the discriminatory thoughts and stereotypical constructs of a hostile white community. However, there is near consensus among African-American men that is only discussed behind closed doors or in barber shops, that there is a segment of Black males who must not only be considered the wretched of the earth, but also should be immediately ostracized if the race is to progress, let alone survive.

The late Dwight Errington Myers, commonly known as Heavy-D, once recorded the following lyrics on the classic tune Self-Destruction that was aimed at uplifting the Black community.

Aayyyo, here’s the situation: Idiodicy
Nonsense, violence, not a good policy
Therefore we must ignore, fighting and fussing
Hev’ is at the door so there’ll be no bum-rushing
Let’s get together or we’ll be falling apart
I heard a brother shot another. It broke my heart
I don’t understand the difficulty, people
Love your brother, treat him as an equal
They call us animals mmm mmm I don’t agree with them
I’ll prove them wrong, but right is what your proving them
Take heed to what I’m sayin
Or we’ll all be on our knees, praying.

I am certain that you are wondering why I chose to write about this matter. Well the answer to that is two-fold: (a) I have tired of the niggardly culture enveloping many Black males within my community, a culture that is predicated upon little more than disrespecting one another — currently it appears that the most significant sign of Stevedisrespect is the snatching of a person’s chain that they wear around their neck as some sort of spoils of war or trophy; truthfully this has been occurring for some time in the hip-hop community, (b) the latest victim of a chain snatching is former NBA player Steve Francis.

Now this crime is fertile ground for myriad questions such as what is a 38-year-old Stevesteve 2Francis doing on the stage at a Sauce Twinz concert? Big K.R.I.T. I could understand, Sauce Twinz not so much. However, that is not the most important thing that occurred on that stage.

Experts have repeatedly related that the repeated viewing of violence in Hollywood movies and video games leads one to become desensitized to violence. Put simply, repeated exposure to such mediums will potentially leave their kids with little sensitivity to senseless violence; in fact, those who are repeatedly exposed to such events will adapt and often pursue such encounters in their personal lives.

I see a similar process that has led many Black males to become desensitized to the immorality that envelopes their entire existence. Unfortunately, the alluded to individuals pimp c1have adapted to their surroundings and created a culture that Richard Majors terms the ‘Cool Pose’. According to Majors, the ‘Cool Pose’ is a set of language, mannerisms, gestures and movements that “exaggerate or ritualize masculinity. The Essence of cool is to appear in control, whether through a fearless style of walking, an aloof facial expression, the clothes you wear, a haircut, your gestures or the way you talk. The cool pose shows the dominant culture that you are strong and proud, despite your status in American society.”

Majors goes further in his analysis when he relates that Black males who assume the Cool Pose “…can appear competent and in steve 3control in the face of adversity…It may be his only source of dignity and worth, a mark that hides the sting of failure and frustration. Much of cool pose is ritualistic imitation of peers. If you’re not seen as cool, you’re an outsider. It’s a way to be included.”

Noted newspaper columnist Clarence Page chimed in on this matter when he related that those who chose to make this a hallmark of their life generally, “lack the education, income or social status that comprise real power. Black cool was born as a reaction to the denial of these opportunities. (Clarence Page — Chicago Tribune 11/30/86).

Unfortunately for Black males who have chosen to adopt the Cool Pose, they apparently spend so much time attempting to pretend to be the part that they fail to Steve 7ever step back from their game of charades and spend any time actually developing the tools needed to be the part. Put simply, they are ‘all sizzle and no steak.’ However, they are the most loud and boisterous populace within a highly diverse population of African-American males and in many ways set the standard of manhood.

And that is most certainly a very scary prospect to the nation, particularly their indigenous community that is continually under politico economic attack from outsiders who have no need to Steve 6participate in a charade such as the ‘Cool Pose’ because they have the politico economic power that Black males pretend to possess. What makes it truly ironic is that the ever increasing power that outside communities wield like an Excalibur in their pursuit of additional power comes from the cowardice of these Black males who are so busily being ‘cool’ that they are for all intents and purposes irrelevant when it comes to truly important educational, political, economic, and social power, the ingredients that create real power, not this façade that they have not only enveloped themselves within, but also are afraid to leave out of fear that their powerlessness would be on display for the entire nation.

James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015

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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