Sonora — Contributing Blogger — MRC (ManhoodRaceCulture)

* In an effort to contextualize this discussion, please click on this link as it offers illumination to this discussion.

Being a single black female in today’s dating world is beyond exacerbating. Looking for love from a Black man has made some women feel as if they have to compromise their standards; while some are dismissive of the subject all together. . After reading Dr. Jones’ article, “Where Are All the Good Black Men At”, regarding “self-centered narcissistic” single, educated, professional, career driven, Black women; I was troubled by the depiction of Black women. Although the article sparked debate, one question remained in focus: “what do educated, professional, career driven Black women want?”

Within my inner circle of women; we all agreed that we want the same thing from a man. We are seeking companionship and union with a honest man who clearly articulates his intentions and desires within this relationship. As a professional, educated, black woman, I recognize that we have faults; after all, strong as we are, we are human. Many of us have invested in our own mental and physical well-being by participating in self-improvement; counseling, gym memberships, in healing and “whole-ness” church ministries and seminars, to find our center and balance within our femininity. We continually review and define our standards; meaning, the uncompromising components of quality relationships that we apply while seeking a mate. Shallow considerations of clothing labels or vehicle type, as mentioned in Dr. Jones’ commentary, receive scant attention when compared to considerations character and spiritual consciousness. So if we are so ready for love, where is he? Why is love hiding from us?

Out of necessity of my singleness, I have had to learn a certain level independence in managing my home, family and my finances. I learned to do such things to avoid the expectation of monetary gain or sexual escapades that flow from Black men. Far too often it appears that Black men, when dealing with Black women, are allergic to chivalry.

One of the fundamental problems that I have with the aforementioned post is that there appears to be a sub-discourse that mistakes Black women’s ability to achieve a task with their desire to do it alone. The cartoon character Bob the Builder’s mantra of “Can we build it? Yes we can!” is a truism that Black women all too often have had to integrate within their lives out of necessity. However, I, along with the vast majority of other Black women, would love the opportunity to responsibly relinquish some of our required responsibilities. I have learned to incorporate traditional “male chores” into my routine without resentment. Unfortunately, my self-reliance/independence (again, out of necessity), is received by Black men as a sign that I, and Black women like me, neither need nor desire their presence. I have wearied of the request from Black Men for me to “make room” for them in my life. When the truth is quite the contrary, Black women need the masculinity of Black men to balance our own femininity.

The alluded to imbalance between single Black men and women has multiple consequences for the community. Black women balance their situation so expertly that outsiders fail to recognize the imbalance. However, we are managing more than we can reasonably bear leaving Black women peerlessly perched on a ledge where one missed or miscalculated stressor would result in disaster. The ripples from our imbalance reverberate from us and throughout the community to those what rely upon us for their entire existence. And black men wonder why we are so intense?

Yet, in dating and mating we continue to complain that we are caught in the “game” of which we are frustrated. Has our escalated intensity resulted in relaxed standards to the extent that we have cultivated a group of black men who are manipulative, spoiled and irresponsible in relationships? Is it that there is not an ample supply of “Good Black Men” to love or, have Black men rejected the honor of loving Black women freely, patiently and honestly?

#MRC — Manhood, Race, and Culture

Reconsidering Booker T. Washington’s ‘Atlanta Compromise’

A recent conversation with a friend regarding the current status of African-American males, particularly our current economic plight, prodded my reflection upon where we “went wrong” in regards to economics within the Black community. Such matters are significant when one considers that the initial, and some would argue the most significant, duty that a Man does is provide for his family in a tangible material way. Put simply, he is a provider.

While reflecting upon such matters, my mind reverted back to this speech given by ‘The Wizard of Tuskegee’ Booker Taliafero Washington in 1895 at the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition. Washington’s utterances and constructs from the stage on that day positioned him to be the leading “race man” of his time. More importantly, it highlights several contemporary issues facing African-American males. Such matters are increasingly important in the new millennium when one considers that African-American males are attending, and graduating, college at a slower pace than their female counterparts and have had their employment niche usurped by newly arriving immigrants.

After reviewing this piece, I am certainly wondering if Booker T. Washington’s industrial education model was the correct path for building a solid foundation upon which we could have built other pillars of our community. Take a moment and consider exactly what Washington was positing and let me know your thoughts.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III,

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; that a seat in Congress or the state legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill; that the political convention or stump speaking had more attractions than starting a dairy farm or truck garden…

Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are 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; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful.

No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. 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…

There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen. Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand per cent interest. These efforts will be twice blessed—blessing him that gives and him that takes.

Nearly sixteen millions of hands will aid you in pulling the load upward, or they will pull against you the load downward. We shall constitute one-third and more of the ignorance and crime of the South, or one-third [of] its intelligence and progress; we shall contribute one-third to the business and industrial prosperity…or we shall prove a veritable body of death, stagnating, depressing, retarding every effort to advance the body politic…

The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of these privileges. 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.

Booker Taliaferro Washington (Atlanta Georgia, 1895)

What The Black Man Wants

Mr. President:

What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us.

Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, “What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us!

Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also.

All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner-table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot-box, let him alone, don’t disturb him!
If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone,—your interference is doing him a positive injury. Gen. Banks’ “preparation” is of a piece with this attempt to prop up the Negro. Let him fall if he cannot stand alone!

If the Negro cannot live by the line of eternal justice…the fault will not be yours, it will be his who made the Negro, and established that line for his government. Let him live or die by that. If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance, I think he will live. He will work as readily for himself as the white man.


Delivered April 1865, at Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Boston

“Get Your Mind Right”: African Americans and Behavioral Health

Sonora Contributing Blogger — MRC (ManhoodRaceCulture)

“Rather than a proclamation of progression, you are making declarations of denial; denying yourself confrontation with the truth which can set you free.”

You are awakened from sleep with a sharp abdominal pain and have trouble returning to sleep. You may try a home remedy rather than take the time to go to seek a physician’s care at that hour but, eventually when the discomfort gets too great, you are going to the doctor. You will follow the physician’s advice and take the medication until you are feeling relief and can continue to function without the constant reminder of the discomfort.

You both agree the relationship has ended and you are now in two residences. The emotional and financial pain keeps you from sleeping soundly through the night. What’s going to happen with our children? What am I going to do financially? And even though you don’t want to admit it, your grief also includes the loss of a partner. What comes next? The emotional/psychological pain affects your eating, sleeping, working and social patterns. You’re sad, you’re angry, you cry, you reason then, you go to a place of survival inside of yourself to get through the immediate trauma. And out of that pain, you emerge from despair’s cocoon, a mutant butterfly, half fluttering, half dragging – yet moving forward.

This scenario is the same for males and females. Often between the sexes we banter about who’s pain is greater by saying “your pain ain’t like mine”; but pain is pain, and its intensity is relative to the person feeling it. Pain cannot be prioritized from one person to the other based on ones perception of disparities. Pain is pain!

So, your sleep is disrupted from the emotional pain, just like with the abdominal pain, except this time you do not go to the doctor.   You do your best to hide the aching under a mask we like to call “strength”. And, as hurting people hurt people; your pain transforms into proclamations of “never again”. Rather than a proclamation of progression, you are making declarations of denial; denying yourself confrontation with the truth which can set you free.

As a race, we have culturally denied ourselves the freedoms of emotional wellbeing. Behavioral health, simply put, is about the balance of the body and the mind; emotional and physical. The body and mind are co-dependent upon each other; one cannot function without the other. Yet, we would deprive ourselves of seeking the care of a healthcare professional for our own emotional/behavioral wellbeing based on a stigma that Black people don’t go to counseling. Historically, within the African American culture, the church has been a resource for behavioral health services. And as much as I agree that faithful prayer and meditation will keep you from medication; there are instances when life’s stressors overwhelm our body/mind, beyond its limits to cope appropriately and effectively. Seeking a spiritual advisor may not be as effective as a behavior health practitioner.

The issue for consideration I would like to impress on anyone who seeks counseling services from their house of worship is to verify the credentials of the counsel. In some churches, counselors are appointed, not because they have studied to show themselves approved but, because they have been assigned /appointed by leadership. I myself have been referred to Minister Soandso because they had been through a similar circumstance and had a testimony to share in the aftermath. Again, my faith walk has taught me that experiences and testimonies offer great support to other in like circumstances; however it does not certify me to offer coping options. Where it is known that experience is a great teacher, every graduated student is not a professor.

My suggestion to the readers is that we make behavioral/emotional health part of or annual health assessment. There are many non-profit professional services within our communities, as well as, Employee Assistance Programs, which offer confidential counseling services. Whichever route you choose to go…. GO, Get Your Mind Right!


‘SNITCHES GET STITCHES’: Yet another Sign of Our Cultural Dysfunction

The historical experiences of stolen Africans on the North American continent can best be summed up by the title of one of Jay-Z’s albums, Hard Knock Life. The treatment of African-Americans has served as the foremost indicator of American hypocrisy from the moment of their arrival in the Jamestown colony. America’s darker brother has been maligned, brutalized, raped, and lynched in ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’.

Considering their peculiar second-class citizenship status, African-Americans have become adept at responding to a hostile white community at a moments’ notice. Experience had taught every person of African descent on the North American continent that their time to deal with the hostility and brutality of marauding whites could come not only at any moment, but also without the slightest provocation. Considering such a context, African-Americans developed mechanisms to protect themselves and their loved ones from hostile outsiders. One of the most prominent adaptation was for them to become insular as a community; meaning that they closed off the hostile outside world in a desperate attempt to protect their own; particularly the men who were most likely to be seized and lynched by a white mob for a perceived offense or challenge emanating from either that particular individual or the community in general.

Unfortunately, the alluded to ‘lynch mob’ pursuing African-American males was often led by law enforcement officers; sheriff, police, patty rollers, constables, overseers, deputies. Hence, it should not be surprising that the average African-American male tenses up when in the presence of ‘law enforcement’ officers to this present day. Too often it appears as if the law that is being enforced is detrimental to our existence. Consequently, the staunch position of not cooperation that the vast majority of African-Americans assumed in regards to ‘law enforcement’ officers is absolutely understandable. One would be hard-pressed to convince African-Americans that ‘law enforcement’ officers are not continuing this tradition in the twenty-first century.

However, this tradition of not cooperating with ‘law enforcement’ officers has been seized by a criminal element within our community for opportunistic reasons. An immoral and unlawful element within our community has publicly demanded silence regarding their criminal activities and uncivilized behavior. I actually applaud this population for the manner in which they have been able to seize a historic cultural adaptation and use it as a cover for their evil doings; unfortunately, Hip Hop Culture has been the perfect conduit for this transference of misinformation.

Although their mantra that ‘snitches get stitches’ is rather poetic in a ghetto fabulous kind of way, it betrays the solidarity that generations of African-Americans displayed against a hostile external enemy. The actions and activities of the criminal element within our midst is having the same effect that marauding white terrorist had throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries respectively. The only difference is that the criminal element in our midst begs us to not report them to the proper authorities. However, one must take their hat off to this thuggish element when you consider that they have been able to get such values integrated into our cultural diet and belief system. We now find elementary school children attempting to “persuade” their peers to ‘not snitch’, often via violent attacks that they are amazingly filming and posting on the internet.

Obviously, the mantra ‘snitches get stitches’ has no place within our community and serves as yet another example of how we have truly lost our way. Of all the things that we need to be poetic about, lawlessness and criminality are not on that list.

This is not a call for the African-American community to abandon its vigilance against the virulent attacks that seem to follow them where ever they go, we must be vigilant against the evil-doers who are attacking our community and ‘bringing the community down’ from where ever they come from. A philosophy that should terrify those Negroes within our midst who commit crime and live in an uncivilized manner that is unreflective of how African-Americans have ever lived.

It may be time for law abiding African-Americans to counter the poetic ghetto phrase of ‘snitches get stitches’ with one of our own for the cowards who believe that their criminal exploits will be ignored by respectable, empowered, and righteous African-Americans. Maybe we should invoke a saying for criminal minded males who roam our community with crime on their mind and their pants sagging below any level of decency with a mantra of ‘In prison they make bitches, so be sure to lower your britches.’

Stop Black-on-Black violence, ‘by any means necessary.’ Our babies need a safe place to grow up.  #MRC

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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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