Goodbye Granddad

Dear Grand Dad,

As I  write these words, I am still in unspeakable shock that you have passed away.  Even though death is the only  thing that  is certain in life,I am still having a rough time accepting the fact that you are gone.  You had bouts with various ailments Angel throughout the years, but every-time, without fail , you survived and  you came back stronger. And I thought this time,like every other time, you would once again conquer your fight with lung and throat cancer and continue to be the wonderful father,husband,deacon,friend and grandfather everyone who came in contact with you  had come to know and love.

When I visited you in the hospital almost two weeks ago you were not doing so well. It  was nearly unbearable  to hear  you in so much pain as they gave you  various breathing treatments and a fed you through a tube. But  I’m certainly  not going to remember your final days. I am going to remember all of the good times and memories we  shared. When you took me to my first professional basketball game when i was 5 years old. You angel 2coming to my kindergarten graduation and my high school graduation. The two of us laughing hysterically at some video on YouTube while eating humongous loads of ice cream and your favorite lemon cookies.  The two of us watching football and how you  loved the Kansas City Chiefs,and in contrast hated the Dallas Cowboys. I will remember how much you loved watching Country Western movies. I’ll remember how you   loved listening to smooth jazz while riding through the San Antonio streets. But more than that I will remember all of the great advice you gave me. You told me that when things  in life get tough,you have to keep pushing. That life is not always going to be easy,that everyone will be faced with tribulation, but it’s all about how you react. You told me I  could do and become anything I set my mind to because my last name is angel 3Goodwin,because Goodwin men can do all things. You taught me that  I should put my best foot forward in anything that I do.  That hard work pays off in the end no matter what. That I was special because I was your grandson, and not to let anyone tell me differently. You told me I should accept my academic scholarship to Prairie View A&M and not play football because I could change the world with my mind and not on a football field. How the potential of me suffering a life debilitating injury worried you  greatly.

I’m incredibly sad I wont be able to go to your house in San Antonio and see you sitting in your favorite chair watching  television. Or the fact that I am  not able to call  you and hear your voice on Angel 1the other end of the phone saying ” hey A. I. , how are you?”.  That I am not able to call you and tell you about my accomplishments. And you will not get to see me walk across the stage when I graduate college.  It pains me deeply knowing that you are not here. The only comfort I have is the fact that I know for certain  you are watching over me in heaven.  I love you, I miss you, and I will never forget you.

Sincerely, your grandson,

Alexander Isaac Goodwin

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2015

Something To Fall Back on:The maturity of Cardale Jones

Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS!!!!!

—Cardale Jones, Twitter: October 5, 2012

It’s everyone’s dream to play in the NFL, but at this point in my life I think it is best for me to stay in school and get my degree.

-Cardale Jones, January 15th 2015

After being thrust into action after season injuries to Heisman trophy candidates Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones led Ohio State to their 8th National Championship victory dominating the Oregon Ducks 42-20. After his improbable rise to prominence, Jones had the opportunity to enter the NFL Draft. Some pundits believed Jones could have CARDALE 5been drafted as high as the first round. But Jones decided to return to school and complete his degree, saying it was the most important priority in his life. This shows Jones’s maturity in realizing what most black collegiate athletes and many other African-American males who are diligently working for a collegiate scholarship that they hope will lead to a professional career and millions of dollars have not; education will take them further than athletics.

It is widely acknowledged by many that college football and basketball are in minor league systems for the NFL and NBA, respectively.  As a result, there are innumerable young black men who do not treat the student portion of their student-athlete status with the time, effort, and attention it warrants. Unfortunately, many of these young men CARDALE 3consider college as a spring board to the NBA or NFL. Cardale Jones’ 2012 comment highlights the tendency of many young men to view their enrollment in higher education institutions as a means to improving their athletic abilities, not increasing their mental power. They fail to recognize it as an unprecedented opportunity to obtain a first class education free of charge.  These young men do not realize that the prospects of a long, illustrious athletic career are statistically slim, if not nearly impossible.

To support my assertion let’s look at a few statistics:

  • There are over 90 thousand collegiate football players who play at various levels. Of that ninety thousand only 254 players are drafted in the annual NFL draft.
  • The average NFL career span is less than three years.
  • There are nearly eighteen thousand collegiate basketball players. Of those athletes, only 46 are drafted; approximately one in 75 players, or 1.2 percent.
  • The average NBA career is less than 5 years.

Simply put, the chance that a college athlete, let alone an aspiring high school athlete, will have a lengthy professional career is minuscule. These young men would seemingly have a better chance of winning the lottery than becoming a professional athletics.

Cardale Jones’s maturity is something that should be applauded in the African American community. The fact that he is bypassing the opportunity to make CARDALEmillions of dollars to finish his degree is an example that many other young African American male athletes  should follow.  Because if he, god forbid, has a debilitating  injury that ends his career he will have something tangible to ensure that he will be able to take care of himself and his family.

Alexander Goodwin

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race, and Culture 2015

 

A Moment in Time: How the World Has Needlessly Frozen Dr. King in Time

I often remark to my students that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., much celebrated speech that he delivered to a crowd of over 250,000King 1 people on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was quite possibly the worst speech he ever delivered. Malcolm X summed up the entire event with the following quip, “it was a circus, with clowns and all.”

Now I do not cast disdain on either this moment or the oratorical wizardry that King repeatedly delivered when he amazingly took hardy slices of scriptures for his listeners to digest lightly. Nor do I necessarily agree with Brother Malcolm that the entire event “was a circus, with clowns and all.” The reason that I hold this moment in such disdain has little to do with King and everything to do with an outside world that has frozen him in what they have decided was his most defining moment.

The great Muhammad Ali stated, “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” This ali 3quote is particularly applicable to Dr. King’s legacy as his prophetic vision was not silenced by an assassin’s bullet for nearly five years after that moment on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Despite many individuals’ best attempts to cease Dr. King’s legacy on August 28, 1963, Dr. King did not waste the last years of his life, he continued to grow ideologically and displayed a propensity to alter his philosophy as needed.

I think that it is appropriate on the Anniversary of Dr.  King’s death to take a quick glance at a few of King’s beliefs after the March on Washington. Considering the recent release of the movie Selma, most are shocked to learn that King later realized that mass marches and dramatic protests were simply incapable of achieving the racial equality that whites so desperately resisted after President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. It is this changing political climate that led the much celebrated King to issue the following indictments toward the nation and the movement.

“[W]ith Selma and the Voting Rights Act one phase of development in the civil rights revolution came to an end. A new phase opened, but few observers realized it or were prepared for its implications. For the vast majority of white Americans, the past decade — the first phase — had been a struggle to treat the Negro with a degree of decency, not of equality. White America was ready to demand that the Negro should be spared the lash of brutality and coarse degradation, but it had never been truly committed to helping him out of poverty, exploitation or all forms of discrimination. The outraged white citizen had been sincere when he snatched the whips from the Southern sheriffs and forbade them more cruelties. But when this was to a degree accomplished, the emotions that had momentarily inflamed him melted away.

When negroes looked for the second phase, the realization of equality, they found that many of their white allies had quietly disappeared. Negroes felt cheated, especially in the North, while many whites felt that the negroes had gained so much it was virtually impudent and greedy to ask for more so soon.

The practical cost of change for the nation up to this point has been cheap.  The limited reforms have been obtained at bargain rates.  There are no expenses, and no taxes are required, for Negroes to share lunch counters, libraries, parks, hotels, and other facilities with whites…

Negroes of America had taken the President, the press and the pulpit at their word when they spoke in broad terms of freedom and justice . . . The word was broken, and the free-running expectations of the Negro crashed into the stone walls of white resistance.

Whites’ increasing resistance to racial equality, let alone any concept of racial justice, forced King to re-evaluate the rising tide of “Black Power” occurring throughout the nation. The preacher from Atlanta eventually issued a statement that supported “Black Power” politics when he stated the following,

There is nothing essentially wrong with power. The problem is that in America power is unequally distributed. This has led Negro Americans in the past to seek their goals through love and moral suasion devoid of power and white Americans to seek their goals through power devoid of love and conscience….  [I]t is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our times…

Black Power is a call for the pooling of black financial resources to achieve economic security.… Through the pooling of such resources and the development of habits of thrift and techniques of wise investment, the Negro will be doing his share to grapple with his problem of economic deprivation. If Black Power means the development of this kind of strength within the Negro community, then it is a quest for basic, necessary, legitimate power.

So as we celebrate Dr. King’s still reverberating life, let’s consider something beyond the vaunted speech given from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. That King 1is unless you think that Dr. King was the type of man to waste any portion of his life as Muhammad Ali stated. Trust me when I say, if you think that about Dr. King, you need to re-evaluate your entire understanding of our people.

 

James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2015

The Oscar Snub: When Will Black America Stop Looking Outside for Their Cultural and Artistic Worth

One has to wonder how long will African-Americans continue to look to an often hostile white community that has historically denigrated, yet also co-opted and profited from, their cultural expressions for approval. There appears to be an unadulterated desire by African-Americans to be lauded and celebrated by white institutions; such Blacks totally ignore the reality that whites and their institutions have repeatedly shunned their cultural and artistic contributions. Nonetheless, many within our community continue to look outside for some form of validation or self-worth in regards to their skills as actors, actresses, and directors.

The unquenchable thirst of Black America for white validation was once again displayed after the Oscar nominations were selmarevealed. Just in case you missed it, Black Hollywood was particularly upset that Ava DuVernay’s Selma was shunned by this year’s Oscar nominating committee, only receiving nominations for best picture and best song. By their reaction to this purported snub, Black Hollywood, and a few Black leaders, are once again displaying a tendency to allow whites to bestow worth, or the lack thereof, upon Black cultural and artistic expressions. From their reaction, it appears that not even commercial success, meaning support from their indigenous community, carries as much weight in Black Hollywood as the acknowledgement of a few white film critics and Hollywood insiders.

Predictably, Al Sharpton did his Negro best, to guide Black America’s reaction to the aforementioned snub with a racially polarizing, yet mundane quip that “The movie industry is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher you get, the whiter it gets.” Sharpton, who has increasingly behaved as if he should be nominated for his repeated role of being the world’s best ambulance chaser of supposed racial slights, for some bizarre reason pledged to call an “emergency meeting” with undisclosed individuals to deal with this issue. The MSNBC host insinuated that he would personally take action against the awards show.

Apparently the decision to nominate only whites for the most prestigious awards (best actor, best actress, and best director) was an insult that Sharpton, and many others within Black Hollywood, could not tolerate. The former Presidential candidate pointed out “the lack of diversity in today’s Oscar nominations is appalling…it’s ironic that they nominated a story about the racial shutout around voting while there is a racial shutout around the Oscar nominations…We have less diversity in the nominations today than in recent history.”

Now I am not here to debate the worth of Selma, rather, to aim a very poignant question at Black America; that query being, why do you, the originators of much that we see on the big screen and even on local and cable television, allow the opinion’s and evaluations of white’s to serve as the definitive judgment in regards to cultural JTexpressions, intellectual thought, politics, and social norms. It is in a word, foolish, to wait for kudos from a community that has rarely expressed anything other than comprehensive loathing and disdain for anything Black; that is, unless they are able to financially profit from it.

The white community has historically been hostile, yet opportunistically exploitative of JT 1Black cultural expressions. Black music, dance, acting, and theater have been consistently denounced by a largely hostile white community that hypocritically misappropriates, a big word for steal, these same cultural expressions for their own selfish, yet financially lucrative, purposes. Such matters remind me of the minstrel show era when white vaudeville performers “blackened up” and impersonated Black people before sold out audiences. Then it was Thomas Daddy Rice, today it is the Justin’s (Timberlake and Bieber) mimicking Black song and dance. Or the recently anointed King and Princess of Hip-Hop, Macklemore and Iggy Azalea.

So if provided an opportunity to say so, I would tell my people to stop looking to those who have historically oppressed you to celebrate or champion your cultural and artistic expressions. According to Spike Lee, such adulation occurs once a decade. According to Lee, “Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded…It’s in cycles of every 10 years. Once every 10 years or so I get calls from journalists about how people are finally accepting black films. Before last year, it was the year with Halle Berry, Denzel and Sidney Poitier. It’s a 10-year cycle. So I don’t start doing back flips when it happens.”

Unfortunately, the Oscar snubs have left a bad taste in the mouth of many segments of Black Hollywood. Were I permitted, I would like to share the advice that Spike Lee offered to Ava DuVernay with the droves of Black actors/actresses that nervously wait for white Hollywood’s fleeting and inconsistent adulation that never arrives.

“Fuck ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.”

James Thomas Jones III

@ManhoodRaceCulture

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2015

Selma: Revisiting and Unveiling More of the King Legacy

Despite the reverence that many people have for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., nearly a half-century after his assassination, he, and his philosophy of non-violent patriotic civil disobedience, has become a controversial figure for most African-Americans. King’s legacy has caused more than a few African-Americans to battle as if they are a modern-day manifestation of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. MLKKing’s supporters freely dole out love and admiration that is usually reserved for a deity who possesses the ability to walk on water. Conversely, those who tend to cast a disparaging gauge upon King do so with a venomous hate that is usually reserved for enemies that are deemed to possess no redeeming qualities. Put simply, there is rarely a grey area in matters surrounding Dr. King. So when the movie Selma debuted, I knew this was yet another opportunity to view how King’s image was being considered in the twenty-first century.

I must admit that I have significant reservations regarding the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his storied career of non-violent civil disobedience. My admiration for King does not extend beyond an acknowledgment of his obvious bravery in the face of virulent white hatred, however, my admiration ends abruptly after such Selma 1acknowledgement as I am not an advocate for either non-violent civil disobedience or integration, let alone assimilation. I have always thought that Dr. King refused to consider the depths of unregenerate evil that seemingly wrapped itself around some white Americans like a custom garment that brought them untold measure of comfort and coziness. Hence, I view any reconstruction of King’s life and by extension the storied history of my ancestors struggle for Civil Rights, with a curious eye.

However, I must admit that after watching the movie Selma, I was impressed with the manner in which the director, Ava DuVernay, handled this historic icon. Such a feat is all the more impressive when one realizes that DuVernay freely acknowledges that she is Selma 4not a historian of any sort; a qualification that I think should be required for anyone seeking to direct a history period film. However, I do tip my hat to DuVernay for having the courage to present a conflicted, often troubled, King to the big screen. Selma firmly displays that the road that King and his entourage of Civil Rights compatriots traveled was far from smooth or absent miscalculations and errors.

Unfortunately, Selma has one major flaw; that being its portrayal of President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ). The historian in me cringed at the maligning of LBJ, King’s greatest supporter during the highly-volatile sixties protest era. LBJ was portrayed as the villain who resisted any overture toward racial equality and Civil Rights. In fact, LBJ served as not only an advocate for racial equality as evidenced Selma 2by his signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act, but also served as a blanket of protection for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unfortunately, LBJ is portrayed as having racial animosity that rivaled the morally repugnant views of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama. This portrayal is in a word, unfortunate.

When considered as a whole, Selma provides us a greater look into the personal life, trials and tribulations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And for that I would most definitely recommend that everyone goes to view this film.

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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