DO YOU HAVE A BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS?: A Simple Self-Test

It is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous charges that African-Americans have hurled against one another, a charge that could havegood bad hair been included in the legendary “Willie Lynch” letter as it carries a historic venom that agitates on-going intra-racial battles concerning skin color — team light-skinned vs. team dark-skinned — as well as that old Negro preoccupation with hair texture and length — good hair vs. bad hair — each contestation more ridiculous and counterproductive than its predecessor; however, any examination will show that people invest significant emotions into the above battles. The most recent battle occurs sagging pantsmost frequently during the K-12 educational experience, however, I have seen its appearance among African-Americans well into their forties, the bias I alluded to is the assertion that academically achieving African-Americans are somehow “acting White”.

Now it would be very simple to dismiss these assertions of “acting white” on for its blatant stupidity. However, such an approach, although preferable and convenient, miserably fails to address this matter and denounce the legions of asinine people, children and adults, who have invested into such foolishness. Although one would think that those who charge academically achieving and cultured African-Americans with ‘acting white’ would have a monopoly upon African-American History and Culture, the truth is that they have a mastery upon nothing other than niggardly behavior and ridiculous thought. From my perspective, what they are in effect stating when they school 5charge their peers with ‘acting white’ is who are you to have an interest in anything that develops your mind beyond the pursuit of inconsequential things; Air Jordan Sneakers, Gucci Clothes, Burberry, Prada, Michael Kors Bags, Smart Phones, Booty Implants, Play Station 4, etc. Despite the protests from those who intimately attach their self-worth to material items, it is them, and their children, “that feel some kind of way” when others neither admire nor compliment their gaudy attire.

When one thinks about it, the primary difference between African-Americans that are progressive thinking and those that are involved in a mindless pursuit of inanimate objects. The latter group was best summed up by 90’s rapper Grand Verbalizer Funkin grand verbalizerLesson Brother J of X-Clan when he stated, some of our people are “Always trying to obtain with no attempt to achieve.” As the father of a brilliant twelve-year-old son, who is unfortunately encountering these issues surrounding his diction and academic achievement, I feel that it is imperative to ask those who are attempting to persecute and ostracize the intelligent children in our community a question that I am certain that they have never heard; Do you have a Black Conscious mind?

Now this question of having a ‘Black Conscious Mind’ is not a silly construct that will equate the thinking of our people to Nikkiignorance, Ebonics, immorality, and betrayal as those things have nothing to do with being a person of African descent; in fact, they are the personification of the way our ancestors have never thought, acted, and lived throughout the annals of time. What exactly can one consider having a ‘Black Conscious Mind’? From my perspective, there are several factors that indicate one does, or does not, possess a Black Consciousness. Most fortunately, it is very easy via the following self-test for one to find out if they have a “Black Consciousness”.

  • Do you love and respect for all persons of African descent?
  • Do you realize that our History does not begin with slavery?
  • Do you realize that chattel slavery is not our shame?
  • Do you know who David Walker is?david walker
  • Do you know who Maria Stewart is?
  • Do you realize that surviving slavery shows our ancestors strength?
  • Do you realize that our ancestors gave this nation their first belief in God?
  • Do you understand that your ancestors are the first people on the planet to believe in ONE God?
  • Do you know who Nikki Giovanni is?
  • Do you realize that our ancestors gave this nation its first humanity?
  • Do you realize that our ancestors gave this nation Jazz Music as an eternal gift?
  • Do you realize that our ancestors gave this nation its very soul?
  • Have you read Michelle Alexander’s work?Cube
  • Do you know who Assata Shakur is?
  • Do you know who Paul Robeson is?
  • Do you believe that Ice Cube was prophetic during NWA’s Fu$K the Police?
  • Do you know that Hip-Hop Culture matters?
  • Do you know who John Henrik Clarke is?
  • Have you ever read The Autobiography of Malcolm X?
  • Have you ever heard Thelonious Monk play anything?
  • Have you ever heard John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme?Terence Blanchard
  • Have you ever heard Terence Blanchard’s Over There?
  • Have you ever heard Ras Kass, Nature of the Threat?
  • Do you know who Rakim is?
  • Have you ever just sat and listened to Nas’ Illmatic for its lyrical beauty?
  • Does the fireside scene in Glory move you to tears?
  • Have you patronized a Black bookstore in the past six months?
  • Have you ever seen a live performance of an August Wilson play?James Baldwin
  • Have you ever read The Price of the Ticket by James Baldwin?
  • Are you down with 10-10-50?
  • Do you know who Grange Copeland is?
  • Have you ever read anything by the prophet Audre Lorde?
  • Do you know who Octavia Butler is?

If you answered NO to more than three of the above questions, you have some serious work to do because you do not have a black consciousness and therefore have much work to do.

Now this was not constructed to constrain your thoughts, actions, and/or behaviors, rather to highlight to those of you who erroneously believe that foul language, public indecency, poverty (mentally, socially, politically, and intellectually), are signs of Blackness the error in your thinking. How could you ever believe that this foolishness that we see today from Love & Hip-Hop through World Star Hip-Hop are in any form or fashion a representation of African-American life and culture. Get your mind right, IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

There are Many Layers to this Journey to Equality: If We are not Careful, Our Division will Cripple Us During the Journey

Day after day, I browse posts on Facebook and the internet, seeing all the conflicting views about our struggle, how to get the movement started, where we should focus our energies, they go on and on.  Reading so many different prespectives can be tiring, if not confusing.  It is no wonder our youth are so scattered and confused about how to articulate their feelings, their disappointments.

Most troubling to me are the unending posts and videos from those simultaneously claiming to be ‘on the front line’, yet spewing division and hatred toward their brothers and sisters. Don’t they know that we can not overcome anything as long as we are looking at each other with hatred and derision?  Don’t they realize that this internal conflict is what has kept our people in a state of confusion and dependent upon the systems in place to keep us divided?  Can’t they see that without unity and respect for each other we further cripple our chances at being taken seriously?  Like I said, there are many layers.

Layer one.  When we first arrived on this continent the plan was devised to keep us separated by physical locale. The slave masters knew that they could not have too many slaves in one place because that would increase the possibilities of a rebellion that could overthrow their slave system. They first separated us by physical characteristics, only a few large, strong Mandingos were allowed on any one plantation; their primary use was for hard backbreaking work and the production of the next generation of stout enslaved Africans. The other male slaves were Jim Crowrelegated to the fields.  The women were divided by physical characteristics as well. The more physically appealing slaves were placed closer to the house, given better living conditions and easier jobs. Psychologically, our first barrier was set.  We now were set against each other based on the ease of life given some by the slave owner. He saw this and to him this was good. As children were born with lighter complexions and as a result of slave rape, these children were also favored and given better living, easier circumstances.  It was part of the plan, the plan that still plays out today in our culture.

Layer two came in the post-slavery era. Stark differences in regards to access to education began to develop. A few Africans were able to secure access to education. Some passed for Caucasian and did their absolute best to seamlessly merge into freedom. Such moments were rare as the vast majority of formerly enslaved Africans were in a horrendous economic plight. They were facing the arduous task of supporting themselves absent the ability to read, write, or engage in commerce.  Thos that moved into mainstream America did so and left the others in a miserable state possessing much envy for those who escaped the rigid confines of economic exploitation. We as a people became more fractured and unsupportive of each other.  Their plan continued.

Layer three and the most important layer.  During the late twentieth-century and into the new millennium, our people divided ourselves into many competing factions. We school dazetook freedom of religion to a new level, creating every kind of worship group we could think of.  We divided based on “greek” affiliation in college, we divided based on zip codes, based on choice of car manufacturers, based on red or blue, based on eye color, hair length, and finally the size of a behind.  We divided so much and with emotion that we became comfortable with hating each other on sight.  I am reminded of a movie by Spike Lee called “School Daze”.  This movie was satirical but it clearly illustrated just how divided our people have become.  The actors in this movie fought each other over differences in complexion, body build, financial ability and level of intellect.  As much as this movie was enjoyed by our school daze 3people, no one really paid attention to the subliminal message being sent, our division will be the downfall to us.

The top layer.  We are all in the same boat and fighting for the oar.  Our boat will capsize if we don’t get it together in short order.  We have those who support the followers of Dr, King.  They do so because the evidence of this approach is real.  Without Dr.King, we would not be able to vote, to live anywhere we want, to aspire to reach higher learning and better lifestyles.  MLKNot many realize that the teachings of Dr.King were removed from mainstream education because these teachings would have gone on to lay a more equal foundation for our country.  Those who benefit from racism could not let this happen because their privilege would be removed if the people of this country embraced equality.  “Keep them divided, neutralize them and they will stay exactly where we want them”.

There are those who speak out against the leaders that have come from Dr. King’s teachings.  Some arguments have merit but they miss several important points.  During the period mentioned above, our people being fractured and disconnected felt there was no need for a leader, no need to continue to teach the lessons that made us “equal”.  There was no need for an “Operation Push” until there was a killing.  No need for Reverend Sharpton until there was a rape or murder.  Even then it appears that the plan was to neutralize their influence by setting them up to look corrupt.  In the 80’s there was Tywana Brawley who placed the first national knife in Reverend Sharpton’s back with her childish and racially derisive lie about Caucasian police kidnapping and raping her while she hung out with friends “turning up”.  You can find out more about Reverend Sharpton here http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Sharpton and here http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1527. Jesse Jackson has also had a great impact on the lives of the average African American but because we are so blind and wanting to see the negative in each other, many do not know the positives he has brought to our struggle.  Read about him here http://www.aaiusa.org/dr-zogby/entry/w072693/ and also here http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=687. For both I have supplied a positive and a not so positive link.  You make your own decision.

In conclusion, I need to point out that there are very few, if any, ready to step in and address the total issue of how we get on a level playing field.  Where we will fail is by not identifying that our own infighting and lack of cohesion will miss the boat and keep us no better than where we are.  We have many issues to address.  Fair housing and lending, equal job opportunities, equal pay, fair voting practices, and better representation in our elected officials.  Our first step is to stop attacking each other and speaking negatively about those who can do the most good.  I challenge all the “would be leaders” to come together and find a way to work as one unit to address and resolve all the issues we have as a race.  Also, I challenge all my brothers and sisters to stop speaking out against each other and learn to support and promote each other because as I said, we are all in the same boat.  Our road has been long and hard.  Each of us has played a role in the place we find ourselves in, individually and collectively.  There is no one person who can stand against the system and get us to where we want to be.  We do it together or we fail together.  It should not matter who is at the head of our fight, as long as they are producing the results we need and reaching the ultimate goals.  Remember this saying “A house divided will never stand”.  It’s time for our people to stand together and succeed.  And remember, to all those who feel they have a reason to speak out against a brother or sister, you are teaching division to the youth watching and you will reap what you sow. Negative brings negative.

D.C. Price, MBA, PMP, MCTS, CNA

The Ballad of Craig Hodges: How Black NBA Stars have betrayed the Jordan Rules and Begun Resisting the Implicit Expectations and Demands of NBA Ownership

For those who have watched the National Basketball Association over the past four decades they can attest that the league has grown by leaps and bounds. Although many believe that the NBA has always been on dr jsolid footing from the moment of its creation, that belief is simply not true. In fact, the league was struggling until the ABA folded and Julius Irving, or as we like to call him Dr. J, arrived. However, it was not until ‘Magic’ Johnson and Larry Bird arrived that interest in the NBA reached unprecedented levels.

I feel sorry for those who are too young to remember the titanic battles between the Lakers, Black folks team, and the Celtics, white folk’s team. Most thought that things could not get any better in regards to the NBA’s popularity, however, they were wrong, and I do mean very wrong. What we thought was the apex of NBA popularity would appear mundane when Michael jordan 1Jordan arrived and took the NBA brand around the globe and placed a basketball in the hands of children in India, Iraq, Ghana, Britain, Brazil, Ice Land, Jamaica, and any other nation with cable television. Although we failed to recognize it, Jordan’s fame destroyed one of African-American athletes, regardless of the sport, greatest traditions; social activism and the ability to speak out on racial injustice. Athletes learned that their foremost job, even before their on-court performance was that they were never to damage the NBA’s image with any form, shape, or fashion of political commentary or social activism.

For those who doubt the veracity of this unspoken arrangement, they need to consider the case of Craig Hodges, a member of many of those NBA Championship teams that built the legend of Michael Jordan. hodges and jordanHodges was unrivaled at the time as a three-point specialist. It was what he did, and truthfully it was all that he needed to do. Hodges holds the distinction of being one of two NBA players to win three consecutive 3-point shooting contest during the NBA All Star weekend, the other, Larry Bird; whom Hodges defeated. Hodges’ streak ended not after being defeated by another NBA player; rather he was inexplicably cut from the Bulls roster for non-basketball related reasons. Hodges’ run with the Bulls was unceremoniously cut short after he attempted to politicize his teammates via a growing relationship with Nation of Islam leader, The Honorable Louis Farrakhan. NBA owners were apparently aghast that Hodges had the unmitigated gall to challenge Black athletes to do more work within the African-American community that had raised each of them.

From the perspective of the all-white owners collective, Hodges violated the first rule of being extended the privilege of playing in the NBA, he publicly damaged the leagues image when he traveled to the White House to be honored for yet another Championship season and not only stood before President Bush wearing a dashiki, but also capitalized upon the moment and passed the President a letter urging him to address the worsening socioeconomic issues plaguing the Black community. A short time later, Hodges was released by the Bulls. Hodges remembers, “I was outspoken, but I wasn’t disrespectful. I was never in trouble for drugs, or guns or raping women or anything like that. I just wanted to help my community, and that made me a troublemaker. What I did at the White House embarrassed the league, and it made a lot of people uncomfortable, and they did something about it.”

”It’s well known through the league that there may be repercussions if you speak out too strongly on some sensitive issues,” said Buck Williams, a forward player and head of the players association. ”I don’t know if Hodges lost his job because of it, but it is a burden when you carry the militant label he has.”

Hodges told LZ Granderson, a senior writer for ESPN the Magazine, “I went from making $600,000 a year to making nothing. No one would take my calls, no one would give me a chance. I went from helping a team win it all, to all of a sudden not being good enough to play for the worst team in the league. Do I think the league had it out for me? You tell me.”

So it is with great interest that I watch today’s NBA stars issue political commentary regarding the Eric Garner case before a majority white audience. In case you missed it, NBA athletes such as Lebron James, nets i cant breatheDerrick Rose, Kevin Garnett, and Kyrie Irving have all worn black t-shirts with the statement “I Can’t Breathe” written across the front.

Most surprising is Lebron James, the NBA’s greatest asset in regards to publicizing the league, boldness in leading the players into what can best be termed a post-Jordan period of political commentary and social activism. It appears now that NBA players, many of whom possess the same feelings as Craig Hodges in regards to helping their rose i can't breatheindigenous community, are only allowed to speak on social issues when the league’s most prominent figure leads the way; such a development provides yet another reason for us to cast a disparaging eye upon Michael Jordan’s lack of social activism. One must remember that it was Michael Jordan who refused to publicly endorse a political party, let alone a particular candidate, and explained his refusal by stating that “Republicans buy tennis shoes as well.” However, it appears that under the King James Reign the NBA players’ tongues have been loosened and they will boldly and stridently speak truth to power.

James, having witnessed Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose wear an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt during warm-ups the night before, donned his own T-shirt prior to a game with the Brooklyn Nets the following night. James, one of the few players to by-pass a collegiate experience by making the leap from high school to the NBA, displays an uncanny understanding of his personal responsibility to the larger society. James stated that the shirts were a simple, relatively non-disruptive, way to issue political commentary regarding a prominent social issue. James expounded upon his intentions,

“I’ve been quoted over and over about what’s going on as far as it’s more of a notion lebron breatheto the family, more than anything. Obviously, as a society we have to do better. We have to be better for one another. It doesn’t matter what race you are. It’s more of a shout out to the family more than anything, because they’re the ones that should be getting all the energy and effort.”

The saying goes that there is strength in numbers, the blatant injustice of the Eric Garner murder has caused many voices to rise that are normally muted. Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams is one such individual. Williams related to ESPN that

“I try to kinda distance myself from [social issues]…but this is one where I kinda really paid attention and saw what was going on…I mean, you can see the [Garner] video and you know what happened. It’s not one of those things where people are saying this and the cops are saying that. It’s there for you to see. You just feel bad that a man lost his life because of that.”

Making this moment particularly ironic is that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance. Predictably, the league kyrie i cant breatheCommissioner walked a fine line and simply remarked that he respected the rights of “…our players for voicing their personal views on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules.” Players are required to wear Adidas attire, the league’s official apparel provider, while on a NBA court.

Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins, an African-American, summed up this important moment by stating that the players,

“…should be political. They should be about social awareness. Basketball is just a small part of life. If they don’t think that there is justice or they feel like there is something that they should protest…That is their right as citizens of America…I have no problem with it at all.”

Although it took decades to occur, it appears that the pendulum regarding African-American athletes and politicization has come full circle. Their tongues have been at least partially loosened and their political consciousness slightly awakened. The Jordan years, years that produced a deafening silence on racial matters, are apparently no more. Too bad that Craig Hodges’ playing days are long behind him, it now appears that he was truly a man born way before his time.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D., M.A., M.A., M.A.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

Are We Having the Wrong Conversation?: The Truth about Police Brutality in America (Part I)

The recent deaths of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, all African-American males, by white law enforcement officers has been exploited by traditional and electronic media outlets in an unabashed campaign to convince legions that the aforementioned deaths were racially motivated and by trayvonextension police brutality is a racial matter. Many have taken this opportunity to foolishly assert that it is open season on African Americans. I respectfully disagree with their perspective and emphatically state that it is open season on ALL Americans.

My assertion rests upon plenty of evidence.

*          In Mobile, Alabama, Trevis Austin, an African American cop fatally shot and killed Garret Collar, an unarmed teenage white civilian. Collar, under the influence of apolice 6 hallucinogenic drug, did not assault Officer Austin, who had other means of subduing the teenaged Collar at his disposal. He chose to unjustly use deadly force.

*          In New York City, an 84 year old Asian man Kang Chun Wong, was viciously assaulted by NYPD for jaywalking. Wong who speaks little to no English at all, was police 2asked by Asian American Officer Jeffrey Loo who stopped him for this petty offense. Loo asked Wong for his ID.  As Officer Loo walked away to process his ID, Wong not understanding what was happening, followed after him. That’s when Wong was thrown against a wall and subsequently thrown to the ground and brutalized by numerous officers, leaving him with a bloodied head and permanent memory loss.

*          In Los Angeles, three Hispanic cops fatally shot and killed Brian Newt Beaird, an unarmed war veteran with a history of psychiatric issues, the result of a prior brain surgery. Beaird was shot fifteen times while fleeing toward his vehicle.

Unfortunately for all Americans, I could continue citing occurrences of police misconduct toward victims of all nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.

There is no doubt that police brutality occurs in every American community. This issue is police 7endemic to America; and dare we say, ‘as American as Apple Pie.’ So it behooves all Americans to demand one thing: increased training for police cadets and veteran officers. Such training is critical to the lives of all Americans as officers have the power to determine life or death at a moments notice.

Americans must demand more from those who are supposed to keep us safe. Particularly when one considers that officers are civil servants employed by the very citizenry that they are terrorizing and brutalizing. Put simply, they are our employees and we should determine what their training entails; obviously, existing training manuals are failing miserably.

I think that it would be a good start if we demanded that all officers adhered to the following demands.

*          Each officer must wear a body camera.

*          Officers should be forced to live in the areas that they patrol.

*          Officers should answer to a empowered civilian review board.

Just as the founding fathers demanded an end to British exploitation, American citizens must rally, regardless of race/ethnicity/gender, and demand that officer misconduct cease immediately. Failure to do such just may serve as the catalyst to another American Revolution and the renewing of the democratic principles that this nation has yet to live up to.

Alexander Goodwin

#ManhoodRaceCulture

A True Hollywood Star: How Samuel L. Jackson is Attempting to Lead His Peers Down a Revolutionary Road

I can hear my neighbor cryin’ ‘I can’t breathe’

Now I’m in the struggle and I can’t leave.

Callin’ out the violence of the racist police.

We ain’t gonna stop, till people are free.

We ain’t gonna stop, till people are free.

Considering that at each and every cinematic or music awards show some Hollywood leading man or starlet begins their acceptance speech by thanking God in some form or fashion for this or that, I think that it is a relatively safe bet that they have been raised, or occasionally visited, a church. So I find it peculiar when such people display that they are little more than what I term ‘buffet believers’. Meaning they will accentuate certain scriptures, solely because it is simultaneously beneficial to their current agenda and does not impede their busy lives, and ignore others for the opposite reasons.

So I am anxiously awaiting the engagement, or the lack thereof, of Hollywood, particularly Black Hollywood, in regards to Samuel L. Jackson challenge that is implicitly being issued in the spirit of Luke 12: 48 “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Jackson specifically calls upon all Hollywood stars, regardless of race, who poured ice water upon their heads to accept his challenge of singing the ‘We ain’t gonna stop until people are free song. The lyrics to the song follow:

I can hear my neighbor cryin’ ‘I can’t breathe’

Now I’m in the struggle and I can’t leave.

Callin’ out the violence of the racist police.

We ain’t gonna stop, till people are free.

We ain’t gonna stop, till people are free.

Although Jackson issues the call to his notable contemporaries, regardless of race, I think that it will be particularly interesting to monitor the participation of Black Hollywood in this racial matter. The major question is quite simply are African-American stars bold enough to follow Samuel L. Jackson’s lead, or will they idly sit back, monitor the situation to see if it is safe to enter into always contemptuous racial waters.

As the saying goes, ‘charity begins at home’. So it is time for an adherence to Luke 12:48 and realize that they have been given much, so much is being required from them. I applaud Samuel L. Jackson for courageously stepping forward and issuing this challenge.

James Thomas Jones III

#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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