One of the most polarizing figures in African-American history is undoubtedly Malcolm X. The Black Nationalist Titan has served for many, particularly African-American Christians, as the boogie man that they are to avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, the majority of them are unable to articulate why they are so afraid of a brother who gave his very life working for their liberation and salvation. A matter that becomes hilariously ridiculous when they are pressed to articulate why they have such disdain regarding Brother Malcolm. When their commentary is taken in its entirety, it becomes clear that they do not have an actual reason for harboring what can be best termed a juvenile bias against Malcolm. In fact, one is left with the perspective that those who are passing such harsh judgment against the former Nation of Islam spokesperson know very little about Malcolm X the man. The attached documentary Make It Plain will hopefully go a long ways toward addressing many of the misconceptions regarding arguably the most significant African-American of the twentieth-century.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
The communication came to me as so many others do, it was neither requested nor desired; however, it caused me to think about a variety of things: African-American women, political activism, and the path to liberation.
One of the most common discussion points amongst Black Nationalists seeking to uplift the race revolves around the role, place, and obligations of African-American women. Unfortunately, in the minds of many revolutionary minded African-American males, the role of women within the movement is, as Stokely Carmichael articulated, ‘prone’; meaning lying on their backs with their legs spread wide open. For others, the role of Black women has been a subservient one that requires her to be available at the ‘beck and call’ of her king. Neither of these roles has been embraced by the majority of Black women.
A cursory examination of African-American history highlights a much different role for Black female activists. History indicates that African-American women have not only been self-sacrificing, but also determined to move their people forward at an extreme personal cost. The race has never moved forward without the prodding, guidance, ingenuity, courage, and resolve of Black women. Put simply, Black women are the engine that moves our people forward.
As I look at the current state of Black affairs, the above historical truth disturbs me at an unconscionable level for one simple reason; I am unsure, for reasons that will be discussed below, if we have the female forces necessary to move the race forward. The female soldiers of yesteryear were incubated within a Black community that intrinsically recognized their worth, nurtured their self-image, provided a comfortable place for them to rest when they were exhausted from a day’s work, and protected them from external forces that desperately sought to stunt their moral development, political astuteness, and economic genius. That hedge of protection no longer exists; sadly, there are many within our midst seeking to damage the minds, bodies, and souls of our young girls in a manner that is eerily similar to the actions of racist whites.
The image of Black women is assailed around the clock; even when she is not physically present. If one were not careful, they may very well believe that many of the reality television (Love and Hip-Hop series), cinematic (addicted), and rap video (Nicki Minaj) depictions of Black women are valid; particularly when one considers the consistency of the images being shared to a gullible public. Despite protests to the contrary, the Black community’s allowing such imagery to be developed, broadcast, and ingested by African-American youth has come at an extreme cost; a cost that promises to rise exponentially as time goes along.
The alluded to images have a varying impact upon the still-developing minds of young African-American females, and males, seeking to identify who they are in a nation that sees their Blackness as a symbol of inferiority and their gender as a sign of weakness. Many of the alluded to sisters are indoctrinated by negative images, stereotypes, and caricatures of what it means to be a Black woman and predictably gravitate toward occupations and behaviors that their oppressors have promoted as a unique niche reserved solely for them. The aforementioned advice given to Black women by their opponents appears to be the sex industry. It appears that many within this nation are advising black women, “…when all else fails, pussy always sells.” Only within this capitalistic ends-justify-the-means nation would such an option be publicly promoted via national airwaves, television stations, and magazines to citizens.
It is the promotion of such economic solutions to African-American women, particularly those just starting to understand that they must actively resist a world that is seeking to destroy them and thereby derail the struggle for African-American liberation that is supremely disturbing. The African-American community’s collective failure to not only protect, but also address such matters in a meticulous manner that counter-balances the aforementioned negativity with our own propaganda dooms us to failure. Our failings in this matter should shame both community leaders and ordinary citizens. The Black community’s failure to protect its young women ensures that we will remain in the same dastardly position that we have been in for far too long. Because, once again, African-American history teaches us one thing for certain, that being, Black women are the engine behind every movement the race makes, and as you well know, no vehicle, not even a Black Nationalist one, will move one inch without a working fully functioning engine.
* Please join the writers of Manhood, Race, and Culture on Nu Power Radio @ (917) 889-8059 on Tuesday October 28th at 6:00 EST for a lively discussion over this blog post. We look forward to building with you on this issue.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
Terrelle Pryor. Devier Posey. Cam Newton. Johnny Manziel. These players, and scores of others have been penalized by the NCAA for attempting to gain monetary profit by using their name and likeness to sign memorabilia and other items. You can now add University of Georgia star running back Todd Gurley to this list. This past week Gurley was suspended indefinitely by the University for signing memorabilia including more than 500 items which included jerseys, mini-helmets, photos, gloves , and cleats which is a violation of the NCAA’s amateurism rules. The rules state that as a student athlete they are to accept no compensation in any shape, form or fashion that stems from their athletic prowess. The rule states that their athletic scholarship provides a free education that serves as sufficient payment.
That is wrong on so many levels. These young men and their talents make billions of dollars for their respective institutions, their sports conferences and the NCAA. Just this year alone the Southeastern Conference, one of the elite conferences in college athletics, announced a deal with ESPN to start their own TV network: the SEC Network. This deal will pay the conference about 2.25 billion dollars over the life of the agreement. In 2010, the NCAA reached a 14-year, $11 billion agreement with CBS and Turner Sports for the TV rights to broadcast the NCAA basketball tournament. The University of Georgia, who Todd Gurley plays for, made nearly $80 million dollars in profit from its football season.
A large portion of that revenue stream comes from the sale of memorabilia. These institutions fill their athletic stores and websites with copious amounts of jerseys, pictures, t-shirts, trading cards and other items that sell for hundreds of dollars. These items bear the likenesses, and images of athletes who are not allowed to make one cent from these sales. That is a blatant and egregious hypocrisy. The NCAA and these universities can sell items bearing these players images and likeness but do not pay the players because it would be a violation of the amateurism rules. That is flat out preposterous. Todd Gurley did the same thing these bigger entities are doing. dd Being unapologetic entrepreneurs. These entities are in the business of making money, why can’t he be? Jere W. Morehead, the president of the University of Georgia, isn’t out on the field everyday risking his health, Todd Gurley is. But Todd Gurley does not make one red cent. If Todd Gurley can’t earn income off of his own image and likeness NOBODY should be able to. Let’s face it, college athletics is a full time job. So why can’t players be paid for doing a job that provides these universities and other groups billions of dollars?
When you work for someone you get compensated. It’s called a job. When you do work and you aren’t compensated it’s called indentured servitude or slavery. And the argument that a scholarship is payment enough is flat out false. If the cost of the scholarship and profit that is made from a student athlete is equal that argument would have merit. But it clearly doesn’t. Todd Gurley’s scholarship over 4 years from the University of Georgia is worth $92,328 dollars. As mentioned above the amount of profit the university makes off these players is much more than that.
It’s time the NCAA’s archaic rules on amateurism be abolished. ALL college athletes should be paid for sacrificing their time, giving relentless effort and risking their well-being for these big entities. I propose that the NCAA adopt a pay scale that would pay the sports that bring in the most revenue the most and trickle down from there. For example, all 85 scholarship players should be paid a total of 5 thousand dollars during their season, the 15 men’s basketball players 4 thousand dollars, and so on. The money used to pay players can come from a combination of athletic boosters, donations, the revenue earned by the universities from athletics, and the schools’ endowment.
My question to anyone who opposes these young me and women being compensated: If you were the person whose God given talents and abilities were being taken advantage of and you were making others inordinate amounts of dollars and you could not profit off of it. Would you think it was ok?
#Manhood Race and Culture
I met this girl, when I was ten years old
And what I loved most she had so much soul
She was old school, when I was just a shorty
Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me
ont he regular, not a church girl she was secular
Not about the money, no studs was mic checkin her
But I respected her, she hit me in the heart
A few New York niggaz, had did her in the park
But she was there for me, and I was there for her…
Now she be in the burbs lickin rock and dressin hip
And on some dumb shit, when she comes to the city
Talkin about poppin glocks servin rocks and hittin switches
Now she’s a gangsta rollin with gangsta bitches
Always smokin blunts and gettin drunk
Tellin me sad stories, now she only fucks with the funk
Stressin how hardcore and real she is
She was really the realest, before she got into showbiz
I did her, not just to say that I did it
But I’m committed, but so many niggaz hit it
That she’s just not the same lettin all these groupies do her
I see niggaz slammin her, and takin her to the sewer
But I’ma take her back hopin that the shit stop
Cause who I’m talkin bout y’all is hip-hop
In 1994, the rapper Common Sense gifted hip-hop culture with a track that was simultaneously poignant and an immediate classic. The song I refer to is I Used to Love Her. A track that shows us not only the Chicago based rapper at his absolute lyrical best, but also caused the entire Hip-Hop community to reflect for a moment about what we had done to her; the her that Common was metaphorically referring to was an entity that my generation thought would never leave us, would never betray us, would never age, and Lord knows she would never lose that enchanting allure that kept us coming back for more of what she had, and truthfully she turned out every male, and more than a few females in her day as well; the female that I, and Common, are talking about is Hip-Hop.
Man, were we wrong. Although the shell of what we remember about her still remains, she in no way resembles that beautiful, politicized, cultured, and articulate siren of yesterday. If it did nothing else, last night’s Black Entertainment Television Hip-Hop Awards show definitively proved such. So it is out of pure love that I issue a rallying call to all of those who still have some affinity in their heart for Hip-Hop Culture to rally and make a concerted effort to stop this criminal exploitation of something that we all loved at one point in our lives. We need a direct intervention that calls for us to do more than merely taping the on-going crime with a cell phone camera; we are, and have been for some time, within a cultural crisis and we must take her back ‘By Any Means Necessary’.
My natural reaction to the question of ‘what should be done?’ is to rhetorically state any and everything. However, rhetoric will do little to get her back into the arms of those who love her. Considering the obvious utility of mentorship, it may be time for the luminaries of the Hip-Hop community to intercede and begin an extreme mentoring program for emcees that teach them the rules to this game; obviously, today’s emcees ‘are not ‘bout that life’. A mentorship and education that would hopefully lift those who represent the Hip-Hop community on stages throughout the world, a privilege earned by the legends of Hip-Hop, despite they not having anything to say beyond myopic misogynistic half-witted, darn near indecipherable guttural moans and unarticulated words that place an exclamation point upon their obvious cultural illiteracy and lack of any form of education. Not to mention the fumbling away of an incredible opportunity to issue a message to 20,000 people sitting in an arena listening to your every word. Quite possibly the most powerful position that today’s African-American youth could ever hope to occupy.
Considering that the most likely place to find today’s disciples of what is being termed Hip-Hop culture today is in front of a television watching ‘reality television’, I have a proposal that will satisfy their desperate desire to live life vicariously through others while also saving Hip-Hop culture.
What I believe that we need is our own, much larger and extended version of The Voice; unfortunately, I think that it would take a rap luminary like Chuck D darn near a decade to explain to YG why standing on a stage and repeatedly stating ‘nigga’ is not a good thing for the African-American community, I could see Rakim physically striking Rich Homie Quan as he grows increasingly frustrated with his inability/refusal to enunciate his words, heck, it may take a century for KRS-ONE and Grandmaster Melle Mel to explain to Young Thug the underlying issues surrounding gender dynamics, racial discord, and imagery; not to mention the process to break Nicki Minaj’s steadfast commitment to present Black women as the modern-day Venus Hottentot for anyone with a dollar in their hand would take every bit of energy that Missy Elliott, Da Brat, MC Lyte, the Real Roxanne, Salt ‘n Pepa, and Queen Latifah have collectively. Heck, I would even argue that Snoop should be on someone’s team as he seems to be totally confused regarding the issues of imagery, language, and how to “be” as a middle-aged man.
So I am placing a call to Public Enemy, KRS-ONE, Paris, X-Clan, Brand Nubian, NWA, Scarface, Dead Prez, Mos Def, Rakim, De La Soul, Missy Elliott, Da Brat, MC Lyte, the Real Roxanne, A Tribe Called Quest, and anyone else, including contemporary emcees who understand the culture like Big K.R.I.T., that is willing to dedicate the rest of their life, because that is what it is going to take, to helping us recapture her from those who have exploited her economically, disrespected her at a moments notice, needlessly cursed at her, and forced her to dress like a common hoe, and pursue the mighty dollar like a THOT, to aid us in this process; she certainly deserves better.
‘Cause who I’m talkin’ about y’all is Hip-Hop’.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III