A Public Disservice?: How FSU is Crippling its African-American Male Athletes

Make no mistake about it. In Tallahassee, Florida, the home of the BCS National Champion Florida State Seminoles, members of the top ranked Seminole football team are treated like Gods. FSU administrators, fans, and supporters make certain that FSU emblemtheir gridiron warriors receive the best of everything that the city of Tallahassee, Florida State University, and athletics has to offer. From an outsiders perspective, these young men are provided the best housing, food, and everything else. The alluded to privilege apparently extends to privileged treatment from local law enforcement agencies and officers.

In the early morning of October 5th 2014, Florida State University’s starting defensive back P.J. Williams was involved in a severe car wreck that culminated with both cars being totaled.  According to a New York Times report, instead of staying at the scene Williams left his vehicle in the middle of the street and fled into the night flanked by two other young men.  Williams later returned to the accident scene that Tallahassee officers correctly labeled a hit-and-run. The last time I checked, this charge was a criminal offense, however, officers thought different and merely issued the gridiron star a pair of traffic tickets for making an illegal left turn and “unknowingly” driving with a suspended license. Incredibly, the officers called to the scene failed to issue Williams a breathalyzer exam or inquiring about his sobriety. This is hardly the first time that success on the football field has trumped a pursuit of justice for the Seminole nation.

In a separate New York Times report it was established that the Florida State University police department, in conjunction with Tallahassee police have been giving football players preferential treatment regarding their dealings with local law enforcement authorities. Local police departments have repeatedly soft pedaled accusations or covered up incidents involving Seminole football players.

There has been a litany of problems for the Seminole program and its coach, Jimbo Fisher. This alluded to trouble begins at the top with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston who was accused of sexually assaulting a female student. Predictably, winstonthe District Attorney declined to prosecute Winston, citing a lack of evidence. The vast majority of the Seminole Nation not only took Winston’s side, but also jubilantly celebrated when ‘the process worked itself out.’ Despite their refusal to recognize it, the process was rigged as indicated by new evidence that depicts collusion between university police and the athletic department to ensure that Winston were not prosecuted. There is most definitely a ‘lack of institutional control’ at FSU.

One must take their hat off to the Seminole nation, they are consistent in their protection of athletes, a protection that extends well beyond the notorious quarterback. When Jesus Wilson, a Seminole wide receiver, was stopped for being in possession of a stolen scooter, he avoided arrest grand theft charges because the officer took his word that he “borrowed” the scooter from a fellow student whose last name he could not recall. There have been a plethora of additional incidents of Seminole players engaging in a menagerie of criminal activities; none of the transgressions have resulted in a criminal prosecution.

The lackadaisical attitude taken by the Tallahassee police department and campus police must come to an end. These young men need to be held accountable for their actions.  Their status as high profile student athletes on a national championship winning Seminole Football team should not exempt them from receiving any repercussions for their illicit activities. This environment FSU2fostered by law enforcement agencies, college administrators, and athletic coaches has led to these young men callously and brazenly disrespecting the law. Although FSU has once again climbed out of the doldrums of athletic mediocrity and re-emerged as a NCAA Football power, the question that should be posed is, at what cost has this occurred? From the perspective of Seminole nation, the cost has been slight; the bill is merely doing a drastic disservice to the African-American men who battle for them on a weekly basis. Seminole nation has crippled these lawless young men by reversing a historical record and contemporary reality that displays that no African-American male, regardless of his individual achievements, is above the long arm of the law.

The fact of the matter is that many athletically gifted African-American males have been getting away with “murder” since they first displayed superior athletic ability in grade school. We all know that high school athlete who had privilege extended to him by coaches, females, and sports boosters, so routinely that he began to think that it was how the world operated. Hence, the fact that Winston, and his Seminole teammates, arrived on campus prisonexpecting a continuation of the privilege they had learned to expect from their K-12 experience is not only understandable, but also predictable. Unfortunately, such a situation not only does a disservice to that particular athlete, but also adoring Black youth who believe that if they only focused their energies in athletics then they would receive a “pass” through societal troubles and legal issues. Unfortunately, such a sagging pantsperspective is not only fallacious, but also propping Black youth up for a major let down, because life will be a tough taskmaster for the majority of African-American men. And one thing is certain, the last thing Black America needs is more young black men believing that they are exempt from social norms or above-the-law due to their ability to run, kick, or throw a ball. There is quite possibly no greater means of handicapping our youth and ensuring that our young men end up broken by a society that will merely discard them when they are no longer of any utility.

Alexander Goodwin

#ManhoodRaceCulture

Committed, Conscious, and Uncompromising: How Jewish Power put Nicki Minaj on Her Knees

One of the more interesting opportunities that I recently availed myself of  was an offer to serve as a Jack and Anita Hess Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington D.C. The program targeted scholars working at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and provided them an opportunity to use the USHMM resources to develop courses. I must state that the benefits of my involvement stretched well beyond its intended purpose.

Although I was already aware of Jewish priorities, particularly their single-minded focus to advance their collective welfare and political agenda in the face of significant opposition, the Jack and Anita Hess Foundation provided me an opportunity to garner an unprecedented perspective of the way that this particular group achieved their goals. I must admit that I came away from the process with nothing less than admiration regarding the organization, dedication, collectivism, and tenacity from which they operate. I left repeatedly stating this particular mantra; “They tell their story so well.”

Indicative of how well ‘they tell their story’ is the fact that if you ask any K-12 student what the holocaust was, they would immediately apply that word to Jews horrific experience at the hands of Hitler, Goebbels, and Mengele’s Nazi Party; such a position totally ignores the other holocausts that have occurred throughout history: African, “Native American”, Arawak, etc. Most Nationalistic minded African-Americans seeking to uplift the race are angered by the power that flows from Jewish organization, dedication, collectivism, and tenacity. I must admit swastikathat I am (a) envious of such power and (b) consider their blue-print for developing power, group identity, and solidarity to be one that we should emulate. The alluded to power is a wonderful thing to he who possesses it as it instantaneously makes them a global force to be reckoned with. The utility of this power was displayed this week when the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tapped Nicki Minaj on the shoulder regarding what they considered a pressing matter.

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman took Nicki Minaj, and the entire Young Money Crew (Drake and Lil’ Wayne), to task for Nicki 3the imagery included in the video ‘Only’. Although I am absolutely certain that Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Lil’ Wayne can honestly assume a “forgive ME father, for I know not what I did” stance in regards to this matter. However, the Jewish community is in no way interested in such excuses; from their perspective, this is a major offense that must be addressed. In the alluded to video,  the cartoon character depicting Nicki, which plays the role of a dictator, is speaking before a re-creation of the Berlin Sports Palace with banners that look eerily similar to Nazi swastikas. This location is particularly significant to the Jewish population as it was the initial location that ethnic cleansing was discussed as a viable option for the German people. Just as drake 2troubling is the reality that the aforementioned video was released 76 years to the day of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) when German hooligans went into Jewish Ghettos and attacked residents, broke out every window they could find, and set fire to synagogues. Although I agree with the ADL that the video’s debut date was not accidental, however, I seriously doubt that any of the artists featured in the video (Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil’ Wayne, and Chris Brown) realized the date’s significance. Foxman cried foul regarding the entire matter and related that “This video is wayne 2insensitive to Holocaust survivors and a trivialization of the history of that era. The abuse of Nazi imagery is deeply disturbing and offensive to Jews and all those who can recall the sacrifices Americans and many others had to make as a result of Hitler’s Nazi juggernaut. It is troubling that no one among Minaj’s group of producers, publicists and managers raised a red flag about the use of such imagery before ushering the video into public release.”

This moment is  déjà vu for the Hip-Hop community as Nicki Minaj has been down this road before with her use of an iconic lookin ass niggaphoto of Malcolm X to promote her single “Lookin Ass Ni%%a”; so has Lil’ Wayne to a lesser extent with his line regarding “beat the p#$$^ up like Emmett Till”. These moments fleetingly raised the ire of many within our community; however, things soon returned to normal.

One of the most consistently debated topics among those who feel that Rap Music damages the African-American community is how do we rein offensive rap artists in. This matter is particularly convoluted as the majority of contemporary artists are beholden to white record companies who have little concern regarding how lyrical content, artists representation, or imagery affects African-American youth. Although many desperately seek to link up the voluminous negative imagery and lyrical content that emanates from today’s rappers as an integral aspect of a much larger secret-society conspiracy to maintain the Black community’s marginal politico economic position, in actuality, the alluded to negativity is allowed, if not embraced, by the Black community because in critical areas, it is the anti-thesis of the Jewish community, meaning woefully lacking in organization, dedication, collectivism, and tenacity.

I was not surprised when Foxman attacked Nicki Minaj and the modern-day Venus Hottentot humbled herself and responded in an appropriate manner before the Jewish leaders calling for her recompense with a quick quip of “I’d never condone Nazism in my art.” The ADL National Director attacked and publicly lambasted Nicki, and her entire crew, for their ignorance regarding historical matters by stating,

We are pleased that Nicki Minaj has taken full responsibility for the video and recognized that it was indeed offensive…Her clear renunciation of Nazism is an important step. We hope that she will take further steps to educate herself and her fans about who the Nazis were and why we should never take genocide or the Holocaust lightly…

The fact that Nicki Minaj had to ‘bow’ before the ADL raises myriad issues for the African-American community and Black artists in particular. Most notable of these issues is how quickly Rap Artists humble themselves when faced with challenges from non-Black communities. Although it is reasonable to state that the Young Money camp had no idea regarding the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Goebbels, Mengele, or the significance of the Berlin Sports Palace, it is interesting how quickly they responded to the criticisms projected by the ADL. Apparently someone, from somewhere, explained to them that Jewish power is not something that you want to face. It is the type of force that would make Young Money disappear.

So that begs the question, if the Jewish community were able to force Nicki Minaj to apologize for a mere cartoon, what does that Nicki 7say about an African-American community whose young girls are psychologically harmed with images of Nicki’s round-bottom on a consistent basis and lyrical tom-foolery that amounts to nothing. The Black community is obviously incapable of reeling in contemporary rap artists for the daily degradation and negativity that they spew within our community. This is the cost that the Black community pays for its lack of organization, dedication, collectivism, and tenacity. One has to wonder, how long will we willingly pay this toll by refusing to mobilize politico economic power.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

Black Men Need Not Apply: How Arkansas’ Governor Pardoned His Son and Prevented Him From Becoming An Economic Outcast

I was admittedly raised in an African-American community that emphasized innumerable lessons regarding how African-American males could increase their chances of successfully navigating what amounted to as a world in which whites held the majority, if not all, of the power. Of course, many of these messages pivoted along racial matters in one way or another. One of the most important and reverberating lessons came from my father after several of my peers had found themselves entangled in the criminal justice system. I will never forget the stoic way that my father told me, “Don’t ever get so far out there that I can’t get you back.”

I immediately realized that this statement was my father’s way of saying that there are situations that I could get myself into that would render him helpless, regardless of his desire to help me. Considering that my father was my hero, an individual that I thought could conquer every issue that threatened his family, I heeded this warning and by-passed the vast majority of issues that led to my classmates and friends entanglement with the criminal justice system.

During the late-eighties and early-nineties, I witnessed droves of my contemporaries falling victim to the allure of “fast money”. The fallout from their engagement with America’s drug culture was disastrous. American Judges, at the behest of the myopic black males 2Congressional Black Caucus, were given absolutely no discretion in how they dealt with drug cases, particularly those that included any element of crack cocaine, and were forced to handout ‘mandatory sentences’ that far-exceeded the non-violent offense. I saw close friends, acquaintances, and family members receive sentences that ranged from eight years to multiple life sentences for non-violent drug offenses.

The ‘fortunate’ one’s served around a decade for their crime and returned to their indigenous community. However, their sentence did not cease once they returned home, in many ways it intensified as they were unable to secure gainful employment and leave black malesjuvenile mistakes in the past. I recognized something that many of my generation failed to realize at the time, a single conviction, even for a non-violent crime, would not be forgiven by a judgmental white America, the location that we were forced to seek employment, that left droves of young Black men as social and economic pariah.

Although it is very difficult to get today’s young people to understand that in life “there are different strokes for different folks”, meaning that life is rarely fair. However, there are a few moments that blatantly display its unfairness. One such incident recently flowed from Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe’s office; Beebe is scheduled to leave office in January due to term limits. governor beebeAlthough this is no slight to my father, or the millions of fathers throughout this nation, the Governor’s reach, meaning his political influence, far-exceeds theirs. It does not appear that there is any transgression that any of the Governors children could make that would place them “so far out there that he can’t get them back.”

I am referring to the Governors recent announcement that he would be pardoning Kyle Beebe, his son, for a 2003 felony drug conviction. Kyle Beebe was convicted for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. The Governor’s son received a very lenient sentence of three years supervised probation. Obviously realizing that his father would be leaving office in approximately six weeks, Kyle Beebe recently petitioned his father to have his conviction pardoned.

However, it is Kyle Beebe’s application for clemency that is from my perspective, extremely revealing in regards to the universality of man in regards to his hopes and aspirations. In his letter to Governor Beebe, Kyle Beebe relates,

“Mr. Governor, I am asking for a second chance at life. I am asking for a second chance to be the man that I know that I can be. At the time of my arrest I was living in a fantasy world, not reality. I was young and dumb. At that time in my life I felt like I was missing something and I tried to fill that emptiness by selling drugs…Mr. Governor, if you could please find it in your heart to forgive me, I will forever be grateful. I thank you for your consideration.”

Governor Beebe would relate in an interview with KATV-TV, “I would have done it a long time ago if he’d have asked, but he took his sweet time about asking.” Although many may find this issue to be questionable, I actually understand the Governor Beebe’s actions and know that I would do the same for my son. To his credit, the Governor has pardoned over 700 non-violent offenders.

Of course, this privilege is rarely extended to African-American males who have been convicted of non-violent offenses despite their indomitable desire to ‘have a second chance at life to become the man that they know that they are capable of becoming.’ If we believe the theories of Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim foi2Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, African-American males inability to have their non-violent offenses pardoned and permanently removed from their records serves as an albatross around their necks. Alexander goes so far as to state that this tried-and-true routine of arresting African-American males and placing charges upon them is merely part of a larger playbook designed to mute them politically and economically. The alluded to status has a disastrous affect upon the entire African-American community.

In today’s society, even a minor brush with the law for African-American males, regardless if they are 16 or 60, prevents them from ever securing gainful employment. Even Real Housewives of prisonAtlanta star Kandi Burruss chimed in regarding the disparate treatment that African-American males receive from the American judicial system. As of 2010, 1 in 3 African-American males could expect to face incarceration at some point of their lives; compared to only 1 in 17 white males.

Apparently, our loved one’s influence is not sufficient. As it appears that even the slightest transgression means that we have, in the words of my father, ‘gotten too far out there for our loved one’s to get us back.’ Thereby preventing droves of Black men from receiving the chance that Governor Beebe graciously bestowed upon his son Kyle “…for a second chance to be the man that I know that I can be.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

“There. Would Be. No! Money!: How Michele Roberts Will Permanently Alter the Economic Landscape of Professional Sports FOREVER

Despite what many African-Americans will deny to their graves, there are certain privileges to being born Black in America. The great scholar W.E.B. Du Bois touched upon one of these alluded to privileges when he wrote that to be Black in America is to be gifted with a second sight to view both the Black and the white world. Du Bois beautifully used the imagery of a veil that prevented the white world from seeing the true workings and manifestations of the Black world; yet, allowed African-Americans to view the white world and its operation without any obstruction whatsoever. Hence, when Michele Roberts was selected by the National Basketball michele roberts 1Association Players Association to lead them forward as the executive director of the players union, I knew that trouble loomed on the horizon for twenty-nine of the owners of NBA franchises. I mused that there was only one who would not be blown out of the water when this sister went to work on the predominantly white old boy network, the only exception to this racial monolith is Michael Jordan, the only Black principal in any of the three major sports leagues (National Basketball Association, National Football League, and Major League Baseball). Despite America’s tendency to deny this indomitable truth, African-American women, when on top of their game, are unrivaled in intelligence, refinement, and professionalism by any group, regardless of race or gender, on the planet earth.

So I was not surprised when Michele Roberts made national news by notifying NBA owners that when the players united centeropted out of the league’s collective bargaining agreement after the 2016-2017 season, she would be seeking to radically alter the entire landscape of how the overwhelmingly white owners dealt with the overwhelmingly Black players in regards to financial matters. Roberts queried, as if she were appalled by the prospect of owners and players sharing the $24 Billion TV deal that is to begin in 2016 at a 50/50 split. Roberts went on the offensive, a tactic that these wealthy white men, and Michael Jordan, have never experienced from anyone, let alone a ballmerBlack woman, and questioned the importance of franchise ownership. The players’ union executive director seemingly mocked the thought that owners were even slightly important to the NBA’s popularity when she told ESPN The Magazine, “Why don’t we have the owners play half the games?” Driving her point that the money would disappear were it not for the players; from her vantage point, the players deserved much more than 50% of the revenue raised by the league. Put simply, Roberts believes that the owners do not matter, at least, not as much as they believe that they do.

Michele Roberts is posing a very interesting, nearly unprecedented, economic issue before the 99% white principal owners in this nation’s three major sports leagues. That being, how is it that you are able to simultaneously champion American mark cuban moneyCapitalism and a free-market that drives the costs of goods and services, while also placing limits upon how much money players are able to make via a salary-cap. It appears that unfettered Capitalism only works if it serves the interest of owners; when it does not serve their best interests they quickly assume a position that is in the words of Michele Roberts, un-American.

The most significant hurdle that Roberts will need to deal with as executive director will not be anything that occurs inside of the JR Smithcontentious negotiations that are bound to occur in corporate boardrooms; rather, it is the perception of an American public that has illogically sided with wealthy whites while they remain mired in generational poverty. The alluded to perception is expressed by those who state that they wish that someone would exploit them by paying them the type of money that the players receive. Such jr riderscatterbrained thinking allows many whites to issue what amounts to a sly insult onto Black players who they believe do not deserve the salaries that their extraordinary athletic feats demand in a free market economy. Never do such individuals take a moment and look at the other side of the equation and question what in the world has an “owner” who usually sits in a luxury suite looking at what William Rhoden termed his “Million Dollar Slaves” done to earn the millions of dollars that he will collect as a result of that night’s sporting event that he merely viewed from on high.

Although this battle between workers and owners is merely yet another installment in this nation’s longest running war, I am nbpacertain that Roberts will emerge victorious in permanently altering the economic landscape of American professional sports. The alluded to alteration will be one that the owners never saw coming, and they can blame Michael Jordan for their ignorance, because he, the lone Black owner across the three major sports, should know better than anyone else the power, ingenuity, and resilience of a strong Black woman. Or maybe, he has forgotten. Regardless, Michele Roberts is about to show this exclusive group of wealthy, overwhelmingly white, men why and how Black Girls Rock.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

Who Can They Run To?: Kandi Burruss Addresses the Problem of Disparate Prison Sentencing and Black Males

One of the most common complaints directed at contemporary Black celebrities flows from their failure to use their high-profile status to bring attention to political issues that are negatively impacting the common black folk that support them. Their supports expect for them to defend them and their interests at each and every turn. Put simply, it is their duty to speak for those who can not speak for themselves. Although I agree with this sentiment, often when Black stars regardless of from whence their fame flows, athletics, movies, comedy, talk shows, attempt to address an issue it ends in disaster. One needs to look no further than the random statements of Sir Charles Barkley or that disaster that we know as Ststacey dashacey Dash, a political commentator for Fox News, for verification of this point. These two, and many others, make me hold fast to the axiom that one should ‘be careful what they wish for, because you just might get it.’

High-profile African-American entertainers are either uncertain if they should or incapable of issuing a relevant political commentary that addresses the issues our community are experiencing. I think that it is only fair when one of our own actually steps into such an arena that she be acknowledged for advancing a position that aids the Black collective. We must be more prepared to celebrate these moments of Black courage than we are to denounce the plentiful occurrences of Black ignorance and political cowardice.

Although the Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) series has been a show that historically makes the vast majority of progressive, forward-thinking, educated African-Americans cringe for its wildly inconsistent and contradictory portrayal of grown Black women, Kandi Burruss took it upon herself to address the matter of the disparate sentencing that African-American males repeatedly receive by the American judicial system. Kandi related during the michelle alexandershow that she thought it ludicrous that African-American males were being sent away for decades for non-violent crimes. Kandi was most-definitely supporting the research and theory of notable legal scholar Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, who highlights that when these men return home with a criminal record, they will most likely never find gainful employment.

Although we rarely speak about it, the rules governing African-American males are much different from those governing their white male counterparts. Similar to baseball, white males usually get numerous strikes before they are called out, African-American males may, and I emphasize may, get a single swing of the bat and black malesthere is no guarantee that the pitch will even be playable. To the contrary of what national pundits have advanced, we are not, and I repeat are not, in a post-racial America. Race most certainly remains the pivot that dictates much of the life chances for the vast majority of African-Americans.

The alluded to situation is a peculiar one to say the least. In a society that promotes the idea of family and lists being a provider, meaning a wage-earner, as being the single most important role of a man, gainful employment is critical to any opportunity for the a stable familial unit. Hence, the African-American community’s inability to employ its own because of its refusal to practice collectivist economics and political solidarity dooms every African-American male who is unable to latch on, almost like a parasite, to a white-owned business, factory, or corporation. Such is the cost that we pay for refusing to listen to the innumerable prophets (Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Claud Anderson) who pointed our people toward economic solidarity. An additional by-product of African-Americans economic powerlessness is the harsh sentences that its youth and men receive from the American black males 2judicial system. Kandi Burruss and Michelle Alexander are both correct when they refer to the manner that Black men are incarcerated for a non-violent crime for sometimes over a decade, they return home to an unforgiving public with every intention of finding legal gainful employment, however, when that fails many of them ultimately find themselves re-incarcerated.

Predictably, many whites, and a few negroes, have attempted to take Kandi to task for what today serves as political commentary. The RHOA star responded in the following way to the flowing criticism.

Some people felt that I was pulling the race card when I said I feel the justice system is harder on black men…I definitely feel that if you break the law, you should have to go to jail and do your time for the crime, no matter what color you are. BUT I feel like a lot of black men who have committed non-violent crimes get longer sentences than needed. For example, I have a family member who committed a non-violent crime and got 13 years in prison. He did his time, came home, and after a few years he committed another non-violent crime and now he’s serving over 20 years in prison. There are murderers and rapists who have gotten less time. When a man comes home with felonies on his record, a lot of times he can’t get a good job. So I just feel like it creates a cycle of repeat offenders. There has to be a better way… This is just my opinion.

I feel compelled to publicly state the following to Kandi. Sister, I take my hat off to you for not only your political statement, but also your courage to defend your position and not cower away from it as so many of your contemporaries do. And for that reason you will always have my, and every other righteous African-American males, respect.

Dr. 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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