Child’s Play: What a Friendly Game of Cops and Robbers Taught a Teacher

I am by nature a private person and rarely share much about my inner-circle of family and friends with anyone, particularly outsiders. So you must bare with me as I attempt to relate a recent conversation that I had with my older sister Sherri; a conversation that I think reveals much about the loss of innocence for African-American children and the general naïveté that serves as the foundation of many, not all, whites, even when they live in close proximity or have regular interaction with Black folk.

My sister and I have grown much closer as we have aged, a development that was partially born of my mother going on to be with the Lord; that moment shook both of us to the core and further refined our focus regarding the best things in life, most notably family. Considering that I work in another region, our routine phone conversations are the surest, actually the only, means for me to stay connected with family business. As a grandmother of six, I am certain that you can imagine that many of our conversations surround the happenings of her “grands”. My great nieces and nephews are simultaneously a thorn in her side and the joy of her life, a reality that makes for school 6riveting conversations. And I must tell you that each of these little people is full of personality, frolic, and curiosity; they are the next generation of Black America.

I was not particularly surprised when my sister related that she had been called to the local elementary school because of some form of misbehavior by her eldest grandson, JaShawn. If it were ever possible to meet a kid who is the polar opposite of me, JaShawn is it. This six year old is loud, energetic, engaging, has a humongous personality, and lives his young life with absolutely no regard for any consequences for his actions; of course, it is this latter quality that concerns me the most as Black males simply can not afford such a trait.

However, when my sister arrived at the school to see what incident occurred with this ‘hard headed little boy’, his teacher, a white female, related that JaShawn had beaten up another child, a white child at that, during recess. Now it is natural to think that the alluded to conflict must have had something to do with race, however, I must remind you that the two combatants were six years old; fortunately, race has not entered into their world. Despite what many want to believe, race is a social construct developed for political reasons and one that we must be socialized to deal with. Put simply, these two children, one black and one white, best friends’ or at worst play pals, were unconcerned with race. Their conflict was of another nature.

My sister related that she was attempting to be simultaneously protective of her grandchild, a posture, despite her fervent denials, that she always assumes, yet respectful of the teacher. The teacher samuelrelated that the two boys had gotten into a physical altercation and by the time she reached the scene she had to pull JaShawn off of his classmate. However, she made a point to relate that JaShawn had the other boy on the ground, hitting him with a stick, kneeing him in the back, punching him in the head, and calling him the “N-word”. My sister, just looked at her grandchild with utter disappointment; however, she, like the majority of African-Americans, is not very trusting of white educators interpretation of events and asked JaShawn what occurred. He related the following in his unique language that for some reason calls for him to finish his sentences with the word “right”.

“We were playing cops and robbers in the playground, right. Well, he is white and I am Black so he was the police and I was the cops1robber, right. Well, he couldn’t catch me because I am faster than him, right. So I became the cop and he became the robber, right. Well, I caught him, right. And I was in the process of arresting him and taking him to jail, right. And then the teacher came over there and took me from recess, saying that I was in trouble for fighting! Grandma, I wasn’t even fighting, right.”

As I listened to this story, I could feel a humongous laugh building up deep inside my soul. There was quite possibly no greater means of showing the cavernous cultural gap between the differing lives that Americans live in, worlds that are primarily determined by race, class, cultural exposure, historical knowledge, and education. The teacher had no means of comprehending what my sister related to her regarding the primary catalyst to JaShawn’s behavior. She told the teacher, “That is how he has seen the police act in our community. In his mind, that is how you arrest someone. You knock them down, beat them with something, kick and punch them, and then you take them away.” The incredulous teacher responded with a peculiar “Oh!” After a long pause, she related, “but don’t you think that he needs to learn that such behavior is unacceptable?” My sister, a bourgeoning Civil Rights leader, retorted, “I’ll tell him, if you tell the police.” The educator’s only response was, “JaShawn you can go back to class now.”

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


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An Open Letter to White America: Beware of the Vengeful

Dear White America,

I am absolutely certain that you have tired of the race problem that has plagued this nation from the moment that the initial stolen Africans were brought to the Jamestown colony. The greatest indicator was your exuberance when President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and you danced in the streets thinking that this monster known as race, a monster that you created for your own self-serving purposes I must add, had finally been slayed. And wouldn’t you know it, the Watts rebellion occurred a week later.

I witnessed you enter into a similar state of euphoria, but only in regards to race I must emphasize, when Barack Hussein Obama obama1assumed the Oval Office. Although it was not always articulated with a smile on your collective faces, you seemed proud to state once again that the nation had slayed race and entered into a post-racial America. Not even our vehement protests shook your resolve in regards to this matter. You took satisfaction in preventing W.E.B. Du Bois cryptic prophecy that “the problem of the twentieth-century is the problem of the color line” from taking hold in the new millennium.

As usual with you, there was a gaping Grand Canyon sized hole in your thinking. That being, you never asked the victims of your century’s long racial tyranny if they were no longer being persecuted and prosecuted at an alarming and unjustifiable rate. I, and the vast majority of my peers, realized that this was quite simply white folks way of navigating the world. You tend to create your own reality that cancels the experiences of those whom you regularly victimize when it suits you. History has taught us how hard-headed you are, so we simply sat back and allowed things that would drive home the point to you that this nation is far from entering into a post-racial period to unfold.

As is usual with our dealings with you, it is never a boring story as you are known to create unexpected twists-and-turns, often where we thought that it was impossible to do so. How could we have et2known that you would attempt to convince the victims of white brutality that they should believe neither the bumps, bruises, and coffins needed after interacting with officers, nor the cellphone footage that our lying eyes have watched repeatedly that clearly depict officers shooting, maiming, beating, and killing our loved ones.

Although I am certain that you will resist this truth, there are multiple America’s that American citizens simultaneously exist within. Andrew Hacker’s manuscript, Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal, published in 2003, illuminated this issue. Despite the best efforts of the more privileged segments of this gm5society to deny this reality, the truth remains that neither I, nor my eleven year old son, live in the same America as our white peers.

I am certain that you will be shocked to discover that this problem between African-Americans and white law enforcement officers is nothing new. The National Commission on the Cause and Prevention of Violence, published in 1968, shed light upon nationwide problems between African-Americans and law enforcement personnel.

For the black citizen, the policeman has long since ceased to be a neutral symbol of law and order…blacks perceive the police as bpp8hostile, prejudiced, and corrupt…Many ghetto Blacks see the police as an occupying army…In view of these facts, the adoption of the idea of self-defense is not surprising.

Unbeknownst to whites, police brutality has been an American tradition. So white America, please forgive us if we have no faith in the ability of any Grand Jury to offer a modicum of justice such as agreeing that there should be a trial for African-American victims of police brutality; we are used to it, not desensitized to it, just very familiar with grave miscarriages of justice.

However you should rest assured that God is not dead; however, there is a population of African-Americans no longer willing to wait on the Lord to have his vengeance. They are a breed of “New PantherNegroes” that took to heart the admonishment that “faith without works is dead.” I can’t wait until they begin to put that work in. Because I am eagerly waiting for the opportunity to sit across from you and explain to you that what your lying eyes are seeing is not Black brutality against whites, it’s something else, something much different, something that this nation has never freely given to the downtrodden and oppressed; JUSTICE.

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


The Power of Life and Death: How the Transmittance of Negative Cultural Images Curtails the Lives of our Children

Now I do not profess to be a preacher, however, I was raised in a church and one of the things that I do remember being hammered into my head at Mount Calvary Baptist Church was that “the power of life and death is in the tongue.” This well-worn church saying was designed to remind us to be mindful of the language that we bantered about publicly. One was to refrain from cursing or representing themselves in a negative manner for the following reason; ‘a little bit of bad will tear down a whole lot of good.’

I was reminded of such a lesson this past Thanksgiving while riding with my son to meet friends and enjoy the holiday festivities. While stopped at a Red Light, I was reminded of why everyone should not school 3be blessed to have children. To my left was a brother who appeared to be in his late-thirties or early-forties with a singular passenger in his convertible, a neatly dressed little lady who appeared to be approximately four or five years old. What drew my attention to this scene was the blasting rap music coming from that direction.

Now I was not surprised that the driver, an African-American male, was listening to UGK (Pimp C & Bun B), I am in Houston Texas after all. However, it was the song, Let Me See It, which was being blasted while a small child, a girl nonetheless, sat inches away from the speakers. For those who are unfamiliar with the song Let Me See It, here is a sampling of the lyrics.

(Bun B’s Lyrics)

Now, from the city that I live in
To the city where I’m from
For all the hoes that we done did
And the hoes that we ain’t donebun b1
From the ones that fuck for shrimp
To the ones that fuck for cum:
If you ain’t fittin’ ta fuck Pimp
Then you ain’t fittin’ ta fuck Bun
Got some hoes from the ‘hood (‘hood)
That live to keep it live (live)
And some office buildin’ boppers (boppers)
Workin’ 9 to 5 (five)
Ball playa baby mama bitches;
But to me it ain’t no thang
Let that monkey hang, baby
Let me see it.

(Pimp C’s lyrics)

Uh…take it off, chick
Bend over, lemme see it
I’m Sweet James Jones
And a trick: I couldn’t be itpimp c1
Got a young brown stallion
And she 20 years old
When she pop it from the back
You see that hairy asshole
From the A-T-L hoes, to the H-town strippers
To the boppers in DeVille
That’s suckin’ us and pullin’ zippers
Now, it how it make ya feel when you see a pimp shine?
Bitch, you wastin’ too much time..
Get back up on yo’ grind (grind, grind…)

Although it is easy to forget, our antics have the ability to mar and malign the entire race; particularly when one considers that African-Americans are inextricably linked together. In this case, it was an vixen3adult who was carelessly exposing an innocent child to language and imagery that she should never have to deal with at her tender age. Not to mention the depraved lyrical content that if listened to carefully appears to be a misogynists dream where all women are good for is “bending it over” to Let Me See It. Amazingly, this is the message that was being piped into the mind of a young female child, not that young boys hearing it is any less damaging, by what appeared to be her father. Some of us have truly lost their way.

There was a time when one took pride in their public persona as it was a reflection of all that we had come into contact with during our life; meaning family, friends, and race. There was a pride found among African-Americans. One abhorred being caught ‘showing one’s color’ regardless of circumstances.

If provided an opportunity to do so, I would point African-Americans back to a time when pride under girded everything that we did. Because in today’s society it appears that being classless is the vixen1preferred method of transmitting cultural messages. It is beyond time that today’s popular culture icons and those that follow them every waking moment of their lives learn a thing or two regarding the power of language and come to understand that financial wealth will never mask intellectual feeble mindedness and moral depravity.

I pray that the brother blasting UGK’s Let Me See It with his child in the vehicle one day learns a thing or two about decency and what is, and is not, appropriate in front of his child. Hopefully, he will be able Nicki 7to take a lesson from Jay-Z, a self-proclaimed rap God, who once admonished his followers with the following quip, “you can pay for school, but you can’t buy class.” A lesson that I hope the brother riding on my left learns before his influence upon his child dims the little light that all children are born into this world possessing.

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

Associate Professor

Writer at Manhood, Race, and Culture

Collectivist Economics: The Solution to American Racial Strife

I must admit that one of the most important things that I have ever done for myself involved an extended period of introspection. One of the truths that I now know about myself is that the only thing I find more exasperating than talking to a stupid person is repeating anything, and I do mean anything, to a stupid person; unfortunately, I have learned that the two seem to go hand-in-hand. Meaning that there are so many in our midst who simply do not “get it” the first time you explain it to them that you are forced to repeat yourself over and over again. This fact-of-life has been verified by many in our midst who seemingly do not comprehend why our community must challenge the pervasive economic exploitation that has victimized it over the past four centuries. One does not have to delve very far into economic indicators to view that currently, the Black unemployment rate sits at 11.4% while the white rate is 5.4%. Obviously, you are ‘the last hired and first fired’ within the existing system.

As I am certain that you can imagine, unless you are one of these stupid people that I am referring to, my frustration and ire has been raised significantly as the African-American community attempts to mobilize their financial strength by boycotting non-Black businesses. As an ardent Black Nationalist, I encourage every opportunity for collectivist economics whenever it arises as economic wherewithal is a primary pillar supporting any community. From my perspective, the THEMabsence of economic might is a central pillar behind the current listless state of African-American men. The linkage between the current disorganized state of the majority of African-American men and an absence of Black economic power are astounding.

Undoubtedly, within any capitalist society, the very definition of manhood is intimately intertwined with the securing of financial resources to meet personal obligations. Bluntly speaking, the failure to secure BTW1financial resources is one of the lynchpins that have led to the demise of the African-American community and family over the last fifty-years. When one considers that in Chicago, Illinois, the unemployment rate for Black males between the ages of 16 – 19 is an incredible 92%, there should be little debate regarding the need for an economic transformation within the Black community. Labor statistics for Black males over the age of 20 throughout the nation are likewise daunting as their unemployment rate exceeded 12% earlier this year. One must remember that the unemployment rate is sagging pantsmerely a measure of those who are actively seeking employment, and as we well know there are droves of African-American men who have given up the pursuit of ‘legitimate’ employment opportunities long ago and therefore do not appear in Labor statistics.

Considering the essential nature of economics, it is suicidal for any community to rely upon outsiders to provide employment opportunities; such an arrangement means that African-American males’ ability to provide for their family is totally dependent upon their utility to whites and their economic interests; history dictates to us that those interests are not always black males collegesynchronized. Put simply, whites are more like to hire within their own group, and who could really blame them, as economics are about survival and taking care of one’s own. And that is the reason that collectivist economics are so very important within any community, including the African-American community.

What are the options for African-American males existing in a system that defines manhood by one’s ability to secure money, yet simultaneously does not provide an opportunity to live up to that definition. Statistics indicate that so many of the aforementioned males end up involved in prison for non-violent drug offenses. The alluded to incarceration rates are astounding:

Incarceration rates for American groups per 100,000 citizens

  • Whites are incarcerated at a rate of 380 per 100,000 citizens
  • Latino are incarcerated at a rate of 966 per 100,000 citizens
  • Blacks are incarcerated at a rate of 2,207 per 100,000 citizens

Put simply, African-American males have found it extremely difficult to successfully prison 2engage the mainstream American economic system for myriad reasons. And even those not hampered by any extraneous matter (criminal, psychological, or educational) have found the process of securing gainful and fulfilling employment extremely difficult.

So it begs the question, ‘what are we to do?’ The answer to this query has been, and always will be, collectivist economics; the very process that other groups (Irish, Polish, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Mexican, Cuban) have implemented to satisfy the real world need for taking care of their own. Collectivist economics has and will always work. According to the noted economist Claude Anderson when the institution of slavery ended, only 1% of African-Americans were self-employed, meaning not reliant upon a hostile white community for their material survival. Today, 150 years later, that number has risen to an incredible 2%. Such realities should not only serve as a shame for the entire race, but also spur them towards seriously and scientifically engaging collectivist economics.

I hope that we will embrace this tried-and-true method of group survival, failure to do black economics 2so, will lead me to continue considering huge swaths of our population too stupid to do for self and therefore save themselves. And as I stated before, I hate talking to stupid people and have lost the ability to continuously repeat the same thing to such a population. So take this message to heart, because I can not guarantee that another will follow, participate in collectivist economics, it is your only path to economic liberation.

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


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The Lazarus Effect: How I Learned that Many Educated Negroes Didn’t Realize that Richard Wright was Dead

As an avid reader, I take every opportunity to point people toward a cadre of writers that are relevant to not only a universal audience, but more importantly a Black audience. So I feel compelled to tell this story about Richard Wright, undoubtedly one of the greatest novelist, regardless of race or language, to ever exist, on the anniversary of his death.

One of the more consistent refrains that you will hear thrown out into the public is that we must teach our children their history. Although I agree that African-American anna julia cooperchildren learning the history of their ancestors is a pre-requisite to “the liberation and salvation of the Black nation,” I have come to understand that the need for historical knowledge does not stop there. There are droves of adults/elders within our community that are operating within what can be best termed multiple interlocking illiteracies: educational, cultural, social, James Baldwinhistorical, and political. One of the most often unspoken realities is that many of these individuals are actually in charge of teaching or leading our people in educational endeavors. I am certain that you may be thinking that such is impossible; however, I would like to share with you a story that will illuminate my point.

One of the more frustrating duties that I am required to perform as a college professor includes serving on myriad committees; wells barnett1predictably, I always serve on the university committee charged with selecting the keynote address speaker for the annual Black History Month event that occurs on my campus. Of all the committees that I participate on, this is by far my most enjoyable as I can not only see the fruits of my labor, but also it permits me to have a voice in selecting the voice that our university community will hear during dysonthis annual event. Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West, and Dick Gregory are a few of the individuals who have graced the stage for this program.

The combination of my actually enjoying this committee assignment and the reality that those selected for this duty are supposed to be conversant in Black Studies sent my emotions and expectations soaring to rare heights, unfortunately, they would not only langston hughescrash to earth, but also lead me to view so-called enlightened Black educators through a different lens. The events occurred as follows.

After everyone had arrived and been seated at the meeting and all of the pleasantries were shared, the matter of who would we like to be this year’s keynote address paul robesonspeaker arose. One particular professor, an older brother who taught in the Art department, eagerly jumped in with a question of “what is it the 65th anniversary of?” I was a bit taken aback when I was the only one who realized that it was the 65th anniversary of the publishing of Richard Wright’s, Black Boy. Without any debate regarding the matter, this room full of Ph.D.’s and academic administrators agreed with this particular individuals aggressive suggestion that Wright would be a suitable individual to bring to our campus. I was aghast!

My concern turned to incredulous disbelief as I heard these degree holding Negroes, notice that I did not use the word educated, pledge $3,000 – $5,000 of their WEBdepartmental budget for the event. Not only was the process swift, but also completed within 5 minutes. Someone even joked, “now this is the pace that I like to see a meet conducted,” as they rose to leave the room.

My mind was quite simply blown! Here I was sitting in the midst of so-called ‘educated people’ with multiple degrees, million dollar academic budgets, and real decision-making power in regards to the curricular content alice walkerand the direction that the next generation of Black minds should travel; and not a single one of them realized that Richard Wright had died 50 years prior.

Although I was partially amused at the entire scene and would have liked to listened in on the obligatory call to Mr. Wright, or his representatives, regarding his delivering the keynote address to that year’s Black History Month. I could not restrain my laughter any longer and began to laugh hysterically. THEMEveryone turned to see what was so funny. It was then that the following exchange occurred with a campus religious leader.

Me:                 Do you talk to God on a daily basis?

Preacher:        Most certainly brother Jones! Is     there something that you need for me to speak with him about on your behalf?

Me:                 Is he still in the miracle business?

Preacher:        Yes, sir! He is an on time God. Is     there something that you would like for me to issue a petition to the Lord regarding?

Me:                 Yes, sir! When you talk to God   tonight tell him that he is going to need to go into his old time bag of tricks and breath life back into Richard Wright, like he did with Lazarus. And while he’s at it, have him raise Malcolm and Martin as well. That would really set our Black History Month celebration out.

It was only then that a few of the others in the room began to shake their heads. A few still failed to understand what I was attempting to tell them. So I was finally forced to reveal to them that Richard Wright died in 1960. I could not help but laugh as I asked them, “When was the last time you read something by Richard Wright? Saw him in an interview? Speak publicly about Black Boy or Native Son?” As expected, these Negroes had the audacity to get mad at me regarding their collective ignorance.

With today November 28, 2014, being the anniversary of Richard Wrights death, I think that it critically important that we all, including those educated Negroes who sit on high issuing dictates regarding the future direction of the race, reflect upon not only writings of Richard Wright, but also other intellectuals (James Baldwin, Langston david walkerHughes, Alice Walker, J. California Cooper, Maya Angelou, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Anna Julia Cooper, Frederick Douglass, David Walker, Maria Stewart, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Marcus Garvey, Claude Anderson, Huey P. Newton, Assata Shakur, Claude McKay, Kwame Nkrumah, John Henrik Clarke, Nikki Giovanni, Pearl Cleage, Angela Davis, Toni Morrison, etc.) who have illuminated a path to liberation for our people. I think that it is critical that persons of African, regardless of their profession — factory worker, day care worker, politician, educator, etc. — develop a politicized mind that informs the necessary steps to MLKliberation for the masses of Black folk. The failure to do so, regardless of the degrees that you have received, may very well leave you looking like a fool before the rest of the world, especially the politicized individuals within your own race.

Rest in peace, Richard Wright; despite the ignorance of a chosen few, the brother is most certainly resting with the ancestors, albeit shaking his head at the ignorance of our so-called educated class.

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


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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