Stuart Scott: The First, and Possibly Only, of His Kind

As a person who continually studies and writes about racial matters, I must attest that it is very easy for one to focus so intently upon those issues that they lose sight of the larger issues that have very little to do with the social construct that Du Bois’ termed the problem of the twentieth-century. However, I was reminded of the universality of manhood by the demise of the unparalleled ESPN Sports Center anchor Stuart Scott. stuart scottAlthough I already recognized this about the brother, today’s voluminous coverage of his transition drove home the point that Stuart Scott should be considered Black America’s knight in shining armor; a distinction that should be embraced by all African-American males.

One of the few benefits of being over the age of forty is having the privilege to witness an explosion in telecommunications. I was here before Black Entertainment Television, when we all watched VH1, one of the reasons that so many African-American forty-something’s know white popular culture artists from Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper. I am certain that the majority of my peers remember the excitement with which we ran to the television when Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean or Thriller was being played; we simply loved seeing ourselves on T.V. and it was truly a rare privilege.

I likewise remember the debut of SportsCenter, a channel that most did not expect to make it long term, boy were we wrong. Although those of us who were sports fanatics appreciated 24/7 sports coverage, Stuart 5there was still something amiss, there really was not a representation of us; meaning someone that was simultaneously articulate, quick-witted, smooth, knowledgeable, and possessing more swag than Superfly or Shaft. The man that presented that to an adoring Black audience was none other than Stuart Scott. Although there were sportswriters before him, none successfully made the transition onto television with their unique style of Blackness intact.

Although it is impossible to ignore Stuart Scott’s on-camera persona, it was not until his medical difficulties that we were stuart 1provided much more than a slight glimpse into whom he was as a man and more importantly a father, friend, and mentor to those who walked down what was a relatively smooth path to broadcast fame. Rest assured that no other Black television sports personality, not even Bryant Gumbel or Stephen A. Smith, would have been able to pave the still jagged path that Stuart Scott paved through his talent, commitment to excellence, strength, determination, and courage.

One of the most notable things about Stuart Scott was that he appeared above reproach in how he handled his on-air duties. There was never a show where the brother appeared unprepared, never a show when he did not in some way acknowledge an observing Black male audience with a verbal head nod that I am sure white’s were initially not even aware of. Ironically, this brother won over his non-Black audience with the same swag that endeared him to us. His influence was so pervasive that we no longer bat an eye at the appearance of Black Stuartlinguistic traditions on national sports broadcasts. Chris Rock once remarked that “if you haven’t stolen from Richard Pryor, you’re probably not that funny.” The same can be said for Stuart Scott’s enormous influence on the way that sports are reported, “if you haven’t stolen a catch-phrase from the brother, you probably are not that interesting to listeners.”

I pray that African-American males will eventually come to revere Stuart Scott, particularly in relation to his doting over and dedication to his daughters, for the man that he was, more so than the things that he arthur asheaccomplished. It is in the example of individuals such as Arthur Ashe and Stuart Scott that we are able to witness the greatness of African-American manhood away from all of the stereotypical glitches that seem to closely follow renowned Black males. There were no drug scandals, inappropriate language, even an appearance of wrong doing to be found. He was simply Stuart Scott; and it is for this reason that I tip my hat to this brother as he makes his transition to his Heaven.

However, I would be remiss if I did not punctuate this post with one last thing, one final reminder of who this brilliant man was, one thing that will hopefully ease the different levels of pain that all of us who ever crossed his path. And that one thing is, BOOYAH!

Rest in Heaven brother, you are still loved.

James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2015

Death over Designer: The Error in the Black Community’s Ways

“They killing ni**as for J’s that’s death over designer”

                                           J.Cole – Nobody’s Perfect

Last week the popular Air Jordan Retro 11’s more commonly known as the “Legend Blue’s” were released to widespread anticipation. There were innumerable Jordan 11people throughout the nation who took off of work in order to camp outside of their local mall a week in advance to increase their chances of purchasing the sought-after sneakers. When the sneakers were released to the public on December 20th, widespread anarchy ensued. Since their debut, there have been reports of thefts, assaults, and deaths in connection to these popular sneakers.

I must ask the black community, when will this reckless behavior cease?  The first pair of Air Jordan Sneakers were released some three decades ago.  Since the debut of the Jordan Brand, senseless violence over the sneakers and other Jordan Brand apparel Jordan origionalhave contributed to the deaths over 10 thousand people.  Sadly, the vast majority of those who have met their demise in such a senseless way are persons of African American descent. There are many things a person should be willing to die or kill over: the welfare of one’s parents, grandparents, children, siblings, or spouse. No one should be willing to murder others and either the death penalty or a life sentence to secure a pair of Jordan sneakers.

With all of the current protests taking place throughout the country regarding police brutality that has displayed their opposition to the thought that “black lives matter”, the idiocy of a few individuals compromises those movements. How can we as a people simultaneously assert that black lives matter to the world and tolerate our own killing and maiming one another over trivial and Jordan waitinconsequential objects such as a 200 dollar pair of sneakers? How can we demand that outsiders value black lives while our own repeatedly display that they have absolutely no concern regarding the same. Quite frankly, if we do not value one another, we look like fools to outsiders when we demand that they respect black lives, while many of our own do not.

It is past time that the African American community does a better job of controlling their own. It is time we stop senselessly Jordan wait 3murdering one another over relative minutiae. It is time we learn to show more respect and love for our brothers and sisters. It is time we build up the Black collective instead of tearing it down with senseless black on black crime.

Alexander Goodwin

#ManhoodRaceCulture

#StopTheViolence

 

 

Independence Day: How LeBron James’ Return to Cleveland’ Explains So Much About Labor in America

Each semester, I pose the following question to my students. “What is the longest running war in America?” My students respond with innumerable conflicts and combatants. I am never surprised that they fail to correctly answer this query. After listening to a plethora of incorrect guesses, I invariably step in and relate, “the longest running war in America is a war between workers and owners, the haves and the have-nots.” For many of my students this is the initial foray into Labor matters. I relate to them a mantra that under girded the American labor movement during its more rambunctious era, “owners have no rights that workers are bound to respect.”

Considering this storied history of conflict between workers and owners, I am never surprised when the issue of worker rights emerges and even less amused when the issue of race is interjected into the fold. I have seen this scenario so frequently that I take it for granted that the workers, regardless of their race/ethnicity, will not only lose this battle, but also witness their fellow workers idly watching, if not celebrating, their demise.

As a native of the great state of Ohio, this past summer was simultaneously exhilarating and vindicating for many sports fans for one simple reason; the possibility Lebron 3that ‘King James’, the moniker bestowed upon NBA superstar LeBron James, may return to his home state. Ohioans celebrated James’ decision for one reason, it appeared to make them instant contenders for the coveted NBA championship that has eluded their grasp since their creation in 1970. During his first stint in Cleveland, ‘King James’ led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals before succumbing to the San Antonio Spurs in 2007. Of course, all of this occurred prior to ‘King James’ jilting the franchise in favor of South Beach and the opportunity to play alongside Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

As with most NBA matters from the right to issue a political statement such as calling for Donald Sterling’s ouster as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers to wearing ‘I Can’t Lebron 2Breathe Shirts’ or making a career decision regarding where he will ply his trade, LeBron James consistently finds himself at the center of league matters. The most recent LeBron incident revolves around which NBA franchise would be fortunate enough to have ‘King James’ join their roster.

Free Agency allows for NBA players who have fulfilled their contractual obligation to decide their next destination. Although the process appears relatively straightforward and mundane, nothing could be further from the truth as the selection of an NBA franchise invariably leaves fans unsettled when a player leaves for another team. Emotionalism emanating from NBA fans seems to trump a player’s rights in this matter, at least in the court of public opinion. The hatred spewed at NBA players is rarely, if ever, directed toward league owners.

NBA owners, like the leaders of any industry, have the luxury of making financially driven ‘business decisions’ to maximize their profit margins without any consideration of their employees. Hence, James is on solid footing when he articulates the following, “The question I have…is when a player decides to decide his own fate, there is always questions about it?…And, ‘Why did this guy do that, do that and do this?’ When an organization decides to go elsewhere for a player, it’s that they did what’s best for the team. Let’s figure that out some time.” James is absolutely correct in his summation that historically loyalty between worker and employee has been a one-way street.

Former Miami Heat teammate Dwayne Wade chimed in on this matter to support James by remarking “When a player makes a decision, and however you make it, there is Wadealways backlash. But when an organization makes it, it’s the right thing for an organization to do. And it’s fine. Josh Smith just got cut. It was the right thing for the Pistons to do…It’s fine. LeBron James or players make decisions in free agency, then it becomes a different situation.”

LeBron James’ former Miami Heat and now Cleveland Cavalier teammate relates that the hypocrisy surrounding player movement is simply an aspect of being an NBA player. Jones states that there is always a portion of any fanbase “that will say that’s disloyal for you to leave a place where you were jjembraced to go back somewhere else. And so the place you’re coming to is excited and the place you’re leaving thinks you’re being disloyal…they view it as the player leaving the fans…But when the organization shutters a player, it’s seen as a business move.”

If the history of the American Labor Movement is any indicator, James, and by extension any employee, regardless of race, gender, occupation, or skill-level, must realize that the dynamics between workers and owners will remain hypocritical and inconsistent. Workers have never been considered as anything more than means of production to be exploited for their labor by owners, it is quite simply an exploitive relationship that has existed for so long that most Americans can not conceptualize labor relations existing in any other shape, form, or fashion.

And it is for this reason that owners, regardless of their industry, will continue to have the audacity to run their businesses with no regard for how their bottom line decisions affect their employees yet scream and holler when any employee, including million dollar NBA players such as LeBron James makes a similar decision to do what is best for him; the only problem that I puzzles me is the failure of poor, working-class, and middle-class Americans inability to support their fellow worker in his decision.

James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2014

Raising Our Daughters and Loving Our Sons: How Female Headed Households Contribute to the Manufacturing of Sorry Black Men

Rarely does a day pass by that some inquisitive individual does not ask the following question in an indirect half-hesitant manner, “What is wrong with Black men?” The question is so common that it no longer angers me; in fact, it amuses me and causes a slight smile. Seeing my reaction, the inquisitor usually backpedals, an obvious sign that they believe that their question offended me, and follow it up with a declaration of either, “I do know a good Black man at my job” or “do not these atrocities being committed by the police not make your blood boil?” Regarding the actual dubois2question of “how does it feel to be a problem” I answer nary a word. My non-response is not due to a belief that an answer would be impolite or inappropriate, rather, out of the realization that the issue they are asking me to provide a solution for is much too dynamic to be answered off the cuff.

I always muse, if people only understood that the African-American male issue has been here for over four-centuries, in fact, it predates this nation, they would pause before posing such an issue. Put simply, African-American men were this nation’s original problem, meaning are they citizens, slaves, workers, marriageable, human, or some sub-species of humanity. Black-Children-Chain-Gang-1900sConsequently, the answer to why African-American men have lagged behind all others in nearly every socioeconomic and health indicator from this nation’s founding to this very moment is not easily answered; in fact, both the catalyst to their suffering and the solution to their suffering has transformed since their arrival in the Jamestown colony in 1619.

Although it seems strange to pen these words, those who seek to provide a root cause for Black male suffering in America now long for the days of chattel slavery where each and every malady affecting Blacks could be placed at the feet of that thdemonic institution. However, the institution of chattel slavery receded from this nation 150 years ago and the Black male problem is still in existence. So the question facing us is a simple one, is the contemporary catalyst to African-American males dastardly plight associated with slavery; or have new challenges reared and subdued Black males since the demise of chattel slavery?

Many correctly trace the catalyst to Black Males suffering to the disintegration of the Black family. Data tells us that in the late 19th Century the city of Brother Love, Philadelphia, had a thriving Black community that where at least 75% of the homes were two-parent households; in 1925 nearly 80% of New York City’s Black households were similarly structured. Data highlights that the prevalence of female headed-households is a relatively recent phenomena. Prior to the gm4vaunted 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision only 18% of Black households were headed by a single-parent. Many are shocked to discover that African-Americans married at a rate that exceeded their white counterparts for the one-hundred years following chattel slavery; a serious blow to those who seek to explain away the unprecedented destruction of the Black family as a remnant of chattel slavery.

According to noted scholar Walter Williams, in 1940 the birth of Black children to unwed mothers was approximately 14%. When compared with contemporary rates, such data reminds me of a Biggie Smalls lyric, “Damn, things done changed.” Today, the rate of children born to unwed mothers sits at an average of 75% (it is as high as 90% in many central city areas), nearly half of Mothermarriage-age African-Americans will never marry, and 70% of Black households are female-headed. Closely associated with these matters is the reality that Black female-headed households experience poverty at a rate of 47% versus the 8% rate found among married Black households. A study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that 25.8% of American children are raised by a single parent, a number high above the 14.9% average seen throughout the industrialized world. Among African-Americans the rate is nearly five times the global average, with 72% of black children relying on a single parent, usually the mother.

It appears that when integration occurred, African-American women and men slowly abandoned traditional principles of familial solidarity in favor of a European system that evaluated their mates worth according to their financial status. The alluded to position betrays the cooperative relationship and collectivist economics that has kept African-American couples afloat during difficult times. Put simply, the intrinsic worth of a father’s presence was dismissed by both Black women and a few segments of the scholarly community. A Johns Hopkins University sociology professor incorrectly argued that “It has yet to be shown that the absence of a father was directly responsible for any of the supposed deficiencies of Father 1broken homes… (The real issue) is not the lack of male presence but the lack of male income.” Such foolishness ignores the crucial role that Black fathers play in their children’s lives; roles that extend well beyond being an economic provider.

Despite their protestations, many women have intentionally created a context that has led to the proliferation of female headed households through a host of questionable activities and poor decision making. Many behave as if the male that they produced children with should not have a major role in the rearing of either male or female children. Apparently many of these women did not father 3have father’s in their lives as they routinely fail to understand that it is the father who sets the ground rules and expectations for all of his daughters dealings with future suitors through his interactions with her. Just as importantly, the father models what it means to be a man for his son, how to treat a Lady, and why the qualities of diligence, sacrifice, and commitment are much more valid measures of manhood than the net pay on a paycheck! The father’s absence from his children’s lives, not necessarily the home, leaves a vacuum that is never filled.

The absence of the father figure from his children’s life leads to a situation that the words of Jawanza Kunjufu aptly describe; “Women raise their daughters and love their sons.” I agree with Kunjufu’s construct that Black girls will be socialized by their mother on how to be a woman like her, a school 2socialization that has its own pitfalls if she were not socialized properly; unfortunately, similar manhood training is never taught to Black boys; many women mistakenly believe that the assigning of chores and securing a part-time job is akin to manhood training. Despite their consistent pleadings and childish tantrums, Black women CAN NOT teach Black boys how to be Black men. Unbeknownst to them, they tend to cripple their son’s via love and then wonder why young Black males behave in black malesthe anti-social childish manner that we see so often. Ironically, it will be this behavior that will most likely lead to the failure of both their daughter and son’s marriages. Many Black women simply do not understand that a mother’s doting love is a lesser ingredient in building a foundation of manhood. Put simply, when the male is not involved in the rearing of children, girls grow up witnessing their mother attempting to carry the load devoid of any assistance from a male and not demanding much from the arguingone male who is present, her brother. Hence, when it is her turn to seek a mate, she has no prior experience with her father and hence, nothing feels familiar beyond catering to a male who does little of nothing; she will often choose such a male to mate with out of no reason other than its familiarity.

Black males raised without a father in their life often end up having to piece together an understanding of manhood, one that is too often forged in America’s urban jungles. A mere cursory glance of the contemporary Father 2state of African-American males verifies the damage that such flawed constructs and bad advice brings into one’s life. Black male’s need appropriate guidance from some male figure, preferably the father, however, if he is not available, some male needs to be there to socialize him into manhood.

So I guess the next time that the question of “What is wrong with Black Men” is posed, I will answer it in the following manner. I believe that many factors led to the contemporary marginalized state of Black men; however, it is at least partially attributable to the disintegration of the family and the haphazard manner in which many, not all, women have destroyed their family and by extension lessen their children’s future opportunities by failing to value the contributions of a man. It is also partially attributable to Black men who have never received, or chose to not adhere to, the proper guidance to being a man. Unfortunately, the sins of the parents are obviously being placed upon the children in the lives that they will eventually live; lives that will invariably closely mimic those of their parents. Although I would love to say otherwise, however, my community has created an efficient cycle of familial destruction that will invariably repeat itself to all those involved in the process, until the end of time.

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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