The Failure to Prioritize: An Essential Ingredient in the Extension of Black America’s Oppression

There is probably no more frustrating quality found among African-Americans today than their inability to evaluate current events and then prioritize. Trust me when I say that it is our failure to prioritize matters affecting our collective well-being that not only extends African-American suffering but also makes us accessories to our oppression.

The lack of a significant response from Black America regarding Trump’s decision to repeal the Affordable Care Act speaks volumes about the average African-American’s inability to monitor, prioritize, and respond accordingly to pressing political matters. Instead of addressing the looming curtailing of reasonable access to health care, Black America has preoccupied itself with relatively mundane issues such as a proposed Atlanta Orgy, the 20th Anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.’s murder, or some other brain draining social media topic such as Remy Ma’s ‘Shether.’

Considering the disproportionate amount of time that African-Americans spend upon topics that can be efficiently termed “mental masturbation” exercises, one could be fooled into believing that their community is not lagging behind other groups in every single political, economic, and educational measurable. A critical mass of African-Americans decision to bury their head in the sand regarding our contemporary politico-economic blight that paves the way for African-Americans to behave as if they do not have a single care in the world, put simply, so many within our community behave like “good time Charlie’s.”

Although I would never deny the pernicious effects of discrimination and institutionalized racism, the failure to take life seriously also severely compromises African-American progress at every turn. Black students across a wide-swath of educational levels often behave as if they have absolutely no interest in learning anything of utility during their educational experience. Anyone who has dealt with our people will tell you that the following variables exist. There is a segment of African-American males of varying ages and socioeconomic classes proudly flaunt their immoral ability to skirt responsibility for their offspring. Many females within our midst busy themselves executing voluminous amounts of unnecessary mischief that invariably facilitates the arrival of a small mindedness that serves as the primary socializing agent in their children’s lives.

Make no mistake about it, until politicization becomes the standard mindset of Black America, these issues will not only remain but also serve as a reliable point for our individual and collective exploitation.

This issue should be considered an absolute blessing and curse. The blessing is that the development of a politicized mind and the ability to prioritize continually shifting political issues is achievable via a voracious regimen of study dedicated to Black life. The curse is that the most reliable agent in black activism is an outrageous offense from whites. Until the African-American community abandons its usual reactionary position and begins to understand that pressing political matters such as the repealing of the Affordable Care Act are markedly more important than the anniversary of the death of the Notorious B.I.G., ‘Shether’, or an event such as the “ATL Orgy” that definitively proves the comprehensive nature of the social dysfunction enveloping far too many members of our community, liberation will continue to elude Black America. The addressing of this matter requires an abandonment of reactionary politics. It can be done. However, it is solely up to Black America, and there is “the blessing and the curse” that continually haunts our collective liberation.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017.

Underground Returns: The Epic Series Returns

There is undoubtedly no more anxiety producing historical subject for Americans than the institution of American chattel slavery. The manner in which the vast majority of Americans, regardless of their race or ethnicity, avoid any contact with this dastardly, yet crucial period of their history reminds one of the lengths that Greeks would go to avoid even a glancing gaze at the mythological character Medusa.

As an educator who routinely teaches courses that traverse the issue of American chattel slavery, I now recognize the detached, even embarrassed look adorning the faces of my African-American students the moment that the enslavement of stolen Africans was raised; during previous moments I mistakenly identified their iced over gaze and slumped posture as indifference regarding this portion of their historical record.

Quite possibly the most illogical involuntary psychological decision that the vast majority of African-Americans make regarding the enslavement and exploitation of their ancestors is to care the shame and burden of the African Holocaust on their broad shoulders, a tremendous burden that other Holocaust victims such as the Jews and indigenous populations of the West have never carried.

There is little room to debate the obvious reality that African-Americans are ashamed of their ancestors’ enslavement, a past that is made significantly more robust considering that their refusal to associate with Africa, their ancestral homeland, means that their story begins in either the hull of a slave ship or on some unidentified slave plantation.

It is a collective shame flowing from American chattel slavery that facilitates the vast majority of Americans failure to understand a period of history that forged the very foundation of this so-called democratic nation. Despite the in consternation that this time of history instantaneously causes, the truth of the matter is that the story of American chattel slavery is a dynamic story with unexpected twists-and-turns, villains, and heroines. Trust me when I say that it is imperative for every American to tune into the groundbreaking show Underground.

Although I realize that there are many who will without viewing the show consider Underground yet another show depicting the domination of persons of African descent by Europeans, they could not be more incorrect. The writers of Underground have succeeded in displaying the depth of this period of American history by not only displaying the resistance of enslaved Africans at every turn but also tapped into the diversity of thinking regarding ‘the peculiar institution’ within the white community. Viewing this show leaves one with the realization that not only did the institution of chattel slavery affect not only the stolen African, but also the Europeans who were invariably divided regarding not only the presence but also the utility of masses of black laborers.

So do yourself a favor and tune into Underground, trust me when I say that it is not only an emotional rollercoaster ride but also an unusual path to enlightenment that every American desperately needs.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017.

Uncle Ben Carson: Donald Trump’s Favorite Negro Leader

I remember the equally shocking and embarrassing moment as if it occurred yesterday. While making an all too frequent visit to a local grocery store, I was pleased to see that my cashier was a former student. It is always a good moment when I have an opportunity to catch up with a former student.

This young lady was so impacted by her experience in my class that she shared them with a co-worker, a fellow cashier, whom she invited into our conversation. It was at this moment that a fellow customer passed out at a cash register, causing the young lady whose name I did not know to rush toward the distressed customer. To my shock and horror, after reaching the fallen customer, this young lady pivoted toward me and shouted, “Dr. Jones, please help her.” Apparently, this young lady thought that my title of Dr. meant Medical Doctor, not Doctor of Philosophy. I walked toward the exit and allowed others to assist, as I knew that I would be of no assistance in this matter.

If nothing else, this episode proves that people often extend their expectations regarding the intelligence and knowledge of those possessing collegiate degrees to absurd levels. Little do they know, our expertise is extremely limited. It is this understanding of the limits of American education that makes Ben Carson’s idiotic commentary regarding slavery and immigration unsurprising.

Make no mistake about it, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development publicly displayed what Black America already knew. That being, his ignorance regarding Black America demonstrates his intellectual feebleness in an unkind manner.

Just in case you missed it, Dr. Carson stated the following. “That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.”

On the surface, it appears that the above commentary is nothing more than a continuation of Carson’s tried-and-true minstrel routine designed to gain the approval of a fickle White America. Every fiber of my intellectual being wanted to attribute Carson’s equating of the experience of STOLEN AFRICANS and their descendants in the Western Hemisphere with European immigrants whose arrival to the “New World” will never rival the horrific experience of enslaved Africans to merely being an extension of his despicable pattern of pandering to unsympathetic whites. However, such a perspective grossly misses the shocking reality that Dr. Ben Carson’s most regrettable intellectual blind spot, unfortunately, revolves around the past experiences and present dilemmas of African-Americans.

There is quite simply no better example of the marginalization of the experiences, contributions, and contemporary existence of African-Americans in the American educational system than the appearance of a figure such as Ben Carson.

Consider for a moment that Carson is a brain surgeon trained at top-notch institutions such as Yale University and the University of Michigan who has managed to acquire impressive credentials without learning anything about Black America. Making matters worse is the reality that Carson and those of his ilk are the means that the newly elected President will use to monitor the pulse of Black America. I am certain that you realize that if we must rely upon Uncle Ben Carson for leadership, we are in dire straits.

After all, this is a man who believes that the Irish, Polish, and Italians made their way to colonial America via a slave ship for the opportunity to earn even less than the minimum wage of nothing that our ancestors received during enslavement and sharecropping.

The thought of Carson addressing any racial matter should frighten the entire nation because nothing good could ever come from such an occurrence.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017.

NAACP Plans Diversity Workshops with Dr. James Thomas Jones III

MANSFIELD — The Mansfield branch of the NAACP is hosting two cultural diversity workshops and a town hall meeting to discuss how to improve race relations in Mansfield and across the county.

The idea for the workshops, titled “Embrace Diversity: A Model for the Nation,” formed during discussions between Mansfield NAACP President Geron Tate and James Jones, a Mansfield native and associate professor of history at Texas’ Prairie View A & M University specializing in race and African-American studies.

Tate was Jones’ Sunday school teacher as a child, and the two reconnected through Jones’ successful blog about gender and race, “Manhood, Race, and Culture.”

“America needs to not only have a discussion about race, America needs to in many ways have an education about race,” Jones said.

Tate said Mansfield’s race issues include few people of color in schools, businesses, police and fire departments and city government, calling them “segregated societies within the society.”

It’s easy to identify the problems in race relations, but it’s difficult to propose solutions, Tate said.

“We build up our walls around us, and then we look at our own culture, how we’ve been raised and value systems and all of those things, and that has a tendency to prevent us from moving forward to really addressing the real issues,” he said.

The workshops are meant to start honest discussions about cultural diversity, the history of race in the U.S. and how racial divides started, conversations that are often difficult to start.

“I liken it to that moment where African-American children have to deal with the issue of slavery. They get nervous, they get anxious…They don’t want to deal with it. They don’t want to be embarrassed. It’s anxiety-fueled for them,” he said.

“If slavery is the issue for African-Americans to behave that way, race is the issue, and racial diversity and what have you, those are the issues for all of this nation. All Americans get very, very anxious, very disturbed, in regards to dealing with those matters,” he continued. So it’s most certainly conversations that need to occur, but these conversations need to be (based on) historical fact, reality and truth, and people must get over that initial involuntary reaction of being so disturbed about race.”

Jones said it’s important to look at race from a historical perspective. Many of his college students believe all white people were slave-owners, but he says race was not initially a contributing factor, mentioning indentured servants in Europe.

“When I say America, i’m not referring to just white America,” he said. “You have to look at a profit motive, which is motivating people regardless of race, creed, color or even religion. This was about profit. This was about money. And the African, unfortunately for him, lined up very well with the labor needs of this nation.”

These conversations serve to educate citizens about others who come from different backgrounds and the history of other cultures to help them understand race from a different perspective.

“I see education as being the first step because without the idea of informed an informed citizenry, we’re going to continue to talk past one another and blame one another,” Jones said.

But Jones said education is only the first step in changing the dialogue about race in both Mansfield and the U.S.

“Education has to be followed with a commitment to correcting what’s going on,” he said. “If we haven’t educated ourselves, it’s as if we’re wandering around in a wilderness because without education, we can’t have a realistic and righteous goal….Hopefully we can get to a point where we’re talking about healing.”

The workshops serve as a starting point, but the conversations should be ongoing to work toward solutions like ending racial profiling and discriminatory hiring practices, Tate said.

Both Jones and Tate said the discussions are not just black and white; they include religion, gender, sexual orientation, class and immigrant status.

“If we look at the recent attacks on Jewish cemeteries…what does that say about the living for them to treat the dead that way?” Jones said.

Tate said people should start embracing their differences and accept the differences of others rather than being fearful of those differences.

“”People do usually things they’ve learned, and what happens is we start creating fears. There are so many myths about people, and we sometimes make our decisions based upon things we’ve heard and we have never really experienced,” he said. “Muslim brothers and sisters should not be fearful like they are now. The Jewish community should not be fearful the way it is today. All of it is has been because of people creating fear among groups.”

ejmills@mansfieldnewsjournal.com

419-521-7205

Twitter: @EmilyMills818

If you go

The workshops are Tuesday, March 14 and Wednesday, March 15, with the town hall on Thursday, March 16, all from 7 to 9 p.m. in the community room at Mansfield Senior High School, 124 N. Linden Rd.

Registration is not required, but Tate said participants are asked to call the NAACP office at 419-522-9894 so organizers are prepared for the number of attendees.

“Foolish” Floyd, Paul Mooney, and the “N-Word”

I am confident that you recognize that although Floyd and I are from the same generation, we are distinctly different in our thoughts, ideas, and principles. Unfortunately for our ‘friendship,’ those differences have a tendency to clash without the slightest provocation.

Probably the most noticeable difference between Floyd and me emanates from our use of the English language, particularly the use of what I, and most respectful individuals, commonly refer to as the ‘N-word.’ Floyd feigns ignorance whenever this topic arises and informs all who raise this issue to him,

“I have no idea what the ‘N-word’ is. Now if you mean Nigga, be straight about it and let me know that is what you’re talking about. I understand that type of discussion, but the ‘N-word’ I don’t even know what that even means.”

Floyd is so committed to his use of the ‘N-word’ that he, and trust me when I say that he is not alone in this regard, has attempted to apply logic regarding his use of what is akin to the nitroglycerine of the English language.

According to Floyd, and a legion of like-minded brethren, “Nigga,” is markedly different from “Nigger.” The alluded to individuals have done their best to educate the ‘ignorant masses,’ meaning people such as me and you, regarding this most important matter. According to such thinkers, “Nigga” is an unmistakable term of endearment, while “Nigger” is offensive, derogatory term that only racists spew during angry rants for negative reasons.

Now that I think about it, rare is the occasion that I have been in Floyd’s presence that he has not used the ‘N-word.’ Floyd seemingly emanates from the Paul Mooney school of thought. Mooney, a famed comedian who counts the greatest comedian ever to live, Richard Pryor, as his best friend, is known to say that he says ‘Nigga’ a hundred times each morning because it makes his teeth white.

On a more personal level, the most offensive aspect of Floyd’s habitual use of the ‘N-word,’ at least in my presence, is the reality that he knows my position on this matter. I cringe every time the word exits his crusty lips; largely out of embarrassment for what it reveals about Floyd’s view of his fellow African-Americans and what such language conveys to those outside of our community that already possesses skeptical views of us. I hope that you can understand that my embarrassment level regarding Floyd’s use of the ‘N-word’ exponentially increases when he uses such language in front of what is commonly termed ‘mixed company.’ Unfortunately for me, Floyd is slightly sadistic in the following way; he enjoys seeing my reaction to his inappropriate use of the English Language.

Now I would be a bit remiss, if not hypocritical, if I did not reveal that I have been known to use vulgarity from time-to-time, however, I have consciously attempted to rid myself of the burdensome, historically-loaded, ‘N-Word’; unfortunately, to no avail. It seems that individuals such as Floyd have an uncanny ability, through their actions nonetheless, to routinely pull such sentiments out of me.

I am quite confident that you are going to doubt the sincerity of my attempts to rid myself of the ‘N-word’ when you learn of my birthday plans for Floyd. I was planning to bless Floyd on his birthday with a trip to The Improv, Houston’s premier Comedy Club, to hear the infamous Paul Mooney.

I had come to learn that the enjoyment of great comedians such as Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Mom’s Mabley, Whitman Mayo, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Paul Mooney, Bill Cosby, etc. was an arena that Floyd and I were kindred souls. I must tell you that it is in the realm of comedy that I shed, without any sense of embarrassment or contradiction, my abhorrence of the ‘ N-word.’ As you well know, African-American comedians use the ‘N-word’ frequently and within every context imaginable.

So on Saturday evening, I picked Floyd up from his place and made my way toward I-10 West (The Katy Freeway). The moment Floyd stepped out of his front door, it was evident that this was a special night for him. Not only were we celebrating Floyd’s birthday, but also he was about to see Paul Mooney, his “favorite comedian this side of Richard Pryor” perform for the first time. And trust me when I tell you that Floyd had his finest threads draped on him, he was as they say ‘open-casket sharp’ with what appeared to be an 18-piece Lavender suit. At first sight, I laughed aloud at Floyd’s ensemble; he looked like a live Easter egg or something. I thought it was a bit much, but hey, it was Floyd’s day and as the saying goes, ‘If you like it, I love it.”

Floyd talked incessantly during the drive regarding not only Paul Mooney, but also the rare comedic genius known as Richard Pryor. Floyd was a walking Wikipedia of facts regarding the comedic duo; which spurred what I considered a natural question.

“Floyd, If you are so into Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney, how come you have never seen them live?”

“Ain’t had the opportunity. Meaning whenever they were performing close to where I was at, I didn’t have any money. Hell, I wouldn’t be going tonight if you weren’t paying.”

Floyd then sheepishly asked,

“You are paying, right? Don’t get me down here this close to seeing my main man and then I can’t get in the building. I promise you I will act a certifiable fool if you do that to ol’ Floyd. You know that Floyd deserves better than that.”

I just laughed and related to Floyd that his acting a fool wouldn’t matter to me because I would already be inside listening to Paul Mooney.

Floyd responded as I knew he would,

“Just like a Nigga”

For some reason, I didn’t cringe at his use of the “N-word,” maybe because I understood that it held no negative connotations in this context. We were two friends only kicking it on our way to see our boy.

We arrived at The Improv, picked up tickets I had already paid for because I wanted Floyd to be front-and-center, it was his night after all.

Having seen Mooney several times before, I must relate that he was in rare fashion as he traversed across racially charged topics that ranged from notable figures such as Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, O.J. Simpson, and Ben Carson to “ordinary every day Nigga shit.”

As previously mentioned, Mooney was in rare form; however, there were two particularly memorable moments.

The first occurrence was when a white couple rose from their seats and walked up the stairs to exit the venue, witnessing this, Mooney stated,

“I still got my magic. They must have thought that they were coming to see Andy Rooney, not Paul Mooney.”

The overwhelmingly Black audience burst into uproarious laughter.

The second memorable moment was a particularly personal one that was so hilarious that I nearly cried from laughter. Towards the end of his performance, Paul Mooney apparently spotted Floyd. At that moment, Mooney displayed the quick-wittedness that makes him such a great comedian. He stated,

“Awww shit, look at this Nigga over here. What motherfucking color do you have on Nigga? Nigga, please stand up so that we all can get a good laugh, oops, I meant to say. Good look.”

To my amazement, Floyd rose from his seat and did a slow 360-degree turn that gave everyone in the building an opportunity to see all 18 pieces of his suit.

“Now I know that we are in Houston, Texas, and Y’all can be country as fuck, but that Nigga right there has got to be straight out of the backwoods of Mississippi. That’s the only place they wear shit like that; trust me, I Know what I Talk about.”

The entire crowd was laughing and hollering uncontrollably, so much that Floyd felt the need to respond to Mooney,

“You Goddamned right!  Greenwood, Mississippi, in the house.”

Of course, Mooney would not let Floyd have the last word and told Floyd to,

“Sit your loud country ass down. I bet you that Nigga got slave-catchers still after his ass. Out here dressed in a 54-piece Lavender suit around civilized people. Lavender, Nigga? Really, Nigga?”

I must tell you that tears were running down people’s faces by the time Mooney ended his roasting of Floyd. Above and beyond everything else, this moment made Floyd’s night complete; it was a memory that he would never relinquish, even if he were the butt of Mooney’s jokes.

Although we wished that Mooney could have stayed on stage for several more hours, the truth of the matter was that he gave us nearly three hours of cutting-edge comedy for which we were all eternally grateful. Mooney even added a final touch of class to his performance by meeting and greeting every person who desired to purchase a DVD of one of his concerts.

I previously noticed that at opportune moments such as this one where he would be able to meet Paul Mooney, Floyd, like so many other African-Americans, would fumble such an obvious opportunity. So I was not surprised when the venue lights were turned on, Floyd quickly stood up and headed for the exit as if he had somewhere pressing to be. He would have exited the building had I not physically impeded his progress and walked him over to where Mooney was selling his DVD’s and taking photos with fans. As we approached Mooney, he burst into laughter at Floyd and jubilantly yelled,

“My Mississippi cousin!!!!!! Nigga, what do you have on? Who in the hell let you come out of the house like that? Just kidding brother, you know that I had to give it to you. It’s all part of the show.”

To my amazement, Floyd, who has so much to say about any and everything, fell silent as a church mouse. I explained to Mr. Mooney that it was Floyd’s birthday and this was his first time seeing him perform live; and that Floyd was the world’s biggest Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney fan.

Mooney, the classy gentleman that he is, responded,

“Well alright!!!! Now I know a Nigga that like two shit-talking Niggas like Richard and me can speak. He ain’t mute is he?”

“Fuck Nah, I ain’t no motherfucking ‘mute.’ I got plenty to say, Nigga.”

Mooney laughed enthusiastically and told Floyd if he keeps talking like that he was going to have to take him on the road with him.

Before the night ended, Mooney took a gang of photos with Floyd, he even put Floyd’s Lavender suit coat on in a few of the photos as well as gifting Floyd a DVD and the hat, which he graciously autographed, he had worn during his routine. A ‘star-struck’ Floyd was overwhelmed by the entire experience.

The night was truly a special one, yet it was not over. I planned on taking Floyd to a late dinner at FOGO DE CHÃO.

I have always heard that it is much better to give than to receive, this night certainly validated that famous axiom. Floyd could not stop talking about either The Improv or Paul Mooney. My plan to ensure that he had a grand birthday was turning into an absolute success. Before long, we were turning off of Westheimer Road and into the parking lot of FOGO DE CHÃO.

After being seated, it took Floyd a while to understand how things worked inside of this venue. Having never dined at a Brazilian Steakhouse, Floyd had a difficult time comprehending that the wait staff would bring rolls of meat, any meat he desired, and cut it tableside for him at his request.

Once Floyd got the hang of the way things worked, he behaved as if he were an old-pro and began ordering every type of meat imaginable. Apparently, Floyd became so comfortable with his environs that he took the opportunity to return to his favored past time; aggravating me.

“Now you cannot tell me that you didn’t enjoy Paul Mooney, even with him using Nigga so much. I am telling you that with all of the problems that our people have, we are spending way too much time focused on that one word. It is kind of ridiculous when you think about it. There are so many other things to worry about: drug abuse, murder, poverty, teenage pregnancy, schools, domestic violence, and the list can go on and on.”

I knew that I had to respond to Floyd’s opening statement immediately.

“But Floyd can’t you see how so many of those things flow from how we term and therefore envision ourselves?”

“Nigga, please. Using the ‘N-Word’ ain’t got a damn thing to do with domestic violence, high school dropouts, and poverty.”

I protested Floyd’s assertion and insisted that this stuff were indeed linked together.

“Floyd, you do remember the piece that I wrote about this matter in African-American News & Issues, don’t you?”

Floyd admitted that he remembered the article that follows,

MY NIGGA:

THE POWER OF WORDS ON THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MIND

I don’t wanna be another nigga,
Waitin’ with my hands out,
Broke in the hood, they give a damn ’bout
Braggin’ to my homie bout the hoes I fucked
Drinkin’ bottles after bottles, plus I smoke too much.
I never had a job that would pay me well,
I took what I could cause they gave me hell…
 I barely go to church but I say I will,
I bow my head right before I eat my meal
The world’s fucked up and they claimin’ I’m to blame
It’s a damn shame cause
I don’t wanna be another nigga,

Big K.R.I.T.

One of my core beliefs is that “the power of life and death is in the tongue.” Put simply, watch what you say as those words are living projectiles that not only impact the world around me but also go a great measure towards determining my future path. My parents and mentors repeatedly told me to watch my word choice, particularly when it came to cursing, because, ‘a little bit of bad will tear down a whole lot of good.’

We all realize that America holds its African-American citizenry to a different standard. Most cruel are the reality that the antics, of one African-American, have the ability to malign the entire race. Despite their best attempts to deny it, African-Americans are inextricably linked together. One’s public persona, from dress to speech, reflects not only that individual, rather it is extended to cover one’s family and race; especially if that image carries any negativity. When African-American elders are commenting upon the pride they exhibited during earlier moments; they recall their posture, walk, diction, and physical appearance. One abhorred being caught ‘showing one’s color,’ meaning damaging the African-American image, regardless of the extenuating circumstances.

The realities mentioned above are one of many reasons why YG’s hit single, “My Nigga,” is so disturbing; particularly its impact upon the image and psyche of African-American males. Although I find it particularly difficult to believe that there is anyone on the planet who has not heard this recording by now, if there is such an individual, here are a sampling of the chorus.

My nigga, my nigga
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga?

The word ‘nigga’ is repeated shocking thirty-one times during one chorus. Black America’s soul should be troubled by not only the verbal flurry but also the fact that it has entered the impressionable minds of droves of African-American youth.

As someone who has been addicted to rap music from the first time that I heard Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s ‘The Message;‘ I thought that it might be a chance to address YG’s recording, not with a denunciation of it, that is not only easily accomplished, but also predictable, rather I have decided to offer an artistic alternative to a listening audience that desperately seeks close association with the “N-Word”. Unfortunately, many of these individuals believe that YG’s record, and similar recordings, epitomize what rap music is. So, please consider this a desperate attempt to fight the blaze of ignorance that YG, Rich Homie Quan, and Jeezy began and Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Meek Mill fanned with their remix, with an alternative vision. Please click on the following links for an alternative understanding of the N-Word, Nigga, and nigger from several generations of African-Americans.

Maybe the rappers mentioned above will trip upon this posting and learn something regarding the power of language and come to understand that their financial wealth is insufficient to hide their intellectual and moral poverty. I am confident that time will impress upon them that no amount of cash is capable of masking such poverty. One of their own, Jay-Z, a self-proclaimed rap God, once issued an admonishment that is particularly applicable here when he related, “you can pay for school, but you can’t buy class.” A lesson that I hope the entire hip-hop community learns before the power of their words leads to more incarceration, death, and destruction of their own.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture 2015.

“Floyd, I refuse to believe that you cannot understand how the use of that word affects how our people, especially our youth, male as well as female, see themselves. It frames their entire existence.”

“No! What frames their whole life is the home they were raised in, the school that they go to, the church that they attend. That’s where I learned who I was.”

“And who are you?”

“A strong Black man who ain’t about to take no shit off of no white man or ‘Nigga.’ That’s who Floyd is. Period! Point blank!”

“But what about the children who were not raised in a loving home? Who life’s circumstances have led to their attending an under-funded inner-city school with downtrodden teachers? Who has never attended church or had a suitable male role model? What about them? Hunh?”

“Well, they had better hope that God is still in the business of taking care of fools and babies; because they sound like they are in for a rough life.

However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the word ‘Nigga.’ Think about it this way. Let’s say that I, Paul Mooney, and every other ‘Nigga’ that you know stopped using the ‘N-Word.’ It wouldn’t make a bit of a difference. We would still be as poor, uneducated, and jailed as before.

Man, I tell you, the more education some people get, the dumber they seem to get.”

I am confident that Floyd saw my eyes tighten, a sign that I was about to tear into his ignorant ass. However, before I could leap into a furious tirade, Floyd cleared up his comment.

“Now don’t get all mad about what I said, hey, don’t take it personally. I wasn’t even talking about you, at least not directly. What I mean is this.

Did you see in the paper where the NAACP bought a casket, opened it up, wrote the word “Nigger” on a single white piece of paper, placed it inside of the casket, closed it up and then had a funeral for the ‘N-Word,’ burial and all? Now what kind of sense does that make? That’s what I am trying to say. Some people, regardless of their education, are just plain stupid.”

“I do understand what you are saying, Floyd. However, Civil Rights groups are well meaning in regards to trying to point us in a new direction where we no longer demean each other and stop teaching our children to do such things.

When was the last time that you listened to a group of African-American youth talking, and you didn’t hear the ‘N-Word’? And don’t you dare try and tell me that they are using it as a term of endearment.”

Floyd looked across the table as if he were exasperated with this entire conversation and related the following,

“I can’t speak for no one else but myself, however, when I use it, I am using it as a term of endearment. Now tell me honestly, do you think that I am disrespectful toward you when I call you ‘My Nigga’? Honestly?”

“Nah, I don’t think that at all.”

“Yet, you still believe that this one little word, ‘Nigga,’ holds power to liberate our people? That’s foolishness. What will liberate us is shopping at Black-owned stores, voting, and valuing education. If we mastered all of the little things, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation for the one-millionth time.

But because the problem is so damn big, you and the rest of the ‘Negropeans’ choose to pick on your own. Nah, quit being a coward and address the source of our misery and suffering. Go and talk to the white man and leave us little people alone. We are doing the best that we know how to.”

All I could think was that Floyd was correct in his logic, something that was in and of itself startling, yet, I knew that I would never be comfortable with the use of the word Nigga in any context; or at least in public around mixed company.

“And another damn thing. Maybe, you ‘Niggas’ should stop using it behind clothes doors if you want everyone else to abandon it.

Haha, I sense yet another victory for Floyd. On my birthday nonetheless.” 

I just stared at Floyd as he bathed in one of his most lopsided victories. I promised to myself that it would never happen again; even if I had to strangle a ‘Nigga.’

 Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

%d bloggers like this: