A New Year’s Resolution Worth Committing To: Black America’s Most Important Step Toward Liberation

Of course, I am neither ignorant of nor arrogant enough to deny the significance of a New Year. This momentous occasion is in many ways an opportunity for each of us to reflect on the path that we have traveled and pledged our commitment to correct what we now consider previous errors or garner some increased understanding of prior motivations, intentions, successes, and failures. The dawning of a New Year is an occasion that must be celebrated as it provides another opportunity to get “it” correct.

Although many African-Americans vigorously resist any insinuation that Race remains the very pivot that their life chances and opportunities rest on, the American historical record denounces their viewpoint. To this very moment, Race, a socially constructed political expedient that has always benefited those who could be comfortably termed the opponents of Black America, remains the ultimate rallying call for whites and the supreme hurdle to persons of African descent. Despite the obvious impact that Race has had on America’s development as THE leading world power, it remains a truth that is never to be raised in the public sphere. Any insinuation that Race remains a major factor in the oppression of African-Americans renders one a voiceless intellectual pariah to be shunned by legitimate scholars and political thinkers. Even black intellectuals seeking to curry favor with white powerbrokers will publicly denounce the pernicious effects of Race on their people.

The feeble denunciations of the impact that Race has on this nation are easily silenced by an American historical record that drips with the blood, sweat, and tears of African-Americans. One of my favored articulations of the means that Americans, regardless of their race/ethnicity, will go to in their ridiculous denouncement of Race in America flows from the pen of W.E.B. DuBois. DuBois penned the following assertion as the opening paragraph of his classic text The Souls of Black Folk.

Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, “How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil?” At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, “How does it feel to be a problem?” I answer seldom a word.

DuBois’ poignant words, written in 1903, prove that Race is not a recent development, it pre-dates the moment that drunk white colonists vowed to “not be the slaves of Britain” in some dark pub in Boston.

It is past time that African-Americans accept that Race is as American as baseball and Apple Pie. Failure to accept this basic reality prevents African-Americans from the basic understanding that Race impacts everything in this nation, including a daunting social order and politico-economic processes designed to extend the subjugation of Black America. Although difficult to accept, the prejudice and discrimination that flows from Race are found in school curriculums and popular culture images and expressed via the dastardly gaze of disapproval that black women shoot at black men that they know nothing about or the fallacious belief that more than a few black men hold that women of any other race/ethnicity make better wives than black women.

Hence, the most important question facing Black America is a relatively simple one of “How do we fight against a powerful system that whose existence hinges on our continued domination and disorganization?”

Let’s be honest about this issue, it is difficult to have a logical and productive argument that refutes a historical record that proves that the path to liberation for recent arrivals to this nation has been Nationalism. One of the most maddening aspects of Black America’s oppression is that the path to immediately ceasing our exploitation has been shared by a series of black leaders/prophets who have repeatedly taught that the only path to liberation is Black Nationalism.

Unfortunately for Black America, the introduction of Black Nationalism causes significant trepidations to arise in the souls of African-Americans. Experience has taught me that very few of our people understand what is meant by Black Nationalism. It is for this reason that we must teach our people that Black Nationalism is actually a very simple and logical concept. Brother Malcolm X termed Black Nationalism in the following manner. “The black man should be in charge of the economics, education, politics, and politicians that represent his community.”

It is the time that we focus our energies educating our people about politico-economic matters that promise extended rewards and benefits. For example, it is imperative that we demystify Nationalism and explain to our people that other groups have shown an amazing discipline in silently executing their nationalist plans. Consider for a moment that most large American cities have a China Town, Little Italy, German Village, Korea Town, and the list goes on and on. These are expressions of Nationalism by groups that understand that there is strength in numbers, meaning they pool and circulate their dollars, educate their own with a relevant education designed to increase their power, and grow their own politicians who do not forget for a single moment who put them into their political position and who holds the power to remove them at a moments notice.

At this moment, I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s poignant book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? for the following reason. We need to start this process of uplifting Black America somewhere.

From my perspective, everything hinges on education. It is only via a relevant education that is designed by those seeking to uplift Black America that we will be able to prevent the future development of African-Americans who have such little understanding of Race and the politico-economic collectivism needed to uplift the community. It is only ignorance regarding substantive politico-economic that explains such populations refusal to realize that white ethnic groups have used these means to uplift their kind while taking an oppositional position to similar efforts within their own community.

We can talk about many things surrounding our people, however, no real viable solutions will be offered, let alone attained, until we decide to illuminate our minds regarding the path we have traveled, the present situation that we are in, and the glorious possibilities for black liberation.

Happy New Year, Y’all. Let’s get busy with a relevant education that allows us to develop concrete plans that once executed will lead to the black man and woman “being in charge of the economics, education, politics, and politicians that represent his community.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2018

The Umar Johnson Chronicles: Why The Most Recent Battle among Black Leaders is a New Low for the Conscious Community

Could it be that it is our existence in a society where every moment can be recorded and distributed around the globe with the push of a button that explains the latest “Umar Johnson chronicle?” Consider for a moment that at the present moment, the fermentation process of a “beef” is a simple formula of harsh words + cell phone + internet access. Unfortunately for Black America, this recipe for voluminous discord among self-proclaimed “black leaders” requires minimal thinking and effort.

One needs to look no further than Umar Johnson to discover the process self-proclaimed leaders take to distract their followers from substantive issues in favor of reality television like silliness and banter.

Although it may shock many of our people, public feuds between “black leaders” neither began nor will it end with Umar Johnson. In fact, a cursory examination of the storied history of Black America reveals a series of conflicts extending well over a decade. Consider the following public feuds between notable black figures and organizations as evidence for the above assertion.

  • Booker T. Washington vs. W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Booker T. Washington vs. William Monroe Trotter
  • E.B. Du Bois vs. Marcus Garvey
  • Elijah Muhammad vs. Malcolm X
  • Malcolm X vs. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Stokely Carmichael
  • SCLC vs. SNCC
  • Philip Randolph vs. John Lewis
  • Huey P. Newton vs. Maulana Karenga
  • BPP vs. US
  • Fred Hampton vs. Jeff Fort

Unfortunately for Black America, the above list is far from exhaustive. However, I believe that my larger point that black leaders have always battled each other for the right to guide their people toward the ultimate goal of liberation via a host of programs and strategies has been proven.

Yesterday, Washington and Du Bois bickered over the path to black liberation, today we have what can only be termed the “Umar Johnson chronicles.” Put simply, the “Umar Johnson chronicles” are a sad saga with predictable twists-and-turns and a host of characters that Johnson calls on during moments when the glaring spotlight that has been focused on him appears to dim. In many ways, this series that follows a charismatic, yet woefully flawed anti-hero always ends with Umar surviving to cause discord another day like a modern-day Afrocentric Brer Rabbit.

As with most silly things of little worth, the “Umar Johnson chronicles” not only mesmerizes a largely uneducated segment of Black America as episodes of Love & Hip-Hop but also has led them to literally cheer and root for Umar Johnson as if he is a sports franchise. The alluded to figures mistakenly believe that every episode of the “Umar Johnson chronicles” holds the same significance as substantive disagreements between authentic black leaders such as Malcolm X and Dr. King or Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Du Bois. The “Umar Johnson chronicles” remind one of a poorly written one-man stage play that although entertaining to adoring audience members, fails to convey a single substantive message.

Despite what can only be termed a natural impulse of marginally educated portions of our community and vowed opponents to grasp the most salacious events that occur in Black America and use them as an accurate barometer of who we are as a people, the truth of the matter is that few of the figures involved in the “Umar Johnson chronicles” have a legitimate claim to black leadership. Generally speaking, I have found the list of characters to be charismatic, yet poorly read, devoid of an executable plan, reactionary, totally reliant on phrase-mongering, and what Huey P. Newton would term counter-revolutionary in their understanding of the multi-faceted issues and dilemmas facing our people.

If anything, Umar Johnson’s rise and longevity, as well as the other savvy social media stars masquerading as “black leaders” proves is that a significant segment of Black America is desperate in their desires and the means that they are willing to take to alter the plight of black folk. In many ways, “it is the best of times (meaning our people are fervently desiring an opportunity to uplift the masses of our people) and the worst of times (technology has made the path to prominence for charismatic leaders with no real plan or commitment to our people far too easy)” for the movement.

As previously mentioned, public disputes among black leaders is nothing new, in many ways debate is a necessary part of political maturity and the dawning of economic savvy for any population. However, that is not what is occurring in the “Umar Johnson chronicles.”

It is hard to argue against the assertion that the repeated pissing contests between a host of tragic characters are counter-revolutionary. When considering these moments, my mind reverted to a long-ago conflict that occurred among Civil Rights luminaries. The alluded to discord occurred between the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy (Dr. King’s right-hand man) and the legendary organizer Ella Baker. After watching King and Abernathy address an audience of Civil Rights workers in a manner that clearly displayed that they were seeking to see who could work those in attendance into a more frenzied state with their copious amounts of rhetorical wizardry, an angered Ella Baker hurled the following accusations at King and Abernathy. “What is this? A sophomoric oratorical contest? We have the lives of our people on the line at this very moment and you go before the people and do this!!!!” I fear that not even Ella Baker would be heard by either Umar Johnson or his shifting cast of characters, over the raucous laughter and adulation that their cult-like followers bestow on them at every opportunity.

Once again, this most recent battle between self-proclaimed leaders is nothing new, however, it is undoubtedly the most shameful moment in the history of black leadership.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Foolish Floyd Denounces the Boycott Christmas Movement

As I took my seat across from Floyd in the always busy and bustling Frenchy’s Chicken restaurant, I innately sensed that Floyd was ‘chomping at the bit’ in regards to beginning what invariably would denigrate into a verbal battle over a yet to be determined topic. Although at times like this, I would have appreciated good ol’ fashion fellowship and brotherhood building, I had dealt with Floyd B. Foolish long enough to know that any discussion that we engaged in would eventually turn into a debate that he would attempt to win through attrition, not logic. Put simply, Floyd had an uncanny ability to wear me down with his voluminous illogical views of racial matters that were in many ways like an unrestrained raging bull that held the potential to attack anyone in its vicinity. When Floyd began one of his diatribes, no one, and I do mean no one, was safe.

By the time that I reached our agreed upon location that defiantly stood as a pillar of the community that separated, with the assistance of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Texas Southern University, a Historically Black University, from the predominantly white University of Houston. However, one only needed to step inside of Frenchys to discern which population supported this culinary institute as nearly one-hundred percent of the patrons were African-American. In many ways, the University of Houston with its hulking structures was the intruder in this area.

I did not even look to see if Floyd was sitting at one of the picnic tables that serve as the sitting area at this Frenchy’s location, I had more pressing matters at hand. At the top of that list of priorities was a gnawing hunger that I think my stomach and I agreed could only be addressed by “the King special.” On the ride to Frenchy’s Chicken, I worked myself into a devout belief that I deserved, not necessarily needed, the King Special. For $9.99 the King Special included 3 Wings, 2 Pieces of Dark Chicken, and a choice of either Dirty Rice or Fries, of course, I added a drink to wash it all down.

After placing my order with one of the most country sounding, yet overly hospitable, young ladies I had ever met, I waited a few seconds and my much beloved King Special was placed in front of me. As I turned to find a seat, there was Floyd’s bald-headed self vigorously waving his hand in a desperate attempt to get my attention. I believe that Floyd thought that I would use any opportunity to avoid his company, a statement that was neither totally true nor totally false. There was no doubt that we had fallen into a classic ‘love/hate’ relationship.

I approached the picnic table where Floyd sat with several other patrons and received my initial sign that I should be prepared for a particularly contemptuous debate as Floyd began his ghetto soliloquy prior to my sitting down.

A smiling Floyd shared the following. “We all saw you on television.” His words were matched by his spreading his arms to include the entire table of diners, none of which I had ever met.

And all that I can say is that you and the rest of those Black Power niggas are nuts!!! Do you really believe that Black people who love Jesus more than anything in the world would boycott Christmas?” Floyd took his voice up several octaves to accentuate his point. “Boycott Christmas??? You niggas are crazy as cat shit.

After hearing Floyd’s initial salvo which was his unique way of revealing the subject matter that we would be discussing today, every fiber of my body wanted to raise up from my seat and find another space to enjoy my King Special before I engaged Floyd and what appeared to be his gang of like believers. Apparently, Floyd knows me much better than I give him credit for as he admonished that I had “better not think about leaving this table because we need to talk about this mess right here.

It was then that I noticed that a few of the people at the table were in possession of the latest copy of an editorial I had written for a local black newspaper that was available throughout the black community for free, of course, it was available at Frenchy’s. And if these strangers assembled around the table had the latest issue of the paper, that most certainly meant that they had my latest editorial regarding the “Boycott Christmas movement” that I had already been attacked over by my Nationalist compatriots, most notably my beloved cousin Kareem Rawls. I was shocked that Kareem, and many others, were taken aback by even the title, Why the Boycott Christmas Movement is Destined for Failure.

WHY THE BOYCOTT CHRISTMAS MOVEMENT

IS DESTINED FOR FAILURE

We are approaching that magical time of year when Americans spend money that they do not have in an effort to shower their loved ones with gifts. As with most things, African-Americans have a peculiar relationship with Christmas. Many within our community not only embrace the occasion but also take every opportunity to joyously remind you that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, while others take an oppositional position that would make Ebenezer Scrooge blush.

Those who have politicized the Christmas season propagate their belief that African-Americans participation in the Holiday works against their best interests as it causes them to support the very people and system that has oppressed them for nearly 400 years.

I think that the calls for African-Americans to abstain from Christmas are at their best foolhardy and unrealistic. Those segments of our community making this call are going to find themselves as frustrated this year as they have been in past years and are destined to be in the future. Dare I say that they are slightly crazy because they fail to understand that “If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.” In their case, they have received failure every year as droves of African-Americans spend their money Christmas shopping.

It is time for the Nationalist community that has repeatedly attempted to get African-Americans to stop supporting those who have not only worked to ensure but also profited from their marginal politico-economic status to abandon their current course that reminds one of Nancy Reagan’s infamous ‘Just Say No’ campaign.

A much more productive tactic is to instruct African-Americans what they should say yes to. Considering that the ultimate goal of Black Nationalists economic plan is to circulate the Black dollar within the African-American community, a much more productive tactic is to propose a 1-to-1 ratio, heck even a 10-to-1 ratio would be an improvement in regards to the monies Blacks spend outside and inside of the community. Put simply, maybe we should consider a campaign prodding those who are bound to extend the tradition of spending truckloads of money this coming Christmas to spend a portion of those dollars within the African-American community. A call could be made that requests that for every $10 African-Americans spend with businesses outside of the community that they voluntarily spend $1 with a black business.

Now I am certain that many are aiming for a total boycott of Christmas and there is no doubt that they have valid points, however, at this moment such a staunch stance is going to result in continual failure. Many African-Americans are either unaware of or paying little attention to their demand. The only way of salvaging the spirit behind the Boycott Christmas movement is to approach it via a milder form that encourages those who are spending their monies this holiday season to make a concerted effort to circulate a few of those dollars among their own.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.      

© Manhood, Race, and Culture

Although I was looking directly at Floyd when I related that I stood by each and every word of my editorial, that statement was intended for any and everyone seated at the table, particularly those who had taken issue with my argument that the ‘Boycott Christmas’ movement was bound to fail because it was too extreme. I believed that we needed a much milder approach that would usher our people toward a routine of patronizing Black businesses during the holiday season; it would be a start that could quickly turn into a tradition.

When I first approached the table, Floyd had intentionally given me the impression that those assembled around the table were associated with him in some way, shape, form or fashion; nothing could have been further from the truth. My assumption, that Floyd strategically led me towards, was horribly wrong as the people assembled around this table were not allies of Floyd, rather regular diners who happened upon one of our weekly debates/arguments. To my delight, these people were total strangers to Floyd and most likely rational in their thought patterns, at least I hoped so. Lord, knows that I could only deal with one ‘Foolish Floyd’ at a time.

The first hint that the eight or so individuals assembled around the picnic table were not supportive of Floyd’s peculiar brand of political illogic, came from a gentleman decked out in what amounted to a handyman’s uniform. This brother whose age I would estimate to be around fifty eagerly jumped in with a verbal flurry that quickly related his belief that my position was flawed because it did not give the African-American community its due respect.

Brother let me ask you one important question. Why should we not totally boycott the Christmas season? Not the parts that deal with our family’s gathering together and whatnot, however, it is time that each member of the Black community, our community, do their part to uplift the masses. When you really think about it, we are not asking for much by requesting that they not purchase goods this Christmas season. You can achieve that goal by simply sleeping every day; it is not the most intensive request. Especially for a people whose ancestors were enslaved and forced to work from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night.” It did not take me long to realize that this brother’s position, although somewhat critical of my relatively mild plan, was totally critical of Floyd’s non-sense. I giggled internally as it dawned on me that this brother was on the verge of learning why any discussion with Floyd held the potential for unrestrained violence.

Floyd enthusiastically jumped in with a boisterous assertion aimed at the working man that “Now this is something that I don’t get to say very often, but man you’re crazier than this fool right here. Why should we have to miss out on all of those gifts and showing those that we love how we feel about them? You can rest assured that I have and will be buying plenty of gifts for my lady friends. They love receiving gifts.” With a sly look on his face, Floyd shared that “After they get their gifts, then they give me my gift; if you get my drift.

At this moment, one of the ladies sitting around the table, whose diction and word choice immediately indicated that she was most definitely an educated sister directed her commentary toward Floyd, “But brother don’t you realize that by purchasing gifts from the very people who will not hire you, or anyone who looks like you, amounts to nothing other than damaging the Black community to the benefit of others who will take those black dollars and build up their own communities. We’ve seen the whites do it, the Asians do it, the East Indians, the Arabs, and only the Lord know who will be the next group to build their community off our backs.” I simply sat back and let the sister have an unencumbered shot at Mr. Popular. “Brother Malcolm once stated that we run our neighborhoods down when we allow others to come into our midst and take our financial resources. And he was absolutely correct!

Never daunted by any argument, regardless of its soundness, Floyd quickly responded with a rhetorical question that called upon him to overemphasize his southern-drawl. “But aren’t we Americans and therefore free to participate in whatever holiday we desire and also free to spend our hard-earned money on whatever, whenever we want to. You Negroes are the only ones in this nation always talking about boycotting this and that to get your way. No other group, not the whites, Asians, Irish, Russians, Polish, or Germans ever calls for a boycott of another group.

Feeling as if my head was about to implode from Floyd’s asinine political observation, I hurriedly stated, “Others don’t have to issue boycotts within their communities because through economic solidarity they ensure that every business in their neighborhoods is owned and controlled by their own.

It was during this moment that I decided to direct a simple question at Floyd. “When was the last time that you saw a black-owned Bar-be-cue restaurant in a white community? I’ll answer that for you!!!! You have never seen such a thing. However, it is common to see Chinese, Japanese, and Italian restaurants serve as fixtures within any African-American neighborhood that you visit across this vast nation.

A beautiful mocha colored young lady joined in the conversation and asked Floyd, “Not only that but when will the time be correct for our people to start their own businesses and for the community to seriously support their efforts? What is the Black community’s rock-bottom? We are already beggars in regards to the white man and employment.” She continued her attack upon Floyd with the admonishment that “We are darn near parasitic in regards to other races. We live off of the job opportunities that they begrudgingly gift to us. Can’t we get milk from a cow like the white man? Can’t we develop our own technology that the world could benefit from? Or are we truly inferior as others have so often charged?

Apparently, this young lady’s commentary set Floyd off as he flew into a furious rant that contested her final point, “are we inferior to others?!

Floyd angrily chimed in, “Inferior? Inferior to the white man? Although I would never attempt to speak for anyone else, I am most certainly not inferior to anyone. I choose to do what I want to do and when I want to do it. I am a free man who makes his own choices.

To my surprise, Floyd’s aggressive tone did not send the young lady into retreat; in fact, she went on a more vociferous attack. “Now you say that you make your own choices, however, you can’t manage to make the best choice for not only you but also your people. The choice of either supporting a total Blackout of Christmas and supporting those who raid our communities financially or concerted efforts to include African-American businesses during this year’s buying season should be an obvious choice to an independent thinking man as you claim to be. If you cannot bring yourself to make the obvious choice to support Black businesses in the Black community, you are either an imbecile or a traitor to your own kind. The equivalent of an economic suicide bomber within the Black community, however, you shouldn’t worry too much about it because you have a bunch of company.

I did my absolute best to conceal the absolute glee that I was experiencing at this moment; this discussion had most certainly not turned out the way that Floyd anticipated. He absolutely refused to believe that his backward thinking was in many ways an anomaly among African-Americans, particularly if they were educated, progressive-minded and forward thinking. Although Floyd would never agree with this assertion, the truth of the matter is that African-Americans have been, and always will be, inextricably linked together.

After being berated and intellectually destroyed by this young lady, I expected Floyd to remain silent. Unfortunately for everyone assembled around the table, Floyd’s silence lasted all of five seconds. It was at that moment Floyd rose from his seat, closed the styrofoam container holding his remaining pieces of chicken, and summarily told the entire table, “Ho! Ho! Ho! Y’all can all, kiss my Black ass.”

The entire assembly of strangers burst into raucous laughter.

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.

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