Tag Archives: African-American Studies

“We Sick Boss?”: The Unfortunate Tendency of “Educated Blacks” to Value White Schools over H.B.C.U.’s

Considering that I am approaching the half-century mark, I hope that most people understand that there are some viewpoints that I will never abandon. And when I say that I will NEVER abandon them, I mean it. In regards to many of these issues, I cannot envision a scenario where my perspective will ever change on substantive matters such as how I measure professional success. Although I am aware that many consider my refusal to budge a character flaw commonly referred to as stubbornness; I consider it a sign of integrity.

The above topic of how I measure professional success served as the battleground for a contentious battle between myself and a former collegiate classmate. Although we are both African-American Studies Professors, our viewpoints could not be more divergent.

As is our usual routine, a rather mundane discussion transformed into a significant disagreement regarding how professional success should be measured. This disagreement began the moment that I took significant issue with his belief that after toiling for years at a small religious-based black college his arrival at a “prestigious” white university signaled that he “had finally made it.”

I must tell you that my anger increased as this “brother” denigrated H.B.C.U.’s while lauding predominantly white institutions. To be honest, I felt as if I were stuck in the middle of an unaired episode of The Boondocks, I knew better. My mind could not resist bringing forth the imagery of Malcolm X who took those who believed that their decreasing proximity to whites was a valid measure of professional success to task via a crude historical analogy regarding a House Slave and a Field Slave. According to Malcolm, the House Slave loved his Master so much that if the Master got sick he would ask, “What’s wrong boss, we sick?” There is little doubt that my former collegiate classmate not only identifies with whites, but also has integrated their value system and priorities into his worldview. Put simply; they are his measuring stick.

This matter led me back to a quip that famed educator Jane Elliott articulated. “If you want to get ahead in America, act white.”

Despite my most fervent attempts, I have not been able to shake the conflict mentioned above as it reveals so much about a class of Black America who have been given significant opportunities, yet have failed to “stay the course” and work toward the liberation of those individuals and institutions that have yet to arrive. It is no stretch to assert that such individuals are of no utility whatsoever to the Black Community as they have been ‘brainwashed’ by an educational system and socialization process that will never cease its denigration of Black America.

What a waste of opportunity. They should be ashamed of themselves, however, such realizations escape them.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017

 

Working Against Their Own Liberation: Why So Many Negroes Are Fighting Against Much Needed African-American Studies Programs on Black College Campuses

One of the most unfortunate things that I have learned during my time in academia is that it is full of Negroes that are of no utility to the advancement of Black America. I am saddened to reveal that those ranks are increasing exponentially. Even more disconcerting is that they frequently possess sufficient power to retard the illumination of young minds.Trust me when I say that every educational institution has several of these individuals.

There is probably no greater example of this situation than the astounding number of African-American educators/administrators who not only find no usefulness for African-American Studies but have the audacity to resist the establishment of African-American/Africana Studies programs on their campuses. Considering that I possess two degrees in African-American Studies, you can imagine my shock when a top-ranking administrator, a Negro, posed the following question. “Who wants to study black folk? What kind of job can you get because you know about black folk?”

I am confident that you can imagine my utter shock to hear an individual placed in charge of an H.B.C.U. articulate such foolishness, my only response was to eye her curiously and risk my employment by retorting, “You’re stupid.” Unfortunately, that view of African-American Studies by “educated” black folk could be considered the standard position for many. There is little room to debate that such individuals lone priority are a selfish pursuit of financial gain “by any means necessary” including, but not limited to, ensuring that future generations of Black America will lack the knowledge and motivation to issue a significant challenge to their oppressors.

I have spent many a moment attempting to unravel how these seemingly sane black people come to possess viewpoints and priorities that oppose the liberation of their people.

I believe that the path to being what I affectionately term “white minded” begins with an idea instilled by parents/grandparents that blacks are to go off to school in a desperate pursuit of getting “one of them good jobs.” Unfortunately for so many within our ranks, this singular goal creates a daunting mindset that amounts to little more than, “what is the best path to securing material comforts in America?” Make no mistake about it, most of these individuals instinctively realize that the road to success is paved by their ability to pattern themselves after, behave, and think as the dominant group does. After all, who wants to be on the losing team when there are spots, even if they are reserve spots on the bench of a championship team.

This realization that the path to success is paved by one adopting the priorities and viewpoints of the dominant group is a natural by-product of attending white institutions, accepting their history, and making their political priorities the only reasonable choice. It is ironic that the more more degrees some Negroes earn, the less utility they have to the very people who supported them during that process. Although we fail to realize this reality, the vast majority of African-American academicians have left home in pursuit of an “education” in the same manner that their colonized African kin was forced to during the heights of the colonization of Africa. History tells us that neither of the above populations has ever understood that they were being shaped and molded to one day return home and lead their educational institutions to the benefit of whites.

Such individuals naively believe that they have are credits to their Race and now possess the mental acumen to return home and “show others the path to success.” Unfortunately for African-Americans interested in politico-economic independence, this so-called “Talented-Tenth” shun any thought of building independent black institutions. Their only goal, even if they are not conscious of it, is serving whites with the hope that they will receive some tangible reward for their “leadership and service.”

Make no mistake about it, these Negroes are not only in our midst at this present moment, but busy working against the best interests of our people. They are well aware that such actions are the most assured path to tangible rewards.

I am past believing that the problems that I have with the above population is attributable to a misunderstanding. There is no misunderstanding to be found with such individuals as they are clear on what their intentions are and to whom they serve. Instead of fashioning it as a misunderstanding, we need to repudiate these “gate-keepers” in the strongest terms possible. They are sworn enemies of the people, willing to sacrifice us all in their desperate and despicable attempt to curry favor within a system of white domination. Unfortunately, their commitment to retarding the illumination of young black minds would make even the most ardent white supremacist blush.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

WHY BLACK PROFESSORS DO WHAT THEY DO: HOW MY STUDENTS REMINDED EDDIE S. GLAUDE JR. ABOUT THE BEAUTY OF BEING A BLACK PROFESSOR ON AN HBCU CAMPUS

I remember the conversation with noted Princeton Scholar Eddie Glaude as if it occurred yesterday. In fact, I can tell you the exact date the interaction occurred; it was October 20, 2004. That date is so prominent in my mind for one simple reason; it was the night that the Boston Red Sox miraculously defeated my New York Yankees for the third time in as many games to snatch away what appeared to be a destined trip to the World Series.

Although I had never met Glaude, a Morehouse alum, before the moment that I picked him up from the airport and he excitedly asked, “So did we get them tonight?” I took for granted that Glaude was a eddie-glaude-3proud black man, meaning that he would never support a team such as the Boston Red Sox. However, I quickly learned the error in my thoughts moments after I sadly responded, “Nah, bruh. The Red Sox got us tonight.” To my utter disgust, Glaude began to kick his feet scream, holler, and pump his fist as if he had just won the lottery. It was at this moment that it dawned on me like a pile of bricks that Eddie Glaude was a damn Red Sox fan; my utter disgust did cause me to stop my car.

I will tell you this much, every fiber of my being wanted to excuse this ‘brother’ from my vehicle, however, I knew such an action would be extremely unwise as Glaude was in town at my request as a guest lecturer on the campus of Prairie View A & M University.

It was in the wake of Glaude unveiling his loyalty to the Red Sox that I decided several things regarding our time together: (a) I would not speak to this representative of Red Sox nation unless necessary, (b) I vowed not to abandon my commitment to the initial commitment.

It was he who broke the deafening silence between us with what I thought was a peculiar query of, “So, why have you remained at Prairie View? You have so many other places that you could go, why stay there?” Desperately attempting to honor my commitments mentioned above, I tersely responded, “It’s the student’s brother, the students.”

The subsequent deafening silence that filled my vehicle was not only appreciated. I enjoyed the deafening silence that emerged with this individual who had somehow morphed into a sworn enemy.

In time, I realized that Glaude was somewhat delighted to have an up close view of the pain that his Red Sox had done to the spirits of a Yankee fan. I also understood that it was his duty as a member of Red Sox nation to aggravate his rival with endless banter.

During Glaude’s banter, he shared that there were relatively few African-American students at Princeton University. There was eddie-glaudesomething in his voice that related a bit of disappointment at the absence of more African-Americans at his Ivy League institution. I am confident that African-American professors working at predominantly white colleges and universities eventually realize that the endless resources and opportunities that come with their association to such places come at the steep cost of not having many African-American students to absorb their genius. Many of these lily-white pillars of higher education have been by-passed by African-American collegians who are understandably seeking the social comfort of an HBCU. It was at this moment that I abandoned my petty pouting session regarding the Red Sox victory and decided to engage Glaude regarding this matter.

I remarked, “You know; earlier you asked ‘Why do you choose to stay at PV?’ I think that you will receive your answer once we get to campus.” From my perspective, Glaude needed a refresher regarding why African-American Professors working at HBCU’s do what they do; for the vast majority of us, it is akin to a religious calling. I hoped that his time on the PVAMU campus would remind him of his time as an undergraduate at Morehouse College.

I knew that Glaude was totally unaware that his arrival on the PVAMU campus was a highly anticipated event for the students who populated my five courses. When Glaude learned of my teaching load, he just shook his head in disbelief. I already knew that such duties were unheard of at Princeton. To my and my student’s delight, Glaude had agreed to lecture in one of my survey courses before his main presentation.

From what I learned via his writings and speaking with others, Glaude hailed from the same tradition that so many other African-Americanmelvin-tolson professors and I hailed. Put simply, we yielded to the call to teach and unintentionally took a vow of poverty for the higher purpose of serving our community as educators. Melvin B. Tolson, the character portrayed by Denzil Washington in The Great Debaters, provides an appropriate description of the duties of an African-American professor when he stated that he was “…here to help you to find, take back, and keep your righteous mind because obviously, you have lost it.”

I was excited that Glaude agreed to lecture in my class for a host of reasons, the most significant being that the student-body was so interested in African-American studies that we were forced to move my class to the largest auditorium on campus.

To Glaude’s shock and my delight, more than 900 students were in attendance. The assembled black and brown students were anxious melvin-tolson-1to hear the genius that this brother from Moss Point, Mississippi, would bestow upon them. If I could have captured the various facets of this moment, I would have and then used it to explain to all who asked me the annoying question of why do you work at an HBCU.

I was pleased, yet not surprised, when Glaude walked onto the stage, viewed this sea of black and brown students perched on the edge of their seats prepared to absorb his wisdom, paused and pointed in my direction before stating, “Dr. Jones, I get it. I understand why you have made a choice to remain here. Wow!!!!!!!”

Later in the day, Glaude revealed that his impromptu commentary flowed from a rush of emotions that resulted from seeing those attentive black and brown faces waiting to absorb his genius; I knew that the scene harkened his mind back to his time at Morehouse College.

Life has taught me that it is at moments such as this one that educators find the most significant and long-lasting reasons for choosing this line of work. The satisfaction of knowing that you have helped one of your own learn something that will aid not only them but also succeeding generations is immeasurable. And Lord knows that each succeeding generation will need individuals who will help them “…find, take back, and keep (their) righteous mind…because obviously (they) have lost it.”

It is on behalf of those educators who are positioned on the front lines of this never-ending battle against ignorance and not knowing that I am asking you to do something that will encourage this population of servants immeasurable. Contact your favorite teacher/professor and thank them for all that they did to help you realize that you desperately needed to reclaim your righteous mind, because even you realize that someway, somehow, you lost it somewhere in your life.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016