Tag Archives: Angela Davis

How Cam Newton’s Black Power Salute Exposes How Little We Know About the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

One of the most unfortunate by-products of being an African-American Studies Professor is that it seemingly invites a vast array of individuals with varying levels of historical knowledge to discuss various Race matters with you. Far too often, I find myself at the center of what evolves into contentious debates that would not be an issue at all if my challengers had any understanding of African-American history. The most recent incident occurred in the wake of Cam Newton raising a “Black Power fist” that reminds one of the mid-sixties Black Power Era.

The alluded to individual was exhilarated by Newton’s gesture; however, that euphoria dissipated when Newton later expounded on why he made the polarizing gesture. According to Newton,

The message is unity for me, black, white, different minorities around America. That’s my message. I want everybody to come together. We get nowhere separated. People feeling oppressed and people that are rich looking down on other people, you don’t get nowhere with that. We all are created equal. We need to find some kind of way to come together to make the situation better. Because where we’re going now, it’s not healthy at all.

It would not be an overstatement to state that the so-called “conscious” brother mentioned above was disgusted with what he considered Newton’s failure to stand firm for the Race. The referenced disgust was verbalized via derogatory name-calling.

As I expected, this “conscious” brother turned his attention toward me. Let me first say that I routinely avoid such engagements as those seeking my perspective have already made their minds up regarding the incident. I have found that the most unproductive discussions that I have had regarding racial matters involved individuals seeking to claim the vacated mantle of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

Trust me when I say that the vast majority of people who aspire to replicate legendary Black Power Era figures of yesteryear — Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, and Fred Hampton — know little about the ideological underpinnings that supported their revolutionary platforms. Instead of studying the revolutionary polemics of such individuals that highlight the impact that Capitalism has had on race, class, and gender within Black America, they rely on a menagerie of innuendo, rumor, and Youtube videos that produce little more than sophomoric “hate whitey” phrase-mongering.

It is this understanding that the individual that was seeking to engage me regarding Cam Newton’s “Black Power fist” gesture knew little about Panther ideology that led me to avoid what was destined to be a significant debate regarding the matter. Prior discussions had already taught me that such individuals have no comprehension that the Black Panther Party was able to be pro-black without being anti-white, particularly when it came to poor and working-class whites who were being exploited by Capitalism.

If those seeking to claim the Vanguard position of the African-American Freedom Struggle and walk in the steps of the Huey P. Newton led Black Panther Party had a real understanding of Panther ideology, they would have embraced Cam Newton’s insinuation that this nation needs a “rainbow coalition” of activists to address persisting socioeconomic equalities throughout the entire nation and recognized that at that very moment Newton was channeling the spirit of Fred Hampton. It was the Chairman of the Chicago branch of the Black Panther Party that initially used the phraseology of a “rainbow coalition” well before Jesse Jackson stole the term. If they cared to study, aspiring Panthers would understand that Hampton’s call for “Black Power for black people, White Power for white people, Brown Power for brown people, Red Power for red people, and Yellow Power for yellow people” was not a betrayal of the Race, rather a clear sign of political sophistication that eludes contemporary black leaders and theoreticians.

A figure such as Cam Newton should be applauded for his statement as it signals an uncanny understanding that it is Capitalism that we must fight against, not white people in general. It is the study of relevant materials that is most sorely needed in today’s black freedom movement and not a fixation on iconic images such as Panthers carrying guns and Angela Davis’ Afro. Until this latest generation of black freedom fighters realize that it is Capitalism, not White America that is the true enemy of our people, we will continue being busy and achieving very little as we continue our grandest tradition of failing to understand that it is the destruction of exploitive Capitalism that is the actual goal and not the overthrow of the prevailing racial order so that Black America could have her vengeance in oppressing those that have exploited her for so very long.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Bravo Bethune-Cookman Graduates: Why Black America Must Acknowledge the Protest of Betsy Devos’ Commencement Address

I must be honest and say that I realize that the disapproving gaze that I cast upon this latest generation of African-American collegians is closely tied to my getting older and hopefully a bit wiser. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see the path to black liberation clearer than I did a decade ago.

Unfortunately for my sanity, it is experience gained through an often emotionally difficult trial-and-error process that has endowed me with this pristine view of American racial matters and an accessible path to “the liberation and salvation of the black nation.” Predictably, the latest cadre of African-American collegians who have not traveled this path has a much cloudier and less focused view of the issues and maladies facing our community. I feel comfortable in saying that this unfortunate reality of our students not “getting it” is the bane of more than a few African-American professors existence. The recent events at the venerable Bethune-Cookman University have once again caused me to pause my often harsh criticism of this latest generation of African-American collegians.

In case you missed it, for some inexplicable reason Bethune-Cookman University President Edison Jackson provided U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos the esteemed honor of delivering the 2017 commencement address. To President Jackson’s horror, the graduating seniors, buoyed by a wide-array of alumni who disapproved of DeVos’ selection as commencement speaker, not only shouted “Liar!” toward the Secretary of Education but also stood and turned their backs as she delivered her address.

As a frequent critic of young black collegians, I must publicly state that I have never been prouder of our young people than at this moment. Via their beautifully timed public protest, the recent graduates of Bethune-Cookman University have displayed courage not seen within the African-American Freedom Struggle since Angela Davis battled the state of California or Assata Shakur escaped the clutches of America and found refuge in Cuba. I pray that the courage to “speak truth to power” regardless of the setting displayed by the Bethune-Cookman graduates becomes the latest “trend” among African-American collegians.

So I take this moment to publicly applaud you for your political astuteness and courage to send a resounding message regarding what is not permissible in our centers of higher education. I now hope that more will follow your lead.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III


“The most disrespected person in America

is the Black woman, the most unprotected

person in America is the Black woman.

The most neglected person in America

is the Black woman.”

—– Malcolm X —–


Let’s face facts! For the majority of the nation, including a good portion of our own community, they are TOO Black, TOO Loud, TOO Lascivious, and TOO Ignorant to be cared about. A slanted reading of History tells their tale of being little more than a big butt or someone to visit when you want some wild bestial sexual escapade; they are best represented by the personas of video vixens that are created in the patriarchal imagination of some cinematographer. Many women come to mind, women such as: Karrine “Superhead” Steffans, Amber Rose, Esther Baxter, Keyshia Dior, Melyssa Ford, Black Chyna and Draya Michele.

I speak of the Black woman, a group that regardless of their individual academic or vixen3professional accomplishments are never viewed as ‘anything’ higher than an exotic animal with a big butt; unfortunately, too many of their own, meaning African-American men also view them in this unfavorable light.

I can think of no other logical reason that Black America has ignored the trial of Daniel Holtzclaw.

I must admit that I was also unaware of who Daniel Holtzclaw, 28, was until I viewed some random news show such as 60 Minutes or 20/20. I was shocked to learn that Hotzclaw, a law enforcement officer and former collegiate football player with serious aspirations of making it to the National Football League, had raped and/or sodomized thirteen Oklahoma holtzclaw1City African-American women while patrolling the African-American community in the period between February – June 2014. Holtzclaw is currently facing 36 counts of rape, sexual battery, and forcible oral sodomy of 13 Black women whose ages range from 17 to 54.

One would think that such activities from a law enforcement officer who is supposed to “Serve & Protect” law-abiding citizens would be the lead story for months; particularly during this moment where officers’ authority is scrutinized on a daily basis. However, there was nary a peep regarding Holtzclaw’s activities from anyone other than the victims, many of whom were hesitant to come forward.

Although it is difficult to admit, Black America, including African-American women, has quite simply been too busy with other pressing racial matters — Ferguson, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Mizzou, Bill Cosby — to pay much attention to a serial rapist who victimized droves of African-American women.

As they have been known to do, African-American women apparently made the conscious decision to place their victimization on the back-burner and busied themselves protecting and uplifting their men and their beloved community. One of the greatest examples of such is the post-slavery decision to make lynching, instead of the more common rape/sexual assault that African-American women were subjected to, the single-greatest issue facing Blacks in the late-19th Century and early 20th Century.

African-American women have commonly operated from a logical perspective that if the lot of Black men improved, then they would also be taken care of. Unfortunately for African-American women, this expected reciprocity remains undelivered to this very day. Many African-American men behave as if their ‘sisters’ are little more than a survival tool that can be used when needed and discarded when of no longer utility.

In light of this dubious history, it is unsurprising that the African-American community, including self-sacrificing Black holtzclawwomen, have no idea of who Daniel Holtzclaw is, let alone the horrific crimes he committed. There have been no hashtags, social media campaigns, or columns written to propagate this matter. We, meaning the entire African-American community, have remained silent.

Make no mistake about it, this silence is derived from the fact that we, meaning every segment of the African-American community, do not cherish and value Black women the Assataway that we should. Although we know that they are our mother’s, sisters, aunt’s, girlfriends, daughters, and wives, it appears that for a wide-swath of Black males they have come to believe that Karrine ‘Superhead’ Steffans is a more apt representation of the Black woman than Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, or Assata Shakur.

Although the current climate of activism that we see occurring in the African-American community is long overdue, there is a tendency to focus upon certain types of injustice over others. Unfortunately for African-American women, it appears that they are once again at the back of the bus when it comes to our community rallying around issues affecting them and as they have been known to do, they suffer in silence and take one for the team. It appears that the only exception to this rule is if an African-American woman has been killed by a law enforcement officer who happens to be white.

I intuitively desire to resist Malcolm X’s admonishment that “the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” However, I can not truthfully say that there is a major part of me that knows he is speaking the unadulterated truth. And for that, I am ashamed of the Black men who have consciously chosen to continue one of our communities most unfortunate traditions, the denigration and disrespect of our mother’s, sisters, aunt’s, girlfriends, daughters, and wives.

James Thomas Jones III



NO!!!! ASSATA IS NOT TUPAC’S MOM: Yet Another Example of How the American Educational System Fails Our People

During the initial lecture that I deliver to my freshman survey course, although intended for freshmen there are invariably upperclassmen enrolled who have put off taking their mandatory history requirements until the end of their undergraduate experience, I purposely attempt to not only pique their interest in the subject, particularly as most people dread History, but also to gauge their historical knowledge. This little exercise allows me to gauge where the gaps in knowledge are that besiege this Eldridgelatest crop of African-American students. By the time, I reach the Black Power Era, I can see in their faces that they are overwhelmed by the topics that I am going to cover during this semester and many of them are more than likely seeking some type of escape, physical or technological, from the room.

When I enter my overview of the volatile 1960s and turn my focus to the “Black radicalism” that was a trademark of the period, I make it a point to touch upon several of the notable figures in the Huey and Bobbymovement. I ask the students if they know any of the following figures. Huey P. Newton? Eldridge Cleaver? George Jackson? Fred Hampton? It is not until I say, Assata Shakur that a few hands jet into the sky eager to answer the question; it is as if they have been waiting for this moment to show that they do know something about African-American history. In a scene that makes me feel as if I am living the same day over and assata 2over again, I watch some non-descript student announce to the class, “Assata Shakur is Tupac Shakur’s momma.” I just shake my head no. They have confused their Shakur’s, Afeni is Tupac’s mother, Assata is a Black Revolutionary exiled in Cuba.

This situation has occurred so frequently that it has caused me to ponder exactly what does it mean that this latest generation of learners has absolutely no idea who Assata Shakur is. It means that the current educational system leaves much to be desired in regards to teaching our children anything about African-American history or culture; let alone a significant class of revolutionary figures that have resisted Assatawhite world supremacy at every turn: David Walker, Bishop Henry McNeil Turner, Absalom Jones, Frederick Douglass, Maria Stewart, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Karl Hampton, Fred Hampton, and the list goes on and on.

My repeated experience of engaging students who absolutely no idea of whom the aforementioned revolutionary figures are leads me to one conclusion, the current educational system has very little, if any, intrinsic worth for Black lives. It is in many aspects, completely irrelevant.

Make no mistake about it, the process of inquiry, learning, intellectual curiosity, and learning are critical to the development of self-identity, politicization, and the Assata 3generation of priorities: social, political, and economic. It is this realization that forces me to use Assata Shakur’s story, Assata, in my courses to this day. Assata is a classic example of someone who has not only resisted oppression, but also been forced to pay a hefty price for her commitment to the liberation of Black people around the globe; she is currently exiled in Cuba.

The question that I have wrestled with in regards to not only Assata, but also the litany of other Black revolutionaries who white school systems have purposely refused to integrate into an irrelevant curriculum is quite simply who will teach our people, adults and children, about the alluded to figures if the teachers are not sharing this information; I honestly doubt if even a small percentage of teachers, regardless of race, know much about Black history, let alone Black revolutionaries.

So the question remains, who will teach our people about Assata Shakur? The only reasonable answer to such a query is that we must commit ourselves to developing our own independent educational entity that supplement today’s largely ineffective school system, particularly when it is measured by the teaching of anything positive about African-Americans past, present, or future.

I believe that it is time for our people to begin serious Saturday Schools aimed at uplifting the mentality of our entire community and pointing them toward a path that leads to the liberation and salvation of the Black nation. The only other choice is to continue to be exploited economically, remain politically inefficient, and ostracized socially; a place that we have occupied for far too long.

James Thomas Jones III