Tag Archives: Black History Month

A TALE OF TWO MEN: THE DIFFERING VIEWS OF DONALD TRUMP AND GREG POPOVICH ON AMERICAN RACIAL MATTERS

I must tell you that I have always shied away from blanket statements that indict an entire race as being monolithic and therefore possessing some draconian view of African-Americans or racial matters. Life has taught me that there is a wide-range of experiences that goes into forming what we believe, what we “know”, and who we become as adults.

The above realizations serve as constant reminders that not only do I as an individual have an opportunity to choose what I will and will not believe, others have the same decisions to make in their lives. It is this reasoning that facilitates my understanding of the irreconcilable positions of President Donald Trump and San Antonio Spur basketball icon Greg Popovich.

I am certain that you have heard Donald Trump’s incoherent ramblings regarding Black History Month. The alluded to moment will go down in history as definitive proof that America’s new President knows absolutely nothing about Black America as he insinuated that the great Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895, was still in the land of the living. Despite the protestations of supporters, the Commander in Chief is indicative of what occurs when privileged Americans exist within a bubble that shields them from the many challenges and issues facing non-elite Americans.

Fortunately for this nation, there is a sizable population of whites whose experiences have led to a much more illuminated understanding of American racial dynamics. San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich has repeatedly proven to possess a quite impressive understanding of American race relations. During a recent interview session, Popovich offered the following words of wisdom regarding America’s most significant social cancer.

But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it {racism}, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with ‘I’m tired of talking about that’ or ‘Do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is, you’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity, it’s not about ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American Dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash.

If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, or a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education — we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.

In many ways, it is astounding that Trump and Popovich were raised in the same nation. However, it is this diversity in thought that provides definitive proof that all is not lost in regards to having honest discussions regarding American race relations or the securing of some level of racial justice. If only we were able to arrange for the development of more Greg Popovich’s the world would be a far more enlightened place.

At least it is something to hope for.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

What President Donald Trump’s Belief that Frederick Douglass is Still Alive Reveals About the American Educational System

There is a wise saying that says; it is “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” I am always amazed when people possessing enough power and resources to have a cadre of individuals around them make avoidable missteps in public. Unfortunately, I was not surprised when America’s Commander in Chief, Donald Trump, made an inexcusable intellectual stumble.
Just in case you missed it, this is what occurred during a recent Black History Month celebration. America’s ‘can’t get right’ President attempted to once again prove to Black America that he is on their side by delivering a Black History Month speech that included him reading a list of African-American heroes from a sheet of paper.
Now I am confident that you are wondering what could go wrong with the reading of a list of names from a prepared speech. Unfortunately for Donald Trump, he apparently became too comfortable and unwisely choose to insert impromptu comments regarding these esteemed individuals. During this rather awkward moment, President Trump began discussing Frederick Douglass, this nation’s greatest Abolitionist voice. Of course, there is nothing wrong with President Trump speaking about such an esteemed American historical figure. However, Trump’s remarks regarding Douglass were spoken in the present tense as if he believed that the famed Abolitionist was still in the land of the living. It was evident that the Commander in Chief had no clue whatsoever that Douglass died February 20, 1895. Hilariously, Trump made it seem as if Douglass would be leading the next Million Man March.
On the surface, this public misstep is little more than a representation that President Trump knows absolutely nothing about African-Americans or their protracted struggle for politico-economic liberation in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. From a deeper view, Trump’s ignorance of African-American History, albeit we will remember this moment of ineptitude forever, places the spotlight on an American educational system filled with persons who know as little as Trump does about the African-American experience. Unfortunately, African-Americans from every walk of life, including educators, are included in the population mentioned above.
I previously used this space to tell a humorous story regarding a discussion among a group of African-Americans, each possessing a Ph.D., who wanted to bring in Richard Wright to deliver our keynote address for Black History Month in honor the 65th Anniversary of his epic tome, Black Boy. Although I was stunned that such ‘learned’ individuals had no idea that Richard Wright died fifty years prior, I did my best to hold in my laughter as these people pledged thousands of dollars to a pot with the intention of bringing the noted author to our campus. It was at this moment that I asked a member of the committee, who was also a Reverend, the following question.
“Do you speak to God on the regular?”
He responded, “Absolutely Brother Jones, is there a lamentation that you wish for me to deliver to the Lord?”
“Nah, I’m good on that front. However, there is one thing that you are going to have to do. Now he is still in the miracle business isn’t he?”
He nodded his head.
“Well, tonight when you talk to God, please tell him that he is going to have to reach into his old bag of tricks and breathe life back into Richard Wright as he did with Lazarus. And while he’s at, have him bring Malcolm and Martin back as well. Richard Wright has been dead since 1960. When was the last time you saw him on television? What was the last Richard Wright book that you read?”
Obviously, those ‘educated’ people around me had not only never read a Richard Wright book, but also had no idea of who he was or what he accomplished during his life.
Despite our hesitation to admit it, the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of our people emanate from the same educational system that produced our genius of a President. And without a serious infusion of “blackness” into our personal educational curriculum, we will be just as ignorant as our Commander in Chief regarding matters affecting our people.
I hope that we can agree that being ignorant is one thing, however, being “Trump dumb” is inexcusable, particularly when it comes to African-Americans. I hope that we each use this year’s Black History Month as an opportunity to not only raise our consciousness but also apply that knowledge toward the uplift of our community “By Any Means Necessary.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

The Reason Black History Month is in February

I must relate that I once heard a comedian say during one of his comedy routine, “white folk we are hip to your game, giving us February for Black History Month, the shortest month of the year. Carter G Woodson 1I’m hip to your game.” Although the attentive audience laughed uproariously at the joke, I could only shake my head at the reality that very few people, regardless of race actually understand why Carter G. Woodson chose the month of February to begin Black History Month; it was actually a very strategic decision made to increase the chances that a celebration of Black History would not be a fleeting occurrence.

Carter G. Woodson, the individual who wrote the classic history manuscript, The Mis-Education of the Negro (if you have never read it, you should) displayed the value that he associated with a Black History Week/Month when told an audience that “We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements.”

Woodson was no dummy; he realized that with the well-substantiated hatred routinely directed at African-Americans and erroneously held beliefs that their contributions to this nation were next to none getting the nation to adopt a celebration of Black History would be a difficult task. It was with this in mind that Carter G. Woodson chose to place Black History Week within the month of February.

February is the birth month of both Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and Frederick Douglass (14th) two of the central figures in the African-American narrative. Lincoln is of course remembered as ‘the Great Emancipator’ and Frederick Douglass is undoubtedly the most notable Black Abolitionist this nation has ever known.

Particularly important to why February was selected by Woodson is the fact that the nation already had celebrations in place that honored the fallen President’s birthday and African-Americans already had an existing tradition of celebrating Douglass as well.

Carter G. Woodson was well aware of the pre-existing celebrations and made the wise chose of building ‘Negro History Week’ around the aforementioned traditions that were already in existence. Put simply, Woodson had made the brilliant decision to prod Americans in the direction of embracing an extension of pre-existing celebrations that in one way or another celebrated ‘Negro History’ without attempting to forge a new tradition.

This is the reason that the month of February was selected for Black History Month.

James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016

#ManhoodRaceCulture

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

  • This piece is being issued in honor Douglass today as there is significant question regarding his actual date of birth. We are certain that it was in the month of February, so Happy Birthday Frederick Douglass all month long.

Fellow Citizens,

I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory….

…pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national wilmington 2independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him?…

…But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, Selma 3rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!…

…Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them…To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting.

America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to ferguson1perpetuate slavery the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just…

…What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the lynch5constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and lync1despotism of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival….

Frederick Douglass