Tag Archives: Black Liberation

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.

WHY BLACK WOMEN MUST BE CAUTIOUS WHEN DEALING WITH THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT

It has always saddened me when people harboring good intentions are ensnared in unnecessary conflict; particularly when the dispute revolves around substantive issues that could be easily solved.

So I am confident that you can imagine how disturbing it was to listen to the endless debate among our community regarding the participation of black women in the new women’s march. A firestorm of rhetoric revolved around matters such as should black women have abstained from participation due to the past betrayals their kind have experienced within feminist movements or do not the interests of black women coincide with those of white women. It did not take long for a legitimate debate to devolve into a mess of vitriolic hatred and name calling.

Most disappointing of all is the reality that this matter is a relatively fundamental issue that a cursory understanding of the history of American race and gender dynamics would quickly solve. So I offer the following to those whose emotions remain heightened and their vision clouded by an issue that has driven yet another wedge among an already divided African-American populace.

To the question of should black women have participated in the women’s march, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Now I am certain that there is a segment of black women who will rejoice at this firm assertion, as well as a part that will instantaneously recoil at the assertion. I am asking each of these adversaries to pause for a moment and understand that my firm belief that black women should have participated in the historic march comes with a few conditions.

The paths to understanding the conditions and qualifiers that must be attached to African-Americans engagement with any political movement is to an understanding of the large difference between joining a movement and creating an alliance.

At the center of the public outcries regarding the participation of black women in the women’s march focused on the fact that by joining that movement one is now beholden to an agenda that does not reflect the totality of the political issues facing black women.

Historically speaking, movements headed by elite white women have failed to accommodate the issues facing poor and working-class women whose status do not mirror their own; rest assured that the unrepresented includes a significant population of white women as well as black.

Alice Walker, the famous thinker, and promoter of womanism, poignantly accentuates this point by highlighting that the issues facing black women are different from those facing the elite white women who lead the feminist movement. Walker reminds all of this difference in her reverberating assertion that “Womanism is to Feminism as purple is to lavender.”

Most critics of black women’s participation in the women’s movement agree that instead of joining a feminist movement that has at opportune moments muted the voices of African-American women and thereby needlessly prolonged their pressing political issues. According to such individuals, if black women formed their organizations to promote a developed political agenda highlighting their problems and promoting solutions to their grievances, they would then be on the road to liberation. Had black women taken this reasonable course of action, they would have been positioned to negotiate a mutually beneficial alliance that allowed them to simultaneously work toward the amelioration of pressing issues that faced all women, regardless of race or economic status, and still maintained their focus upon their political agenda.

It is time that African-American activists graduate with an understanding there is nothing wrong with creating a mutually benefiting alliance. However, they must also understand that when such a political arrangement is no longer helping either party, it is time to abandon the agreement.

Put simply; I see absolutely nothing wrong with black women’s participation as allies in a feminist march as there are issues that affect females regardless of their racial identity. However, history has taught us that it is unwise for black women to join feminist movements as their voices will invariably be muted at critical junctures when the specter of race appears.

History is very clear that our path to liberation does not include joining white-headed movements and groups whose leadership tends to have pervasive ‘blind spots’ when it comes to race and class. The only reasonable path to liberation in regards to political matters is found in the developing of black agendas and political currency before pursuing mutually beneficial alliances with non-black groups. Failure to do such not only reveals how little black leaders know about liberation and guarantees that they will continue their grandest tradition of “talking loud and saying nothing.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

The Gospel According to Huey P. Newton: Why it is so Easy for Black America to Follow Umar Johnson

There is no doubt that one of the most peculiar developments within the so-called ‘conscious community’ has been the ascension of a host of leaders whose very embodiment betrays the leadership post that they have fought others to claim. Over the past forty years, we’ve witnessed the appearance of a series of charismatic leaders that would have in previous periods of our struggle been summarily dismissed before they ever mounted a stage and pretended to direct the fight for racial uplift.

Beyond using their charisma to captivate an audience via copious amounts of style without any substance, organizing skills, or vision regarding the complex issues hampering Black America, figures such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and most recently Umar Johnson have proven to be “all sizzle, no steak.”

Considering the voluminous vitriolic hatred that I experience each time that I address black leadership, it is evident that there is a large segment of Negroes who have yet to raise their understanding of racial matters to even a pre-school level.

I long ago realized that when addressing the Black community it is not always what or how you say things, rather, our people for some wrong reason are greatly influenced by who is uttering the political analysis and social commentary that they would otherwise ignore. It is for that reason that I reached into my book, Creating Revolution as they Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and grasped the following quote from Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. Maybe those who have issued emotionally-charged criticism of my position on Umar Johnson will listen if the same analysis emanates from the Panther leader.

From my perspective, the only reason that Black America continues to entertain charlatans such as Umar Johnson is that they consider the African-American Freedom Struggle to be little more than a vehicle that should entertain them. Absent sensational language, unrealistic assertions, and slick phraseology, the ‘conscious community’ is not particularly interested in anything being offered; even if the offering is a reasonable blueprint that holds the potential to solve many of the politico-economic issues facing the community today.

After his release from prison, a disappointed Huey P. Newton realized several things about the ‘conscious community’ that are still relevant today. During a speech, the Panther co-founder realized the following about the audience he was addressing.

As I talked, it seemed to me that the people were not really listening or even interested in what I had to say. Almost every sentence was greeted with loud applause, but the audience was more concerned with phrase-mongering than with ideological development…the people were not responding to my ideas, only to an image, and although I was very excited by all the energy and enthusiasm I saw there, I was also disturbed by the lack of serious analytical thought.

Anyone who has spent years studying and seeking to execute the plans that have been laid out by African-American intellectual giants will tell you that during the past forty years the ‘conscious community’ has devolved into a population “more concerned with phrase-mongering than with ideological development.”

Although many will dispute this fact, the core of the ‘conscious community’s current problems emanate from its hostility to intelligence and refusal to engage classic texts whose workable liberation plans lay dormant inside the cover of a book; watching Youtube videos are not a substitute for reading. It is the alluded to pervasive ignorance and conscious decisions to ‘not know,’ let alone formulate and execute a politico-economic plan that explains the rise of figures such as Umar Johnson.

The gaping holes in the logic and understanding of the current ‘conscious community’ that are attributable to their refusal to study classic texts are the pathway to the rise of an “all sizzle, no steak” charismatic leader such as Umar Johnson. Were the ‘conscious community’ less concerned with phraseology and more concerned with developing a real path to liberation, figures such as Umar Johnson would be irrelevant! However, as long as the ‘conscious community’ remains committed to being entertained by slick-talking leaders whose lack of character, self-control, and modesty guarantees boatloads of drama fit for a reality television show, Black America’s problems will worsen by the day.

I wonder how long the ‘conscious community’ will remain unconscious. Quite possibly the greatest barometer of the ‘conscious community’s’ decision to remain subordinate will be the popularity of Umar Johnson.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Fumbling the Legacy: How Contemporary Panther Groups Fail to Honor the Original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

Considering the unceasing attacks that African-Americans have been subjected to by law enforcement agencies and American racial/ethnic groups, it is predictable that the spirit of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the vanguard of America’s sixties protest community, would be called upon by contemporary activists.

The tenuous position of American race relations makes it somewhat predictable that contemporary activists groups such as the New HueyBlack Panther Party and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club would seek to replicate the original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. If nothing else, contemporary activists respect Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and Lil’ Bobby Hutton and the Black Panther Party for their decision to ‘pick up the gun’ and confront the Oakland Police Department regarding police brutality. The alluded to community service project, the Panther Patrols, was the application of Point #7 of the Ten-Point Platform and Program;

We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.

We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self- defense.

Within today’s activist community, it appears that beyond an adoration for Panther guns and rhetoric there are very few similarities to be found between the original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the innumerable upstart groups that have claimed to be heirs to the Panther legacy.

Ironically, the vast majority of contemporary manifestations of ‘Panther Power’ are making the same mistake that many aspiring Panthers made during the sixties; that being, they have become DALLAS PANTHERSenchanted by the power that they perceive as flowing out of the barrel of a gun. Apparently this adoration of the gun is comprehensive as it has caused the alluded to individuals to ignore Huey P. Newton’s admonishment that the community must be stabilized or it would either disintegrate prior to the revolutionary moment or be incapable of successfully executing the revolution. In many ways, there is nothing more frightening than the prospect of those solely focused upon ‘picking up the gun’ running a society after a revolutionary overthrow as there is so many facets of a functioning society that they have failed to even consider the workings of.

Unfortunately for the African-American community, contemporary expressions of ‘Panther Power’ have exclusively attempted to implement Point #7 of the Ten Point Platform and Program while ignoring other relevant points that deal with community service activities that are critical to the Black community’s survival. Such selective application of the Panther Party program leaves contemporary manifestations of the ‘Panther Party’ nearly unrecognizable to the original Panthers as we approach the organizations 50th Anniversary this coming October.

Although I seriously doubt that contemporary manifestations of the ‘Panther Party’ would consider such matters, it may be time for themPanther to de-emphasize ‘picking up the gun’ and turn their focus toward other aspects of the Panther Party’s program that were aimed at stabilizing and uplifting the community. There is no doubt that initiatives aimed at housing, education, and health are much-needed within our community. If contemporary manifestations of the ‘Panther Party’ are determined to ‘pick up the gun’ it may be time for them to add Black-on-Black homicide, along with police brutality, to their docket. Failure to do such in many ways betrays the Panther legacy and denotes them as ‘counter-revolutionary’.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

Please support Independent Black Scholarship; it’s the only way that we are going to free our minds.

Author, Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

Author, ‘Foolish’ Floyd: The Life & Times of an African-American Contrarian

Author, O’Bruni: An African-American Odyssey Home?

Am I Black Enough For Ya’?: Trying to Pin Down Exactly What ‘Blackness’ Is

During his recent commencement address at Howard University President Barack Hussein Obama dropped so many ‘jewels’ that it was ridiculous.

From my perspective, there was no more interesting utterance than the following,

Be confident in your blackness, there is no one way to be black…There’s no straight jacket, there’s no constraints, there’s no litmus test for authenticity.

Over the past few days, I have pondered this statement since and become increasingly disturbed by the statement for some reason. Now I admit that initially I agreed wholeheartedly with the President’s contention that “…there’s no litmus test for (blackness).”

As a person who has rarely, if ever, participated in the social activities that bonded so many of my African-American peers together, I Black Power Fist 3repeatedly found myself not only questioning if I belonged among such people, but also having to substantiate my ‘blackness’. Ironically, I was being called to validate my ‘blackness’ to fools who were doing much damage to outsiders understanding of what it meant to be an African-American male.

I am certain that it my peers were able to develop a ‘litmus test’ for blackness, I would have most certainly failed. I loved to read, they didn’t, I loved to learn, they abhorred education, I knew who Hughes, Baldwin, Cullen, Malcolm, Chairman Fred, David Walker, and Ella Baker was, they had no idea, they loved to drink and abuse drugs, I have done neither even once in my life.

Truthfully, I often feel that if many of my contemporaries could develop such a test today that I, possessor of two degrees in African-American studies and an additional two in History would still be found wanting by the asinine cultural qualifications that they would use to define their understanding of ‘blackness’.

In many ways, President Obama’s statement allows for anything to be a representation of ‘blackness’. Although I do agree that we should not seek to develop narrow definitions, particularly resting upon cultural qualifiers, regarding what it means to be ‘black’, however, without any definition of ‘blackness’, one is left to ponder if it exists at all.

Truthfully, I have been guilty of questioning the ‘blackness’ of others on occasion, however, those moments were spurred not by some stacey dashcultural peculiarity rather a belief that one invalidates their ‘Black’ status when they willfully behave in what can only be termed a treasonous manner toward our community; a figure such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas or Fox News political pundit Stacey Dash fits the bill.

I guess that in the end, my only significant prerequisite to ‘blackness’ is that one has to desire goodwill for the African-American community. Such a qualifier, the desire for goodwill within our community, ensures that we are moving forward, yet still not pressed into a stereotypical caricature of what ‘blackness’ is such as being a deadbeat dad, drug abuser, alcoholic, heathen, and the possessor of vulgar language that is used in every setting.

Maybe that is the message of ‘blackness’ in America. It is broad enough for our uniqueness and peculiarities to be housed within, yet Black Poweralways serving as a ‘North Star’ that demands that we are working for “the liberation and salvation of the Black Nation” ‘by any means necessary’.

Hopefully, I’m Black enough for ya.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.

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