Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

HAS THE NAACP OUTLIVED ITS UTILITY

Truthfully, it is an assertion many activists have whispered for a lengthy period; less tactful persons have boisterously asserted it in the public arena. The issue I am alluding to is a daunting query of has the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) outlived its utility. Created in 1909, the NAACP was formed out of a desperate desire by a collective of predominantly white moralists who were repulsed at the 1908 Springfield (Illinois) Race Riot and what the event meant for their beloved nation. Although rarely discussed, there were very few African-Americans involved in the NAACP’s creation, W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells-Barnett were the most notable of that initial cadre.

For much of its existence, the NAACP has served as legal arm for the historic battles to subdue institutionalized racism in an America that was slow to change. It was the NAACP that brought the action to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., contention that the struggle for Civil Rights in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” would be a protracted battle fought in both American courts and the hearts of its citizenry.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., warned whites that their post-Voting Rights Act celebrations communicated an erroneous belief that America had conquered race.  King vehemently dissented against such naïveté and advised that the solution to persisting racial inequities lay in the completion of two increasingly difficult stages.  According to Dr. King, the initial step toward racial equality, the securing of legal equality, was achieved with the signing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. King posited that the next stage, the exercise of justice, would be much more challenging. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reflected,           

[W]ith Selma and the Voting Rights Act one phase of development in the civil rights revolution came to an end. A new phase opened, but few observers realized it or were prepared for its implications. For the vast majority of white Americans, the past decade — the first phase — had been a struggle to treat the Negro with a degree of decency, not of equality. White America was ready to demand that the Negro should be spared the lash of brutality and coarse degradation, but it had never been truly committed to helping him out of poverty, exploitation or all forms of discrimination. The outraged white citizen had been sincere when he snatched the whips from the Southern sheriffs and forbade them more cruelties. But when this was to a degree accomplished, the emotions that had momentarily inflamed him melted away,

When Negroes looked for the second phase, the realization of equality, they found that many of their white allies had quietly disappeared. Negroes felt cheated, especially in the North, while many whites felt that the negroes had gained so much it was virtually impudent and greedy to ask for more so soon. 

There is no doubt that the NAACP has spent the bulk of its time engaged in the initial stage, securing equality on the law books of America, and scant time addressing the more difficult process of exercising equality. It is in that gap between legislative equality and the exercise of equality that the vast majority of angst and discord within black America remains. Put simply; it is this cavernous hole that facilitated the abandonment of traditional Civil Rights courtroom activism for direct expressions of resistance such as that provided by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committees (SNCC).

In time, court cases led by figures such as Charles Hamilton Houston, Constance Baker Motley, and Thurgood Marshall were replaced by physical confrontations with Jim Crow and strategies such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s vaunted “Panther Patrols.” In time, it became evident that the NAACP’s propensity to shy away from such direct battle facilitated their marginalization in the minds of the common man and woman. In many ways, the NAACP was never an organization of the people; it represented their interests. However, it did not have many opportunities for those outside of Du Bois Talented-Tenth to participate in a significant way.

In the new millennium, the NAACP’s disassociation from the masses of black America has become even more pronounced. The emergence of grassroots activist groups such as Black Lives Matter has shined a spotlight upon this occurrence. For decades, the NAACP has rested on its well-deserved laurels as the most iconic organization in the nation. If nothing else, the NAACP’s reputation preceded it. Historically speaking, NAACP leaders were never forced to compare themselves to what many considered lesser groups such as SNCC, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Mississippi Freedom and Democratic Party, the Black Panther Party, or the Black Liberation Army.

The venerable NAACP existed above much of the dirty work that served as staples for lesser groups. Outgoing NAACP President Cornel William Brooks articulated as much when he related that “We (NAACP) do not crawl on the ground! We do not fall prostrate before problems! We are not relegated to the dust! We are not insects! We are an American iconic institution! We are the NAACP!” Ironically, it is Brooks, the figure who has worked tirelessly for the past three years to reposition the organization that sits at the center of the NAACP’s push for increased relevancy via a “transformational retooling” aimed at attracting the attention and loyalties of an emerging cadre of young activists. Inexplicably, the NAACP’s current leader is being jettisoned out the door as this initiative expands.

The deposed President articulated the primary problem facing the NAACP when he remarked that the organization “has fallen behind the times…it has been less effective in countering racism today, while Black Lives Matter and other protest movements have exploded.”

Although difficult to comprehend, it appears that the NAACP’s “transformational retooling” is born out of a jealousy/envy of grassroots activist groups such as Black Lives Matter that have managed via social media savvy, not necessarily an activist agenda or political accomplishments, to garner both the loyalties of a new generation of activists and the attention of national media outlets.

Instead of remaining in their traditional lane, NAACP leaders are apparently seeking to leave their throne of dignity and descend into the horde of the unclean masses via “an organization-wide refresh” to address the “audacious challenges…(presented by) today’s volatile political, media and social climates.”

The historical record shows that the NAACP’s most significant utility has been when they entered courtrooms and spoke for those who had been intimidated into silence by institutional racism. I fear that in its rush to recreate itself as young, hip, and cutting-edge activist group that the NAACP is vacating a much-needed role in the movement in exchange for fleeting moments of fame. I wish that someone would tell the NAACP board that there is much danger hidden in their desperate attempt to attract a new generation of activists. This courting of young activists makes the NAACP analogous to a retiree appearing at a club for twentysomething’s with wearing a Kangol and a litany of gold chains hanging around their neck attempting to fit in using eighties lingo such as “chill, dope, and chick.”

I am most certainly not saying that the NAACP should shutter its doors; however, there is little doubt that this movement to become something that it never was in a new millennium that it has never seen, is not only bizarre, but also dumb. If provided the opportunity, I would plead with the NAACP to not refashion itself as a rival to emerging activist groups such as Black Lives Matter. Such action not only betrays the NAACP’s historic role, but also leaves a cavernous hole in the continuing struggle for racial equality. Bolstered by a century of activist experience, the NAACP should be seeking to serve these emerging groups in an advisory capacity, not making moves to dissipate the power that has been mobilized in a technological world that old-guard Civil Rights groups will never be able to understand or keep up with.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

 

 

 

The Micro Aggressions that White America Never Witnesses

I have come to believe that the reason so many whites fail to understand the perspectives of African-Americans regarding racial matters is not attributable to any innate malice in their hearts. I fervently believe that the vast majority of whites are reasonable-minded individuals who honestly do not consider themselves to be in possession of any significant malice toward African-Americans. Experience has taught me that the genesis of what can be comfortably termed objectionable attitudes and behaviors regarding racial matters from the white community is a by-product of their operating with limited information regarding the many micro-aggressions that African-Americans deal with on a daily basis.

Make no mistake about it; American residential segregation prevents whites from having any understanding of the micro-aggressions that every African-American regardless of age, gender, educational accomplishments, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status will experience at some point. I offer the following incident as an example of the unfortunate reality that every African-Americans time to deal with white micro-aggression could be right around the corner. I now understand that it is these moments that not only ferment the hatred and distrust that so many African-Americans have for whites but also cause a widening of the racial divide as the vast majority of whites are seemingly oblivious to the occurrences.

A few days ago I was leaving a doctor’s appointment and heading to wash my car, an activity that I enjoy as it is not only physical but also provides me with moments of solitude to think about anything that is weighing heavy on my mind. As I made the left turn to enter the road where the car wash was located, I noticed that several cars behind me a white sports utility vehicle made the turn, I thought nothing of this matter. However, within the next sixty seconds, it became apparent to me that this SUV, which was most certainly a law enforcement vehicle was weaving in and out of traffic in a desperate pursuit to get behind me. Just as I expected, the law enforcement officer not only followed me for the next half-mile but also would periodically accelerate his vehicle to within inches of my rear bumper. I did my best to ignore these juvenile antics and made the right turn into my desired location and found an empty bay to wash my vehicle. To my shock, the law enforcement vehicle followed me into the car wash. I instantly decided to ignore this ‘officer of the law’ and proceeded to put quarters into the machine, however, before the last quarter dropping, this fool rolled down his window and said, “I thought that you were someone else that we have been pursuing. You better be careful out here.”

Make no mistake about it; I took his comments as both a veiled threat and warning regarding the precarious nature of being a black man in America. As someone who continually writes about American racial matters, I long ago understood that I am inextricably tied to my brothers at every moment of the day. The animosity undergirding the racial bias and blind hatred that serves as the standard modus operandi for so many, certainly not all, law enforcement officers makes the fact that I am a gainfully employed, educated black man who has earned four degrees from a leading university, as well as a loving father and husband non-considerations. All that they see, all that they consider is the fact that I am an African-American male that they have chosen to place within their crosshairs. And as an African-American male, I will tell you that once an officer has selected you, your singular goal is to survive the encounter ‘by any means necessary.’

Despite the propensity of non-blacks to believe that we are crying wolf when complaining about the actions and treatment that we receive at the hand of law enforcement officers and officials, the truth of the matter is that they will never fully understand the terror and uncertainty that flows from even the most “routine” interaction with law enforcement officers. Ironically, it is these moments of mundane conflict, these microaggressions so to speak, that fuel the natural hatred that black men feel for law enforcement officers and extend the average white citizens skepticism regarding the dire nature of American race relations. If only they could spend a moment in our shoes, their eyes would be opened to a harsh new reality that they have failed to recognize although it has been occurring around them the entire time.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

WHAT BLACK AMERICA SHOULD DO ABOUT THE 2 LITTLE BLACK GIRLS RECENTLY SHOT IN THE HEAD IN CHICAGO

As you well know, I have used this space to offer what I presume to be intelligent commentary regarding issues facing the African-American community. Although I would like to say that I rarely come across problems that infuriate me to the point that I have to tell many of my contemporaries to “shut the hell up!” The truth of the matter is that I frequently have such confrontations with other African-Americans who seek to offer excuses that explain away the deplorable behavior of many within our community that has consciously chosen to act uncivilized.

It saddens me to know that the plentiful reasons that seemingly sensible law-abiding African-Americans employ to excuse a lawless and immoral “ends justify the means” culture that has made many African-American communities analogous to war zones are omnipresent. Although the alluded to individuals may be well-meaning in their efforts to defend the criminal-minded in our midst, the truth of the matter is that their inability to stand on the side of righteousness reeks of cowardice.

It is the weakness mentioned above that serves as a crucial part of the wicked formula that led to the shooting of Takiya Holmes and Kanari Bowers, ages 11 and 12, in the head this past weekend in Chicago. Bowers was struck by a bullet while playing with friends at a playground, while a shot hit Holmes while riding in the backseat of a vehicle; law enforcement authorities attribute both shootings to stray bullets. Recent medical reports state that both of these children are in area hospitals in critical condition. Police report that there are no suspects in either of the shootings.

I long ago concluded that it was the time for African-Americans to realize that there are several different types of persons of African descent living in our communities. There are law-abiding, progressive African-Americans who are seeking to improve not only their lives but also those of others in their community ‘by any reasonable, honest means necessary.’ In many ways, the aspirations of this segment of Black America are indistinguishable from their counterparts of other races and ethnicities. They are in many ways pursuing the American dream via hard work and commitment to excellence within the confines of a beloved community. Unfortunately for Black America, the population mentioned above is not the only community found in our midst.

There is another sizable population within our midst that is not only hyper-aggressive but also determined to gain possession of material goods ‘by any means necessary.’ Trust me when I say that such people are devoid of a moral compass, a sense of decency, or any consideration for their fellow man, even if they share the same racial classification. It is a person from this segment of Black America that is responsible for not only the shootings of the two children in Chicago this weekend but also the vast majority of the carnage and criminality that occurs within our so-called community on a minute-by-minute basis.

As I have repeatedly stated in this space, it is the time for this cancerous element that no one on the face of the planet Earth desires to associate with is separated from our midst ‘by any means necessary.’ I pray that those within our community who exerted their energy and time protesting the latest Presidential election would turn their attention to removing what can only be termed a scourge from the black community. Trust me when I say to you that the disappearance of a population that can only be termed black barbarians would have a much more significant impact than any other occurrence.

In the words of Marcus Garvey, “Up You Mighty Race Achieve What You Will!!!!!” Even if it means cleaning up your communities “By Any Means Necessary.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017.

 

 

The Flawed Gospel of Isaiah Washington

I must relate that I was not particularly surprised when Isaiah Washington, an individual that I actually have much respect for inisaiah-washington regards to his public persona, stepped forward and became the latest notable African-American to attempt to provide a solution to the problem of white police officers murdering Black men in the streets of America.

According to Washington,

If every single African American in the United States that was really fed up with being angry, sad and disgusted, would pick ONE DAY to simply ‘stay at home’ from every single job … I’m very sure that within 72 hours from Wall Street to the NFL…Black Lives Would Matter…September 26, 2016 is THE DAY!!!!!

Let me first say that I absolutely understand where Mr. Washington’s sentiment emanates from, however, I respectfully disagree with his contention that “If every single African American in the United States that was really fed up with being angry, sad and disgusted, would pick ONE DAY to simply ‘stay at home’ from every single job…” that a positive change would result from the act. If anything, such an action could result in the termination of a wide-swath of African-Americans from their jobs.

Although I highly doubt that a man of Mr. Washington’s intelligence does not realize that any attack directed at an institution such as your local law enforcement agency must be a well-thought out challenge that is simultaneously aimed at addressing both short-term and long-term goals in regards to the organizations policies and operations. A one-day boycott of our individual jobs will achieve absolutely nothing in this regard.

The path forward in regards to African-Americans not only addressing, but also solving the voluminous issues facing them has isaiah-washington-3not changed since the first persons of African descent arrived in the colony of Jamestown. Leaders such as Frederick Douglass, David Walker, Maria Stewart, Washington, Du Bois, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Harold Washington have repeatedly advised our people that the foremost prerequisite to Black uplift and liberation is politico economic collectivism. It is in the areas of collectivism and solidarity that African-Americans have historically proven to be the least efficient and credible for a host of reasons.

Unfortunately for not only Mr. Washington, but also the entire Race, until politico economic collectivism and an agape love replaces hatred, back-biting, distrust, and irrational thought, behavior, and strategies as the primary pillars under-girding African-American intra-racial interactions, there is no plan, no matter how logical, that is capable of uplifting African-Americans out of their historic position as America’s ‘have-nots’.

Although I am certain that the vast majority of African-Americans may consider it foolish and inconsequential, it may be time for African-Americans to take quite a few moments and reassess how they feel about their ‘brothers and sisters’ and work toward healing the prominent divisions found in our midst. I am certain that the alluded to discord and hatred that seemingly dogs our people at every term is the supreme obstruction to political solidarity and economic collectivism.

Considering that ‘every great journey begins with a single step’, it is most certainly time for our people to consider that our first step needs to be healing our individual and collective discord. Without that step being taken, history has repeatedly shown us that there will be no lessening of the yoke of oppression that our people have existed under for far too long.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016

Calling Black Lives Matter and All Black Protest Groups to A More Principled Position

Black Power to Black People, 
White Power to White People, 
Brown Power to Brown People, 
Yellow Power to Yellow People, 
Red Power to Red People. 
All Power to the People!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fred Hampton

There are not many things that make me cringe in pain; however the appearance of pervasive ignorance never fails to take me to that rare threshold. Today I cringed in a most unusual manner while bpp6watching footage of a ‘Black Lives Matter’ activist outside of the Democratic National Convention give directives to an assembly of activists. The cringe worthy portion of this activity is found in her request, or should I say demand, that whites retreat to the rear of the march because the pending march was to be led by Black protesters and Black protesters alone.

Although I instantly recognized what this young and apparently inexperienced activist was attempting to achieve by having a Black led March against a racial issue, I also recognized her voluminous ignorance regarding the multi-racial nature of prior activism during both the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Era. It has always amazed me how ignorance or a superficial understanding of prior struggles leads contemporary activists to re-write the tactics and strategies of prior protest movements.

The demand that whites assemble in the rear harkened my mind back to the Women’s Suffragist movement when white women, attempting to cater to prejudiced southern delegates, issued a similar ‘request’ to Black Women suffragists. It appears that some, certainly not all, members of today’s Black activist scene have chosen to ignore Audre Lorde’s admonishment that,

For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism…is a real condition of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside (his and) herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears.

One thing is for certain, today’s Black activist must find a way to simultaneously avoid replicating the hatred emanating from other baldwingroups with divergent ideas for it will ultimately lead to them becoming that very entity that they so strongly loathe. The cost of doing such is one that none of us can afford to pay. Failure to recognize this danger means that we unfortunately become the very figures that noted social critic James Baldwin was considering when he stated, “People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.

Contemporary Black activists must always make certain that they do not become that which they fight so diligently fight against, because if they do, there is no doubt that their opponent has won by turning them into a mirror image of the hate, vengefulness, and irrationality that they possess. I have no doubt that today’s Black activists are able to find a medium between avoiding such an unfortunate position while also moving the Black agenda forward.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016