Tag Archives: Black Power

How Conspiracy Theories Continue to Work Against Black Liberation Efforts

I am confident that if you have been anywhere near a member of the so-called “conscious community” that you have noticed their propensity to engage in a medley of conspiracy theories. The alluded to individuals have an uncanny knack of weaving together events that on the surface have no connection whatsoever. The fact that their fanciful anti-intellectual creations are not supported by any evidence does little to dissuade them from propagating such foolishness to anyone within a one-hundred-mile radius. The typical conspiracy theorist spends incredible amounts of their time unraveling things that do not exist. Consider for a moment the recent Steven Stephens case. For most sane individuals it is a case of a mentally disturbed African-American male murdering an elderly black man for no apparent reason. These conclusions are significantly bolstered by the fact that Steven Stephens not only filmed the incident himself but also posted the crime and a subsequent recording of himself confessing to the crime on Facebook. Such a mountain of evidence is a mere molehill to your typical conspiracy theorist.

In a move that would be shocking to those with little exposure to the twists-and-turns that occur within the minds of conspiracy theorists, conspiracy theorists seized the Facebook postings and ran with it in their usual manner. According to such individuals, we were duped as the entire tape was a perfect ruse to divert us from something that had already occurred or was on the verge of happening. During a recent discussion with a self-styled conspiracy theorist, I questioned his perspective regarding the Steven Stephens shooting via the existence of a dead body, a grieving family, and a distraught police chief. His response, “they have all gotten paid off. I am telling you that this is an orchestrated event created to divert your attention from a yet to occur event.”

Probably the most disturbing thing about the constantly multiplying and increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories is that a major portion of the so-called “conscious community” cannot resist engaging them. Unfortunately for the sake of black liberation, the alluded to “mental masturbation” sessions are sufficient to keep conspiracy theorists busy for an entire lifetime. This busyness guarantees that vast segments of the so-called “conscious community” will never focus the bulk of their mental energy and physical activities toward the planning, creation, and execution of politico-economic liberation plans.

I am confident that we can agree that a better use of the mental energy expended upon conspiracy theories is for such individuals to turn their focus toward researching matters that could have a positive impact on the black liberation struggle. At this late date, we do not have the luxury of spending even a single moment investigating foolish nonsense conspiracy theories; those energies must be directed toward the development and execution of a plan to tangibly improve the lives of black men, women, and children. Anything else is yet another display of black cowardice, inefficiency, and ineptitude.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

WHY HASN’T BLACK POWER COLLECTIVIST ECONOMIC PLANS WORKED FOR BLACK AMERICA?

One of the most reliable indicators that a person has not only studied, but also comprehended the multi-faceted and incredibly complex issues that have faced persons of African descent from the moment that they arrived in the Jamestown colony is the understanding that of all the solutions presented after that moment, collectivist economics and political solidarity provides the best opportunity for liberation. Honestly, there is little room to argue against the belief that the “Black Power” strategies mentioned above have historically provided the greatest opportunity for “the liberation and salvation of the black nation.”

Although difficult to admit, when one considers the politico-economic marginalization rooted throughout Black America, it is apparent that “Black Power” politico-economic constructs have failed miserably. Considering this harsh reality, we must diligently seek to answer the following query; “Why has Black Power failed to uplift the black community?”

In light of the certain tendency for our people to deliberately derail important matters such as this one with diversionary minutiae, I think that it would be wise to define Black Power. Once again, by providing this definition, I am only seeking to avoid this discussion being intentionally sidetracked by unnecessary haranguing regarding alternative definitions of “Black Power” for no logical reason. To prevent such ‘mental masturbation,’ I have decided on the definition of Black Power that Charles V. Hamilton and Stokely Carmichael’s used in their brilliant book, Black Power. According to this duo,

The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise. Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. By this, we mean group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society. Traditionally, each new ethnic group in this society has found the route to social and political viability through the organization of its own institutions with which to represent its needs within the larger society . . . the American melting pot has not melted. Italians vote for Rubino over O’Brien; Irish for Murphy over Goldberg, etc.

When stripped to its essential parts, Hamilton and Carmichael’s construct amounts to a call for politico-economic collectivism. From their perspective, politico-economic collectivism has been the path that “each new ethnic group in this society has (traveled) to social and political viability through the organization of its institutions with which to represent its needs within the larger society.” Considering the relative simplicity of this route to liberation, one must ask, “Why has Black Power not worked for African-Americans?”

The answer to the above query is fairly straightforward, yet woefully troubling and disconcerting. The answer is that during the past 60 years, the vast majority of African-Americans have failed to make either collectivist economics or political solidarity a fixture in their lives.

Considering that most reasonable-minded individuals agree that political activism is essential to the uplift of the black community, it appears that such a perspective has failed to inspire African-Americans who make up 13% of the nation to participate in the electoral process at a rate that exceeds their proportion of the American populace. Black political participation occurs at a blasé rate until a figure such as Barack Hussein Obama appears.

As political participation lags behind, many African-Americans have foolishly convinced themselves that the key to “the liberation and salvation of the black nation” is the generation of financial might. Unfortunately for Black America, it appears that their political inefficiencies are only exceeded by their understanding of economic collectivism.

As mentioned in a recent post on this site, one does not need to look any further than the embarrassing manner in which African-Americans fail to circulate the dollar within their community to understand a primary pillar in their economic struggles. It appears that for all of their adoration of Malcolm X the vast majority of African-Americans have failed to heed one of his most basic admonishments regarding economic foolishness. Malcolm charged his people with the following admonishment, “You run down your community when you don’t circulate your dollar amongst your own.” Consider the following data regarding the circulation of dollars.

  • It takes 6 hours for a dollar to exit the black community.
  • It takes 17 days for a dollar to exit the white community.
  • It takes 20 days for a dollar to exit the Jewish community.
  • It takes 30 days for a dollar to exit the Asian community.

In light of such economic inefficiency, it is unsurprising to find that of the 1.1 Trillion dollars of annual spending power that passes through the African-American community, a number that means that on average every man, woman, and child within the African-American community has in excess of $26,200 at their disposal on a yearly basis, a paltry 2% of those dollars are spent with black-owned businesses. One can only wonder where does all of that money go? The answer to the above query is equally daunting and astonishing. Studies indicate that African-Americans spend a significant portion of their dollars in the following areas.

  • Tobacco — $3.3 billion
  • Whiskey, Wine, and Beer — $3 billion
  • Non-alcoholic beverages — $2.8 billion
  • Leisure time spending — $3.1 billion
  • Toys, Games, and Pets — $3.5 billion
  • Telephone services — $18.6 billion
  • Random Gifts — $10 billion

There is little doubt that the political disengagement and economic foolishness listed above would banish any populace to socioeconomic marginality.

What makes Black America’s continuing politico-economic marginalization even more disconcerting is that it could have been eradicated if we only adhered to a few ground rules a litany of “race men” have provided. Considering that so many of our people have found comfort in the Church and guidance from scripture, I think it appropriate to relate that African-Americans have continually behaved as those described in Jeremiah 5:21, “Hear this now, O foolish people, Without understanding, Who have eyes and see not, And who have ears and hear not.”

One has to wonder when God will cease sending prophets to these woe-smitten people who have repeatedly proven that they have no desire to use either their eyes or ears to save their kind. It is too late in the game for our people to continue making the same politico-economic mistakes that they have always made. Unfortunately for our sake, it appears that they have yet to tire of banging their heads against an immovable wall.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Malcolm X: Did His Ultimate Sacrifice Bring Any Tangible Gains to the Black Freedom Struggle?

There is quite possibly no greater frustration among those who have chosen to carry the huge banner of Black Nationalism than the witnessing of those whose cause that you continually champion making the same mistakes that guarantee a continuation of their oppression. Unfortunately, I realize that I have much company when I enter those private moments that invariably lead me to question if the arduous tasks and constant frustrations experienced while attempting to uplift a people who behave as if they do not mind the continuation of their politico-economic exploitation and social outcast status is even worth the Herculean effort? As mentioned above, I realize that I have much company when it comes to this type of thinking.

Although I realize that I have only given some of myself to the struggle, while there are others such as Brother Malcolm X who gave all, I believe that it is within reasonable bounds to wonder if the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life, such as Brother Malcolm, has made an iota difference in the historical struggle to uplift a stubborn Black America.

When reflecting upon the life, legacy, and untimely death of Malcolm X, I am reminded of his order to the black man that it is time for him to “Wake up, clean up and stand up.” Such a directive appears to be not only sensible, but also easily achievable by a people who have served as a reliable resource for other groups seeking to increase some combination of political power, economic might, and social status.

According to Malcolm X, the path out of this jungle of unconscionable exploitation for the black man and woman was a fairly rudimentary plan.

  • Starting black businesses so that the black dollar could be circulated among them.
  • Creating political solidarity sufficient to not only elect representatives to represent our interests, but also capable of “holding their feet to the fire” after they were elected.
  • Abandoning any vices retarding “the liberation and salvation of the black nation,” such as: alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, financial irresponsibility, political illiteracy, lack of an education, uncivilized behavior toward one another, and the destruction of the black family.

I am certain that you realize that none of the above ideas originated with Brother Malcolm. It is this reality that calls into question the legacy of not only Malcolm X, but also the many other leaders who have appeared in our community carrying a similar message, suspect.

So the question before us is a rather simple one. In a climate where it appears that the dial measuring the fortunes of African-Americans has remained stationary, did the contributions and sacrifices of Malcolm X matter at all?

Prior to answering this query, we should first take this opportunity to examine the present condition of Black America.

  • African-American children lag behind all others in educational achievement.
  • African-American children are being disproportionately raised in single-parent female headed households.
  • African-American communities remain a reliable path to financial improvement for any non-black group in the nation.
  • African-American wealth accumulation lags behind every other group, including newly arrived immigrant groups.
  • African-Americans, male and female, are incarcerated at a rate that far exceeds their proportion of the American populace.
  • African-American marriages are more likely than not to end in divorce.
  • African-American women far exceed their male counterparts in
    • Educational achievement
    • Income earned
    • Social Status
    • Political Activism
  • Understanding of African-American manhood constructs are nearly non-existent among black males and females.
  • There is a sizable population of African-American men who should be considered “unmarriageable.”

In light of the above list, we are once again faced with the query of did Malcolm X’s existence mean anything beyond being inspirational for a few African-Americans. If Brother Malcolm’s sacrifices meant something more, what tangible changes occurred as a result of his esteemed legacy?

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black Power Politics: Dr. King’s Surprising Perspective of “Black Power!!!!!”

When one examines the twentieth-century, an era that W.E.B. Du Bois prophetically claimed would be haunted by an unsolvable “color line” issue, it is safe to say that there is no combination of words that frightens white America more than “Black Power!!!!!” In many ways, it is ironic that Black Power politics arrived on the heels of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., repeated calls for black activists to embrace non-violent civil disobedience as a tactic and gradualism as an appropriate pace in regards to the achievement of racial equality.

Without a doubt, angry calls for “Black Power” stoked whites’ omnipresent fears of racial revenge attacks to a disturbing level. In many ways, the alluded to mid-sixties fears of white Americans is an implicit acknowledgment of what they would do had they been exploited, denigrated, and marginalized for nearly four centuries. It is these reasons that Dr. King was so important to the psychological well-being of white America as they believed that he was the only ‘thing’ standing between them and the arrival of a horde of vengeful blood-thirsty blacks who they believed was never far from reverting to their natural state of uncivilized cannibalistic beings.

Despite their public confrontations with Dr. King, white America needed the Civil Rights patriarch to control the “irrational blacks” who could not get comfortably settled into their oppression filled second-class citizenship. This need for King to be totally wedded to integration was so significant that whites used their many media platforms to portray the Civil Rights patriarch in a light that ignored both his evolving political priorities and unusual position regarding “Black Power!”

Despite the psychological disturbance that it will cause Americans of every hue, in the post-March on Washington period, Dr. King did address “Black Power” politics in an unexpected manner.

Considering the unrestricted use of the term “Black Power” by contemporary activists, I feel that it is important to define what it meant during the mid-sixties Black Power era. Below you will find one of the most accurate definitions of “Black Power” from noted scholar Charles V. Hamilton and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture).

Black power is concerned with organizing the rage of black people.…Black power (1) deals with the obviously growing alienation of black people and their distrust of the institutions of this society; (2) works to create new values and to build a new sense of community and of belonging; and (3) works to establish legitimate new institutions that make participants, not recipients, out of a people traditionally excluded from the fundamentally racist processes of this country.[i]

The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise. Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. By this, we mean group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society. Traditionally, each new ethnic group in this society has found the route to social and political viability through the organization of its own institutions with which to represent its needs within the larger society . . . the American melting pot has not melted. Italians vote for Rubino over O’Brien; Irish for Murphy over Goldberg, etc.[ii]

Not only does this definition remain of significant utility to this very day, but also the political realities that it depicts remain extremely relevant.

Ironically, it is the importance of Dr. King’s 1963 March on Washington speech that facilitates most Americans inability to understand that the Civil Rights leader continued his growth as a political strategist until the moment an assassin’s bullet silenced him at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. Most are shocked to learn that King had much to say about the rise of Black Power activists who were in possession of a political platform that appeared to be the antithesis of his non-violent civil disobedience pacifism. According to Dr. King,

[t]here is nothing essentially wrong with power. The problem is that in America power is unequally distributed. This has led Negro Americans in the past to seek their goals through love and moral suasion devoid of power and white Americans to seek their goals through power devoid of love and conscience….  [I]t is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our times.[iii]

In the following quote, Dr. King extended his commentary to the issue of Black Power politics.

{Black Power activists} must use every constructive means to amass economic and political power. This is the kind of legitimated power we need. We must work to build racial pride and refute the notion black is evil and ugly. But this must come through a program, not merely through a slogan…The words ‘black’ and ‘power’ together give the impression that we are talking about black domination rather than black equality.[iv]

Black Power is a call for the pooling of black financial resources to achieve economic security.… Through the pooling of such resources and the development of habits of thrift and techniques of wise investment, the Negro will be doing his share to grapple with his problem of economic deprivation. If Black Power means the development of this kind of strength within the Negro community, then it is a quest for basic, necessary, legitimate power.[v]

Apparently, the historical record paints a Martin Luther King, Jr., that not only continued to grow in the post-March on Washington portion of his public life. An important part of that political transformation is found in his understanding of and embrace of mid-sixties “Black Power” politics. It is Dr. King’s alluded to shifting political priorities that should serve as definitive proof of the need for contemporary activists and black political leaders to study, study, and study some more. Failure to do such means that we are attempting to solve a centuries-old problem with partial information.

[i] Carmichael, Stokely (Kwame Ture), and Charles V. Hamilton. Black Power, The Politics of Liberation. pg. 44-45.

[ii] As “Black Power” became such a hot topic within the American activist community, particularly as many whites sought to gain as much information about the concept as possible for their personal safety and sanity, Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) became somewhat of the poster-child for the concept.  The shadow of Carmichael has unfortunately blocked out the presence of such lesser known SNCC activists and Black Power theoreticians such as Willie Ricks who have a greater claim to generating the slogan.  However, Carmichael’s analysis of the term “Black Power” is at times so keen that there is little doubt by believers that it is the next logical and correct step for the Black movement.  See., Stokely Carmichael, “SNCC Chairman Talks About Black Power”, New York Review of Books, September 22, 1966.  Carmichael, Stokely (Kwame Ture), and Charles V. Hamilton. Black Power, The Politics of Liberation  p. 45; Daily Californian, “What’s Black Power?”, November 1, 1966.

[iii] Martin Luther King, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? p. 37.

[iv] Martin Luther King, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? pg. 30-31; Hampton and Fayer, Voices of Freedom, an Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement, pg. 284-294.  Oft-forgotten when the issue of Black Power as a slogan is discussed is the influence of Willie Ricks on the entire process.  It was Ricks, not Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) who popularized the term “Black Power” in the modern era.  In fact, even SNCC luminaries such as James Forman give Ricks the credit for such, as does the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., See., James Forman, The Making of Black Revolutionaries, p. 456.  Hampton and Fayer, Voices of Freedom, an Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement, p. 289-290.

[v] Martin Luther King, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? p. 38.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Dr. James Thomas Jones III is the author of Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Narrative History of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense  (Available at Amazon and wherever great books are sold)

“What is your Problem with Umar Johnson?”

I often read a lot of commentaries criticizing Dr. Johnson because I’m trying to discern whether he is just as bad for us as black church pastors. I agree all public figures subject themselves to criticism. What I don’t get is what the criticisms and sometimes attacks are about regarding Umar. What false information is he giving out? I have not heard anyone, who is critical of Umar, deny that what he says about public schools and the misdiagnosis of black boys is true. What I do hear is people attacking him about the money he’s trying to raise to build a school; the rant he made via video and him being intimate with a stripper. Is that it? Are those all of his major flaws? People are also quick to attack him for being charismatic. When did charisma become bad? Not enough black youth aren’t being taught how to enunciate and speak properly, let alone how to be charismatic. Do we really want to tear down a conscious black man over those things? If so, why aren’t we as hard on elected officials? We easily take what they dish out and we know they hate us. Where is the kudos for Umar’s black college & consciousness tour last year? He’s doing two such tours this year. What exactly are we going to appreciate about conscious leaders? Better yet, what expectations do we have or want to see in a leader?

(Daryl B. Gray)

Let me first say thank you for this question that conveys so many of the issues and questions surrounding not only Umar Johnson but also larger matters surrounding ‘charismatic leadership.’ I am going to do my absolute best to answer a few of these issues in a precise manner. To achieve that goal, I have deconstructed your question into two smaller and therefore more manageable pieces for today’s response.

(A) What false information is Umar Johnson giving out?

(B) When did charisma become bad?

So here we go.

(A) What false information is Umar Johnson giving out?

I believe that you are on solid footing to inquire about ‘what false information’ has Umar Johnson put out. This is the thing about Umar, those who have issues with this brother are not particularly disturbed by the myriad of untruths that have emanated from his mouth such as the following:

  • His celibacy claims that were proven false by his interactions with the ‘conscious stripper.’ I think that most people could care less regarding what he does in his private life, however, what disturbed most was the presentation of a public Umar that does not match the private life. It most certainly conveys a willingness to advance a lie if it will benefit you; a dubious and dangerous character flaw for any person in a leadership position.
  • Umar’s claim to be a descendant of Frederick Douglass is yet another example of his willingness to advance a lie to promote himself and advance an agenda. This particular myth regarding Douglass is particularly offensive to me because he said it directly to me during an interview with an authority that would have made one think that he should have been named Frederick Douglass V.

Those who have significant problems with Umar trace their issues to the type of information that he does not share. At the core of the alluded to angst is the absence of transparency regarding the monies Umar has raised for his “school.” Put simply; there has been zero accountability regarding the monies raised, how these monies were used, the status of this “school” or any infrastructure that has been created surrounding the above entity.

It is this absence of ANY transparency that causes the majority of his critics to consider him worse than an exploitive preacher. In many ways, Umar is like a jackleg preacher in that he is peddling a path to end the misery and suffering of the masses. “If only you donate to this school, all of your problems will be alleviated.”

What makes these matters extremely troubling is that those who have chosen to support Umar with their hard-earned dollars materially are operating totally out of a blind-faith that is fueled by their innate desire to do something to help lift our people out of their multi-generational politicoeconomic marginality.

It is to that population of ‘believers’ that Umar owes transparency. My greatest fear is that when these ‘believers’ who have stepped out on faith realize that this has all been a charade, they will adopt a rigid position of ‘never again’ and will refuse to aid legitimate uplift efforts such as the already existing independent black school movement that desperately needs an immediate infusion of funds to continue educating African-American children.

(B) When did charisma become bad?

To address this issue, it is imperative that I separate the idea of charisma from an entirely different issue of “charismatic leadership.” Brother Gray, you wrote the following in your question. When did charisma become bad? Not enough black youth aren’t being taught how to enunciate and speak properly, let alone how to be charismatic. You are absolutely correct in your summation that charisma is not a negative quality. I have found that charisma is a pre-requisite for leadership, particularly in regards to leading an African-American populace that desperately craves a well-constructed combination of information and inspiration.

I likewise agree with your assertion that “Not enough black youth aren’t being taught how to enunciate and speak properly, let alone how to be charismatic.” One needs to look no further than the absence of enunciation found among contemporary ‘mumble’ rappers, let alone the speech patterns and vulgarity found within so many of our educational institutions to find a reason to support your assertion. However, that form of charisma is not what is being addressed when critiques of charismatic leadership are advanced.

When charismatic leaders such as Umar Johnson are being critiqued, it invariably revolves around the fact that they are “all sizzle and no steak.” Put simply, they do not use their prodigious God-given oratorical talents for the uplift of the community, they consciously plot and plan to use those gifts for personal gain.

It is their charm, their rhetorical wizardry and phrase mongering that invariably enchants their ‘followers’ to do as they say, in Umar’s case this means donating money to his yet to be realized school as well as vociferously attacking those who have the audacity to publicly critique his exploitation of the masses, a problem that you will find among all charismatic leaders.

Consider for a moment, that well-meaning, yet naïve, African-Americans have been donating monies to Umar’s yet to be realized educational venture for several years. When pressed as to why any educational institution has yet to be realized, his answer has always been the same, “The people haven’t given enough.”

One of the most obvious signs of a charismatic leader is his ability to always place the onus for the achievement of goals upon the followers, such sayings are common among leaders such as Umar Johnson or any random prosperity preacher, “if only you would pray more,” “if only you would donate more money,” “it is your lack of faith that is causing God not to bless us with what we need.”

Umar Johnson has slyly concocted a ‘us vs. them’ narrative among his followers that detracts their attention from his failure to provide a single sign of what their commitment to economic collectivism and black-on-black support has achieved.

Umar’s followers have become so emotionally invested that not even his recent tirade and denigration {which he taped and disseminated himself} against a fellow black man is sufficient to break the enchanting spell.

As with all charismatic leaders, it is their eloquence, charm, and expert ability to manipulate the emotions and perspective of people who are seeking a way out of no way that is their source of power, not the building of anything tangible such as a school. It is the bartering of hope and a dastardly lie that he is the only one diligently working to uplift Black America that is the base of Umar’s hold upon a people who have so much invested in him that they will never abandon his cause as it will serve as the supreme admission to the naysayer that they were correct in their criticisms and condemnation of associating with a critically flawed, seemingly mentally unstable, narcissistic individual such as Umar Johnson.

I realize that I did not touch upon each and every issue that you presented in your interesting query; I vow to you that I will address the other matters that you presented such as “What exactly are we going to appreciate about conscious leaders? Better yet, what expectations do we have or want to see in a leader?” in future writings. Once again, thank you for the question.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017