Tag Archives: Capitalism

Do Black Preachers Play a Pivotal Role in Keeping Black Christians Clueless About Finances?

I am quite confident that the majority of African-Americans born prior to the eighties will understand my assertion that the primary socialization agent in our lives occurred within the sanctified walls of a Black Church.

Within these hallowed walls, we learned that there was an omnipotent and omnipresent God who “had the whole world in his hands.” Repeatedly hearing this message mesmerized my peers into believing that their life path was pre-determined by the guiding hand of God.

Of all the points emphasized in “praise houses” throughout Black America, one of the most common is the need for each of God’s children to live a life that would allow them to enter the kingdom of heaven. Entrance into heaven meant that we would be eternally reunited with our deceased loved ones and no longer subject to the daily hurt, pain, struggle, and strife that shadowed us in the land of the living.

The message being shared by black preachers was a simple one; that being, the struggle, pain, disappointment, and heartache experienced in “the land of the living” was more than worth it as the righteous would be rewarded with heavenly gifts and treasures that no man could conceive.

To the chagrin of many of my superiors, the omnipotent God previously mentioned gifted me with an intellectual curiosity that encouraged both an active engagement and investigation of scripture. After engaging the Holy Bible that a series of Sunday School Teachers at Mount Calvary Baptist Church had taught me was the very breath of God, I realized that black preachers were making conscious choices to accentuate certain portions of scripture while avoiding others. As a burgeoning Revolutionary Nationalist who was doing his best to balance faith and an unending urge to work toward the liberation of Black America, the reality that black preachers intentionally avoided prominent politico-economic issues and disparities that cut across racial lines troubled my soul.

My soul was definitely not comforted by routine teachings that advised Black America to be long-suffering and not conform to the ways and desires of this world. I am quite confident that I am not the only one who tired of hearing sermons built around Mark 8:36For what does it profit a man to gain the entire world and lose his soul.” Such a message always sounded like unwise advice seeking to get Black America to not only agree to be oppressed but also to participate in their downtrodden position. Even as a teenager, I wanted to rise form my seat, reprimand the preacher and tell him to turn his “good book” to James 2:17 and build a liberation sermon around the idea that “Faith without works is dead”. If I did not know any better, I would be convinced that black preachers, realizing that their people would carry the stain of blackness for eternity have colluded and decided to sell them hope, instead of life skills that hold the potential to liberate them from the terminal illness that has wiped out several generations of Black America.

Although I can only speak with authority on my personal experience, I can definitively say the Black Church led me down a path of being pious, considerate, and accommodating toward others and rationalizing my non-engagement with Capitalist America as an assured path to Heaven. With the benefit of hindsight, I clearly understand that the vast majority of African-Americans have avoided opportunities to accumulate wealth as such action would invariably curtail our chances of meeting our heavenly father. Could it be that such thinking flows from having heard far too many sermons revolving around Matthew 19:24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

At no moment during my tenure as a member of the Black Church did I ever hear a black preacher articulate a message that addressed the gap between the words he spoke from the pulpit and the luxurious lifestyle that he and his contemporaries enjoyed. Put simply, even a cursory glance at the lifestyles of a mildly successful black preacher displays the cavernous gap between their sermon and their personal decisions. Black preachers failure to use their pulpit to discuss the financial concerns impacting their congregants in any way other than tithing or the infamous “building fund” ensures the continuation of poverty and foolish spending within our community. Black preachers refusal to address the black portions of the body of Christ in regards to finances is quite simply a dereliction of duty that makes them unfit to lead any segment of the community.

Considering the present economic community of the Black Community, there is little room to refute Marcus Garvey’s assertion that regardless of where he traveled that persons of African descent have always been the poorest, owned the least amount of land, and were tenuously situated in regards to finances. Put simply, wealth has rarely visited, let alone resided in Black America. Consider the following facts.

  • The wealth held by the average white family is seven times greater than the average black family.
  • Median white wealth is twelve times that of black families.
  • Economic studies tell us that twenty-five percent of black households have zero, or negative, wealth.

The most important question that needs to be asked at this moment is the following one; “Who is to blame for this enormous disparity of wealth between black and white Americans?” Those seeking to simultaneously disrespect Black America and explain the alluded to inequities will cite matters such as:

  • Undisciplined spending habits instead of investing money.
  • Pre-occupation with clothes, cars, and other depreciating trinkets.
  • Lack of educational attainments.
  • The failure to circulate the dollar to black businesses in the Black community.
  • The desire to find a job instead of becoming entrepreneurs.

Although each of the above issues is at best a partial explanation for the cavernous wealth gap, they fail to factor in issues such as unemployment, poor paying jobs, the school-to-prison pipeline, financial institutions resistance to providing the capital necessary for African-Americans to start businesses, purchase homes, or a host of other long-term goals. if everyone is beginning from the same starting position. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as many whites have a long legacy of wealth-accumulation that extends back centuries, African-Americans have a similar legacy. Unfortunately for Black America, they have rarely been fortunate enough to begin the accumulation of wealth at the same moment as their white counterparts.

It is a sobering reality to learn that nothing African-Americans have done (educational attainments, professional occupations, entrepreneurship, investment, savings, and investments) has had a sizable impact on closing the wealth gap in regards to whites. Maybe that is why so many of us remain tied to the Black Church. Is it possible that the only balm for our seemingly endless suffering is found in sermons and preaching that revolve around hopes for a death that will allow us to enter “a land where we will study war no more.” I guess that when the black plight is viewed in that light, that it is understandable that many of our people consider death to be a more attractive location than being poor and black in a nation where “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2018

What Black America Must Learn from the Unemployment of Colin Kaepernick and Suspension of Ezekiel Elliott

Public Disclaimer: I am a proud alum of THE Ohio State University and a lifetime fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I promise to let neither of those things significantly affect my reflections on what the 6-game suspension of Ezekiel Elliott means.

In the aftershocks surrounding Ezekiel Elliott’s 6-game suspension for violating the National Football League’s (NFL) ‘personal conduct’ policy, I have heard many of my African-American peers lament that the punishment dispensed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as grossly unfair. A few have taken the step of insinuating that the fact that Elliott’s accuser is a white female is a deciding factor.

Although I consider Goodell’s punishment to be harsh when compared to prior league decisions regarding similar matters, I do not think that the Commissioner’s actions are attributable to any inherent personal prejudice or institutional racism in the NFL. However, I do believe that racial matters impacted the decision indirectly.

If one views the recent ruling regarding Elliott and the continuing unemployment of Colin Kaepernick from an unemotional position they would see that the decisions of Commissioner Goodell and team owners are motivated by rising concerns regarding league popularity; a polite way of referring to league finances. Put simply; the stewards of the NFL brand are caught in a peculiar predicament that forces them to do business in a manner that lessens the chances that those whites purchasing the bulk of game tickets remain loyal to the NFL brand.

When viewed in this light, it is apparent that Kaepernick’s difficulty in securing employment is an occurrence of collusion by NFL owners unwilling to offend patriotic whites who will never forgive the embattled figure for kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. Elliott has likewise been sacrificed to appease women’s rights groups, many of which are filled with black women eager to follow their white ‘sisters’ lead in attacking the Dallas Cowboys running back regarding the highly questionable allegations. Make no mistake about it; the NFL realizes that if such groups disapprove of their handling of the Elliott case, their reaction will be furious and immediate.

In many ways, the most significant lesson that African-Americans can take from both matters is that regardless of the skills black workers possess, they are never so essential to operations that they can not be jettisoned the moment they affect bottom line financial realities. Although difficult for black workers to accept, when it comes to industry, they are never the machine performing the work, they are the grease that will be used until it is of no more use and then discarded.

We must never forget that for American Capitalists, it is ALWAYS about the money. And there is not a darn thing that Black Americans can do to alter that reality in this or any future life.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Old School Advising The New School: The Important Message Jay-Z is Sharing with Young Black America

I learned long ago that knowing your audience is critical to any attempt at delivering an excellent lecture. It is this understanding that sits at the core of my concerted efforts to go beyond the daily recommended allowance of our story in every portion of history that I teach my overwhelmingly African-American audience. I consider it essential to not only developing a significant connection to the young people I instruct every day, but also a crucial component in both the illumination of the American historical narrative and their politicization.

Considering such efforts to build historical moments around the black presence, a recent lecture regarding the rise of Conservatism, Ronald Reagan’s Presidency and Reaganomics framed within a larger discussion of the incubation and birth of Hip-Hop Culture is relatively standard. As I am confident that you can imagine, few topics capture the attention of my students like that seductress we call Hip-Hop. Although I am proud to admit that I love Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture, every discussion that I have with young African-Americans regarding the topic painfully reinforces one unmistakable fact; I cannot “catch the beat” that they are grooving to.

The always expanding gap between my generation and more recent generations regarding Hip-Hop was solidified with thick concrete when one of my students proudly proclaimed that it was not Rakim, KRS-ONE, Scarface, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Nas, or Grandmaster Melle Mel — each of these names was unfamiliar to my students — who had earned the right to sit on the mythical throne of greatest emcee ever, it was Drake; yes, you heard me correctly, Drake!!!! While recovering from the shock of such a foolish statement another student chimed in with the following assertion, “all I want to do is dance; I don’t care about the lyrics. I just want to boogie.”

Honestly, I would have been more taken aback by this stupidity was it not for prior interactions that informed me of contemporary adherents to the temple of Hip-Hop ignorance regarding the most significant popular culture creation ever. Were my students more aware, they would realize that Hip-Hop Culture is their greatest inheritance; a gift that allows them to express to the entire globe what it means to be young, gifted, and black in a hostile nation. Hip-Hop Culture offers each succeeding generation of Black America a conduit for cultural expression and political commentary. Although it is a bitter pill to swallow, all who love Hip-Hop eventually understand that their time at the forefront of the culture expires far too soon, and at that moment they must step aside and watch as a new generation guides this entity that we love in ways that we never imagined; in every way, Rap is a young man’s game.

Ironically, it is this expiration of one’s influence on Hip-Hop Culture that provides forty-something-year-old African-Americans a unique, although not always appreciated, opportunity to view past mistakes and a chance to warn current hip-hop heads of the snares and traps they are bound to encounter. Hindsight allows the regretful and weary traveler to view the distance they have traveled and the long road ahead; a distance that they will never complete.

I am confident that it is the regret that flows from missed opportunities that led famed emcee Jay-Z to hurl the following lyrics from his song “The Story of O.J.” at the current trendsetters driving the priorities of young African-Americans via Hip-Hop Culture.

I bought every V12 engine.

Wish I could take it back to the beginnin’

I coulda bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo

For like 2 million

That same building today is worth 23 million

Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo…

“You wanna know what’s more important than throwing away money at a strip club? Credit!!!!!”…

Fuck livin rich and dyin broke

Jay-Z’s lyrical diatribe succinctly conveys the important lessons he has learned during the past two decades for those who are at the beginning of a similar journey down the bumpy, often unpaved road we call life. Only those who oppose the advancement of Black America could take issue with the lyrics.

There is little room to debate the reality that Hip-Hop Culture and Rap Music is a young man’s game whose ownership is in a word, fleeting. This fact does not mean that the rap game is not in desperate need of a recalibration that will hopefully inform the current generation of what Hip-Hop Culture is at its best moments; political, progressive, profound, and prophetic. This reality compels me to applaud Jay-Z for his latest lyrical offering, if nothing else, it displays that “Hov” has spent significant portions of the past two decades fulfilling lyrics from his song Moment of Clarity.

We as rappers must decide what’s most important
And I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them
So I got rich and gave back, to me that’s the win/win
So next time you see the homie and his rims spinning
Just know my mind is working just like them (rims, that is)

Good job, Hov!!!!!

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.

WHY DID FBI DIRECTOR J. EDGAR HOOVER ORDER HIS MEN TO ATTACK THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF-DEFENSE?

We were saying that poor people should rally and organize against an oppressive government which oppressed us because we were poor, not just because we were black, but because we were poor. See, they could hear all the buy black, do black, think black, be black, black on, and black power. They could hear that, they didn’t care about that part. It was when poor niggers started talking about class struggle that they got frightened. And not just talked about it, but did something…No. They were worried about ignorant, poor niggers on the streets with guns talking about the haves and the have-nots.

(Ericka Huggins)

It is most certainly a daunting proposition to be born black in a schizophrenic nation whose creation was made possible by the enslavement of stolen Africans yet steadily reminds its citizenry that racial matters are relatively inconsequential. Despite what American powerbrokers have repeatedly attempted to assert over the past several centuries, race still somewhat matters.

In many ways, it is surprising that in a nation where an elite class of white power-brokers has risen to power by exploiting all non-elites regardless of racial classification or ethnic identity that racial struggle and pride has not been abandoned by all. Nonetheless, Race remains the rallying point for American groups. Considering the overwhelming influence of Race in America, one is hard-pressed to dispute one of Malcolm X’s most truthful assertions of U.S. racial matters. In an often forgotten moment of commentary regarding the melting of new immigrants into the American fabric of whiteness, Malcolm X remarked that “the first word that European immigrants learn when they come to Ellis Island is Nigger!” From the perspective of Black America, “Nigger” was the secret password that allowed the Irish, Polish, and every other new immigrant group to cloak themselves in a socially constructed and politically expedient cover of bland whiteness. Unfortunately, whites have much company in allowing Race to serve as a rallying point for politico-economic solidarity.

Consider for a moment that racial matters are so central to the vision of black leaders’ that their followers would certainly abandon their camp if they ever de-emphasized racial issues for another variable such as Class. Put simply; within the African-American freedom struggle, any discussion not exclusively focused on Race is not only ridiculed but also dismissed as utter foolishness by an unproductive revolutionary cadre fixated on Race. Black America’s so-called revolutionary class fails to realize that their obsessive focus on Race significantly marginalizes their status as revolutionaries seeking to liberate their person from the misery and sorrow that attaches itself to the economically exploited in any Capitalist nation. Although Black revolutionaries must for their mental comfort resist the insinuation that their efforts to liberate Black America from its centuries-long marginalized status are not only futile but also poses no threat to power-brokers, the fact that power-brokers rarely respond to their efforts should serve as a major indicator of they being on the incorrect path. If they were engaged in the revolutionary process, power-brokers would react in a real manner to their activities. Just ask the remaining leadership of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense if my words are correct.

One of the most unfortunate aspects of my having studied the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense for the past twenty years has been the internal angst that occurs when I engage groups and individuals who have convinced themselves that they are some way a continuation of the original Panthers that Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale co-founded on October 15, 1966, in Oakland, California. After the publication of my book on the Black Panther Party titled Creating Revolution as they Advance was completed, I received the honor of being invited to participate in panel discussions and deliver lectures over the Black Power Era and the vaunted Panther Party; the Vanguard of America’s highly-volatile sixties protest culture.

Although I wish that I could say otherwise, the vast majority of the panel discussions that I have participated in have only highlighted how little many of the individuals who have desperately attempted to seize the Panther’s revolutionary mantle know about organizational principles and philosophies.

One of the most telling signs that many of the modern reiterations of the Black Panther Party are uninformed regarding Panther philosophies is their disproportionate focus on racial matters and utter silence regarding far more impacting class issues. This current cadre of Panthers fails to realize that the path to revolution is not found in the arena of Race, rather class warfare. Despite their inability to recognize it, the poverty that has enveloped so many Americans should be the rallying call to action, not a clumsy attempt by one group of poor people to take the limited resources that other poor people have gained temporary access to.

The failure to accentuate Class over Race reveals present-day Panthers as intellectual lightweights who have yet to find their way to the revolutionary road; such individuals remain mesmerized by icons and symbols such as guns, leather jackets, and berets that mean very little in regards to revolutionary struggle. Contemporary Panthers are seemingly enchanted by the seductive siren known as Race.

Consider for a moment why J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, directed the overwhelming majority of Bureau resources toward the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s destruction. Is the answer to this query found in the Panther’s carrying weapons? Most certainly not! If that were the case, then the Deacons for Defense and Justice or Revolutionary Action Movement — two other black groups that openly carried weapons in defense of their community — would have received similar treatment. The answer to why the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was singled out over their activist contemporaries is ironically their decision to de-emphasize racial matters and accentuate class issues that are more meaningful in a capitalist society.

Consider for a moment the following recollection of Panther leader Ericka Huggins regarding why J. Edgar Hoover’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) singled-out the Panthers for the brunt of their repressive activities. Huggins recalls that,

We were saying that poor people should rally and organize against an oppressive government which oppressed us because we were poor, not just because we were black, but because we were poor. See, they (the FBI) could hear all the buy black, do black, think black, be black, black on, and black power. They (the FBI) could hear that, they didn’t care about that part. It was when poor niggers started talking about class struggle that they got frightened. And not just talked about it, but did something…No. They (the FBI) were worried about ignorant, poor niggers on the streets with guns talking about the haves and the have nots.

If nothing else, J. Edgar Hoover understood the inherent dangers that would eventually manifest from Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale’s teachings regarding the exploitative nature of capitalism and the need for an inter-racial coalition of like-minded organizations to combat this odd beast that threatened all of humanity.

American power-brokers realized that the Panthers pursuit of like-minded groups interested in overthrowing Capitalist America was a unique and significant threat to their existence. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was convinced that Huey P. Newton’s manifestation as a revolutionary theoretician that managed to emphasize class issues without totally dismissing the impact of racial matters made him the most dangerous man in America, one capable of being a messianic figure capable of unifying not only the black movement, but also creating productive coalitions with like-minded groups of varying races and ethnicities.

To the chagrin of his opponents, Newton displayed an uncanny willingness to forge alliances with groups seeking to destroy American Capitalism, regardless of their race/ethnicity or sexual orientation. Therein lays the reason that J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO selected the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense for the bulk of their repressive activities. Unfortunately, contemporary “revolutionaries” are still entangled in a “racial bag” that limits their ability to conceive innovative activities. One thing is for certain until the new Panthers are able to unlearn the draconian lessons of their oppressor, they will never reach, let alone travel down the revolutionary road.

ALL POWER TO ALL PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

It’s a Trap: How African-Americans are Far Too Often being Trapped in the Trap House

For far too long there has been a question surrounding American race matters. That question is quite simply, ‘What is wrong with Black males?’ This query sits at the forefront CAKEof a multiracial and socioeconomically diverse population of Americans. They have not been able to reconcile the seemingly predictable nature of many African-American males toward guns, drugs, and a criminal lifestyle; one I might add, that they willingly flock to.

I believe that the “featured image” for this post depicts an African-American male cutting a birthday cake adorned with the ingredients necessary to create ‘crack cocaine’. Although many may be shocked by greatly disturbed by the image, I believe that it is highly revealing of the contemporary cultural values that a sizable population of African-American males hold. Put simply, this photo reflects the ‘trap’ lifestyle that so many African-Americans’, male and female, find so enchanting.

The alluded to ‘trap’ lifestyle of Southern-based drug dealers, has been glamorized by today’s rappers such as: Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane, and Cheddah the Connect. The traphouse is usually an abandoned house where “dopeboys” operate their business.

When placed within a larger historical context, the “dope boy” life style is little CHIRAQ3different from the vaunted Cowboy persona of yesteryear. Much like the Cowboy, the dope boy life style has gone Hollywood and become endeared by significant segments of the  African American popultion. With films such as “Snow on Tha Bluff”, a film that depicts the trials of dope boy Curtis Snow who struggles to survive in the mean streets of Atlanta Georgia.

To the chagrin of most African-Americans, the trap lifestyle has made its way into their homes. However, many fail to consider why the ‘trap’ lifestyle has become adopted by so many within our midst.

It is my fervent belief that those who have adopted the aforementioned lifestyle have done so with a conscious mind. Put simply, the allure of fame and fortune has proven to be seductive and enchanting for such individuals. Such individuals apparently operate from a position of the ends, justifying the means.

Considering the raging “school-to-prison” pipeline, as well as the “prison industrial complex” African-Americans can ill-afford to become ensnared in the criminal justice system.

We as a people are moving backward each time that we forget that the best way to succeed in a capitalistic society is gaining and sustaining wealth. The best wealth in this society is one gained legally, because is then not easily taken away. We must remember that seeking knowledge and education is the true path to a more sustainable and pleasurable lively hood. Meaning, if one accumulates wealth with a solid foundation is more difficult to take this wealth away. Furthermore, we must remember that the best way to insure our safety is to invest in ourselves, by creating companies and organizations that work together to protect each other.

There are opportunities for those who have previously had issues with the justice system. Trade Schools are a great means for mastering a craft, using it to provide, and eventually branching out on your own. No longer can we settle for an unnecessary fantasy lifestyle that can be torn away in a moment. We must begin to break away from our habits and search for better prospects.

The growing popularity of the trap lifestyle, is one of the many distractions African-Americans face. We must follow those in our community who act on the behalf of the community. Our professors, doctors, and lawyers must again become the head of African-American momentum. We must not become stuck in a ‘trap house’. We must denounce this lifestyle and reveal it for the low-life snake it actually is. Through these means we can hope to regain a thrust and save our people before it is everlasting too late.

Patron Payton

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015