Tag Archives: Colin Kaepernick

Considering Jim Brown’s Words: How Strong Is the African-American Claim of Ownership of America?

The connection that African-American men have with a nation that enslaved their ancestors have always been a contentious issue. The black man’s place in America has always been a conundrum. This centuries old issue was faced and remained unresolved by notable black men such as Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, David Walker, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. Du Bois. Today, the question of “What is the black man’s relationship to America?” remains.

NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown is the latest to weigh in on the dilemma. When one considers Jim Brown’s importance during the highly volatile sixties protest scene, it is understandable that his opinion matters. I am confident that I have much company in believing that Brown would join those who have taken significant issue with assertions that America is “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” It seems that such expectations are errant as the famed Cleveland Browns running back has taken an oppositional position to the recent spate of NFL protests by admonishing that he would never “desecrate my flag and my national anthem.”

Jim Brown’s position on this matter contradicts everything that we thought that we knew about his political stance on Race in America. I am confident that most will agree that Brown’s embracing of the flag and the national anthem reveals a portion of his heart that most never knew existed. One thing is certain, the famed football player has removed all doubt surrounding his view of this matter by definitively embracing America via a declarative statement that “This is my country.”

Although there is a significant portion of my being that wishes to attribute Brown’s comments to a yet to be diagnosed brain injury, Failure to attribute this shocking political stance means that the significance of the hellish existence that black men living on the North American continent have endured for the past 400 years has little significance to the former Cleveland Brown running back. Brown’s statement was so disconcerting that it has remained in my mind for several weeks. Put simply; I have not been able to shake Brown’s utterance.

After much pondering, I shocked myself when I began to consider Brown’s position quite logical and supported by the black experience. Jim Brown’s declaration that “This is my country” has forced me to re-evaluate long-held positions regarding African-Americans stake in this nation. The black claim to America is nothing new as there has always been a portion of Black America that have refused to surrender their birthright by distancing themselves from America. To the chagrin of whites, the alluded to individuals have not only claimed America as their own but also asserted that they have the most significant claim of all.

Although most will scoff at the assertion that blacks are the most American of all Americans, the historical record actually supports the claim. When one considers the contributions that blacks have made to this nation from Jamestown through the present moment, Brown’s claim appears less outlandish than when initially stated.

Although we rarely discuss it, there is no getting around the fact that the initial attempt to settle the North American continent without the aid of Africans was a drastic failure that resulted in a “lost colony.” Furthermore, from the development of Jamestown, it has been the labor of persons of African descent that have enriched this nation at an unconscionable level. As if those historical realities were not enough, we must never forget that it has been an often maligned and oppressed black populace that regularly points the architects of this American democracy back to its pillars of “freedom, justice, and democracy.” When considered in its totality, it is obvious that African-Americans have always been an active agent in forcing this nation to re-engage the process of renewing its democratic principles.

After much consideration of this matter, I must agree with Jim Brown and like-minded individuals who state that our claim to ownership of America is particularly strong. In fact, it is actually much more substantive than any other population currently residing on the North American continent.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

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

A HAIR CUT WOULD SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS: WHY MICHAEL VICK’S ADVICE TO COLIN KAEPERNICK REVEALS HIS STATUS AS A BROKEN MAN

I remember it like it was yesterday when Dr. Julianne Malveaux, the former President of Bennett College dropped this nugget of wisdom regarding institutional racism and the forgiveness it affords white males. In her famed style, the remarkable economist remarked that ‘a skinhead ain’t nothing but a white boy who needs to grow some hair. And when he does, he can walk into any company and be assured of securing some semblance of employment, regardless of his qualifications for the position.’

The alluded to wisdom that Malveaux shared with a room full of African-American collegians was daunting, yet true. Every American should realize that white privilege is enjoyed by whites regardless of their effort to secure it or desire to receive it. Hence, it is puzzling, if not bewildering to hear former NFL Quarterback Michael Vick, a black man who once was the personification of a thug in the eyes of white America, offers the following advice to Colin Kaepernick on FS1’s show “Speak for Yourself.”

“First thing we’ve got to get Colin to do is cut his hair. Listen, I’m not up here to try to be politically correct…I don’t think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle. Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You’re already dealing with a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable.”

Vick’s uninformed diatribe continues below,

“(I) didn’t listen until the end, until I was going through the turmoil and the hardships…Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field…It’s not about selling out.”

When one considers Vick’s words, it is evident that life’s experiences have taught him the primary lesson that educator Jane Elliott reveals as the only path for black people to get ahead in America, “Conform!!!! Act white!!!! That’s how you get ahead in America!!!!”

As an educator privileged to watch thousands of young black males transform during their undergraduate years, I have always found it humorous when a figure that white America and a particular segment of ‘well to do’ black America would consider a ‘thug’ transforms into “the company man.” The company man is ironically a desperate attempt by the disenfranchised to replicate the persona and worldview of those that have historically taken glee in vilifying him. The alluded to figure is impeccably groomed, never found in anything less than designer clothing, and arrives at informal social gatherings dressed business casual. Shockingly, the alluded to transformation often extends far beyond physical appearance as it affects their word choice and diction; I swear that a few of my students picked up a strange accent that vacillates between British and French to complete the transformation. This persona that Harlem Renaissance Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar termed “the Mask” is always an uncomfortable fit for those that consider it an indispensable accessory.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

 

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.

 

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

(Paul Laurence Dunbar)

There is no doubt that those who wear Dunbar’s “mask” do so with the realization that it is the most certain means of having their material needs satisfied. However, if given enough time, these same individuals will realize that they have made a lopsided deal with the Devil that ultimately leaves them as one of the “tortured souls” that Dunbar writes about in his poem.

In many ways, Michael Vick’s advice to Kaepernick is revealing as it displays what he has learned from his very public troubles. Apparently, Vick believes that one must curry favor with white power-brokers ‘by any means necessary.’

I guess that silly is as silly does, and Michael Vick’s silly advice to Kaepernick has actually achieved one thing for certain; that being, it has ensured that he is firmly entrenched as the starting Quarterback on an All-Star team of unwise and stupid athletes who should have been benched long ago when it comes to addressing racial matters, a duty they are incapable of doing well.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

What People Will Do For Money: The Sad Saga of Ray Lewis’ Commentary on Colin Kaepernick

If you possess any level of wisdom, I am certain that you agree that paying close attention to the actions and statements of others for an extended period of time provides you with significant insight regarding their character. This very simple process also holds the potential to highlight an individual’s understanding, or the lack thereof, of history. Ultimately, this process concludes with the observer deciding if a person is a man of substance or a fraudulent charlatan willing to change their viewpoints at opportune moments for financial reward or material accruements. Trust me when I say that the latter persona is the most prevalent in Capitalist America.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker and self-styled political commentator Ray Lewis has once again proven himself to be a fraudulent charlatan willing to alter his viewpoints according to the direction that political winds are blowing the strongest. It does not take a genius to realize that Lewis is constantly positioning himself for a future economic windfall.

Consider for a moment that Ray Lewis has miraculously re-created himself as a person of some substance, a far-cry from the thug persona he relished during his time as the ultimate enforcer for the Miami Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens; let us not forget that Lewis’ hooliganism was a fixture in his social interactions as well. If one seeks verification for Lewis’ penchant for melding together his on-field activities with his off-field conduct, they need to look no further than his guilty plea for obstruction of justice during the investigation of the murder of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. The plea bargain that Lewis agreed to was given in exchange for his testimony against his compatriots Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, for their role in the murder of Baker and Lollar after a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta, Georgia on January 31, 2000. Unbelievably, Ray Lewis has been able to not only escape a career-ending murder charge, but also reshaped his persona as public figure that has been provided access to the likes of Donald J. Trump and a who’s who of Black America. If nothing else, Ray Lewis’ publicist deserves a significant pay raise and accolades for re-shaping his public image.

A crucial portion of Lewis’ persona has been his ascension as a motivational speaker who provides adherents with words of wisdom and inspiration. Consider the following advice from Lewis, “We get one opportunity in life, one chance at life to do whatever you’re going to do, and lay your foundation and make whatever mark you’re going to make. Whatever legacy you’re going to leave; leave your legacy!” One would be hard-pressed to not consider Lewis’ sentiment as Poignant! Relevant! Inspirational! Unfortunately, if one has paid close attention to Lewis, particularly his recent comments regarding Colin Kaepernick it becomes clear that at best he is woefully inconsistent in regards to honoring his words and thoughts.

Consider for a moment how Lewis’ vitriolic diatribe aimed at Kaepernick, a figure whose public protest regarding the continuation of racial bias in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” betrays the above quote about leaving a lasting legacy. Within a context that has seen NFL owners refuse to employ the more than capable quarterback, Lewis attacks Kaepernick’s political activism by remarking “Kaepernick has to make up his mind. Do you want to play football or do you want to be an activist.” Make no mistake about it, this was a conscious move by Lewis that displays his extreme desire to extend his access to the NFL trough owned by the same white powerbrokers who have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the NFL. Additionally, Lewis’ unfortunate commentary conveys either his ignorance regarding the extended tradition of politicized athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Bill Russell or his determination to never ‘bite the white hands’ that feed him.

Although I would love to think that Lewis’ commentary was solely directed at Kaepernick, however, I am unable to do so as its meaning covers the entire pantheon of politicized black athletes. Lewis’ message reduces to an antiquated, yet familiar message that one would expect to hear from racist whites during the Jim Crow era, not a black man in the new millennium. In many ways, Lewis’ tired routine casts him as the “House Negro” that Malcolm X stated loved and identified with his master so much that when the master became ill, the House Negro responded, “What’s wrong boss? We sick.” What a terrible person, Ray Lewis has become, just absolutely terrible.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

“I ain’t no Martin Luther King”: The Ignorant Mind of Michael Crabtree Has Been Revealed For All To See!!!!!!!

I was most certainly not surprised when Michael Crabtree told a white reporter seeking commentary on the recent protests involving michael-crabtree-2Black athletes and the National Anthem, issues that are closely associated with his former teammate Colin Kaepernick, “I just play football. I ain’t no Martin Luther King.”

To be honest with you, I am surprised that a person of Crabtree’s ilk took this long to arrive on the scene as his arrival was in a word, predictable. The Michael Crabtree’s of the world seem to arrive every time whites need reassuring that Blacks are neither politically astute nor desirous of first-class citizenship.

In fact, Brother Malcolm spoke about this type of fool when he stated that anytime that a proud Black man in possession of his ‘correct mind’ says something that white folk don’t like they go and find some bootlicking, buck-dancing Negro to come forward and dispute the obvious truth that he has spoken.

Michael Crabtree’s desperate attempt to ingratiate himself to whites via displaying to the entire world his absolute ignorance regarding all things extending beyond the gridiron is not only unfortunate, but also reeks of someone who has been wholeheartedly convinced that his only contribution to the nation will occur via catching a football. What a pitifully small life Mr. Crabtree has chosen for himself.

Just consider for a moment that here is an individual with what can only be termed an attentive audience eagerly waiting to hear his michael-crabtree-1position on contemporary social and pressing political issues and the only utterance that he is capable of sharing is “I ain’t no Martin Luther King.”

Maybe Michael Crabtree is on the verge of being a marketing genius and planning to trademark his drivel. I can see it now, t-shirts with the saying “I ain’t no Martin Luther King” in every sporting goods store across the nation placed right next to Nike’s well-known slogan of “Just Do It”.

Unfortunately, I suspect that Crabtree’s shirts would appeal to a segment of up and coming African-American athletes who have been duped by teachers, parents, and society in general into believing that the development of their physical prowess and maintenance of a feeble non-inquisitive uncultured mind is the most assured path to “the good life”.

If the next generation of athletes choose to follow the well-worn path that Michael Crabtree has traveled, the world will most certainly be worse off because of it. History has displayed that any individual who travels down a path devoid of politicization and the development of the mind will undoubtedly set the African-American liberation struggle back immeasurably if for no other reason than its propensity to fight against one of our greatest traditions, that being, the creation of politically astute Black athletes. Put simply, if succeeding generations of Black athletes follow Michael Crabtree’s example, not only will we never have another Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., nor will we ever produce another Paul Robeson, Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Arthur Ashe, and the list goes on and on. And for that reason we should all be saddened because the world will be a much worse place for all of us to live.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016