Tag Archives: Damon Young

An Open Letter to Veronica Wells: Please Refrain from Making Black Men Invisible

I must admit that I did little more than shake my head when I heard my brother Carl Tone Jones speak about someone terming black men “terrorists.” Considering that his comments came on the heels of the greatest terrorist attack on American soil, I simply shook my head and mused, “ain’t white folk something.” I readily admit that my racial paranoia led me to believe that it was the white press that had managed to twist and turn the deplorable Las Vegas shooting into an innovative opportunity to rail against black men.

I am confident that you will understand my surprise when I learned that it was Veronica Wells, a black female who serves as the culture editor of MadameNoire, who had disparaged black men in this manner. Particularly troubling is the reality that Wells’ commentary was bound to reach thousands of Americans.

According to Wells,

Black women have been trying to tell the entire Black community that one of our biggest threats in the world is the very Black men we’ve birthed. In the same way that White men use their power and their gender to oppress virtually every one else, is the same way Black men oppress the only group they can, Black women.”

Wells goes further into her diatribe while making the same mistake that Damon Young of “Very Smart Brothas” did in a similar statement against his brothers in Straight Black Men are the White People of Black People. The alluded to mistake was pointing a sawed-off shotgun in the direction of black men and irresponsibly pulling the trigger to fire a spray of pellets in their path. Both of these writers wielded a shotgun when a sniper’s rifle would have been much more appropriate.

It is important to note that the alluded to attack on all black men by writers whose subjects and analysis should be emanating from an esteemed intellectual tradition of racial uplift is yet another consequence of having an intellectual class that has learned at the foot of a white community whose primary purpose has been the destruction of Black America. If Wells and Young are representative of the black intellectual community, that population now fails to understand the utility and power of the Black Pen. In fact, it appears that many black writers consider its best use to be sticking the instrument in the eye of black women or stabbing black men in the heart with it.

In her posting, Wells takes the privilege of speaking for all black women and issues the following complaints regarding black males.

Men literally break their necks to oogle your body as you pass by. They comment on what you should and shouldn’t be wearing. They touch your hair and then get loud and angry when you tell them to stop. They demand hugs, following you into your apartment building and trapping you in an elevator to take them. A Black man threw an empty bottle at Victoria. Brande has had men offer extremely hurtful opinions about her body. And our experiences are not unique.

Although I do not doubt that there are black males, a description that is a far cry from black men, who have perpetrated those acts against not only Wells but also droves of other black women. I am not compelled to apologize for their actions. I have nothing to do with their behavior, yet as a black man, I do denounce their disgraceful conduct and have always served as an active socializing agent against the continuation of such events from my lectern on a weekly basis.

Quite possibly the most annoying aspect of both Wells’ and Young’s postings is that in their clumsy, haphazard rush to correct black males, they have rendered black men whose very essence is guided by a moral compass and commitment to uplifting the Race invisible. Ralph Ellison appropriately sums up the enormous erasure that occurs to progressive-minded black men whose love for women extends beyond familial connections when writers such as Wells and Young articulate unsophisticated, illogical, sophomoric attacks that achieve nothing more than serving as a rallying call for those who despise black men; a population that predictably includes droves of people who hate black women with a similar intensity. These unspecified sawed-off shotgun blasts that by their very nature will harm the innocent are nothing new. Ralph Ellison penned the following about such generalized maligning by relating what such attacks do to black men.

I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.   

Once again, my primary problem with this posting is not that Wells has decided to point out a most unfortunate occurrence within our community by a specific sub-culture as those discussions are much-needed and should be encouraged. However, such conversations need to be precise and not general ramblings that ultimately cause more division among people that I could not imagine being any more divided than it is at the current moment.

Consider the following as it is one example of the inherent danger of sloppy intellectualism and writing manifested by both Wells and Young.

In her posting, Wells pens the following,

By the time I got upstairs to my office, I told my friend and coworker Victoria about the incident. Victoria is the ’bout it friend. Not that she ever goes looking for a fight; but should one present itself, whether it directly involves her or not, she’s not afraid to confront the situation. I mean, I’ve literally watched her jump into a fight involving teenagers on a New York City subway from Brooklyn to Harlem at like 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. Bout it. Meanwhile, I was half sleep, curled up in the corner…Anyway, when I told her what happened, she climbed a few levels of crunk as she talked about what she would have done and said to him.

Now consider for a moment if I were to take the antics of her “bout it friend”, who obviously has an absence of impulse control as she is eager to jump in random confrontations such as fighting on a New York City subway car in the early hours of the morning, and extended it to cover all black women. I would be left with no other conclusion than to believe that even when empowered with an education — a fact that I am certain that her co-worker at MadameNoire possesses — all black women are hood-rats who when pressure is applied morph into uneducated, ghetto-talking, welfare queens, whose foremost desire is to get their hair “did” as it will help them attract their next baby daddy. I am confident that you agree that it would be ludicrous for me to take the socially inappropriate actions of her impulse-control starved co-worker or a figure such as Veronica Wells who apparently fell asleep after a long night out on the town and consider the actions of these few individuals to be an appropriate sample size to evaluate all black women.

In many ways, writings such as those penned by Veronica Wells and Damon Young reveal more about their view of black men and less about the subjects that they loathe, if not despise. As a black man who has lived a little bit of life, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly to be found among black women and even after those life experiences I find it impossible to denigrate black women in such a generalized manner. For every sister that I have seen fighting on a subway or passed out from a night of gallivanting, I also realize that I have female friends whose star shines so bright that it would be impossible for them ever to be rendered ‘Invisible Women.’ The alluded to women are brilliant Professors, loving mothers and wives, phenomenal intellectuals, Womanists, Engineers, and the list goes on and on. It is this latter populace that is the norm in my world, and the antics of a few misguided individuals will not block my view of these sisters that I love cherish and would attack anyone who sought to invade their physical space, mental clarity, or safety.

Although it may be difficult to comprehend for a writer such as Veronica Wells, the majority of black men deplore the actions of those that you have termed “terrorists.” I am confident that you can understand that black men denounce the harassment of black women as they are our mothers, sisters, daughters, nieces, confidants, and cherished friends. In fact, I feel comfortable in saying that black men denounce such foolishness more stringently than you could ever imagine. And we do that without the expectation of any kudos or response from black women. All that we do ask is that in your abhorrence of these droves of black males who have yet to understand the essence of black manhood and therefore fail to under the jewel that black women are, that you do not overlook us and render us Invisible Men whose presence matters little to you.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017