Tag Archives: Foolish Floyd

Foolish Floyd Denounces the Boycott Christmas Movement

As I took my seat across from Floyd in the always busy and bustling Frenchy’s Chicken restaurant, I innately sensed that Floyd was ‘chomping at the bit’ in regards to beginning what invariably would denigrate into a verbal battle over a yet to be determined topic. Although at times like this, I would have appreciated good ol’ fashion fellowship and brotherhood building, I had dealt with Floyd B. Foolish long enough to know that any discussion that we engaged in would eventually turn into a debate that he would attempt to win through attrition, not logic. Put simply, Floyd had an uncanny ability to wear me down with his voluminous illogical views of racial matters that were in many ways like an unrestrained raging bull that held the potential to attack anyone in its vicinity. When Floyd began one of his diatribes, no one, and I do mean no one, was safe.

By the time that I reached our agreed upon location that defiantly stood as a pillar of the community that separated, with the assistance of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Texas Southern University, a Historically Black University, from the predominantly white University of Houston. However, one only needed to step inside of Frenchys to discern which population supported this culinary institute as nearly one-hundred percent of the patrons were African-American. In many ways, the University of Houston with its hulking structures was the intruder in this area.

I did not even look to see if Floyd was sitting at one of the picnic tables that serve as the sitting area at this Frenchy’s location, I had more pressing matters at hand. At the top of that list of priorities was a gnawing hunger that I think my stomach and I agreed could only be addressed by “the King special.” On the ride to Frenchy’s Chicken, I worked myself into a devout belief that I deserved, not necessarily needed, the King Special. For $9.99 the King Special included 3 Wings, 2 Pieces of Dark Chicken, and a choice of either Dirty Rice or Fries, of course, I added a drink to wash it all down.

After placing my order with one of the most country sounding, yet overly hospitable, young ladies I had ever met, I waited a few seconds and my much beloved King Special was placed in front of me. As I turned to find a seat, there was Floyd’s bald-headed self vigorously waving his hand in a desperate attempt to get my attention. I believe that Floyd thought that I would use any opportunity to avoid his company, a statement that was neither totally true nor totally false. There was no doubt that we had fallen into a classic ‘love/hate’ relationship.

I approached the picnic table where Floyd sat with several other patrons and received my initial sign that I should be prepared for a particularly contemptuous debate as Floyd began his ghetto soliloquy prior to my sitting down.

A smiling Floyd shared the following. “We all saw you on television.” His words were matched by his spreading his arms to include the entire table of diners, none of which I had ever met.

And all that I can say is that you and the rest of those Black Power niggas are nuts!!! Do you really believe that Black people who love Jesus more than anything in the world would boycott Christmas?” Floyd took his voice up several octaves to accentuate his point. “Boycott Christmas??? You niggas are crazy as cat shit.

After hearing Floyd’s initial salvo which was his unique way of revealing the subject matter that we would be discussing today, every fiber of my body wanted to raise up from my seat and find another space to enjoy my King Special before I engaged Floyd and what appeared to be his gang of like believers. Apparently, Floyd knows me much better than I give him credit for as he admonished that I had “better not think about leaving this table because we need to talk about this mess right here.

It was then that I noticed that a few of the people at the table were in possession of the latest copy of an editorial I had written for a local black newspaper that was available throughout the black community for free, of course, it was available at Frenchy’s. And if these strangers assembled around the table had the latest issue of the paper, that most certainly meant that they had my latest editorial regarding the “Boycott Christmas movement” that I had already been attacked over by my Nationalist compatriots, most notably my beloved cousin Kareem Rawls. I was shocked that Kareem, and many others, were taken aback by even the title, Why the Boycott Christmas Movement is Destined for Failure.

WHY THE BOYCOTT CHRISTMAS MOVEMENT

IS DESTINED FOR FAILURE

We are approaching that magical time of year when Americans spend money that they do not have in an effort to shower their loved ones with gifts. As with most things, African-Americans have a peculiar relationship with Christmas. Many within our community not only embrace the occasion but also take every opportunity to joyously remind you that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, while others take an oppositional position that would make Ebenezer Scrooge blush.

Those who have politicized the Christmas season propagate their belief that African-Americans participation in the Holiday works against their best interests as it causes them to support the very people and system that has oppressed them for nearly 400 years.

I think that the calls for African-Americans to abstain from Christmas are at their best foolhardy and unrealistic. Those segments of our community making this call are going to find themselves as frustrated this year as they have been in past years and are destined to be in the future. Dare I say that they are slightly crazy because they fail to understand that “If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.” In their case, they have received failure every year as droves of African-Americans spend their money Christmas shopping.

It is time for the Nationalist community that has repeatedly attempted to get African-Americans to stop supporting those who have not only worked to ensure but also profited from their marginal politico-economic status to abandon their current course that reminds one of Nancy Reagan’s infamous ‘Just Say No’ campaign.

A much more productive tactic is to instruct African-Americans what they should say yes to. Considering that the ultimate goal of Black Nationalists economic plan is to circulate the Black dollar within the African-American community, a much more productive tactic is to propose a 1-to-1 ratio, heck even a 10-to-1 ratio would be an improvement in regards to the monies Blacks spend outside and inside of the community. Put simply, maybe we should consider a campaign prodding those who are bound to extend the tradition of spending truckloads of money this coming Christmas to spend a portion of those dollars within the African-American community. A call could be made that requests that for every $10 African-Americans spend with businesses outside of the community that they voluntarily spend $1 with a black business.

Now I am certain that many are aiming for a total boycott of Christmas and there is no doubt that they have valid points, however, at this moment such a staunch stance is going to result in continual failure. Many African-Americans are either unaware of or paying little attention to their demand. The only way of salvaging the spirit behind the Boycott Christmas movement is to approach it via a milder form that encourages those who are spending their monies this holiday season to make a concerted effort to circulate a few of those dollars among their own.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.      

© Manhood, Race, and Culture

Although I was looking directly at Floyd when I related that I stood by each and every word of my editorial, that statement was intended for any and everyone seated at the table, particularly those who had taken issue with my argument that the ‘Boycott Christmas’ movement was bound to fail because it was too extreme. I believed that we needed a much milder approach that would usher our people toward a routine of patronizing Black businesses during the holiday season; it would be a start that could quickly turn into a tradition.

When I first approached the table, Floyd had intentionally given me the impression that those assembled around the table were associated with him in some way, shape, form or fashion; nothing could have been further from the truth. My assumption, that Floyd strategically led me towards, was horribly wrong as the people assembled around this table were not allies of Floyd, rather regular diners who happened upon one of our weekly debates/arguments. To my delight, these people were total strangers to Floyd and most likely rational in their thought patterns, at least I hoped so. Lord, knows that I could only deal with one ‘Foolish Floyd’ at a time.

The first hint that the eight or so individuals assembled around the picnic table were not supportive of Floyd’s peculiar brand of political illogic, came from a gentleman decked out in what amounted to a handyman’s uniform. This brother whose age I would estimate to be around fifty eagerly jumped in with a verbal flurry that quickly related his belief that my position was flawed because it did not give the African-American community its due respect.

Brother let me ask you one important question. Why should we not totally boycott the Christmas season? Not the parts that deal with our family’s gathering together and whatnot, however, it is time that each member of the Black community, our community, do their part to uplift the masses. When you really think about it, we are not asking for much by requesting that they not purchase goods this Christmas season. You can achieve that goal by simply sleeping every day; it is not the most intensive request. Especially for a people whose ancestors were enslaved and forced to work from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night.” It did not take me long to realize that this brother’s position, although somewhat critical of my relatively mild plan, was totally critical of Floyd’s non-sense. I giggled internally as it dawned on me that this brother was on the verge of learning why any discussion with Floyd held the potential for unrestrained violence.

Floyd enthusiastically jumped in with a boisterous assertion aimed at the working man that “Now this is something that I don’t get to say very often, but man you’re crazier than this fool right here. Why should we have to miss out on all of those gifts and showing those that we love how we feel about them? You can rest assured that I have and will be buying plenty of gifts for my lady friends. They love receiving gifts.” With a sly look on his face, Floyd shared that “After they get their gifts, then they give me my gift; if you get my drift.

At this moment, one of the ladies sitting around the table, whose diction and word choice immediately indicated that she was most definitely an educated sister directed her commentary toward Floyd, “But brother don’t you realize that by purchasing gifts from the very people who will not hire you, or anyone who looks like you, amounts to nothing other than damaging the Black community to the benefit of others who will take those black dollars and build up their own communities. We’ve seen the whites do it, the Asians do it, the East Indians, the Arabs, and only the Lord know who will be the next group to build their community off our backs.” I simply sat back and let the sister have an unencumbered shot at Mr. Popular. “Brother Malcolm once stated that we run our neighborhoods down when we allow others to come into our midst and take our financial resources. And he was absolutely correct!

Never daunted by any argument, regardless of its soundness, Floyd quickly responded with a rhetorical question that called upon him to overemphasize his southern-drawl. “But aren’t we Americans and therefore free to participate in whatever holiday we desire and also free to spend our hard-earned money on whatever, whenever we want to. You Negroes are the only ones in this nation always talking about boycotting this and that to get your way. No other group, not the whites, Asians, Irish, Russians, Polish, or Germans ever calls for a boycott of another group.

Feeling as if my head was about to implode from Floyd’s asinine political observation, I hurriedly stated, “Others don’t have to issue boycotts within their communities because through economic solidarity they ensure that every business in their neighborhoods is owned and controlled by their own.

It was during this moment that I decided to direct a simple question at Floyd. “When was the last time that you saw a black-owned Bar-be-cue restaurant in a white community? I’ll answer that for you!!!! You have never seen such a thing. However, it is common to see Chinese, Japanese, and Italian restaurants serve as fixtures within any African-American neighborhood that you visit across this vast nation.

A beautiful mocha colored young lady joined in the conversation and asked Floyd, “Not only that but when will the time be correct for our people to start their own businesses and for the community to seriously support their efforts? What is the Black community’s rock-bottom? We are already beggars in regards to the white man and employment.” She continued her attack upon Floyd with the admonishment that “We are darn near parasitic in regards to other races. We live off of the job opportunities that they begrudgingly gift to us. Can’t we get milk from a cow like the white man? Can’t we develop our own technology that the world could benefit from? Or are we truly inferior as others have so often charged?

Apparently, this young lady’s commentary set Floyd off as he flew into a furious rant that contested her final point, “are we inferior to others?!

Floyd angrily chimed in, “Inferior? Inferior to the white man? Although I would never attempt to speak for anyone else, I am most certainly not inferior to anyone. I choose to do what I want to do and when I want to do it. I am a free man who makes his own choices.

To my surprise, Floyd’s aggressive tone did not send the young lady into retreat; in fact, she went on a more vociferous attack. “Now you say that you make your own choices, however, you can’t manage to make the best choice for not only you but also your people. The choice of either supporting a total Blackout of Christmas and supporting those who raid our communities financially or concerted efforts to include African-American businesses during this year’s buying season should be an obvious choice to an independent thinking man as you claim to be. If you cannot bring yourself to make the obvious choice to support Black businesses in the Black community, you are either an imbecile or a traitor to your own kind. The equivalent of an economic suicide bomber within the Black community, however, you shouldn’t worry too much about it because you have a bunch of company.

I did my absolute best to conceal the absolute glee that I was experiencing at this moment; this discussion had most certainly not turned out the way that Floyd anticipated. He absolutely refused to believe that his backward thinking was in many ways an anomaly among African-Americans, particularly if they were educated, progressive-minded and forward thinking. Although Floyd would never agree with this assertion, the truth of the matter is that African-Americans have been, and always will be, inextricably linked together.

After being berated and intellectually destroyed by this young lady, I expected Floyd to remain silent. Unfortunately for everyone assembled around the table, Floyd’s silence lasted all of five seconds. It was at that moment Floyd rose from his seat, closed the styrofoam container holding his remaining pieces of chicken, and summarily told the entire table, “Ho! Ho! Ho! Y’all can all, kiss my Black ass.”

The entire assembly of strangers burst into raucous laughter.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

FLOYD, PAUL MOONEY, AND THE “N-WORD”

I am absolutely certain that you recognize that although Floyd and I are from the same generation, we are distinctly different individuals with thoughts, ideas, and principles that clash with the slightest provocation. Quite possibly the single-greatest verbal demarcation line between Floyd and me revolves around our use of the English language, particularly the use of what I, and most respectful individuals, commonly refer to as the ‘N-word’ and Floyd’s determination to use the word Nigga. A term that Floyd illogically maintains is markedly different than the use of the word “Nigger”.

Now that I think about it, rare is the occasion that I have been in Floyd’s presence that he has not used the ‘N-word’. Floyd seemed to emanate from the Paul Mooney school of thought in that he says, Nigga, a hundred times each morning because it makes his teeth white.

Most offensive of Floyd’s habitual use of the ‘N-word’ is the reality that he knows very well that I cringe each and every time he uses it; I must admit that my embarrassment is exponentially increased when he uses it in a setting with what we term mixed company. Unfortunately for me, I think that a significant aspect of Floyd’s refusal to let what is actually the nitroglycerine of the English language was his sadistic desire to see my reaction to its appearance, regardless of the setting.

Now I would be remiss if I did not honestly relate that I have been known to use vulgar language from time-to-time, however, I have consciously attempted to rid myself of the burdensome, historically-loaded, ‘N-Word’.

Considering such an initiative I am quite certain that you are going to wonder why I would elect to take Floyd to The Improv, a staple of Houston’s comedy club circuit, to hear the aforementioned Paul Mooney as a birthday present. I had come to learn that great comedians from Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Paul Mooney, Bill Cosby, etc. were an arena that Floyd and I were kindred souls. It was one arena that I shed, without any sense of embarrassment or contradiction, my abhorrence of the word Nigga as Black comedians used it frequently and within every imaginable context.

So on Saturday Evening, I picked Floyd up from his place and made my way toward I-10 West (The Katy Freeway).

From the moment Floyd stepped out of his front door, it was obvious that this was a special night for him, not only was it his birthday but also he was about to see Paul Mooney, his “favorite comedian this side of Richard Pryor” perform live for the first time. And trust me when I tell you that Floyd was adorned with his finest threads, he was truly open-casket sharp with what seemed like an 18-piece Lavender suit. I thought it was a bit much, but hey, it was Floyd’s day and as the saying goes, ‘If you like it, I love it.”

Floyd talked incessantly during the entire drive regarding not only Paul Mooney, but also his best friend, the unparalleled Richard Pryor. It seemed as if Floyd was a walking Wikipedia of facts regarding the comedic duo; which spurred a question from me.

“If you are so into Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney, how come you have never gone to see them live.”

“Ain’t never had the opportunity. Meaning whenever they were performing close to where I was at, I didn’t have no money. Hell, I wouldn’t be going tonight if you weren’t paying.”

Floyd then sheepishly asked,

“You are paying, right? Don’t get me down here this close to seeing my main man and then I can’t get in the building. I promise you I will act a certifiable fool if you do.”

I just laughed and related to Floyd that his acting a fool wouldn’t really matter to me because I would be inside listening to Paul Mooney.

Floyd responded as I knew he would,

“Just like a Nigga”

For some reason I didn’t cringe at his use of the “N-word”, maybe because I understood that it held no negative connotations in this context. We were two friends simply kicking it on our way to see our boy.

We arrived at The Improv, got our tickets and enjoyed the show. Having seen Mooney several times before, I must relate that he was in rare fashion as he traversed across topics such as Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, O.J. Simpson, Ben Carson, and Niggas.

Two particularly memorable moments occurred during the night.

The first was when a white couple rose from their seats and walked up the stairs to exit the venue, witnessing this, Mooney stated,

“I still got my magic. They must have thought that they were coming to see Andy Rooney, not Paul Mooney.”

The overwhelmingly Black audience burst into uproarious laughter.

The second moment was a particularly personal one that nearly led to me wetting my pants. It was when Paul Mooney looked in our direction and spotted Floyd. At that moment, Mooney displayed the quick-wittedness that makes him such a great comedian. He stated,

“Awww shit, look at this Nigga over here. What motherfucking color do you have on Nigga? Nigga, please stand up so that we all can get a good laugh.”

To my amazement, Floyd rose from his seat and did a slow 360 degree turn.

“Now I know that we are in Houston, Texas, but that Nigga right there has got to be straight out of somewhere in Mississippi.”

Floyd shouted back at Paul Mooney,

“You Goddamned right!  Greenwood, Mississippi, in the house.”

Of course Mooney would not let Floyd have the last word and told Floyd to,

“Sit your loud country ass down. I bet you that Nigga got slave-catchers still after his ass. Out here dressed in a 54-piece Lavender suit around civilized people. Lavender, Nigga? Really, Nigga?”

I must tell you that there were tears running down people’s faces by the time Paul Mooney ended his roasting of Floyd. Above and beyond everything else, this moment of attention made Floyd’s night, it was a memory that he would never relinquish, even if he were the butt of Mooney’s jokes. And as you well know, it was better that it was him and not me.

Although we wished that Mooney could have stayed on stage for several nights, the truth of the matter was that he had already given us nearly three-hours of cutting-edge comedy for which we were all eternally grateful. Mooney even added a final touch of class to his performance by meeting and greeting every person who desired to purchase a DVD he had for sale.

I have found that at opportune moments such as this one, Floyd tended to shy away from opportunity. As expected, he stood up and turned for the exit. I had to halt his progress and walk him over to where Mooney was now standing selling his DVD’s and taking photos with his fans. As we approached Mooney, he burst into laughter at Floyd and jubilantly yelled,

“My Mississippi cousin!!!!!! What do you have on? Who in the hell let you come out of the house like that? Just kidding brother, you know that I had to give it to you.”

To my amazement, Floyd fell silent as a church mouse. I explained to Mr. Mooney that it was Floyd’s birthday and this was his first time ever seeing him perform. And that Floyd was the world’s biggest Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney fan.

Mooney, the classy gentleman that he is, responded,

“Well alright!!!! Now I know a Nigga that like two shit-talking Niggas like me and Richard can speak. He ain’t mute is he?”

“Fuck nah, I ain’t no motherfucking mute. I got plenty to say, Nigga.”

Mooney laughed enthusiastically and told Floyd if he keeps talking like that he was going to have to take him on the road with him. Ultimately, Mooney took a gang of photos with Floyd, he even put Floyd’s Lavender suit coat on in a few of the photos as well as giving Floyd a DVD and the hat he had worn during his comedy routine, which he autographed for the overwhelmed Floyd.

The night was truly a special one, yet it was not over. I had planned on taking Floyd to a late dinner at FOGO DE CHÃO.

I have always believed that it is much better to give than to receive, this night solidified that belief. Floyd could not stop talking about either The Improv or Paul Mooney. My plan to ensure that he had a grand birthday was turning into an absolute success. Before long, we were turning off of Westheimer and into the parking lot of FOGO DE CHÃO.

After being seated, it took Floyd a while to understand how things worked inside of this venue. He had a difficult time comprehending that they would bring rolls of meat, any type of meat he desired, and cut it tableside for him.

Once Floyd got a hang of the way things worked, he behaved as if he were an old-pro at this. Apparently Floyd became so comfortable with his environs that he had an opportunity to return to his favored past time; aggravating yours truly.

“Now you cannot tell me that you didn’t enjoy Paul Mooney, even with him using the term Nigga so much. I am telling you that with all of the problems that our people have, we are spending way too much time focused upon that one word. It is kind of ridiculous when you really think about it. There are so many other things to worry about like: drug abuse, murder, poverty, teenage pregnancy, education, domestic violence, and the list can go on and on.”

I knew that I must immediately respond to Floyd’s opening statement.

“But Floyd can’t you see how so many of those other things flow from how we term and therefore envision ourselves?”

“Nigga please. Using as you and your people like to term it, the ‘N-Word’ ain’t got a damn thing to do with no domestic violence, high school dropouts, and poverty.”

I protested his charge that all of those things were most certainly linked together.

“Floyd, you do remember the piece that I wrote about this matter in African-American News & Issues, don’t you.”

Floyd admitted that he remembered the piece that follows,

MY NIGGA:

THE POWER OF WORDS ON THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MIND

I don’t wanna be another nigga,
Waitin’ with my hands out,
Broke in the hood, they give a damn ’bout
Braggin’ to my homie bout the hoes I fucked
Drinkin’ bottles after bottles, plus I smoke too much.
I never had a job that would pay me well,
I took what I could cause they gave me hell…
 I barely go to church but I say I will,
I bow my head right before I eat my meal
The world’s fucked up and they claimin’ I’m to blame
It’s a damn shame cause
I don’t wanna be another nigga,

Big K.R.I.T.

One of my core beliefs is that “the power of life and death is in the tongue.” Put simply, watch what you say as those words are living projectiles that not only impact the world around me but also go a great measure towards determining my future path. My parents and mentors repeatedly told me to watch my word choice, particularly when it came to cursing, because, ‘a little bit of bad will tear down a whole lot of good.’

We all realize that America holds its African-American citizenry to a different standard. Most unfair is the reality that the antics, of one African-American, have the ability to malign the entire race. Despite their best attempts to deny it, African-Americans are inextricably linked together. One’s public persona, from dress to speech, reflects not only that individual, rather it is extended to cover one’s family and race; especially if that image carries any negativity. When African-American elders are commenting upon the pride they exhibited during earlier moments, they are recalling their posture, walk, diction, and physical appearance. One abhorred being caught ‘showing one’s color’, meaning damaging the African-American image, regardless of the extenuating circumstances.

The aforementioned realities are one of many reasons why YG’s hit single, “My Nigga”, is so disturbing; particularly its impact upon the image and psyche of African-American males. Although I find it particularly difficult to believe that there is anyone on the planet who has not heard this recording by now, in the event that there is such an individual, here are a sampling of the chorus.

My nigga, my nigga
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga?

The word ‘nigga’ is repeated a shocking thirty-one times during one chorus. Black America’s soul should be troubled by not only the verbal flurry but also the fact that it has entered the impressionable minds of droves of African-American youth.

As someone who has been addicted to rap music from the first time that I heard Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s ‘The Message‘, I thought that it may be time to address YG’s recording, not with a denunciation of it, that is not only easily accomplished, but also predictable, rather I have decided to offer an artistic alternative to a listening audience that desperately seeks close association with the “N-Word”. Unfortunately, many of these individuals believe that YG’s record, and similar recordings, epitomize what rap music is. So, please consider this a desperate attempt to fight the blaze of ignorance that YG, Rich Homie Quan, and Jeezy began and Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Meek Mill fanned with their remix, with an alternative vision. Please click on the following links for an alternative understanding of the N-Wordnigga, and nigger from several generations of African-Americans.

Maybe the aforementioned rappers will trip upon this posting and learn something regarding the power of language and come to understand that their financial wealth is insufficient to hide their intellectual and moral poverty. I am certain that time will impress upon them that no amount of cash is capable of masking such poverty. One of their own, Jay-Z, a self-proclaimed rap God, once issued an admonishment that is particularly applicable here when he related, “you can pay for school, but you can’t buy class.” A lesson that I hope the entire hip-hop community learns before the power of their words leads to more incarceration, death, and destruction of their own.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture 2015.

“I refuse to believe that you cannot understand how the use of that word affects how our people, especially young children, male as well as female, see themselves. It frames their entire existence.”

“No! What frames their entire existence is the home they were raised in, the school that they go to, the church that they attend. That’s where I learned who I was.”

“And who are you?”

“A strong Black man who ain’t about to take no shit off of no white man or Nigga. That’s who Floyd is. Period. Point blank.”

“But what about for our children who were not raised in a loving home? Who attend an under-funded inner-city school? Who have never attended church or had a suitable male role model? What about them? Hunh?”

“Well, they had better hope that God is still in the business of taking care of fools and babies. Because they sound like they are in for a rough life. However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the word Nigga. Think about it this way. Let’s say that I, Paul Mooney, and every other Nigga that you know stopped using the ‘N-Word’. It wouldn’t make a bit of a difference. We would still be as poor, uneducated, and jailed as before.

Man, I tell you, the more education some people get, the dumber they seem to get.”

I am certain that Floyd saw my eyes tighten, a sign that I was about to tear into his ignorant ass. However, before I could launch my salvo, Floyd cleared up his comment.

“Now don’t get all mad about what I said, hey, don’t take it personal. I wasn’t even talking about you, at least not directly. What I mean is this. Did you see in the paper where the NAACP had went out and bought a casket, opened it up, wrote the word Nigger on a single white piece of paper, placed it inside of the casket, closed it up and then had a funeral for the ‘N-Word’, burial and all. Now what kind of sense does that make? That’s what I am trying to say. Some people, regardless of their education are just plain stupid.”

“Now I do understand what you are saying Floyd. However, they are well meaning in trying to point us in a new direction where we do not demean each other and stop teaching our children to do such; for many of them, it is their initial lesson. When was the last time that you listened to a group of African-Americans talking and you didn’t hear the ‘N-Word’? And don’t you dare try and tell me that it is a term of endearment.”

Floyd looked across the table as if he were exasperated with this entire conversation and related the following,

“Well that is exactly what it is, at least when I use it. Now tell me honestly, do you think that I am being disrespectful toward you when I use the term? Honestly?”

“Nah, I don’t think that at all.”

“Yet, you still believe that this one little word, Nigga, holds the power to liberate our people? That’s foolishness. What will liberate us is collectivist economics, voting, and valuing education. If we mastered all of those things, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But because the problem is so damn big, you and the rest of the Negropeans choose to pick on your own. Nah, quit being a coward and address the source of our misery and suffering. Go and talk to the white man and leave us little people alone.”

All I could think was that Floyd was correct in his logic, something that was in and of itself a bit startling, yet, I knew that I would never be comfortable with the use of the word Nigga in any context; or at least in public around mixed company.

“And another damn thing. Maybe, y’all should stop using it behind clothes doors if you want everyone else to pledge to abandon it.”

“Haha, I sense yet another victory for Floyd. On my birthday nonetheless.” 

I just stared at Floyd as he bathed in one of his most lopsided victories.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Chapter excerpt, from the soon to be released book, Floyd: The Contrarian Returns

Floyd Redefines What a Black Business Is

My friend Floyd, I guess that I can comfortably call him my friend, gingerly slid into his seat at This Is It in a manner that was so unusual that it caught my attention. Compared to his present state, Floyd had certainly seen better days; Floyd moved not like a man who was stricken with illness, rather his slow and deliberate movements resembled those of a man who found himself on the losing end of a physical altercation.

Floyd’s slow movements were so disconcerting that they distracted me from my delicious plate of Chicken and Dumplings. Although I now wished that I had noticed his condition before his sliding into the booth, I motioned toward the kitchen area and told Floyd,

It’s on me. What do you want?

Floyd, at nearly a whisper level, a clear sign that it was difficult for him to speak, communicated,

I wouldn’t be mad at you if you got me some of those chitlins’.”

Although I momentarily paused as I wanted to find out what was wrong with Floyd; I figured that issue would remain after I returned with the chitterlings. With food in tow, I made my way back to our booth and set the plate in front of Floyd.

Predictably, Floyd’s present condition did not prevent him from intentionally aggravating me. He purposely waited until I had not only sat down but also picked up my fork to resume eating before asking like a meek child,

Could I get a little Sweet Tea to go with this?

Floyd’s request, although ill-timed, would be honored, however, not before I shook my head at him and let out a prolonged sigh; in many ways the most frustrating aspect of this entire episode was that I knew Floyd well enough to know that he was going to wait until I sat down before making another request. I mumbled several words under my breath as I rose from my seat to retrieve Floyd’s ‘Sweet Tea.’

During the walk to and fro, I decided that today was not the day for me to fool with Floyd regarding what was going on in his life. Today was not a good day for Floyd to dilly-dally around.

As I sat the ‘Sweet Tea’ in front of Floyd, I jumped right to the crux of the matter.

Floyd, what in the world has happened to you?

Apparently, Floyd was in his usual mood to be coy and elusive, positions that were as aggravating as they were unnecessary. By feigning ignorance, ‘Foolish Floyd’ was raising my ire to a level that would have surprised him; as I previously mentioned, today was most certainly not the day to be fooling around, I was quite simply not in the mood for his silly banter.

What do you mean?

My response to Floyd’s attempt at being difficult was to stare straight into his beady little eyes angrily.

Okay, Okay, Okay!!!! I had a little incident about a block from my house; one that I definitely did not cause. I was on my way to the store when a mob of those Revolutionary niggas attacked me.”

Floyd knew very well that his easy use of the ‘N-word’ always sent my mind into a spiral. With a mouth full of chitterlings and coleslaw, Floyd continued.

You know that I am on a fixed income, so every penny counts. Like this place right here, I would never be able to afford eating here on the regular. It costs too much.

I jumped right in on this point as Floyd paused to deposit more food into his greasy mouth,

But Floyd, you do know that it is critical that we support Black businesses like this place, the Breakfast Klub, and Mikki’s Soul Food, because not only do they provide an awesome service, but also they reinvest their profits into the community, not to mention all of the people they employ. Those people are someone’s mother and father.”

By the time I finished my soliloquy on the virtues of circulating the Black dollar, Floyd was shoveling yet another forkful of chitterlings into his even more greasy mouth. Although I wanted to continue expounding upon the desperate need to support Black businesses, Floyd held up a coleslaw covered finger as if he were asking me to cease my diatribe.

It was after Floyd swallowed the massive amount of food he was holding in his mouth as if it were some oversized storage unit and chased it with a gulp of ‘Sweet Tea’ that he began to speak again.

Now you know, of all people, that I understand the need to support our own. Have you forgotten my experience at ‘Cookie’s Corner Store’? You remember how I acted when our people by-passed a Black business in favor of an Arab store? Remember, who was charged with a ‘hate crime’ for defending a Black business?”

I must relate to being a bit surprised, if not overly impressed, by Floyd’s response because he was correct on all accounts.

I was just informing you of my fixed income status, nothing more and nothing less. If anything, it is economic constraints and common sense that makes my supporting Black businesses difficult.”

Floyd’s use of the words ‘common sense’ was apparently today’s bait being used to usher me into a raucous discussion regarding the desperate need to support Black businesses at all costs.

Now let’s get back to why those Revolutionary niggas, your kind of people, jumped on ol’ Floyd.

I responded to Floyd’s offer to return to my earlier question with little more than a slight nod of my head.

As I said before, I am on a fixed income, so every penny counts. I have to watch my money closely, or I will run out before the month ends.”

Although I knew that I shouldn’t, I chimed in with a question.

Floyd? What in the hell does that have to do with you being beaten up?

Annoyed by my interjection, Floyd stared at me before stating,

If you would give me a minute then I could tell you! So just be quiet for a couple minutes, please.

“I have a routine that I adhere to; I purchase the same groceries from the same corner store located around the corner from where I live. I don’t have a car to make it to a real grocery store. I am not getting on the bus with no damn groceries; that would create an entirely different issue. So I bypass all of that and go to the corner store closest to my apartment, it just happens to be owned by some Arabs who are always helpful and polite to me. I don’t bother them, and they respect me.”

Floyd apparently read the skepticism on my face. I knew from prior discussions that Floyd lived in the predominantly African-American 5th Ward, in fact, he didn’t live far from where we were dining. It was difficult for me to believe that the area was devoid of opportunities for Floyd to do business with his own people.

I already know what you are thinking. And you are right. There is a Black corner store right across the street from the Arab store.”

Why not simply shop at that store and support your own people, Floyd?

“I have two good reasons that I don’t shop at the Black store. Reasons that I wished that I could have shared with those Revolutionary niggas before they attacked me for shopping at the Arab store. Number one, I am on a fixed income and the Arab store is much less expensive. Number two, I know that fool who owns the Black convenience store, he owns a gang of them, and he is most definitely not re-investing his money back into the community, he is putting it into his damn pocket as he heads to his plush pad in River Oaks; over there with the white folks.”

“You do know what made me see the light in regards to not blindly supporting Black businesses don’t you?”

I just cringed at what I knew was coming, my own words. Floyd laid out in front of me an editorial regarding this matter.

THE JORDAN RULES:

HOW MICHAEL JORDAN UNRAVELS ‘BUY BLACK’ CAMPAIGNS

            Racial uplift plans began prior to the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Most certainly since the slave era ended in 1865, African-Americans have attempted innumerable plans to improve the community by addressing its financial shortcomings. A diverse group of leaders from Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, T. Thomas Fortune, Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Martin Luther King Jr., Madame C.J. Walker, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan, have all advanced slightly different formulas that promised to lift African-Americans out of the economic chains that have held them so firmly.

            Generally speaking, the vast majority of these programs are relatively simple in that they call for the rise of a Black entrepreneur class that creates businesses to serve the needs of the African-American community. The rather simple formula calls for the African-American community to support these businesses with an unbreakable loyalty. According to most Black Nationalists, the circulating of the dollar within the African-American community is the only reasonable means of economic improvement. Such thinkers are most certainly motivated by Malcolm X’s famous quote of, “You run down your own community when you give your dollar away.”

            Often ignored in such economic formulas is a final step that calls for Black businessmen to honor the African-American community’s unending loyalty by re-investing their monies in new businesses, philanthropic endeavors, depositing their money in Black banks who will then issue loans to aspiring business owners, and the hiring of community members. Failure to do such destroys the entire racial uplift campaign as it is doing little more than enriching individuals whose wealth is not ‘trickling down’ to the masses that it was built upon. One of the greatest examples of such is the basketball icon Michael Jordan.

            Although one can have a robust argument regarding who is the greatest basketball player of all-time. Innumerable names appear in that discussion: Oscar “the Big O” Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell,  Julius “Dr. J” Irving, Larry Bird, Ervin “Magic” Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and the list goes on and on. However, there is one arena that is indisputable in regards to the aforementioned basketball legends, that being, who has been the most financially successful player away from the court. Michael Jordan, a six-time NBA Champion, stands without peer in regards to off the court financial success. Jordan’s unprecedented off the court financial success is attributable to the sneaker empire he has built with the aid of Nike.

I am certain that there are many who believe that Ervin “Magic” Johnson rivals Jordan in post-athletic career earnings, those people are wrong. According to Nike Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker, the Jordan “Jumpman” brand “…transcend(s) sport and culture across gender, age and geographies…(opening up a) world of opportunity…”

            Jordan has been able to accomplish something that seems impossible by increasing endorsement dollars after retirement. In 2004, the year after Jordan retired from the National Basketball Association, the six-time NBA champion earned $28 million dollars in endorsements. Today, the Jordan brand was raking in more than $100 million in endorsements; more dollars than any active NBA player. In fact, one could combine the endorsement dollars of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and still not equal Michael Jordan’s total.

            According to the initial theory of racial uplift, the African-American community has proven their loyalty to the Jordan Brand by spending millions, if not billions, of dollars purchasing everything produced with the infamous “Jumpman” logo on it. Unfortunately for the African-American community, Michael Jordan has proven to be a non-factor in racial matters. I am reminded of Jordan’s stance of neutrality when asked which political party he belonged to; Jordan slyly declined to answer the question before quipping, “Republicans buy shoes to.” There is no doubt that Michael Jordan is neither a Civil Rights activist nor interested in practicing socially responsible individualism. He is quite simply a Capitalist interested in earning as much money as humanly possible.

            I think that there is much to be learned from Jordan’s refusal to aid in the uplift of his people despite their loyalty to the Jordan Brand. Quite possibly the largest lesson to be gleaned is the harsh reality that current ‘buy Black’ economic programs are going to be woefully insufficient if Black business owners are absent a commitment to uplift the race that matches those who are religiously supporting them. Unless Black businessmen have a developed sense of loyalty to the race, ‘buy Black’ campaigns will never improve the economic status of the community one iota, it will simply lead to the financial prosperity of a class of Capitalists who have no desire to aid others.

James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2015.

As I am certain that you know, I wanted to chastise Floyd regarding his not supporting a Black business, however, there was little that I could say. To my shock, ‘Foolish’ Floyd was correct in his assessment that any African-American establishment that does not re-invest a portion of its earnings into the community in some fashion does not qualify as a Black business. Put simply, such businesses are mere Capitalists using the fact that they are “Black owned” as a marketing tool to fleece African-Americans.

I simply sat across from Floyd, partially impressed that he had taken something I wrote, digested it and then applied it to his life. All I could muster was,

Well, well, well.”

Sensing that he had won this particular verbal joust, Floyd annoyingly stated through not only a thick Southern accent but also a mouthful of Chitlins’, “And yet another victory for Floyd.”

There was little left to do after fantastic food and great conversation than to exit This is It. However, as I rose to leave, Floyd quickly asked me.

“Bruh, let me have $50. I told you that I am on a fixed income.”

He laughed hilariously as I reached into my pocket to retrieve the funds. I simply shook my head and thanked God for blessing me with such a good friend.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015

Chapter Excerpt from the book, Foolish Floyd: The Life and Times of an African-American Contrarian. 

Currently available at Amazon.

FLOYD: THE BESTOWER OF GIFTS

You know, now that I think about it, one of the more entertaining aspects of my relationship with Floyd is witnessing the lengths to which he will go to prove a point. I am telling you that when it comes to proving a point, Floyd has a serious problem.

Although he has gone through Herculean efforts to prove his point before, none of those efforts rival Floyd’s efforts to disprove my belief that the present state of Black male and female relationships is hopelessly flawed. I both wrote about this matter and explained it to Floyd.

Put simply; my observation goes as follows. Women, in general, are programmed by God to find a mate and live happily ever after. From my estimation, this wiring characterizes the makeup of the vast majority of women. My point to Floyd was that African-American men have historically taken advantage of this wiring and often treated their ‘sisters’ as if they were some prey to be stalked, hunted, subdued and then released back into the wild. My relatively sophisticated theory also posits that repeated disappointment has led to our ‘sisters’ altering the manner in which they engage their ‘brothers.’ They have quite simply tired of being used, abused, and jilted by Black males and have likewise altered their expectations of ‘Black love.’

It was the above observation that Floyd was desperately seeking to disprove via his dating life. Floyd had apparently been seeing someone. I suspected that it was the ‘river-hipped’ woman that he met during our night out at ‘Grooves,’ however, he refused to disclose the mystery lady’s identity; citing some superstitious reason about jinxing his ‘relationship’ by debuting it too soon.

I must tell you that Floyd was apparently going ‘all-in’ on this one. He even related that he purchased, out of his meager fixed income, gifts not only for the woman but also a grandchild that she was raising. I hoped that Floyd’s generosity was born of love and not a desperate attempt to disprove my theory.

Considering that we had much to discuss regarding the after-effects of Floyd’s impaling by cupid’s arrow, we agreed to meet at a local soul food jointed called Josie’s Place located at 7473 N. Shepherd Drive. I laughed inside as Floyd swiftly agreed to the meeting place as he planned to be in that area shopping for his new love. Knowing that Floyd did not have a vehicle, I knew that he must be particularly smitten with this lady as it most certainly had to be difficult to navigate Houston’s sprawling environs with such restrictions.

I must give it up to Floyd; he arrived at the venue promptly at 1:00 PM as promised. Making it even more impressive was the fact that Floyd was towing around several bags. After entering Josie’s Place, Floyd and I quickly ordered and were promptly served plates that included Turkey Wings, Fried Fish, Corn, Greens, Cabbage, and Macaroni & Cheese.

It was after settling into our seats and consuming the better portion of our ‘Soul Food’ meals that I tongue-in-cheek asked Floyd,

What’s in the bags? Is it Floyd’s love potion?”

As expected, Floyd’s response dripped with sarcasm.

“You see that right there. That’s why we as Black people can’t get ahead. Whenever we see someone doing good, we gotta try and knock them down. And if you must know, these bags right here contain gifts for my woman and her grandbaby.”

Although I knew that it was equal parts mean-spirited and spiteful, I could not resist harassing Floyd.

Oh, so now you are claiming this woman? Don’t tell me that Mr. player, player, got his nose opened wide? Never thought I would see such a thing when a player like you retired from the game. Say it ain’t so Floyd.

Floyd just stared at me while consuming another morsel of food.

So what did you get everybody?”

It was then that Floyd reached into a bag and pulled out a very nice bracelet for his newfound love.

“You know it is nothing big, just a Lil’ Sumthin, sumthin for her. So when she looks down, she’ll think about Ol’ Floyd.” 

All I could say was, “That’s nice Floyd. What did you get for the ‘grandbaby’?”

It was then that Floyd reached into the larger bag and completely blew my mind. He retrieved three Barbie dolls from the bag, each doll more whiter than the last one. I just cringed inside as I could not believe that in the 21st Century African-Americans were still purchasing white dolls for black children. Apparently, Floyd detected my soul’s consternation.

“Now what’s wrong with the gift? That little girl loves to play with dolls.”

“It’s not the gift. Well, it isn’t, and it is.”

“Now what in the hell does that even mean? It is, and it isn’t. Man, make up your mind. Just come on with it, why don’t you like my gift.”

“Floyd, do you remember my column titled, Black Doll Matters? The editorial where I commented on the desperate need for our community to take every opportunity to build our children’s self-esteem.”

The article that I am alluding to read as follows.

BLACK DOLL MATTERS

          While recently tooling around the internet, I came across an approximately forty-second video of white parents giving their two white daughters Black dolls that apparently arrived as gifts “from Uncle Seth and Aunt Cynthia.” It was clear from the moment that the two children, no older than five years old, realized the contents of the package that they entirely disapproved of them. This point was driven home by one of the two little white angels throwing her black doll on the floor prior to falling to the floor hysterically crying while her mother burst into laughter.

          Although I would love to attribute this moment as equally inconsequential and meaningless, the truth of the matter is that it reveals much about the importance of dolls in the lives of girls, regardless of their race/ethnicity.

          I am old enough to remember a time when it was so rare to find African-American dolls at local toy stores that it was considered a given that African-American girls would not have dolls that reflected their beauty. However, my sister and cousins were fortunate to have Kathryn V. Jones, my beloved mother, in their lives. My mother, a real race woman in every sense of the word, fanatically sought out Black dolls for not only my sister, but also my cousins as Christmas and Birthday gifts.

          During the 70s and a major part of the 80s, white manufacturers apparently did not think that such items were worth the trouble of making, meaning held the potential for significant profit. That decision by ‘mainstream’ toy companies facilitated what is akin to a self-imagery desert for young African-American girls in regards to dolls. Things were so bad in regards to Black girls and dolls that many within our community celebrated the issuing of a Black Barbie doll that possessed the same features as the standard white Barbie.

          Dolls are one of the gateways to the future for Black girls as it allows them to not only play out the present but also their understanding of what is possible in the immediate and distant future. Without dolls that reflect them, African-American girls predictably turned toward television to find women they wished to emulate; there is no need to even delve into the dangers of such an occurrence.

          I find it perfectly understandable that two young white girls would resist receiving African-American dolls, in their imaginary world where Black girls not only do not rock but also are not desired. That is their prerogative. My concern is the Black girls, our daughters/nieces do not have a similar reaction when it comes to there being a dearth of Black dolls for them to play with and imagine a world where they can be the leader of a nation, college, or business; identities that are far greater than being a ‘baby momma’, one of the many negative things they are currently learning from watching ‘reality television.’

          We so often talk about the idea of Manhood as African-American men. However, those discussions frequently avoid any discussion of creating a space for our young girls to pursue their full potential. I have come to learn that allowing their imaginations to fly through the bluest sky’s one could imagine is probably the manliest thing that we can do for the little angels that God gifted us.

James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016.

“Let me get this right; you have a problem with the gift because the dolls are white? Man, that is not only stupid but also makes you a racist. You do know that you’re a racist right? I just want to hear you admit it!”

“Floyd, I am not a racist; far from it. What I am is a Black man living in America who recognizes that we need not only to recognize but also counter the thousands of images directed at Black girls and women that tell them that they are less than. That’s what I am, ‘nothing more and nothing less.’”

I knew my use of one of Floyd’s favorite phrases, ‘nothing more and nothing less’ would get under Floyd’s skin.

“Nah, Nigga, you a racist!!!!!!! It is people like you who remind our kids that they are Black from the moment that they come into the world and create all of these societal divisions.”

“Now Floyd, you know good, and well that is not true. Whether I say anything to an African-American child regarding Race, they are most certainly going to at some point realize that they are Black in a white world. It’s just one of the hazards of being Black in America, an inevitability of sorts. That is the reason it is so important that we build our children up, especially our girls, with dolls that look like them. You don’t see white folk lining up to purchase Black dolls for their children. Why don’t they? Just answer that question.”

Floyd quickly responded with the following,

“I neither care nor am I concerned by what white folk is doing with their children. It simply ain’t none of my business. But I do see your point; maybe I should have purchased her a Black doll.”

I have learned that I am no more of a gracious winner than Floyd, so I immediately chimed in with an extra insult to drive home my point.

“In the future, just make it a personal policy not to purchase any images that don’t look like somebody that you are related to.” 

Thinking that my work with Floyd was done for another day, I sat back and relaxed as the full weight of the ‘Soul Food’ I consumed during our discussion began to settle upon me. It was at that moment Floyd chimed in,

“I’ll make a deal with you; I will take these dolls back and exchange them right away, to prevent my damaging a young Black girl’s self-esteem, under one condition.”

“What’s that?”

 “I need a ride back over to the store and then one home.”

I could do nothing but stare at Floyd and that developing ‘Foolish Grin.’

“C’mon man. Being on that bus is hell. There are all kinds of fools…”

Before Floyd could get his complaints out, I rose and motioned for him to follow me. I would rather go through the inconvenience of driving him around town than hearing his moaning and complaining. It was most certainly the lesser of two evils.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017.

“Foolish” Floyd, Paul Mooney, and the “N-Word”

I am confident that you recognize that although Floyd and I are from the same generation, we are distinctly different in our thoughts, ideas, and principles. Unfortunately for our ‘friendship,’ those differences have a tendency to clash without the slightest provocation.

Probably the most noticeable difference between Floyd and me emanates from our use of the English language, particularly the use of what I, and most respectful individuals, commonly refer to as the ‘N-word.’ Floyd feigns ignorance whenever this topic arises and informs all who raise this issue to him,

“I have no idea what the ‘N-word’ is. Now if you mean Nigga, be straight about it and let me know that is what you’re talking about. I understand that type of discussion, but the ‘N-word’ I don’t even know what that even means.”

Floyd is so committed to his use of the ‘N-word’ that he, and trust me when I say that he is not alone in this regard, has attempted to apply logic regarding his use of what is akin to the nitroglycerine of the English language.

According to Floyd, and a legion of like-minded brethren, “Nigga,” is markedly different from “Nigger.” The alluded to individuals have done their best to educate the ‘ignorant masses,’ meaning people such as me and you, regarding this most important matter. According to such thinkers, “Nigga” is an unmistakable term of endearment, while “Nigger” is offensive, derogatory term that only racists spew during angry rants for negative reasons.

Now that I think about it, rare is the occasion that I have been in Floyd’s presence that he has not used the ‘N-word.’ Floyd seemingly emanates from the Paul Mooney school of thought. Mooney, a famed comedian who counts the greatest comedian ever to live, Richard Pryor, as his best friend, is known to say that he says ‘Nigga’ a hundred times each morning because it makes his teeth white.

On a more personal level, the most offensive aspect of Floyd’s habitual use of the ‘N-word,’ at least in my presence, is the reality that he knows my position on this matter. I cringe every time the word exits his crusty lips; largely out of embarrassment for what it reveals about Floyd’s view of his fellow African-Americans and what such language conveys to those outside of our community that already possesses skeptical views of us. I hope that you can understand that my embarrassment level regarding Floyd’s use of the ‘N-word’ exponentially increases when he uses such language in front of what is commonly termed ‘mixed company.’ Unfortunately for me, Floyd is slightly sadistic in the following way; he enjoys seeing my reaction to his inappropriate use of the English Language.

Now I would be a bit remiss, if not hypocritical, if I did not reveal that I have been known to use vulgarity from time-to-time, however, I have consciously attempted to rid myself of the burdensome, historically-loaded, ‘N-Word’; unfortunately, to no avail. It seems that individuals such as Floyd have an uncanny ability, through their actions nonetheless, to routinely pull such sentiments out of me.

I am quite confident that you are going to doubt the sincerity of my attempts to rid myself of the ‘N-word’ when you learn of my birthday plans for Floyd. I was planning to bless Floyd on his birthday with a trip to The Improv, Houston’s premier Comedy Club, to hear the infamous Paul Mooney.

I had come to learn that the enjoyment of great comedians such as Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Mom’s Mabley, Whitman Mayo, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Paul Mooney, Bill Cosby, etc. was an arena that Floyd and I were kindred souls. I must tell you that it is in the realm of comedy that I shed, without any sense of embarrassment or contradiction, my abhorrence of the ‘ N-word.’ As you well know, African-American comedians use the ‘N-word’ frequently and within every context imaginable.

So on Saturday evening, I picked Floyd up from his place and made my way toward I-10 West (The Katy Freeway). The moment Floyd stepped out of his front door, it was evident that this was a special night for him. Not only were we celebrating Floyd’s birthday, but also he was about to see Paul Mooney, his “favorite comedian this side of Richard Pryor” perform for the first time. And trust me when I tell you that Floyd had his finest threads draped on him, he was as they say ‘open-casket sharp’ with what appeared to be an 18-piece Lavender suit. At first sight, I laughed aloud at Floyd’s ensemble; he looked like a live Easter egg or something. I thought it was a bit much, but hey, it was Floyd’s day and as the saying goes, ‘If you like it, I love it.”

Floyd talked incessantly during the drive regarding not only Paul Mooney, but also the rare comedic genius known as Richard Pryor. Floyd was a walking Wikipedia of facts regarding the comedic duo; which spurred what I considered a natural question.

“Floyd, If you are so into Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney, how come you have never seen them live?”

“Ain’t had the opportunity. Meaning whenever they were performing close to where I was at, I didn’t have any money. Hell, I wouldn’t be going tonight if you weren’t paying.”

Floyd then sheepishly asked,

“You are paying, right? Don’t get me down here this close to seeing my main man and then I can’t get in the building. I promise you I will act a certifiable fool if you do that to ol’ Floyd. You know that Floyd deserves better than that.”

I just laughed and related to Floyd that his acting a fool wouldn’t matter to me because I would already be inside listening to Paul Mooney.

Floyd responded as I knew he would,

“Just like a Nigga”

For some reason, I didn’t cringe at his use of the “N-word,” maybe because I understood that it held no negative connotations in this context. We were two friends only kicking it on our way to see our boy.

We arrived at The Improv, picked up tickets I had already paid for because I wanted Floyd to be front-and-center, it was his night after all.

Having seen Mooney several times before, I must relate that he was in rare fashion as he traversed across racially charged topics that ranged from notable figures such as Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, O.J. Simpson, and Ben Carson to “ordinary every day Nigga shit.”

As previously mentioned, Mooney was in rare form; however, there were two particularly memorable moments.

The first occurrence was when a white couple rose from their seats and walked up the stairs to exit the venue, witnessing this, Mooney stated,

“I still got my magic. They must have thought that they were coming to see Andy Rooney, not Paul Mooney.”

The overwhelmingly Black audience burst into uproarious laughter.

The second memorable moment was a particularly personal one that was so hilarious that I nearly cried from laughter. Towards the end of his performance, Paul Mooney apparently spotted Floyd. At that moment, Mooney displayed the quick-wittedness that makes him such a great comedian. He stated,

“Awww shit, look at this Nigga over here. What motherfucking color do you have on Nigga? Nigga, please stand up so that we all can get a good laugh, oops, I meant to say. Good look.”

To my amazement, Floyd rose from his seat and did a slow 360-degree turn that gave everyone in the building an opportunity to see all 18 pieces of his suit.

“Now I know that we are in Houston, Texas, and Y’all can be country as fuck, but that Nigga right there has got to be straight out of the backwoods of Mississippi. That’s the only place they wear shit like that; trust me, I Know what I Talk about.”

The entire crowd was laughing and hollering uncontrollably, so much that Floyd felt the need to respond to Mooney,

“You Goddamned right!  Greenwood, Mississippi, in the house.”

Of course, Mooney would not let Floyd have the last word and told Floyd to,

“Sit your loud country ass down. I bet you that Nigga got slave-catchers still after his ass. Out here dressed in a 54-piece Lavender suit around civilized people. Lavender, Nigga? Really, Nigga?”

I must tell you that tears were running down people’s faces by the time Mooney ended his roasting of Floyd. Above and beyond everything else, this moment made Floyd’s night complete; it was a memory that he would never relinquish, even if he were the butt of Mooney’s jokes.

Although we wished that Mooney could have stayed on stage for several more hours, the truth of the matter was that he gave us nearly three hours of cutting-edge comedy for which we were all eternally grateful. Mooney even added a final touch of class to his performance by meeting and greeting every person who desired to purchase a DVD of one of his concerts.

I previously noticed that at opportune moments such as this one where he would be able to meet Paul Mooney, Floyd, like so many other African-Americans, would fumble such an obvious opportunity. So I was not surprised when the venue lights were turned on, Floyd quickly stood up and headed for the exit as if he had somewhere pressing to be. He would have exited the building had I not physically impeded his progress and walked him over to where Mooney was selling his DVD’s and taking photos with fans. As we approached Mooney, he burst into laughter at Floyd and jubilantly yelled,

“My Mississippi cousin!!!!!! Nigga, what do you have on? Who in the hell let you come out of the house like that? Just kidding brother, you know that I had to give it to you. It’s all part of the show.”

To my amazement, Floyd, who has so much to say about any and everything, fell silent as a church mouse. I explained to Mr. Mooney that it was Floyd’s birthday and this was his first time seeing him perform live; and that Floyd was the world’s biggest Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney fan.

Mooney, the classy gentleman that he is, responded,

“Well alright!!!! Now I know a Nigga that like two shit-talking Niggas like Richard and me can speak. He ain’t mute is he?”

“Fuck Nah, I ain’t no motherfucking ‘mute.’ I got plenty to say, Nigga.”

Mooney laughed enthusiastically and told Floyd if he keeps talking like that he was going to have to take him on the road with him.

Before the night ended, Mooney took a gang of photos with Floyd, he even put Floyd’s Lavender suit coat on in a few of the photos as well as gifting Floyd a DVD and the hat, which he graciously autographed, he had worn during his routine. A ‘star-struck’ Floyd was overwhelmed by the entire experience.

The night was truly a special one, yet it was not over. I planned on taking Floyd to a late dinner at FOGO DE CHÃO.

I have always heard that it is much better to give than to receive, this night certainly validated that famous axiom. Floyd could not stop talking about either The Improv or Paul Mooney. My plan to ensure that he had a grand birthday was turning into an absolute success. Before long, we were turning off of Westheimer Road and into the parking lot of FOGO DE CHÃO.

After being seated, it took Floyd a while to understand how things worked inside of this venue. Having never dined at a Brazilian Steakhouse, Floyd had a difficult time comprehending that the wait staff would bring rolls of meat, any meat he desired, and cut it tableside for him at his request.

Once Floyd got the hang of the way things worked, he behaved as if he were an old-pro and began ordering every type of meat imaginable. Apparently, Floyd became so comfortable with his environs that he took the opportunity to return to his favored past time; aggravating me.

“Now you cannot tell me that you didn’t enjoy Paul Mooney, even with him using Nigga so much. I am telling you that with all of the problems that our people have, we are spending way too much time focused on that one word. It is kind of ridiculous when you think about it. There are so many other things to worry about: drug abuse, murder, poverty, teenage pregnancy, schools, domestic violence, and the list can go on and on.”

I knew that I had to respond to Floyd’s opening statement immediately.

“But Floyd can’t you see how so many of those things flow from how we term and therefore envision ourselves?”

“Nigga, please. Using the ‘N-Word’ ain’t got a damn thing to do with domestic violence, high school dropouts, and poverty.”

I protested Floyd’s assertion and insisted that this stuff were indeed linked together.

“Floyd, you do remember the piece that I wrote about this matter in African-American News & Issues, don’t you?”

Floyd admitted that he remembered the article that follows,

MY NIGGA:

THE POWER OF WORDS ON THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MIND

I don’t wanna be another nigga,
Waitin’ with my hands out,
Broke in the hood, they give a damn ’bout
Braggin’ to my homie bout the hoes I fucked
Drinkin’ bottles after bottles, plus I smoke too much.
I never had a job that would pay me well,
I took what I could cause they gave me hell…
 I barely go to church but I say I will,
I bow my head right before I eat my meal
The world’s fucked up and they claimin’ I’m to blame
It’s a damn shame cause
I don’t wanna be another nigga,

Big K.R.I.T.

One of my core beliefs is that “the power of life and death is in the tongue.” Put simply, watch what you say as those words are living projectiles that not only impact the world around me but also go a great measure towards determining my future path. My parents and mentors repeatedly told me to watch my word choice, particularly when it came to cursing, because, ‘a little bit of bad will tear down a whole lot of good.’

We all realize that America holds its African-American citizenry to a different standard. Most cruel are the reality that the antics, of one African-American, have the ability to malign the entire race. Despite their best attempts to deny it, African-Americans are inextricably linked together. One’s public persona, from dress to speech, reflects not only that individual, rather it is extended to cover one’s family and race; especially if that image carries any negativity. When African-American elders are commenting upon the pride they exhibited during earlier moments; they recall their posture, walk, diction, and physical appearance. One abhorred being caught ‘showing one’s color,’ meaning damaging the African-American image, regardless of the extenuating circumstances.

The realities mentioned above are one of many reasons why YG’s hit single, “My Nigga,” is so disturbing; particularly its impact upon the image and psyche of African-American males. Although I find it particularly difficult to believe that there is anyone on the planet who has not heard this recording by now, if there is such an individual, here are a sampling of the chorus.

My nigga, my nigga
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga?

The word ‘nigga’ is repeated shocking thirty-one times during one chorus. Black America’s soul should be troubled by not only the verbal flurry but also the fact that it has entered the impressionable minds of droves of African-American youth.

As someone who has been addicted to rap music from the first time that I heard Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s ‘The Message;‘ I thought that it might be a chance to address YG’s recording, not with a denunciation of it, that is not only easily accomplished, but also predictable, rather I have decided to offer an artistic alternative to a listening audience that desperately seeks close association with the “N-Word”. Unfortunately, many of these individuals believe that YG’s record, and similar recordings, epitomize what rap music is. So, please consider this a desperate attempt to fight the blaze of ignorance that YG, Rich Homie Quan, and Jeezy began and Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Meek Mill fanned with their remix, with an alternative vision. Please click on the following links for an alternative understanding of the N-Word, Nigga, and nigger from several generations of African-Americans.

Maybe the rappers mentioned above will trip upon this posting and learn something regarding the power of language and come to understand that their financial wealth is insufficient to hide their intellectual and moral poverty. I am confident that time will impress upon them that no amount of cash is capable of masking such poverty. One of their own, Jay-Z, a self-proclaimed rap God, once issued an admonishment that is particularly applicable here when he related, “you can pay for school, but you can’t buy class.” A lesson that I hope the entire hip-hop community learns before the power of their words leads to more incarceration, death, and destruction of their own.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture 2015.

“Floyd, I refuse to believe that you cannot understand how the use of that word affects how our people, especially our youth, male as well as female, see themselves. It frames their entire existence.”

“No! What frames their whole life is the home they were raised in, the school that they go to, the church that they attend. That’s where I learned who I was.”

“And who are you?”

“A strong Black man who ain’t about to take no shit off of no white man or ‘Nigga.’ That’s who Floyd is. Period! Point blank!”

“But what about the children who were not raised in a loving home? Who life’s circumstances have led to their attending an under-funded inner-city school with downtrodden teachers? Who has never attended church or had a suitable male role model? What about them? Hunh?”

“Well, they had better hope that God is still in the business of taking care of fools and babies; because they sound like they are in for a rough life.

However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the word ‘Nigga.’ Think about it this way. Let’s say that I, Paul Mooney, and every other ‘Nigga’ that you know stopped using the ‘N-Word.’ It wouldn’t make a bit of a difference. We would still be as poor, uneducated, and jailed as before.

Man, I tell you, the more education some people get, the dumber they seem to get.”

I am confident that Floyd saw my eyes tighten, a sign that I was about to tear into his ignorant ass. However, before I could leap into a furious tirade, Floyd cleared up his comment.

“Now don’t get all mad about what I said, hey, don’t take it personally. I wasn’t even talking about you, at least not directly. What I mean is this.

Did you see in the paper where the NAACP bought a casket, opened it up, wrote the word “Nigger” on a single white piece of paper, placed it inside of the casket, closed it up and then had a funeral for the ‘N-Word,’ burial and all? Now what kind of sense does that make? That’s what I am trying to say. Some people, regardless of their education, are just plain stupid.”

“I do understand what you are saying, Floyd. However, Civil Rights groups are well meaning in regards to trying to point us in a new direction where we no longer demean each other and stop teaching our children to do such things.

When was the last time that you listened to a group of African-American youth talking, and you didn’t hear the ‘N-Word’? And don’t you dare try and tell me that they are using it as a term of endearment.”

Floyd looked across the table as if he were exasperated with this entire conversation and related the following,

“I can’t speak for no one else but myself, however, when I use it, I am using it as a term of endearment. Now tell me honestly, do you think that I am disrespectful toward you when I call you ‘My Nigga’? Honestly?”

“Nah, I don’t think that at all.”

“Yet, you still believe that this one little word, ‘Nigga,’ holds power to liberate our people? That’s foolishness. What will liberate us is shopping at Black-owned stores, voting, and valuing education. If we mastered all of the little things, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation for the one-millionth time.

But because the problem is so damn big, you and the rest of the ‘Negropeans’ choose to pick on your own. Nah, quit being a coward and address the source of our misery and suffering. Go and talk to the white man and leave us little people alone. We are doing the best that we know how to.”

All I could think was that Floyd was correct in his logic, something that was in and of itself startling, yet, I knew that I would never be comfortable with the use of the word Nigga in any context; or at least in public around mixed company.

“And another damn thing. Maybe, you ‘Niggas’ should stop using it behind clothes doors if you want everyone else to abandon it.

Haha, I sense yet another victory for Floyd. On my birthday nonetheless.” 

I just stared at Floyd as he bathed in one of his most lopsided victories. I promised to myself that it would never happen again; even if I had to strangle a ‘Nigga.’

 Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017