Tag Archives: Hip-Hop Culture

What the A.D.L. Attack on Jay-Z Reveals about the Current State of Blacks and Jews Historical Relationship

Historically speaking, the relationship between Jewish-Americans and African-Americans is one forged by the desecrated bodies found in places like Auschwitz (Poland), Money (Mississippi), Buchenwald (Germany), Birmingham (Alabama),  Dachau (Germany), Springfield (Illinois), and particularly Philadelphia (Mississippi). Even a cursory examination of the storied histories of these two populations will unveil a most unfortunate connection represented by the word, Holocaust.

One would naturally expect that two populations that have been on the receiving end of diabolical plans intended to exterminate them would find some semblance of common ground during future endeavors. Make no mistake about it, both of the referenced populations have an unobstructed view of the principal threat that unfettered racial bigotry poses to humankind. It is this understanding that facilitated a mutually-beneficial coalition between African-American and Jewish-Americans during the modern Civil Rights Movement. The alluded to relationship was publicly displayed with the abduction and murder of Mickey Schwerner (Jewish), James Chaney (African-American), and Andrew Goodman (White) in Philadelphia, Mississippi. An F.B.I. investigation would prove that the source of the three civil rights workers disappearance was none other than the Ku Klux Klan, America’s first terrorist organization. As morbid as it may sound, those were better days for the relationship between Blacks and Jews as the current relationship between Blacks and Jews no longer resembles previous moments of mutual respect and cooperation.

It is no stretch to term the current relationship as adversarial, if not outright hostile. It is common to find African-Americans who consider Jews economically exploitive and solely motivated by self-interests that trump their religiosity. At the present moment, many African-Americans hate Jews with a ferocity that reminds one of that possessed by the Nazi’s.

It is the alluded to decades-long deterioration of Black/Jewish relations that many historians trace to Alan Bakke’s attack on Affirmative Action initiatives that best explains the African-American community’s reaction to Anti-Defamation League criticism hurled at Jay-Z regarding lyrics found on his song The Story of O.J.

In case you missed the latest attempt by The Anti-Defamation League (A.D.L.) to protect turf that they have carved out during fanatical efforts to ward off all attacks against the Jewish community via their standard charge of anti-Semitism occurred as a result of the following lyrics.

You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit!!!!! You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.

The Anti-Defamation League’s reaction to the above lyrics once again displays an irrationality by Jewish leaders. The alluded to anger is most commonly expressed via a cautionary veiled threat to those that they have taken issue with. Consider for a moment an A.D.L. representatives response to Jay-Z’s lyric.

The lyric does seem to play into deep-seated anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money. The idea that Jews ‘own all the property’ in this country and have used credit to financially get ahead are odious and false. Yet, such notions have lingered in society for decades, and we are concerned that this lyric could feed into preconceived notions about Jews and alleged Jewish ‘control’ of the banks and finance.

For neutral parties, the above response casts the A.D.L. and those it represents in such a negative light that one has to wonder if they care about either their image or appearing rational. One does not need to look very far to find those who agree that the Jewish community’s hyper-sensitivity has made them impossible to get along with under any circumstance that is not voluminously beneficial to their interests.

Fortunately, there is significant opposition to the A.D.L. on this matter. In a recent Instagram posting, Guy Oseary, a person of Jewish descent, relates that Jay-Z is “attempting to use the Jewish people in an exaggerated way to showcase a community of people that are thought to have made wise business decisions. As an example of what is possible and achievable.” Hip-Hop Mogul Russell Simmons also weighed in on this matter in the following manner. “Mischief makers would like to take Jay’s statements about the culture and practices that exist within some parts of the Jewish community (notice I say some). The fact is this culture that promotes good business and financial well-being is and has been a guiding light to the black and specifically the hip-hop community.”

If the A.D.L. is not more judicious about issuing the all-too-familiar charge of “anti-Semitism” they will one day find themselves with as much credibility as ‘the boy who cried wolf.’ More troubling is that this attack on Jay-Z unintentionally reaffirms the beliefs of a critical mass of Black America; that belief being that the Jewish community intends to do all that they can to extend the economic dysfunction and confusion endemic within the Black Community as it is a cornerstone of their contemporary financial health and an integral part of the future inheritance that future generations will inherit.

Ultimately, African-Americans are left with the realization that not only has the historical relationship between Blacks and Jews largely dissolved but also Capitalism is a competitive game that is best played by an organized collective that understands every single decision, even one as seemingly inconsequential as where you dine, is a meaningful financial statement with extended consequences.

Let me be clear on this matter. I do not blame the Jews for capitalizing on the multi-generational economic disorganization that has marred Black America for decades, my issue is with my community that has made the conscious decision to forego proven financial strategies in favor of such silliness as “throwin’ away money at a strip club” or ignoring substantive financial matters such as home ownership and credit. Make no mistake about it, the catalyst to and the solution for this issue will be found in the same location, the Black Community.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017



I consider it a blessing that Hip-Hop Culture significantly impacted my values and priorities. It is impossible for me to count the ways that Hip-Hop Culture, particularly the musical wing, Rap Music, has influenced my life.

Even recent converts to Hip-Hop culture recognize that one of the most important aspects of Rap Music is the art of emceeing. Trust me when I say, although the Deejay may have been the original star of Rap Music, the man or woman holding the mic would soon surpass them.

Make no mistake about it, more than a few fights occurred over a disagreement regarding which emcee had better “flow” or “lyrical content.”  For my generation, such matters were so important that they possessed the potential to pivot African-American youth culture in an instant. Although there was an unconscionable amount of diversity found within Hip-Hop Culture, there was a point of consensus that all agreed on. That being, immediate dismissal was due to any “biting” emcee. A “biting” emcee was one who was caught stealing the words, thoughts, and ideas of another emcee. If Melania Trump were an emcee, she would have been swiftly excused as a result of her theft of significant slices of Michelle Obama’s speech. Such behavior was considered a crime worthy of execution.

For those of us who have spent a lifetime listening to rap lyrics, it was not difficult for us to discern if words, thoughts, or ideas were stolen from another emcee as it fostered a feeling of déjà vu within our souls. It was this very feeling that I felt after reading the statement from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos after her “listening session” with the Leadership of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Although the alluded to statement is unbelievable fertile soil for criticism, I will focus solely on the passage that raised feelings of déjà vu.

A key priority for this administration is to help develop opportunities for communities that are often the most underserved. Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential.

There was something eerily familiar to this thought pattern that reverted my mind back to my book Creating Revolution as they Advance: A Narrative History of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Put simply; I heard this thought before. After a few short moments of pondering, it dawned upon me that Betsy DeVos or some underling working in the Department of Education had reverted 50 years and stolen the ideas and spirit of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s June 4, 1965, Howard University commencement address.

Although many lauded the initial passages of Johnson’s address to an attentive audience of graduating HBCU students and their families that

“You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Thus it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates.”

There is no doubt that the more important aspect of the address occurs moments after the Texan’s progressive thoughts. It is at that moment that President Johnson slyly situates responsibility for racial improvement squarely on the shoulders of American blacks. According to LBJ,

“Equal opportunity is essential, but not enough. … Ability is stretched or stunted by the family you live with, and the neighborhoods you live in, by the school you go to and the poverty or the richness of your surroundings. It is the product of a hundred unseen forces playing upon the infant, the child, and the man. . . . Overt job discrimination is only one of the important hurdles which must be overcome before color can disappear as a determining factor in the lives and fortunes of men . . . The extent to which an individual is able to develop his aptitudes will largely depend upon the circumstances present in the family within which he grows up and the opportunities which he encounters at school and in the larger community.” 

Although I am not surprised that the Trump administration has decided to mimic LBJ’s position that the problems facing the black community are due to structural problems within Black America, I am woefully disappointed in a cadre of HBCU leaders who paraded into the White House for what amounts to little more than a photo opportunity for the Trump Administration without making a demand for a larger share of Federal dollars for their financially strapped institutions. More troubling than this failure is the reality that while the cameras were flashing, Secretary DeVos was pinning a communication that if read closely and situated within its proper historical context was a slap in the face for not only Black America but also every black educator. Considering black leaders continuing pattern to refuse to “call a spade, a spade,” I will translate the communication for them. “The onus is upon Black America to solve their problems, please stop looking for any additional money from the Federal government and direct all of your attention toward correcting the foundation of your house.” A damning message no doubt, but one that actually would prove beneficial to Black America in the end as no one is coming to save us and it is time that our leadership understands that fact.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017.


After you have lived enough life, you will learn that experience, and personal observation is powerful entities as they affect following thoughts and observations in a sneaky way. If one is not careful, personal experience will be the only thing informing how you view people. The only problem with such an occurrence is that your experience is in a word, limited. Put simply, if you are not careful your limited exposure will color your views in a most unreasonable fashion.

Now I am confident that you are wondering what I am talking about; such a question is understandable as I would be asking the same thing if I were you. And I realize that it is a bit difficult for you ‘to pick up, what I am trying to put down.’ However, I guess that what I am alluding to is that I felt a major conflict approaching between Floyd and me; a conflict that was most certainly going to boil over during our scheduled meeting at Hank’s Ice Cream.

The source of our disagreement, Floyd had somehow, someway, began questioning the utility of education for African-Americans. I considered this latest line of thinking that Floyd hinted at during previous discussions particularly disturbing, especially for a man of his age.

I must tell you that I hated having any disagreement with Floyd, especially when we were planning to meet in a public space; anyone who knows Floyd will tell you that he has no problem pitching a tent and behaving as if he is the featured presentation in a three-ring circus. There was no doubt in my mind that if provoked, Floyd was going to behave as if he were an absolute fool.

When asked about their favorite ice cream, most Texans will begin to tell you about Blue Bell Ice Cream. And I must be honest with you, when I first arrived in Houston, I thought that Blue Bell Ice Cream was heaven sent, that is until I tasted Hank’s Ice Cream. There is no reasonable comparison between the two. Put simply, Hank’s Ice Cream puts Blue Bell to shame.

I soon learned that not only was Hank’s Ice Cream a superior product but also it was an African-American owned business started by a very industrious man named Hank Wiggins in 1985. Hank, a graduate of Prairie View A & M University, hailed from Caldwell, Texas, and met financial success in Houston, Texas, by opening up what old-timers would call a jitney shop, today we call it a Taxi Cab service.

Apparently, Hank made ice cream for his family for years and always expressed a desire to open an ice cream shop to his wife, Okemah. It was a mid-eighties economic downturn that provided Hank an opportunity to realize his dream of opening an ice cream shop.

For me, Hank’s Ice Cream shop possesses everything that I desired in business: quality product, Black-owned, and reasonably priced. What was there not to like?

After watching the clock in my office, it was with utmost glee and exuberance that I left the office at approximately 11:30 and headed toward Main Street. Hank’s Ice Cream shop, located at 9291 Main Street, was this week’s meet-up location with Floyd at high-noon for yet another battle.

Upon arrival at Hank’s Ice Cream shop, I entered a venue that I always wished could serve as the standard template of hospitality and service for every African-American business. The notable welcoming environment that one finds at Hank’s Ice Cream Shop is not only comforting but also one of the greatest tips of the hat to its creator who has since transitioned to be with the ancestors. It does not take one long to glean an understanding that the employees of Hank’s are several generations of the owner’s remaining family members.

It did not take long before I had not only secured a towering vanilla ice cream cone that took me back to my childhood years. I found a seat in the corner of the establishment and began ravenously consuming it as if nothing else mattered. There was no work splayed before me, as is the usual case, Hank’s Vanilla Ice Cream demanded and received, my singular attention.

My singular focus caused me not to notice Floyd when he entered the establishment. Before beginning what I already sensed would be a round of extreme foolishness, even Floyd was compelled to secure some of Hank’s delicious ice cream before taking a seat.

In a few moments, Floyd, dressed in neatly creased khaki’s, an electric blue button down shirt, and his signature shiny shoes, plopped down across from me and began to lick his towering ice cream cone of Butter Pecan. As is his usual pattern, Floyd started in on me very quickly, but not before flashing that damn ‘Foolish Grin.’

“You see that right there. That’s how I know that you ain’t got no style. With all of these flavors, you picked ‘plain Jane’ Vanilla. I tell you, no style at all. None at all.”

Although I was enjoying my ‘plain Jane’ ice cream, I knew that I needed to respond to Floyd’s jab or run the risk of him considering my non-response as a sign of weakness. Prior experiences with Floyd had convinced me that if he were nothing else, he was an intellectual bully who eagerly pounced upon those unwilling to engage him. I responded with a short quip of,

“Nah Floyd, you looking at this thing all wrong. Before there was any such thing as Butter Pecan, there stood Vanilla. Before Chocolate, there stood Vanilla. Sometimes you need to pay homage to your foundations.”

After hearing my response, Floyd’s only response was a playful, “Oh, Nigga please.”

Both Floyd and I knew that the conversation we stood on the precipice of having was a long-overdue and controversial one that had stood like a sore spot between us. From my perspective, there was no point in dancing around the matter; during such moments I always preferred to jump directly to the heart of the matter. However, for strategic reasons, I needed for Floyd to broach the topic.

In a blatant attempt to bait him into the apparent discord that had grown between us regarding of all things, education, or more directly the utility or transformative nature of education for African-American males. I feigned ignorance and asked Floyd,

“So why did you want to meet? What’s up?”

Predictably, Floyd anticipated my move and slid me a copy of African-American News & Issues opened to a recent editorial that I wrote with a particularly harsh tone aimed at addressing a pernicious issue currently affecting African-American males. Although he has repeatedly used this tactic, I honestly did not foresee Floyd using my words against me regarding this matter.



One of the more peculiar inside jokes shared among those raised in “the hood,” meaning lower-middle-class, working-class, and poor neighborhoods occur when someone has been arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison. It is at this moment that others affectionately relate that he/she is on his way to ‘college’; albeit, not to pursue a traditional Liberal Arts degree, rather, a B.A. in criminality or possibly an M.S. in the robbery of black folk. All agree that the convicted will return from “college” a slicker confidence man or bolder burglar. Many of my peers chose such an educational path.

Fortunately, many career paths and opportunities, including initiatives to save African-American males offer realistic alternatives to incarceration. The alluded to actions serve as a constant reminder of the national crisis facing African-American males. Personally, such initiatives facilitated a host of “firsts” for me: my first collegiate visit, my first academic conference, and a similar program — the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) — paved the way for graduate school. Such outreach programs made the mentorship I received from Dr. James N. Upton during my undergraduate tenure and Dr. Paulette Pierce as I pursued my first Master’s degree at THE Ohio State University all the more necessary. The mentorship mentioned above was critical to my academic success as I learned how to “be” inside of collegiate classrooms, academic conferences, workshops, and symposiums.

Consequently, my current station as a tenured professor is a bit surreal. I am now on the other side of the desk and charged with mentoring the next generation of African-Americans. Unfortunately, I am finding this process, particularly in regards to African-American males, increasingly difficult. Put simply, this latest generation of Black men does not appear to be particularly interested in academics, politics, or intellectual thought. In fact, I have watched as many of my current students have done their best to transform institutions of higher learning into an entity best termed ‘Thug University.’

The stages I lecture upon on a daily basis have provided a clear view of the drastically altered demeanor, preparation, goal structure and behavior of many African-American males. From my perspective, the driving force behind this transformation is a flawed understanding of Black manhood.

As previously mentioned, I participated in several initiatives aimed at saving ‘the endangered black male.’ Such programs operated out of the belief that there was a desperate need to provide “historically marginalized minority populations” access to higher education. According to those fighting on our behalf, the most significant obstacle preventing our inclusion into said higher education institutions was institutional racism; meaning, that institutions of higher learning operated in a manner that individuals such as me, a first-generation collegian, would never gain access.

I am confident that those battling for our inclusion during the eighties considered their foe, institutional racism, unconquerable. They never imagined that a decade later a more menacing enemy would arrive; an enemy that makes institutional racism appear juvenile. The latest opponent in the battle to save African-American males is a ‘siren’ that has mesmerized Black men. This enemy is best termed Thug Culture, a lifestyle propagated and delivered to our young people by contemporary rap stars.

For a significant population of Black male collegians, rap icons such as Rick Ross, YG, and Young Jeezy hold more sway over their values, aspirations, and worldview than Du Bois, Baldwin, Hughes, King, X, Newton, or Obama could ever hope to. Mentors of today’s African-American males are in for a rude awakening if they believe that mere exposure to collegiate campuses is enough to repel the omnipresent, seemingly omnipotent influence of today’s rap artists on the values and goal structures of African-American males.

Such an assertion pains me as Rap Music is dear to my heart. In fact, I was politicized by eighties Rap Music; Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Boogie Down Productions Edutainment, Brand Nubian’s One for All, X-Clan’s To The East Blackwards, and Paris’ The Devil Made Me Do It significantly altered my mind. However, the youth culture of my generation was not only politically progressive but also created by African-Americans to serve Black interests. Unfortunately, the days of yesteryear are long gone.

Things have turned so sour within some urban enclaves that African-Americans have begun to fear their own. The Notorious B.I.G. stated as much in his tour de force, Things Done Changed “Back in the days, our parents used to take care of us. Look at ‘em now, they even fucking scared of us.”

Why should previous generations of African-Americans not be concerned about this latest expression of manhood considering its proclivity for drug abuse, alcoholism, misogyny, profanity, immorality, and anti-social behavior? All characteristics, I might add, that are foreign to the way that persons of African descent have historically lived.

African-American male collegians who are in the throes of a nihilistic homo-erotic thug culture fail to realize that they are an aberration to historical manifestations of Black manhood. Their entire existence contradicts esteemed traditions of honorable, smooth, articulate, educated, well-dressed brothers who occupied leadership positions in their public and private lives. Today, the smooth suave and debonair African-American man have been replaced by young people whose lack of style, and trust me style is not achieved by one foolishly purchasing overpriced gaudy European clothing, is rivaled only by their inability to articulate a coherent thought.

Surrounding African-American collegians desperation to be included in ‘thug culture’ is an often ignored query of ‘what is the payoff for relinquishing long-standing African-American cultural traditions for niggardly behavior?’ Apparently, the payoff for African-American male collegians is the opportunity to earn ‘street credibility’ among Common Street hoodlums whom they desperately seek to emulate.

If nothing else, I wish that the young men I view from the stage realize that they are the best that our Race has to offer and they’re allowing the “streets” to influence their cultural values significantly and goal structures make as much sense as a tail wagging a dog. Young collegiate brothers, you are supposed to be the head and not the tail in regards to setting the values, priorities, goals, and future direction of our community. Hence, you are now center stage, the spotlight is shining on you, and we are eagerly awaiting to see if you will assume your rightful position as the next generation of educated “Race men” or will you prove cowardly and continue down a path of aberrant behavior that none of those who came before you would either recognize or celebrate.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

Although I did not necessarily have to read the editorial, hell, I wrote it. I most certainly knew its contents. To appease, Floyd, I reviewed the words that I had pinned during a particularly frustrating moment in my life; frustrations that flowed from the seeming inability of many African-American males decision to not ‘turn the corner’ toward success.

“Now what is your problem with me questioning if education is of any use to these fools?”

I initially attempted to explain to Floyd that he was focusing on the most unfortunate and damning aspects of what I wrote.

“Nah Captain, I am focused squarely upon what you wrote. Those are your words. Even you question if education is wasted on them.”

“Well, there are times, trying times I might add that leads one to question exactly what level of impact education is having upon some African-American males. I simply think that we have not done the best job of balancing educational pursuits and maintaining our cultural identity.”

“Cultural identity? What cultural identity? Oh, you mean what these fool call ‘keepin’ it real?’”

I hated it when Floyd mocked my position in such a manner. However, there was nothing that I could do about it at this particular moment; he created a significant, nearly impossible to overcome, advantage when he used my writings against me.

“Bruh, let’s face facts. The vast majority of these fools out here in these streets are more interested in pretending to be some gangster or pimp. It appears that the only difference between the street thug and the college student is where they are doing their dirt. That’s the ONLY difference between the two.” 

“C’mon Floyd, there is no way that you believe that. We have many African-American males in college who are not only brilliant, but also reaching landings that neither you nor I will ever approach. All that I was saying in the editorial was that they should not allow the streets to unduly influence them toward ignoring the fabulous opportunities before them.”

“You know I hate it when you try and hide behind your words and don’t say what it is that you mean. Quit talking about the streets and call it what it is. You mean this damned Hip-Hop Culture. Because that is where they are getting this foolishness.” 

As much as I wanted to disagree with Floyd, I knew that he was correct in this matter. Hip-Hop Culture was a major obstacle facing this latest generation of African-Americans as it seemingly touched every facet of their lives from their appearance and speech to their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Such influence would not be such a major issue if African-Americans still controlled what I frequently term the Nuclear Bomb of popular culture; however, the harsh reality is that we do not control either the images or the messages that are continuously shared with our children on a twenty-four-hour basis.

“It might be time for you to face the fact that these rappers have more influence upon Black men than even you do. Hell, it is not a stretch to say that they have more influence than their teachers and professors, and maybe, just maybe, they might have more influence than even their parents. It’s sad, but true.”

Floyd’s observation stung for one simple reason, he was absolutely correct. Unfortunately, African-Americans affinity for Rap Music which began for the vast majority of our people with either the release of the Sugar Hill Gang’s ‘Rappers Delight’ or Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s ‘The Message’ did not cease when the culture was taken over by white record executives and companies.

“Now Floyd you know that the vast majority of the things that these kids, and yes they are still kids, are out here doing is due to them following trends and fads.”

Apparently, I had said something to set Floyd off because his face communicated an obvious disdain and disappointment, if not anger.

“Kids? Kids? You think that these fools out here are kids? Well you keep hanging in the city and you will more than likely get a chance to see how kid-like these Niggas are. Man, they are committing violent robberies at the ages of thirteen and fourteen. Nah, they haven’t been kids for a very long time.”

“And whose fault is that Floyd?”

“Damn it, man, can’t you understand that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. All that matters is that it is. And trust me when I say this, it ain’t going nowhere neither. This foolishness is here to stay.”

“It starts in the home and just grows worse and worse. That’s why I am telling you that education is largely wasted upon Black males. They not only can’t hear the teacher, they ain’t trying to hear the teacher.”

Although I never wanted to concede defeat in a debate to anyone, most of all to Floyd, I realized that there was an element of truth in his argument. Someway, somehow, somewhere along the line many African-American males, I refuse to say all, had lost their way and began devaluing educational pursuits and replaced what can be best termed traditional values with gangster fantasies that had their genesis in some white A & R record executives office.

Sensing that I didn’t have a logical response to his assertions, Floyd smiled with that ‘Foolish Grin’ like a Great White Shark circling some much-desired prey. Moving his hands as if he were conducting a symphony orchestra, Floyd stated

“And the truth prevails yet again.”

I shook my head at his foolish behavior and prepared to rise from my seat. Just as I stood, Floyd began to speak.

“Man, I know that you ain’t trying to leave without getting some of this ice cream to go.”

Floyd was correct in his observation; I always got a couple of pints of Hank’s to go.

“Sooooooo, I thought you might want to get me some as well.”

Although blessing Floyd in such a way was not at the forefront of my mind, I shot him an angry look and made my way back to the counter. When I made it to the counter, I heard Floyd shout out,

“And get me something with some flavor. Butter Pecan, Chocolate, Mint; not that bland stuff that you like.”

I could only shake my head at Floyd.

After purchasing both of us a few pints of ice cream, I handed Floyd his portion as we headed for the door. To my amazement, Floyd was walking toward my vehicle with me. Although I was uncertain what this meant, it became clear when Floyd shared,

“Now I know that you are going to give me a ride home. Otherwise my ‘Hank’s’ will be done melted by the time I get there and you know that would be a shame.”

He had gotten me once again! My only recourse was to shake my head before I unlocked his door.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017.

The Modern Day Minstrel: How Ignorance has Led Many of Today’s Rap Stars to Replicate a Long Ago Forgotten Vaudeville Tradition

Per a New Year’s resolution to be more organized, I have been diligently preparing for the fast-approaching Spring Semester. A significant aspect of my vow to organization is preparing my classroom materials and lectures. So it was a regular occurrence for me to begin reconstructing a speech focused upon the late-19th Century rise of American industrialism and the arrival of European immigrants who would eventually become crucial elements in the American Labor Movement.

I have always considered the American Labor Movement bittersweet. As the son of an unionized Steelworker, I recognized the utility of unionization and the protections that it provided for undervalued skilled and unskilled workers; that is certainly the sweet portion of the American Labor Movement. However, that sweetness is counterbalanced with a shocking bitter reality that class realities were insufficient to subdue, let alone eradicate, the seemingly innate racism and xenophobia that was an indispensable portion of the worldviews of non-black laborers.

I have found that this glimpse into America’s past provides essential understanding of why W.E.B. Du Bois would term “the color line” as the problem of the twentieth century. Most fail to catch this crucial information because of their stupid decision to pay little attention to what non-black laborers and a developing middle-class considered entertainment to fill their limited free time.

The height of entertainment for non-black workers were vaudeville Minstrel shows. American audiences felt vaudeville shows with their singing and dancing the epitome of entertainment. Considering the racial prejudice that undergirds so much of the American psyche, it is predictable that not even white’s entertainment would be devoid of a racial element. Hence, the smashing success of Blackface Minstrels such as Thomas “Daddy” Rice is understandable. For the vast majority of whites, regardless of the region they lived, the only thing better than a vaudeville show filled with singing and dancing was one that included ample opportunities to poke fun at blacks.

Minstrel shows bolstered whites’ prevailing belief in Social Darwinism, a belief that the cream will always rise to the crop. Minstrel shows reinforced via entertainment whites superiority over blacks. Close examination of Minstrel shows reveals that these theatrical productions were akin to inspiring sermons the sought to definitively display an unconquerable black intellectual inferiority. According to those who meticulously constructed Minstrel shows, it was blacks innate inferiority that guaranteed that education was wasted on them as it would never take hold of their feeble minds and if the white world did not keep tabs on what amounted to a sub-human population it could very well devolve back to its original uncivilized state.

Fortunately for African-Americans, societal pressures have put the Minstrel Show to rest. However, the messages of black feeble-mindedness and our unsuitability for a civilized existence are projected today from one of the least likely sources; the latest reiteration of commercially successful rap stars and the droves of blacks that follow their every idiosyncrasy.

Although I could further expound upon this matter and dissect the cultural ignorance propagated by contemporary rappers, however, I fervently believe that they display it much more efficiently than I ever could. So please consider the following displays of modern day Minstrelsy as verification of all that I could and would say.


Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Cultuer, 2017



When Attempting to Appear ‘Deep’ Goes Horribly Wrong: How Lil Wayne Made a Complete Fool of Himself by Attempting to Discuss Race in America

One of the most puzzling and bizarre things that I have ever encountered intellectually is the unmistakable reality that the vast lil-wayne-2majority of African-Americans have absolutely no comprehension of what racism, historically the most significant obstacle to Black liberation, actually is. It is truly saddening to repeatedly witness African-Americans, the foremost victims of racism I must add, consistently reveal to anyone within earshot that they have no real comprehension of what racism actually is. The most recent African-American to publicly display their idiotic position on American racial matters is none other than Lil Wayne.

Lil Wayne, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana displayed his intellectual feebleness in regards to race matters when he responded to a Skip Bayless’ query of how he felt about the fact that the vast majority of those in attendance at his recent concert Westchester, New York, were white youth in the following peculiar way, “…I thought that was clearly a message that there was no such thing as racism.”

Although it would be preferable to dismiss Lil Wayne’s mind-boggling response, I do think that it would be an error to do such. The error in dismissing this dim-witted response is not found in the fact that Lil Wayne was anywhere near making a logical statement regarding the highly complex and volatile issue of American race relations, rather, the lack of comprehension that Lil Wayne efficiently displays in this largely inconsequential utterance most certainly highlights the unfortunate reality that the vast majority of Americans, African-Americans included, have absolutely no understanding of the major difference between:

  • Prejudice
  • Discrimination
  • Racism

Although it is routine for people to use the terms prejudice, discrimination, and racism interchangeably, they are quite simply not the same thing. Such lazy thinking is similar to someone saying that pizza, chicken wings, and cake are the same thing because they are all edible. This practice of what amounts to as ‘sloppy thinking’ is undoubtedly one of the most obvious signs that most Americans have little understanding of what the aforementioned terms actually mean.

Put simply, prejudice is the mildest of the three aforementioned terms as it quite simply entails and individual pre-judging another person or group. This should be considered the mildest of the three aforementioned terms as there is little action associated with prejudice.

The simplest way of understanding discrimination is that it occurs when prejudiced people put some form of action behind their bigotry. One must remember that the power wielded by single individuals is relatively limited when compared side-by-side with that possessed by businesses, corporations, and institutions.

Generally speaking, racism is a complex system that involves institutions including, but not limited to — financial, businesses, educational — that work to disenfranchise a group in a host of ways (politically, economically, socially, educationally) for their own advantage.

What makes racism so pernicious is that the reality of its multi-faceted attacks makes it nearly impossible to pin down. If one lil-wayne-3misses the operation of racism in their analysis of American race relations they could very well be convinced that racism should not be blamed for multi-generational racial inequality, rather African-American inequality is the true cause of Black suffering. The impact of racism upon African-Americans is real, despite what someone like Lil Wayne believes. Its effects are most tangibly noticed in the racial gaps that are found in areas such as: home ownership, net worth, and income earned.

I hope that someone, anyone, would explain to Lil Wayne the fact that the presence of whites at his concert is in no way a sign that racism has taken a death kneel. One only needs to look at footage of any Black concert prior to desegregation and they will see droves of young whites screaming and hollering their support for their favored artist such as Ray Charles.

In fact, the suggestion that racism has disappeared from this nation is equally asinine and ludicrous. I have always been instructed that I should always consider the source from which information and opinion emerges. In this case, the source is most certainly not worth paying any attention. This should be considered little more than yet another example of what occurs when some imbecile leaves their lane and attempts to appear intelligent. Hey Wayne, stick to non-sense such as rap and leave the heavy lifting for those who have trained for it because you’re most certainly an intellectual light weight with nothing to offer regarding anything substantial.

This is grown folk business, Lil Boy.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016