Tag Archives: Illiteracy

WHY WE MUST IMMEDIATELY SHUT DOWN THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE: TRUMP AND HIS ENTIRE CABINET DESPERATELY NEED IT

Dr. Anthony Quinn, also affectionately known as Tony, is undoubtedly one of my closest friends in the entire world. And I will tell you, if there was a poster child for what a man, regardless of Race, should be for his family, he is the gold standard. I consider him the Barack Obama of black fatherhood. Considering his past history, I was most certainly not surprised to hear that he had already purchased tickets to visit the National Museum of African-American History and Culture a full 8 months prior to a planned trip to Washington D.C. He is quite simply that type of fellow, a homey-type of responsible Negro.

So I hope that you can understand that the following request regarding the National Museum of African-American History and Culture has little to do with Tony and everything to do with the safety of the nation. Although I am most certainly not against the Quinn family visiting this historic museum, I am hoping that they and the droves of others who are planning a visit will give great consideration to my request that they delay their visit for at least a full calendar year as the museum needs to be closed to the public for at least that amount of time.

Tony, I love you, however, I hope that you can understand that it is imperative that the National Museum of African-American History and Culture be closed to the public for at least the next year because I am certain that it will take that long to educate the entire Trump administration about the contributions that African-Americans have made to this nation.

I am calling for the use of an American Christian tradition called the “lock-in.” A “lock-in” is when Christians are locked into the church for at least one night so that they can be immersed in the Gospel; the “lock-in” is most certainly beneficial to backsliding Christians.

It is time that the National Museum of African-American History and Culture be put to good use by “locking-in” newly elected President Donald Trump and his entire cabinet. I ask for one thing in association to this “lock-in.” Whoever is entrusted with locking America’s new President inside of the building, I hope that they place the chain outside of the entrance doors to ensure that any attempt to escape much-needed knowledge is aborted. Considering the cast of characters that we are seeking to educate, I think that it is necessary that we not only chain the doors but also have the Fruit of Islam circle the building as an extra security measure to prevent anyone from escaping this much needed educational experience; only the Lord knows the lengths that Trump and his roving band of imbeciles will go to escape enlightenment.

Now I am certain that there are a few of you who consider such actions a waste of taxpayer money. However, I would remind them of the cost of having the nation directed by an ignorant Commander in Chief. Trust me when I say that monetary costs should be the least of our concerns as we are all in peril with Trump and his band of nitwits making crucial decisions that they have little understanding of.

I am quite certain that you are well aware of Trump’s Black History Month gaffe that led him to speak about the venerable Black Abolitionist Frederick Douglass in the present tense as if he were still alive; the Commander in Chief was oblivious to the fact that Douglass died over a century ago in 1895. More recently, the latest addition to Trump’s roving band of idiots, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took to twitter to share words of wisdom by William Edward Burghardt DuBois, the greatest intellectual the American academy has ever created. The Department of Education twitter account shared the following words by the Harvard Intellectual,

“Education must not simply teach work – it must teach life.”

(W.E.B. DeBose)

Yes, you are reading that correctly, they misspelled DuBois’ name. And just when you thought that things could not get any worse for the U.S. Department of Education, they issued the following correction.

Post updated – our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo. — US Dept of Education (@usedgov) February 12, 2017

Unbelievably, during their attempt to issue a correction for a misspelling gaffe involving W.E.B. DuBois, they misspelled apologies with ‘apologizes.’ What a scary world we are living in at this present moment as we are being governed by a President who has no idea that Frederick Douglass died over a century ago and a Secretary of Education who has similar weakness in African-American history that are dwarfed by an inability to either spell or monitor those who are speaking for the government agency she now heads.

On second thought, maybe we should push the pause button on locking Trump and his cabinet inside of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. It appears that we may need to start their enlightenment at a local elementary school, preferably a public school so that Secretary DeVos can add such experience to her barren qualification sheet, which will give them a solid footing in the basics. At least it is a start. And as with all Herculean efforts, we must start somewhere.

May God bless America because she and her citizenry most certainly need it.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017.

Why it is Imperative that African-Americans View James Baldwin’s “I Am Not Your Negro”

I remember the rather sharp exchange with one of my student’s as if it occurred yesterday. We had gotten into an intellectual altercation regarding what exactly made one BLACK. Her assertion was that there were a million ways to be BLACK, so it was, therefore, impossible to either validate or invalidate an individual’s blackness. I vehemently disagreed with her assertion.

A crucial aspect of my position revolved around the fact that if blackness was not biologically based, it must, therefore, be a politically useful social construct found in the minds, worldview, political perspectives and priorities. Put simply; I fervently believe that Race was created to provide whites an opportunity to efficiently cast aside non-whites as they moved to monopolize and then maintain those monopolies over every resource imaginable. I argued that since blackness is a state of mind that grows out of 400 years of experience on the North American continent, there must be something beyond the oppression that we have received at the hands of whites that glues my people together. From my perspective, I believe that the “something beyond the oppression that we have received at the hands of whites” is the intellectual tradition and worldview that we have developed as a result of our collective struggle against American racism. Considering such realities, I call into question not only this particular student’s blackness, but also all African-Americans blackness if they have never studied our great intellectuals who have dedicated their lives to examining, deconstructing, and then destroying socially constructed racial paradigms.

For my money, the leading social critic that Black America has ever created is our dear brother James Baldwin. Considering that I was desperately seeking to end the conflict mentioned above with this particular student, I went for the knockout blow by informing her that “If you haven’t read Baldwin, you are not only unqualified to discuss American race relations, but also unworthy of being considered an educated black person.” Although many may find such a broad statement unfair, it nonetheless reflects my perspective on the poignant writings and social commentary that James Baldwin delivered to an undeserving world.

Much of my intellectual life has been spent lamenting the woes of people whose uninformed perspectives regarding American racial matters would disappear “If only they would read Baldwin.”

So I am confident that you understand my exuberance at hearing Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck had taken on the task of fleshing out an aborted Baldwin project titled “Remember This House.” A house that Baldwin famously stated was burning and therefore Negroes should not seek to integrate into it. Peck’s vision of this project is now in American theaters as the documentary “I am not your Negro.”

Baldwin only wrote thirty pages on a project that was to be his personal account of the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and what it revealed about the nation. Raoul Peck has not only succeeded in bringing “Remember This House” relatively brief sketch to the big screen but also delivered Baldwin’s genius to a new generation of Americans.

One of my consistent critiques of contemporary activists and so-called black leaders is their laziness in regards to engaging the writings of intellectual giants such as W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Marcus Garvey, and Huey P. Newton. Unfortunately, it appears that the unprecedented accessibility of information attributable to the internet, the majority of it not being well-researched, has caused an incurable laziness among the heirs to a rich African-American historical and activist legacy. However, recent experience has taught me that if a workable plan to liberate African-Americans if placed within the covers of a book, the vast majority of our people will never encounter it. They want their information not only to be entertaining but also requiring minimal effort on their part.

It is for this reason that I applaud Raoul Peck for bringing this brilliant documentary to the big screen as it removes all obstacles to African-Americans who have never encountered the unparalleled genius of the intellectual giant that was James Baldwin.

I am not your Negro is a film that you MUST go out and see for your intellectual benefit.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017

 

Are They Scared to Compete?: The Dumbing Down of African-American Males

I had the good fortune to spend a portion of my birthday (April 30) in the grandest fashion imaginable; I was invited to speak about Malcolm X’s timeless speech ‘The Ballot or The Bullet’ at the Edgar Only a fool Malcolm  XM. Gregory School located in the 4th Ward of Houston Texas . This location is commonly referred to as Freeman’s Town by those who have any knowledge of the Bayou City’s history of terse and rapidly shifting racial dynamics; unfortunately, Freeman’s Town has been gentrified by whites and is now called Mid-Town. The Gregory School, the location of my lecture, holds special significance for African-Americans as it was the location of the first public school for Black Houstonians; the African-American Library is now housed inside of the building.

After completing a well received presentation, a teacher posed the following question to me during the Q & A portion of the program. “What is wrong with African-American males? Why are they fighting against receiving an education? Many of them just sit in my class totally disinterested, even when I am talking about African-Americans. What is wrong with them? Are they scared to compete?”

As you well know, the answer to this query is not only intricate, but also needs to be expertly tailored on a case-by-case basis. Hence, I most definitely disappointed this educator when I refused to offer a one-size-fits-all answer to what is most certainly a convoluted and complex matter.

All that I could reasonably relate was that I had seen similar actions and activities by a wide-swath of Back males in my African-Black Males 7American History courses; courses that focused exclusively upon their ancestors. Now that I think about it, their disinterested gaze and refusal to engage content that was most definitely pertinent to their present condition reminds one of this nation’s most infamous citizens, President George W. Bush.

Although I can neither tell you where I was nor what periodical I was reading, I do remember that I was reading a random news story about former President George W. Bush. The article, told from the perspective of those who knew the former President personally, verified much of what I, and the rest of the world, intuitively knew about him. According to those who intimately knew the former President, the scariest thing about old George was that he had no interest in anything. According to his close friends, his intellectual past contained neither a ‘Eureka’ moment nor an epiphany that sparked his interest in any topic or subject matter. Put simply, according to his collegiate counterparts, Bush was intellectually dull, uninspired, a damn imbecile.

I am certain that you are wondering why I am broaching this topic of President Bush’s well documented intellectual feebleness, it is not flowing from a sadistic desire to ‘beat a dead horse’ by Black Males 3reiterating the intellectual inadequacies that under girded everything that the former President thought or said; rather it allows me to address a similar evil that has reared its ugly head among African-American males. That being, the appearance of a significant portion of African-American youth who are consistently exhibiting a level of intellectual curiosity that would make our former President appear scholarly; put simply, they have no interest in anything beyond some droning popular culture topic, reality show, or immoral event posted on the internet. I cringe when I think of what the world has in-store for this next generation of African-American males?

As a historian, I recognize that the current listlessness infecting many African-American collegians is a historical anomaly. The alluded to disruption began when African-Americans unwisely attempted to assimilate with a hostile, politically organized, and economically formidable ‘white society’. I refer to this moment as being historically peculiar because it fails to reflect one crucial aspect of the African-American struggle, that being our indomitable pursuit of education ‘by any means necessary’. Put simply, stolen Africans, and their descendants, maintained both their humanity and an undeniable belief that “after the darkest night, always comes a brighter day.”

When our ancestors emerged from chattel slavery, the vast majority held few tangible possessions. However they were in possession of the following: (a) an unceasing determination to worship God, (b) a desperate desire to locate lost kin, and (c) a belief that literacy and education were keys to their future progress. Our people attributed much of their oppression at the hands of a horrifically hostile white community to the fact that they lacked a basic education.

African-Americans have longed believed that education is the crucial difference-maker between ‘them that have and them that don’t.’ The vast majority of African-American parents have placed their belief in a simple formula for success; that being, a quality education removes a significant obstruction to success. My grandparents conveyed their belief in this formula when they admonished each of their offspring that education “was the only thing that the white man can’t take away from you.” Such mantras are publicly displayed each time an older African-American joyously smiles when a grandchild graduates from high school or college.

There appears to be an innate understanding among most civilized people regarding the power that a relevant education bestows upon its possessor; how else can we explain the consistent attacks upon African-American education by those who oppose Black progress. I find it fruitless to rehash the many occurrences of whites attempting to undercut African-American educational pursuits; rather, this posting addresses a far more dangerous, and largely unprecedented, foe in the battle to uplift the race via educational pursuits.

To the surprise of many, this yet to be named opponent has successfully resisted the overtures of African-American educators, the foot soldiers in the vicious battle to educate the next generation of Black youth. The alluded to formidable opponent I speak of is the absence of intellectual curiosity, a condition that is currently infecting many of our children. I have found that it is relatively common for many of my students to behave as if I am interrupting their busy day during my lectures. If I did not know better, I would be convinced that they have much, much, much more important things to do than earn, yes earn, not receive, an education.

Undoubtedly, for large swaths of African-American students, certainly not all of them, they see little utility in education, particularly, if it is not directly tied to their acquiring material goods. For many of my students, education’s lone utility is found in its ability to make material goods more accessible. Such a stance betrays the storied history of their ancestors who battled for the right to secure an education for much more worthwhile reasons.

Despite their relative illiteracy, our ancestors had enough sense to recognize that education was a primary building bloc in preventing Black Males 9the political and economic exploitation of their kind from hostile outsiders. Such understanding emboldens me to order my students to turn their cell phones off while in my class and to recognize that the opportunity to pursue an education is a privilege that they did not earn; rather it was gifted to them by their ancestors.

To their chagrin, until they learn this lesson, I will continue to interrupt their day and point them towards education and explain to them the ultimate utility of education, the protection of their community against hostile outsiders who have historically, and still seek to, rob and pillage their community in concerted efforts to provide for their own people.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

DEXTER, DEXTER IS THAT YOU?: HOW THE TRAGIC STORY OF DEXTER MANLEY CONTINUES TO WORSEN

Considering the current ruins that the franchise finds itself in, it is slightly embarrassing to say that I am a life-long fan of the Dallas Cowboys. However, there was a
time when the Dallas Cowboys were the gold-standard of not only the National Football League but of all professional athletics. I fondly recall the epic battles that the Cowboys undertook against storied franchises like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and the hated above all Washington Redskins.

Although I wish my expression for the Washington Redskins could be something other than pure unregenerate hatred that covered not only the NFL franchise, but also players such as John Riggins, Darrell Green, Art Monk, Joe Theismann, and Dexter Manley. Of all of the aforementioned individuals, Dexter Manley is the only figure that warranted any sympathy; I must add that the alluded to sympathy extended to Manley flowed from extenuating life circumstances that were no fault of his.

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Manley matriculated from Jack Yates High School in Houston’s 3rd Ward. This story is rife with irony when one realizes that Texas Southern University and the University of Houston are literally a stone’s throw away from Jack Yates. None of that seemed to matter as Dexter Manley, a player who was so dominant form his Defensive End position that he earned the moniker of ‘Secretary of Defense’, managed to matriculate from Jack Yates and remain eligible for four years at Oklahoma State University with only a 2nd grade reading comprehension level.

In his biography Educating Dexter, Manley describes a hellish existence riddled with illiteracy, violence, and drug addiction; all while earning nearly one-million dollars a year as a professional football player.

Truthfully, Manley is little more than a footnote in the storied rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, so I thought it truly ironic that on the final week of the NFL regular season that Manley would reappear in the most unprecedented of ways. Believe it or not, Dexter Manley has managed to secure employment as a television analyst for some off-brand television station.

I must relate to being pleased at seeing Manley in such a position, if immediately gave me that warm fuzzy feeling of yet another African-American male overcoming significant personal obstacle to seize later professional success. Unfortunately, that ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling quickly dissipated when I listened to Manley’s commentary regarding Black quarterbacks.

Manley related to a white co-host the following quip, “…most of the black quarterbacks, they like running, because they’re probably used to running from the law.” Manley’s attempt at humor made me not only shake my head, but also made me wonder aloud at how could someone teach Dexter how to read, yet fail to teach him how to think. It then dawned upon me that I know many people who have somehow learned how to read, yet could not think their way out of a shotgun house.

Although the selection of figures such as Don Lemon, Charles Barkley, and Dexter Manley by national television stations to represent “the Black perspective” on a superficial level don lemoncould be celebrated because they are technically ‘black’, however, such individuals are suffering under the yoke of so many intellectual inadequacies that it is on second-thought insulting for them to be trotted out as even being capable of not only possessing the courage “to speak truth to white power”, but also having escaped the multiple illiteracies (historical, cultural, political) that so many ‘black experts’ are ensnared by. There is absolutely no doubt that news agencies need many more Black News Anchors like TV-One’s Roland Martin or independent Black news periodicals such as African-American News & Issues (Houston, Texas) or The Final Call (Nation of Islam). It is our only hope of having an authentic Black perspective represented.

Unfortunately for Dexter Manley, his failed attempt at humor and inability to think are no longer the secret that his literacy was. Making matters worse, many others prove that they are suffering under the exact same yoke.

James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

Dumb it Down: How Our Focus Upon Materialism Damages Many Within Our Community

Southern plantation owners greatly feared two things when enslaved Africans were emancipated: (a) financial ruin (b) the obliteration of a Southern culture that their wealth and political interests rested upon. Southern plantation owners understood that money provided power; however, it was th (2)their regions cultural priorities that dictated their future. The American historical record indicates that these southern gentlemen were willing to destroy the nation before they would agree to the discarding of their cultural beliefs and priorities. Of all of the lessons that this period of time provides, it is this emphasis on culture that offer the greatest lessons for African-Americans; unfortunately, lessons regarding the importance of culture are consistently ignored.

Quite possibly the most shocking commentary regarding intra-racial cultural matters emanates from an unlikely source, Chris Rock; the same individual who publicly informed the entire nation, Black and white, homie quanthat there was “a civil war going on between Black folk and Niggers. And Niggers have got to go.” Chris Rock’s piercing observation delves into on of Black America’s dirtiest pieces of laundry, that being certain segments of our community embracing and even celebrating anti-social behavior and repeatedly displaying unbelievable hostility toward education.

There seems to be a social, intellectual, and cultural poverty that has infected a chris rocksignificant portion of our race. Chris Rock’s stand-up focused upon one particular aspect of this poverty when he remarked, “Nothing makes a nigga happier than to not know the answer to your question.” The aforementioned statement is sad, but nevertheless true; and unbeknownst to those outside of our community, frequently spoken about behind closed doors amongst African-Americans.

The blessing and the curse of culture, is that it does not change immediately, it gradually morphs overtime; put simply, these subtle changes are indiscernible to the untrained eye. Once they become obvious, it is much too late to stop them. There is no other way to view the contemporary state of African-American culture. When this proud people emerged from the institution of chattel th (1)slavery, they faced innumerable problems. When asked what they most desired, the answer was simple: (a) to find their family — one must remember the disruptive nature of American chattel slavery — (b) to secure a piece of land to work, and (c) to secure an education. Emancipated Blacks linked their oppression to their lack of education; a situation that they continually worked toward correcting.

Such priorities ruled the nation for at least the century following the U.S. Civil War. However, today appears to be a new day for large segments of their community, particularly regarding educational pursuits. It is not accidental that this devaluing of education began with the integration of schools and the removal of large swaths of African-American teachers, particularly males, who served as the primary, next to parents, role model in the lives of Black children. Nearly fifty-years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision, we have a supposedly integrated educational system filled with Black children who are often displaying an unmistakable hostility, not indifference, toward education.

It is extremely difficult to identify a single villain in this process that has left many African-Americans hostile toward school 2intelligence; a position that is so formidable that African-American children who excel inside of the classroom are branded ‘acting white’. However, a great starting point toward explaining this unfortunate turn of events would be an examination of contemporary “ends-justify-the-means” economic formulas that justifies any and everything as long as it is profitable in the end. This message is unfortunately piped into African-American homes via ‘Reality TV’ shows on a continual basis. Leading those absent an understanding of authentic Black culture to glean that such anti-social behavior and antics are representative of whom we are as a people.

The adoption of a value system that makes the pursuit of money and material goods the ultimate goal serves as the pivot that many African-American problems extend from. It is this pursuit of money that leads to the ‘dumbing down’ of Black America. Those who have adopted such a position wallow in an ignorance that begets a lack of politicization, that begets, economic ignorance, that begets poverty, which reinforces the initial step in this devilish process.

The alluded to situations and priorities has manufactured a group of individuals whose sole priorities are the pursuit of and consumption of material goods to the detriment of not only themselves, but also future generations. It is this population of individuals whose pursuit of the adornments of material success without the presence of any substance that Chris Rock is terming Niggas. And unbeknownst to them, the vast majority of the globe, particularly law abiding African-Americans agree that it is time for them to go.

James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture