Tag Archives: Manhood

TRADING PLACES: HOW MANY BLACK MEN HAVE CHOSEN TO ABANDON THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES BY TRADING PLACES WITH THE WOMEN IN THEIR LIVES

Although the exact date that Pastor Johnny R. Heckard shared the message eludes my mind, that does not matter because it is much more important that the sermon’s content remains prominent in my mind.

As was his tendency, Dr. Heckard used an unconscionable, yet scripturally grounded, verbal assault to admonish the Mount Calvary Baptist Church congregation, particularly the males, that one of the most troubling aspects of Black America is the manner in which the roles of African-American men and women have reversed.

The entire church shook as Rev. Heckard’s baritone voice boomed “We now have men asking women, ‘Do you make enough to take care of a man like me?’” As one would expect, this piercing question elicited a symphony of ‘Hallelujah’s,’ ‘Preach,’ and ‘Walk with it’ from the overwhelmingly female audience. Ironically, the overwhelmingly female congregation filled with women who never realize that they are partially responsible for the production of son’s who will become worthless African-American males, as well as hurriedly “laying down their religion” to allow a financially and emotionally parasitic grown man into their lives.

For me, Pastor Heckard’s sermon was surreal as it was a powerful rebuke of a cast of characters I recently encountered in a local barbershop, a place that could also be called the black man’s country club.

Anyone who has been to a real black barber will tell you that you are destined to engage a cast of characters with incredible stories regarding life. Without fail, there is always a few ‘brothers’ present who will share stories regarding their refusal to support the women in their lives and the inventive methods they use to escape responsibility for the women in their lives.

Although hilarious at the moment, upon reflection these tales sadden me because I realized that there are a silent woman and children in the background of each story.  African-American males dereliction of duty routinely compromises the present and future opportunities for the women and children that rely on them for things that extend further than financial contributions. There is no possible way that any attentive introspective person could listen to these fantastic barbershop tales and not realize that as Dr. Heckard’s sermon pointed out, the dynamics between black men and women have dramatically changed.

Unfortunately, I am uncertain if even Dr. Heckard’s criticism would have caused even a moment of self-reflection upon the most dynamic performers one finds in any local barbershop as they appeared to be devoid of either a sense of pride or an inkling of morality. If nothing else, the alluded to individuals were a public testimony that so many African-American males had voluntarily retreated from the traditional role of provider and protector that Black men have traditionally occupied. The increasing numbers of such individuals highlight the depths of trouble that our community is experiencing at this present moment.

It appears that the days of the average black man being able to simultaneously occupy many roles that vacillated between displaying the ‘cool pose’ while among their peers, being the primary breadwinner in their homes, spending precious time with offspring, and being unconscionably chivalrous toward their wife are no more.

This abandonment of our traditional position within our community begs a simple question of, ‘Why has this occurred?’

A thorough answer to the above question is multi-faceted, complex, and involves shifts in the American economy, the African-American community, and the educational system that has simply not served as much utility to African-American men in particular. I am certain that you agree that this space is much too small to address each of these areas. So I will turn my focus toward the addressing of one of the essential parts of this problem; that being, the lack of socialization regarding manhood within the African-American community.

Although many have created complex formulas and equations relating to the extension of manhood from one generation to the next, in actuality the process is incredibly simple. Boys learn the duties, role, and expectations of Manhood and therefore how to ‘be a man’ by engaging and learning from Men. There is nothing racially specific about this as it is the same socialization process that occurs generation-after-generation around the entire globe.

Unfortunately for the African-American community, there has been a disruption in this tried-and-true socialization process that taught ‘What a man is and Ought to do’ for African-American boys and girls.

Although it is often not a formal process, any examination of the transference of manhood ideology reveals some form of a ‘rites of passage’ program that teaches agreed upon understandings of what it means to be a man in a particular society. The referenced ‘rites of passage’ training not only shows the expected duties but also constructs rigid parameters regarding activities that are impermissible. Generally speaking, any actions that result in hurt, harm, or damage to others are located in the realm of the impermissible and logically lead to the shunning of those who have even flirted with such things.

Indicative of the African-American community’s failure to instruct succeeding generations of black boys on what they should and should not do has been them making the realm of the impermissible and inappropriate their official residence. Making their dastardly lifestyle more damaging is the black community failing to banish those who have compromised it from its midst. Far too frequently, it appears as if their negative behavior earns them kudos from females who are also devoid of an understanding of what either a man or woman ‘ought to be and ought to do.’ Make no mistake about it, the selfish life that far too many African-American males have adopted damages the entire community.

Considering the blockage that has led to a significant segment of African-American males not receiving appropriate Manhood training, it is not surprising that we have devolved to an unprecedented moment in our history that sees immoral and misguided Black men viewing Black women, in the words of Dr. Heckard as a survival mechanism. And trust me when I say that such maneuvers are certainly not a positive manhood quality.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016

The Man I Hope To Be

Although I am not professing to have “seen it all and done it all and done it all at” during my 23 years on this planet. I do take pride in being a candid listener and astute observer. Therefore the following is the sum of what I have learned.

Growing up in Dallas, Texas I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by what could comfortably be called “men’s men”; a population that continuously strove to accomplish one primary feat; that being, providing for their families. I often found myself contemplating if that were the only measure of a man. Was simply “putting food on the table” the only path to manhood?

Not living with my father as I came of age, I found myself constantly wrestling with this matter. I began asking questions of every man, I felt had successfully entered manhood regarding this matter; obviously I was seeking a better understanding of this matter.

Many wise words later, I feel that I have not yet come to a definite conclusion, however, I have a much greater understanding regarding what it means to be a great man. At this moment, I fervently believe that a man must uphold high standards for not only himself, but also those linked to him in some form or fashion. What follows is my understanding of this matter that I wish to share with those of my generation who have no one to share such matters with them.

Self-esteem, the belief that you can achieve your goals through extreme dedication, is paramount to anyone who wishes to advance in life. It is essential for a man to know who he is and exactly what he stands for as he is the backbone that carries his family through every circumstance and obstacle. However, this cannot be achieved until he knows who he is and what he truly hopes to accomplish in life. A man must use his God given talents to better his circumstances.

Discipline is key is to the aforementioned matters. Where there is no discipline there will eventually be some form of advancement. Holding oneself accountable for your own actions is the greatest measure of a man. A man must not let anything or anyone cause him to venture from the goals he has set. Once this self-discipline and self-accountability, not before, is obtained a man can then look forward to creating and providing for a family.

Scripture tells us that once a man finds a good woman he finds himself a good thing. As alluded too, once a man has the ability to care and hold himself accountable he is now prepared to fully embrace and appreciate this good woman. A Christian man is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. A good woman will let you know when you have drifted off course, it is then the man’s duty to listen to these cries and adjust accordingly.

When blessed with this priceless treasure of a good woman, a man can then begin thinking about rearing children into the world. It is a man’s duty to not only provide for his children, but also to teach them all the lessons he has learned to help them build upon the foundation you have constructed. A man should teach his son the responsibilities of being a man. Teach him that he must love and respect himself and do what is necessary to build a  great and better world. The man must then show his daughter what love from a man feels like, while making her feel beautiful giving her bountiful amounts of self-esteem that will most certainly be necessary as she seeks to navigate a turbulent and often hostile world.  Giving his children a platform and understanding he did not have must be accomplished prior to his seeking to aid the world that his family mst live within.

It is crucial that men prepare to live within the general society. it is imperative that Black Men balance fighting the virulent racism that is endemic to America, while also holding on to tenuous hopes of uplifting this nation. The Black man must fight against the injustices seen in his community.  I believe a man’s duty to his culture and people are essential because it creates a legacy of self-worth and self-empowerment.

When you add it all up, the Black Man is much more than a provider and protector. He is often a lover, a teacher, and a friend for those he adores. A good man is patient and focused when things go astray.

The family can be used to not only bridge the community, but also positively impact our culture in innumerable ways. As previously stated I do not profess to have all the answers; however, I am certain that once a man strives to better himself on a daily basis, all around him will be positively affected.

Patron Payton

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.

IN THE WORDS OF MINISTER FARRAKHAN: A CRUCIAL YET OFTEN OMITTED INGREDIENT IN DEVELOPING MANHOOD

I must relate that I absolutely love my cousin Kareem for the man that he has evolved into, however, it is most definitely not accidental that he has evolved in such an impressive manner; his parents, my aunt Jackie and uncle Clarence, were extremely unique individual Farrakhanpeople who tailored a path for each of their children to succeed. Put
simply, save for some type of mental inadequacy or streak of immorality — things that he most certainly does not suffer from — he, and his beautiful, intelligent, and courageous sisters had no other choice but to turn out the way that they did; the person he is today is not happenstance, it was in many ways his destiny.

So I was not shocked today to see a post that he placed in OUR Facebook group — Manhood, Race & Culture — that explained so much about the role that a Black woman plays in the construction of a man.

His post today was one answer from an interview that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan had given that does much to illuminate how a woman can play a significant role in supporting the development of ‘Manhood’.

Responding to a question regarding his wife and her role in his development, Minister Farrakhan responded in the following way.

When you have a woman by your side who does everything she can to support you in your work, and as a wife, to speak to you when you need correcting or to make it clear to you where she is dissatisfied, but always in a loving and respectful way, that is what helps a man to be a man.

As always, Minister Farrakhan’s words are efficient and packed with tons of insight and wisdom. Far too often we hear a familiar lament from many African-American women that goes as follows: “Where are the men?”

Now there is most certainly a tendency for discussions regarding the role of women in the development of manhood to devolve into a foidebate that closely resembles the classic quandary of ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’, however, I am most definitely seeking to avoid such foolishness.

Far too often there is a misunderstanding regarding the ‘development’ of manhood, most are totally unaware that the process is on-going throughout a man’s entire life. Now there is absolutely no
doubt that there is a sizable portion of males who have neither desired nor embarked upon the journey to embrace manhood and I must relate that this post has absolutely nothing to do with them, for all intents and purposes, they are lost causes in regards to becoming men and therefore should be considered traitors to the cause of racial uplift.

I am referring to those who possess both the potential and desire to put on the weighty cloak of manhood. It is this population that our women should be receptive to if for no other reason that they provide a path for her to display one of her innumerable superpowers; on this occasion it is propelling her man to unconscionable heights that he could have never achieved on his own.

I only wish that more sisters found quality male’s with the desire to be strong Black men so that they could implement Minister Farrakhan’s advice and ‘do everything she can to support him in his work’, ‘address him, in a respectful and loving way, regarding matters he is incorrect upon and could improve upon’. According to Minister Farrakhan, that is how ‘sisters’ could help the Black man be a man.

I can personally attest to the damage that a non-cooperative partner can have upon one’s life, it is stifling and suffocating. Instead of cooperation, they intentionally create moments of discord, rather than speaking in a respectful and loving manner, they say things that are intentionally designed to incite an uncontrollable rage. Put simply, many ‘relationships’ within our community are combative and therefore far from loving and supportive. Amazingly we are then surprised when our home’s, the building bloc of any nation, lay in ruin.

I am quite certain that there are many brothers who are currently imbued with a sense of pride and righteousness as they perceive this to be a backhanded slight at the ‘sisters’, they are in as much error as the ‘sisters’ who have allowed their expectations that this is a ‘typical’ posting aimed at disrespecting them to override their engagement in it. If you have read this piece and have come to that conclusion, either you need to increase your reading comprehension or I have failed at my task.

I was simply sharing some advice from a wise man regarding a path that he has already traveled with his beloved partner. I only wish that more of us, men and women, could be so lucky.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

Disrespected and preyed upon by even their Own Men: The Current Plight of African-American women and girls

In Chinua Achebe’s classic tome Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo, the central protagonist for the novel, returns from a forced exile to find the society that he has not seen in several years laying in shambles. Simultaneously disgusted and puzzled by what he sees, Okonkwo angrily asks, “Where are the men?” Considering the continually escalating attacks upon African-American girls and women, it is reasonable to ask the same thing today; “Where are the men?”

Make no mistake about it, Malcolm X’s admonishment regarding Black women still holds. The Black Nationalist Titan related malcolm 1that “the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” The current lack of protection that Black women lived under is directly related to African-American men absconding their responsibilities as men. Put simply, the vast majority of African-American males have a flawed understanding of Manhood.

If one were to ask any marriage-age woman with some semblance of common sense what are the two primary qualities they are looking for in a mate, I am quite certain that you will consistently hear African-American women state that they are looking for someone who is a provider and offers physical protection for them and their home.

Instead of believing that manhood is composed of positive traits such as serving as both a physical and spiritual protector for Steve 7those within his household. Many misguided African-American males have chosen to adopt a lifestyle that is seemingly engineered to harm not only themselves, but also leaves the women and children in their household and community to be little more than available targets for predators.

Those with a flawed understanding of manhood tend to produce droves of children from women they have no intention of marrying, participate in illegal drugs, find themselves frequently incarcerated, and exhibit copious amounts of anti-social behavior.

Historically there has always been a segment of African-American males who have skirted their responsibility to their families and the women in their lives, they were either unaware or do not care that manhood plays a critical role in the maintenance of both their home life and community; however, there influence was fairly limited during the segregation era.

Today, it appears that those who have assumed the position of irresponsibility are not only numerically formidable, but also steve 3proliferating. The alluded to vocal minority wields social media sites as an Excalibur to propagate their carefree lifestyle of sex, drugs, and crime. Most troubling is the reality that so many African-American males have not only received this message of carefree living, but also attempted to adopt it as their standard modus operandi within Black America.

The adoption of a carefree lifestyle at this moment is particularly troubling as African-American women need Black men to protect them in an unprecedented manner as they are also under horrific attack by law enforcement officers and the American Justice System.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics African-American women make up only 13% of the American population, however, they compose 21% of those incarcerated. Predictably, African-American women in some areas are over four times more likely to be imprisoned than their white contemporaries. Elsie Scott, founding director of the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center (Howard University) offered the following. “We are seeing increasingly more cases where black girls and women are being subjected to abuse and over enforcement. We must start placing more attention on the plight of females in the criminal justice system.”

Melanie Campbell, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation addressed the African-American community’s tendency to be reactionary in their addressing attacks upon Black women and girls. According to Campbell, “We cannot continue to wait for something to show up on a video to ask for change.”

The entire community was up in arms after seeing the brutalization of a young Black female student this past week in South Carolina, however, if African-American adults were proactive they would not have been aghast at this situation as numerous studies have highlighted the disparate treatment that African-American children receive in this nation’s educational institutions. The 2015 African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectional and Social Policy Studies related that African-American females were six times as likely to be suspended as their white counterparts. Additionally, 12% of Black girls were given exclusionary suspensions versus only 2% of their white female peers.

It appears that unless an incident is captured on video, it doesn’t exist; and as the saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ video vixen 3Unfortunately, the adoption of such as a standard operating principle by Black men leaves African-American women totally vulnerable to the desires of an often hostile American society.

Many have stated that the most assured way of evaluating a society is to look at the status of its women. Using such a measure reveals that there are so many Black women and girls in our midst who are struggling without the support or backing of our community, particularly African-American men. Making matters even worse many African-American men take the struggles of Black women as an opportunity to exploit them. There is quite possibly no greater sign that many African-American males have not only lost their way, but also have no understanding of the role of manhood in any civilized society than their predatory actions/activities toward their women. If viewed from a logical place, such a situation reveals that African-American men are much worse off than even during their period of enslavement.

And that is a damn shame!!!!!!!!!

James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

#African-American News & Issues

©Manhood, Race, and Culture 2015.

IN HONOR OF J.T. BARRETT — WASTED OPPORTUNITIES: HOW AFRICAN-AMERICAN MALES ARE OFTEN THEIR OWN WORST ENEMY

There is absolutely no doubt that the African-American experience on the North American continent is unlike any other. As a population who are the descendants of stolen Africans who were taken from their homeland for no other reason than to enrich immoral opportunistic whites, the path that African-Americans have traveled has been in a word, impassable. It is this experience that forced our ancestors to rely so heavily upon God as they realized that he could “make a way out of no way.” The African-American experience brings much validity to the Dottie Peoples’ song, He’s an On-Time God.

Often times the only thing that kept enslaved Africans and those living under the yoke of Jim Crow going was a hope that there would come a moment when those who came after them would be provided with some semblance of opportunity in what they recognized as a land of plenty. I remember my pastor Johnny R. Heckard once remarking from his pulpit that “here we were in the land of plenty without much to eat like the children of Israel. However, our faith in God provided the road for the Lord to make a way out of no way.”

Although evidence of racism and economic exploitation are found in the living conditions of any typical African-American neighborhood, one is hard-pressed to honestly state that there are no opportunities to be found for African-Americans. Barber Dudley Whitaker, the father of two sons, believes that there is plentiful opportunity for African-American males in today’s society. “Now I am not saying that racism is no longer a factor. However, it is not the primary determining factor today in regards to if you can make it or not. Truthfully, it all boils down to the choices that you make. In fact, the choices that you make are the most significant thing that determines if you will succeed or fail. Will you study or go to the party? Will you focus on school or play video games all day? It’s the choices that Black males make that will point them toward failure or success.”

Although many would like to believe that opportunity never appears for the typical African-American male, a belief that most disagree with; however, there is a segment of young Black America where opportunities are plentiful. The population that I allude to is those African-American males who have Barrett2displayed uncommon athletic prowess; college coaches pursue them in a way that is in many ways downright embarrassing. For the highly pursued athlete, the world is truly their oyster as they have often-times fifty different colleges and universities begging for them to join their athletic program.

The most sought after athletes participate in basketball and football. These young men are wooed by college coaches and universities in uncommon ways. Not only will they be provided state-of-the-art training facilities to hone their craft to a point that they are able to become professional athletes, but also they are provided unprecedented academic assistance via learning centers and tutors whose sole purpose is to guarantee their classroom success. Unfortunately, so many of these unprecedented opportunities are squandered away for some inexplicable reason.

As a proud alum of THE Ohio State University, I must relate my disappointment with one of my own, starting quarterback J.T. Barrett who unwisely chose to not only break the law by drinking alcohol, but also operating a motor vehicle in that condition; a situation that reverted my mind back to when I worked for THE Ohio State University Student Athlete Support Services Office and our then Quarterback Steve Bellasari found himself in the exact same situation that Barrett does.

J.T. Barrett was cited for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by the Columbus Police Department on Saturday morning at a campus area checkpoint. Officers arrested Barrett after they noticed him attempting to avoid a OVI checkpoint. Barrett’s misstep will cost him a one game suspension.

Although it is difficult to state, there appears to be significant cultural dysfunction occurring within Black America, particularly in regards to the socialization of African-American males. It would not be outlandish to consider the repeated occurrences of African-American males consciously working against their own interests via a hyper-masculine, aggressive behavior that is often combined with guns, marijuana, and seemingly uncontrollable sexual promiscuity as a sign that the socialization of Black males has led them to a flawed understanding of manhood. According to Nicholas Malone of the Academic Grind center, “boys just be out here grinding, trying to get it any way that they possibly can. For many of them, there motto to others is ‘you better either get down or get laid down’. I see it on a daily basis, we prey upon each other and only the strong will survive.”

One is left with the loaded question of what has happened to African-American males. Although it is a simple solution to say that they were raised in a family that celebrated and encouraged criminality, violence, and personal irresponsibility; those of us raised up within the Black community realize that such a simplistic explanation is completely flawed. According to educator Damon Barrett3Thomas, “I think that very few parents are raising their children to be thugs and hoodlums. Everything comes down to choice. It is the reason that two sons can be raised up in the same household and one goes off to earn a degree at Penn State, while the other languishes behind and ultimately in the state penitentiary. It basically boils down to, what do you want to do with your life.”

For many African-American males, it appears that external forces such as rap videos, reality television, and hip-hop culture have had a disproportionate affect upon their priorities, value systems, and goals. For those who have not seen an appropriate display of Black manhood, which is most certainly different than other expressions of manhood, it is very easy for them to be mis-informed regarding what manhood encompasses. Instead of believing that manhood is composed of positive traits such as:

  • fatherhood
  • marriage
  • serving as both a physical and spiritual protector for those within his household

Many misguided African-American males have chosen to believe that manhood is actually marked by the anti-thesis of these traits:

  • Producing droves of out of wedlock children
  • Drug abuse (which often blocks their path to gainful employment)
  • Incarceration (another factor that precludes their gainful employment)
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Inappropriate dress that guarantees they will not be taken seriously by any segment of society.

Now there is little doubt that there has always been a segment of African-American males that simply did not understand the critical role that manhood plays in the operation and maintenance of our community, however, there influence within the community was fairly limited. Today, it appears that those who have assumed the position of irresponsibility are not only numerically formidable, but also proliferating as this vocal minority of African-American males has capitalized upon social media and wield it as an Excalibur to display, celebrate, propagate, and encourage others to gravitate to their carefree lifestyle of sex, drugs, hip-hop, and crime. Most troubling is the reality that so many African-American males, across many generations I might add, have not only received the message, but also integrated it into their lives and thereby created a new norm within Black America. Unfortunately, for many African-American males, this allure of irresponsibility has seduced many into not only abandoning the Black community’s traditional measures of manhood such as:

  • Employment
  • Family stability
  • Marriage
  • Providing for their children
  • Serving as a positive pillar and upstanding member of the community

The vast majority of individuals that I am alluding to are apparently operating from the ages old mantra of “Out with the old and in with the new.” Unfortunately, new manhood constructs are guiding adherents to: criminal exploits, illicit affairs, producing out-of-wedlock children, incarceration, and the desperate pursuit to survive without gainful employment. According to Tony Quinn, it is this hustlers’ mentality that serves as the basis for much that is wrong with the Black community. “The most unfortunate thing is that when our people get into that hustlers’ mode, they become predators seeking to exploit, attack, and capitalize upon anyone who has resources that they desire. I have dealt with people such as this, even within my own family, and have learned to distance myself from them at all costs; including no longer associating with them.”

As with most socialization processes, the lessons that one learns come from a host of different sources. Unfortunately, it appears that so many of the cultural lessons that are informing the decisions of a segment of African-American males flows from a questionable place that ultimately leads to a place of either death or destruction.

This is why many mothers are being truthful when they express shock that their son has performed some dastardly deed. Put simply, this is not the person that they have poured an entire life of guidance and wisdom into. Unbeknownst to most parents, the home-training that they seemingly worked a lifetime to teach their child is somehow trumped by larger cultural forces that have carved out a disturbing definition of manhood that emphasizes guns, violence, sex, rap, and ends-justify-the-means belief systems. Unfortunately, this seductive path invariably leads those who travel on it not only to destruction, but also to a grotesque persona that will cause even their mother to not even recognize them.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

#African-American News & Issues

©Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2015