Tag Archives: NFL

Considering Jim Brown’s Words: How Strong Is the African-American Claim of Ownership of America?

The connection that African-American men have with a nation that enslaved their ancestors have always been a contentious issue. The black man’s place in America has always been a conundrum. This centuries old issue was faced and remained unresolved by notable black men such as Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, David Walker, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. Du Bois. Today, the question of “What is the black man’s relationship to America?” remains.

NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown is the latest to weigh in on the dilemma. When one considers Jim Brown’s importance during the highly volatile sixties protest scene, it is understandable that his opinion matters. I am confident that I have much company in believing that Brown would join those who have taken significant issue with assertions that America is “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” It seems that such expectations are errant as the famed Cleveland Browns running back has taken an oppositional position to the recent spate of NFL protests by admonishing that he would never “desecrate my flag and my national anthem.”

Jim Brown’s position on this matter contradicts everything that we thought that we knew about his political stance on Race in America. I am confident that most will agree that Brown’s embracing of the flag and the national anthem reveals a portion of his heart that most never knew existed. One thing is certain, the famed football player has removed all doubt surrounding his view of this matter by definitively embracing America via a declarative statement that “This is my country.”

Although there is a significant portion of my being that wishes to attribute Brown’s comments to a yet to be diagnosed brain injury, Failure to attribute this shocking political stance means that the significance of the hellish existence that black men living on the North American continent have endured for the past 400 years has little significance to the former Cleveland Brown running back. Brown’s statement was so disconcerting that it has remained in my mind for several weeks. Put simply; I have not been able to shake Brown’s utterance.

After much pondering, I shocked myself when I began to consider Brown’s position quite logical and supported by the black experience. Jim Brown’s declaration that “This is my country” has forced me to re-evaluate long-held positions regarding African-Americans stake in this nation. The black claim to America is nothing new as there has always been a portion of Black America that have refused to surrender their birthright by distancing themselves from America. To the chagrin of whites, the alluded to individuals have not only claimed America as their own but also asserted that they have the most significant claim of all.

Although most will scoff at the assertion that blacks are the most American of all Americans, the historical record actually supports the claim. When one considers the contributions that blacks have made to this nation from Jamestown through the present moment, Brown’s claim appears less outlandish than when initially stated.

Although we rarely discuss it, there is no getting around the fact that the initial attempt to settle the North American continent without the aid of Africans was a drastic failure that resulted in a “lost colony.” Furthermore, from the development of Jamestown, it has been the labor of persons of African descent that have enriched this nation at an unconscionable level. As if those historical realities were not enough, we must never forget that it has been an often maligned and oppressed black populace that regularly points the architects of this American democracy back to its pillars of “freedom, justice, and democracy.” When considered in its totality, it is obvious that African-Americans have always been an active agent in forcing this nation to re-engage the process of renewing its democratic principles.

After much consideration of this matter, I must agree with Jim Brown and like-minded individuals who state that our claim to ownership of America is particularly strong. In fact, it is actually much more substantive than any other population currently residing on the North American continent.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

HAVE YOU NO SHAME?: WHY ESPN OWES BLACK AMERICA AN IMMEDIATE APOLOGY FOR AUCTIONING OFF ODELL BECKHAM JR.

Rarely do I find myself using the same quote to address two separate issues in thirty minutes. Unfortunately, I have been forced to reiterate the biblical phrase (Luke 23:34) “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” that Yeshua ben Yosef (Jesus Christ — The Messiah — Jesus the son of Joseph) uttered when asking his heavenly father for a measure of mercy for those perpetrating an unconscionable evil that they did not understand.

As I am confident that you can imagine, the initial time that I cited Luke 23:34 on this date was in a posting addressing Trump’s blatant contradictions regarding the Alt-Left and the fact that there are “good people” within their ranks.

My subsequent usage of “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” has been caused by a colossal misstep by the Entertainment Sports Network (ESPN). Although I have never participated in a fantasy sports league, it is apparent that it is that time of the year for NFL fans to draft their teams as evidenced by ESPN’s fantasy sports mega fest. Inexplicably, the decision-makers at ESPN put a special touch on this year’s coverage; they auctioned off New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a gallery of white sports enthusiasts.

Although this decision by ESPN in the wake of the Charlottesville terrorist attack and Trump’s angry retraction of a condemnation of the KKK, White Nationalists, and the Alt-Right, to hold what amounts to a modern-day ‘slave auction’ is bewildering.

If nothing else, the above incident once again proves that when it comes to blind spots, whites reign without a rival. Although I always fight against the urge to generalize, however, on this occasion it appears that I am on relatively safe terrain to indict whites who would fill a political spectrum stretching from Antifa to the Alt Right with the charge that they are suffering from a witches-brew of racial insensitivity, cultural blindness, and historical illiteracy. Such a context makes me say, woe to every “minority population” that is ruled by such a blind society. Reinforcement for this view is found in the fact that millions of whites watched this spectacle and apparently found nothing wrong with it as many of them considered the auction process exhilarating and entertaining enough to seek to replicate it during the construction of their fantasy leagues.

When whites wonder why Race still matters in this nation, never do they consider that it is their many interlocking illiteracies (cultural, social, political, and historical) that are to blame.

Although I am confident that the following will bother most readers, however, racial bias, white bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and institutional racism is woven into the fabric of this nation and will never recede from its bosom; it’s in our blood as a nation. American bigotry has been a fixture for so long that it is unsettling to consider who we would be if we were not fighting each other in a desperate pursuit of survival.

When you think about it, if this nation were absent racial conflict, there would be no population known as “white.” The only reason that “whites” exist is the presence of an “other” population that causes a multi-ethnic group of Europeans (English, Irish, Polish, Italians, Russians, and Germans) to rally against persons of African-descent on a continual basis. If you doubt this assertion regarding the defining effect that the descendants of enslaved Africans have on the development of “whiteness,” please tell me where else in the world do you find “white people” on the face of the globe? Where do “white people” hail from? Where is “white” land? Whether they like it or not, they exist as “whites” because “blacks” are their historical rallying point.

My understanding of such matters allows me to not be upset by the Alt-Right, Trump, or even the imbeciles at ESPN who failed to recognize what should have been the obvious racial overtones associated with auctioning off an African-American athlete to a crowd of eager whites who were jumping out of their seats to purchase that big black buck.

As a social commentator and writer on racial matters, I rest particularly well at night because I realize that there will ALWAYS be something for me to write about.

However, I will tell you one thing that I have never been able to comprehend. How is it that in a nation that has been haunted by racial matters for four centuries that neither blacks nor whites have any real understanding of what led to either the rise or perpetuation of America’s most peculiar problem. I am confident that you agree that if they have no knowledge of the rise of racial conflict in America that there is no conceivable way that they will ever develop and execute a plan to eradicate it.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

What Black America Must Learn from the Unemployment of Colin Kaepernick and Suspension of Ezekiel Elliott

Public Disclaimer: I am a proud alum of THE Ohio State University and a lifetime fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I promise to let neither of those things significantly affect my reflections on what the 6-game suspension of Ezekiel Elliott means.

In the aftershocks surrounding Ezekiel Elliott’s 6-game suspension for violating the National Football League’s (NFL) ‘personal conduct’ policy, I have heard many of my African-American peers lament that the punishment dispensed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as grossly unfair. A few have taken the step of insinuating that the fact that Elliott’s accuser is a white female is a deciding factor.

Although I consider Goodell’s punishment to be harsh when compared to prior league decisions regarding similar matters, I do not think that the Commissioner’s actions are attributable to any inherent personal prejudice or institutional racism in the NFL. However, I do believe that racial matters impacted the decision indirectly.

If one views the recent ruling regarding Elliott and the continuing unemployment of Colin Kaepernick from an unemotional position they would see that the decisions of Commissioner Goodell and team owners are motivated by rising concerns regarding league popularity; a polite way of referring to league finances. Put simply; the stewards of the NFL brand are caught in a peculiar predicament that forces them to do business in a manner that lessens the chances that those whites purchasing the bulk of game tickets remain loyal to the NFL brand.

When viewed in this light, it is apparent that Kaepernick’s difficulty in securing employment is an occurrence of collusion by NFL owners unwilling to offend patriotic whites who will never forgive the embattled figure for kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. Elliott has likewise been sacrificed to appease women’s rights groups, many of which are filled with black women eager to follow their white ‘sisters’ lead in attacking the Dallas Cowboys running back regarding the highly questionable allegations. Make no mistake about it; the NFL realizes that if such groups disapprove of their handling of the Elliott case, their reaction will be furious and immediate.

In many ways, the most significant lesson that African-Americans can take from both matters is that regardless of the skills black workers possess, they are never so essential to operations that they can not be jettisoned the moment they affect bottom line financial realities. Although difficult for black workers to accept, when it comes to industry, they are never the machine performing the work, they are the grease that will be used until it is of no more use and then discarded.

We must never forget that for American Capitalists, it is ALWAYS about the money. And there is not a darn thing that Black Americans can do to alter that reality in this or any future life.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

A HAIR CUT WOULD SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS: WHY MICHAEL VICK’S ADVICE TO COLIN KAEPERNICK REVEALS HIS STATUS AS A BROKEN MAN

I remember it like it was yesterday when Dr. Julianne Malveaux, the former President of Bennett College dropped this nugget of wisdom regarding institutional racism and the forgiveness it affords white males. In her famed style, the remarkable economist remarked that ‘a skinhead ain’t nothing but a white boy who needs to grow some hair. And when he does, he can walk into any company and be assured of securing some semblance of employment, regardless of his qualifications for the position.’

The alluded to wisdom that Malveaux shared with a room full of African-American collegians was daunting, yet true. Every American should realize that white privilege is enjoyed by whites regardless of their effort to secure it or desire to receive it. Hence, it is puzzling, if not bewildering to hear former NFL Quarterback Michael Vick, a black man who once was the personification of a thug in the eyes of white America, offers the following advice to Colin Kaepernick on FS1’s show “Speak for Yourself.”

“First thing we’ve got to get Colin to do is cut his hair. Listen, I’m not up here to try to be politically correct…I don’t think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle. Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You’re already dealing with a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable.”

Vick’s uninformed diatribe continues below,

“(I) didn’t listen until the end, until I was going through the turmoil and the hardships…Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field…It’s not about selling out.”

When one considers Vick’s words, it is evident that life’s experiences have taught him the primary lesson that educator Jane Elliott reveals as the only path for black people to get ahead in America, “Conform!!!! Act white!!!! That’s how you get ahead in America!!!!”

As an educator privileged to watch thousands of young black males transform during their undergraduate years, I have always found it humorous when a figure that white America and a particular segment of ‘well to do’ black America would consider a ‘thug’ transforms into “the company man.” The company man is ironically a desperate attempt by the disenfranchised to replicate the persona and worldview of those that have historically taken glee in vilifying him. The alluded to figure is impeccably groomed, never found in anything less than designer clothing, and arrives at informal social gatherings dressed business casual. Shockingly, the alluded to transformation often extends far beyond physical appearance as it affects their word choice and diction; I swear that a few of my students picked up a strange accent that vacillates between British and French to complete the transformation. This persona that Harlem Renaissance Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar termed “the Mask” is always an uncomfortable fit for those that consider it an indispensable accessory.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

 

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.

 

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

(Paul Laurence Dunbar)

There is no doubt that those who wear Dunbar’s “mask” do so with the realization that it is the most certain means of having their material needs satisfied. However, if given enough time, these same individuals will realize that they have made a lopsided deal with the Devil that ultimately leaves them as one of the “tortured souls” that Dunbar writes about in his poem.

In many ways, Michael Vick’s advice to Kaepernick is revealing as it displays what he has learned from his very public troubles. Apparently, Vick believes that one must curry favor with white power-brokers ‘by any means necessary.’

I guess that silly is as silly does, and Michael Vick’s silly advice to Kaepernick has actually achieved one thing for certain; that being, it has ensured that he is firmly entrenched as the starting Quarterback on an All-Star team of unwise and stupid athletes who should have been benched long ago when it comes to addressing racial matters, a duty they are incapable of doing well.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

What People Will Do For Money: The Sad Saga of Ray Lewis’ Commentary on Colin Kaepernick

If you possess any level of wisdom, I am certain that you agree that paying close attention to the actions and statements of others for an extended period of time provides you with significant insight regarding their character. This very simple process also holds the potential to highlight an individual’s understanding, or the lack thereof, of history. Ultimately, this process concludes with the observer deciding if a person is a man of substance or a fraudulent charlatan willing to change their viewpoints at opportune moments for financial reward or material accruements. Trust me when I say that the latter persona is the most prevalent in Capitalist America.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker and self-styled political commentator Ray Lewis has once again proven himself to be a fraudulent charlatan willing to alter his viewpoints according to the direction that political winds are blowing the strongest. It does not take a genius to realize that Lewis is constantly positioning himself for a future economic windfall.

Consider for a moment that Ray Lewis has miraculously re-created himself as a person of some substance, a far-cry from the thug persona he relished during his time as the ultimate enforcer for the Miami Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens; let us not forget that Lewis’ hooliganism was a fixture in his social interactions as well. If one seeks verification for Lewis’ penchant for melding together his on-field activities with his off-field conduct, they need to look no further than his guilty plea for obstruction of justice during the investigation of the murder of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. The plea bargain that Lewis agreed to was given in exchange for his testimony against his compatriots Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, for their role in the murder of Baker and Lollar after a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta, Georgia on January 31, 2000. Unbelievably, Ray Lewis has been able to not only escape a career-ending murder charge, but also reshaped his persona as public figure that has been provided access to the likes of Donald J. Trump and a who’s who of Black America. If nothing else, Ray Lewis’ publicist deserves a significant pay raise and accolades for re-shaping his public image.

A crucial portion of Lewis’ persona has been his ascension as a motivational speaker who provides adherents with words of wisdom and inspiration. Consider the following advice from Lewis, “We get one opportunity in life, one chance at life to do whatever you’re going to do, and lay your foundation and make whatever mark you’re going to make. Whatever legacy you’re going to leave; leave your legacy!” One would be hard-pressed to not consider Lewis’ sentiment as Poignant! Relevant! Inspirational! Unfortunately, if one has paid close attention to Lewis, particularly his recent comments regarding Colin Kaepernick it becomes clear that at best he is woefully inconsistent in regards to honoring his words and thoughts.

Consider for a moment how Lewis’ vitriolic diatribe aimed at Kaepernick, a figure whose public protest regarding the continuation of racial bias in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” betrays the above quote about leaving a lasting legacy. Within a context that has seen NFL owners refuse to employ the more than capable quarterback, Lewis attacks Kaepernick’s political activism by remarking “Kaepernick has to make up his mind. Do you want to play football or do you want to be an activist.” Make no mistake about it, this was a conscious move by Lewis that displays his extreme desire to extend his access to the NFL trough owned by the same white powerbrokers who have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the NFL. Additionally, Lewis’ unfortunate commentary conveys either his ignorance regarding the extended tradition of politicized athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Bill Russell or his determination to never ‘bite the white hands’ that feed him.

Although I would love to think that Lewis’ commentary was solely directed at Kaepernick, however, I am unable to do so as its meaning covers the entire pantheon of politicized black athletes. Lewis’ message reduces to an antiquated, yet familiar message that one would expect to hear from racist whites during the Jim Crow era, not a black man in the new millennium. In many ways, Lewis’ tired routine casts him as the “House Negro” that Malcolm X stated loved and identified with his master so much that when the master became ill, the House Negro responded, “What’s wrong boss? We sick.” What a terrible person, Ray Lewis has become, just absolutely terrible.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017