Tag Archives: Obama


Anyone that dedicates their life to “the liberation and salvation of the Black nation” eventually realizes that disappointment shadows their existence. Although national level political figures such as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and former U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama would never admit such in the public arena, undoubtedly there are private moments when even such courageous leaders are left pondering if the limited gains are worth the enormous cost black activism has on their lives. While Black America celebrated Barack and Michelle Obama’s arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the joy of many African-Americans was tempered by the sobering realization that the costs for this historic achievement far outweighed the gain; not to mention what we all realized that vengeful whites would put Obama and his family through during their tenure in the White House.

There is consensual agreement among African-Americans that there is a usual cost associated with black achievement. Many refer to this “cost” as the “Black Tax.” And trust me when I say that this “Black Tax” will be extracted by whites in one way or another. Notable African-Americans go to extreme lengths to avoid the alluded to tax, as they realize that it possesses the ability to derail a career that was decades in the making.

It is a significant understanding of the penalties associated with the “Black Tax” that causes much of Black America to breathe a sigh of relief at the reality that White America missed a much-desired opportunity to apply the unreasonable tax on Barack Hussein Obama for a recently surfaced photo of him with Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam.

The photo, taken by Askia Muhammad, of then U.S. Senator Obama at a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) meeting was never released at the request of black political leaders who feared that it would hamper what many thought was a promising political ascension that may never end. Members of the CBC realized that it was in Black America’s best interest that the Illinois Senator avoid the “Black Tax” ‘by any means necessary.’ No one doubted that the irrationality that was certain to emanate from politically opportunistic whites at the appearance of this photo would abort what appeared to be a promising political career for the young Senator from Illinois. The harshness of this reality does little to lessen the reality that a partial misstep or misstatement is sufficient to derail the career of any African-American political figure. Although difficult to admit, the most reliable path to longevity for a figure such as Obama is found in his ability to quell the irrational fears of white Americans that he will aid Black America in any shape, form, or fashion.

Black leaders are forced to execute an impossible balancing act of being “soul brother #1” to an enthusiastic black populace that turned out in record numbers to guarantee their victory and a disappointed white majority that fears he will be a “Black President”, meaning ignore the issues and interests that affect all Americans in favor of aiding Black America in a crusade that will not cease until white wealth has been redistributed among an undeserving black population. One can see Barack Hussein Obama attempting this impossible balancing act when he issued a very positive account of his attendance at the Million Man March.

What I saw was a powerful demonstration of an impulse and need for African-American men to come together to recognize each other and affirm our rightful place in the society. There was a profound sense that African-American men were ready to make a commitment to bring about change in our communities and lives.

There is little issue that even the most strident Black Nationalist can take with the future President’s position. Unfortunately for Obama, it would be foolish to believe that this statement was capable of satisfying an engaged white populace whose fears of racial based revenge politics sits at the forefront of both their minds and political agendas.

As I am confident that you remember, the stated fears of white Americans were articulated during the brouhaha surrounding Pastor Dr. Jeremiah Wright. The historical record shows that Obama was forced to distance himself from both Wright, his Pastor, and Minister Louis Farrakhan. Although there is agreement among reasonable-minded blacks that “…cursing out white folks is not going to get the job done. Anti-Semitic and anti-Asian statements are not going to lift us up. We’ve got some hard nuts-and-bolts organizing and planning to do. We’ve got communities to build,” Obama’s comments offended many for reasons that had nothing to do with their content. It was obvious to many within Black America that the ascending political figure was currying favor with whites in his actions and statements. I am confident that whites would be shocked to learn that Obama’s insistence that “We’ve got some hard nuts-and-bolts organizing and planning to do. We’ve got communities to build” is a statement that represents the careers of both Wright and Farrakhan.

At its core, this latest attempt at causing discord between black leaders reveals important things about power dynamics among American racial groups. The fact that the CBC would seek to suppress this photograph indicates their factual belief that without the help of other groups, their efforts are “dead in the water.” The American historical record displays that coalition politics are the only possible route forward for “minority” groups; put simply, coalition politics are indispensable.

There is no doubt that white political figures have no such concerns as they are not forced to measure their words or image in a desperate attempt to not offend others. In fact, a figure such as Donald Trump has used the reliable tactic of offending other groups to mobilize and rally his base via obvious cultural attacks and dog-whistle politics. One needs to look no further than Trump’s recent statements that termed African nations “shitholes” without any significant political repercussions.

If we learn nothing else from the CBC’s desire to hide the photo of Obama and Farrakhan, it is that there is a “litmus test” that measures national-level black leaders’ willingness to bend to the political demands of non-black communities. The message is obvious, if you fail the referenced “litmus test” the subsequent “Black Tax” will mute the offender’s voice regardless of his/her political message.

The fact that such matters factor into the ascension of black leaders is a fundamental reason that there are no strong voiced black elected officials making strides to uplift the black community. From all appearances, it seems that our elected officials pay more attention to passing the “litmus test” and maintaining a cache of political and cultural currency to be used to avoid the “Black Tax” than they do addressing worsening problems within Black America. Until that changes, it may be time for us to admit the obvious, none of our elected officials possess the ability to aid us in our struggle one iota. I guess that it is true that “the (political) harvest is in and yet we are not saved.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III


Am I Black Enough For Ya’?: Trying to Pin Down ‘Blackness’

During a commencement address at Howard University President Barack Hussein Obama dropped so many ‘intellectual jewels’ that it was quite simply, ridiculous.

From my perspective, there was no more interesting utterance than the following,

Be confident in your blackness, there is no one way to be black…There’s no straightjacket, there’s no constraints, there’s no litmus test for authenticity.

I have pondered this relatively routine statement since President Obama uttered it; I must tell you that it has increasingly disturbed for some reason. Now let me first say that I most definitely agreed, at least initially, with Obama’s assertion that “…there’s no litmus test for (blackness).”

As a person who has rarely, if ever, participated in the social activities that bonded so many of my African-American peers together, I repeatedly found myself not only questioning if I belonged among such people, but also having to substantiate my ‘blackness’ to such individuals. Ironically, I was being called to validate my ‘blackness’ to fools who were quite simply doing unconscionable damage to the brand of what it meant to be a Black Man in America with their criminality, drunkenness, vulgarity, and overall objectionable existence within our community.

I am absolutely certain that if my peers constructed a ‘litmus test’ for blackness, I would have most certainly failed to garner their approval. Unlike so many of my peers, I loved to read, they didn’t, I loved to learn, they abhorred education, I knew who Hughes, Baldwin, Cullen, Malcolm, Chairman Fred, David Walker, Assata and Ella Baker were prior to exiting middle-school, the years that they should have been engaging matters that I intuitively realized were more ‘weighty’ than a liquor bottle or ‘joint’ were unfortunately spent in either a chemically altered state of mind or pursuing some morally questionable ‘social’ opportunity.

Truthfully, I often feel that if many of my contemporaries could develop such a test today that I, possessor of two degrees in African-American studies and an additional two in History would still be found wanting by the asinine cultural qualifications that such people undoubtedly are still equating with ‘blackness’.

In many ways, President Obama’s statement allows for anything to be a representation of ‘blackness’. Although I do agree that we should not have narrow definitions of what it means to be ‘black’, however, without any definition, one is left to ponder if ‘blackness’ exists at all.

Truthfully, I have been guilty of questioning the ‘blackness’ of others on occasion, however, those moments were spurred not by some cultural peculiarity rather a belief that one invalidates their ‘Black’ status when they willfully behave in a treasonous manner in regards to ‘the liberation and salvation of the black nation’; a figure such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas or Fox News political pundit Stacey Dash fits the bill.

I guess that in the end, my only significant pre-requisite to ‘blackness’ is that one has to desire goodwill for the African-American community. Such a qualifier, the desire for goodwill within our community, ensures that we are moving forward, yet still not pressed into a stereotypical caricature of what ‘blackness’ is such as being a deadbeat dad, drug abuser, alcoholic, and overall heathen.

Maybe that is the message of ‘blackness’ in America. It is broad enough for our uniqueness and peculiarities to be housed within, yet always serving as a ‘North Star’ that demands solidarity and collectivism that moves us closer to “the liberation and salvation of the Black Nation”.

Hopefully, I’m Black enough for ya.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016


The Fallacy of Post Racial America

“Racism’s still alive, they just be concealin’ it”

                                                                  – Kanye West                                                    ” Never Let Me Down”

In the wake  of Barack Obama’s historic Presidential election that made him the first African American president of the United States of America, unbridled  joy permeated the Black community. Many  rushed to declare that the “American Dream has been realized.”

Unfortunately, the euphoria and optimism morphed into delusion for Black and white citizens alike. Many Americans’ proudly declared one of the following rhetorical King 2cliches: “Racism is dead”,  “America is now in a post-racial society”, “We have overcome”, or “The struggle is no more.” Unfortunately for us all, the above affirmations are far from accurate.

During Obama’s  seven years as the POTUS, there has been an abundance of racially tinged incidents emanating from non-Black groups. African Americans justifiably upset at the senseless deaths of their brothers and sisters, often expressed their feelings of righteous indignation in American streets; the wisest of us realized that it was possible to have the highest ranking official in this nation be a Black man while racism was ascending. Despite many Americans refusal to accept the obvious, racism is still alive and well within this nation’s borders.

Time has proven that racism has remained a staple of the American cultural diet and political discourse, not to mention economic operations. Put simply, there is no quick means of reversing the effects of 400 years of white tyrannical rule that was publicly manifested during events such as the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Jim Crow era, Black Codes, and contemporary maligning of the African-American image via the media.

The alluded to biases and prejudices that are undeniably American traditions seemingly wilmington 1pre-ordained the actions of George Zimmerman, Donald Sterling, Dylann Roof and countless others.

The notion that a Black President, even one who was elected to a second-term, could wave a magic wand and  undo  centuries of oppression is the height of ridiculousness .

Although there is little debate that the African-American community has come a long way since the first stolen Africans slave ship 3arrived on this nation’s shores in 1619. However, the alluded to progress does not lessen the reality that the plague of racism still infects scores of this nation’s white citizens.

Ultimately, it is the Black community that must address the myriad issues affecting it; despite the extreme hopes and dreams of the most optimistic of our race, no one else is coming to solve the political and socioeconomic maladies retarding African-American liberation. Until black on black crime, the absence of a relevant education, lack of collective economics  and a host of other issues  are remedied,  Blacks will continue to have a fair distance to travel before we  can ever accurately relate that we have finally “overcome”.

Alexander Goodwin



One of the most common refrains that I remember from the well-intention-ed educators who desperately sought creative ways to encourage the predominantly African-American student population at Creveling Elementary School was, ‘if you study hard, you could be President of the United States.’ After witnessing the hellish existence that Barack Hussein Obama has received from all sides during his tenure as America’s first Black President, I have concluded that my teachers must have actually hated me, who else would wish such a curse upon a child’s life. I am quite certain that on most days President Obama feels that he is under the yoke of some unbreakable curse.

The latest problem that the alluded to curse has placed on the Commander and Chief is an entity that he has expertly avoided discussing at each and every WEBturn, Race; the esteemed W.E.B. Du Bois referred to Race, or the color line, as “the problem of the twentieth-century.” Considering the continuing presence of Du Bois’ ‘color line’ we may wish to revise his classic tome The Souls of Black Folk to state that race will be the permanent problem of this democratic nation well beyond the twentieth-century.

Although President Obama has done his best to skirt the issue of race in America, the consistent pattern of African-American males being murdered in American streets by citizens (Trayvon Martin) and law Michael Brownenforcement officers (Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Mike Brown…) has forced the President to weigh in on the matter. To his credit, Obama related that the aforementioned deaths needed to not only be investigated, but also addressed through increased training for the nation’s law enforcement officers. Indicative of the polarizing nature of American racial policies, President Obama’s relatively lukewarm response was considered too harsh by law enforcement officers and their supporters and not strong enough by the African-American community.

Unfortunately, the curse seemingly hanging around the President’s neck has not been loosed as the divisive race issue has extended its ten-minutes of fame via the riotous behavior in Baltimore Maryland. White Americans who apparently believe that President Obama is the re-incarnation of Malcolm X eagerly awaited his comments regarding the riots occurring in Baltimore. Particularly as they fervently believed that the outbreaks were attributable solely to Black Baltimoreans.    

To the shock of many, President Obama did not avoid the issue and stridently reminded that the murder oftrayvon African-American males is not a new manifestation, “It’s been going on for decades…We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions…it comes up…like once a week now…”

However, the above sentiments did not conclude President Obama’s position. The President continued and immediately curried favor with the vast majority of African-Americans who agreed with his contention that those African-Americans who choose to behave has ‘criminals and thugs’ carry a significant portion of the blame for the riots. Most non-African-Americans would be shocked to learn that the masses of African-Americans looked upon the rioters/looters behavior with a castigating stare that communicated nothing less than total disapproval.

Put simply, Black America, particularly its politically astute members, have tired of the reactionary nature of Black activism. All too often our ‘leaders’ resemble ambulance chasing lawyers seeking an opportunity to glean publicity and quick-cash from any victim obama2that will have them. Although this position is rarely spoken publicly, it is undoubtedly the one that the majority of African-Americans speak behind closed doors. We realize that much of what passes for ‘Black leadership’ is little more than a class of charismatic charlatans seeking to advance their own financial position and much of what passes for Black activism does not include the day-to-day struggle that African-American institutions that are doing the true work of improving the community undertake.

If provided the opportunity, I would love to ask Black leaders such as Al Sharpton, Malik ‘Zulu’ Shabazz, the New Black Panther Party, Jesse Jackson, and the King 2Congressional Black Caucus, the same query that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., presented to the nation; Where Do We Go From Here?: Chaos or Community. Although it pains me to admit it, I think that in answering the above query, such figures would initially consider, and not just for a fleeting moment, which path was more personally advantageous. It is only by taking control of our own destiny via politico economic collectivism and a realistic plan of action that rests upon educating our youth that the curse that hangs around both the President and the rest of America’s neck will ever be removed.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.


©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015