Tag Archives: Race

I Told You So: Denise Young Smith Rides the Shifting Winds of Public Opinion

Colleagues,

I have always been proud to work for Apple in large part because of our steadfast commitment to creating an inclusive culture. We are also committed to having the most diverse workforce and our work in this area has never been more important. In fact, I have dedicated my twenty years at Apple to fostering and promoting opportunity and access for women, people of color and the underserved and unheard.

Last week, while attending a summit in Bogota, I made some comments as part of a conversation on the many factors that contribute to diversity and inclusion.

I regret the choice of words I used to make this point. I understand why some people took offense. My comments were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry.

More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.

Understanding that diversity includes women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and all underrepresented minorities is at the heart of our work to create an environment that is inclusive of everyone.

Our commitment at Apple to increasing racial and gender diversity is as strong as it’s ever been. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but there is much work to be done. I’m continually reminded of the importance of talking about these issues and learning from each other.

Best,

Denise

TRUMP AND THE WHITE CLAIM TO AMERICA

Can I be honest about something? I believe that Donald J. Trump is operating out of America’s grandest tradition of white power brokers telling those they oppress “It’s my way or the highway.” This sentiment succinctly conveys the vast majority of whites belief that they own this America and if African-Americans do not agree with the way things are done around her, well, they should “Go Back to Africa.” Put simply; whites innate urge to control those consider they consider inferior is not new. Such a perspective is conveyed in whites belief that even the poorest citizen should display unending gratitude for being provided the “privileges and opportunities” afforded to those fortunate enough to call themselves Americans.

There should be no doubt that the recent “tweets” by Donald J. Trump toward professional athletes who have the audacity to protest while receiving unconscionable financial benefits in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” reveals much about Trump and his supporters.

I was unsurprised when in the midst of a political rally in Huntsville, Alabama, that the embattled White House figure reinvigorated his base with the following statement regarding NFL players who have decided to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out He’s fired! He’s fired!” Trump followed this sentiment with a tweet that read as follows, If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!

Most reasonable people, regardless of racial identity, realized long ago that Trump possessed neither a logical mind nor a modicum of impulse control. However, more frightening than Trump’s flaws is the presence of “American Patriots” who fail to realize that their demand that the alluded to protests cease serves as a supreme contradiction to the very U.S. Constitution that they profess to love. “American Patriots” are either absent basic insight or afflicted by cavernous blind spots that allow them to sleep well despite political viewpoints that are rife with contradictions and inconsistencies. blatant contradictions to their political position. In many ways, the alluded to individuals remind me of that great American Thomas Jefferson who penned that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” while holding black men, women, and children in bondage on his grand plantation.

In many ways, it is unsurprising that Trump and his followers allow their rather juvenile expressions of American Nationalism to eclipse founding principles whose very pillars provide allowances for freedom of speech and the right to protest.

Such inconsistencies flow directly from the fact that America is romanticized as a mythical land where hopes and dreams are readily available to those who diligently pursue them. It is this fallacious portrayal of America in venues from textbooks to films that sit at the core of self-proclaimed “American Patriots” illogical thought patterns and contradictions that serve as the justification for their very unamerican thoughts and deeds. It is flawed reconstructions of our national past that allows the alluded to individuals to boldly consider themselves the standard-bearers of a multi-racial nation whose history has been heavily bleached. So I am unsurprised by Trump’s continuation of one of America’s grand traditions of telling those who protest injustice in this nation with the same vigor that the “Founding Fathers” disagreed with British tyranny and exploitation in the late-18

Hence, I am unsurprised by Trump’s inability to recognize that he is merely adding to America’s grand tradition of telling those who protest injustice in this nation with the same vigor that the “Founding Fathers” did during their conflict with the British that they are in error. Afterall, from the perspective of Trump and modern-day “American Patriots”, political dissent and protest are unamerican activities. Afterall, the most consistent theme expressed by a radicalized cadre of White Nationalists to those who take issue with how things are done around here is that it is “my way or the highway.” Maybe, just maybe, the National Anthem for this nation should be changed to Percy Mayfield’s “Hit the Road Jack”, a song made famous by Ray Charles. It would, after all, be more fitting and represent the thinking and thoughts of those who consider themselves true Americans.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

How Cam Newton’s Black Power Salute Exposes How Little We Know About the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

One of the most unfortunate by-products of being an African-American Studies Professor is that it seemingly invites a vast array of individuals with varying levels of historical knowledge to discuss various Race matters with you. Far too often, I find myself at the center of what evolves into contentious debates that would not be an issue at all if my challengers had any understanding of African-American history. The most recent incident occurred in the wake of Cam Newton raising a “Black Power fist” that reminds one of the mid-sixties Black Power Era.

The alluded to individual was exhilarated by Newton’s gesture; however, that euphoria dissipated when Newton later expounded on why he made the polarizing gesture. According to Newton,

The message is unity for me, black, white, different minorities around America. That’s my message. I want everybody to come together. We get nowhere separated. People feeling oppressed and people that are rich looking down on other people, you don’t get nowhere with that. We all are created equal. We need to find some kind of way to come together to make the situation better. Because where we’re going now, it’s not healthy at all.

It would not be an overstatement to state that the so-called “conscious” brother mentioned above was disgusted with what he considered Newton’s failure to stand firm for the Race. The referenced disgust was verbalized via derogatory name-calling.

As I expected, this “conscious” brother turned his attention toward me. Let me first say that I routinely avoid such engagements as those seeking my perspective have already made their minds up regarding the incident. I have found that the most unproductive discussions that I have had regarding racial matters involved individuals seeking to claim the vacated mantle of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

Trust me when I say that the vast majority of people who aspire to replicate legendary Black Power Era figures of yesteryear — Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, and Fred Hampton — know little about the ideological underpinnings that supported their revolutionary platforms. Instead of studying the revolutionary polemics of such individuals that highlight the impact that Capitalism has had on race, class, and gender within Black America, they rely on a menagerie of innuendo, rumor, and Youtube videos that produce little more than sophomoric “hate whitey” phrase-mongering.

It is this understanding that the individual that was seeking to engage me regarding Cam Newton’s “Black Power fist” gesture knew little about Panther ideology that led me to avoid what was destined to be a significant debate regarding the matter. Prior discussions had already taught me that such individuals have no comprehension that the Black Panther Party was able to be pro-black without being anti-white, particularly when it came to poor and working-class whites who were being exploited by Capitalism.

If those seeking to claim the Vanguard position of the African-American Freedom Struggle and walk in the steps of the Huey P. Newton led Black Panther Party had a real understanding of Panther ideology, they would have embraced Cam Newton’s insinuation that this nation needs a “rainbow coalition” of activists to address persisting socioeconomic equalities throughout the entire nation and recognized that at that very moment Newton was channeling the spirit of Fred Hampton. It was the Chairman of the Chicago branch of the Black Panther Party that initially used the phraseology of a “rainbow coalition” well before Jesse Jackson stole the term. If they cared to study, aspiring Panthers would understand that Hampton’s call for “Black Power for black people, White Power for white people, Brown Power for brown people, Red Power for red people, and Yellow Power for yellow people” was not a betrayal of the Race, rather a clear sign of political sophistication that eludes contemporary black leaders and theoreticians.

A figure such as Cam Newton should be applauded for his statement as it signals an uncanny understanding that it is Capitalism that we must fight against, not white people in general. It is the study of relevant materials that is most sorely needed in today’s black freedom movement and not a fixation on iconic images such as Panthers carrying guns and Angela Davis’ Afro. Until this latest generation of black freedom fighters realize that it is Capitalism, not White America that is the true enemy of our people, we will continue being busy and achieving very little as we continue our grandest tradition of failing to understand that it is the destruction of exploitive Capitalism that is the actual goal and not the overthrow of the prevailing racial order so that Black America could have her vengeance in oppressing those that have exploited her for so very long.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Donald the Unifier?: Maybe Black America Should Thank Trump for “Being Trump” After All

An understanding of racial concepts is by-far the most difficult thing for my undergraduate students to comprehend. Now, I fully understand how confused they must be when they hear my belief that the only reason they call themselves black is due to the presence of whites. The bare bones truth of Race in America is the fact that if white people did not exist there would be no black people. After all, the current racial identifiers have been haphazardly constructed over the past four centuries.

The historical record proves that regardless of geographical location or other peculiarities, the most reliable solidifying agent for any group is the presence of what is best termed the “other.” It is this opposing force that threatens a particular group’s access to limited resources and therefore causes them to mobilize under a racial or ethnic grouping. There is no room for sensible debate disputing either white’s status as the “other” for blacks or the phenomenal impact that White America’s decisions and actions have had on Black America.

The general threat that White America poses has sporadically caused blacks to abandon petty disputes in favor of an attempt to organize their prodigious politico-economic resources in an attempt to fight against white world supremacy and the tyrannical leaders who impose it on black men, women, and children.

Donald J. Trump, the current occupant of the Oval Office, is the most recent representation of white tyrannical rule over a politically disorganized black populace that has failed to make any significant strides for racial equality since the Black Power Era’s decline.

Although difficult to comprehend, Donald J. Trump is actually the best thing to happen regarding the political engagement of a black community whose interests in such matters tends to ebb and flow. It appears that the most reliable steroid shot for black political engagement is the appearance of a veritable “boogeyman” capable of efficiently reminding Black America of their subordinate status. A cursory examination of the plight of blacks displays that not even their lagging behind in every economic, political, health and educational measurable is as powerful as the arrival of a polarizing figure such as Trump. The mere presence of the alluded to figure reminds the black community that there is unfinished business in the battle against discrimination, bigotry, racial bias, and institutional racism.

Without the presence of a “boogeyman”, a sizable portion of the community has little interest in political engagement, while a few “educated” blacks can be found debating if Civil Rights Organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored or the National Urban League have outlived their utility.

Although unfortunate, it appears that the foremost pre-requisite to a significant reengagement with political matters by Black America is the appearance of a hateful, ignorant, and socially inappropriate figure that offends all. Donald J. Trump is that figure for Black America.

One needs to look no further than the quickening politicization of professional athletes occurring throughout the National Football League and the National Basketball Association for proof that Donald J. Trump has intentionally fashioned himself as the “other” as it benefits his drastic efforts to pander to a disenfranchised white populace; unfortunately for Trump, his traveling vaudeville show has also quickened the political pulse of Black America.

It is this increasing interest in political matters that causes me much concern as many are mistaking it for a growth in political acumen and sophistication. Trust me when I say that those are two very different things. Instead of serving as a sign of burgeoning political maturation, much of Black America’s increasing awareness of political matters is merely a superficial reaction that will invariably be overcome by some other distraction. I am certain that we agree that when this occurs, the African-American community will be left in an all too familiar position. Indicative of such knee-jerk reaction politics is the presence of persons such as Ray Lewis who do their best to ride the rising and falling political winds; an obvious indicator that their interests are in a word, unanchored.

At this crucial moment, it is imperative that politicized blacks infuse their community with a progressive political education aimed at improving the black community. Failure to do such will serve as yet another indicator that blacks have yet to develop an understanding of this thing called life.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Why African-American Undergraduate Collegians Need to Seriously Consider Attending an H.B.C.U.: The Case of Lipscomb University President Randy Lowry

Although I have been repeatedly reminded that my belief that African-American students should never pursue their undergraduate degrees on the campuses of Predominantly White Institutions (P.W.I.) I will never abandon that perspective.

Oftentimes, debates regarding this matter turn ferocious with my black peers who charge me with being a hypocrite as I earned each of my degrees form a P.W.I. I always counter their position with the reality that my long exposure to a white campus does not make me a hypocrite, rather it makes me an authority on this issue.

My staunch stance flows from the reality that at a moment where African-American collegians are experiencing their first dose of independence, an occasion that will invariably lead to differing levels of misstep, the vast majority are incapable of surviving the hazing that they will receive from ignorant white students who know little about the black experience or unsympathetic professors and administrators who carry decades of racially based prejudice into their interactions with the young black collegians mentioned above.

I have personally witnessed many brilliant black youths become disenchanted and eventually broken by their engagement with whites at a P.W.I. who have neither vested interest nor concern regarding their matriculation from higher education institutions that they consider their terrain.

There is quite possibly no greater indicator regarding the inherent bias and psychological dangers that black undergraduates face than the recent events that occurred at the residence of Randy Lowry, the President of Lipscomb University. According to those present, President Lowry’s invitation to a cadre of African-American students was far from genuine.

Those present for the event noticed that the man heading the University that they call home had set them up for an inside joke that only he and the other whites present were aware of. The “joke” pivoted on centerpieces specially constructed for the occasion. These adults who are in charge of a University placed centerpieces made of cotton stalks in front of their student guests. Obviously, this “joke” was a nod to a racist past that saw enslaved Africans picking cotton for whites.

When a few courageous students raised the issue, Lowry related that he was unaware of who was responsible for the centerpieces, however, they were “fallish” and that “cotton isn’t inherently bad if we’re all wearing it.” As if such an offense were not enough to drive home his true feelings regarding this matter, Lowry had another surprise up his nasty sleeve, he served the students what could be termed a “black meal.”

Predictably, when President Lowry was called on his egregious behavior, he turned to the media in a desperate attempt to quell this inexcusable incident. What follows is Lowry’s desperate attempt to explain away his behavior.

“Last night we invited Lipscomb African American students to our home for dinner to discuss their experiences at Lipscomb. Several students shared with me their concern about the material used for centerpieces which contained stalks of cotton…The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity…I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness.”

The fact that Lowry has not been removed from the Presidency by an angered Lipscomb University community speaks volumes about that so-called institution of higher education. If no one else understands what Lowry’s continuation as University President means, one would expect the parents of the institutions few Black students to get the message with unbelievable clarity. That message is a simple one that your child is not only unwelcome at this institution, but also in physical and psychological peril.

As previously mentioned, I realize that I’m in the minority regarding my belief that black undergraduates have no business on P.W.I. campuses. I also realize that most will be offended by my reliance on Malcolm X’s quote “That only a fool would let his enemy educate his children.” However, even my most vocal opponents have to agree that it is frightening to consider that an institution headed by a man such as Randy Lowry has been given the privilege of molding the political priorities, historical understanding, and future outlook of black students. It is absolutely frightening to consider what will come out of such an arrangement. One thing is for certain, it will not be a positive for Black America.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017