Tag Archives: Race

Reconsidering the Activist Legacy of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on MLK Day

It is quite the conundrum for one individual to simultaneously occupy a position as one of its most notable and noble citizens and one of its most misrepresented in the public arena. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is that individual. In the historical recollections and reconstructions of progressive-minded Americans, Dr. King is celebrated as “the dreamer” who encouraged our populace to strive for a moment when racial identity was no more notable than eye color. In these well-worn historical reconstructions, “the content of one’s character” was all that mattered. Unfortunately for King’s legacy, the alluded to reconstructions sit at the core of why most historians agree that Dr. King’s legacy has been skewed, if not intentionally misrepresented during the half-century following his assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Rest assured that I am not particularly disturbed if you happen to be one of those people who take issue with the above contention that the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has been misunderstood and therefore misrepresented in the 50 years since an assassin’s bullet silenced “the dreamer.”

This day that has been set aside to honor Dr. King always leads me to reflect on Dr. King and how much of his message to the world has been overshadowed, if not totally silenced by the monumental words this American icon delivered on August 28, 1963 during ‘the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.’ In many ways, it is ironic that it is Dr. King’s gradually increasing radicalism that occurred during the post-March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom period of his public life that has remained hidden from an American populace that remains enchanted by his hopeful words delivered on that late August day in 1963.

Those who have studied Dr. King realize that the most significant aspects of his role as a Civil Rights activist. According to historian Anthony Quinn, “Dr. King is remembered as ‘The Dreamer’ whose greatest goal was the ending of racial discrimination. That is only part of his story, so that makes it at best a partial lie.”

Ironically, most of those who will stand on stages celebrating Dr. King’s legacy is totally aware of the ideological transformation that Dr. King underwent after his vaunted March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom speech. It is not a stretch to state that those fashioning themselves as King supporters have imprisoned his legacy by ignoring the increasing radicalism that occurred during the last five years of his life. When considered in the harshest light possible, such individuals could be considered opponents to Dr. King’s final vision. According to Mike Hinton, “The Dr. King that was speaking out against poverty and the Vietnam-War is a figure that would disturb the vast majority of Americans. It is one of the reasons why we don’t deal with it. We prefer to portray Dr. King as an accommodating, self-sacrificing, and eternally optimistic figure who never tired of the economic equality occurring throughout this nation. And that is simply a lie, a lie of major proportions.

An examination of Dr. King’s post-March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom speeches and writings reveal a radicalized figure that stands in stark contrast to the long-suffering accommodationist tag that has been unfairly affixed to the Civil Rights icon for far too long. The alluded to latter writings and speeches reveal a Dr. King that would frighten many of those who have claimed ownership of his legacy for the own selfish reasons. It is during the post-March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom period that Dr. King offers the following view of America’s misunderstanding regarding the path to racial justice. According to Dr. King,

[W]ith Selma and the Voting Rights Act one phase of development in the civil rights revolution came to an end. A new phase opened, but few observers realized it or were prepared for its implications. For the vast majority of white Americans, the past decade — the first phase — had been a struggle to treat the Negro with a degree of decency, not of equality. White America was ready to demand that the Negro should be spared the lash of brutality and coarse degradation, but it had never been truly committed to helping him out of poverty, exploitation or all forms of discrimination. The outraged white citizen had been sincere when he snatched the whips from the Southern sheriffs and forbade them more cruelties. But when this was to a degree accomplished, the emotions that had momentarily inflamed him melted away,

When Negroes looked for the second phase, the realization of equality, they found that many of their white allies had quietly disappeared. Negroes felt cheated, especially in the North, while many whites felt that the Negroes had gained so much it was virtually impudent and greedy to ask for more so soon.

King feared that since many Americans foolishly considered the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts a magical cure-all for the nation’s race problem, its failure would disappoint many.

Dr. King realized that Lyndon Baines Johnson’s 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act secured equality on the law books of America, a feat that must not be ignored as Blacks had never been equal in the eyes of the law at any earlier period in this nation’s history, however, this theoretical equality had no impact on the average Negroes day-to-day existence, particularly in regards to delivering jobs, money, or housing. If allowed to speak today, I am quite confident that the Dr. King who has been silenced by the heaps of adoration placed on his “I have a dream” motif would take powerful whites and conservative blacks to task by reminding them that although the alluded to legislative acts secured theoretical equality for the Negro, the subsequent stage, the exercise of equality, had yet to occur. According to King,

“(t)he practical cost of change for the nation up to this point has been cheap.  The limited reforms have been obtained at bargain rates.  There are no expenses, and no taxes are required, for Negroes to share lunch counters, libraries, parks, hotels, and other facilities with whites.”

There was no equivocating in King’s mind that whites, including the so-called liberals that Minister Malcolm X routinely took to task, were not prepared to share politico-economic power with Black America. This reality simultaneously served as a crushing blow to the hopes for racial justice for thousands of politically naïve blacks pursuing integration and emboldened an insurgent population of young black activists seeking liberation “by any means necessary.” According to Dr. King,

…had taken the President, the press and the pulpit at their word when they spoke in broad terms of freedom and justice . . . The word was broken, and the free-running expectations of the Negro crashed into the stone walls of white resistance.

Dr. King predicted that the white community’s resistance to racial equality would invariably push an impatient group of young black activists toward an impatient “Black Power” politic. The radicalizing figure that Dr. King was transforming into after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom articulated an interesting, yet totally ignored by contemporary depictions of the Civil Rights icon, view of both the language and imagery supporting Black Power politics. Although the extreme shift in movement strategies and goals saddened King, the Civil Rights stalwart was sensible enough to realize from whence the articulated disappointment emanated. From Dr. King’s perspective,

Many of the young people proclaiming Black Power today were but yesterday the devotees of black-white cooperation and nonviolent direct action.… If they are America’s angry children today, this anger is not congenital. It is a response to the feeling that a real solution is hopelessly distant because of the inconsistencies, resistance and faintheartedness of those in power.

The conscious decision of today’s black leadership to ignore the teachings and lamentations of a radicalized King can only be considered an inexcusable betrayal of his most powerful moments as a race leader. It appears that the alluded to leaders are ashamed to publicly state Dr. King’s developing belief that whites did not possess a moral compass capable of guiding them toward any semblance of racial equality. Even a cursory examination of Dr. King’s public life reveals that by 1965, the year that LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act and the Watts Rebellion occurred, King abandoned persuasive speeches aimed at the white man’s morality. One is left with no other conclusion than, Dr. King no longer believed that white Americans would ever abandon their devout commitment to racial bigotry and discriminatory activities.

The above realities led Dr. King to realize that the most sensible path to Black liberation was for African-Americans to forego a continuation of failed efforts “to integrate into a burning house” and pool their politico-economic resources for the uplift of Black America. Although many find it comforting and politically expedient to ignore these facets of Dr. King’s intellectual legacy, such dishonesty seeks to hide Dr. King’s final efforts at saving this nation from a future of unprecedented racial conflict and economic inequality. During the last twenty-four months of his life, Dr. King dedicated much of his time to addressing the cavernous gap between this nation’s rich and poor. Such a focus serves as the catalyst for the following statement.

As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good checkup at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent.

As evidenced by ‘the Poor People’s Campaign’, Dr. King’s final social movement, we must also not forget that Dr. King was in Memphis, Tennessee, the location where he would be assassinated, speaking on behalf of sanitation workers striking for increased wages and better working conditions, ‘the Dreamer’ had awakened and made several important conclusions regarding America. Most notable of these conclusions was the realization that mankind was “…caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

It is Dr. King’s assertion that we are inextricably connected to one another that should motivate and guide those who seek to honor Dr. King. It is the only path that we have to avoid a harsh judgment that the Civil Rights patriarch warned us about. According to Dr. King, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

It is this final call that best represents Dr. King, however, such an expression will continue to be ignored because it places the onus for activism on the backs of everyday Americans. Dr. King’s call means that each of us, particularly those to whom much has been given, are existing under a mandate that orders us to loosen our grip on worldly things to pursue the sweetest things that this world has to offer, yet has never experienced: racial equality, gender equity, universal health care, and the ending of hunger throughout the planet to name just a few.

James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2018

She’s in School Now: What Representative Mia Love Should Now Understand About Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party

The crux of the most recent public spate involving Donald J. Trump is found in the unfortunate reality that far too many people believe that they are special. It is this belief that leads them to then believe that they should therefore be afforded special treatment regardless of the quality of those seek to curry favor from.

At this present moment, Representative Mia Love, born of Haitian immigrant parents, is expressing shock and dismay that fellow Republican Donald J. Trump has simultaneously disrespected herself, her heritage, and cultural inheritance by referring to her land of origin as a “shithole.”

I am certain that Mia Love now understands that in the eyes of Donald J. Trump, she is NOT SPECIAL. Considering her seeming naïveté regarding this nation’s culture wars, it may be time for someone to inform the Utah Republican that Trump has much company in regards to hating Americans who are non-white or not wealthy.

When reviewing Love’s strident defense of her parents who hail from that “shithole” called Haiti, it became very clear that the Utah Republican does not understand that the hatred spewed by Trump and those who follow his life principles have nothing to do with those that they hate. So it matters little to them that Love’s parents, Mary and Jean Maxime Bourdeau,

Took on the responsibilities of everything that being a citizen comes with. They never took a thing from our federal government. They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children. They taught their children to do the same. That’s the American Dream. The president must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.

People like Love have convinced themselves that only if they were better citizens, more loyal to the nation, diligent about their lives, avoiding any and all appearances of stereotypical depictions of African-Americans that the reliable bigotry train will not make a scheduled stop at their doorstep. Such persons believe that bigotry will by-pass their lives if they avoid ghetto behavior such as:

  • Welfare dependency
  • A house of kids with a slew of ‘baby daddies’
  • An absence of educational achievement
  • Flawed values/priorities
  • Use of socially inappropriate language
  • Avoidance of inappropriate dress in public spaces

White bigots view individuals such as Love with what the great scholar W.E.B. Du Bois termed “amused contempt and pity” if for no other reason than their failure to understand that they have yet to understand that there is nothing they can do to either avoid or escape it.

If I was provided the opportunity to offer Representative Love one piece of advice, it would be the following. Please stop believing that the prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, and institutional racism that droves of African-Americans who fought for your right to become a citizen in this nation with equal protection rights were somehow flawed in either their efforts or character. They most certainly were not. They were courageous, valorous, diligent, and committed to forcing America to be the nation that it claimed to be. Yet, not even people that Jesus would term “salt of the earth people” were immune from the horrific politico-economic tyranny of hostile white elites whose sole priority was the pursuit of money and power ‘by any means necessary.’

Although many Americans are offended by Trump’s words and antics, I think that they are a much-needed cautionary tale for the beautiful white women from Norway that Trump welcomes, if for no other reason than an opportunity “to grab them by the p#$$%”, to those black and brown people escaping “shitholes”, who Trump believes add nothing to this nation, that this is what you are signing up for when you enter America.

One thing is for certain, in the minds of millions of people seeking entry into this nation, America remains a fabled land of unconscionable and unpredictable opportunities. Those hopes and dreams are not without merit. Consider for a moment that it is only in this nation that a person could,

  • Find the opportunity to be choked to death in public like Eric Garner by police officers.
  • Have the opportunity to be fondled by Donald J. Trump on a commercial airline flight like Jessica Leeds.
  • Have the opportunity to have your ass kicked by Donald J. Trump after a poor plastic surgery job like Ivana Trump.
  • Have the opportunity to be shot by a law enforcement officer at the age of 12 like Tamir Rice.
  • Have the opportunity to be disrespected by Donald J. Trump because you are a Haitian.

Yeah, this is the land of opportunity; enter at your own risk. I am quite certain that Representative Love has learned this lesson very well.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, & Culture, 2018

What Can We Expect from Donald Trump’s Keynote Address at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum?

When considering American racial politics, it is reasonable to consider Mississippi “the crown jewel” of white bigots heart. Whenever I lecture about Civil Rights Movement atrocities, I rhetorically ask students the following question, “What are the two most racist states in this nation?” Invariably, one of the two states cited is Mississippi; Alabama is a distant second in this unscientific poll. So I am unsurprised that at racial discord has arisen the same moment Mississippi is unveiling a state-sponsored Civil Rights Museum. I am even less surprised that Donald J. Trump sits at the center of this discord.

Considering Trump’s record of working against the interests of African-Americans it is strange that he would accept Mississippi’s Republican Governor Phil Bryant’s invitation to speak the Civil Rights Museum opening. I am confident that anyone with even a basic understanding of American racial politics would agree that this arrangement is a lighting-rod for criticism from Civil Rights Leaders. As expected, Civil Rights stalwart John Lewis (D-Ga) issued a joint statement with Bennie Thomas (D-Miss.) expressing their disappointment in Trump’s participation.

“President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum. The struggles represented in this museum exemplify the truth of what really happened in Mississippi. President Trump’s disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants, and National Football League players disrespect the efforts of Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers, Robert Clark, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and countless others who have given their all for Mississippi to be a better place.”

When one considers Trump’s tired routine of political opportunism and intentionally fanning the flames of racial discord for a bigoted base with little understanding of either racial matters or the continuing reverberations flowing from this nation’s historic racial injustice, one would have to be extremely naïve, if not absolutely foolish, to believe that Trump’s participation is anything beyond a political ploy aimed at achieving some dastardly goal of further retarding the descendants of those being honored by the new museum. Although difficult for Trump supporters to accept, this polarizing figure’s insincerity for all things, including his base of poor and working-class whites, is in a word, colossal. The man has repeatedly displayed that he has no sympathies for anything beyond himself.

It is for this reason that I fully expect Trump to once again do the impossible and live down to the expectations of a national populace that has no expectations regarding his capabilities to lead this nation. At these critical moments, Trump has displayed a pattern of shocking on-lookers by being more polarizing and offensive than even his severest critics could have ever imagined.

Although I recognize that it is in many ways a foolish endeavor to pray that even an omnipotent God is endowed with the power to either bestow wisdom on or bridle Trump’s foolish tongue as he delivers a speech at the least likely of places, a Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.

So the world will be looking with bewilderment as Donald J. Trump approaches a microphone to deliver a speech regarding this nation’s historic wrongs regarding African-Americans and the path forward. Predictably, it would be Myrlie Evers, the widow of famed NAACP activist Medgar Evers who was murdered by Byron de la Beckwith in his driveway on June 12, 1963, in Jackson, Mississippi, who provides a glimmer of hope regarding this matter. Myrlie Evers related that she hoped Trump would “learn something” during his visit to Jackson.

I guess at moments such as this one, all that we can do is hope and pray that a miracle such as Trump learning something of value about this nation’s deplorable record on racial matters occurs. Let us pray.

 Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Please support Independent Black Scholarship by purchasing a book. I am confident that you agree that such support is the only way that we are going to free our minds. Books published by Dr. James Thomas Jones are as follows:

Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

‘Foolish’ Floyd: The Life & Times of an African-American Contrarian

O’Bruni: An African-American Odyssey Home?

 

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