Tag Archives: Race

HAS THE NAACP OUTLIVED ITS UTILITY

Truthfully, it is an assertion many activists have whispered for a lengthy period; less tactful persons have boisterously asserted it in the public arena. The issue I am alluding to is a daunting query of has the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) outlived its utility. Created in 1909, the NAACP was formed out of a desperate desire by a collective of predominantly white moralists who were repulsed at the 1908 Springfield (Illinois) Race Riot and what the event meant for their beloved nation. Although rarely discussed, there were very few African-Americans involved in the NAACP’s creation, W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells-Barnett were the most notable of that initial cadre.

For much of its existence, the NAACP has served as legal arm for the historic battles to subdue institutionalized racism in an America that was slow to change. It was the NAACP that brought the action to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., contention that the struggle for Civil Rights in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” would be a protracted battle fought in both American courts and the hearts of its citizenry.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., warned whites that their post-Voting Rights Act celebrations communicated an erroneous belief that America had conquered race.  King vehemently dissented against such naïveté and advised that the solution to persisting racial inequities lay in the completion of two increasingly difficult stages.  According to Dr. King, the initial step toward racial equality, the securing of legal equality, was achieved with the signing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. King posited that the next stage, the exercise of justice, would be much more challenging. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reflected,           

[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. 

There is no doubt that the NAACP has spent the bulk of its time engaged in the initial stage, securing equality on the law books of America, and scant time addressing the more difficult process of exercising equality. It is in that gap between legislative equality and the exercise of equality that the vast majority of angst and discord within black America remains. Put simply; it is this cavernous hole that facilitated the abandonment of traditional Civil Rights courtroom activism for direct expressions of resistance such as that provided by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committees (SNCC).

In time, court cases led by figures such as Charles Hamilton Houston, Constance Baker Motley, and Thurgood Marshall were replaced by physical confrontations with Jim Crow and strategies such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s vaunted “Panther Patrols.” In time, it became evident that the NAACP’s propensity to shy away from such direct battle facilitated their marginalization in the minds of the common man and woman. In many ways, the NAACP was never an organization of the people; it represented their interests. However, it did not have many opportunities for those outside of Du Bois Talented-Tenth to participate in a significant way.

In the new millennium, the NAACP’s disassociation from the masses of black America has become even more pronounced. The emergence of grassroots activist groups such as Black Lives Matter has shined a spotlight upon this occurrence. For decades, the NAACP has rested on its well-deserved laurels as the most iconic organization in the nation. If nothing else, the NAACP’s reputation preceded it. Historically speaking, NAACP leaders were never forced to compare themselves to what many considered lesser groups such as SNCC, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Mississippi Freedom and Democratic Party, the Black Panther Party, or the Black Liberation Army.

The venerable NAACP existed above much of the dirty work that served as staples for lesser groups. Outgoing NAACP President Cornel William Brooks articulated as much when he related that “We (NAACP) do not crawl on the ground! We do not fall prostrate before problems! We are not relegated to the dust! We are not insects! We are an American iconic institution! We are the NAACP!” Ironically, it is Brooks, the figure who has worked tirelessly for the past three years to reposition the organization that sits at the center of the NAACP’s push for increased relevancy via a “transformational retooling” aimed at attracting the attention and loyalties of an emerging cadre of young activists. Inexplicably, the NAACP’s current leader is being jettisoned out the door as this initiative expands.

The deposed President articulated the primary problem facing the NAACP when he remarked that the organization “has fallen behind the times…it has been less effective in countering racism today, while Black Lives Matter and other protest movements have exploded.”

Although difficult to comprehend, it appears that the NAACP’s “transformational retooling” is born out of a jealousy/envy of grassroots activist groups such as Black Lives Matter that have managed via social media savvy, not necessarily an activist agenda or political accomplishments, to garner both the loyalties of a new generation of activists and the attention of national media outlets.

Instead of remaining in their traditional lane, NAACP leaders are apparently seeking to leave their throne of dignity and descend into the horde of the unclean masses via “an organization-wide refresh” to address the “audacious challenges…(presented by) today’s volatile political, media and social climates.”

The historical record shows that the NAACP’s most significant utility has been when they entered courtrooms and spoke for those who had been intimidated into silence by institutional racism. I fear that in its rush to recreate itself as young, hip, and cutting-edge activist group that the NAACP is vacating a much-needed role in the movement in exchange for fleeting moments of fame. I wish that someone would tell the NAACP board that there is much danger hidden in their desperate attempt to attract a new generation of activists. This courting of young activists makes the NAACP analogous to a retiree appearing at a club for twentysomething’s with wearing a Kangol and a litany of gold chains hanging around their neck attempting to fit in using eighties lingo such as “chill, dope, and chick.”

I am most certainly not saying that the NAACP should shutter its doors; however, there is little doubt that this movement to become something that it never was in a new millennium that it has never seen, is not only bizarre, but also dumb. If provided the opportunity, I would plead with the NAACP to not refashion itself as a rival to emerging activist groups such as Black Lives Matter. Such action not only betrays the NAACP’s historic role, but also leaves a cavernous hole in the continuing struggle for racial equality. Bolstered by a century of activist experience, the NAACP should be seeking to serve these emerging groups in an advisory capacity, not making moves to dissipate the power that has been mobilized in a technological world that old-guard Civil Rights groups will never be able to understand or keep up with.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

 

 

 

Jason Whitlock Proves Once Again that it is Possible to be Black and Totally Ignorant of American Racial Dynamics

For some unexplainable reason, there is an expectation that African-Americans are born with a keen insight regarding the “color line” that W.E.B. Du Bois termed the problem of the twentieth-century. Trust me when I say that many a black schoolchild can share stories regarding a moment when the issue of Race reared its head and caused all of their white classmates to slowly turn toward their direction as if they were equipped to deconstruct America’s greatest social cancer. I am sorry to disappoint America; however, the vast majority of African-Americans know very little, if anything, about Race beyond very limited personal experience. Trust me when I say that when it comes to racial matters, caution is the best advice that I can offer to anyone stepping foot into this minefield.

The latest example of a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread is sportswriter Jason Whitlock; in fact, this is not Whitlock’s first foray into the turbulent waters of American racial matters. And to his credit, Whitlock is very consistent as he never fails to make an absolute fool of himself while analyzing racial issues.

Whitlock’s latest unwise foray into this highly volatile arena occurred moments after the public was made aware that Cleveland Cavalier Lebron James’ L.A. home had been vandalized by someone spray painting “the N-Word” on the gate. James addressed this cowardly attack with his usual dignity and poise. Whitlock pounced on this issue as if he and his ravenous appetite were unleashed at Fogo de Chǎo.

In short order, Whitlock verified my previous assertion that blackness does not endow an individual with an innate ability to understand American racial dynamics. According to Whitlock,

“Racism is an issue in America, but it’s primarily an issue for the poor. It’s not LeBron James’ issue. He has removed himself from the damages and the ravages of real racism. He may have an occasional disrespectful interaction with someone, a disrespectful inconvenience.”

I am always surprised when individuals such as Whitlock who have been gifted with a national platform do not understand basic principles surrounding Race in America such as the difference between prejudice, discrimination, and institutionalized racism. Like so many other nationally renowned commentators, Whitlock has fallen into the usual trap of believing that his status as a black man is a substitute for the years of focused study that one must devote to the issue of Race to truly garner any significant insight. Most troubling of all are that the seriously flawed perspectives that figures such as Jason Whitlock haphazardly hurl into flexible public spaces occupied by an unknowing public carry significant weight.

It appears that while making his commentary that Whitlock channeled the spirit of Pino, a white character in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. Consider the following dialogue between Mookie, a black character, and Pino, an individual who believes that fame shields one from racial bigotry.


Mookie: Pino, who’s your favorite basketball player?
Pino: Magic Johnson.
Mookie: And who’s your favorite movie star?
Pino: Eddie Murphy. 

Mookie: Pino, all you ever talk about is nigger this and nigger that, and all your favorite people are so-called niggers.
Pino: It’s different. Magic, Eddie, Prince… are not niggers. I mean, they’re not black, I mean – Let me explain myself. They’re – They’re not really black. I mean, they’re black, but they’re not really black. They’re more than black. It’s different.
Mookie: It’s different?
Pino: Yeah. To me, it’s different. 

Despite Whitlock’s well-documented inability to offer anything of substantial to any discussion of racial matters, I am unsurprised by his failure to realize that neither fame nor money shields black athletes and entertainers from racial bigotry. Now there is no denying that the financial resources possessed by individuals such as Lebron James provide creature comforts and options that the vast majority of African-Americans will never know; however, the American historical record definitively proves that such resources fail to move this segment of Black America out of institutionalized racism’s large shadow. Rest assured that such evil is much more disruptive than the relatively mundane racial conflict the average African-American will ever experience.

Quite possibly the most dangerous effect of Whitlock’s uninformed commentary is that his penchant for not knowing is incredibly infectious among an American populace that has never acknowledged its storied past of lynching, rapes, Jim Crow, housing segregation, and discrimination in the employment sector. Although I am certain that Whitlock will seek to shield himself from criticism by stupidly alleging that there is room for multiple voices within the black community regarding substantive issues, his voice is not merely divergent from mine, it is one that works against both the fortunes of Black America and the illumination of every American citizen in regards to an increased understanding of racial matters. I most certainly agree that there is room for a plethora of voices that will sometimes conflict with one another; however, such a realization fails to provide a voice such as Whitlock’s that is so uninformed regarding racial matters that it serves no purpose other than to delay a real discussion on American racial matters. Put simply; Whitlock’s penchant for using his platform to spew uninformed opinions regarding American race relations muddies a toxic river. Whitlock should know better. However, I long ago came to understand that “stupid is as stupid does.” And experience has taught me that there are some levels of stupidity that cannot be reversed.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

A NEW MILLENNIUM ESAU: WHY THE SAGA OF JEREMY JOSEPH CHRISTIAN REPRESENTS SO MUCH ABOUT WHITE AMERICA

There are a few things that are certain about human beings. One of them happens to be that if you want to know what a person thinks, the most reliable path to such information is allowing them to speak freely. I guarantee you that if you allow a person to speak long enough that they will reveal with laser accuracy what they are thinking about a host of topics. This life principle has served me well.

“Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedoms…You call it terrorism. I call it patriotism.”

When I heard Jeremy Joseph Christian spew the above phrase during his initial court appearance to all within earshot. I resisted a compulsion that far too many of my contemporaries succumb to of dismissing the above statement as little more than the ramblings of a mad-man. Rather than excusing the referenced litany, I now realize that Jeremy Joseph Christian is a new millennium representation of what this nation means for so many angry, hopeless, and disenchanted white males. The alluded to individuals are analogous to a reincarnated Esau who has had their birthright stolen from beneath them.

The inheritance that the alluded to modern-day Esau’s feel that they have been swindled out of is America. There is a segment of White America that believes that America ‘is a nation founded by white men and should always serve the interests (economic, social, and political) of white men.’ It is this inheritance of riches and many privileges that white males feel that they have been swindled out of by the arrival of other groups. It is the loss of an absolute monopoly over national resources that sits at the core of the angst expressed by the Jeremy Joseph Christian’s of this nation. Such individuals are principally angered at the daunting reality that white men are no longer permitted to be, WHITE MEN. Put simply, persons such as Jeremy Joseph Christian wish that they could recreate a yesteryear environment when the judgment of white men shall never be questioned, the intelligence of white men never held up for examination, and it was a given that minority populations would never step out of their place.

Let’s be clear on this matter of white males being swindled out of their birthright; it is not as if they have lost their political and socioeconomic monopolies in contemporary America. They still have control over the vast majority of resources that minority populations must rally together in a desperate attempt to capture if they desire to continue to exist. The ire of the Jeremy Joseph Christian’s of this nation is raised by even the slightest challenge to the king’s ransom of power, wealth, and influence that their predecessors have in their minds bequeathed to them.

The great comedian Paul Mooney once remarked that he breaks down and cries when he sees a homeless white man because “it is such a waste of whiteness.” When viewed in that light, a figure such as Jeremy Joseph Christian and the other young whites residing in the alt-right political community fail to realize that their path to success is readily available, in fact, one is hard-pressed to cite any significant impediments to white success beyond personal laziness. Just consider for a moment, the heights that a young white male such as Jared Kushner has risen within this nation without ever speaking a word publicly.

Nevertheless, white males such as Jeremy Joseph Christian who have miraculously found a way to be white and male in America without finding a modicum of success feel that the presence of others are the reason that their success has been elusive. Such individuals are masterful at avoiding any personal responsibility for their dire plight as evidence by these common excuses.

  • If the Mexicans weren’t here, I could get a job.
  • I can’t get ahead because I have to pay for the lazy blacks on welfare.
  • The blacks have all of the jobs.
  • The Muslims don’t pay taxes and don’t respect our freedoms.

It is not difficult to see that individuals such as Jeremy Joseph Christian have declared war on anyone that they consider competition for any American resource that they believe their ancestors bequeathed to them. Such people were ready made for Trump’s slogan of “Let’s make America great again.” An implicit reference to reversing the clock to a time when Niggers knew their place, all women were barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, and no one was alarmed when white mobs served as accuser, judge, jury, and executioner for those who dared to attempt to swindle a white man out of his birthright.

Unfortunately for disenchanted white males’, their desperate attempts to turn back the hands of time will continually fail. You know, when you think about it, it must be a heck of a position to be a white male in a nation created by white men and still find success elusive.

What is a white man to do? I will tell you what I will do; I will follow Paul Mooney’s lead and just cry the next time I see poor white folk because they have truly wasted the greatest gift that an American seeking power in this nation could ever receive white skin.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

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WHY DID FBI DIRECTOR J. EDGAR HOOVER ORDER HIS MEN TO ATTACK THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF-DEFENSE?

We were saying that poor people should rally and organize against an oppressive government which oppressed us because we were poor, not just because we were black, but because we were poor. See, they could hear all the buy black, do black, think black, be black, black on, and black power. They could hear that, they didn’t care about that part. It was when poor niggers started talking about class struggle that they got frightened. And not just talked about it, but did something…No. They were worried about ignorant, poor niggers on the streets with guns talking about the haves and the have-nots.

(Ericka Huggins)

It is most certainly a daunting proposition to be born black in a schizophrenic nation whose creation was made possible by the enslavement of stolen Africans yet steadily reminds its citizenry that racial matters are relatively inconsequential. Despite what American powerbrokers have repeatedly attempted to assert over the past several centuries, race still somewhat matters.

In many ways, it is surprising that in a nation where an elite class of white power-brokers has risen to power by exploiting all non-elites regardless of racial classification or ethnic identity that racial struggle and pride has not been abandoned by all. Nonetheless, Race remains the rallying point for American groups. Considering the overwhelming influence of Race in America, one is hard-pressed to dispute one of Malcolm X’s most truthful assertions of U.S. racial matters. In an often forgotten moment of commentary regarding the melting of new immigrants into the American fabric of whiteness, Malcolm X remarked that “the first word that European immigrants learn when they come to Ellis Island is Nigger!” From the perspective of Black America, “Nigger” was the secret password that allowed the Irish, Polish, and every other new immigrant group to cloak themselves in a socially constructed and politically expedient cover of bland whiteness. Unfortunately, whites have much company in allowing Race to serve as a rallying point for politico-economic solidarity.

Consider for a moment that racial matters are so central to the vision of black leaders’ that their followers would certainly abandon their camp if they ever de-emphasized racial issues for another variable such as Class. Put simply; within the African-American freedom struggle, any discussion not exclusively focused on Race is not only ridiculed but also dismissed as utter foolishness by an unproductive revolutionary cadre fixated on Race. Black America’s so-called revolutionary class fails to realize that their obsessive focus on Race significantly marginalizes their status as revolutionaries seeking to liberate their person from the misery and sorrow that attaches itself to the economically exploited in any Capitalist nation. Although Black revolutionaries must for their mental comfort resist the insinuation that their efforts to liberate Black America from its centuries-long marginalized status are not only futile but also poses no threat to power-brokers, the fact that power-brokers rarely respond to their efforts should serve as a major indicator of they being on the incorrect path. If they were engaged in the revolutionary process, power-brokers would react in a real manner to their activities. Just ask the remaining leadership of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense if my words are correct.

One of the most unfortunate aspects of my having studied the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense for the past twenty years has been the internal angst that occurs when I engage groups and individuals who have convinced themselves that they are some way a continuation of the original Panthers that Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale co-founded on October 15, 1966, in Oakland, California. After the publication of my book on the Black Panther Party titled Creating Revolution as they Advance was completed, I received the honor of being invited to participate in panel discussions and deliver lectures over the Black Power Era and the vaunted Panther Party; the Vanguard of America’s highly-volatile sixties protest culture.

Although I wish that I could say otherwise, the vast majority of the panel discussions that I have participated in have only highlighted how little many of the individuals who have desperately attempted to seize the Panther’s revolutionary mantle know about organizational principles and philosophies.

One of the most telling signs that many of the modern reiterations of the Black Panther Party are uninformed regarding Panther philosophies is their disproportionate focus on racial matters and utter silence regarding far more impacting class issues. This current cadre of Panthers fails to realize that the path to revolution is not found in the arena of Race, rather class warfare. Despite their inability to recognize it, the poverty that has enveloped so many Americans should be the rallying call to action, not a clumsy attempt by one group of poor people to take the limited resources that other poor people have gained temporary access to.

The failure to accentuate Class over Race reveals present-day Panthers as intellectual lightweights who have yet to find their way to the revolutionary road; such individuals remain mesmerized by icons and symbols such as guns, leather jackets, and berets that mean very little in regards to revolutionary struggle. Contemporary Panthers are seemingly enchanted by the seductive siren known as Race.

Consider for a moment why J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, directed the overwhelming majority of Bureau resources toward the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s destruction. Is the answer to this query found in the Panther’s carrying weapons? Most certainly not! If that were the case, then the Deacons for Defense and Justice or Revolutionary Action Movement — two other black groups that openly carried weapons in defense of their community — would have received similar treatment. The answer to why the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was singled out over their activist contemporaries is ironically their decision to de-emphasize racial matters and accentuate class issues that are more meaningful in a capitalist society.

Consider for a moment the following recollection of Panther leader Ericka Huggins regarding why J. Edgar Hoover’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) singled-out the Panthers for the brunt of their repressive activities. Huggins recalls that,

We were saying that poor people should rally and organize against an oppressive government which oppressed us because we were poor, not just because we were black, but because we were poor. See, they (the FBI) could hear all the buy black, do black, think black, be black, black on, and black power. They (the FBI) could hear that, they didn’t care about that part. It was when poor niggers started talking about class struggle that they got frightened. And not just talked about it, but did something…No. They (the FBI) were worried about ignorant, poor niggers on the streets with guns talking about the haves and the have nots.

If nothing else, J. Edgar Hoover understood the inherent dangers that would eventually manifest from Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale’s teachings regarding the exploitative nature of capitalism and the need for an inter-racial coalition of like-minded organizations to combat this odd beast that threatened all of humanity.

American power-brokers realized that the Panthers pursuit of like-minded groups interested in overthrowing Capitalist America was a unique and significant threat to their existence. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was convinced that Huey P. Newton’s manifestation as a revolutionary theoretician that managed to emphasize class issues without totally dismissing the impact of racial matters made him the most dangerous man in America, one capable of being a messianic figure capable of unifying not only the black movement, but also creating productive coalitions with like-minded groups of varying races and ethnicities.

To the chagrin of his opponents, Newton displayed an uncanny willingness to forge alliances with groups seeking to destroy American Capitalism, regardless of their race/ethnicity or sexual orientation. Therein lays the reason that J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO selected the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense for the bulk of their repressive activities. Unfortunately, contemporary “revolutionaries” are still entangled in a “racial bag” that limits their ability to conceive innovative activities. One thing is for certain until the new Panthers are able to unlearn the draconian lessons of their oppressor, they will never reach, let alone travel down the revolutionary road.

ALL POWER TO ALL PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

“Organized Resistance Is Our Best Remedy”

I fully realize the delicacy of the position I occupy in this discussion and know too well that those who are to follow me will largely benefit by what I shall have to say in respect to the application of force as one of the means to the solution of the problem known as the Negro problem. I am not unmindful of that fact that there are those living who have faith in the efficacy of submission, who are impregnated with the slavish fear which had its origin in oppression and the peculiar environments of the slave period…Agitation is a good thing, organization is a better thing. The million Negro voters of Georgia, and the undiscovered millions in other Southern states—undiscovered so far as our knowledge of their number exists—could with proper organization and intelligent leadership meet force with force with most beneficial results. The issue upon us cannot be misunderstood by those who are watching current events…The man who will not fight for the protection of his wife and children is a coward and deserves to be ill treated. The man who takes his life in his hand and stands up for what he knows to be right will always command the respect of his enemy.

Submission to the dicta of the Southern bulldozers is the basest cowardice, and there is no just reason why manly men of any race should allow themselves to be continually outraged and oppressed by their equals before the law . . .

Under the present conditions of affairs the only hope, the only salvation for the Negro is to be found in a resort to force under wise and discreet leaders. He must sooner or later come to this in order to set at rest for all time to come the charge that he is a moral coward…

The Negro must not be rash and indiscreet either in action or in his words but he must be very determined and terribly in earnest, and of one mind to bring order out of chaos and to convince Southern rowdies and cutthroats that more than two can play at the game with which they have amused their fellow conspirators in crime for nearly a quarter of a century…let the Negro require at the hands of every white murderer in the South or elsewhere a life for a life. If they burn our houses, burn theirs, if they kill our wives and children, kill theirs, pursue them relentlessly, meet force with force everywhere it is offered. If they demand blood, exchange it with them, until they are satiated. By a vigorous adherence to this course the shedding of human blood by white men will soon become a thing of the past. Wherever and whenever the Negro has himself to be a man he can always command the respect even of a cutthroat. Organized resistance to organized resistance is the best remedy for the solution of the vexed problem of the century, which to me seems practical and feasible, and I submit this view of the question, ladies and gentleman, for your careful consideration.

John E. Bruce (October 5, 1889)