Tag Archives: Racial Matters

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?

 

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

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

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

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

Vick’s uninformed diatribe continues below,

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

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

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

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

 

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.

 

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

(Paul Laurence Dunbar)

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

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

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

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

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

Malcolm X Publicly Addresses Jackie Robinson

November 30, 1963
Dear Good Friend, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson:

You became a great baseball player after your White Boss (Mr. Rickey) lifted you to the Major Leagues. You proved that your White Boss had chosen the “right” Negro by getting plenty of hits, stealing plenty of bases, winning many games and bringing much money through the gates and into the pockets of your White Boss.

In those days I was one of your many ardent fans; your speed and shifty base running used to hold me spellbound . . . and, according to the attack you leveled against me and Congressman Powell in your recent column, I must confess that even today you still display the same old “speed,” the same “cunning,” and “shiftiness” . . . and you are still trying to win “The Big Game” for your White Boss.

Shortly after the White Man lifted you from poverty and obscurity to the Major Leagues, Paul Robeson was condemning America for her injustices against American Negroes. Mr. Robeson questioned the intelligence of Negroes fighting to defend a country that treated them with such open contempt and bestial brutality.

Robeson’s Stand
Robeson’s brilliant stand in behalf of our people left the guilty American whites speechless: they had no defense.

They sought desperately to find another Negro who would be dumb enough to champion their bankrupt “white” cause against Paul Robeson.

It was you who let yourself be used by the whites even in those days against your own kind. You let them sic you on Paul Robeson.

You let them use you to destroy Paul Robeson. You let your White Boss send you before a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. (the capitol of Segregationville) to dispute and condemn Paul Robeson, because he had these guilty American whites frightened silly.

Your White Boss sent you to Washington to assure all the worried white folks that Negroes were still thankful to the Great White Father for bringing us to America, that Negroes were grateful to America (despite our not being treated as full citizens), and that Negroes would still lay down our lives to defend this white country (though this same white government wasn’t ready nor willing to defend Negroes) . . . even in those days, Jackie!

Jackie’s Column
In this same recent column you also accused me and Dr. Powell of misleading our people. Aren’t you the same ex­baseball player who tried to “MISLEAD” Negroes into Nixon’s camp during the last presidential election?

Evidently you were the only Negro who voted for Nixon, because according to the polls taken afterward, very few Negroes were dumb enough to follow your “MISLEAD.”

Today you confess to our people that you now think Nixon would have been the wrong man. Aren’t you also confessing that if Negroes had been dumb enough to follow you three years ago that you would have been guilty of MISLEADING them?

Rocke­fel­ler
You never gave up. You are now trying to lead Negroes into Nelson Rockefeller’s political camp. If you admit that you were wrong about Richard Nixon three years ago, how are we to be sure that you’ve become so politically mature in the meantime to be right in your choice today? Your “shiftiness” is confusing and very misleading.

We hear that you are about to be appointed Boxing Commissioner of New York State by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Does this have any bearing on your efforts to get Negroes into Rockefeller’s camp? Just who are you playing ball for today, good Friend?

Our people followed you on the football field and the baseball field, but we are cautious and doubtful about your shifty position in this political field.

When Mr. Rickey picked you up from obscurity and made you a Big Leaguer, you never let Mr. Rickey down; and since Mr. Black has given you a well­paying position with Chock-Full-O-Nuts, you have never let Mr. Black down . . . and now with Mr. Rockefeller promising to make you the Boxing Commissioner of New York State, we know that you can’t afford to let Ole Rocky down.

You have never shown appreciation for the support given you by the Negro masses, but you have a record of being very faithful to your White Benefactors. Perhaps, if Nixon had not been such a relatively poorer man, he too would have fared much better with your support.

Your column also accused me of attacking Dr. Ralph Bunche. This is untrue. I have never attacked Ralph Bunche. No Muslim ever initiates an attack on anyone. Dr. Bunche had attacked the Muslims in general and me in particular from a college campus in the state of Mississippi, and his venomous poison was carried by all the major networks. My reply to Dr. Bunche’s unwarranted attack was made strictly in self­defense (as is this present letter an answer to your unjust attack).

If Dr. Bunche’s UN position is supposed to confine him to matters “above and beyond” America’s race problems, whenever he does escape the confines of UN protocol, why does he always attack our Muslim religious group? This is the third time he has attacked our religion. Is he anti­Islam?

Mississippi
Since he was in Mississippi while making his recent speech, he would have shown more intelligence had he directed his full attention toward the whites in that area who are bombing Negro churches and murdering innocent little Negro girls.

Why waste precious time and energy on us? Muslims don’t bomb churches. Muslims don’t shoot Medgar Evers in the back. Muslims have never lynched anyone.

Dr. Bunche should realize he can’t fight an effective battle on two different fronts at the same time. He can’t fight the Muslims and at the same time be effective against the lynchers of Negroes.

But Dr. Bunche seems more anxious to discredit and destroy the Muslim religious group than he does the white lynchers of Negroes. Whenever I read the speeches he makes for American consumption, I often wonder if his scriptwriter isn’t some anti-Muslim Israeli?

You also quoted the comedian, Dick Gregory, whose scriptwriter has him saying that most Negroes never knew the Muslims existed until the white man put the Muslims on television. I must confess that this is part­true.

The Muslims have been in the Negro Community for a long time, but Negroes such as yourself, who regard yourselves as Negro “leaders,” never know what is going on in the Negro Community until the white man tells you.

You stay as far away from the Negro Community as you can get, and you never take an interest in anything in the Negro Community until the white man himself takes an interest in it. You, yourself would never shake my hand until you saw some of your white friends shaking it.

Negro “leaders” never knew Muslims existed until the white man discovered them, and right today most of these same Negro “leaders” know about Muslims only what the white man has told them.

Medgar Evers
Finally, good Friend Jackie: you attacked me for not attending the funeral of Medgar Evers, who was murdered in Mississippi. When I go to a Mississippi funeral it won’t be to attend the funeral of a black man!

And you Negro “leaders,” whose bread and butter depend on your ability to make your white boss think you have all these Negroes “under control,” better be thankful that I wasn’t in Mississippi after Medgar Evers was murdered, nor in Birmingham after the murder of those four innocent little Negro girls.

If my integrity or sincerity is to be measured in your eyesight by my attendance at funerals of Negroes who have been murdered by whites, if you should ever meet with such misfortune I promise to attend your funeral, and then perhaps you will be able to see me in a different light?

If you should ever become as militant in behalf of our oppressed people as Medgar Evers was, the same whites whom you now take to be your friends will be the first to put the bullet or the dagger in your back, just as they put it in the back of Medgar Evers . . .

And I sincerely fear, good Friend Jackie, that if the whites do murder you, you are still gullible enough to die thinking they are still your white friends, and that the dagger in your back is only an accident!

Whereas if whites were to murder me for the religious philosophy that I represent and stand for, I would die KNOWING that it was at the hands of OPEN ENEMIES OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE!

 

Letter Published in the Amsterdam News

How The Process of Finding a Prom Date Reveals so much about American Racial Matters

Although we rarely think of it this way, the successful navigation of life is either bolstered or hindered by one’s understanding of history. It is the understanding of what has come before that prepares us for what is to come. Without the benefit of a reasonable understanding of history, we are doomed to not only repeat the mistakes of the past but also sure to suffer mightily from our ignorance.

There is no doubt that all hopes of navigating the present for young African-Americans hinges upon their understanding of Race. Despite whites desperate desire to avoid racial matters, the truth of the matter is that the socially constructed variable has harmed persons of African descent from the moment they arrived in the Jamestown colony. Although there are few things that I find shocking, I must admit that the revelation of there being a sizable population of young African-Americans who de-emphasize, if not totally ignore the historic roots and contemporary manifestation of the divisive ‘color line’ that DuBois lamented in his classic tome The Souls of Black Folk has thrown my mind into a chaotic phase. Put simply; many African-American youths are devoid of any understanding of American racial dynamics; in fact, they are so oblivious to racial matters that they are no longer offended by its presence.

As you well know, we are approaching the end of another school year. It is at this moment that American high school students will make what amounts to one of the most important decisions of their young lives; whom will they accompany to the prom. We should not find it surprising that the ugly specter of Race has repeatedly reared its ugly head during this annual event.

The unusual manner in which Race has impacted this rites-of-passage for American high school students is not found in the traditional segregating of black and white students, rather the degrading way that white male students are requesting the company of black female students. Consider the following overtures made by white male students to black female students. One white male made his intentions known by spelling it out with Kool-Aid packets, a drink that has historically been associated with poor blacks. Another white male made his desires for a date with an African-American female student known via the offering of Kentucky Fried Chicken and watermelon.

Now I will tell you that I am most certainly not surprised by the crass and socially inappropriate overtures made by white males toward black females, after all, such events have historically been a staple of American social relations. However, I was shocked to learn that the African-American females approached with such inappropriate overtures agreed to accompany their bigoted suitors to the prom. Such an occurrence raises a host of queries regarding these young ladies, the community that raised them, as well as the parental guidance that they received regarding both the history of American racial matters and their self-worth.

If the decision-making of the alluded to black female students is an accurate barometer of the next generation of African-Americans porous understanding of racial matters, we are most certainly in dire straits. I am literally at a loss for words regarding the pervasive illiteracy regarding racial bias that has somehow enveloped many young African-Americans.

Unfortunately, it appears that a developing narrative that calls for African-Americans to ignore prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, and racism has mesmerized many of our youth and robbed them of their innate ability to recognize and resist racial bias whenever it appears. If the alluded to young ladies decision is any indicator, many of our youth will neither understand nor resist racial bias even when it is personally delivered to them in a bucket of fried chicken and a sign that says “I prefer dark meat” with watermelon as the dessert, and Kool-Aid as the beverage to wash it all down.

We are living in a scary moment my friend, very scary.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III