Tag Archives: Racial Matters

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

 

“A Colorblind Society Remains an Aspiration”

What I have to say this morning is, I hope, of interest…

I would like to speak today about an issue much discussed in recent months, in part because of cases which came to our Court from this Circuit last year. I refer to the Sheet Metal Workers case, in which our Court affirmed the excellent decision by Judge Pratt, and to the question of affirmative action. Much has been said lately about the scope of permissible remedies, both voluntary and mandatory, in cases of employment discrimination. The decisions of our Court in this past term suggest to me that there is still a basic agreement among a majority of the Justices that the commands of Title VII and the equal protection clause should be implemented, where necessary, through broad-based relief including the imposition of affirmative duties to eradicate the effects of past discrimination, But because statements in sharp opposition to the use of affirmative remedies have recently been heard with increasing frequency, I think it is appropriate to share with you some general thoughts about why affirmative action is necessary, and on the role which it plays in our law despite many people in high offices trying to explain away our decision. We will explain it.

I believe all of the participants in the current debate about affirmative action agree that the ultimate goal is the creation of a colorblind society. From this common premise, however, two very different conclusions have apparently been drawn: The first is that race-conscious remedies may not be used to eliminate the effects of past discrimination against Negroes and other minority groups in American society. This conclusion has been expanded into the proposition that courts and parties entering into consent decrees are limited to remedies, which provide relief to identified individual victims of discrimination only, But the second conclusion, which may be drawn from our common preference for a colorblind society, is that the vestiges of racial bias in America are so pernicious, and so difficult to remove, that we must take advantage of all the remedial measures at our disposal. The difference between these views may be accounted for, at least in part, by difference of opinion as to how close we presently are to the “colorblind society” about which everybody talks. I believe that, given the position from which America began, we still have a very long way to go. The Framers of our Constitution labored “In order to form a more perfect union, establish justice…and secure the blessings of the liberty.” These were beautiful words, but at the same time a Negro slave was but three-fifths of a man in the same Constitution. Negroes who, finding themselves purportedly the property of white men, attempted to secure the blessings of the liberty by voting with their feet and running away, were to be captured and returned to slavery pursuant to that same document.

The decisions of the Supreme Court in Prigg v. Pennsylvania and Ableman v. Booth demonstrated just how strong the assertion of federal power on behalf of the slaveholder could be. There was undeniable historical truth in Chief Justice Taney’s statement in Dred Scott that at the time of adoption of the Constitution Negroes “had for more than a century before been regarded as being of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Our constitutional jurisprudence at that time rested upon this premise and it continued so for a century. So many have forgotten.?

Justice Harlan, as you remember, dissenting in Plessy v, Ferguson, gave the first expression to the judicial principle that our constitution is colorblind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. 5 If principle of race neutrality, our situation now, ninety years later, would be far different than it is. Affirmative action is an issue today precisely needed because our constitution was not colorblind in the sixty years which intervened between Plessy and Brown.

Obviously, I too believe in a colorblind society; but it has been and remains an aspiration. It is a goal toward which our society has progressed uncertainly, bearing as it does the enormous burden of incalculable injuries inflicted by race prejudice and other bigotry, which the law once sanctioned, and even encouraged. Not having attained our goal, we must face the simple fact that there are groups in every community, which are daily paying the cost of the history of American injustice. The argument against affirmative action is but an argument in favor of leaving that cost to lie where it falls. Our fundamental sense of fairness, particularly as it is embodied in the guarantee of equal protection under the la, requires us to make an effort to see that those costs are shared equitably while we continue to work for the eradication of the consequences of discrimination. Otherwise, we must admit to ourselves that so long as the lingering effects of inequality are with us, the burden will be borne by those who are least able to pay.

For this reason, the argument that equitable remedies should be restricted to redressing the grievances of individual victims of discrimination completely misses the point. The point is that our government has a compelling interest in dealing with all the harm caused by discrimination against racial and other minorities, not merely with the harm immediately occasioned when somebody is denied a job, or promotion, by reason of the color of his skin.

It has been argued that the use of affirmative race-conscious remedies inflicts an immediate harm on some, in the hope of ameliorating the more remote hard done to others. This, it is said, is as abhorrent as the original discrimination itself. Some have compared the use of such race-conscious remedies to using alcohol to get beyond alcoholism or drugs to overcome a drug addiction, or a few more cigarettes a day to break the smoking habit. I think the comparison is inappropriate and abhorrent. Affirmative action is not, as the analogies often imply, a symptom of lack of societal willpower; when judiciously employed, it is instead an instrument for sharing the burdens, which our history imposes upon all of us.

This is not to say, of course, that affirmative remedies such as the establishment of goals, timetables, and all of that, in hiring, in promotion, or for protection of recently hired minority workers from the disproportionate effects of layoffs, are always necessary or appropriate. Where there is no admission or proof of past discriminatory conduct, or where those individuals whose existing interests may be adversely affected by the remedy have not had an opportunity to participate, serious questions arise which must be carefully scrutinized in the courts. Like all classifications which condition governmental behavior upon considerations of race, affirmative remedies for employment discrimination must overcome the stringent presumption in favor of neutrality, which the equal protection clause embodies. To undertake such remedies except in furtherance of the most important of governmental purposes, and without substantial assurance that narrower alternatives would not achieve the goal, is wrong. But what the recent statements in opposition to affirmative action do not consider, in my judgment, is the fundamental importance of eradicating the consequences of discrimination which are so visible throughout our society, and the basic injustice which is done by imposing all the costs of those lingering consequences upon those how have traditionally been the victims.

In this connection, it is especially important to reflect upon the role which affirmative relief plays when embodied in the consent judgments, Last term, in Local 93, International Association of Firefighters v City of Cleveland, the Couth held that Title VII does not preclude the ordering of affirmative race-conscious relief in a consent decree entered in settlement of litigation brought under the Act. 7 Six justices agreed that the scope of remedy available in a consent decree under Title VII is at least as broad as that available in judgment after trial on the merits, and may include provisions for race-conscious relief. In my view, this holding is of great significance, We are all aware of the burden and expense which litigation, of whatever size and complexity, imposes on the litigant, Chief Judge Learned Hand surely did not exaggerate in saying that the citizen and death. 8 Where large-scale employment discrimination litigation is concerned, the effects are many times greater. The availability of broad voluntary remedies affords parties the opportunity to settle their differences without the expense and disruption necessitated by trial on the merits, and allows employers, public and private, to correct injustices without being compelled publicly to defend the indefensible. By encouraging parties to enter into such voluntary relief, the Court’s decision ensures great flexibility in the search for workable solutions to the problem of inequality in America.

And this, finally, I believe will be the most important function of affirmative action. The problem of discrimination and prejudice in America is too deep-rooted and too wide spread to be solved only in the courts, or only through the intervention of federal authority to convince the recalcitrant that justice cannot be indefinitely delayed.

Securing equality requires the attention, the energy, and the sense of justice possessed by all the well-intentioned citizens of this society. They need to be assured that the government, the law, and the courts stand behind their efforts to overcome the harm bequeathed to them by the past. They need to know that encouragement and support, not criticism and prohibition are available from those who are sworn to uphold the law. Courts must offer guidance, to the best of our ability, to the attempts by individuals and institutions to rectify the injustices of the past. We must labor to provide examples of solutions that may work, and approaches that may be tried. If we fail, then we delay or postpone altogether the era in which, for the first time, we may say with firm conviction that we have built a society in keeping with our fundamental belief that all people are created equal.

If any one of you is worried about what I mean by the goal of a democracy such as ours, I have often said, and I repeat here, that the goal of a true democracy such as ours, explained simply, is that any baby born in these United States, even if he is born to the blackest, most illiterate, most unprivileged Negro in Mississippi, is, merely by being born and drawing his first breath in this democracy, endowed with the exact same rights as a child born to a Rockefeller.

Of course it’s not true. Of course it never will be true. But I challenge anybody to tell me that it isn’t the type of goal we should try to get to as fast as we can.

Thank you.

Thurgood Marshall (8/15/87)

 

A TALE OF TWO MEN: THE DIFFERING VIEWS OF DONALD TRUMP AND GREG POPOVICH ON AMERICAN RACIAL MATTERS

I must tell you that I have always shied away from blanket statements that indict an entire race as being monolithic and therefore possessing some draconian view of African-Americans or racial matters. Life has taught me that there is a wide-range of experiences that goes into forming what we believe, what we “know”, and who we become as adults.

The above realizations serve as constant reminders that not only do I as an individual have an opportunity to choose what I will and will not believe, others have the same decisions to make in their lives. It is this reasoning that facilitates my understanding of the irreconcilable positions of President Donald Trump and San Antonio Spur basketball icon Greg Popovich.

I am certain that you have heard Donald Trump’s incoherent ramblings regarding Black History Month. The alluded to moment will go down in history as definitive proof that America’s new President knows absolutely nothing about Black America as he insinuated that the great Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895, was still in the land of the living. Despite the protestations of supporters, the Commander in Chief is indicative of what occurs when privileged Americans exist within a bubble that shields them from the many challenges and issues facing non-elite Americans.

Fortunately for this nation, there is a sizable population of whites whose experiences have led to a much more illuminated understanding of American racial dynamics. San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich has repeatedly proven to possess a quite impressive understanding of American race relations. During a recent interview session, Popovich offered the following words of wisdom regarding America’s most significant social cancer.

But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it {racism}, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with ‘I’m tired of talking about that’ or ‘Do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is, you’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity, it’s not about ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American Dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash.

If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, or a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education — we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.

In many ways, it is astounding that Trump and Popovich were raised in the same nation. However, it is this diversity in thought that provides definitive proof that all is not lost in regards to having honest discussions regarding American race relations or the securing of some level of racial justice. If only we were able to arrange for the development of more Greg Popovich’s the world would be a far more enlightened place.

At least it is something to hope for.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

The Gospel According to Huey P. Newton: Why it is so Easy for Black America to Follow Umar Johnson

There is no doubt that one of the most peculiar developments within the so-called ‘conscious community’ has been the ascension of a host of leaders whose very embodiment betrays the leadership post that they have fought others to claim. Over the past forty years, we’ve witnessed the appearance of a series of charismatic leaders that would have in previous periods of our struggle been summarily dismissed before they ever mounted a stage and pretended to direct the fight for racial uplift.

Beyond using their charisma to captivate an audience via copious amounts of style without any substance, organizing skills, or vision regarding the complex issues hampering Black America, figures such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and most recently Umar Johnson have proven to be “all sizzle, no steak.”

Considering the voluminous vitriolic hatred that I experience each time that I address black leadership, it is evident that there is a large segment of Negroes who have yet to raise their understanding of racial matters to even a pre-school level.

I long ago realized that when addressing the Black community it is not always what or how you say things, rather, our people for some wrong reason are greatly influenced by who is uttering the political analysis and social commentary that they would otherwise ignore. It is for that reason that I reached into my book, Creating Revolution as they Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and grasped the following quote from Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. Maybe those who have issued emotionally-charged criticism of my position on Umar Johnson will listen if the same analysis emanates from the Panther leader.

From my perspective, the only reason that Black America continues to entertain charlatans such as Umar Johnson is that they consider the African-American Freedom Struggle to be little more than a vehicle that should entertain them. Absent sensational language, unrealistic assertions, and slick phraseology, the ‘conscious community’ is not particularly interested in anything being offered; even if the offering is a reasonable blueprint that holds the potential to solve many of the politico-economic issues facing the community today.

After his release from prison, a disappointed Huey P. Newton realized several things about the ‘conscious community’ that are still relevant today. During a speech, the Panther co-founder realized the following about the audience he was addressing.

As I talked, it seemed to me that the people were not really listening or even interested in what I had to say. Almost every sentence was greeted with loud applause, but the audience was more concerned with phrase-mongering than with ideological development…the people were not responding to my ideas, only to an image, and although I was very excited by all the energy and enthusiasm I saw there, I was also disturbed by the lack of serious analytical thought.

Anyone who has spent years studying and seeking to execute the plans that have been laid out by African-American intellectual giants will tell you that during the past forty years the ‘conscious community’ has devolved into a population “more concerned with phrase-mongering than with ideological development.”

Although many will dispute this fact, the core of the ‘conscious community’s current problems emanate from its hostility to intelligence and refusal to engage classic texts whose workable liberation plans lay dormant inside the cover of a book; watching Youtube videos are not a substitute for reading. It is the alluded to pervasive ignorance and conscious decisions to ‘not know,’ let alone formulate and execute a politico-economic plan that explains the rise of figures such as Umar Johnson.

The gaping holes in the logic and understanding of the current ‘conscious community’ that are attributable to their refusal to study classic texts are the pathway to the rise of an “all sizzle, no steak” charismatic leader such as Umar Johnson. Were the ‘conscious community’ less concerned with phraseology and more concerned with developing a real path to liberation, figures such as Umar Johnson would be irrelevant! However, as long as the ‘conscious community’ remains committed to being entertained by slick-talking leaders whose lack of character, self-control, and modesty guarantees boatloads of drama fit for a reality television show, Black America’s problems will worsen by the day.

I wonder how long the ‘conscious community’ will remain unconscious. Quite possibly the greatest barometer of the ‘conscious community’s’ decision to remain subordinate will be the popularity of Umar Johnson.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017