Tag Archives: Sexual Assault

Front and Center: Why Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globe Address Flew over the Heads of the Majority of Women’s Rights Activists

During the mentoring process, one rarely understands why they are being taught certain things. Oftentimes, one could be convinced that their mentor is insane as they seek to prepare you for a “higher purpose” as the next generation of race men/women.

There is no doubt that experience has taught the elders of our community that this next generation of black leaders must be equipped with the ability to inventively ply our craft in uncomfortable arenas. This process extends beyond readings and exposure to lectures. The most poignant way my work as a “race man” was explained to me came from Michael Eric Dyson who asserted, “Jones, when you get up on that stage, at that panel discussion, you have to let all of the ‘Niggas’ out like an exorcism is occurring.” Of course, this was Dyson’s method of reiterating what I learned long before at the foot of many elders; that being, it is imperative that I represent our people at every moment.

By the time I became a Professor of African-American Studies, I fully understood that I must not temper my words and analysis even when those in attendance would certainly consider my words harsh and inappropriate as they realized they were daggers directed at the throat of white supremacy. A worldview that has incubated whites for so long that they no longer recognize its existence.

It is this understanding of how black leadership must behave in front of white powerbrokers that makes me so appreciative of the genius that Oprah Winfrey displayed at the Golden Globes while accepting the Cecil B DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.

In front of a mesmerized audience, Oprah Winfrey offered deafening commentary regarding White America’s muting of the horrific sexual assaults that black women have endured since the Jamestown Colony was established in the early 17th Century. In a style that most black professionals recognized as “a courageous way of addressing powerful white folk when they are in the room,” Winfrey positioned black women in their rightful frontline position as the foremost victims of the historic sexual violence perpetrated by the same white men that white women have loved, comforted, protected, married, and produced children with as they built a life that partially rested on the sexual and economic exploitation of Black America for centuries. Winfrey’s comments were based around the riveting story of a poor black woman named Recy Taylor who was a victim of a rape by six white men who the white community, meaning men and women, hid as they considered the brutal crime to be a non-issue. According to Winfrey,

Recy Taylor died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.

Had the white women in attendance listened closer to Winfrey’s comments they would have discerned what politically astute segments of Black America heard. They would have heard that the fact that the perpetrators of the attack on Recy Taylor were never captured speaks volumes about a white community, a populace that we must remember is majority female, that has never taken definitive action against the rape and lynching of black women. Let’s be clear on this matter, it was no secret within that community regarding who the perpetrators of this or the millions of other sexual assault crimes were. There was a general acceptance among whites that the black women who worked in their homes, fields, or traveled along roads such as the one that Recy Taylor was traveling as she left church on that eventful day were so inconsequential that neither man’s law nor God’s providence covered them.

One must always be on guard for the voluminous impact that emotional moments have on the mind, particularly when it comes to political analysis. The site of so many well-known white actors and actresses standing in public clapping their hands in support of this latest social movement is particularly riveting for those who have been silenced for far too long, unfortunately for those who cherish this moment in time, such a display has no impact on the matter of sexual violence directed at women in general and black women in particular.

The impact of such public displays are so limited that I would suggest that those in attendance should be challenged not with the #MeToo, rather the internal introspective inducing query of #WhereWereYouAndWhatDidYouDo? when you heard your “paw-paw”, “daddy”, “uncles”, “brothers”, “sons”, “husbands”, “fiancées”, and “boyfriend” laugh and banter about the rape of some nameless, faceless, and defenseless black woman. As Malcolm X posited, the black woman is the most disrespected person on the planet. Historically speaking, the black woman’s lack of worth in the eyes of bigoted whites throughout this nation has been cemented by not only her race, but also her gender. My question to those assembled for Winfrey’s poignant commentary is, “Where was that hiding place that you were able to totally hide your new commitment to protecting black women? Or is it merely another occurrence of currying favor from an emotional audience by co-opting the latest faddish social movement?”

I hope that black women are not unduly moved by these recent expressions of female solidarity by white women. The historical record indicates that their only priority is not protecting womanhood, rather securing equality with the white males that they rival ‘by any means necessary.’ Unfortunately for the liberation of black women, the historical record also predicts that they will forget recent betrayals by white women political initiatives and be swept-up with emotions that lead to them yet again abandoning their political interests in favor of helping white women achieve their selfish individualistic goals. In the end, such political naïveté will guarantee that black women will find themselves in the same troubled position that they have always been, meaning cast aside, disregarded, and devoid of a single advocate beyond themselves.

So I applaud Oprah Winfrey for situating the sexual violence perpetrated against black women front-and-center where it should be. However, I am also a historian who understands that the historical record is the best indicator of future behavior and political priorities, hence, I understand that the white women who are at this present moment clapping wildly at Winfrey’s commentary are the descendants of women whose moral compass made it unconscionable to report their “loved ones” for the ghastly attacks on the black women who worked for them, nursed their children, cleaned their homes, and enriched them by applying their labor for a pittance. I pray that black women will finally realize that no one, not even the majority of black men, has their best interests at heart.

Let us not forget that the black women Winfrey speaks of are the very women

(W)ho have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.

These are the women who birthed me, loved me, cared for me, and guided me toward an understanding that I must speak on their behalf at every turn. I just wish that these women would make themselves the center of the universe that they obviously are and not rely on white women to aid them at any moment because that aid is not only unreliable but also only offered as a means to further advance a white agenda that has never been kind to our kind.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

IF ONLY BLACK MEN COULD BECOME WHITE WOMEN, THEIR ALLEGATIONS REGARDING POLICE MISCONDUCT WOULD SURELY BE BELIEVED

One of the more amazing issues revolving around the numerous women who have publicly charged a series of powerful men with diabolical acts of sexual violence is the willingness of a sympathetic public to lean toward believing the shocking, almost incredulous allegations. Although you can most certainly count me in that number that believes the alluded to allegations that reveal the horrors these women have experienced at the hand of powerful men, it is somewhat frightening that such allegations are akin to unflappable evidence that is not to be questioned.

Oh, how I wish that African-American men had it so easy.

Although the above assertion flows from a host of events, at this present moment the recent conviction and sentencing of Michael Slager, a disgraced North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer who a federal judge sentenced to 20 years in prison for a crime committed on April 4, 2015 is most prominently on my mind.

In the alluded to case, Judge David Norton ultimately considered Slager’s shooting of an unarmed fleeing Walter Scott a case of second-degree murder, not a lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter. Evidence presented at the trial proved that Slager fired his weapon 8 times at the fleeing and defenseless Scott, 5 of those salvos entered the victim’s body. During the sentencing, Judge Norton related that his sentencing was partially driven by the fact that Slager obstructed justice by issuing inaccurate statements to fellow law enforcement officers regarding the murder.

One is hard-pressed to find any reasonable defense for Slager whose interactions with the now deceased Scott began with him pulling the victim’s vehicle over for a broken rear brake light. If the threshold for proving one’s case were the same for African-American men as it is for the series of women who have come forth and issued shocking sexual allegations, the killing of Walter Scott would have been an open and shut case. However, as any member of Black America will tell you, things are never that easy when it comes to America and black men. Hence, I was not surprised when those who prosecuted the case related that if there had been no video evidence of the murder, charges would have never been filed against the now disgraced officer.

Unlike the series of women who have emerged and had their allegations of sexual impropriety against powerful men believed prior to verification, the threshold African-Americans in general, black males in particular, must meet when issuing any charges against “law enforcement officers” is unconscionably high. In fact, there have been many occasions where the presence of video footage of officers shooting down an unarmed and defenseless black man failed to meet that threshold.

Although it could be argued that the conviction of Michael Slager for 2nd Degree Murder is a step in the right direction, in actuality this conviction brings neither justice nor solace for Walter Scott’s loved ones. Justice would only begin at the moment that Walter Scott emerges from the grave and Slager takes his place, anything short of that is a far-cry from justice.

Unfortunately for black men, they remain the prey of rogue law enforcement officers and undervalued by an American populace who discount even video evidence regarding the misconduct of law enforcement officers. One would be hard-pressed to find a single African-American man who believes that such maligning and mistrust of the American public regarding black men is a fixture of this nation that has no expiration date. That’s just the way that it is in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

#Me Too: Why Has Black America Remained Silent About the Sexual Predators in their Midst?

I am quite confident that if you speak with an African-American man, they will tell you that at some point in their life they have had a private exchange with a black woman that forever changed their soul. We never publicly speak of this secret moment for reasons of delicacy and respect. However, the alluded to exchange remains so prominent in our heart and soul that it often causes us to stare at the man in the mirror as we wonder what demons hide in the hearts of men.

Most devastating to the black men who have had this deep conversation is that it usually occurs with someone that we love, cherish, and trust: a lover, our wife, a family member, or our best female friend. The topic that I am alluding to is the far too frequent occurrence of rape or sexual assault of African-American women at the hand of some black man that is far from a stranger.

When I think back over the relationships that I have had with African-American women, I now realize that at some point in our engagement the vast majority of them confided in me that at some point in their lives that they had been harassed, sexually assaulted, or even brutally raped. Unfortunately, the only commonalities in their stories were that they all knew their attackers and not a single one of them was ever convicted of their crimes. Each of these women decided at some point to either not report the crime or end their engagement with an unresponsive criminal justice system. Most revealed that they refused to go through the same charade that their mothers, aunts, and girlfriends experienced after similar assaults.

As an African-American male, I find it a strange phenomenon that there is a segment of black men who have decided to prey on African-American girls and women in a manner that conveys a deep and unending hatred. In fact, the commentaries and viewpoints of so many black males are so standard that I am no longer shocked to hear their tales of sexual conquest, not to mention financial exploitation, of apparently naïve African-American women whose educational attainments and financial resources vary widely. Truthfully, there was a time when I thought that such viewpoints were a sign of ignorance, small-minds, and an absence of loyalty to the Race. Those days are gone as experience has taught me that individuals holding draconian beliefs about black women are found even within the African-American Freedom Struggle.

I find it to be peculiar that black males can pledge their loyalty to “the liberation and salvation of the black nation” while operating from a “physical might equals right” ethos in regards to their dealings with black women. The referenced individuals have somehow found space to publicly pledge their allegiance to the Race while operating out of a highly-flawed manhood construct. Rarely is it discussed that the alluded to manhood constructs are white male patriarchy in blackface.

The sexual exploitation and rape of black women within the activist community is nothing new if we believe the shocking commentary of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). Carmichael answered a question regarding the role of black women in the African-American freedom struggle as being “prone.” Carmichael’s quip translates into the role of black women in the movement is on their backs with their legs open. Even the Black Panther Party (BPP), the Vanguard organization of sixties protest politics, had so many problems with Panther “brothers” attempting to exploit Panther “sisters” that BPP leadership expelled members for the offenses.

I long ago decided that I would do my best to remain on the right side of events, even if it meant me taking a stance against the actions, activities, and intentions of African-American men. It is this commitment to righteousness that spurs my rejection of the perverse forms of toxic manhood that I see so many of my contemporaries and students using as their moral compass.

Although rarely discussed in public spaces, flawed manhood constructs are as damaging to black men as the pernicious and publicly discussed evils of bigotry, discrimination, and institutional racism. In many ways, faulty manhood constructs that mandate black males assume personas of hyper-aggression, irresponsible sexual lifestyles, and pervasive social responsibility is the final nail in the coffin in regards to their maturation.

Unfortunately for Black America, until black males are socialized into appropriate forms of black manhood, none of the women in our community are safe from sexual assault or rape. Not your mother, aunt, sister, or daughter. None are safe!!!!!!

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

 

What if She Were a Black Woman?: What the Nate Parker Sexual Assault Issue Tells Us About Such Matters in the African-American Community

In a nation that is understandably obsessed with race matters, it is a EMMETT TILLforgone conclusion that race matters. Considering the ever-present nature of American racial matters, I am never surprised when the haunting specter of race that dogged Thomas Jefferson, Gabriel Prosser, Abraham Lincoln, David Walker, and Frederick Douglass appears to remind us of who we really are as Americans.

The latest appearance of a race matter surrounds filmmaker Nate Parker who has achieved wide acclaim for his yet to be released film The Birth of a Nation. Make no mistake about it, Parker and his film’s emergence is a timely rebuttal to the lily-white Oscar ceremonies. According to industry insiders, The Birth of a Nation was perfectly positioned to inject unprecedented amounts of color to this year’s Academy Award season.

Unfortunately for this impressive young filmmaker and to the disappointment of an impressive cadre of supporters that includes filmmaker Spike Lee and media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Nate Parker, and by extension The Birth of a Nation, has found himself ensnared in a most unfortunate scandal that dates back to his time as an undergraduate student at Penn State University.

I am certain that you have heard of the rape trial involving Nate Parker and the co-writer of The Birth of a Nation, Jean McGianni Celestin. Parker was acquitted of the charges, while Celestin, Parker’s collegiate roommate, was initially convicted of the charge; he would eventually be exonerated of the charge in future court proceedings. It is this significant blight in Parker’s past that has risen to eclipse what many thought was a blindingly bright future.

Now I am most certainly not interested in rehashing the sordid details of the case, trust me when I say that such information is readily available in other places as Parker’s past dealings with a white female have led to his aforementioned glorious future being continually raked over coals that threaten to make him a social pariah.

This matter has unintentionally raised a very interesting question that I posed to several African-American females of ‘What if the female who issued the scandalous allegations against Mr. Parker had been an African-American female?’

Prior to diving into this most delicate issue, I must issue a few disclaimers: (A) despite the pervasive racial prejudice and gender Black Woman4bias that I have encountered as an African-American male, I still believe that Malcolm X’s piercing observation that “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman” is the Gospel, (B) I am operating from a platform that realizes that the vast majority of African-American women that I am related to, have dated, or consider friends have been sexually assaulted or raped by some African-American male that they personally knew, (C) not a single one of the aforementioned crimes, and yes they were crimes, ever went to trial.

The resurfacing of this charge against Nate Parker and the failure of any of the aforementioned crimes to make it past a superficial investigation period reminds me of the context surrounding the lynching of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Civil Rights workers knew very well that their activities were extremely dangerous because it was not particularly startling when one of their comrades disappeared under dubious circumstances and was never heard from again. SNCC activists, particularly the African-Americans within the organization, understood the harsh, yet irrefutable reality that if they were abducted, there would not be a law enforcement driven search to save them while they were in the land of the living or even to discover their dead corpse.

This point was driven home when three SNCC workers, two of whom were not Black, disappeared and J. Edgar Hoover sent Federal Bureau of Investigation agents into Mississippi to find them. It was obvious to all, the search for what most understood were dead bodies was aimed at finding the corpses of Schwerner and Goodman, not their Black counterpart James Earl Chaney.

This public outcry against Nate Parker, who was once again found not guilty of the allegations, reeks of similar priorities that place Nate Paker 3more value upon some lives other than others. When I posed this question of would things be different regarding Mr. Parker if the person issuing the allegation were an African-American woman to a group of Black women, the response was fast and furious.

One sister related, “First of all, this matter would not even be being discussed by persons outside of her inner-circle because they would be the only one’s who even knew about it. The vast majority of Black women have learned to protect Black men regardless of what they do to us behind closed doors and if she did call the authorities, they would have swiftly explained to her that she caused this, especially when it came to light that she had engaged in a sexual act with him the previous night. Shoot, she would have been called a hoe and possibly charged with making a false police report.”

I was not surprised when these sentiments were seconded by a sister who stated, “C’mon, we all know how the game goes. Justice is not blind. As soon as they see that you are a Black woman, all of the biases and prejudices they hold in their minds, you know, the shit that they never say in front of ‘mixed-company’, rushes to the forefront of their mind and before you know it, if you’re not being directly blamed for what happened to you, the insinuation is there and I don’t care who you are telling your story to. Hell, my family even blamed me for what happened to me when I finally shared it with them.”

Make no mistake about it, the issue situated at the core of this matter is the reality that so many African-American males hold on to flawed manhood constructs that inexplicably encourages them to measure their masculinity, if not their very humanity, by their sexual escapades and conquests.

Unfortunately for African-American women, they are the primary targets of what for many Black men is an indomitable and unquenchable sexual predatory behavior. Shamefully such behavior is emanating from the very men who have historically been assigned the task of protecting Black women. Although it is rarely mentioned, African-American men have often absconded from their role as protector and effortlessly transformed into the very sexual predators that they were expected to fend off. Predictably, each of the ladies in the group that I spoke to not only knew their assailant, but also found themselves in their presence after the incident.

One stunningly beautiful sister related that the manner in which this decades old issue involving Nate Parker’s sexual tryst has placed Black women. “When you really think about what all of this means, Black Womanas a Black woman you are left with an all too familiar feeling of being compelled to defend a brother against an attack from whites. We are expected to defend Nate Parker out of racial solidarity, however, no one, and I do mean no one, comes to defend us from the very wolves that Nate Parker himself represents in our midst. And I dare anyone to deny the fact that Black men only view Black women through a racial lens when they need protecting, at all other moments we are nothing more than prey that they hunt. So to answer your original question, ‘What difference would it make if the female was Black?’

I don’t think, no I know, that we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because the victim, regardless of her education, social class, or age, would be considered little more than some Black hoe that was out in the streets doing the wrong thing and some ‘brother’ gave her what she desperately desired. I am absolutely certain of that much.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016

Football Success Superseding Female Safety: Actions That Need to Be Taken To End the corrosive culture in Baylor Football

With the college football season fast approaching, the highly  ranked Baylor Bear football team, known for their high flying passing attack,  has hopes of claiming their first National Championship in school history. But currently Baylor, the worlds  largest Baptist university   has far more pressing issues than succeeding on the gridiron. The university is facing a Title IX lawsuit from a woman who was assaulted by Baylor football star Tevin Elliot. The suit asserts that the university was aware Elliott had a history of assaults, failed to protect her and other women, and ignored her when she sought help after her assault. Further investigation into the Baylor football program has revealed that coaches were aware of other incidents involving domestic violence, assault, and sexual assault and athletes did not face any negative repercussions in any manner. Since 2009, three Baylor football players have been convicted or charged with sexual violence charges involving women, and several more have been accused of sexual misconduct, that the university did not properly investigate, or investigate at all.The following are a  just a few examples  of these incidents.

  • Former Bear Defensive End Tevin Elliot was sentenced to two decades in prison in after being found guilty of raping a Baylor female athlete. At the time of his conviction there were at least 4 sexual assault allegations against Elliot that Head Coach Art Briles and the University were cognizant of that were not properly investigated by the University. Elliot was not kicked off the team until his indictment in 2012, more than 3 years after his first assault. Elliott’s victims were not offered support, counseling and other accommodations which  are  required under Federal Title IX guidelines, when victims requested such assistance .
  • Sam Ukwuachu was charged with raping a Baylor female soccer player in October of 2013. Sexual assault charges were filed against him in the summer of 2014. However, Ukwuachu, an accused rapist awaiting trial  was allowed to participate in team activities, continue his academic studies, and was not disciplined in any capacity by the university. Prior to his  conviction in August of 2015 , Baylor  did not even acknowledge that an  investigation into the serious  allegations had occurred.
  • In April of 2013,a sexual assault claim was made against All-Big 12 tight end Tre’von Armstead and reserve linebacker  Myke Chatman. Sexual assault allegations, by law are required to be investigated by universities in a timely manner.Baylor University officials did not open an investigation into the matter  until September of 2015.
  • In 2014, a female Baylor student alleged she was physically assaulted by Bears running back Devin Chafin on multiple occasions in which he pulled her hair, grabbed her by the throat and kicked her. Head coach Art Briles,president Kenneth Starr and the team chaplain were made aware of the allegations levied against Chafin. Chafin faced no punishment and played in 9 contests  during the 2014 campaign .

These allegations concerning  Baylor’s  brazen indifference towards the protection of their female students , is put simply, disturbing. It is of vital importance that  serious action must be taken to end this Baylor 1despicable culture that is currently permeating Baylor University  . I am of the opinion that the only way that can be achieved  is to relieve president University President Kenneth Starr and  Head Coach Art Briles of their duties. Secondly, I propose that there be a further, comprehensive  investigation into the entire  Baylor Bears  athletic  program.

Before the corrosive culture of Baylor University football  can be altered, those in power, namely Head Coach Art Briles and university President Kenneth Starr must be removed immediately. Since 2007 when Art Briles became head coach of the Baylor football team, the team has reversed its fortunes on the gridiron tenfold, and made millions of dollars in revenue as a result .  The Bears have  been the victor in more than 60 percent of their games and risen steadily from the doldrums of college football mediocrity and emerged as a national powerhouse after Briles arrived in Waco. The question that should be posed is at what cost has this occurred? Apparently, from the perspective of Art Briles and President Kenneth Starr, the expense has been slight; the bill is merely doing a drastic disservice to the female graduate and undergraduate students on their campus that are victims to repulsive acts of violence committed by their athletes. For these University administrators to be made aware of myriad sickening, ungovernable behaviors being conducted by Baylor football players and making no distinguishable effort to impose serious  discipline or remove the responsible individuals from the university is put simply, despicable. From the vantage point of Briles and Starr it is readily obvious that athletic success supersedes the safety and security and well-being  of their female students. And for these individuals to essentially view  women as collateral damage in their quest to collect championship trophies,both Kenneth Starr and Art Briles should be removed from their positions, effective immediately.

While those in the administrative positions should be removed, an additional pivotal step must be taken . A thorough independent investigation must be conducted in an effort to uncover  other potential criminal activity committed by members of other  BaylorArt Briles 1 Bear athletic programs. As the above paragraphs illustrate, Baylor University has treated  issues as serious as domestic violence and sexual assault with extreme indifference. If university administrators have been willing to overlook these serious matters involving football players in an effort to add more victories to the win column  , in essence, a complete culture of lawlessness has been enabled, endorsed, and encouraged. An inquiry into all 17 of Baylor’s varsity sports is crucial to determine if other student athletes are engaging in criminal activity;and if so are these individuals  being called to the carpet for their actions. If  an there is a complete systemic culture of illicit behavior running rampant throughout the entire Baylor athletic program, more swift  actions will be necessary.

In the end it is abundantly clear that Baylor University has cultivated and environment  that has enabled its football players to not be held responsible for their disgraceful deeds towards women. The behaviors of Shawn Oakman,Tevin Elliot, Myke Chapman, Devin Chafin, and a scores  of others has been permitted by Art Briles, Kenneth Starr and others in power in a quest to win games and benefit economically.  at the expense of the safety of the students on campus. It is imperative that wholesale changes and further investigation be conducted  at the university to ensure anyone committing  nauseating acts of violence are held responsible. If not, I am of the opinion that Baylor university should alter the universities   motto from “For Church,For Texas” to “For Football, For Money”.

Alexander Goodwin

#ManhoodRaceCulture