Tag Archives: The Ohio State University


I am not ashamed to admit that the moment I began what I can only term a glorious path to becoming an African-American studies professor, there was much that I did not understand. The alluded to ignorance was centered on my understanding of the importance of the black educator. However, time and experience illuminated my limited understanding.

From the moment that it became clear that I had the mental acumen and raw intelligence to enter the professorate, I was directed by my mentors — Dr. Paulette Pierce, Dr. William E. Nelson, Dr. James Upton, and Dr. Maurice Shipley — at The Ohio State University that my foremost priority must be to reproduce myself.

While a mere graduate student attempting to navigate myself through an arduous process that traps so many of our best minds, the order that I “reproduce myself” was an impenetrable riddle. The indispensable contributions of time and experience eventually unlocked my mentors’ directive to “reproduce myself.” I now understand that this directive was a indirect way of informing me that my worth as a black educator would be evaluated by the black professionals I created during my career; they would be my legacy.

Although I do not presume to being unbiased in regards to evaluating my success in this regard, however, I will proudly state that a slight glance over my shoulder reveals that I have “recreated myself” several times over. When I consider those that I have instructed over the past two decades, I am pleased to say that I have had a significant hand in developing the next generation of black thinkers and leaders. Ironically, I feel as if it has been this work that guarantees that my voice will never be silenced as the young people that I have instructed not only understand that it is crucial that they speak for those who do not have the means to speak for themselves, but also understand that their foremost job is to “recreate themselves.”

I salute those young people at this moment and hope that they never forget the scripture “to whom much is given, much is required.” Lord knows that Black America needs you at this present moment.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III






One does not have to enter into an in-depth analysis to realize that the average white sports fan can simultaneously cheer for and celebrate black male athletes while remaining indifferent to their well-known struggles in American society. If we learn nothing else from the Colin Kaepernick fiasco, it is that your average white sports fan wants their sports entertainment devoid of political commentary involving racial matters. I am confident that the refrain, “Just play the game, Goddamn it!!!!!!” has dropped off the lips of more than a few sports fanatics.

As a proud alumnus of THE Ohio State University, I am not surprised that the above sentiments represent the viewpoints of a vocal section of BUCKEYE NATION. Verification of this point is offered by my fellow members of BUCKEYE NATION reacting so tersely to a little T-shirt worn by football recruit Tyreke Smith. Mr. Smith, a 6’4” 255 lbs. “can’t miss defensive end prospect” from Cleveland Heights High School arrived at Ohio State’s most recent football camp wearing a T-shirt adorned with a poignant message regarding an omnipresent fear harbored by so many young African-Americans. The alluded to message is a succinct representation of young African-Americans perception of how outsiders, many of them black, consider their presence and worth. The message that has angered significant parts of Buckeye Nation to demand that Head Coach Urban Meyer rescind a scholarship offer to Tyreke Smith reads as follows: “I hope that I don’t get killed for being black today.”

The response to Mr. Smith by a very vocal segment of Buckeye Nation on Ohio State football message boards has been filled with unconscionable condemnation that relates the posters belief that this young man is unworthy of representing THE Ohio State University in any form. When viewed from an emotional position, it is evident that the alluded to fans are offering Smith a quid pro quo arrangement, meaning that if he ceases his attempts to provide commentary on America’s obvious racial problems, they will welcome him into Buckeye Nation with open arms.

To the chagrin of this segment of Buckeye Nation, it appears that Smith has no interest in such a Faustian Deal. According to the Buckeye recruit, “I felt I should wear it because I’m big on the African American culture and know the struggles that our race goes through…Being the individual I am and the spotlight I have, I felt that people would get the message if I wore the shirt.

White sports fans have historically failed to realize that the athletic feats black male athletes perform in sold-out arenas and stadiums are only a minuscule part of their daily existence. In all honesty, playing the game is the easiest part of their day as the sports arena is one of the most race-neutral places in American society; that is if they can be so focused on the game that they do not hear the racial barbs being hurled at them by white fans. The problems begin once they take off their uniform and have to emerge from packed arenas as relatively unknown black males. Even racial apologists such as Charles Barkley and clueless sportswriters such as Jason Whitlock realize that they are only a moment away from a racial incident with either a law enforcement officer, an average white citizen, or a hate-filled fellow black man that could end in lethal violence for reasons that have little to do with them.

When you think about it, the constant trials-and-tribulations of black people in America is a subject that whites of various political leanings and socioeconomic status have little understanding or consideration. It is safe to say that the average white citizen equates the raising of racial bias issues with a routine attempt by blacks to escape personal responsibility for their station in life. And why should whites feel otherwise? Anyone with even a superficial understanding of racial prejudice and institutional racism will tell you that even the most non-racist white person invariably benefits from racism during their daily existence.

So I am neither surprised nor amused by rabid white sports fans ability to check sports websites for information regarding the health status and availability of their favorite black athletes while never relinquishing blasé feelings relating to the fragility of black male lives. The above contradictions are nothing new and will most certainly never disappear in a nation whose midwife was the labor of stolen Africans, and economic might bolstered by King Cotton. Despite our collective hesitation to admit it, that is who we are as a nation.

Unfortunately, I think that young Tyreke Smith is going to learn that in America, Race is a subject “where fools rush in, and Angels fear to tread.” These lessons will be learned regardless of the institution that he chooses to attend because when it comes to racial matters, Martha and the Vandellas said it best, you have “Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide.”


Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Depart from me, I know you not: What African-Americans Should Say to the Undesirables in our Midst

I have learned that it is imperative for my soul that I grasp morsels of wisdom whenever they appear. It is this realization that makes me hold onto the quote “You win with people,” a saying that famed Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes was known to repeat religiously. The above quote was apparently Coach Hayes’ way of stating that the quality of people you surround yourself with is a significant issue that matters.

Truthfully speaking, my adherence to this philosophy has caused me to avoid acquaintances with quite a few people who I realized were not only illogical but also filled with deep character flaws. Although I usually never explain the reasons for our lack of association to such persons, my general unavailability to them eventually informs them of my decision to not be an associate.

Although I have spent my entire adult life studying American racial matters, experience has taught me that close association with persons solely based on their racial identity is a risky proposition. At this moment in my life, it is the character that matters most in my decision to make a new acquaintance, let alone a friend.

It is this realization that makes both the recent attack upon a white mentally disabled man by four Black Chicagoans — Jordan Hill (18), Tesfaye Cooper (18), Brittany Covington (18), and Tanishia Covington (24) — and the reaction from the so-called ‘conscious community’ so unsettling and disappointing.

Cook County Circuit Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil said it best during the initial court appearance for the four individuals mentioned above when she incredulously inquired, “Where was your sense of decency? I find each of you a danger to yourself and society.”

I was saddened to see that a significant portion of the ‘conscious community’ reacted to this offensive action as if it were a justified revenge attack offered in response to prior racial transgressions perpetrated by whites. Those advancing the above ridiculous, immoral emotional reaction fail to realize that if the accused are capable of perpetrating such a heinous crime upon a white man, the Lord only knows the evil that they are capable of committing against their people.

The tendency of some African-Americans to excuse away or silently applaud the criminality among their own will invariably come back to haunt them. It was this principle that led famed rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur to offer the following observation. “The same crime element that white people are scared of black people are scared of. While they waiting for legislation to pass, we next door to the killer. All them killers they let out, they’re in that building. Just because we black, we get along with the killers? What is that? We need protection too.”

It is time that the so-called ‘conscious community’ closes the gaping hole that excuses criminality, immorality, and inexcusable racial bias within their community. Rest assured that the perpetrators of evil are not only residing within our midst but also more than willing to add African-Americans to what is invariably a long list of victims.

I pray that we always remember that “you win with people” and that “there is no right way to do the wrong thing.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Why I Am Not Shocked, but Definitely Saddened by the Recent Occurrences of Racism on THE Ohio State University Campus

If you were to ask any student that I have taught over the past 13 years at Prairie View A & M University, they will tell you ohio-state-universityunequivocally that I am extremely proud to be a four-time graduate of THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY. My experiences at that incredible place are a crucial aspect of who I am at this present moment.

It was on THE Ohio State University campus that I grew from a somewhat reckless young man to a responsible adult male who learned, often via trial-and-error, important life lessons that govern how I view the world and choose to live my life. I am quite simply a ‘Buckeye’.

Considering my close association with THE Ohio State University, I am quite certain that you can understand how disturbing it was to read a communication from a former professor detailing horrific occurrences of prejudiced behavior aimed at “Muslim, Black, Latino, White, LGBT, and Asian students. They have endured threats, physical assault and intimidation, jeers, and a range of indignities. Even in their classrooms.”

The communication went further to relate the following shocking event.

A Black female student was actually called the N word in her class yesterday, and no one–not even the professor–acknowledged it. After expressing a point in class, a White student responded to her by sayingit’s n—ers like you that are the problem in this country.And the professor said nothing.

In light of these horrific incidents, there is a part of me that unconditionally agrees with one frightened student’s statement of “this is not my campus anymore.”

As much as I would like to form a united front with the current students in regards to their collective angst, shock, and bewilderment ohio-state-university-7regarding these terrible things occurring on what many consider the hallowed grounds of THE Ohio State University, to do so would be a partial truth and therefore a lie. I agree with a segment of reasonable people that it is truly tragic that such things have occurred at an institution of higher learning; however, I am neither surprised nor shocked because similar events occurred during my lengthy tenure and association with that beloved campus.

My exposure to racial animus on THE Ohio State University campus began the moment that I moved into Park Hall, my dormitory, when two students were in the throes of a horrific fight behind the white student allegedly calling the African-American student, the ‘N-word’, later that year, someone ripped my best friend’s Black History poster depicting the ‘Final Supper’ of his door and scribbled the ‘N-word’ in the spot that it previously hung, and as a bourgeoning revolutionary majoring in ‘Black Studies’ and American Race relations, I received the ultimate early birthday gift when the L.A. riots occurred April 29, 1992, the day before my birthday.

Although Race was never an ‘unspeakable unspoken’ topic on THE Ohio State University campus, it usually was reserved for private buckeye-football-2moments when you were not before mixed-company at the Frank W. Hale Black Cultural Center. However on the night of April 29th, 1992, the dorm room, and the spaces around it, that I shared with Pete Jirles, my white roommate who is also one of the finest people I met during my collegiate years, became the epicenter for a robust inter-racial no-holds barred discussion over America’s most stubborn social cancer, Race. Many of us fervently attempted to express our feeble understanding of the history and present role of Race on not only the campus, but also the entire nation until we were not only exhausted, but also the sun began peeking over the horizon. Now I am not certain of what we actually solved during that impromptu meeting, however, one thing is for certain, no one involved in that discussion walked on egg shells regarding the issue of Race, the Rodney King verdict, or the L.A. riot for the sparse time that we had left during that ‘quarter’ of study.

That is THE Ohio State University that I remember, a place where students dialogued, discussed, argued, and challenged one another regarding important societal topics, and I seriously hope that it will return once again after the shock and subsequent fury on both sides of the aisle surrounding the recent Presidential election subsides. Make no mistake about it, THE Ohio State University is most certainly not a ‘perfect place’ however, it is ‘a little slice of heaven’ for those flawed individuals who were privileged enough to experience it.

Anyways, ALL OSU alumni know the truth about this magical club that we are most fortunate to belong to, that undeniable truth is that, “there are only two kinds of people in the world, those who are and those who want to be BUCKEYES.”


Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016

O-H — I Don’t Know: The Uncovering of an Unending Rage on one of America’s Leading Collegiate Campuses

A communication that was written by my former professor regarding the happenings upon the campus of my alma mater, The Ohio State University.

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing because I feel very strongly that you need to know about an event that took place on campus. Yesterday evening, nearly 1,000 brutus-buckeyeOSU students gathered at the Hale Center. They were Muslim, Black, Latino, White, LGBT, and Asian students–a beautiful reflection of the diversity and strength of our university.

But they came to the Hale Center because they are afraid. They came because on this campus–a place they once called home–they no longer feel safe. As one student put it, “this is not my campus anymore.” So last night they came together at the Hale Center, where we created a safe place. They shared their testimonies, offered each other encouragement, and made plans to unify and move forward together as a community.

But I moderated last night’s event, and I think you need to know what I heard. Over the past 48 hours, across campus, our students have been subjected to numerous acts of racial, religious, cultural, and homophobic terrorism. They have endured threats, physical assault and intimidation, jeers, and a range of indignities. Even in their classrooms.

As they walk to class, they have been taunted with shouts of “Build the Wall” and “Go back to Mexico.” Muslim women (because their ohio-state-university-4hijabs make them visibly identifiable) have been harassed, threatened, and terrorized on campus buses, in the dorms, and as they walk between their classes. One Muslim woman, en route to class, was surrounded by a group of males and they trapped her in a circle, yelling threats and racial/religious slurs. Another woman said that she hasn’t been going to class at all, because she has been threatened so regularly that she’s afraid to walk around campus. A Black female student was actually called the N word in her class yesterday, and no one–not even the professor–acknowledged it. After expressing a point in class, a White student responded to her by saying “it’s n—ers like you that are the problem in this country.” And the professor said nothing.

These stories are just the tip of the iceberg. I stood in the Hale Center last night and listened to testimonies like these for more than two hours. Student after student bravely stepped up to the microphone and shared their stories.

Yes, there was something beautiful and inspiring about last night. I was overcome with pride and hope, as I watched the students come together to support each other. And equally proud to see how many faculty members came out to stand with them in solidarity. But the truth is, no matter how beautiful that moment was, it never should have happened. Our students should never feel afraid in their “home.” We are at an institution of higher learning where we are supposed to be training the next generation of American citizens, so we can not remain silent in the face of overwhelming bigotry. Most of the students who spoke last night are first-generation college students and students of color. You can not imagine the seemingly insurmountable odds they have overcome to be here in the first place. And now they are terrorized in a place that is supposed to be safe–a place where they have come to seek an education and transform our society.

It is wonderful to issue statements that celebrate diversity and inclusion, but we MUST do more. Right now, in this moment, I can’t claim to have all the answers. But I know we must do more. As buckeye-football-2Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Administrators and faculty MUST come together and take a stand. We have to show the students that we are here for them, that we care, and that OSU has a zero-tolerance policy against bigotry and hatred. We must make clear that we will not allow terrorism and intimidation to rob our students of their safety, security, and well-being. The students need to know that we are with them, and they are not alone. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once reminded us, “The ultimate measure of man (or a woman!) is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

I am calling upon you to take ACTION against hatred and bigotry on campus, and not simply rely on words. Know that when you are ready to do so, I will be standing with you.

In hopes for a better future,

Leslie Alexander Austin