Tag Archives: W.E.B. Du Bois

A New Year’s Resolution Worth Committing To: Black America’s Most Important Step Toward Liberation

Of course, I am neither ignorant of nor arrogant enough to deny the significance of a New Year. This momentous occasion is in many ways an opportunity for each of us to reflect on the path that we have traveled and pledged our commitment to correct what we now consider previous errors or garner some increased understanding of prior motivations, intentions, successes, and failures. The dawning of a New Year is an occasion that must be celebrated as it provides another opportunity to get “it” correct.

Although many African-Americans vigorously resist any insinuation that Race remains the very pivot that their life chances and opportunities rest on, the American historical record denounces their viewpoint. To this very moment, Race, a socially constructed political expedient that has always benefited those who could be comfortably termed the opponents of Black America, remains the ultimate rallying call for whites and the supreme hurdle to persons of African descent. Despite the obvious impact that Race has had on America’s development as THE leading world power, it remains a truth that is never to be raised in the public sphere. Any insinuation that Race remains a major factor in the oppression of African-Americans renders one a voiceless intellectual pariah to be shunned by legitimate scholars and political thinkers. Even black intellectuals seeking to curry favor with white powerbrokers will publicly denounce the pernicious effects of Race on their people.

The feeble denunciations of the impact that Race has on this nation are easily silenced by an American historical record that drips with the blood, sweat, and tears of African-Americans. One of my favored articulations of the means that Americans, regardless of their race/ethnicity, will go to in their ridiculous denouncement of Race in America flows from the pen of W.E.B. DuBois. DuBois penned the following assertion as the opening paragraph of his classic text The Souls of Black Folk.

Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, “How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil?” At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, “How does it feel to be a problem?” I answer seldom a word.

DuBois’ poignant words, written in 1903, prove that Race is not a recent development, it pre-dates the moment that drunk white colonists vowed to “not be the slaves of Britain” in some dark pub in Boston.

It is past time that African-Americans accept that Race is as American as baseball and Apple Pie. Failure to accept this basic reality prevents African-Americans from the basic understanding that Race impacts everything in this nation, including a daunting social order and politico-economic processes designed to extend the subjugation of Black America. Although difficult to accept, the prejudice and discrimination that flows from Race are found in school curriculums and popular culture images and expressed via the dastardly gaze of disapproval that black women shoot at black men that they know nothing about or the fallacious belief that more than a few black men hold that women of any other race/ethnicity make better wives than black women.

Hence, the most important question facing Black America is a relatively simple one of “How do we fight against a powerful system that whose existence hinges on our continued domination and disorganization?”

Let’s be honest about this issue, it is difficult to have a logical and productive argument that refutes a historical record that proves that the path to liberation for recent arrivals to this nation has been Nationalism. One of the most maddening aspects of Black America’s oppression is that the path to immediately ceasing our exploitation has been shared by a series of black leaders/prophets who have repeatedly taught that the only path to liberation is Black Nationalism.

Unfortunately for Black America, the introduction of Black Nationalism causes significant trepidations to arise in the souls of African-Americans. Experience has taught me that very few of our people understand what is meant by Black Nationalism. It is for this reason that we must teach our people that Black Nationalism is actually a very simple and logical concept. Brother Malcolm X termed Black Nationalism in the following manner. “The black man should be in charge of the economics, education, politics, and politicians that represent his community.”

It is the time that we focus our energies educating our people about politico-economic matters that promise extended rewards and benefits. For example, it is imperative that we demystify Nationalism and explain to our people that other groups have shown an amazing discipline in silently executing their nationalist plans. Consider for a moment that most large American cities have a China Town, Little Italy, German Village, Korea Town, and the list goes on and on. These are expressions of Nationalism by groups that understand that there is strength in numbers, meaning they pool and circulate their dollars, educate their own with a relevant education designed to increase their power, and grow their own politicians who do not forget for a single moment who put them into their political position and who holds the power to remove them at a moments notice.

At this moment, I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s poignant book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? for the following reason. We need to start this process of uplifting Black America somewhere.

From my perspective, everything hinges on education. It is only via a relevant education that is designed by those seeking to uplift Black America that we will be able to prevent the future development of African-Americans who have such little understanding of Race and the politico-economic collectivism needed to uplift the community. It is only ignorance regarding substantive politico-economic that explains such populations refusal to realize that white ethnic groups have used these means to uplift their kind while taking an oppositional position to similar efforts within their own community.

We can talk about many things surrounding our people, however, no real viable solutions will be offered, let alone attained, until we decide to illuminate our minds regarding the path we have traveled, the present situation that we are in, and the glorious possibilities for black liberation.

Happy New Year, Y’all. Let’s get busy with a relevant education that allows us to develop concrete plans that once executed will lead to the black man and woman “being in charge of the economics, education, politics, and politicians that represent his community.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2018

“DAMNED IF YOU DO AND DAMNED IF YOU DON’T”: WHY WHITES DISAPPROVAL OF HARVARD’S BLACK COMMENCEMENT IS THE HEIGHT OF INSANITY

I learned long ago that it is of little utility to debate or attempt to reason with people whom a path of unrestrained ignorance paves the way for illogical conclusions regarding racial matters. Such individuals are assuredly the inspiration behind a Mark Twain quote that my colleague Marco Robinson frequently reiterates to me, “Never argue with a fool, they will lower you to their level, and then beat you with experience.”

As a writer whose career revolves around racial matters, I must relate that a reoccurring argument by a segment of historically illiterate whites continues to befuddle me. The alluded to argument is a stern opposition to the creation of independent African-American institutions and traditions; events and entities whose genesis is birthed from whites resistance to providing any access to their groups and traditions. Put simply, if whites who criticize the creation of black institutions and traditions have their way, African-Americans are “damned if they do and damned if they don’t.”

The extended tradition of whites seeking to maintain absolute control of their organizations and traditions serves as one of the primary catalysts behind African-Americans creation of alternative organizations and traditions such as: Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Negro Baseball Leagues, Black beauty pageants, and Fine Arts expressions such as the Wiz.

The above matters not only contextualize, but also reveal many whites feigned interest in racial cooperation and multi-culturalism to be fraudulent. Such issues must be considered when evaluating white cries regarding Harvard University holding a “black commencement” to allow its African-American graduates and their loved one’s a safe space to celebrate this momentous occassion.

Considering Harvard University’s association with American chattel slavery and extended history of institutional racism, it is ironic that whites associated with this vaunted Ivory Tower would have any issue with African-Americans separating themselves from whites at any moment. It is obvious that there is a segment of white America that will never be satisfied with any relationship with blacks. Consider for a moment how ridiculous it is for whites associated with Harvard University to possess the audacity to charge African-Americans, a group that has historically been their favored target for harassment and discrimination, with stoking the fires of racial animosity. The accusation is shameful when contextualized by the reality that Harvard University has rarely welcomed black genius; incredibly, the institution initially denied W.E.B. Du Bois admission.

The juvenile tantrum that whites execute the moment that they hear African-Americans plan on gathering to celebrate academic accomplishments or execute politico-economic programs in their absence, reveals their identity as historically illiterate petulant children afflicted with a Napoleonic complex that fails to lessen their understanding of this nation’s greatest tradition, racial bias.

In many ways, it is ironic that many of those white collegians protesting “black commencement’s” throughout the nation are following in their ancestors greatest tradition, stringently resisting the integration of white institutions and organizations with every fiber of their being. A crucial aspect of this extended tradition is an eagerness to oppose what should be considered a logical response of African-Americans to form their own organizations, ceremonies, and traditions. Apparently, the alluded to whites critical thinking skills are overridden by a blinding rage commonly articulated through comprehensive racial bias.

Although difficult for whites to understand, the decision of African-Americans to congregate and hold their own celebrations such as a “black commencement” has little to do with them. We consider such events a once in a lifetime moment for our community to gather, consider the rocky path that has been traveled, and realize that although the path has been trying at times, we traversed across it. The fact that we wish to do so outside of the presence of those who have taken glee in opposing our progress by constructing obstacles whose only utility was to prevent our achievement is something that angered whites will have to come to terms with on their own. On second thought, the decision to have a “black commencement” has everything to do with white folk and how they have treated our kind.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

WHY WE MUST IMMEDIATELY SHUT DOWN THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE: TRUMP AND HIS ENTIRE CABINET DESPERATELY NEED IT

Dr. Anthony Quinn, also affectionately known as Tony, is undoubtedly one of my closest friends in the entire world. And I will tell you, if there was a poster child for what a man, regardless of Race, should be for his family, he is the gold standard. I consider him the Barack Obama of black fatherhood. Considering his past history, I was most certainly not surprised to hear that he had already purchased tickets to visit the National Museum of African-American History and Culture a full 8 months prior to a planned trip to Washington D.C. He is quite simply that type of fellow, a homey-type of responsible Negro.

So I hope that you can understand that the following request regarding the National Museum of African-American History and Culture has little to do with Tony and everything to do with the safety of the nation. Although I am most certainly not against the Quinn family visiting this historic museum, I am hoping that they and the droves of others who are planning a visit will give great consideration to my request that they delay their visit for at least a full calendar year as the museum needs to be closed to the public for at least that amount of time.

Tony, I love you, however, I hope that you can understand that it is imperative that the National Museum of African-American History and Culture be closed to the public for at least the next year because I am certain that it will take that long to educate the entire Trump administration about the contributions that African-Americans have made to this nation.

I am calling for the use of an American Christian tradition called the “lock-in.” A “lock-in” is when Christians are locked into the church for at least one night so that they can be immersed in the Gospel; the “lock-in” is most certainly beneficial to backsliding Christians.

It is time that the National Museum of African-American History and Culture be put to good use by “locking-in” newly elected President Donald Trump and his entire cabinet. I ask for one thing in association to this “lock-in.” Whoever is entrusted with locking America’s new President inside of the building, I hope that they place the chain outside of the entrance doors to ensure that any attempt to escape much-needed knowledge is aborted. Considering the cast of characters that we are seeking to educate, I think that it is necessary that we not only chain the doors but also have the Fruit of Islam circle the building as an extra security measure to prevent anyone from escaping this much needed educational experience; only the Lord knows the lengths that Trump and his roving band of imbeciles will go to escape enlightenment.

Now I am certain that there are a few of you who consider such actions a waste of taxpayer money. However, I would remind them of the cost of having the nation directed by an ignorant Commander in Chief. Trust me when I say that monetary costs should be the least of our concerns as we are all in peril with Trump and his band of nitwits making crucial decisions that they have little understanding of.

I am quite certain that you are well aware of Trump’s Black History Month gaffe that led him to speak about the venerable Black Abolitionist Frederick Douglass in the present tense as if he were still alive; the Commander in Chief was oblivious to the fact that Douglass died over a century ago in 1895. More recently, the latest addition to Trump’s roving band of idiots, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took to twitter to share words of wisdom by William Edward Burghardt DuBois, the greatest intellectual the American academy has ever created. The Department of Education twitter account shared the following words by the Harvard Intellectual,

“Education must not simply teach work – it must teach life.”

(W.E.B. DeBose)

Yes, you are reading that correctly, they misspelled DuBois’ name. And just when you thought that things could not get any worse for the U.S. Department of Education, they issued the following correction.

Post updated – our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo. — US Dept of Education (@usedgov) February 12, 2017

Unbelievably, during their attempt to issue a correction for a misspelling gaffe involving W.E.B. DuBois, they misspelled apologies with ‘apologizes.’ What a scary world we are living in at this present moment as we are being governed by a President who has no idea that Frederick Douglass died over a century ago and a Secretary of Education who has similar weakness in African-American history that are dwarfed by an inability to either spell or monitor those who are speaking for the government agency she now heads.

On second thought, maybe we should push the pause button on locking Trump and his cabinet inside of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. It appears that we may need to start their enlightenment at a local elementary school, preferably a public school so that Secretary DeVos can add such experience to her barren qualification sheet, which will give them a solid footing in the basics. At least it is a start. And as with all Herculean efforts, we must start somewhere.

May God bless America because she and her citizenry most certainly need it.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017.

They’ve Been Had: How Poor White People Have Been Tricked by the psychic wages of Whiteness Yet Again

Following Donald Trump’s recent Presidential victory, cross-sections of America are bewildered by the ascension of a person that they deem lacking any qualifications could rise to such a powerful position. Most Americans refuse to believe that a wicked cocktail of voter suppression, half-truths, and the repeated use of racially-tinged icons and innuendos that enchanted poor and working-class Americans throughout the nation paved Trump’s path to political power.
Although the factors mentioned above were crucial to Trump’s ascension, I still believe that the new President’s ability to tap into the angst, fear, and hatred of poor and working-class whites is the issue that the most recent Presidential election pivoted on. Put simply; the newly elected President accessed what noted scholar W.E.B. Du Bois termed ‘the psychic wages of whiteness.’
The above term is an apt description of poor and working-class whites propensity to consider themselves superior to other poor and working-class individuals solely based upon their racial classification. The pre-eminence of whiteness in every facet of their politico-economic analysis of not only their own but also other groups status invariably causes them to work against their interests illogically. Historically speaking, whiteness has blinded poor and working-class whites to the very class and worker issues that have extended their status as serfs to an exploitive ruling class.
Rest assured that Trump’s playbook of pandering to a frustrated and vengeful white populace who feels that non-whites have stolen their birthright to rule in a nation that was founded by white men to serve the interests of white men.
As mentioned above, these slick political maneuvers are nothing new. Consider the following moments that definitively display ‘the psychic wages of whiteness.’ It is this preoccupation with whiteness that paved the path for the U.S. Civil War.
One of the most omitted realities surrounding the U.S. Civil War is the fact that poor whites throughout the South foolishly picked up guns to preserve deplorable cultural priorities while wealthy whites made plans to further enrich themselves by not only maintaining but also expanding the chattel slavery system. It was an apparent obsession with whiteness that prevented the vast majority of Confederate soldiers from lessening the slavery system to bolster their economic status. The economic interests of the alluded to white men were severely curtailed by the presence of enslaved Africans.
History provides yet another example of ‘the psychic wages of whiteness’ during the post-Reconstruction era. During the demise of American Reconstruction and the ascension of the Jim Crow era, poor whites aided their wealthy white brethren in disenfranchising what should have been a natural ally, recently emancipated African-Americans. Unfortunately for poor whites, they foolishly worked to denigrate poor blacks by aiding in the extension of a southern culture that sought to re-enslave persons of African descent in every way imaginable.
Although painful to admit, the truth of the matter is that the Trump campaign’s use of not so thinly veiled racial dog whistling in which he has denigrated Muslims, Hispanics, African American’s, and all other minority groups worked. Despite what it says about us as a nation, the truth of the matter is that such race-baiting has worked in the past, apparently collaborated in the present, and promises to be a viable strategy in the future. Until whites can get beyond a preoccupation with whiteness that has repeatedly proven not to be a profitable strategy in regards to uplifting their politico-economic status, there is neither hope for class solidarity throughout this racially/ethnically diverse nation nor the improvement of their status. What a stupid people, poor and working-class whites have proven to be.

Alex Goodwin

W.E.B. Du Bois — A Negro Nation Within a Nation

No MORE CRITICAL SITUATION ever faced the Negroes of America than that of today-not in 1830, nor in 1861, nor in 1867. More than ever the appeal of the Negro for elementary justice falls on deaf ears.

Three-fourths of us are disfranchised; yet no writer on democratic reform, no third-party movement says a word about Negroes. The Bull Moose crusade in 1912 refused to notice them; the La Follette uprising in 1924 was hardly aware of them; the Socialists still keep them in the background. Negro children are systematically denied education; when the National Educational Association asks for federal aid to education it permits discrimination to be perpetuated by the present local authorities. Once or twice a month Negroes convicted of no crime are openly and publicly lynched, and even burned; yet a National Crime Convention is brought to perfunctory and unwilling notice of this only by mass picketing and all but illegal agitation. When a man with every qualification is refused a position simply because his great-grandfather was black, there is not a ripple of comment or protest.

Long before the depression Negroes in the South were losing “Negro” jobs, those assigned them by common custom-poorly paid and largely undesirable toil, but nevertheless life-supporting. New techniques, new enterprises, mass production, impersonal ownership and control have been largely displacing the skilled white and Negro worker in tobacco manufacturing, in iron and steel, in lumbering and mining, and in transportation. Negroes are now restricted more and more to common labor and domestic service of the lowest paid and worst kind. In textile, chemical and other manufactures Negroes were from the first nearly excluded, and just as slavery kept the poor white out of profitable agriculture, so freedom prevents the poor Negro from finding a place in manufacturing. The worldwide decline in agriculture has moreover carried the mass of black farmers, despite heroic endeavor among the few, down to the level of landless tenants and peons.

The World War and its wild aftermath seemed for a moment to open a new door; two million black workers rushed North to work in iron and steel, make automobiles and pack meat, build houses and do the heavy toil in factories. They met first the closed trade union which excluded them from the best paid jobs and pushed them into the low-wage gutter, denied them homes and mobbed them. Then they met the depression.

Since 1929 Negro workers, like white workers, have lost their jobs, have had mortgages foreclosed on their farms and homes, have used up their small savings. But, in the case of the Negro worker, everything has been worse in larger or smaller degree; the loss has been greater and more permanent. Technological displacement, which began before the depression, has been accelerated, while unemployment and falling wages struck black men sooner, went to lower levels and will last longer.

The colored people of America are coming to face the fact quite calmly that most white Americans do not like them, and are planning neither for their survival, nor for their definite future if it involves free, self-assertive modern manhood. This does not mean all Americans. A saving few are worried about the Negro problem; a still larger group are not ill-disposed, but they fear prevailing public opinion. The great mass of Americans are, however, merely representatives of average humanity. They muddle along with their own affairs and scarcely can be expected to take seriously the affairs of strangers or people whom they partly fear and partly despise.

For many years it was the theory of most Negro leaders that this attitude was the insensibility of ignorance and inexperience, that white America did not know of or realize the continuing plight of the Negro.  Accordingly, for the lat two decades, we have striven by book and periodical, by speech and appeal, by various dramatic methods of agitation, to put the essential facts before the American people.  Today there can be no doubt that Americans know the facts; and yet they remain for the most part indifferent and unmoved.

The peculiar position of Negroes in America offers an opportunity.  Negroes today cast probably 2,000,000 votes in a total of 40,000,000 and their vote will increase.  This gives them, particularly in northern cities, and at critical times, a chance to hold a very considerable balance of power and the mere threat of this being used intelligently and with determination may often mean much.  The consuming power of 2,800,000 Negro families has recently been estimated at $166,000,000 a month—a tremendous power when intelligently directed.  Their manpower as laborers probably equals that of Mexico or Yugoslavia.  Their illiteracy is much lower than that of Spain or Italy.  Their estimated per capita wealth about equals that of Japan.

For a nation with this start in culture and efficiency to sit down and await the salvation of a white God is idiotic.  With the use of their political power, their power as consumers, and their brainpower, added to that chance of personal appeal which proximity and neighborhood always give to human to human beings, Negroes can develop in the United States an economic nation within a nation, able to work through inner cooperation to found its own institutions, to educate its genius, and at the same time, without mob violence or extremes of race hatred, to keep in helpful touch and cooperate with the mass of the nation.  This has happened more often than most people realize, in the case of groups not so obviously separated from the mass of people as are American Negroes.  It must happen in our case or there is no hope for the Negro in America.

Any movement toward such a program is today hindered by the absurd Negro philosophy of Scatter, Suppress, Wait, Escape.  There are even many of our educated young leaders who think that because the Negro problem is not in evidence where there are few or no Negroes, this indicates a way out!  They think that the problem of race can be settled by ignoring it and suppressing all reference to it.  They think that we have only to 3wait in silence for the white people to settle the problem for us; and finally and predominantly, they think that the problem of twelve million Negro people, mostly poor, ignorant workers, is going to be settled by having their more educated and wealthy classes gradually and continually escape from their race into the mass of the American people, leaving the rest to sink, suffer and die.

Proponents of this program claim, with much reason, that the plight of the masses is not the fault of the emerging classes.  For the slavery and exploitation that reduced Negroes to their present level or at any rate hindered them from rising, the white world is to blame.  Since the age-long process of raising a group is through the escape of its upper class into welcome fellowship with risen peoples, the Negro intelligentsia would submerge itself if it bent its back to the task of lifting the mass of people.  There is logic in this answer, but futile logic.

If the leading Negro classes cannot assume and bear the uplift of their own proletariat, they are doomed for all time.  It is not a case of ethics; it is a plain case of necessity.  The method by which this may be done is, first, for the American Negro to achieve a new economic solidarity.

It may be said that this matter of a nation within a nation has already been partially accomplished in the organization of the Negro church, the Negro school and the Negro retail business, and despite all the justly due criticism, the result has been astonishing.  The great majority of American Negroes are divided not only for religious but for a large number of social purposes into self-supporting economic units, self-governed, self-directed.  The greatest difficulty is that these organizations have no logical and reasonable standards and do not attract the fines, most vigorous and best educated Negroes.  When all these things are taken into consideration it becomes clearer to more and more American Negroes that, through voluntary and increased segregation, by careful autonomy and planned economic organization, they may build so strong and efficient a unit that twelve million men can no longer be refused fellowship and equality in the United States.

Speech delivered on June 26, 1934. The date that Du Bois resigned from his post with the NAACP.