Uh, and we ain’t get exploited
White man ain’t feared so he did not destroy it
We ain’t work for free, see they had to employ it
Built it up together so we equally appointed
First 400 years, see we actually enjoyed it
Constitution written by the W.E.B. Du Bois
Were no reconstructions, Civil War got avoided
Little black Sambo grows up to be a lawyer
Extra extra on the news stands
Black woman voted head of Ku Klux Klan
Malcolm Little dies as a old man
Martin Luther King read the eulogy for him
Followed by Bill O’Reilly who read from the Quran
President Bush sends condolences from Iran
Where FOX News reports live
That Ahmadinejad wins Mandela peace prize
Uh, and it ain’t no projects
Keepin it real is not an understood concept
Yea, complexion’s not a contest
Cause racism has no context
Hip hop ain’t got a section called conscious
Everybody rappin’ like crack never happened
Crips never occurred no Bloods to attack them
Matter of fact no hood to attack in
Somalia is a great place to relax in
Fred Astaire was the first to do a backspin
The Rat Pack was cool group of black men
That inspired five white guys called The Jacksons
Eminem fitted in but then again he inspired a black rapper tryin to mimic him
And that’s what really rose up out of Michigan, the sign of white rapper by the name of 50 Cent, ha!
Uh, and I know it’s just a fantasy
I cordially invite you to ask why can’t it be?
Now we can do nothing bout the past
But we can do something about the future that we have
We can make fast or we can make it last
Every woman Queenin’ and every man a Kingin’
When those color lines come we can’t see between
We just close our eyes ’til it’s all black every-THING!
All Black Everything is a song by Lupe Fiasco on his Lasers album.
Its ok to wonder, right?
“Jim Crow laws also soon appeared, starting with the railroads. The Saluda newspaper felt they were an urgent necessity. “Give the negro justice, but for decency’s sake protect delicately constituted white ladies from contamination by being thrown in company with an inferior race,” it said. “Keep the air of our palace cars … from being polluted by the odor africanus– an element inseparable from the negro’s presence.”
People find it surprising when I tell them I’ve never dated a white woman. And besides that one road trip, I’ve never seen a white woman naked; but we all know that if it doesn’t happen in the state you live in then it doesn’t count. When I break it down to them they start to get a clearer picture into how this came to be. Allow me to set the backdrop.
I grew up in a predominantly black inner city neighborhood. My high school was approximately 95% African-American. I attended a HBCU for my undergraduate as well as my graduate training so its safe to say that its not as if I’ve been exposed to even a bushel of Anglo-Saxon women. That being said getting on an elevator at work and watching a woman clutch her purse tighter, even though I have an ID badge that clearly says Dr. Tunde A___________, bothers me. I don’t have experience working with other races this closely.
Even if I were interested in White women my conscious wouldn’t allow me to pursue one. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a fan of history, all history but mainly African/African-American history so allow me to give you a history lesson.
The quote at the beginning of this post is taken from a county newspaper in South Carolina in the mid 1890s. The use of violence to end Reconstruction in the South and the eventual implementation of Jim Crow in its place was the result of two needs of Whites during that era.
- The need for white men re-establish supremacy over what they considered an inferior race.
- To protect the innocence and chastity of white women everywhere.
In regards to the second reason, white men viewed black men as sex crazed beasts that were incapable of controlling their sexual urges. Never mind the fact that the number of black men who raped white women during slavery (probably close to zero) paled in comparison to the number of white men who raped black women slaves; delicate white women had to be saved from black savages. Because you know God-forbid mixed children be born out of that union.
Imagine the fear of White fathers during the modern Civil Rights era that had to imagine their white daughters sitting in class next to black boys. I imagine that if public schools were integrated with only Black girls and not boys the opposition might not have been so great. There would have still been opposition. Embracing an ideal of racism and domination doesn’t readily allow one to distinguish between a subset (man or woman) of a group you feel superior to.
Knowing what I know about how black men were viewed, especially when it came to white woman I can take two courses of action when it comes to them. Choose to spit in the face of age-old fears and contempt from white men at the thought of black men with white women or realize that despite everything we’ve been through I still prefer Black women to all others. I’m going with the latter.
We’ve all heard the statistics about Black males and education. According to the 2005 US Census Bureau less than 8 percent of Black men graduated from college. This number is less than twice the number of white men (17.3%) and four times less the rate of Asian men (34.7%). We’ve also been beat over the head repeatedly with the statistics involving Black men and prison. The same census had 10.1 percent of Black men between the ages of 18-29 in prison while the numbers for Whites (1.5%) and Hispanics (3.6%) are far less. Do I believe that social conditioning and arbitrary laws that target young Black males play a role in the stark contrast of these statistics? Absolutely. Do I believe that personal accountability has to play a role as well? Most certainly. This is not the point of today’s post.
I want to discuss what happens to a subset of Black men when they are incarcerated. They end up exactly where society tells them they would arrive since they were young. They could easily accept their lives as a complete failure and relegate themselves to behave as animals that they are chained and caged. For a portion of Black men when faced with the harsh reality of being imprisoned they become enlightened. It would be hard to imagine that would happen considering that the behavior that landed them in prison is the type of behavior which lacks abstract and critical thinking skills.
I think the most famous case would be Stanley Tookie Williams, the founder of the Crips street gang. Williams was sentenced to the death penalty after being convicted of robbing and murdering four people. While on death row Williams wrote children books that were aimed at keeping children out of gangs. He was eventually nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. It doesn’t negate the fact that he committed heinous crimes but one can’t help but imagine what Williams could have been if someone stopped his path towards self-destruction. If someone cultured the capacity to learn and free their mind from mental and cultural slavery. There are many Tookie Williams in almost every prison across the country.
On the another note you have Eddie Ellis who spent 25 years in prison, during which he earned a bachelor’s degree from Marist College and a master’s degree from the New York Theological Seminary. Today he is president of the Community Justice Center in Harlem, which helps ex-offenders find jobs and housing. Imagine how many more people he could have helped if he didn’t spend 25 years behind bars.
Outside of obtaining degrees and improving themselves intellectually a lot of Black men who enter prison embrace Islam. I don’t know the individual reasons for inmates who choose to become Muslim but if I had to guess I would would go with the implementation of discipline, Black nationalism and forethought might be amongst the top reasons. I’m not Muslim but I do respect the discipline that it takes to follow that faith. There are many reasons why a lot of inmates choose to embrace Islam versus Christianity but I won’t go into those reasons today (saving that for a different post).
The circumstances in which these men end up in prison does not make them animals incapable of critical thought nor does it relegate them to men who are incapable of improving themselves. If only these men had found the encouragement and inclination to improve themselves before they seemingly threw their lives away perhaps the statistics of black men in prison wouldn’t be as distorted.
***Amendment: This excerpt is from ‘The Great Dictator’ (1940)- Charlie Chaplin***
I caught a video on tumblr. It seemed particularly old. A general giving a motivational speech to his soldiers. It really touched me and I couldn’t stop thinking about a few quotes that I think can apply today. If anyone knows where the following excerpt came from please let me know in the comments.
I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business.
I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I shall like to help everyone if possible. Jew, Gentile, Black man, White. We all want to help one another; human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there’s room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful but we have lost the way…
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goosestepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities life will be violent and all will be lost. The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood, for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of disparaging men, women and children.
Victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. For those who can hear me I say, “Do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”
Soldiers don’t give yourself to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you, who regulate your lives. Tell you what to do, what to think, what to feel. Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men! Machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate. Only the unloved hate; the unloved and unnatural. Soldiers, don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.
In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written “The kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men but all men. In you, you the people have the power. The power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world. A decent world that will give men a chance to work. That will give you a future and old age security. By the promise of these things brutes have risen to power but they lie, they do not fulfill that promise; they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world. To do away with national barriers. To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Soldiers in the name of democracy let us all unite.
Truth is the new hate speech.
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell
***Disclaimer- If you click on the pictures they should enlarge.***
Yesterday I published a post entitled “Black Male Cool” where I discussed the meaning of cool in black culture and more specifically to black males. I usually publish my posts sometime between 11pm-midnight EST before I go to bed, post the link on twitte/facebook and then call it a night. The next day I may strategically post more links to the blog so I can potentially get as many people to read as possible. I also appreciate everyone who reads the blog and share. What I don’t appreciate is when people take my thoughts and attempt to pass them off as their own. Below is a screen capture of my post.
When I woke up this morning after taking extra time to warm up after my cold shower (my hot water wasn’t working) I checked my facebook page and I saw that I had been mentioned in a comment by my friend Veronica. I decided to log onto facebook and see what she was talking about. Below is the note in which she commented on and subsequently mentioned me.
Notice anything familiar? I had to read it a couple of times. In my mind I kept saying maybe he’ll mention me at the end and give me credit. No credit is given anywhere in the note. That’s what’s hot in the streets? Stealing entire posts, word for word. Before I got to upset I decided to check the comments since thats what brought me to this foolishness in the first place.
Now my name isn’t mentioned until the 3rd and 4th comment on the note by my friend. After he already took credit for the thoughts behind the “his” post (2nd comment). His reply when she suggested he should follow my blog: “I probably should…… I probably should write my own too just so folks know I’m not as simple as I may look” and also “I think I shared his link on my wall too and thanks lady….oh be good too. QQ” Now it may look like he linked me but after further investigation (I went to his main page) I saw this:
Status updates on facebook are listed in reverse chronological order which means he copied and pasted my blog post, took credit for it, got called out then went back and linked my post in a completely different status update. People have been telling me all day that you haven’t really made it as a blogger until you’ve been plagiarized. If that’s what making it as a blogger is then I’m content with just sharing my thoughts amongst those who actually enjoy reading it. This blogger life is not for me. I see you though Christopher Jacobs.
I think I may have to add copyright infringement warnings to my blog. I hate that it had to come to this.
Once upon a time black male “cool” was defined by the ways in which black men confronted the hardships of life without allowing their spirits to be ravaged. They took the pain of it and used it alchemically to turn the pain into gold. That burning process required high heat. Black male cool was defined by the ability to withstand the heat and remain centered. It was defined by black male willingness to confront reality, to face the truth, and bear it not by adopting a false pose of cool while feeding into fantasy; not by black male denial or by assuming a “poor me” victim identity. It was defined by individual black males daring to self-define rather than be defined by others.
The above paragraph is a quote from Bell Hooks’ We Real Cool. The last chapter of the book does an excellent job at wrapping up some of the issues with the black male psyche and what we (as a whole) refer to it as cool. If you’ve been reading this blog lately you might have noticed I’ve broached certain subjects about black masculinity, black america and things I feel black people need to do more of. This is because I’m really getting tired of the things I see on a day to day basis.
The idolization of drug culture, rappers, athletes have for too long been at the forefront of black male thought. Besides the drug culture there is nothing wrong with aspiring to be a rapper or an athlete but everyone can’t be one. The odds of making it to the NBA/NFL are very slim and the odds of making it as a successful rapper are even slimmer. The work ethic combined with skill it takes to make it in either field is nothing short of considerable. A lot of black youth (read: not all) are attracted to the allure of big money and don’t think about the work (or sometimes not) that it takes to get where they are.
What happened to admiring respectable careers? What happened to reaching a certain station in life by working hard? Everything can’t come easy. If it did then everyone would have it.
Dissecting hip-hop it seems that it has no transformative power, no ability to intervene on politics of domination and turn the real lives of black men around. It offers black males very little spiritual nourishment. Hip hop has a sense of false bravado. Its counterfeit. I listen to hip-hop but lately I’ve found myself shying away from a lot of it. Especially those artists with negative connotations. Maybe I’m just getting old. But something tells me being older doesn’t have anything to do with wanting people who have an influence in black culture to be more socially responsible.
I wish we could get back to defining cool by not how much money you have or what clothes you wear. Why isn’t cool exemplified by being a man of integrity? I wish cool was still characterized by the content of a man’s character. I wish cool was still represented by intelligence. Until we can get back to that I’ll be whatever the opposite of cool is.