Black People

Define Yourself, Redefine the World: A Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men: A Review

The Black Man Can Journal

Define Yourself, Redefine the World: A Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men (2012), penned by Brandon Frame of The Black Man Can, is a powerful journal specifically designed for Black boys and men to engage in critical thought and reflection.  In the 284 pages of the journal, Black boys and men have an opportunity to create a vision and plan for ameliorating their own lives in their own language.  Never has there been a personal journal produced solely for Black boys and men.  Through this journal, they are provided with space to express their thoughts on a range of issues and respond to essential questions.  Powerful quotations from accomplished Black men have been carefully selected and masterfully deployed by Brandon Frame to inspire critical thought.

An extensive body of empirical research has evinced that Black male students throughout the educational pipeline academically underperform all students.  In the face of this reality, tools must be available to militate against the factors that contribute to Black male academic underachievement.  Define Yourself, Redefine the World: A Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men is one of those innovative and valuable resources we need to help Black boys and men to progress academically, professionally, socially and personally.  The issues and questions they will confront in the journal offer them opportunities to face what they must do to make a significant change in their lives.

Too many Black boys and men are allowed to read and internalize negative narratives about themselves—primarily verbal and written narratives from Whites who do not wish them well.  Harper (2009) contends that Black males must have the opportunity to tell their own narratives in their own voices to offer meaningful and necessary counternarratives to the dominant extant narratives about them—the dominant narratives about them are mostly untrue, demeaning, and racist.  Through this journal, Frame empowers Black males with opportunities to write their counternarratives.

A growing body of professional literature demonstrates that mentoring Black male students leads to higher academic achievement and motivation.  Frame’s journal equips those who mentor with a resource that can be used to aid them in the process of transforming the lives of Black male students.  For those who mentor Black men, it gives them a tool to facilitate proper guidance and support.

Black fathers and sons now have a serious means through which to share and learn from one another.  I envision this journal helping to form Black male virtual and non-virtual communities and spaces where important ideas, challenges, problems, and solutions are discussed, shared, envisaged and implemented.  Additionally, I can see multifarious conferences and think tanks developing from those who read and use this journal.

I highly recommend this journal.  It can be purchased here: Purchase the Journal Here.  For only $15.00, you could save your own life and/or the life of a Black boy or man by buying this journal.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

De-romanticizing the Black Barbershop in the 21st Century

Ever since the Black barbershop’s provenance, there has been this pervasive thought that it is a utopian space where all types of liberating discourses take place. The Black barbershop has been widely thought of as a space where Black men “keep it real.” Black-owned barbershops date back as early as 1854 in America (see http://www.chopitupbarbershop.com/html/first-black-owned-barbershops-d5.html), and they have been spaces where men have discussed serious topics and have organized and strategized for substantive change in this country, especially during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.  For this piece, I limit the focus on the Black barbershop to its 21st century epoch, the epoch we currently reside in, of course.  From the outset, I want to admit that my direct experience with Black barbershops is primarily limited to those in the American South and Midwest.  The Black barbershop has certainly lost much of the utopian, liberating, and subversive energies that it once had during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.

While I’m not arguing that the Black barbershop has completely lost all of these aforementioned energies, I am contending that the Black barbershop is not as powerful of a space as it was during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Our nostalgia for Black barbershops during those aforementioned movements is conspicuous in how we perceive and discuss Black barbershops. The purpose of this article is to complicate and extend the discourse about the 21st century Black barbershop.

Performativity in the Black Barbershop

While Black men in the barbershop showed serious signs during the 1960s – 1970s of “keeping it real,” this past site of “keeping it real” has largely morphed into a space of performance. In many Black barbershops I’ve visited, many of the Black men in them have traded in the revolutionary spirit of Black men in the 1960s and 1970s for a “cool pose.” Majors and Billson (1992) assert that the idea of “cool pose” is a stress coping strategy that is employed by Black males that features hypermasculine behavior to help them to be able to bear the multifarious barriers and pressures an oppressive, racist, and discriminatory America present them. While the Black barbershop was once a place where Black men were highly focused on talking about subversive ways to resist oppression and discrimination, many of them are now competing with one another in this space to prove who has had sex with the most women.

In many Black barbershops, women are being heavily reified by many Black men to gain the approval of the “audience” in the barbershop.  The Black barbershop is a space where you can witness how important performing hypermasculinity is. Before many Black men leave the barbershop, they want it to be clear that they are the biggest “pimps” in the whole barbershop. When observing many of them, you can tell how much they are laboring to manufacture false narratives about the number of women they have had sexual intercourse with and how many they currently have on their shoulders. The feeling of the need to perform in this way is vital to comprehend because it makes the barbershop a space that is sexist and demeaning to women, especially Black women.

Another way in which many Black men put on performances in the Black barbershop is through the way they present themselves as being so “messed up” from last night. Now, some of the barbers who have cut my hair I could just smell the marijuana and alcohol on them so much that I often felt like I got high from just being in close contact with them. For many of the Black male customers who come into the barbershop, it becomes really hard to believe them that they are still so “messed up” from last night. It seems to me that if you are really “messed up” you will not be able to drive to the barbershop. Now, this is if you are really “messed up.” These types of performances in the barbershop make it a space where drug use, abuse, selling, and possession is celebrated. You will increase your social status by the approval that many people in the barbershop will grant you for persuading them about how “messed up” you got last night and how “messed up” you still are.

Moreover, television programming, namely sports programming, affords many Black men in the barbershop to be able to receive the attention they are seeking. You have many Black men who will try to present themselves as experts and coaches while watching sports programming in the barbershop. Many Black men will speak vociferously and holler just to get attention. Now, they know that they are not at home. I don’t have any problem with you acting like that when you’re at home, but you are only putting on a performance for your “audience” when you do this in a barbershop, a public space where we should have some level of decorum.

Conclusion

Let’s not fool ourselves anymore. The Black barbershop is not simply a space where liberating, subversive, and useful discourse takes place. It is very much a place where unhealthy, demeaning, and unproductive discourse does take place. Yes, useful discourse and activities do take place in the Black barbershop, but let’s not pretend like the Black barbershop is a space where we always “keep it real.”

Reference

Majors, R., & Billson, J.M. (1992). Cool pose: The dilemmas of Black manhood in America. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

New Black Republicans Coming to D.C.

Newly elected Black republican members of Congress should not feel obligated to join the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). I do, however, think they should join the CBC to diversify the ideas offered by the group. Representative-Elect Tim Scott of South Carolina, a Black republican, has declined to join the group. While I understand that he is committed to themes that unite us regardless of our race, he is missing a golden opportunity to have republican ideas and ideals gain more exposure in the Black community. If Black republicans are really serious about bringing more Black people into the Republican Party, then they are going to have to join the most identifiably Black presence in Washington, D.C.—the CBC. I’m not questioning Representative-Elect Tim Scott’s passion for ameliorating the lives of Black people, but I am asserting that he is hurting his party by not recognizing his potential to recruit more Blacks into the Republican Party by joining the CBC. Representative-Elect Allen West of Florida, a Black republican, has decided to join the CBC. He is looking forward to challenging the ideas and policies of the members of the CBC. In the end, Allen West will be the more visible and more valuable person for the Republican Party’s efforts to recruit more Black voters.

It would not surprise me to see these two men, especially Allen West, become very prominent members in the Republican Party. They may even be successful one day in gaining the Republican Party’s nomination to become President. With the Republican Party increasingly becoming a more conservative party, these Black men have arrived at the right time to gain prominence in the party. They are both very fiscally and socially conservative. Although I want these two Black men to be successful members of the Republican Party, I don’t ever want them to forget that they are Black. I don’t ever want them to feel like they have to surrender their “blackness” to appease any member of the Republican Party. I am not saying that there are currently people in the Republican Party who will attempt to make them relinquish their blackness, but I just hope that if any people like this surface they will strongly resist their efforts.

Even though many Black democrats and liberals will not like these men simply because they are conservatives and republicans, I greatly encourage them to give these men a fair chance. You should wait until they gain a voting record before negatively criticizing them. I also encourage you to wait until they write, co-sponsor, and/or support legislation (as members of Congress) that you oppose before negatively criticizing them.

I hope that Tim Scott and Allen West will not feel like they have to be the chief attack dogs on President Obama simply because they are Black. If they feel passionate about criticizing President Obama, and this criticism genuinely comes from their deepest convictions, then I think they should vociferously promulgate their disagreements with him.

I congratulate Tim Scott and Allen West on their recent election victories to become two new Black members of Congress.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia October 2010 Person of the Month: Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia awards a Person of the Month to someone embodying the unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing spirit that founded this blog. By winning the Person of the Month, an individual is not precluded from winning the Person of the Year award. It is with great pleasure that Revolutionary Paideia names Tyler Perry as The Revolutionary Paideia October 2010 Person of the Month. Tyler Perry’s willingness to tackle taboo topics in the African-American community has unsettled, unnerved, and unhoused many African-Americans who have wished to bury serious discourses about issues like homosexuality that too often make many Blacks very uncomfortable. Revolutionary Paideia is proud of Tyler Perry for going public about being molested as a child by both men and a woman. I believe many Black men will now gain the courage to speak about how they have been victimized by people who have molested them as a result of Tyler Perry speaking out on this issue. America needs to engage more with serious discussions about molestation, especially African-Americans. African-Americans often want to push the issue of molestation under the rug because of the shame attached to it.

Tyler Perry has a truly moving and uniquely American story. His story is one that proves that if you are willing to fight against great challenges in your life, no matter how disquieting they may be, you can be successful in America. This Black man has been tremendously successful in a White-dominated Hollywood. People told Tyler that his style of films would never make it in Hollywood because they are too deeply connected to the Black Church and to religion in general. His critics could not have been more wrong. This year he is the second highest earner in Hollywood.

One thing that I appreciate most about Tyler Perry is his unwillingness to compromise his personal relationship with God for Hollywood’s money. Today, he has been so successful with his television show, plays, and films. In all that he has done, he has never allowed himself to get bigger than the God who put him in the position he is in today. He allows the African-American presence to be depicted in such a positive and comprehensive way in Hollywood than was previously available.

Although there are many people who do not like Perry’s style, he has refused to change his style to pacify his detractors. I have heard some horrible criticism waged against him. Spike Lee has been one of most unfair critics, but Spike Lee is just hating on Perry because he has never experienced the level of success, including financial success, that Perry has experienced. Spike Lee simply needs to step his game up. Tyler Perry’s films help to reveal some truths about Black people that Spike Lee has not been willing to explore in his work. Therefore, Mr. Spike Lee, we need Tyler Perry to do what you lack the testicular fortitude to do.

Again, it is a pleasure to name Tyler Perry as The Revolutionary Paideia October 2010 Person of the Month. Revolutionary Paideia proudly endorses Tyler Perry and his excellent body of work.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

Black Bloggers Unite!

In general, I think more bloggers should engage in collaborative efforts, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, and etc. Those aforementioned things, however, can be used as vehicles for collaboration. I contend that African-American bloggers need to increase their influence in the blogosphere by joining forces through collaborative blogs, guest blogging, visiting one another’s blogs regularly (not every now and then), comment on one another’s blogs regularly (not every now and then), find mediums like Twitter, Facebook, email, telephone, and etc. to discuss blog posts ideas and future directions for one another’s blogs, and etc. Now, this is not an effort to try to increase my own readership, especially since I will soon be well over 100,000 readers in just my first year of blogging, I just want African-Americans to have a greater influence in the blogosphere.

Many Black people have a problem with sharing and helping one another. It seems like many African-Americans are concerned about not letting others outdo them, which ends up causing us to divide and conquer ourselves without any person to blame for this but ourselves. In my little over 6 months of blogging, I have had the pleasure to read the writing of some tremendously talented Black writers like The Realest Dude in the Room (http://realestdudeintheroom.com), I Likes It Raw (http://ilikesitraw.com), Uptown Notes (http://www.uptownnotes.com), New Black Man (http://newblackman.blogspot.com), The Black Sphere (http://theblacksphere.net), Pampered Sweet Tooth (http://pamperedsweettooth.blogspot.com), and many more. These previously mentioned Black bloggers provide a diverse range of topics, interests, ideas, and approaches that represent some of the best of what Black bloggers have to offer.

Unfortunately, Black bloggers are not as organized and collaborative as White bloggers, which results in much our talent not being given the recognition, focus, and attention it merits. It is up to Black bloggers to change this problem. No one is going to take us more seriously until we start taking ourselves more seriously. When you visit the aforementioned bloggers, you have an opportunity to see why Black bloggers need to be more visible and heard. For those who say that Black males are not doing anything but getting into trouble, I would like you to know that all of the aforementioned Black bloggers except for one are Black males.

One of the ways in which we can work to remedy this problem is by encouraging more Blacks to start blogging. Without a doubt, most African-Americans have something valuable to offer and say to America, so we need to encourage them to begin blogging immediately. Blogging gives them a free opportunity to get their voice acknowledged nationally and internationally. If anyone needs assistance with starting a free blog, then just contact me and I will help you to get started.

In closing, I just want to say that Black bloggers need to find ways to collaborate to increase our readership and impact in the blogosphere. I am not for us simply carving out our own “Black space” within the blogosphere, but I am for us having much more significance and power in the blogosphere. I hope that Black bloggers will soon unite!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Don’t Forget to Show the Best of Black Life Too

Far too often, I see too many people using all mediums, including television, radio, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, newspapers, and etc., to show America and the world the worst aspects of Black life. During the very beginning of the 20th century (and even before then), W.E.B. Du Bois asserted that artists should represent the diversity of Black life, but also needed to present the positive aspects of Black life. There once existed a time when Black people had to concern themselves only with racist White people depicting them in only negative and exploitative ways. Although there are still racist White people portraying Black people in the most demeaning and damaging ways, there is a new and growing enemy for Black people: some Black people themselves.

Some Black people do not care what they report about Black life in public. People will present information to the public about Black life that casts us in the most horrific light. Now, I am not saying that I want people to cover up truths about aspects of Black life. I would never tell anyone to do that. In fact, I have presented some of the negative dimensions of Black life in my own writing and in public and private discourses. I have spent the majority of my work and public and private discourse on truthfully disclosing the positive aspects about Black people in America, however. Without a doubt, there are limitless positive things to divulge about Black people.

I am simply too keenly aware of the racial and racist history of America to be stunned when a White person attempts to exploit a Black person publicly. Although I should not be stunned at the fact that some Black people are being just as harmful to Black people in public as any racist White person, I continue to be amazed at how some Black people are finding it cute and profitable to depict Black life in only the most horrible ways. Of course, in America, we are blessed to have the freedom of speech and I would not attempt to limit anyone’s freedom of speech. I do think that Black people should be much more aware of the things they are presenting to America and the world about Black people.

It seems that some Black people have forgotten all about the reality of the struggle we have experienced in this country to gain some respect. Some Black people love to sit around and find all of the garbage they can find about Black people, especially Black celebrities, and try to destroy their reputations. I also see that some Black people even try to exploit the lives of ordinary Black people. Whether you know it or not, what you are doing is mean-spirited and harms the constant progression of Black people.

I would just like you to think about the fact that what you may get a momentary laugh about at the expense of some Black person who does something crazy, the stuff you report about that person stays around long after the laughs are over, especially when you put it into print and publish it. I would encourage Black people to be more responsible about how you talk about Black people and Black life. Again, be balanced in how you present Black life. If you are going to ridicule some Black people, be sure that you praise some Black people too. Fair is fair.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Antonio Maurice Daniels’s June 2010 Article for Real Bloggers United

Governor Patrick Attends the Harvard Black Law...

(Photo credit: Office of Governor Patrick)

 

Today, at Real Bloggers United (http://realbloggersunited.blogspot.com), my article, “Striving for Miseducation: Many College Students’ Low Expectations,” has been published and featured. I am tremendously thankful that the editors of Real Bloggers United have found my article worthy of being published and featured today. I encourage you to read the article and leave me some comments about the article on my site and/or on the site of Real Bloggers United (http://realbloggersunited.blogspot.com) where the article has been published and featured. I look forward to reading your comments about your reactions to my article, “Striving for Miseducation: Many College Students’ Low Expectations.” Have a great day and weekend!

 

Antonio Maurice Daniels

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison