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


Be an Advocate for Justice

Police Brutality

Love and justice are inextricably linked. You cannot love someone if you’re not willing to advocate for justice for him or her. Justice is what love looks like in public. When things are going on in your community that are not right, you need to take a stand against those things. In order to make change happen, you have to get out and do something that’s going to initiate change. You’re not going to make significant change happen by sitting up in your home hoping that it will materialize. Meaningful change happens when serious efforts are engaged in to make it occur.

As history has demonstrated, African-Americans have suffered from disquieting injustices since they have arrived in America to the present day. We have to do a better job of reporting the injustices we experience throughout the nation. All of the injustices we experience are not going to appear in the mainstream media. We have to, therefore, find ways to have our important narratives heard and read.

Through the power of social media, you can advocate for justice for yourself and others.

Social media presents us with opportunities to have our voices heard. It does not cost an individual anything to use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, and etc. to let a global audience know about injustices that have happened to you, someone you know, and someone you don’t know. More people have to learn they’re not powerless against racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and etc. You can fight against injustice if you would only get up off your butt! One does not have to be rich to defeat injustice.

One person can start a revolution.

Don’t think that your efforts to pursue justice for yourself and others are in vain—they’re not. Organize people around your cause. There’s strength in numbers. When you begin to have people to join your cause, they can start to give you information about individuals and organizations that can help to maximize the power and potential of your efforts. Although it’s vital for you to advocate for justice for yourself and others, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can handle this cause on your own. You need people to assist you in advocating for justice.

If you’re supervisor is treating you unfairly, don’t let him or her continue to be unfair to you. Stand up to him or her! You can get another job. You have to understand that you need to place a value on yourself that’s greater than any job you have and/or will have.

Black people should never allow their White employers to control them. If they allow them to do this, then they’re willingly accepting enslavement. Our ancestors paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to be free from the manacles and bondage of slavery in all forms. Don’t render their work useless by being a docile body willing to accept enslavement and exploitation. Honor the legacy of our ancestors by fighting for your right to not be dominated by injustice.

Advocating for justice for yourself and others is not a glamorous job, but it is essential work that must be done for the good everyone and for the good of the global community. When you’re fighting against racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and etc., you have to be willing to be in a war against those phenomena for the long haul. You’re not going to conquer those aforementioned phenomena with “microwave advocacy.” In fact, you will only reaffirm their great power.

Don’t sit back and let things happen to you and people in your community that are unfair. Commit yourself to being an advocate for justice. Black people, it’s time for us to stop settling for oppression, depression, estrangement, exploitation, discrimination, and etc. Let’s use our talents, resources, knowledge, and etc. to defeat the many injustices we confront.

Act today! Be an advocate for justice!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Black Males and Sagging Pants

An increasing number of public and private discourses are taking place across the nation about sagging pants.  One wears sagging pants when his or her underwear or other undergarments are showing.  It’s understandable if one does not like to see the undergarments of another person who has sagging pants.  Although I see a person’s choice to sag his pants as being safeguarded by the First Amendment, I do understand those who support school rules and ordinances prohibiting sagging.  Personally, I don’t sag and don’t think it’s an attractive fashion phenomenon.   However, what’s not understandable is making deleterious assumptions about people just because they’ve elected to wear sagging pants.  Unfortunately, Black males who wear sagging pants are disproportionately affected by unmerited assumptions about their sagging pants.

For White supremacists, sagging pants is a tangible reminder that Black males are still niggers.  For those who hide their racial prejudice, all Black males who have sagging pants are viewed as dangerous.  Those sagging pants send them a clear message that they’re ungovernable criminals who are going to harm us if we don’t get away from them and if we don’t keep them away from us.

I need to send many White people a message that just because a group of Black males who have sagging pants are walking down the same sidewalk as you are does not mean that they’re automatically a threat to you.  In reality, Black males have more reason to be fearful of you than you of them.  If you need some evidence of this, use Google to search for Bo Morrison and you will have just one piece of numerous pieces of evidence to support why I made the aforementioned statement.

Yes, some Black males who have sagging pants are involved in criminality and are dangerous.  However, don’t place the blame on those sagging pants—place the blame squarely on the choices those individuals have made to commit themselves to a mindset of criminality.

For those White people who believe that all, most, or many Black males who have sagging pants are criminals and dangerous, do you feel the same way about White males with sagging pants?  I’m just curious.

Black parents, it’s important to offer our children an understanding of the historical provenance of sagging pants.  Wearing sagging pants emerged from prisons.  In prisons, sagging pants is symbolic and a tangible expression to have other men recognize that one is homosexual and ready to be penetrated in the anus.  While I’m in no way trying to get you to preach to your children against homosexuality, what I’m attempting to do is have you educate your children about the origin of sagging pants and the symbolic and practical meaning of those sagging pants for those situated in prison.  I want your children to be fully informed about their choice to sag their pants.

For those who would try to suggest that Black males and others who sag their pants are trying to be like prisoners, you’re engaging in fallacious thought.  What you’re really trying to do is construct some “evidence” to justify your prejudice and racism.  Therefore, just be real and say so.

Black males need to be aware that people will make unwarranted assumptions about them just because they have sagging pants.  In no way am I attempting to call for Black males to stop wearing sagging pants.  I, however, want Black males to be aware that negative assumptions will be made about them because they have decided to wear sagging pants.  Those sagging pants are contributing factors in why many White people have and are murdering Black males.

Instead of placing so much investment in what Black males are wearing and how they wear their clothing, how about devoting the same level of investment in ensuring they receive a high quality education and have a greater chance to experience success.

I argue that many people who don’t like Black males anyway are attempting to take our focus off of critical problems facing Black males.  They want to thwart any chance that Black male academic underachievement will become a national issue we earnestly work together as a country to remedy.  Let’s not allow them to bamboozle us! Let’s stay focused on real issues and problems Black males face—not sagging pants!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Black Employers and Supervisors Should Always Resist Discrimination

One would think, given the ingrained history of discrimination and prejudice Blacks have had to endure in America, that all Black employers and supervisors would be committed to ensuring that discrimination is not present in critical areas and dimensions of their organizations. While Black employers and supervisors should not be held accountable for eliminating deep discriminatory views and mindsets of their employees, they should not be the ones guilty of discriminating against anyone. They should also not be guilty of allowing others within their organizations, especially those who hold leadership positions, to discriminate against people. If you are Black and fortunate enough to earn an opportunity to lead an organization and/or hold a supervisory position within an organization, you have a solemn responsibility to make sure that you are not promoting and/or engaging in the same discriminatory thought and actions that have hindered Black people since the day they arrived in this country.

Unfortunately, too many Black employers and supervisors are afraid of hiring highly qualified Black applicants because they view them as threats. They see highly qualified Black applicants as threats who could take their positions and/or learn something while in the organization that can enable them to not only do what they do but also do what they do better. For those Black employers and supervisors who are guilty of this type of discriminatory thought and actions, they have allowed themselves to fall prey to the damaging bondage of psychic slavery.

During slavery, racist White people employed a strategy of “divide and conquer.” The “divide and conquer” strategy was a coordinated and systematic attempt to have Black people to fight against one another rather than against their true oppressors, racist Whites. By giving certain slaves certain privileges, this engendered a jealousy, envy, and division among many of the slaves. Many slaves would be against other slaves because they saw them as threats to the privileges their racist White oppressors granted them. This same phenomenon exists in the postmodern epoch. The “privileges” granted to certain slaves over others slaves have been replaced today by the opportunities that certain Black people have been given to lead and supervise organizations.

Many Black employers fear hiring highly qualified and independent thinking applicants because they have a warped view that any Black person you hire is a reflection of them, the race, and ultimately on the worth of the organization. Many Black supervisors experience a great sense of inferiority when they are supervising Black people who have better credentials than they have.  As means of not having to deal with these highly qualified Black applicants, many Black employers and supervisors are doing everything they can to not hire them and keep them out of their organizations. They suffer from such serious self-esteem problems that cause them to view people from their own racial group as threats. These highly qualified applicants are not trying to take their positions—they are simply seeking to gain employment. Some of these Black employers and supervisors feel like some powerful White people are going to come and take away their positions when it is discovered that there are more qualified Black employees than them in their organizations.

Many Black leaders in multifarious organizations need to stop discriminating against their Black employees and Black applicants. Psychic slavery is a real phenomenon that affects many Black leaders of organizations today. They are a part of the problem why Black people as a whole are not advancing at higher levels. Although the majority of the discrimination and racism that Black people suffer from today emerges from Whites, we, Black people, have to deal with the discrimination and racism that is within our own community too. In no way does this article attempt to suggest that discrimination and racism within the Black community is greater than the discrimination and racism that emerges from members of the dominant culture. This article does contend that within the Black community we do have a strong presence of these phenomena that we have to fight against just as stalwartly as we do when we fight against them when they occur from members of the dominant culture.

You need to be careful because some of the greatest threats to Black progression in the postmodern epoch lie within our own community.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Using Social Media to Defeat Enemies of HBCUs

It’s time out for people who graduated from, attend, work for, and/or support historically Black college and universities (HBCUs) to continue to stay on defense about the significant value of HBCUs. We need to get on offense. Yes, defense is important because it is the side of the ball where a team prevents the other team from scoring points, but you cannot win without scoring points. Of course, great defensive efforts can lead to the scoring of points but those defensive efforts must be converted into offense. This is how it goes in basketball and football and this is how it goes when it comes to winning the war being waged against our beloved HBCUs.

We’ve been on defense far too long and we’ve not converted our defense into offense, meaning we are not scoring any points against our opponents, those who try to dismantle, devalue, and/or undermine HBCUs. We already know that most of the enemies of HBCUs are White. These are not just any White people either—these are racist, elitist, classist, and/or prejudiced White people. Therefore, just don’t look at any White person and assume that he or she is an enemy of HBCUs. You have to evaluate words and actions of people to resolve whether or not they are enemies of HBCUs. Don’t just think that the enemies of HBCUs are all White—many Blacks are some of the greatest enemies of HBCUs.

You may be thinking that the only Black enemies of HBCUs have to be those “nefarious Black conservatives.” Unfortunately, many of the nefarious Black enemies of HBCUs are those who attend or have attended one of these institutions or work for or have worked for one of these institutions. Now, these previously mentioned Black enemies of HBCUs represent a tremendously small percentage of the enemies of HBCUs, but their power can be just as damaging as White enemies of HBCUs—possibly even more injurious.

Instead of letting misinformation, unmerited negative criticism, blatant lies, unfair characterizations, belittling viewpoints, and etc. continue to have a significant impact, Black people and non-Blacks who support HBCUs need to use the power of social media to saturate the internet with true information and responses to misinformation about HBCUs and offer positive messages about HBCUs. If you only know information about the specific HBCUs you attend/or graduated from, then just talk about your specific HBCU through social media. Use your Facebook status and the “Note” function to periodically say something positive about HBCUs. Use Twitter to occasionally say something positive about HBCUs. Make YouTube videos that present HBCUs in a positive light. Bloggers should pen pieces that communicate positive academic, social, and professional student experiences at HBCUs. For those who don’t blog, get a free blog at WordPress (http://wordpress.com) or Blogger (http://blogger.com) and compose positive pieces about HBCUs—they don’t have to be long pieces either.

Again, the goal is to saturate the internet with positive information and messages about HBCUs. Now, I see many Black people engaging in all kinds of foolishness through social media. Take a little time to devote to supporting HBCUs through social media. We must focus on making it clear that HBCUs offer great academic value and experiences. The internet needs to be filled with great success stories of those who have graduate from HBCUs.

Although I’m not attempting to present the ideas in this article as panaceas to the problems HBCUs confront, the ideas in this piece are practical ways to help us advance, defend, ameliorate, and support HBCUs. Black people have the power to use social media to form a potent collective to market HBCUs in the way they deserve to be marketed.

Please take at least a small amount of the time you spend using social media to devote to uplifting, improving, advancing, and supporting HBCUs. We are strongest when we are united!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jim Crow Rears His Ugly Head Again: Disrespecting the MLK Holiday in Georgia

Gilmer County and Fannin County school systems in Georgia have decided that they cannot find any other alternative to making up school days missed because of the snow storm without using the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday to help make up those days missed. Well, Black folks are more sophisticated than that. We know racism when we see it—no matter how much you try to hide it. Don’t scapegoat God’s great snow to try to conceal your racism. If these school systems were looking to find alternatives to using the MLK holiday to make up for the school days missed, they could just change the scheduled last day of school to a date that would make up for the days missed. We find ways to do what we want to do, so don’t tell me that you cannot avoid using the MLK holiday to make up for school days missed due to the recent snow storm that much of the state of Georgia suffered. Read more about this story here: http://www.ajc.com/news/mlk-snow-make-up-803594.html

You would think that White people in Gilmer and Fannin Counties in Georgia who made the decision to disrespect the MLK holiday by using it to make up for days missed due to snow would have progressed in their thinking by now. Unfortunately, some White people will never progress in their thinking when it comes to serious race matters. I contend that the White school leaders in the predominantly White Gilmer and Fannin Counties are trying to make a statement about whether or not the MLK holiday should really be a holiday in the first place. They are trying to spur statewide and national debate about whether or not Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy is truly significant enough to warrant being celebrated as a federal holiday. Well, if you are racist, then you, of course, will never view the valuable contributions that Dr. King made to America as truly valuable.

It’s not that I’m surprised that racism is not present in my home state of Georgia. It’s not that I’m surprised that racist White people in Gilmer and Fannin Counties don’t want the MLK holiday to be a federal holiday. What I’m surprised about is they would try to fool people of all races that what this is really about is simply making up for school days missed and not about their racial prejudice and racism. I’m pleased to let the educational leaders of Gilmer and Fannin Counties know that we know that this is not about snow, but about your racial prejudice and racism. The MLK holiday exposes racist people because they become uncomfortable with the reason why they get to be out of school and work: to observe the life and legacy of Dr. King. This profound life and legacy unsettles them because the power of this man’s words and actions are able to make even the most hate-filled bones realize the ignorance behind that hate. Racist people know that their hatred is ignorant but they still elect to continue to live in ignorance.

I know some of my readers will argue that I should simply come to expect this kind of thing and that this kind of thing happens all of time and it does not do any good to spend this much time on a piece in response to it. I could not, however, disagree more. That’s the problem! We don’t do enough calling out of the racial prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, sexism, and racism that we experience daily. We need to do more to bring attention to these types of things. Ignorance can be defeated when we zealously speak to it with truth. When we champion love and justice more, we can begin to make people like the educational leaders in Gilmer and Fannin Counties feel more uncomfortable and less likely to make decisions that are going to be disrespectful, racist, and insensitive to most people in America and across the globe.

The predominantly White parents of Gilmer and Fannin Counties are complicit in the racist decision of the educational leaders of their counties by not protesting this decision. Hmm…obviously it’s not just the educational leaders in these counties who are racist—the majority of the people in these counties have to be racist for not wanting to put up any challenge to this racist decision.

Don’t lie and say that there were no other ways to address the missed days of school due to snow. Just be real, tell us that you are racist.

On this MLK holiday, find ways to apply the dominant themes of justice, peace, love, community, selflessness, hope, and character that Dr. King spoke about and represented in his actions. Don’t just sit around and talk about Dr. King and listen to his speeches—go out do the work that Dr. King championed.

I encourage everyone to write letters and protest the decision of the educational leaders in Fannin and Gilmer Counties to take away the MLK holiday from the students to make up days missed because of the recent snow storm in Georgia. Let them know how you really feel. Show them how you really feel. Let them feel your presence. Don’t let them forget what they have done on such a special day like today! This is not a time to let racist people have the victory over us—this is a time to fight their tactics, to fight their ignorance, and to fight their oppression. Stand up and fight!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Race in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

In The Bluest Eye (1970), Toni Morrison’s first novel, the reader encounters Pecola Breedlove, the protagonist of the novel who has to confront the dominant culture’s oppressive standard of beauty. As Morrison’s narrative is situated in 1941, this time period featured tremendous racial discrimination against African-Americans. Since the dominant culture’s standard of beauty did not allow African-Americans in 1941 to be considered as beautiful because of their dark (non-white) skin color, Pecola Breedlove experiences great racial shame, resulting from this oppressive standard of beauty. She desires to be liberated from the manacles of race. Pecola does not long to be considered simply beautiful; she desires to be the most beautiful person. Therefore, in order to become the most beautiful person, Pecola aspires to have the bluest eye (a physical characteristic of the dominant culture) to enable her to escape the oppressive bondage and limitations that race places on her ability to see herself as the most beautiful individual. For Pecola, the only way that she sees that she will be able to be perceived as beautiful is to live imaginatively in a world where she does have the bluest eye—biologically impossible in the world in which she physically resides. In helping the reader to understand how Pecola perceives how the dominant culture views her, Morrison writes: “She has seen it lurking in the eyes of all white people. So. The distaste must be for her, her blackness. All things are in her are flux and anticipation. But her blackness is static and dread. And it is the blackness that accounts for, that creates, the vacuum edged with distaste in white eyes” (49).

Although Peocla is able to see the “distaste” that the dominant culture has for her “blackness,” Morrison is able to offer readers one of her most pervasive themes that permeate all of her novels: African-Americans must seek alternatives to the oppressive social reality that the social construction of race has caused them to experience. While Morrison’s narrative interrogates salient issues surrounding race through Pecola, her focus on the racial shame of Claudia McTeer, one of Pecola’s closest friends and the novel’s narrator, operates powerfully in illuminating her multifarious and nuanced ways of exploring race in The Bluest Eye.

One of the most important ways in which Morrison has Claudia McTeer to interface with the theme of race is through her interaction with Maureen Peal, a young African-American female of a brighter hue than Claudia and Pecola. Through the interactions between Claudia and Maureen, the reader learns that Claudia has internalized her racial shame and she does not want Pecola to reveal her racial shame in the presence of Maureen. In a pivotal encounter where Claudia, Pecola, and Frieda (Claudia’s sister) have an argument with Maureen about Maureen’s claim that light-complexioned blacks are beautiful and dark-complexioned blacks are ugly, Pecola’s disheartened and silent reaction that endorses the claim that Maureen espouses about the relationship between skin color and beauty unveils and accentuates Claudia’s great internalized racial shame. In demonstrating her tremendous indignation for Pecola’s conspicuous endorsement of Maureen’s reprehensible claim, Claudia states, “She seemed to fold into herself, like a pleated wing. Her pain antagonized me. I wanted to open her up, crisp her edges, ram a stick down that hunched and curving spine, force her to stand erect and spit the misery out on the street” (73). Claudia’s internalized racial shame is vividly clear as she expresses her anger with Pecola for giving Maureen’s disgraceful claim the validity that Maureen hopes that it will be given. While Claudia and Frieda attempt to conceal their racial shame through their incensed retorts to Maureen’s claim, Claudia becomes increasingly angry with Pecola because she identifies with the transparent way in which Pecola sinks under “the wisdom, accuracy, and relevance” of Maureen’s shameful and painful claim (74).

Morrison’s treatment of racial shame in the novel enables her readers to not only unearth the significant psychological impact of Pecola and Claudia perceiving themselves as racially inferior, but her larger use of the theme of race also affords readers an opportunity to understand the oppressive economic, social, and cultural milieu and problems that have plagued blacks historically. Pecola and Claudia are two of the most important characters Morrison employs in the novel to offer critical revelations about race. The novel is an instructive denunciation of the social construction of race.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison