Are Contemporary Nationalists Fixation On Guns Causing Them To Ignore An Important 'Black Panther Party' Lesson Regarding Liberation?

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Are Contemporary Nationalists Fixation On Guns Causing Them To Ignore An Important ‘Black Panther Party’ Lesson Regarding Liberation?

June 12, 2019 by  
Filed under Education, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Fifty years after its genesis, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense reigns as the Black Power Era’s most memorable organization. Co-founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the Panthers longevity is attributable to the iconic images of Black men and women carrying guns for the sake of Black liberation. If nothing else, the various strands of Nationalism being articulated in a juvenile Nationalist community that rests too heavily on social media agree that the Panthers were issuing a direct challenge to outsiders whose signature activity was the economic exploitation and physical oppression of Black America.

Although the aforementioned iconic imagery ensures the Panthers prominence in the psyche’ of modern-day revolutionaries, recent attempts to co-opt the Panther legacy by modern-day Nationalists reveals that attempts to evoke the spirit of Panthers long gone have unfortunately ignored substantive portions of the organization behind. One does not need to look far to recognize that contemporary Nationalists have failed to understand the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Platform and Program; a document that is as relevant today as it was on October 15, 1965, the day that Huey P. Newton dictated ten points that he felt the Black community needed to his comrade Bobby Seale. Education proved to be central to the vast majority of Panther activities, so central that point #5 of the Ten-Point Platform and Program reads as follows:

Point number 5 reads as follows;

“We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.”

We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.

As an educator who has for decades stood on the front line of the battle to activate dormant intellectual curiosity and illuminate the minds of Black collegians, I can attest to an unfortunate tendency of many African-American males to not only rebel but also act in a hostile manner toward the learning process. Such individuals always make me wonder how they have constructed a reality where their future does not rest squarely on their educational attainments.

When considering the detachment of many of my male students from the educational process, I am forced to reason that somewhere along this path called life that there has been a wicked trick played upon them; a trick they have yet to recognize. At the core of this ‘tricknology’ is the pervasive lie that persons of African descent have historically shunned intellectual pursuits, learning, and academic excellence. Investment in this fable has disastrous consequences for both believers and the community that they belong to. A cursory glance around our community displays the voluminous socioeconomic consequences of one failing to develop a life’s plan.

There is little room to argue that the life prospects for uneducated African-American males are particularly daunting. Census data relates the following:

  • In the year 2000, 65% of Black male high school dropouts in their 20’s were jobless— meaning, unable to find work, not actively seeking employment, or incarcerated.
  • Four years later, that percentage had grown to 72% for African-American males, 34% for white males, and 19% for Hispanic male dropouts.
  • Shockingly, when Black male high school graduates in their 20’s were included with the aforementioned dropout population, 50% of Black men were jobless. Even when high school graduates were included, half of Black men in their 20’s were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.

The inability to secure gainful employment has historically relegated many African-American males to an ‘unmarriageable’ pool. The alluded to status denotes that it is nearly impossible for the referenced Black men to provide for offspring or build a reasonable life with a mate. However, the absence of gainful employment has not prevented these men from procreating.

Studies have revealed that nearly 50% of all Black men in their late 20’s and early 30’s who failed to pursue any form of higher education will become non-custodial fathers.

Academic studies have repeatedly shown that there is a link between the lack of formal education and incarceration rates for African-American males. By the time African-American males reach their mid-thirties, 60% of those who dropped out of High School have spent time in prison. This stat is much more meaningful when contextualized by the unfortunate reality that in most inner-city areas over 50% of Black men fail to matriculate from high school. According to Steven Raphael, there are more twenty-something African-American male dropouts in prison on any given day than are gainfully employed.

In essence, the issue standing before our community is a daunting one convoluted by two issues: (a) the current educational offerings are either unappealing to or of no utility to the vast majority of African-American males and (b) there does not appear to be a reliable means for Black male inmates to emerge from incarceration and secure employment sufficient enough for them to take care of themselves and any dependents.

Of all the problems facing Black men, it is foolish to not place matters of education at the center of discussion regarding how do we “save” Black males from what many have come to believe is their destiny (incarceration, death, poverty). The failure to secure some form of an education (classical, vocational, industrial, agricultural) all but dooms Black men and those that rely on them to a marginalized existence for multi-generations. One thing is certain, the struggle to be Black in America will continue to worsen if we fail to recognize how crucial education, the path to providing a material existence, is to the uplift of our community.

Were I provided the opportunity, I would advise those seeking to walk in the footsteps of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense to abandon their fascination with the guns and paramilitary displays of machismo in favor of developing community schools that will mold future generations of Black America. The thought that the Black revolution will be a physical overthrow of this nation is now preposterous and it is time that we recalibrate our strategies, tactics, and goals to fit this occasion. After all, if it is true that “the pen is mightier than the sword” there is no doubt the direction that we should be heading and what we should be doing.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.

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