What Black Men Think

I recently caught a C-SPAN Q&A with Janks Morton, Jr., who was promoting his new film, What Black Men Think. It attempts to dig into some of the problems–both cause and affect–facing African-Americans today. According to his website:

Since the triumphs of the civil rights legislations of the early 1960′s havoc and decimation has been wreaked on the black family with a specific devastation on the black man. With negative imagery of the media, the failed policy of the Great Society and modern era black leadership abandoning tenets that historically held the community together, a new form of mental slavery has perpetuated an undeclared civil war in the black community…

Reviews have been positive.

What Black Men Think is highly recommended as an excellent alternative to the mainstream propaganda which would have us internalize the worst beliefs about an unfairly maligned segment of society. Perhaps more importantly, this groundbreaking documentary ought to serve as an overdue wake-up call for young African-American males…to assume the responsibility of reprogramming their own minds in a positive manner instead of voluntarily internalizing a self-defeating mentality which amounts to little more than the 21st Century’s equivalent of slavery…
Three cheers to Janks Morton for making a film which constructively employs a marginalized segment of the black intelligentsia as a valuable resource. Though often scorned as traitors by their more liberal colleagues, in this instance they are presented as well-meaning role models with viable proposals for their people, as opposed to being the unwitting pawns of a power structure only interested in maintaining the status quo.

Some of those conservatives are people like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams, both of whom have written extensively on the failure of both the progressive “Great Society” and the self-appointed “leaders” of the African-American community to alleviate the social ills suffered within the African-American community.
Morton’s primary goal is to shatter some myths about black men

The film sets out to debunk stereotypes that he said have been perpetuated for so many years that they have struck the black community to its core. Stereotypes that have insulted, demoralized and humiliated. That have left others intimidated by black boys and black men…
Morton appears on screen in dark shades, “Matrix”-like. “More than one hundred years ago,” he said, “Harriet Tubman was quoted as saying: ‘If I could have convinced more slaves they truly were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.’ ”
At another point, the screen rolls up. Rolls down, deliberately out of focus. Morton said, “How could you have bought into the false castigations that keep you from one another?
“You sit idly by and watch your media distort your images. You know that the government stratifies you. You know that the black leadership exploits you, and you choose to do nothing.”

A recent column by Sowell lends support to Morton’s claim that the self-appointed black leaders and progressive whites–to whom the media run for pontification on all things African-American–offer a distorted picture:

The poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994 but the left has shown no more interest in why that is so than they have shown in why many millions of people have risen out of poverty in Latin America or in China and India.
Where progress can be plausibly claimed to be a result of policies favored by the left, then such claims are made.
A whole mythology has grown up that the advancement of minorities and women in America is a result of policies promoted by the left in the 1960s. Such claims are often based on nothing more substantial than ignoring the history of the progress made prior to 1960.
Retrogressions in the wake of the policies of the 1960s are studiously ignored — the runaway crime rates, the disintegration of black families, and the ghetto riots of the 1960s that have left many black communities still barren more than 40 years later.

Williams echoes Sowell’s allusion to a better time for African-Americans:

During the 1940s and ’50s, I grew up in North Philadelphia… It was a time when blacks were much poorer, there was far more racial discrimination, and fewer employment opportunities and other opportunities for upward socioeconomic mobility were available. There was nowhere near the level of crime and wanton destruction that exists today. Behavior accepted today wasn’t accepted then by either black adults or policemen.

Morton agrees and joins them in asking African-Americans to recall a time before the ’60’s, when times were tougher for African-Americans, but they were strong in their families and were more self-sufficient:

In the film, Morton and others, conservative and liberal, concede there are real difficulties in the black community. “The real, real deal with black people right now — we have the highest divorce rates, we have the highest over-40-year-old single rates,” Morton says on screen. “We have the lowest marriage rates. The highest out-of-wedlock birth rates. What I’m saying to you is . . . one generation ago, we didn’t look like this.”
As the movie rolled at the recent one-time showing at the Avalon Theatre, there were knowing nods throughout the crowd, as if the movie confirmed theories.
“As black women, we’ve been led to believe there are no good men, that they are all in jail,” Thembelani Smith, 32, an IT project manager, says after the film. “That isn’t even true. Sometimes because the messages are imbedded in your head, you are quick to judge. That movie was long overdue. It’s good to have these kinds of conversations.”

Yes it is.

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16 years ago

I saw portions of the C-Span interview, and they played several sections of the film.
The part I found most interesting was the myth about “more black men in jail than in college.” In fact, there are more in college than jail, and if you adjust the survey for the relevant demographic (men between 18-24, I think) there are four times as many black men in college as in jail. The truth, however, does not serve the agenda of the group (NAACP) that promotes the myth.
I am in the middle of reading Juan Williams’ 2006 book “Enough,” which takes on the Jackson-Sharpton Axis. I don’t always agree with Juan Williams, but he’s right on a number of points.
Williams uses Bill Cosby’s speech from the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education as the jumping off point, and he also draws from Pres. Bush’s 2004 speech to the Urban League.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
16 years ago

Sharpton, Jackson, Mfume etc. are the “house niggers” of Plantation Democrat.
They know that as long as the Plantation keeps running they’ll enjoy a better lifestyle – not only better than the average “nigger, but much better than they’d enjoy off of the Plantation if they had to fend for themselves on their own merits, rather than with the privileges bestowed by the ‘Massuh.
So the Reverends preach to the field niggers that they’d starve if they were to run away from Plantation Democrat.

16 years ago

Ragin, in addition to being much less viscerally offensive, isn’t “house slave” more accurate?

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
16 years ago

SusanD –
The phrase “house nigger” was used intentionally. Note these definitions from “urban dictionary”:
Or this from Wikipedia – it is under “Uncle Tom” and then describes “house nigger” as a more insulting version of the same meaning:

16 years ago

I find the term acceptable in its use here. And we have heard the dems use the term when referring to Powell and Rice…

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