MANSFIELD: Retort – A Tom is Still a Tom

Retort – A Tom is Still a Tom

While I’m pleased to see those who agree with Phillip Morris and his twisted takes on African-Americans rise to his defense when I labeled him an Uncle Tom… their logic is a bit loopy: They castigated me for criticizing his opinions… by criticizing my opinions. The upside of this is… they’re giving me another opportunity to call Morris out.

Fair is fair: Of course Morris has a right to his opinions (as Tom-ish, twisted and derogatory as they might be) just as much as I have a right to mine: And my opinion is… Phillip Morris is an unreconstructed Uncle Tom.

Now some readers of a more genteel persuasion gasped and exclaimed “Horrors!” at my use of such bold language… for which I in no way intend to apologize. For years Morris has been making all sorts of cutesy veiled negative, racist and sometimes outright brutal comments about his own black race and has been getting away with such treachery unscathed. However, when he finally goes too far and I am forced to respond to check him some see me as the bad guy. Go figure.

Morris is carrying water for an obviously racist and hardball playing new governor who isn’t taking any prisoners, but I’m supposed to play by some dainty Marquis de Queensbury rules? No way. I’m not about to be the one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest; if they want rough I’m going to be serving it up just as rough — straight, no chaser. As for those more genteel readers, I can only suggest they quit reading me if they are so offended by my defending the dignity of my race.

Here’s the argument in a nutshell: While I agree with conservative blacks like Morris, Bill Cosby, Larry Elder, Armstrong Williams and Clarence Thomas (sellouts one and all) that our race indeed needs to do more to help lift our disadvantaged brethren out of ignorance, poverty, crime and despair… I, unlike these Toms, will not grant a pass to the perpetrators of the institutionalized racism that has existed in this country from its very founding… for the establishment and continuation of this vast underclass of people of color. No race purposely puts its members in the disadvantaged circumstances that a full third of African-Americans in this country find themselves in.

The Toms wrongly (and knowingly) posit that we African-Americans have done this to ourselves… when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth: Something was done to us. The Africans that were brought to America were subjected to the longest running and most brutal Diaspora in the history of mankind. Only in America was slavery carried out on the magnitude and scale that was perpetuated on our forefathers here in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

However, when we point out these truths we are accused of wallowing in victimhood, and are told to just get over the past, something that would conveniently let them off the hook for their centuries of abominable behavior — sans a sincere apology.

Believe me, blacks are trying to live down the past… it really is the conservative racists that have trouble letting go of the past in America, because it was in that past they reigned supreme: Women were in the kitchen, gays were in the closet, and blacks were in the cotton fields. It’s only dyed-in-the-wool bigots who want to turn back the clock on whatever racial progress has been made.

The past is important if for no other reason than it defines the present. And, as Condi Rice accurately stated, America was born with a birth defect: Slavery. And while slavery had existed since Biblical times (and probably before) there always were unwritten rules: Families were only to be bought and sold as a unit; children of slaves were considered emancipated; and slaves were allowed to earn their way to freedom and join the majority culture. Slaves were usually the by-product of war, and enslaving your enemies was simply a way of keeping them from rising up against you again in the future.

But only in America were the rules changed and slaves were bred like cattle… with the mother sold here, the father there, and the children only God knows where. Only in America was slavery a permanent condition, from one generation to the next with no exit except escape by fleeing at risk of life and limb. But to enslave a people in such a manner a nation first has to despise them… and some white folks simply don’t know how to stop. And the cowardly Uncle Tom, to escape being despised, says to the white master, “Boss, I’m not one of them… and I’ll do a buck dance to prove it.” Some Toms simply buck dance in print.

And for those who excuse this holocaust by saying “but that was a long time ago” keep in mind that we were slaves in this country for 245 years, and have only been free for 147, and then not really “free.”

How were we freed? Cut adrift without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of by a federal government that allowed Jim Crow to be instituted… an unofficial form of slavery that was more brutal by far than the previous condition of servitude. Since whites no longer owned blacks they began killing them with impunity. Just take a look at the lynching history of this country from the end of the Civil War up through the 1920’s.

And I’m supposed to believe these Uncle Toms don’t know any of this, or is it they simply prefer to ignore it, and to allow racist whites off the hook for their principal role in these un-Godly acts that at times bordered on genocide?

You see, racists just love to subtly (often in coded language) suggest that something is wrong with us blacks, that somehow we just don’t genetically measure up to whites… and that’s why a third of my black race is mired in dysfunctional and criminal behaviors. Alternatively (again to escape culpability), it really is our own fault… and if we just tried hard enough we could truly overcome the past, but we’re just too damn shiftless and lazy. Can I get an “Amen” on that Tom brothers Cosby, Morris and Thomas?

An aside: Show me a picture of Bill Cosby at a civil rights gathering during the turbulent ’60s and I’ll eat it. You can see the magnificent trio of Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, and Marlon Brando locking arms with Dr. King and others, but Cosby was a no-show. That’s why this Tom needs to just shut up… I don’t care how much he donates to educational causes, his running around the country bad mouthing blacks is shameful and does nothing helpful. He has no moral authority in the educated black community.

So when Kasich says that he can’t find any “qualified” blacks he is simply perpetuating myths and negative stereotypes. Only white folks are “qualified.” Just like 20 years ago, when no blacks were smart enough to play quarterback in the NFL. Or today, where white trade unions use the same lame excuse to keep black members out. But what about the blacks seen running the same heavy equipment for the City of Cleveland? How is it they are “qualified” then?

Indeed, some folks will tell you that a former governor from Alaska with a resume as thin as a boarding house sheet is more qualified to be president than a black man with a law degree from Harvard. And among those folks are the Tom brothers. And I’m not supposed to pin tails on these donkeys?

Just as Morris’ supporters have rallied to his side, so too have people who feel that my calling a Tom a Tom is long overdue have rallied to mine. Dozens of the progressives I regularly communicate with (both black and white) are absolutely delighted I finally took the gloves off and took this sellout Tom to task.

And every time he opens his yap or writes something I perceive as being disrespectful of black folks I’m going to ratchet up my responses and more forcefully call him out. Bet on it. And that goes for Kasich too.

From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available again in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author by visiting

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8 Responses to “MANSFIELD: Retort – A Tom is Still a Tom”

  1. Andre LeBlanc

    While I’m certainly not on the level of Mansfield when it comes to knowing our country’s history and specifically the problems that have faced the black population in this country since their introduction, I have to wonder who’s responsibility it is to fix the problems that exist for the black population.

    I believe to a great extent that we are a product of our environment. I also believe that for the most part, when it comes to education and discipline, it needs to start at home and continue through traditional schooling. Along those lines, how are “the white people” to be held entirely responsible for the failure of the black people to educate themselves or instill a sense of discipline? Yes, I understand that if we are a product of our environment, then you’ll have ignorance breeding ignorance. However, that doesn’t absolve the parent of their responsibility to attempt to still parent in other ways; to instill some sense of discipline or wanting greater accomplishments for their offspring.

    Let’s use any predominantly black public school, be it a low income or upper income school, as an example. There are the full range of students ranging from “A” students to “F” students. If all things are equal, then what gives the “A” students the upper hand over their classmates pulling “F”‘s? They call come into the school with the same school-offered opportunities. But I’d venture to say that the successful students are that way because their parents support them and actually give a damn about seeing their children do well. Or it’s a genetic disposition. But it seems that Mansfield believes it’s not genetic. So it must be the former, no?

    Using the line of thinking that the successful member of society starts at home before even getting into school, then are any of these “Toms” really that far off stating that the black community needs to start looking at itself as the cause and solution to their problems and stop blaming slave owners from 200 years ago? I don’t believe that any of my family members from 6 generations back has any influence on how my parents raised me nor how I’ll raise my kids. Why should I consider that any of my family members have any influence on how you raise yours today?

    While I see Mansfield calling out the Toms, I didn’t really see him proposing a solution (in this particular editorial). I was raised with many sayings surrounding me on a constant basis. One of them was something long the lines of, “Don’t come to me with your problem unless you have a solution to offer.”

    Here’s my suggestion for starting to change things.
    Take an interest in your child’s life. Teach your children how to handle peer pressure. Discipline your children. Accept personal responsibility when your child consistently acts like an idiot. Be a role model to your children. Teach your children that life isn’t fair all the time. Teach them how to handle disappoint in a positive or constructive way. Teach your children not to expect hand-outs. If they want something, it takes work, effort, and dedication to doing it the right way.
    Yeah, I’m sure that’s all “easier said than done”, but if you don’t start now it’s not going to get any easier nor better.

    If the black community or family has had 147 years of “freedom”, how many (more) years do you think it needs to institute a policy of internal change across the board? “Charity starts at home,” was another saying I grew up with. Change starts at home too.


    I kinda like Clarence Thomas. We share a common background of being raised by Jesuits and studying Thomism, which in our case had to do with that round guy, Thomas Aquinas, not the Tom-ism you’re talking about.

    As a race-relations instructor for the Department of Defense many years ago, when the troops were rioting in the Pacific and all management types strove for some sort of new awareness to conserve already trained human capital, I thought a lot about integration and segregation, inclusiveness and separatism, standing apart and standing beside.

    I’m thinking that this Uncle Tom thing perpetuates separation from society and all its abundance. Minorities, like Clevelanders, have a really tough row to hoe in this country, with everybody telling them how deficient they are; they all need therapy and restoration of self-esteem; they all need to ignore the opinions of others.

    Is it possible to cultivate a dialogue in which we are neighbors and have things in common, in which nobody is primarily aware of whether they are black, or Irish, or terribly different, or deficient? (guys like McFaul are making it increasingly difficult to be proud of being Irish, anyway.)

    That aside, Morris rubs me the wrong way often, but I don’t own the context to call him a Tom.

    I think we all need to unify, to integrate, to find out who the real enemy is, for starters. We were getting around to that in the late ’60s but got coopted. We can pick up the thread again, now that we’re not so easily distracted. LBJ and The Great Society did more to keep people apart than we realize. He was brilliant, and probably evil.

  3. Mansfield Frazier

    Great, some intelligent responses … at least in part. Andre LeBlanc must not be a regular reader of mine or he would know that I constantly say the ONLY real answer is programs similar to the Harlem Children’s Zone. It breaks the cycle of poverty and ignorance.

    He falls into the trap of expecting functionally illiterate parents to raise successful kids when they simply don’t know how.

    The problem is generational, all the way back to slavery. Some blacks risked their lives to learn to read (it was against the law, you know) while others remained in ignorance … and their progeny are sill in ignorance. To yell at dysfunctional parents to do a better job is simplistic and really makes no sense … but it sure sounds and feels good to beat up on them. If they knew how to do better, believe me, they would, but they don’t. Please, please read up on the HCZ.

    As for Tim Ferris’ comments … I really don’t like beating up on Morris, in fact I’ve avoided it for years. But I guarantee you that he will tone his hateful rhetoric down by the time I’m finished taking him to task.

    Again, I take no delight in calling him out, but enough is enough … he’s gone to far … over and over again. Someone has to stand up for the race so I guess that’s me. I do have the standing.

    As for LBJ, I stand ready to integrate … just as soon as more white people are ready. Been there, tried that. It takes both races.

  4. Richard

    While I appreciate your spirited defense over the indefensible, why after reading it, I still feel like I’ve stepped in dog feces? You know the feeling. As for me, I going to scape it off and move on.

  5. dena conner

    If we can just penetrate the mind of the mother’s, who are yet so busy working to provide for the family, to focus on the growing children’s activities or lack of….. and stop bad mouthing the absent father, of whom THEY chose which breaks down the esteem of the child when they hear “yo daddy ain’t nothing”. If these mothers can take the time to invest quality time and pay close attention to the childs gifts and talents that they can encourage and build esteem just as other nationalities do, then and only then will we see a difference in our black males.

  6. It ‘s interesting that you applaud the Harlem Zone and denounce Booker T. Washington as an Uncle Tom. Canada and Booker T. use similar tactics. Both developed programs aimed at Blacks that were supported mainly by whites, in particular wealthy Jews. Both programs were rooted in the belief of self-improvement.

  7. Andre LeBlanc

    “[Andre] falls into the trap of expecting functionally illiterate parents to raise successful kids when they simply don’t know how.
    To yell at dysfunctional parents to do a better job is simplistic and really makes no sense … but it sure sounds and feels good to beat up on them.”

    First, I do agree it’s a bit too simplistic view that I hold. There’s too many social and psychological factors that exist to have my solution be THAT simple; I understand that. But at least it’s a start to something more positive. OK, that aside…

    “If they knew how to do better, believe me, they would, but they don’t. Please, please read up on the HCZ.”
    I interpret your words as “They would like their children to have better lives, but they don’t know how to facilitate that.”
    And what I get from that is the inference that there are no programs whatsoever in our area like the HCZ’s “Baby College” for example?
    I would like to believe that there are, whether it’s through some church groups or community groups. And if these programs do exist, then what would lead us to believe that these “functionally illiterate parents” would partake in or enroll their child in an HCZ program any more than they would these programs already in our area?

    I’m not sure how literally I’m supposed to take the reference to the parents being “functionally illiterate”. And again, you referenced back to the time of slavery. I don’t think the inability to read or write changes what I believe is a human instinct to provide for our offspring. And even with that idea excluded, we aren’t still living in slave times where there’s wasn’t some form of media surrounding us 24/7/365. Back then, generally speaking you had books that’s about it. If the parents didn’t know how to read or write, yeah, their progeny were probably going to have similar handicaps. But that was a long time ago! If we figure that in the present day poorest communities, the average birthing age is 16-18 years old, we’re talking 2-3 generations of parenting in the past 50 years. That takes us back to the early 1960’s.
    Even the poorest of the poor in our communities had some access to TV or radio at some point. And nowadays, these “functionally illiterate parents” can’t get away from being bombarded by some media form. That’s quite a change from what was going on back in the slavery days. So whether or not they can functionally read or write, they still have enough info floating around out there to be able to make decisions based on questions such as, “Is there really nothing I can do to provide a better life for my child?”
    And I feel that if you believe these “functionally illiterate parents” won’t do anything because they don’t know how, then it doesn’t matter how many places like the HCZ you surround them with because they won’t know they exist anyways.

    Or just possibly in some (“many”?) cases, what it really comes down to with respect to todays parents is this: Instead of saying, “If they knew how to do better, believe me, they would, but they don’t,” maybe the more accurate and painfully honest line is, “If they knew how to do better, I’d like to believe they would, but they still won’t.”
    And why would that be? Because we’ve built a system that to some extent rewards leeching off the system more so than contributing to it.
    But that gets into another whole topic…one which I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to conclusively blame on slavery. *smiling* *wink*

    Thanks for your time. (Oh, and “Yes, I’m a fairly new reader to your writings.”)
    -= Andre =-

    PS – For anyone interested…

  8. I fully agree that the use of STERN LANGUAGE against those who USE OUR PEOPLE is appropriate.

    This is why I have written this analysis of Mr Fraizer’s rhetoric.

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