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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Alabama A&M University President Daniel K. Wims Perpetuates the Old Sambo Stereotype of Black Men in the Modern Era

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on December 22, 2023

IMAGE: A symbolic "carrot" from a smiling Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey was all that it took to discourage President Daniel K.Wims from fighting for the $527,280,064 the state of Alabama owes to Alabama A&M University. The "carrot" was a gubernatorial Proclamation that declared October as "HBCU Month." No "past due" equitable funding check payable to Alabama A&M accompanied Gov. Ivey's Proclamation.

An Editorial Opinion

Social media Influencer Kenny Akers has one of the best explanations for the old Sambo caricature.  It explains why Alabama A&M University President Daniel K. Wims' apparent waiver of the school's $527,280,064 debt from the state of Alabama perpetuates the Sambo stereotype in the modern era. 


Here is what Kenny Akers said about the Sambo stereotype:


“The Sambo stereotype -- rooted in racism and ignorance -- has had a profound impact on the perception and treatment of African-Americans throughout American history.  This enduring caricature, perpetuated by white slave owners, portrayed black men as simple-minded, docile, and content in their servitude.


The origins of the Sambo stereotype can be traced back to the colonization of America, where African slaves were brought to work on plantations.  Slave owners, seeking to justify and maintain the institution of slavery, created and propagated this image of the “happy slave.”  By portraying black men as childlike and content with their enslavement, slave owners aimed to undermine any resistance or rebellion and maintain control over their human property.


The Sambo stereotype was deeply ingrained in the fabric of American society during the era of slavery.  It was used to justify the brutal treatment and dehumanization of African-Americans, as it depicted them as inherently inferior and suited for servitude.  This degrading portrayal not only stripped black men of their agency and intelligence but also perpetuated harmful stereotypes that continue to affect perceptions of African-Americans today.


The legacy of the Sambo stereotype extends beyond the era of slavery.  It has persisted throughout American history, influencing popular culture, media, and societal attitudes towards African-Americans.  The portrayal of black men as buffoonish, submissive characters in minstrel shows and other forms of entertainment further reinforced this damaging stereotype.


The consequences of the Sambo stereotype are far-reaching.  It has contributed to the systemic racism and discrimination faced by African-Americans, limiting their opportunities for social and economic advancement.  The perception of black men as unintelligent and docile has perpetuated stereotypes that have led to racial profiling, unequal treatment in the criminal justice system, and limited access to educational and employment opportunities.


Efforts to challenge and dismantle the Sambo stereotype have been ongoing. African-American activists, scholars, and artists have worked tirelessly to counter these harmful narratives and promote a more accurate and nuanced understanding of black identity and history.  By highlighting the achievements, intellect, and resilience of African-Americans, they have sought to challenge the dehumanizing portrayal perpetuated by the Sambo stereotype.”


President Daniel Wims works tirelessly every day to reinforce the old Sambo stereotype in Alabama, rather than “challenge and dismantle it.”

IMAGE: A subservient Daniel Wims (left) with Gov. Kay Ivey (right).

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the national role model for Wims and others of his ilk who bring the Sambo caricature to life in the MAGA world.

IMAGE: Clarence Thomas with Donald Trump.

From a philosophical standpoint, Daniel Wims and Clarence Thomas are Siamese twins in the modern era. Both men got their current jobs even though they faced allegations of sexual harassment against women in the workplace. Both men are mired in controversy. Both men project a "happy slave" mentality. Both men are loved by their masters.


Finally, Daniel Wims has successfully transformed Alabama A&M University from a premier institution of higher education into an attractive landing pad for aspiring next-generation Sambos and alleged sexual predators.

As we close out the 2023 year, some people view this paradigm shift at Alabama A&M University as progress in Alabama and America. I view it as "buck dancing" buffoonery.

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