The National Museum of African American History and Culture

stmuseumproject41447720452 (Source: Ricky Carioti, Washington Post)

On Monday, November 16, 2015 I had the pleasure of attending a special ceremony for the National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The ceremony was organized to thank donors for their generous monetary donations and to give the public a glimpse into what is to come. The evening was simply magical with speeches from political dignitaries, Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of the NMAAHC, poetry, prose, and beautiful music including a performance from internationally renowned gospel recording artist BeBe Winans. The ceremony was another shining example of the great strides and accomplishments made by blacks from the African Diaspora.

With a $250 million price tag, the NMAAHC was established by Congress in December 2003[1]. The idea for the museum was first born in 1915 and one hundred years later, the idea has become a reality. The 400,000 square foot building will feature 11 exhibitions to include a 1913 bible once owned by a Buffalo Solider, belongings from a Tuskegee Airman, and Harriet Tubman’s hymnal[2].

The NMAAHC sits squarely on the National Mall in all its regalia as magnificent as the people it represents. Its exterior walls are made of bronze symbolic of a crown from the Yoruba culture[3]. It is juxtaposed with the Washington Monument which sits a few hundred feet away directly across the street. One white, the other brown. One built by slaves, the other built by experienced architects. The past. The future. A collision of space, time, and history.

On September 24, 2016, the doors of the National Museum for African American History and Culture will officially open. If the November 2015 event was any indication of what’s to come, hold onto your hats, bring plenty of tissue, and make sure your smartphone is charged.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#BlackHistoryEVERYDAY #BlackHistory #BlackHistoryMonth #NMAAHC #HarrietTubman #LonnieBunch #Smithsonian #Museum #history #WashingtonDC #DC #DMV #NationalMall #ljsamuel #deardiary

[1] McGlone, P. (2016, January 30). Lonnie Bunch has eight months to get ready for African American museum opening. Retrieved from

[2] McGlone, P. (2016, January 30). Lonnie Bunch has eight months to get ready for African American museum opening. Retrieved from

[3] Wikipedia. (2016, February 4). National museum of African American history and culture. Retrieved from

Note: reprint from Black History Program at The Church of Our Lady and St. Basil, Toronto, Ontario

Cool Pose

FERGUSON, MO - SEPTEMBER 10: A sign welcomes visitors to the city on September 10, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The suburban St. Louis city is still recovering from violent protests that erupted after teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson about a month ago. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) On Sunday, August 9, 2015, the anniversary of Mike Brown’s killing was marred by a shooting in Ferguson, MO.  A peaceful protest turned violent overshadowing its purpose and meaning.  Those that are a part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement as well as those watching from the sidelines are left questioning this reaction.  This has fueled the argument that we also need to focus on the black on black violence that continues to plaque large urban areas in the United States and explanations of this behavior.

Black males are six times more likely to die by violence in comparison to white males.  For black males aged 15-24 years old, homicide is the number one cause of death.  The legacies of slavery, oppression, and discrimination have forced the Black male to adapt and reinvent himself and the result has been the cool pose. The cool pose is the creation of an alternate persona that shields black males against the constant barrage of racial discrimination in American society.  The cool pose has diametrically opposed effects.  On the one hand, it raises his self-esteem and on the other it further marginalizes him and may even reinforce negative stereotypes because it is outside the norm and is viewed as unacceptable. As such, the spotlight is on this group and garnishes the attention of criminal justice authorities.

Black males have developed the cool pose as a defense mechanism to everyday struggles in the inner-city.  There is a huge gap between the desired status of the American Dream and the means to achieve that station in life.  Due to the history of oppression, black males feel powerless.  The cool pose is a rejection of the definitions imposed upon them by the dominant culture through a creation of a new, individual identity.  This identity is a play on masculinity and was formed as a sense of survival (Majors & Billson, 1992).

The cool pose is black masculinity personified and involves role-playing based on urban conventions of dress, speech, and behavior.  Actors control interactions with an air that observers may view as arrogance but is grounded in honor and dignity. This stance is more prevalent among disadvantaged males and is a cultural, physical, and social detachment from everyday negative life.  The cool pose, an external projection, belies the internal pain and struggle of the actor playing cool.

The cool pose has positive effects on the black male psyche as it gives them a sense of pride, value, and personal control over their own lives.  The cool pose is a honed craft for the black male which boosts his confidence.  Conversely, the cool pose also has negative effects, some which explain the violence we see played out night after night on the news.  There is a lot of posturing between males on the street who will fight to the death to protect their image as respect is a form of currency in inner-city communities.  With so much lacking in other areas of their lives, respect is all they have and as such they go to great lengths to protect it.  One must be prepared to take a life or give up their own life to save face and remain ‘cool.’

Despite the positive effect the cool pose may have on black male self-esteem, it has increased the involvement in damaging behaviors.  Thus, the race-crime connection is perpetuated through destructive behavior maintaining high rates of violence among young black males.  Perhaps it is time to redefine this posture by holding onto that which is positive and rejecting the negative qualities that are currently sustaining the cultural, economic, and social blight.  Remold the mask, change the posture, and save the community.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#CoolPose #BlackLivesMatter #MikeBrown #Ferguson #peaceful #protest #community #masculinity #honor #respect #violence #policebrutality #police #policecitizeninteraction #accountability #socialjustice #criminaljustice #crime #justice #reform #change #dialogue #ljsamuel


Eligon, J. and Smith, M. (2015, August 10).  Emergency declared in Ferguson after shooting.  The New York Times. Retrieved from

Majors, R. and Billson, J. (1992).  Cool pose: The dilemmas of black manhood in America. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Samuel, L. (2009). “Cool pose.”  In, H. Taylor and S. Gabbidon (Eds) Encyclopedia of Race and Crime.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.


Welcome to the You Have the Right to Remain...Informed blog.  My name is L.J. Samuel.  I am a criminologist and author in Washington, D.C.  The purpose of this blog is to keep you informed about crime and justice issues in DC, nationally, and globally.  As the saying goes, 'knowledge is power.'  This is particularly true when it comes to your personal safety, awareness of procedural rules, and your legal rights. I have more than 10 years experience working in a major metropolitan police department so the information provided here will be fact filtered through first-hand experience.  This blog will feature fun, interesting, and thought provoking articles and posts in the area of crime and justice.  The goal is for readers to learn and expand their knowledge as you have the right to remain informed.