Being black in America is a topic that is becoming increasingly prevalent today. Racial injustice is everywhere and the oppressed refuses to be silent. In response to racial injustice, racial tension has increased as well. But what I want to discuss is something that has been developing far longer than many of us know. What does it mean to be a black man in America? I don’t know because I’m not a man. However, I can give you all my thoughts, opinions, experiences, and try to tell you what it could mean. Many may ask why does it matter? Why should it matter to me if I’m not a man? It should matter to you because you have a black father. You may have a black son, and if you have a black daughter, more than likely she’ll date someone else’s black son. So, you see the way the black males psyche has been cultivated for years affects us all and it’s something worth exploring.
When you come into this world as a little black baby boy, there is immediately a dagger in your back. NO matter what family you come from there are a million and one stereotypes, misconceptions, and “stories” you’re going to have to dispel. It doesn’t matter if they apply to you or not… you’re black, so it doesn’t matter. It’s almost like we must prove to them (racist and ignorant whites, maybe even blacks) that we are worthy, because our livelihood depends on it. Now, some things I can speak on from personal experience because I am a black person in America, and as well all know that is a collective experience. I don’t mean to make assumptions about all black men, but as I said before this is based totally from my own experiences with black men, and this country.
When we’re younger a lot of things are ingrained in our heads that we aren’t even aware of. You don’t even realize it until you ask yourself, “where does this thought process come from?” or, “where did I learn that this was the correct way to do things and that the other way is wrong?”. Let’s use the popular saying, “Boy you’re gonna break hearts!”. It’s a saying that a young boy hears a lot when he’s cute. The saying is probably thought to be harmless, but I’ll show you how that “harmless” statement can lead to other thoughts and behaviors. Telling a little guy that he’s going to break hearts tells him three things, indirectly:
- He doesn’t have to be monogamous. It’s okay for him to break hearts because he’s cute.
- Hypersexual activity. Breaking hearts is just something cute boys do.
- It also lets him know from an early age that he must like women, even if he’s gay. Which creates a complex and leads to self-esteem and acceptance issues.
Now don’t let number three run you off. It’s interesting to hear the thoughts that super masculine straight men have about gay men. Little do they know their best friends, brothers, and even dads may be homosexual. I’m not saying that when a little boy is young you should get in their faces and tell them that it’s okay for them to be gay. All I’m saying is let the children be! Whatever their sexual orientation is will come out eventually, and it will have had nothing to do with what you did or did not teach them or what was shown on television (contrary to popular belief). Young black boys who are gay do not feel accepted within their own community. The attitudes we have about gay men in this community leads them to suicide, drug abuse, and reckless sexual activity… Sound familiar? The selective care that we give to black lives angers me and it makes me wonder how we can seriously say it to racists when we don’t even treat all black lives like they matter. Being okay with someone else being gay doesn’t make you gay, having a gay friend doesn’t make you gay, and you don’t need to be super masculine to be straight.
Hypersexual activity is something that black guys are known for. Another misconception to dispel, except many of them don’t. You hear it all the time from “curious” white women who want to “try” dating a black man. They hear that black men are well endowed, so they want to try it out. Of course, black boys (boys in general, I guess) are taught that they are not allowed to turn down sexual advances from women. It’s assumed that if a man turns down a sexual advance from a woman, he’s gay. Never mind the fact that he may be celibate, abstinent, or not be sexually attracted to you. This is one of the “stories” that has stop. We get mad at our boyfriends for sleeping around, yet we shame them if they turn down our sexual advances. It may not be that serious to many people because it’s just a boyfriend? But marriage, a ring, none of that stops this behavior. Which leads me to my next point, MONOGAMY.
We wonder why men have such a hard time staying faithful? Well we told them they didn’t have to because they’re cute! Of course, there are other factors that play into infidelity. I’m not saying that one little phrase destroys a man. It’s just an example of how little things like that saying that are repeatedly reinforced can lead to these thought patterns and behaviors.
Unfortunately, the value of a black man is often put in what he can do for a woman sexually. So, men put their worth in what they can do for a woman sexually. Black men who are not well-endowed are shamed and so are men who choose not to have sex casually. Some men know that they are more than the size of their penis or what they can do for a woman sexually and financially, but what did you have to go through to learn that?
We have black men around here who are literally dying on the inside. Why? He wasn’t taught how to deal with his emotions properly. Now I feel like this goes back to the age of slavery when the black man had to be strong for his household. There were so many hardships in the time of black slavery and there was no time for any emotion to be shown. I feel like that attitude has become generational thing. The black man can’t show any emotion. He should be strong, sexual, masculine, hard, and emotionless to appease the black community. But still compliant, obedient, and unassertive when dealing with Amerikkka. Imagine. Having every reason to scream but not screaming because you’re not allowed to, because it’s not what your kind does, because it makes other people uncomfortable.
During the Civil Rights Movement, there was a tight bond the black community shared. Granted, there were two groups of black people during the movement (militant and civilly disobedient) but we were all fighting for the same cause. I bring that up because it’s the only time I can think of when we looked at our black men as brothers. Not as a penis, a wallet, or whatever else we may be needing at that time. By seeing them as brothers and friends, it’s easier to cater to their emotional and psychological needs. BY doing this I hope they would want to cater to ours as well.
Black men seriously need to start looking inside and learning about themselves. With all that’s going on in the world today, we, as black people, don’t have any room for not knowing ourselves. Not knowing what we have inside us and what it really means to be black and have such a rich ancestry. Black men you are more than your athletic ability, your money, your penis size, and your possessions. You aren’t a commodity, you’re a person, a black person. And that is something that needs to be considered, then once it’s considered, it needs to be understood. Once you understand it, then you need to celebrate it. The only flaw you have is not acknowledging and accepting them.
Image provided by: http://www.ozy.com/flashback/from-i-am-a-man-to-black-lives-matter/61443 *I do not own the rights*