The Danger of Black Masculinity

For Black men, masculinity can be a dangerous. There was a time when  Black men were seen not so much as masculine, but menacingly virile, with a hyperactive sexuality that was something women–particularly white women–should fear.  While the notions of Black male virility have been twisted  throughout the years, this definition has remained relevant for many in American culture.  That perceived uber virility has now become dangerous.

As a result of these cultural stereotypes, Black men have become unjustly targeted.  The dude walking down the street is looking for blood.  The stranger asking for directions has his eyes on whatever valuables you own.  The myths themselves are even more insidious, since they continue to push the narrative of the menace of the Black man.  The murders of Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant illustrate just how significant the fear actually is.

Mya B, writer and director of  ”Afraid of Black,” a documentary detailing stereotypes and Black masculinity, discusses what caused her to make her film:

“I wanted to analyze the damaging stereotypes of black men which has led to them being murdered and criminalized. I also wanted black men to receive their glory outside of all the bad things you hear in the media and profile the amazing black men I know and who are in our communities. More importantly I wanted people to never forget those black youth and men who never got justice in death by honoring them in the film to keep them alive in our memories.”

Black masculinity is not dangerous.  The real danger lay in  misinformation, and inherent mistrust–a trap that for many Black men, is becoming too difficult to escape.

Team Negro, Black Poverty, and Race Metaphors

Woodson, LeRoy, photographer, Photographer

Woodson, LeRoy, photographer, Photographer

One of the very best pieces I’ve read in a very long time is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ retort to Jonathan Chait in regards to Paul Ryan’s take on Black poverty, and the pathology of the Black community.

Chait attempts to persuade by crafting a basketball metaphor (apropo during the month of March) while discussing President Obama’s role in assuaging race guilt, and building up Black protective armor in it’s place.  Here’s his take:

If I’m watching a basketball game in which the officials are systematically favoring one team over another (let’s call them Team A and Team Duke) as an analyst, the officiating bias may be my central concern. But if I’m coaching Team A, I’d tell my players to ignore the biased officiating. Indeed, I’d be concerned the bias would either discourage them or make them lash out, and would urge them to overcome it. That’s not the same as denying bias. It’s a sensible practice of encouraging people to concentrate on the things they can control.

Obama’s habit of speaking about this issue primarily to black audiences is Obama seizing upon his role as the most famous and admired African-American in the world to urge positive habits and behavior.

Coates counters… pretty damn masterfully:

Chait’s metaphor is incorrect. Barack Obama isn’t the coach of “Team Negro,” he is the commissioner of the league. Team Negro is very proud that someone who served on our staff has risen (for the first time in history!) to be commissioner. And Team Negro, which since the dawn of the league has endured biased officiating and whose every game is away, hopes that the commissioner’s tenure among them has given him insight into the league’s problems. But Team Negro is not—and should not be—confused about the commissioner’s primary role.

“I’m not the president of black America,” Barack Obama has said. “I’m the president of the United States of America.”

There is no conclusion to this discussion.  There has been none since the birth of this nation, borne on the backs of the disenfranchised and disavowed.   But a small fraction of that sting can be soothed by this type of cogent and witty analysis.  I get it and more importantly, it seems simple for others to get and absorb it as well.  Let the debate rage on.

What’s in a Black Name?

Are we conditioned to only accept Anglo-derived names because they’re woven into the fabric of American society, or because most people don’t make fun of them?   The Key and Peele sketch is illustrative of the humor to be had by mocking the creativity of some parents who don’t buy into cultural exclusivity.

Are some naming methods of Black parents extreme?  Perhaps. Perhaps certainly in post racial society, where it’s known that resumes with “black sounding names” are quickly tossed aside and passed over for interviews, even when the qualifications of the offenders are the same as those with non-Black sounding names.

What’s in a name for some Black folks is the evolution and perpetuation of strength and identity.  If names speak to power, pride and uniqueness, why not feel confident in hiring Jacquan over Steve if all other things are equal?  Maybe some Black names might also speak to something else; something too foreign and uncomfortable to deal with.

What’s in a name for you?






Michael Vick and the Case Against Rehabilitation

There is no redemption for the sinner who claims to be redeemed.  Michael Vick is living proof that the sinner is always greater than the sin.  Resurrecting the violent and reprehensible case of dog mass murder and torture, New York Times  sports writer Juliet Macur still believes Michael Vick is too damaged to be given a second chance at life.  Did you know he financed a dogfighting operation?  If you’re somehow unaware of this, Macur makes it plain for you:

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The Anti White Racism Argument

National Review, that bastion of strong conservative intellectualism, has a race problem:

It therefore strengthens the anti-white racism it is meant to satirize which, as it happens, is a growing problem in the U.S. — not in the suburbs or backwoods but in the corporate executive suites, the media elites, the courts, the bureaucracy, and of course the entire industry of sensitivity training which used to go under the more honest title of “Political Reeducation” in the gulag.

And so the game goes.  White intellectuals on the right prefer to engage in a twisted merry-go-round, rather than engage truthfully and openly about racism.  They cannot dignify it, they cannot profess to understand its machinations, nor can they willingly give it any substantive thought– but they can mock, mollify, and twist it to resemble some odd metamorphosed caricature.  Blacks engage in racism too, yet it is the media’s willingness to overlook that truth which renders racism into a rhetorical weapon, not a debilitating concrete one.  Tit for tat.  The sin does not wash itself away, it simply desensitizes the sinner from his pathology.

National Review and the John Derbyshire mess illustrates one thing clearly: many white intellectuals on the right still prefer rhetorical racism as their weapon of choice.  Coates argues, quite successfully in my opinion, that racism is treated as a game — a mere annoyance with no firm structure.  There are no arguments sufficient enough in their magnitude that would signify its importance.  In fact, the argument does not matter.  Only the game matters:

The conservative movement doesn’t understand anti-racism as a value, only as a rhetorical pose. This is how you end up tarring the oldest integrationist group in the country (the NAACP) as racist. The slur has no real moral content to them. It’s all a game of who can embarrass who. If you don’t think racism is an actual force in the country, then you can only understand it’s invocation as a tactic.

National Review continues to pander to the anti-white racism crowd.  Sure John Derbyshire was relived of his duties; but his pedantic and highly bigoted screed about blacks lives on through voices such as Victor Hanson and Robert Weissberg.    There are no true racists anymore.  They’re all afforded the protection from a shroud of intellectual Schadenfreude

Racism is contemptible, and it is not an easy subject to discuss.  It’s also not some gimmicky talking point or moral equalizer used to right a wrong.  It exists as the wrong.  I grow weary of some pundits engaging in humane arguments to defend those who use it as academic dogma.



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Obama The Witch Doctor Becomes Obama The Pimp

This is helpful.

This is a cartoon recently published by the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia.  It contextually hits on a plethora of offensive and stereotypical imagery, but its inherent message in light of the Sandra Fluke fiasco is even more insidious:  this campaign season will be the most heinous, well-funded exhibition of negativity ever.  And in the deluge of negative ads, the real message of who can govern and who cannot will be lost.

I sense the Romney camp via its well-heeled Super PACS will pull out all the stops–given he has no economic message–to paint this president as some foreign emissary of destruction and degradation.  Anyone remember the Obama witch doctor?  Get ready for more of the same.

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Black History, The Civil War, And Revisionist Thinking

English: Family on Smith's Plantation, Beaufor...

Is Civil War history just for white people?  In reading the brilliant essay written on the subject by Ta-Nehisi Coates–one in which I urge all of you to read–the thought seemed illogical.  After all, it is the crux of the American experience.  The battle for individualism and freedom speaks to the heart of man, and that is a struggle black people are intimately familiar with.  It seemed illogical until you delve more deeply.  The war was and is a testament to the true tenet of democracy–the struggle for life and humanity.

Many people of my generation believe in the basic fact of the war:  the north won and the south lost.  Northern gladiators beat back the wretched insurgency of southern greed and inhumanity.  But revisionism is showing itself as the true arbiter of debate.  Consider this quote from Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy in his famous Cornerstone speech in Savannah, Georgia:

“Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

American history does not exist in a vacuum, and no amount of qualifying can ever cleanse the plate of many deeds of the past.  They are deeds perpetrated by those clearly looking to create a broad design, to allow one group of people some form of inclusively for the actions of their forebears.

Stephens’ speech foreshadowed a new thought within the minds of many confederates and their descendants.  The idea that somehow the aggrieved had become the vilified in a war perpetrated by those loathe to see southern states lose their most precious commodity.  The War of Northern aggression, as its been dubbed, sees the north as uncivilized encroachers to Southern hegemony.  The new, twisted take on an old war.  To many Americans, black and white, it is an offensive white washing, and it does not reflect the quantitative and calculated destruction of black life.  An example from Coates’ essay:

For African Americans, war commenced not in 1861, but in 1661, when the Virginia Colony began passing America’s first black codes, the charter documents of a slave society that rendered blacks a permanent servile class and whites a mass aristocracy. They were also a declaration of war.

Over the next two centuries, the vast majority of the country’s blacks were robbed of their labor and subjected to constant and capricious violence. They were raped and whipped at the pleasure of their owners. Their families lived under the threat of existential violence—in just the four decades before the Civil War, more than 2 million African American slaves were bought and sold. Slavery did not mean merely coerced labor, sexual assault, and torture, but the constant threat of having a portion, or the whole, of your family consigned to oblivion. In all regards, slavery was war on the black family.

It’s no wonder many blacks might reject the history of the Civil War.  It’s understandable that many modern southern whites engage in fantastical reinterpretations of their War of Northern aggression.  To truly comprehend the horror and degradation of the war is to accept the horrors of man’s inhumanity toward man.  It is to accept that our forefathers–those deified in modern society–willingly broke their own vows and pronouncements, and willingly accepted the subjugation of man.  There aren’t many who have the stomach for such straight talk.

Black History–indeed American history–should be about straight talk.  History should be colored.  it should be accepted, as painful, intrusive, and stark has it may be.

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Lin Versus Tebow

Jeremy Lin at the 2010 Golden State Warriors o...

The difference:

[I]t’s for reasons completely disconnected from statistics where the differences blare like a siren. Tim Tebow‘s commercials and personal branding speak about how everyone has always doubted him, but in reality, he’s has every privilege and advantage. He was home schooled but was still allowed to play Florida high school sports. He was allowed to play in a college spread offense built around his rather unique skill-set. He was drafted in the 1st round even though many scouts saw him as a mid to high round project. He is treated like an All-American superstar even without the game to back it up. His clean cut, Evangelical whiteness has caused Republican politicians sportswriters and a whole sector of sportswriters to simply swoon…Tim Tebow had the benefit of the doubt. Jeremy Lin was just doubted.

There is no comparison–in terms of the stories and their respective games.  Their journeys have been vastly different, and it is this reason why Lin’s story is much more compelling.

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The Essence Of The Romney Campaign In One Quote


“This week, President Obama will release a budget that won’t take any meaningful steps toward solving our entitlement crisis. The president has failed to offer a single serious idea to save Social Security and is the only president in modern history to cut Medicare benefits for seniors.”

Not only is Romney proving to be a weak candidate, his propensity for flip-flopping is so effortlessly casual, he does it in mid-stream and mid-thought.  Simply amazing.

Determining fact from lunacy in politics, culture, and American life