The Real Crisis of Black Manhood

The Real Crisis of Black Manhood

The current fight against the feminization of Black men is a fight to sustain an oppressive status quo of female degradation and subjugation, it’s not about preserving Black manhood.

First off we need to understand that: Black manhood has never even existed in the USA!

We were not men under chattel slavery, we were not even recognized as human. After emancipation and during the Reconstruction era we simply imitated the roles, behaviors, standards, dress, and values of white men, that’s all we had known as Black men in the US for over 200 years. White men were our only reference in that era; unless you point to the Africans who escaped and lived among non-racist, rebelling Native tribes (but they represented less than 1% of the Black population in the US at that time).

So we were not Black men then we were pale imitations (pun intended) of white men. However, if you’re conscious you would not even define the psychopathic white men who’d just spent 400+ murdering, raping, enslaving, and stealing their way across two entire continents as “men,” right? So, even in our imitation of white men, who were behaving as savages, we were not men.

Then we fell into a state of second class citizenship during the Jim crow era, so again, we were not even allowed to imitate our savage male oppressors in our pursuit of manhood and masculinity. I don’t need to repeat the tragic policies, treatments, and systems of Jim Crow, right?

After the Civil Rights Movement and its resulting reforms we went right back to the exact same shit we did after chattel slavery, and during Reconstruction: using a White Male Yardstick to measure Black manhood!

Even Black Nationalists, these “hate whitey” dudes use the White Male Yardstick to define and measure Black manhood. Look at movements like the Straight Black Pride platform and compare and contrast it to the platform of evangelicals or even the Republican party presented during the Republican National Convention this year if you don’t believe me.

So, how can there be an assault on a thing, a concept, an idea that never came to formation? Black manhood is a ghost that Black men have been chasing since the loss of our sovereignty, our lands, and our identities under colonization and enslavement.

The actual recovery of Black manhood ain’t got shit to do with being the opposite of women, rejecting all things feminine, “wearing the pants ” in our relationships, being the head of our households, “bringing home the bacon,” rejecting child support, keeping our child support paid in full, an 800 credit score, being chaste or fucking every woman in the world, being married or having several baby mamas. None of that will prove, secure, or validate Black manhood. It most often reinforces the status quo – the primary threat to Black men, Black manhood, and everything else of value in this world.

I’m not saying don’t do the good shit, I’m just pointing out that the good shit ain’t gon’ free us, not alone it will not. Even the Black Puritans that talk that “make the Black man the head of the family” shit, love to tout the stats from the Jim Crow Era, but they ignore that we were still hanging from trees when our pants were pulled up and we had higher marriage and family stability rates than whites in many regions. They also over look the fact that those same “traditional” men loved Liberachi, Little Richard, and other “sissy stuff.” Just sayin. (Hell, my great grandfather, who raised a Black family under both Jim Crow and the Great Depression – a real macho man – loved the The Liberachi Show back in the 50’s! Back then no one told Black men that watching gay shit on TV would make them leave their wives, turn their sons gay, and make them gay too I guess. LOL. Lemme get back to my points.)

The only way to recover, or better yet, the only way to fully recreate Black manhood is to dismantle all of the systems, institutions, practices, and policies that robbed us of our manhood. That’s it. It wasn’t Black women that did this, it wasn’t Black LGBTQ folks either. We can reject them, fight them, or work to dominate or expel them, but we’ll still not fill that void, still not recover our manhood.

We have to target the systems of global white domination and capitalism.

The great thing about identifying and targeting the true source of your emasculation (your political, economic, social, and ideological castration) is that the the process of doing so will, in and of itself, not only recover and cultivate your manhood, it will also cause that manhood to be recognized and respected as your own. Even your enemies will be forced to respect you. They’ll definitely still hate you but they’ll be forced to respect you as well.

When you misidentify and target other vulnerable populations your imitation manhood becomes a threat to your own people while never being a threat to your true oppressors. You imitation manhood becomes divisive, those you seek to protect and lead will see you as a threat.

Also both your victims and your oppressors will mock you because they see how foolish your are to be trying to plant, root, and cultivate your manhood within the very system that robbed you of it.

Patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, and persecution of LGBTQ folks are all cornerstones of the systems and intuitions of white domination – just check the history – so if you are engaged in these actions or hold to ideologies that justify and sustain these behaviors, then you are a not on the path to recovery of Black manhood. Sorry.

I’m not saying you gotta go tree-hugging in the woods with radical feminists, or don a Speedo and be grand marshal of your local Pride Parade. Continue to do that manly shit you enjoy and you ain’t obligated to like shit you don’t like. You are only obligated to respect the humanity of others and to unite with those who hold common cause with you. That’s all.

Once you make a proper assessment of the real threats, and construct viable solutions your actions will be better informed, even if you don’t change your fundamental positions on gays, women, and manhood. I’ve seen it before, I’ve gone thought it myself.

Ultimately Brothas, our problem is not feminization, the problem is the degradation of femininity, of women within this culture. The same struggle that will bring you your manhood is the same struggle that will construct a society where men do not deem it an insult or threat to be compared to women.

I’m all for the recovery of Black manhood, so let us better understand what that looks like and what it requires of Black men.

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Diallo Kenyatta is a Pan-Africanist based in Chicago. He’s been active in the Black empowerment and liberation movement for 20 years, starting in high school with the Stop the Violence Coalition and the Block Brothers Program. He has also been a member of the Black United Front, and helped to found the Black Oppression Opposition (B.O.O.M.) Movement in Kansas City.

Today, Diallo continues his efforts, opening cooperative businesses, engaging in urban organic agriculture, building links between the African Diaspora and liberation struggles in Africa, opposing private and state exploitation of his communities and Black communities across the US.