Dangers and misconceptions of masculinity among Black males

On an early bus ride to work one cold morning, I had a conversation with an old drunkard. The conversation began when he had made a remark of the book I was reading, which happened to be the “Souls of Black folk” by W.E.B Dubois. He remarked how I was reading a very important book, to paraphrase him 

“ The black man is lost…..the black man isn’t the gangsta…..the white man is the real gangsta….the black man is weak…you see how they emasculate the black by having him wear dresses and these kids think it’s cool…. The black woman doesn’t respect the black man(as he was saying this he pointed to two black female passengers who were in front of us)” He spoke on until his stop.

This brief conversation left an impression on me. Everything this drunkard old man said wasn’t nothing I haven’t particularly heard before spurted out particularly by older black men. I must say some aspects of his brief speech I actually agree on.

Chiefly that the black man is emasculated. But his emasculation has nothing to do with black men being depicted as being gay or wearing a dress but is because the black man in this country holds no power.  A brief definition of masculinity states “possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men”. This is, of course, a very broad definition leaving one to have many interpretations of this. But generally, masculinity is associated with power. Now let’s define power( in the noun sense). In a quick google search, I have came upon two definitions. First, “the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality”, second, “the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events”.

Is the black man in this country in possession of either definition. I am in particular interest of the second definition as it is potent to my argument. When asking yourself who are the most powerful people in the world what comes to mind. For most people, it might be a political leader or a business magnet, two groups that exempt the second definition to the fullest. Now consider your typical political or business leader, what else comes to mind? Generally men, who wear suits, that are well spoken, and who possess great intelligence. Men of these positions are not your general ideals of urban masculinity. They are generally not physically imposing or brash in their speech, but yet they hold considerable power in any modern society.

Now when you began to think of the race associated with these types of men it generally tends to be white (i.e Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Elon Musk) of course there are notable exceptions(Barack Obama, Jay-Z), but in general we see the men with all the real power in our society as white men.

In Urban culture masculinity is heavily associated with gangsterism( the exhibition of gangsta behavior,  promiscuity with many women, and the ability to murder other men with little remorse), This is something I have encountered many times myself as a black man who grew up in South Jamaica, Queens, NY. Your entire identity is based on not being deemed soft and earning the respect of your peers through the acts of violence. OF course, this isn’t exclusive among inner city blacks( I can think of Machismoism in Latin America as an outward example), but this is dangerously pervasive in the black community among black males.

I believe the contemporary understanding of what it mean to be a man in the black community leads to violence in the inner city, the sexual objectification of black women, and the pervasiveness of homophobia in the black community. I believe that as black men we need to question what it really means to be a man, and if that definition is holding us back from achieving true masculinity i.e power.

Social media and narcissism

As I scroll through my Instagram feed I can’t help but notice similar patterns appearing. Mainly people(particularly females) posting relentless selfies. It dawns on me then that Instagram was just a place for people to feel as if they are important as if a hundred million other people haven’t posted the same type of picture. I see nothing but pretty girl amassing tens of thousands sometimes million of followers for nothing other than being pretty. By the luck of a genetic lottery, you can have thousands of people all over the world follow and take an interest in your daily life.

It becomes as if some people live their lives for social media. Going on trips just to brag about where they went later on facebook. Going out to fancy restaurants just to take a picture of their meal. Posting how depressed they are to gain sympathy from their virtual friends. It becomes quite disgusting in many aspects. This has become such big business that people literally make a living from posting on social media. Companies will penny out a lot of many for kylie Jenner seventy million Instagram followers. So it becomes profitable for her to endlessly post pictures of the “glorious life” she lives, her famous friends, extravagant parties, trips to far away getaways, all make her extra richer.

Social media has become a place to feed upon essential human needs, first is to gossip and second is to satiate the feeling of boredom. We as human are naturally nosey and want to know what our neighbors are doing so we scroll through their news feed, pry into their photos, and see what friends we share. Second, in this passive digital time, we are constantly seeking an avenue to pass time by. As Heidegger pointed out boredom is the acknowledgment that time is passing, if your job is unstimulating you have your phone and scroll through  Instagram. But is social media the best way to learn from each other or the most constructive use of our free time? The answer to both these questions is probably no!

According to recent studies, prolong use of social media increases your chances of depression. Why is this? Because people feel their lives are inadequate compared to others they see on Instagram and facebook. But what they don’t realize is that people don’t show the “nitty gritty” side of their lives on facebook(unless of course to gain sympathy from a depressing post). People generally curate their lives on the internet.

I wonder constantly if people do this just to feel good about themselves. Those Brittany post a photo of herself in a bikini just to gain appraisal from her followers? Does John post about his recent promotion to gain flags of congratulations? These internet celebrities essentially do nothing but indirectly brag about how much better their lives are compared to everyone else, and people just passively feed into this virtual game of appraisement

I myself use social media and do fall trap to everything I bare onto this post. I have at times taken a hiatus from facebook and have generally felt much better for it. I only use Facebook or Instagram as a way to promote any of my endeavors. This being said there are legitimate benefits to social media, whether it be promoting a product or service, getting an important message out, or keeping in touch with far-away friends and relatives. The question is what are you using it for?

The Answer to the Great American Pandemic

A short film I made a couple of years ago. It wasn’t the best of quality, but I did try my best on it. The premises of the short, is a satire of the black male experience in the United States.

Black America is White America entertainment

Black America has become white America source of entertainment. At glancing a list of the richest African Americans, I noticed an alarming trend, here is a link to the list so you can see for yourself, “http://www.ranker.com/list/the-20-richest-african-americans/worlds-richest-people-lists

Have you figured it out? Basically with the exception of a few nearly everyone on the list are entertainers of some sort. Whether it be sport, music or film.

Now look at a list of the richest Americans in general, “http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/top20/#3df0ffc3d8d5”, not one person is an entertainer, the list is made primarily of tech entrepreneurs, energy tycoons, and media moguls.

Black people have been “chucking and jiving” for white America since the minstrels of the 19th century. The only difference today is the market reach and the profitability. Many African Americans take great pride that black people have an influence on pop culture, but at what cost. Have black people become so ghettoized in how they aspire to be successful in this country.

Go to any urban school in this country and ask the typical black child what would he or she aspire to be, and the most popular answer is either a sports athlete or a rapper. You will be hard pressed to hear child aspire to be a tech entrepreneur or business mogul. Why do young black people have such a limited scope of career choices? The answer lies on what black youth see in the media. Media is very important in how people view themselves. Films, music, television, etc. informs us on how to think, how to behave, and how to view life. When you’re black you are particularly sensitive to media influence. This because as a minority you have limited exposure to representation that you can relate to, and when you do get that representation, it hold a lot sway on your thought process.

The worst of this is that black Americans don’t even fully profit from their talents, behind every multimillionaire black entertainer there is a much richer white person in the background profiting handsomely of black ingenuity. Yes, Michael Jordan became a billionaire from his signature sneaker, but Nike in return became a multi-billion dollar sportswear company with a near monopolistic hold in their industry. Yeah, rappers make millions of dollars from tours and single sales, but record companies make billions of dollars every year in licensing royalties.

Black America epitomizes cool in this country, and corporations gladly use us as marketing tools, finding an athlete to petals their sneakers, rappers to wear their clothing or appear in their soda commercials. I’m am not at all angry at anybody for profiting off their marketability, but I do just want to fully analyze the situation in terms of race in this country.

Us as black people need to do better for ourselves, we need to teach our children to have a diversity of aspiration. You have a lot better chance of becoming an oral surgeon or an electrical engineer than a rapper or an athlete. It vital for the future of Black America that our youth have realistic aspirations.

Why Black America need a conservative revolution!!!

I know many black people took the victory of Donald Trump very hard, but I would like to suggest maybe such a victory isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Black people in this country(certainly not all) are content on receiving government handouts. A Trump victory was seen as a sign of a reduction in public housing, food stamps, and Medicaid. My issue with this is how did so many black people become so reliant on the government for self-sufficiency.

The bottom line is that the government is not going to help black people with their issues, which are (but not limited to) high cases of violent crime in black communities, low educational achievement, a high incarceration rate, high illegitimate births, and high instances of poverty. All these can neither be solved by either Democrat or Republican party.

In the case of inadequate education, is it a system of bad funding in the school systems or a culture that prompts anti-intellectualism in the black community. What is a school but not just bricks and books, it’s the pupil and the quality of teachers that truly set the educational standard. The chief reason Asians do so exceptionally well in school is because of their collective attitude towards education.

In the case of black crime, when will individual accountability be taken into account. The same sob story that been going on for decades, of black men being forced to a life of crime because of lack of opportunity. My argument against this is was there even an attempt of many of these black men to make their own opportunity, by investing in themselves through education, setting up their own business, etc. In a predominantly black city of Detroit were African American make up 80% of the population, only 10% of the businesses are black own. Who’s at fault for this? Is it the opportunistic South Asian immigrant or the sluggishness of black entrepreneurs in these communities.Many black people complain about the inability of getting loans to set up businesses, but is it racism or lack of creditworthiness that many blacks are unable to attain loans.

Black American are currently caught up in a downward spiral. Black people in this country has one of the lowest median income of any racial group, currently standing at about 35,000$. There is absolutely no wealth being generated in swaths of black communities across this country. Constantly people complain about gentrification, but many time gentrification is the only way to invigorate these blighted communities with the investment and capital that is needed to improve these areas. Without urban renewal schemes these communities, Harlem, Brooklyn, the South Bronx would remain poor.

Let’s talk about housing projects and how it basically became a way to keep millions of people in concentrated intergenerational poverty. Many of the urban developmental programs can trace the history back to 1930s as a way to provide low-income citizen access to modern housing. What started out as a progressive housing policy became an urban-policy disaster from Cabrini Green to the South Bronx, thousands of public housing projects became infested with crime, poverty, almost any case of urban blight one can think of.
The solution for the Black American for his advancement is to as I proposed in the introductory paragraph is to stop relying on the government and start relying on himself, no more food stamp, no more public housing, no more government welfare. It’s quite simple, get educated(particularly in a marketable skill such as engineering, finance, and medicine), wait until you are married to have children, invest your money in stock and bonds instead of a pair of air Jordans. Bottom line, take responsibility for your own life!!!

The black men infatuation with the other

Black men more so than any other group of men holds an ‘aw’ for women outside their ethnic group. Now some would state I am making a bold statement and that I am generalizing all black men. But I would like to pose crucial points to prove my case and to also acknowledge that not all black men fetishize for different ethnic women(I include myself in this acknowledgement).

Let’s examine the media, one needs only to watch the typical hip-hop video and would be hard pressed to find a black woman who possesses dark skin, typical African feature, as well as natural hair. The male protagonist in these video’s(the rappers) are for the most part  black men themselves but yet they surround themselves with fairer skin women. Hip hop acts as a form of fantasy, typically men brag, about their access to wealth, power, and women. In the fantasy that hip hop portrays women who are light skin, possess straighter to curly, and have racially ambiguous features are seen in high esteem.

As a black man who lives in New york City I can tell many women of other ethnicities do not hold the same gaze on black men as we do towards them. One only need to go on a dating website to find how many advertise how they prefer white and Hispanic men, with some explicitly listing “no black men”. I personally do not mind if some women are not attracted to black men for I do not seek their validation. But many other black men do. One need to search countless forums asking the same typical questions “Do Asian women like black men”, “do middle eastern women like black men”, “do Russian women like black men”, I would highly doubt if the same question is asked vice versa.

One has to look at the disparities in marriage rate between black men and women, more black men are married than black women, despite the fact that there are 1 million more black women to men. This can be(at least partially) explained by the fact that 20% of black men who get married, marries women outside his race.

My case in point is that as black men we need to stop putting these white, Asian, and Hispanic women on these pedestals. The reason I believe we pedestal these women is because the black community still holds a lot of self-hatred which is has passed on to us through hundreds of years of slavery. That ‘s the only reason why as collective so many black men find typical eurocentric feature so attractive i.e light skin, straighter hair, etc.

In conclusion, I have nothing against being attracted to women of other races, I myself see the beauty in all races of women. My only objection is the pedestalling of other women while black men undermine our women. We as a people are still in a sense an “oppressed class”, particularly in the state of our mental affairs, and should do our best get out of it, first starting with some self-love as people.

Fashion and identity

We live in a very materialistic world. in which how we dress defines what type of person we are. I say this because people stereotype and get a sense of idea on what type of person you are primarily by the way you dress. Here’s an example you walk down Wall Street what do you see a large number of men wearing suits, your immediate assumption these are all wealthy men, you see another group of men in jeans and hoodies your opinion of them may begin to deter.

Why is it that we spend so much of our income on how we dress. what is the sole purpose of clothing? To regulate the temperature of our bodies(in which why we wear coats in the winter), or is it to protects us from the environment that why we wear shoes on our feet(at least in the industrialized developed world); but yet people become obsessed with fashion to the point that they’ll spend their entire paycheck on one a shopping spree.

so what is the purpose of clothing? As I alluded to in my introductory paragraph human beings use cloths as a form of identity. you recognize a doctor by his white trench coat, as you recognize a police officer by his blue sometimes black uniform.we impose identities onto people based on how they dress. A young man walks down the street sagging paint, wearing a do-rag it might come to mind that he is a hoodlum, another man walks down the street wearing an Armani suit we say to ourselves this person is wealthy and respectable.From my observation cloths are used as a status symbol.

Yet is a pair of air jordans worth its 250$ price tag. Especially when you consider the amount of capital in labor(very little since it’s made by a laborer in china the gets paid a third of a U.S workers would) or the material input which is may not be more than 20$ dollars. I appreciate free market capitalism in which firms seek to make a profit, I get it. But at the same token some common sense has to prevail, as consumers we shouldn’t be so swept into spending our money(many of us work extremely hard for) just to wear the same iteration of sneakers that essentially hasn’t changed in design for 25 years and is purposely kept in low supply by Nike to jack up the price, to feel any type of self worth.

In society many people(many times typically from poor minority background) spend a great deal of their income on clothing, finding self-worth through keeping up with trends, this can be quite destructive, one can look at all the black that have gotten murdered just for a pair of 200$ sneakers. How a person living in public housing and substitutes on government assistance still finds the spare income to allocate towards a pair of jordans, yet some of the rich’s people in the world spend very little in thought or on income on the way they dress. Most famous is Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook whose net worth as of 2016 stands around 46 billion, famously only wears a gray t-shirt, blue jeans, and converse as his typical attire.

There is a serious need for dialogue on priorities when tech billionaire spends less on clothing than your typical inner city young man.

 

Is being black ugly?

What is it about black features that supposedly makes it so unattractive to some. Is it the lush lips, High melanin skin complexion, or just the coarse and strong hair. In my personal opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the physical features of the African, which I shall demonstrate

First and foremost we need to understand why do different groups humans look so varyingly different from each other. Before I get into this, I also want it to be known that humans share about 99.99% of our genetic code with each other regardless of “race”. Humanity as a species(anatomically modern) first originated 200,000 years ago somewhere in east Africa. Then around 50 thousand years ago bands of humans left Africa for Europe and Asia(Human reaching the Americas 15,00 years ago). That being said the first humans had to survive in very hot and arid condition of Africa. The sun provides humans with vitamin D, through ultraviolet radiation. Too much UVR and a person can develop skin cancer, a good protection from this is to have a lot of melanin, which translates into darker skin, to protect Humans from skin damage. To project the tops of our heads, coarse and tightly bound hair was needed. To better expatriate sweat, broad facial features with larger surfaces tend to do a better a job.

So why are African features so unattractive if it was so evolutionary advantages. First it has to do with the legacy of slavery. When one group of physically different humans, subject another group of humans, those attributes that belong to the subjected are deemed inferior, just as their status in that respected society.

Black people in the United States as well as across Latin America. Embody a sense of inferiority in their appearance. This is why black women in America spend billions of dollars every year on hair straightening product as well as hair extensions(colloquially called weaves). The fact that women who are lighter in skin complexion and possess European physical features are considered more attractive by many black men. And why many black people will ridicule each other for possessing features that deemed to African, such darker skin(being called crispy, darker),thicker lips(bottom lip jocks), or coarser hair(nappy hair, bad hair as opposed to good hair which would be European).

There is a societal delusion in the inferiority appearance of Africans. One common derogatory remark is the comparison of black people to monkeys. I will show how this dis-remark can be reversed on Europeans

First and foremost Monkeys are quit hairy, African tend to have very little in body hair as compared to Europeans. Secondly monkeys tend to coated in hair that is similar to Europeans texture then to Africans. Thirdly monkeys are quite pale if you were to shave them. Fourthly monkeys have extremely thin lips and noses similar to Europeans than to Africans. This is not to compare Europeans to primates but just to demonstrate how nonsensical it is to call Africans monkeys.

There is no reason why black people or any other racial group should be demonized by their appearance. At the end of the day, we are all humans and beauty can be found in every skin hue, hair grad, eye shape, and body size!

Why Asians are not underrepresented in Media

There has been a lot of anger spewed around on the grounds of Scarlett Johnson playing Major Motoko Kusanagi(A fictional Japanese Character) in the new Ghost in the Shell film, due for release sometime next year. My interest here is not to defend the producers choice in casting, but to examine it in a different mindset.

First, let’s address the issue regarding Asians being under-represented in the media. As of the 2010 U.S census, Asians represent  4.8% of the U.S populace. The term ‘Asian’ doesn’t do well to convey the diversity of this population, that adheres many different religions, speak many different languages, are culturally quite diverse, as well as being quite phenotypically different from each other. The largest ethnicities counted for among ‘Asians’ are Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Koreans, and Japanese. Each group standing alone would barely make up 1% of the U.S populace. Why do I bring this to bare is because, when arguing that a group is underrepresented in something we need to understand what percentage that group is of the populace. Because Asians make up a relatively small minority of the United States it seems logical they would also make up a small percentage of who we see in the media.

The second point I would like to bare is that people argue why filmmakers would cast a Caucasian lead in a film based on a Japanese property. It is important to understand just because a film is based on works from another culture doesn’t automatically mean the film is going to be set in that setting. Keep in mind that this is an American adaptation of Japanese fictional story, so casting actors that fit the American standards(which according to us Census is still 60% white) isn’t that absurd. There are many instances when for example Japanese producers adapt American properties for their own market, casting Japanese actors in roles played by traditionally white actors, I think of the Japanese 1970s live-action Spider-Man TV show.

Finally, quite comically, is how the Japanese view this situation themselves. In an article by Kotaku, internet comments by Japanese fans seem to convey that Japanese themselves don’t see this a big deal. In fact, comments reflect how ironic it is that White people in the United States are bothered by this issue more so than are Japanese people. I have attached the link to this article here…http://kotaku.com/the-japanese-internet-reacts-to-scarlet-johansson-in-gh-1771544034

Why Gender is not fully a social construct(part 1)

The argument has been made that gender is fully a social construct, with no biological merit. I want to argue against this point. First, I do consolidate to the fact that there are obvious cultural artifices in constructing how the two sexes behave. Pink is for girls while blue is for boys, Ashley is a girl’s name and john is a boys name, etc, these are all examples of gender norms put in place by society. But there is also certain predisposition that is fully biologically based. Point one, men and women have varying degrees of hormonal difference. Men on average have far higher levels of testosterone than women and women on average have far higher levels of estrogen. Our emotions and behaviors are heavily based on chemicals in our brain. For example, higher levels of testosterone lead to a higher instance of aggression, assertiveness, and violence. Estrogen makes individuals more empathetic. These two chemical being unequally distributed among the sexes leads to both having two different biological dispositions and behavior.

There has many who point out how Gender roles are socially based. But I want to argue that gender roles are a part of human evolution. Humans are a sexually dimorphic species which means that there is the physiological difference between the two. First men are on average 3 inches taller and weigh 25% more than women. Nature doesn’t just make species sexual dimorphic unless there was some sexual are surviving benefits from it. Case in point, a book written by Leonard Shlain “Sex, Time, and Power”(A must read) Shlain( a surgeon) theorizes that because women on general suffer from Iron deficiency(due to the fact they lose blood every month from menstrual cycles, as well as their red blood cells produce less Iron), and the fact women have to go through eight months gestation and six years weaning a newborn child. Women needed men to help them attain Iron by providing her with meat, in return the man got copulation.

For those(particularly feminist) who are skeptical about this. Imagine 150 thousand years ago, living in the Savannah of East Africa being a pregnant mother(let’s imagine 6 months) trying to go hunting. You would put yourself as well as your child at great risk. Sure you would be able to go forging, but subsisting on local vegetation alone will not be enough for you are your gestating child. Men would have to go out and hunt while the woman remained in the village. This arrangement would exist for all of humanity until the emergence of civilization around 10 thousand years ago.

With the beginning of civilization, humans moved away from solely surviving on wild game and vegetation but to domesticating both crop and animals. Many of the roles that woman had previously still remained somewhat the same, because women still got pregnant and had to attend to her young children. Men now had to attend to the field are face starvation. We see the emergence of patriarchy in this time period. Men having a physical advantage over women, took responsibility of keeping the society safe from outsiders as well as seeing to all the intense labor required for agriculture.

Feminism as we know it wouldn’t become a serious ideology in Human affairs until the industrial revolution. For good reason. Humanity(at least in the west) weren’t reliant on muscle power but that of stem and steel to grow its food. Women could go out for work. This new era of technological advancement is the only reason feminism was able to emerge!