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.

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

The Hip Hop Fallacy of racial harmony

There is a false belief(mainly propagated by rappers) that hip hop has been a driving force in the decline of racism. I would like to present an argument that this is indeed false. White Americans in this country have a long history of enjoying and appropriating black culture but still maintaining their racist ideologies towards blacks. Let’s have a brief history lesson of black music in America.

Let’s begin with Ragtime. Ragtime which was a precursor to Jazz and arguably the most popular musical genre across the world during the early 20th century. Ragtime began in the late 19th century in African American communities in St Louis. The most popular composer Scott Joplin, who was born in Northeast Texas. Helped to make Ragtime a popular and viable genre. His most famous piece, Maple Leaf Rag (which I advise anyone reading to listen to on YouTube).

Point to be made from this is while Ragtime a black musical art-form was the most popular musical genre of its era, with many of its black musicians being celebrated worldwide(sound familiar). Occurred during the nadir years, the worst period of race relation(post slavery) in this American history. On average, a 100 African Americans were lynched a year, between the years of 1875 and 1920.

Jazz which followed right after Ragtime was the most popular genre in the world, from the 1920s up into the 1930s. The 1920s was, in fact, synonyms with Jazz, with many historians coining this period as the Jazz age. Jazz could be heard from clubs all the way from up in Harlem to Paris to even Tokyo. It perhaps was the first time that American culture began to have a global presence. While many Whites frequent Black establishment(really only in the Northeast cities and a few Midwest cities) you would have been hard press to any Blacks frequenting White establishments.

I bring up Ragtime and Jazz just to illustrate a historical example of White’s enjoying the fruits of African American culture during a period of legalize racism and rampant racial violence(look up the red summer of 1919). Now let’s get into the modern era.

Hip Hop today is a musical genre that is widely consumed around the world. Millions of youth from various ethnic backgrounds have adopted hip hop fashion, language, and many other of its cultural facets for themselves. Hip Hop in itself is a facet of African American culture. originating in poor African American communities in the Bronx. As way for young inner city kids to express themselves.

This brings me to an important topic, the usage of the N-word(or frankly nigga). The word Nigga is just a simple modification of the word Nigger. A derogatory word used against African Americans throughout most of their history in America.

First, there’s the argument that nigga is an entirely separate word from Nigger with its own meaning and context. This is not the case at all. Some will say that nigga is used as a term of endearment, no it’s not! I’ll present you an example of this

Two black men who are friends greeting each other “wats up my nigga” example two an inner city drug deal gone bad “I’m going to kill you nigga” can you figure out the point I’m trying to make.

Hypocrisy of murder in the Black community

Why is that whenever there’s an incident where a young black man gets murdered
by a white police officer, there is this outrage in the black community? But this same
feeling of grievance isn’t present by the significant number of young black men
murdered by other black men. The fact is, statistically the number one cause of death for young black men in America is murder, and the number one perpetrators in these murders are other black men.

Now I’m not  exonerating a white cop that kills an innocent young black man, but I
believe that their needs to be the same amount of passionate outrage for the thousands of black youth’s that die on the streets of Chicago, Detroit, or New Orleans by other black youth’s every year.

I understand the background of these crimes are disenfranchisement and lack of
Opportunities; that lead’s many young men of color to crime. With very
little hope for the future and lack of scope of what is out there for them.

So as anyone who is reading this blog might realize I’m addressing the recent events
in Ferguson, Missouri. I don’t need to give anyone a summary of the event’s that went on this small city these past few months(as anyone who doesn’t live under a rock should already know), Ferguson is going through political unrest. Massive amounts of protesting and rioting. Police serving as these crowds adversaries’ in this tragic tale of community anger towards what they deem as injustice, for an innocent youth.

African Americans need to take more responsibility in our neighborhoods, more supervision and insight in our children lives. There is no reason me as a black man should feel safer in a white neighborhood then I do in a black neighborhood.

Constantly we are bombarded with the rhetoric that we should fear the police, but is it the police that is the reason many black communities are parallels to war zones, those not different from the ones you would find in Syria, Gaza, or the Congo. The neighboring city is St Louis, a predominately black city, that has a considerable homicide rate (ranked number 3 in America and 45th in the world). Is just another example of how many blacks ignore problems of violence’s blighting the black community every day.

Now when it comes to the police, I believe they should be held responsible. Critics to this blog post will reply that cops are public servants and should be held to higher standard than some black gang-banger. And to this criticism, I’m in complete agreement. Cops are given a great deal of power. They are allowed to carry firearms in public and under certain circumstances are granted the right to take an individual’s liberty and life. To quote a famous fictional wise man “with great power comes great responsibly”, police officers have a responsibility to protect and serve the community that pays their salary. Many times as I walk through my neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens I see cops accost black men for no other reason but that they are gathered together in a particular area. Wondering to myself if this was a white neighborhood, with white males, would the police be so attentive towards this group’s actions are would they just go on with their duties? My instincts steer me towards the latter.