Blaque Ink Archives: Being a Black Man…With Privileges

The following was posted March 29, 2011

A man is never supposed to cry. To do so is a sign of weakness. 

A man is supposed to be strong and virtually emotionless in the face of conflict with the exceptions of being angry. 

A man is supposed to be good with the ladies, a loveless, sexual king. The emotion he is allowed to show are lust.

A man is supposed to be ready to fight at any given time, and he must suffer the wounds inflicted upon him in order to man up. 

A man is never to be subordinate to women in money, power, and respect.

This is a list of things expected of men in today’s world. In many corners of the globe a man is expected to be the leader of virtually everything in almost any given society from the household to the nation. In this society it has become the norm to believe men are more qualified to be leaders in careers, politics, economics, sports, and religion while, at the same time, some believe that women are only good for certain positions like being housewives, secretaries, and sexual score points. This society was built on such a premise that granted privileges to males, white males especially, and gave adversities to females. 

However, I was not aware that being a black man has advantages of their own especially over black women. 

I was aware of white privilege and how it represents a racial double-standard in this nation. I even wrote about how it creates a long list of adversities for blacks in a white racist country like the U.S. I still stand by my list, but I never considered that a certain group within an oppressed group can have privileges. Such is the case with black men as shown in this list written by Jewel Woods.

It seems that those who possess privleges over other groups often forget their own humanity and the humanity of lesser and nonprivleged groups, and black men are no exception. Yes. As black men we are still heavily marginalized in this society and are demonized at almost every given chance, but we still have privleges over our sisters who are also marginalized and demonized. 

When you think about it, our humanity was stripped away by force due to slavery, oppression, and racism, but as males we still have advantages over our women. It seems “cool” to be a ladies’ man, but it’s never cool for a woman to be a men’s lady. Being dark-skinned seems to be a preference to a lot of (black) women; not much so for our female counterparts. Even though it’s been done to death and beyond, to degrade women in rap and R&B videos by having them shake their butts is entertainment, and degrading black women by acting and dressing up in drag is considered comedy. 

Black male privilege can be damaging to not only communities but also to the black men themselves. As black men we are bounded by the myth that we are sexually well endowed and are “masters” of the bedroom. However, I believe it’s closely related to the myth that black men are the biggest rapists, a racist idea created by white males. While not all black men are rapists, the fear of being a stereotype threat protects those that are rapists which may be a factor in this case. At the same time a black male rapist confirm the racist stereotypes of white supremacists mindsets.

Presenting the image of a strong male can be damaging is when we have to present an image of a strong black man to our family members, peers, and to society. As written earlier a man is not supposed to express emotions except for maybe anger and lust. For black men (and women), we are not even allowed to be angry, at least not in public. We are expected to “be a man” take whatever pain comes our way without the slightest hint of emotional weakness. If black men and boys cried, they would be ostracized by our male comrades. They would be called various names and even laughed at. Why? Because a black man is supposed to be hard. 

Unfortunately, holding in emotional pain can be harmful. Holding in anger can be destructive on several levels. A black man who lost hope and had his dreams destroyed will express his anger one way or another, and most likely someone will get hurt and someone will end up in prison.

Lastly. as with the case of me, a black man is expected to be athletically gifted, another notion born from the racist belief. We are expected to be masters in sports, but never expected to be talented beyond shooting hoops and making touchdowns. From experience, I was never good at sports. I don’t even know how the games are played. Growing up was difficult because I was expected to be good in sports. When I wasn’t, it invited harsh words and belly laughs from my male peers, especially the black males. 

I believe that if one acknowledges one’s privileges, one is on the right track to heal. For black men, we must realize that we have privileges over our black women. We must express our pain without engaging in violence against our women and ourselves. We must educate our young boys on what kind of society we live in and build them up to love themselves for who they are. Overall, we must re-examine our own attitudes in regards to women, power, sexuality, and respect, we must learn how we got to this point, and how we can continue from there.

The same applies to all men. We all must confront the problems of our privileges and images when it relates to being a man in a male dominated world. 

I think that would be the manly thing to do. Don’t you think?


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