There are three videos circulating that have me thinking about Black men and masculinity and violence.
The first is the new Marsha Ambrosius video, Far Away, we see a story where a young man, who interacts with Marsha, is gay (desires men sexually) or queer (operates outside of the heteronormative ideas of sexual desire). He is beaten by a group of Black men, presumptively, because he is gay and he subsequently commits suicide.
I am delighted that Marsha is leveraging her major label power to tell a story that needs to be told. This video is powerful because it speaks to the psychological costs of being oppressed because of who you desire sexually, and being open with that desire.
Honestly, I can’t believe the men embrace and kiss in the video. Black men who are intimate with each other simply isn’t allowed in pop culture. I don’t know if Black men can BE intimate with anyone in pop culture for that matter. Yes, they may have sex, but to be intimate, not so much.
In fact, when I saw For Colored Girls in a movie theater filled with Black women in DC, there was a huge range of hissing sounds that came out of the mouths of the women when the Carl character revealed to his wife the Lady in Red (Janet Jackson), that he was bisexual. Yet, the women were quiet during the rape scene between the Lady in Yellow (Anika Rose) and the man she was dating Bill (Khalil Kain). The point that I am trying to get at is that this experience showed me how conservative Black people can be around issues of sexuality.
In a post “On (Black) Masculinity: It’s Fragile + Illusive” earlier this year I wrote about Black masculinity and masculinity in general.
“…Heternormative masculinity is an extraordinarily fragile and unstable construct and identity that leaves men having to prove repeatedly that they have “it”. They are put in constant fear and anxiety that they will be dubbed less than real men and therefore, be demoted down the gender hierarchy and be subjected to greater violence by other, higher men.”
This has me thinking about how men are subjected to violence in way similar to how women are, but under difference circumstances. It all turns on “conform to the way its done” or get smashed. For women its gimmie your number, or imma call you a ______ and slap you. Act like a man or imma sock you in the face and call you a _____. You get my drift?
The second video is the Ted Talk by Tony Porter where he talks about black masculinity. The most relevant parts are:
1:12 – The man box and socialization of men
2:35 – On teaching a 5 year old how to be a man.
4:11 - On how his father apologized to him for crying in front of him.
6:50 – On deciding whether or not to participate in a gang rape as a teenager.
The “man box” is a powerful way for describing how sexism works, it takes the focus off of individual men and places the focus on social forces (how people in schools, churches, families think about gender roles).
Again, Violence or the threat of violence is used to enforce gender, racial and sexual roles.
Keep this in mind while I talk about the next video.
In this video I just watched today a Black Uncle whoops his presumably 13 or 14 year old nephew with a belt for “Fake Thugging” on Facebook. He then forced the young man to put the video on Facebook. #triggerwarning.
I have long been reluctant to talk publicly about Black parents beating Black children, however, it needs to be done. Honestly, its one of the things that I have been scared to write about and I don’t scare easily.
bell hooks has said Black feminist’s lack of writing about how some Black parents, spank, whoop and beat their children is one of the ways in which Black Feminist have failed Black families. We analyze domination between men and women and Black folks and White folks and even global violence but we don’t closely analyze how parents dominate children.
This is important.
For the most part globally and locally it is assumed that women will do the lion share of child rearing. Whether or not this assumption is legitimate is a WHOLE OTHER blog post. But because women do most of the child rearing, disciplinary parental violence is something that I have been looking or a language to articulate.
For me, the violence done to the young man in the Marsha Ambrosius video is similar to the violence done by the uncle to the nephew, why? Violence or the threat of violence is used to get results from a human being, to force them to do something, to dominate them.
Is the violence connected for you?
Why or why not?
Do parents have a right to beat their children? #backtoBackBeatings
Does beating your children teach them that People Who Love You Have a Right to Beat You? If no, how?
Isn’t beating children as a much of a behavior deterrent as sending someone to prison?