A New Black Masculinity by Brittney Farr

            My stepdad Joey Moss was born in Columbia, Miss. on August 22, 1954. He said he can remember when Blacks and Whites still had to use separate doors, water fountains, and bathrooms. There were different schools and different parts of town for Blacks and Whites to hangout in. Moss said he was raised by his grandparents when his mother left the South to come to California.His grandparents did not think it was a good idea for him to go so he stayed behind with them. Although his mom and dad were not married, he was close with his father and he was a part of his childhood. He even lived with his dad for a year in Mississippi.

            It wasn’t until Moss was 11 that he came to California to live with his mom, brother and sister. It was a big culture shock for him because Blacks and Whites were sitting, eating together and drinking out of the same fountain. Moss originally went to school in Oakland, Calif. until he was 16 and then moved to Napa Valley when his mom changed jobs.While in school, Moss was good in sports like basketball, football and baseball. He even earned a scholarship but his grades weren’t up to par for a university. He went to junior college where he played basketball, but because of his bad behavior, it was suggested that he go into the army.

            As a member of the armed forces, Moss trained in South Carolina, Illinois, and overseas in Germany. He spent almost two years in the army and in the course of his time overseas, Moss developed bad habits with drug and alcohol use. His drug use contributed to his early exit from the military and he was led to return to California.Because of his military experience, Moss was given a job as a U.S. postal worker, only to lose that job because of participation in an illegal strike against postal service.

            In 1982 Moss got married for the first time. He trained and studied and got a position with the California Department of Forestry (state fire department). He did well and got promoted from a firefighter to a fire engineer, but once again because of his drug and alcohol abuse, he was asked to leave.

            During the last two years of his employment, Moss’ wife got sick and passed away from lupus. Within six months, his father committed suicide. The loss of both lives coupled with the loss of jobs contributed to his drug and alcohol use. Soon he was informed about a drug and alcohol program for veterans. In 1991 he enrolled in the Veterans Administration Hospital in Menlo Park, Calif.  He completed the rehabilitation program and that was the last time he abused drugs or alcohol.

            In 1996 Moss met Kimberly Miles while working a job in Monterey, Calif. and they married in 1999. He acquired training for legal support service and soon started his own business where he did process serving. This included serving subpoenas, legal documents between two parties, and medical records in personal injury lawsuits.As of the present, Moss said he’s proud that his son and daughter (me!) are turning into responsible adults and staying out of trouble. Moss is involved in his local church and has remained drug and alcohol free since 1991.

            Moss said one of his desires is to coach sports. He previously coached his son for five years. He said he enjoys working with young men who have difficult backgrounds because he can relate and he thinks he could be an asset to them. He believes he is able to be a good person/man and lead his family in a positive direction.

            In class we’ve learned several different aspects of what society believes makes a man “manly”. Some main components were things such as being tough, not crying, and just showing no emotion. Then, we discussed some characters that seemed to go against the norm of what it is to be a Black man today. Based on my stepdad’s past it could’ve been easy for him to stay in stereotypical categories (drug use, bad behavior), but today I think my stepdad is a good example of a Black male who exemplifies an alternative type of masculinity. He has made a contribution to my life and to the community.

            A very common stereotype of Black men is that they do not take care of their kids. This stereotype is prevalent in society today because the media portrays a lot of Black children as being fatherless. Also because statistics show there are a large amount of Black men in jail, thus leaving their children behind.

         This is definitely not the case with my stepdad.  My stepdad came into my life when I was around 7 and I’m 22 now. He took care of my older brother and me when our dad did not. I believe he doesn’t fit under this stereotype because never once did I feel like he would abandon us. Not only did/does he take care of his kids, but we’re not even his biologically. He does more than provide for us. He actually makes the effort to spend time with us.When my brother played basketball he was there cheering him on. When I was a cheerleader in high school he was right there with a video camera. Although some Black men do things to take care of their kids and the household, I feel my stepdad goes beyond what is “expected” of him. He doesn’t look at us as someone else’s kids, but his own.

        Another way in which he proves that Black males aren’t limited to stereotypes is that I’ve seen my stepdad cry before. Black men are seen as having to be tough 24/7 and when they cry some see it as a sign of weakness. My stepdad can be a pretty emotional person sometimes and he’s not afraid to show it in front of others. Of course I’ve seen him cry at things like funerals but there have been other occasions as well. My stepdad does all the “manly” things the media says men should do, but he’s also strong in that he can do the opposite and show emotions that some would deem “weak.”

        Lastly, my stepdad has contributed to the community by taking what he’s learned growing up, and giving that advice to younger boys. As mentioned, he was a basketball coach and therefore he came across a lot of different stories of the young men he was training. If ever one of them needed something, he was there for them. In one instance, my stepdad helped a boy who wasn’t well off financially or family wise. He would give him money to buy lunch during basketball games and later even invited him to dinner at our house. In the media we don’t see a whole lot of black men being portrayed as good role models to those who have no one else. Since my stepdad didn’t have the most perfect upbringing, he uses his life as an example to help others when he can.

         My stepdad Joey Moss exemplifies an alternative type of masculinity than what we see in popular culture because he goes against the stereotypes of a “typical” Black male. He takes care of his kids without being forced, he shows emotions easily, and he’s always ready and willing to give advice to young Black boys who need help.


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