“We have to be distrustful of the ideology and the people in the class position that’re trying to serve as the spokespeople for a race that tries to socialize everyone else into their ideology. So when these women are speaking, they’re speaking from a positionality of privilege and… White supremacist backing. Because there’s no way that so many with degrees in English should somehow be in the limelight as commentators, spokespersons for the race, and policy analysts. This is a deliberate organization of Black people, especially in the last two decades, where public intellectualism has become overwhelmingly conservative, hell-bent on propagating White liberalism, and fundamentally tied to the denigration and rationalization of the mass incarceration system and the demonization of Black men that takes Black men out of communities and out of homes.”1
When my only-child son was a toddler, I put him in a daycare run by a Black feminist. He has always been in the 99th percentile for height and weight. Anyway, it quickly got to the point where she would have complaints about him every day, and as one of the few male children there I was always confused at her treatment of him (it was always sort of linked to a benign disdain). The final day he was there I came to get him and she said he had hit a girl who took his toy away. She was angry, self-righteously so, and decided that he was too much of a problem. The last thing she said was, “how dare he hit her—SHE’S ONLY TWO YEARS OLD!” I was stunned. We painstakingly looked for a daycare run by Black folks and I didn’t expect a gender issue… I gathered his stuff, gently picked him up, kissed him and said to her, “Ma’am, HE is also only 2 years old.”
RaKhem & Mommy
Why mention this now? What does this have to do with anything? Well, this was the first thought I had when reflecting on how Black feminists (female or male) see Black males. Despite that he is essentially no different than the other kids (except that he was one of very few males there), her approach was to attack him by expelling him rather than appreciate that he was, too, only 2 and was acting his age. You can see this menacing individual at work above. 😉
If you’ve read this blog before you know I am critical of Black feminists-nationalists, a small group that attempts to galvanize Black women via Black male denigration. This group attempts to claim they represent Black women’s interests despite that most Black women do not identify with their ideology. Their style of argumentation is usually not to confront people directly, but to dismiss them in tertiary conversations over social media and use attitude, sass, and dismissive gestures & hashtags (e.g. #BoyBie and #MasculinitySoFragile) over facts or peer-reviewed data. Let’s stay clear: they are on a mission to legitimize themselves as a political demographic. By stereotyping Black men as monsters, they can better define themselves as more humane.
The latest salvo in their fabricated war against Black men is via ‘Very Smart Brothas’ from TheRoot.com’s Damon Young. His latest “essay” entitled, “Straight Black Men Are the White People of Black People,” is an open assault on hetero Black males. Somehow, he divides gay and straight Black men, despite that Black men tend to be treated (and socialized) similarly as far as being Black men in a racist society. Meaning most Black men are still men, and their masculinities are often overlooked (for better or for worse) when they are assessed by society. Here, the assumption is that gay Black men laud femininity, thus making gay masculinities acceptable. In other words, the only thing that makes gay Black men acceptable to feminists in contrast to hetero-Black men is their supposed willingness to counter hypermasculinity with performances of “feminine-approved” masculinities. It’s a narcissistically-sanctioned femi-masculinity that complements Black feminists, where gay Black men are considered honorable Black women, while simultaneously ignoring how these men are still men and subject to the vulnerabilities that Black men suffer from. Yet ironically, there is not a data-set that I’ve found that delineates between Black gay and straight men as far as their progressivism or enlightened sense of gender roles.
Still, the core of this debate is about attention, and Black gender intellectuals are overlooking actual deaths and oppression(s) for public attention despite that what little attention Black men have received hasn’t yielded Black men any tangible benefits. In fact, it has become commonplace to quickly add in other demographics when singling out Black males for fear of accusations of sexism. Many Black gender scholars engage ad hominem arguments and participate in a low-level war against Black men. Essentially, Young is arguing that because Black men aspire to be White (read as patriarchy/privilege), they therefore must seek to oppress Black women and enjoy privilege that Black women do not.
First, there’s no empirical metric that highlights this supposed privilege. If you look at another post by Young entitled, “Types of Black Privilege, Ranked” (September 21, 2017), Young posits a list of supposed “privileges” that Black folk have. As expected, many are targeted toward Black men. “Privileges” such as:
- “Just got a fresh shape-up yesterday and everyone’s treating you like you’re a half-inch taller than you actually are privilege”
- “Nice and unreceded hairline after 30 privilege”
- “Tall-ass dude privilege”2
In other words, “privilege” for Black men seems to be tied to aesthetics (hair, height, etc.). Although written to be humorous, it nonetheless affirms ludicrous arguments sans facts and popularizes slanderous terms such as ‘Black male privilege.’ To his main points in his “Straight Black Men Are the White People of Black People,” he provides no evidence that Black men aspire to be patriarchs—he just assumes it despite acknowledging that,
“In America, we are near or at the bottom in every relevant metric determining quality of life. Our arrest and incarceration rates, our likelihood of dying a violent death, our likelihood of graduating high school and attending college, our employment rates, our average net worth, our likelihood of surviving past 70—I could continue, but the point is clear.”3
He immediately argues that those numbers pale in comparison to the plight of Black women. He states, “Intraracially, however, our relationship to and with black women is not unlike whiteness’s relationship to us.” This is a slick and yet disingenuous statement because it’s factually untrue. On the majority of metrics we as a society claim to value, Black men find themselves worse off than Black women. From health to home-ownership, violence to rape, education to incarceration, income to voting capacity, or employment to murder, Black men are routinely victims more so than oppressors—even when compared to Black women.
10 Leading Causes of Death for Black Females in the US, 1999-2014
If you study the leading causes of death for African American men and women, we find that Black men die at higher rates from in-utero to 75+ years old. They die much earlier and far more often until the age of 75. In essence, it could be argued that we die to exhaustion prior to 75, then Black women die of conditions and diseases that are statistically age-related.
10 Leading Causes of Death for Black Males in the US, 1999-2014
But why say these things? Is it to denigrate Black women? No. Is it to suggest that they don’t suffer from oppression? Hell no. It is to argue that if our issue was solely about race then the data on Black disparity would be gender-balanced, but since its demonstrably tipped to (poor) Black men’s detriment it would seem the race/gender/class intersection is important, just not in the way intersectional feminists suggest.
Paradigmatically speaking, in order for Black men to be the “White men” of anything, they’d have to share the power dynamic White men have in relation to others. They don’t. Especially not with Black women or Black LGBTs. And no, “privileged victim” status is. not. a. damn. thing. Meaning if having attention on our plights (e.g. incarceration) meant anything intrinsically valuable then Black men would have lowered incarceration rates, empirically provable privileges, and be verifiably better off than others. Yet for some reason there’s no discernible societal empathy that has translated into widespread opportunity for Black males of any age. Here, not even Young can frame a cogent argument for Black male privilege without sounding ridiculous.
Dr. Tommy J. Curry on Yvette Carnell’s Breaking Brown
Thankfully, people such as Dr. Tommy J. Curry, Yvette Carnell, and Antonio Moore tackled this issue with integrity. Moore, calling in after the bulk of Curry’s interview, brilliantly asserts how Young, a graduate of an obscure college with a degree in English, should not be qualified to speak about issues focusing on Black identity and quality of life. Carnell comments on how she’s even been attacked based on her defense of Black men using the data, while Curry describes how this dynamic came to be. He also mentions some other key facts. Too many to name here, two that stuck out to me were his argument about Intimate Partner Violence in Black communities and educational access. Routinely blamed on Black men, reports show that Black women have historically been as violent (at times more so) than Black men (see Carolyn M. West’s “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate”? Black Men as Victims and Perpetrators of Dating Violence” in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, p. 240-243). He further argues that violence in Black communities is not affected by large-scale Black male incarceration. Put another way, violence in Black households continues—even without Black men. This suggests that again, Black men cannot be boogeymen when neither their presence nor absence changes the amount of violence in Black homes.
Another point mentioned by Curry is that only 9% of all bachelor’s degrees have been obtained by Black women (about 21% of Black women have college degrees), suggesting that those who espouse such divisive Black feminist-nationalist ideas are actually in the minority. The majority of Black women—instead—live a reality with Black men, and do not exhaust their energy extolling Black feminism. That said, it mirrors this blog in that my work is not about disparaging Black women, but rather it’s about contrasting misandrist stereotyping of Black men with data, perspective, and accurate information.
Young’s article highlights the importance of accuracy. He and “Dr. Kristian H,” an “assistant teaching professor (adjunct instructor) in the Department of Health Policy and Management at George Washington University,” misread statistical data by avoiding intra-racial comparative gender analyses while doubling-down on Young’s arguments by asserting the assumed truthfulness of Black male privilege because, well, Black men argue back against the concept by using similar arguments as Whites use to deny racism.4 (Ooookaaayyy…) Anyway, she continues by saying, “Black men have historically only had power over Black women, so you’ve made us suffer to help ease your pain. You have disrespected us, you have degraded us, you have silenced us,” but fails to define what this power Black men have had and how it functions. She doesn’t even bother to prove it exists. She also mentions the oft-claimed “street harassment” and a “string of deaths in DC.” Here, Black men are supposed to be irrevocably responsible for oppressing Black women simply because she merely asserts it as some sort of truth based on…well…uummm…well just because she says so dammit! And that’s supposed to be enough. She says, “And they [Black men] are doing it [oppressing Black women] when they refuse to acknowledge the role they have played in creating a system that disregards Black women.” One question, what system? What system have Black men ever created that oppresses Black women? Short answer, there isn’t one. “Dr. H” is an example of the opening quote by Curry on Carnell’s show. Her type of critique is exemplary of the type of work that agent provocateurs perform: deflect and mislabel. Of all the deaths and oppressions that Black people face, she asks that Black men be responsible for nebulous “crimes” against Black women that lack substance or validity. And if Black men protest they’re like White men. The only acceptable option? Sit quietly and accept her statement as true without response. (Sigh)
She does offer some stats however. She states, “According to a 2017 CDC report, Black women are four times more likely to be murdered than white women. Homicides are the second leading cause of death and over 50 percent of female homicides are committed by intimate partners.” The 2017 report analyzes data from 2003-2014, but data only as it relates to female victims.5 The above charts are also compiled by the CDC, but encompass dates from 1999-2014. And although you can see that homicide rates of Black women are high, they pale in comparison to the numbers of Black males killed by homicide. For Black males, “homicide” is the 5th cause of death across all ages, with 109,467 killed. Homicide is not even in the top 10 causes of death for Black women, as only 14,839 died in the 15-year period.
As for the 124,306+ Black people (male and female) killed via homicide in that same period, the actual numbers of people killed by IPH are already quite minuscule, as Black women’s deaths have dropped demonstrably since the 1970s. Still, as evidenced in the interview with Carnell where she cites from the chatroom, Black feminists charge Black men with committing genocide (the term used was “en masse”) against Black women. To clarify this myth, out of approximately 23.5 million Black females in America (and 21.5 million Black males), the following illustrates the numbers killed according to the Office of Statistics and Programming, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC.
· 2003 (71 Black female victims; 24 Black Male Victims)
· 2004 (124 Black female victims; 43 Black Male Victims)
· 2005 (116 Black female victims; 55 Black Male Victims)
· 2006 (123 Black female victims; 61 Black Male Victims)
· 2007 (129 Black female victims; 55 Black Male Victims)
· 2008 (110 Black female victims; 36 Black Male Victims)
· 2009 (84 Black female victims; 34 Black Male Victims)
· 2010 (93 Black female victims; 39 Black Male Victims)
· 2011 (92 Black female victims; 56 Black Male Victims)
· 2012 (103 Black female victims; 49 Black Male Victims)
· 2013 (105 Black female victims; 44 Black Male Victims)
2014, National Violent Death Reporting System (Participating States)6
Keep in mind that women are far more likely to use proxy violence than men, drafting family, boyfriends (especially poorer women), or assassins (wealthier women) (See Ferrell, 2001). What would it do to the numbers above if we could include such numbers killed in IPH data? (Also keep in mind, even if these female-proxy killers were caught, they wouldn’t be added to women’s rates of initiating IPH. Instead, they might just add to the numbers for “homicide,” but they’d likely not be arrested for murder since they coerced someone else to do it).
As Curry argues in his interview with Carnell, the risk of being killed by a spouse in the Black community is about the same whether initiated by Black males or Black females since at least the 1970s. In fact, from 1976-1985, Black men were more likely than Black women to be a victim of domestic homicide.7 Most victims, approximately 93% of Black victims, were victimized by Black offenders.”8 This goes for men and women. Violence, in fact, is bi-directional and nigh equal and many studies.9 Shaped by poverty, drugs, alcohol, etc., violence is statistically more significant in poor areas, and diminishes dramatically when income improves. That said, poor Black people’s intimate partner homicide deaths aren’t significantly different. Hence,
“Gautier and Bankston (2004) found that of those homicides that contribute to the SROK [sex ratio of killing], the SROK for Whites was 30, and for Blacks was 92. In other words, for intimate partner homicide occurrences in White couples the female was the offender in 30 instances for every 100 male instances, and in Black couples the female was the offender in 92 instances for every 100 male perpetrated occurrences.”10
In fact, according to the “Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the African American Community” fact sheet via the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (University of Minnesota, November 2013) which sourced from the Intimate Partner Violence: Attributes of Victimization, 1993–2011 special report:
- From 1994 to 2011, the rate of serious intimate partner violence declined 72% for females and 64% for males.
- In 2002–11, a larger percentage of male (27%) than female (18%) intimate partner victimizations involved a weapon.
- In 2002–11, 5% of females and 19% of males were hit by an object their intimate partner held or threw at them.
- In 2002–11, about 18% of female and 27% of male intimate partner violence victimizations involved an offender with a weapon.
- A larger percentage of males experienced serious violence when victimized by an intimate (39%) than by a non-intimate partner (32%).
- A larger percentage of males were physically attacked when victimized by an intimate partner (65%) than by a non-intimate partner offender (40%).
- A larger percentage of males were threatened prior to victimization by an non-intimate partner (39%) than a intimate (31%).
- A larger percentage of males were injured when the offender was an intimate (44%) than a non-intimate partner (22%).
- A similar percentage of males sought treatment for injuries when victimized by an intimate (11%) or a non-intimate partner (10%).
- From 1976-1985, Black men were more likely than Black women to be a victim of domestic homicide.11
The victimization of Black men goes without saying, and is immediately scoffed at by social media pundits and feminists alike. Yet there are quite a few data-sets that outline the victimization of Black men in intimate relationships is not statistically much different than that of Black women, that Black men are actually as progressive—and at times more so—than Black women on most major data indices. They are more susceptible to receiving lower education, being incarcerated more, suffer death from more issues at much greater numbers, and routinely find themselves criminalized by society despite that economic conditions explain their context.
One such example is also pointed out by Young when he states, “We are the ones who get the biggest seat at the table and the biggest piece of chicken at the table despite making the smallest contribution to the meal.” This incendiary statement, meant to sound funny, is actually a talking point of feminists. In fact, one came to Fresno State in the spring of 2017 and argued the relevance of this point in her presentation to explain and prove (definitively) the existence of Black patriarchy.
The historical context of such overblown myths is rooted in a practical reality. From Reconstruction to today, Black men work more in blue collar–physically laborious–professions. Black women’s labor is far more white collar in orientation such as in management, service, and office-related occupations while Black men generally work more blue collar labor such as construction, maintenance, production, transportation, and moving occupations.
As can be seen in the images on Black female and male occupations, the difference in service labor between them is minuscule, while in other areas it’s quite noticeable.
The point here is that Black men have been known to perform more physical labor, thus requiring different size food portions. Still, beyond the reality of that misinterpreted trope, Young argues that Black men make the least contribution to the meal. Ambiguous as to what he fully meant, the implication is that whether on financial or food preparation terms, Black men make no contribution worthy of acknowledgement. Such a gross generalization is somehow acceptable, if not lauded by Black feminist-nationalists. Yet when assessed, Black men tend to be the most progressive in terms of rearing children when compared to men of other races, while also supporting progressive roles for women more so than many Black women!12 That said, in the proverbial meal Young refers to? The progressive Black men from data-sets such as these likely either helped cooked the meal or did comparable “men’s work” around the house.
The 18th century eugenics renaissance is alive and well in Black feminist articulations of post-1970s Black masculinity. From re-enlivened stereotypes to outright hatred (some even consider Black men terrorists), perspectives on Black men are strangely reminiscent of how 18th century White ethnographers defined Black men as weak, childish, incapable, unintelligent, hyper-criminal, hyper-violent, hyper-masculine, rapist abusers. (The significance of this can’t be understated. Black women calling Black men terrorists would be like Jewish women calling Jewish men Nazis. Have we seen any significant amount of this with Jews? If you have please show me. Don’t worry I’ll wait.) Framed between scientists and White women’s accusations of rape, White America was clear that Black men were the scapegoats best used for rationalizing the brutality exhibited toward Black men. Put differently, slavery became necessary for controlling Black men’s potential rage, sexual drives, familial abandonment tendencies, and criminal characteristics. White-funded Black feminist-nationalism are at best what attorney/economist Antonio Moore calls “couture activists” (1:04 min) in that they protest at a Black Lives Matter rally on Monday and denigrate Black males by co-signing articles such as Young’s on Wednesday. At worst they are COINTELPRO-esque figures whose task it is to undermine Black sex relational dynamics and disrupt the political efficacy of Black men and women working together modeled during past political movements from Reconstruction to Civil Rights.
Approximately at 47 minutes into the interview with Carnell and Curry, Carnell makes a brilliant observation. She talks about how Black men became the scapegoats for Black women’s angst but the socio-political context that shapes Black reality is often overlooked entirely–unless it’s used to defend Black women’s behavior or life choices, leaving Black men wholly responsible for Black women’s oppression. Fruitful discussions such as this in response to superficial faux-intellectualism (e.g. Young and Dr. H) is the basis for the need for Black Male Studies. Black males need to finally be absolved of 18th century eugenics-myths and be studied using data that forces us to move past myths, stereotypes, and anecdotes people say they heard from a friend of a friend (Lord help me!).
*YouTube IBMOR Teacher ‘Black Gnostic Speaks’ kindly read a slightly older draft of this essay. Click here to listen!
- Tommy J. Curry interviewed by Yvette Carnell, “Straight Black Men are the White Men of Black People ???? Really?!?! 9/20” (at 1:15min), Breaking Brown <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xc4K5UDDZs>.
- Damon Young, “Types of Black Privilege, Ranked,” September 21, 2017 <http://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/types-of-black-privilege-ranked-1818633495>.
- Damon Young, “Straight Black Men Are the White People of Black People, September 19, 2017 <http://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/straight-black-men-are-the-white-people-of-black-people-1814157214>.
- Kristian H, “A Woman’s Response To ‘Straight Black Men Are The White People Of Black People,’” September 21, 2017 <http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_59c3cf05e4b0c87def8835c8?utm_campaign=hp_fb_pages&utm_source=bv_fb&utm_medium=facebook&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000047>.
- Emiko Petrosky, Janet M. Blair, Carter J. Betz, Katherine A. Fowler, Shane P.D. Jack, Bridget H. Lyons, “Racial and Ethnic Differences in Homicides of Adult Women and the Role of Intimate Partner Violence — United States, 2003–2014,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Weekly (Vol. 66 / No. 28 July 21, 2017).
- 2003-2014, National Violent Death Reporting System (Participating States); Data Sources: National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) for Number of Deaths, Bureau of Census for Population Estimates. Produced by: Office of Statistics and Programming, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC.<https://wisqars.cdc.gov:8443/nvdrs/nvdrsDisplay.jsp>.
- “Fact Sheet: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the African American Community,” Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community, University of Minnesota).
- Shannan Catalano, “Intimate Partner Violence in the United States,” BJS Statistician, S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007, p. 20.
- Tommy J. Curry, The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood (Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, 2017), p. 120-23.
- Mark Melder, “The Anomaly of Racial Variance In Female Perpetrated Spousal Killing: A Structural Explanation” (2008). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 2867. <http://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/gradschool_dissertations/2867>, p. 23. Props to Mr. Maddy!
- Shannan Catalano, “Intimate Partner Violence: Attributes of Victimization, 1993–2011,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2013 <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ipvav9311.pdf >.
- See Evelyn M. Simien, “A Black Gender Gap? Continuity and Change in Black Feminist Attitudes,” In African American Perspectives on Political Science, ed. Wilbur Rich. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2007. Also see Jo Jones and William D. Mosher, “Fathers’ Involvement With Their Children: United States, 2006–2010,” (National Health Statistics Report Number 71, December 20, 2013).