“Black Masculinism: A Working Framework” by T. Hasan Johnson, Ph.D.

I advocate for a Black Masculinist method of social analysis when interpreting phenomena and conceptualizing our worldview regarding Black male life–and by extension their contributions to the Black community. I created the concept because to date, much of the Black community’s analysis on gender has focused primarily on women and girls, with reflections on Black males articulated primarily from a Black feminist vantage point. Simultaneously, mainstream media’s perceptions of Black males is mostly framed stereotypically, adding to ideas that stem back to the 1800s.

The need for Black males to be studied from a Black male experiential perspective is critical, because it has all but been erased from mainstream consideration. We are perceived as animals with no reason…even in our own communities. Black Masculinism presupposes that said males are human beings, replete with experiences, uniquely specific histories, and institutional treatment overlooked by others’ that could, if given an opportunity, more clearly explicate the Black male context.

Black Masculinism centers Black males across age, class, and sexuality and seeks to frame the actual state of male life in measurable terms. Advocating for Black Male Studies, we endeavor to empirically contextualize the major pillars that indicate Black males’ quality of life: carceral treatment, criminal and civil sentencing, leading causes of death, health, employment, income, wealth status, education, violence, intimate partner violence/homicide, rape, housing & homelessness, types of labor, political approaches, wealth, family court impact (divorce and child custody), fatherhood, forms of protest, marriage, and the history of institutionally-based treatment are just beginning points of analysis. I call for Black Masculinism to highlight Black males’ lives beyond society’s assumptions, often rooted in stereotype and based on shorthand information, slanderous media representations, and even personal grudges.

The areas of analysis for Black Masculinism are anti-Black misandry, white supremacy, Black gynarchy (Black female patriarchy), the dual economy, socio-economic underdevelopment, outgroup male treatment, institutional exclusion from wealth development, Black male history, and the strategic and historically-based use of controlling images in media to shape public perception. It is from these areas that we frame and interpret Black male life. Black Masculinism can be used multidisciplinarily to analyze film, art, dance, socio-economic status, literature, politics, social behavior (marriage, family, socialization), and many more across a wide variety of fields.

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For example, I recently re-watched Morgan Freeman’s film Lean On Me (1989) from a Black Masculinist standpoint, focusing on how school districts underdeveloped and underfunded Black schools during the War on Drugs era, just after the de-industrialization of Black urban communities. Amidst rampant unemployment, the state threatens to take control of the state school system. Two Black men took action to rehabilitate the worst performing Black school. Facing a double-crossing white mayor, a racist fire chief, a vengeful Black gynarch, impoverished and apathetic youth, activist/educators Principal Clark and Dr. Napier navigate people with conflicting agendas who question their motivations for rehabilitating the school system. The film illustrates how institutional white supremacy, anti-Black misandry, poverty, political corruption, and Black gynarchal resentment at Black male leadership converge to castigate Black males across class and status.

 

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