There have been a lot of conversations over the last couple of years around White privilege as an idea and also what it looks like in action in society. Privilege can be easily understood as an advantage, making white privilege the advantage people have in society when they are looked at as or classified as white. The way this privilege shows up in society is that whiteness comes with many assumptions, most of which are advantageous to white people while at the same time working against everyone else, further widening the gap between people economically and socially. White privilege is easy for most people who are not white to identify, and almost always sparks a heated conversation with both sides holding firm to their ideas and perspectives. It is important to note that the pinnacle of white privilege is white MALE privilege, the male part being the piece that permeates all other groups of people.
Each ethnic group is a microcosm of the larger society. With that said, we should find that male privilege in these groups is intimately linked to white privilege in general and white male privilege specifically. The #metoo movement has almost every man feeling like he needs to defend himself against the tidal wave of mistreatment claims made by an overwhelming amount of women. In these times though, the defensiveness is causing men to double down on what they believe manhood is, which is unfortunately in many ways the same exact version of manhood women are challenging. How do we move out of this stalemate between the sexes?
A large part of expanding our awareness around a topic is seeking information on the subject. Beyond all the complaints voiced by women about cat calls, discrimination and other types of harassment, which are all valid issues, there are still other systemic problems that keep women as second class citizens. One of the most known issues is the unequal pay rates between men and women. In 2019, it is ridiculous that women still make cents to the white male dollar. Here are the numbers:
- Black women- 63 cents
- Hispanic women- 54 cents
- Asian women- 85 cents
- White women- 79 cents
This alone speaks to what many women are calling toxic masculinity; a type of masculinity that instead of elevating femininity, degrades it. With all that women in general and black women specifically endure, we as a society still make it our business to prioritize men’s feelings. Why? What can we do to change this?
Just like we as black people would appreciate for white people to use their privilege to speak up and act against the injustices of the system, we as black men have to use our privilege as well to work to heal the imbalance between men and women in our community. When black men feel stressed and oppressed we have the option of leaning into our manhood, because we know that is a place of power. We are often ignorant to the fact that when we lean in too hard to being what we think a man is, we become misguided and align ourselves with the type of masculinity that is oppressing our women. Black women have historically always come to the aid of black men, and that energy isn’t always reciprocated, but that is changing. For people who study, they know that for every Trayvon Martin there is a Renisha McBride. Too often our women feel they have nowhere to turn because the society oppresses both her blackness and womanhood.
If you ask the average AWARE and conscious man, they will tell you they don't mean to be oppressive. Too often we as men see words and actions from women as an attack on our manhood that are actually the opposite; they are meant to build us up and help us grow. Something as common as our lady complaining about our lack of consistency is not an attack on our manhood, it is our beloved queen letting us know that the man she knows us to be, is consistent. He means what he says. He always shows up as his best. The feminine force is always going to upgrade its environment, ALWAYS. If we really want to level up, we have to do a better job at supporting our women, PUBLICLY and PRIVATELY.
Can all the real men please stand up? The men whose masculinity isn’t threatened in these times. The men who know the scales are tipped in their favor and are not afraid of what a world with BALANCE looks like. The men that don't shame women for embracing their sensuality because it isn't packaged for male consumption. Let’s listen to the women in our lives, listen to their experiences, their fears and hurts. Let’s raise our daughters and nieces to see value in themselves. A great quote to end this is a quote from Michelle Obama when she spoke at the Obama foundation Summit in Chicago in 2017:
“We LOVE our boys and we RAISE our girls, we raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men. And I think we pay for that a little bit”.
So with that said we think it is important to say: Dear Black woman, WE LOVE YOU.
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