Hopefully you read the piece that came before this one about how we LOVE black women. This is the other side of the coin, a companion piece if you will. Now we know it is popular to talk about how men aint shit and itemize all the ways we are messing up. Much of the points are valid, but as we do with all topics here, we need to put the lens of awareness on why men in general, and black men specifically, are the way they are.
Before we dig too deep into this, it is important that we can all agree that masculine energy is fundamental to being balanced, and that men much of the time are the physical embodiment of masculine energy, though not always in the healthiest form. What does it mean to be a man? What are the expectations that come with being a man? With women? With other men? These are all the questions we will explore throughout this post.
What is a man? A huge distinction that must be made here at the outset is that one of the main traits of a MAN is being someone that is able to provide safety for his family: emotionally, mentally, physically, and of course spiritually. The only way someone is able to be up to this task is if they roll up their sleeves and get to work on themselves, pushing themselves to grow into who they need to be. The work required to be fully men many times escapes us because we haven’t had the best models growing up; no one told us the areas where we fell short, and if they did tell us it was in a way we weren’t receptive to for whatever reason. Men and women are socialized differently, with women being encouraged to be more introspective and caring, while men are instructed more in how NOT to be, than how to be. Men are discouraged from articulating their feelings; talking about how you feel, especially in some of the harsher hoods, puts a target on your back. You’re soft. There are people like Daoud Abeid (@daoudsun) and places like The Cave of Adullam (@cave313) who are working with men to try and dismantle those narratives that block us from our greatness.
It is very difficult to deny the fact that black people in general, and black men specifically are the most feared and hunted people on the planet. Given this, it comes as no surprise that black men make up a disproportionate percentage of the prison system. What happens to the family when the father is removed from the home? Here are some Pew stats:
- 4x greater risk for poverty
- Girls are 7x more likely to become a teen mom
- Children more likely to have behavioral problems (especially boys)
- Children are more likely to go to prison or commit a crime
There have also been psychological studies that looked at the relationship between the father’s presence in the home and young girls menstruation cycle, concluding that the more a girl feels secure and protected by her father, the later in her teenhood her period will come.
We have to address the issue of many men not having the emotional intelligence needed to be their best selves. For black men, most of us grow up looking up to the local dope boy, or the uncle who garnered all the attention from everyone’s mom and auntie. These examples very rarely had the emotional awareness to impart any real game to the young boys on how to become whole and healthy men. As a result we are usually left with men who are emotionally feral, looking for power, attention, and love in all the wrong places. When life brings this type of man in contact with a potential wife, it can start out great, but in time it becomes a gumbo of emotional abuse, miscommunication and confusion. We have to go back to the drawing board and see which types of relationships are working and how power circulates in these instances. For too long we have been adopting the European model of relationships, marriage, and family, and it has not been working for us. To our detriment we have been looking at how white men conduct themselves, viewing it as powerful, adopting it, and oppressing our women and families as a result. An important point to make about relationship models is the fact that during American chattel slavery the power dynamics between enslaved men and women were more egalitarian, or balanced. This type of power model also brings us back to the said GOLDEN times of our ancient past where the divine masculine and divine feminine were balanced and whole.
Black man, you are a king; and although you may not be acknowledged as such, it is important to conduct YOURSELF as the lord and master of YOURSELF. Dr. Naim Akbar said it perfectly when he said “You must first be a king of your own personal kingdom. If you can't lead that kingdom on your own two feet, you can't lead a bigger kingdom”. Our women are looking to us to be the example of stability and discipline; first and foremost with ourselves. Too often we want women to submit to us simply because we are a man, but that viewpoint is the inherited toxicity we have learned from a society that is still in its infancy spiritually and emotionally.
We didn’t create the circumstances that leave us at a disadvantage, but we can own our power and work to fix our stuff and heal. We need our brothers to hold us accountable for our actions and remind us of our greatness. When it comes to race relations and racism, we know that change will not truly happen until white people really start challenging their own friends and families to dismantle the ideas that keep racism going. Similarly, our communities will not improve until the men challenge the men to be better. The women are tired bruh.
So next time you are with the homies, don’t forget to bring this up; if we are KINGS, we gotta level up and be KINGS. No one is going to do it for us. There are so many moving parts to our oppression and suppression that we cannot control, but we can control how we show up for one another. No man is ever too big to not get checked by his boy, and when we do it with love, it makes everything that much more powerful. Let's be the change we want to see.
Dear Black Men, We Love You.
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