Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Danger

Some time ago, I found myself suffering from fight déjà vu; the events 20 years apart. Hurrying to my fitness client in Manhattan, I jetted down to the Utica Avenue stop in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. My duffel bag in hand, anticipating the train I navigate down the stairwell. Before I can approach the turnstile, I slip pass a black man and proceed to pull out my MetroCard. I felt the man’s eyes upon me heating me up. As I turn and look I could feel his scowl directed at me. I had to ask, “Is there something wrong?” “Yeah. You brushed me.” Déjà vu began right there, or moments right before I brushed him. I remember a man claiming I bumped him two decades ago.

I often take my safety for granted in a borough I was born and raised in. As an adult, I am calm and strong here. I feel secure everywhere I walk in all of NYC. I was taught to look people in the eye, say “excuse me”, nod, show a budding smile, defuse tension with comic relief and build allies. However, I lost all my manners. Beyond brave, I’m totally offended. Few people have ever challenged me outside of cages and rings, and they were all trained. I responded, “You were standing right in the way.”

My brain is gazing at the safe and respectable script and I am clearly adlibbing. So this fellow continues, “Yeah? And I’m here. And what!?” See how we’re just feeding each other snippy comebacks and dontgiveafucks?
I wasn’t done either, “Are you mad?”
“Yeah, I’m mad.”
“Well, you’re going to stay mad.” That happens to be one of my favorite lines. I use it from time to time.

He upgrades the entire situation from disrespect to danger, “I’m not with all the talking. Let’s go outside.” Whoa! I remember a man telling me let’s go outside many years ago.

My brain attempts to force its way back in the driver’s seat. And I stop following him. Bells go off. Lights start flashing all in my head. I’m in self-defense mode. We never follow the unsafe path of our enemies. He has determined the best territory for himself. Stay where he’s unsafe. I did the exact same thing twenty years earlier. Don’t follow him outside.

Now, I’m thinking to myself about how old I am and how bizarre I’m behaving, “You don’t fight in the fucking streets!” I’m trying to compose myself as we walk down to the platform.

He says, “I don’t fight fair.” It told me everything I needed to know about him. We don’t share the same sky or deltoids…he’s a little smaller and he didn’t strike me as a trained fighter so why should I engage? He didn’t want to fight or commit a crime and neither did I.

Why was he so charged with the battery in his back? It’s obvious. He’s carrying something. Two minutes later after we separated ourselves I could hear him speaking loudly on his cellphone, “I almost killed someone today.” Little did he know, I almost threw him onto the tracks twice. Every situation, we end in prison and late for our appointment or job.

I had been here before; I had been threatened with guns and I’ve been shot at. His remarks made me angry but I was 20 years smarter. We each found the hate we were looking for in ourselves and calmed him.

The anger we have in our gentrified or dilapidated Black neighborhoods we grow up in come from the struggle to live mentally healthy surviving underemployment or unemployment, unaffordable or no housing, lack of knowledge of self, and everything awful the State system can throw at us. Yeah, we saw each other in the train station and we saw some of that hate in us. People brush us every day and the boss talks shit to us like we’re shit every day but we never confront that power. Police push us down the block or beat our heads in but we don’t threaten them. We wait to cap folks in our area or make it home to take it out on our children or spouse.

It took a little time not to want to slap that damn man for confronting me. But ask me what he did to me and I can’t tell you anything that makes sense to harm one hair on his whole body. He may have a kid he’s raising or finishing up his school year. And I almost messed up his picture day something serious. But President Donald Trump, now I’d **** the shit out of that mofo for millions of reasons and much of the world would throw me a party.
Yo, protect your hood, don’t destroy the most valuable resources –the People. Happy Black History Month.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Black Masculinity: Vol. 1

by Omowale Adewale

Former running back star of the NFL Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch appeared in a recent televised interview. During his reminiscence, he motions his hands as if brought back to his pre-retirement football days charging through the line sweeping through opposing defenders "over and over and over". Lynch explains, "if you run through a motherfucker's face you don't have to worry about him anymore."

As a fighter of multiple disciplines, that's a motto and strategy I'm well familiar with. I've had this articulated to me and I've passed this on to men as a form of self-defense. If you're out with a lover and a large man confronts you in an aggressive or challenging manner, you need to strike first, fast and as often as necessary. At a B.B. Kings some years ago, a large drunk man possessing 50lbs+ over me attempted to barrel his way through a crowd. Stumbling into me with his solid frame he met me pushing him back. The crowd blew open in a circle and everyone's faces filled with fear and shock. The large man motioned as to apologize and left. Still belligerently engaged, not him but me, I was poised to fight this man who was too intoxicated to know what was going on.

I often relive a particular summer night in a NYC club where I watched with anger, disgust and intrigue a pair of guys belittle and place at the mercy another black man in front of his lady friend. It was loud and I was maybe five or seven yards away. The bullies seemed very irate with the male friend and physically threatening with their posture and gestures they made with their mouths. They were not above average height, but they were quite muscular and stocky. The woman, a natural black beauty in the middle of the scene in a quest to restore peace diplomatically and of course, save her male friend. Years later, I thought of her being in an unfair and losing situation, but I also wondered if she could be considering her lover's dignity by removing herself from the argument.

After the two men left, I watched the couple with intense curiosity. The woman consoled the man. However, it seemed to only unnerve him as he abruptly departs some words in anger before he scurries off in the direction of the two men who humiliated him. My guess, he summoned courage and went off to search for vengeance and redemption. How he looks in her eyes is what's most significant, not her bravery and not her safety. This was me placing a black man's dignity above a black woman's security in my head. This is what masculinity typically looks like.

Psychologist and author Christopher Kilmartin described masculinity in his 1994 book “Masculine Self” as a set of role behaviors that men perform. These three episodes, two from my life, are just partial examples of what masculinity sometimes resembles in the black community. These are only the most easy to identify. Marshawn Lynch's stoic and ambiguous responses under press conference contractual obligation during the 2015 NFL season was interpreted by the black community as deviance in Black Power. The fact that he donated his earnings back to his low-income community in Oakland, Ca makes us herald him and covet his black masculinity that much more tightly. His wealth, physical power, deviance of white institutions having been fined $50,000 for not speaking to media, quiet demeanor and non-answers to white media are all masculine and black, including, his belief that silencing opposition is done through force whenever possible.

The two from my life experience can often be classified as ultra-masculine since they don't merely suggest male behavioral roles, but act out aggression and violence. Aside from my life as a fighter in the cage, I've had a constant slew of these masculine episodes throughout my young life.

I grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Before I began practicing martial arts at 18, I had numerous encounters with handguns, police officers, street fights and some gang attacks. Growing up in Brooklyn, you don't necessarily join a gang, so there's no organizational structure but a name and maybe a leader. You're just running and moving with childhood friends and having fun. This was brief, but wildly chaotic to experience for any young person. Aside from innumerable fights in Brooklyn, I could have been shot with a .25mm or .38mm in junior high school, I've been threatened with one gun and carelessly in possession of another. The one-time my childhood best-friend described to me what happened during his night before was one of my most scariest moments. Apparently, his friend detailed how he was shooting at some guys on the roof of the library with a .9mm from across another residential building. I gasped, “That was me!!” The shooter was just playing around, but so was I with my BB gun. Around high school, I began to look more dangerous so that's when the police provided more interest in me. On my way to basketball practice a Glock .45mm pointed at my chest by two cops made me numb, confused, afraid and angry. Apparently, me and a teammate fit the description of a recent crime.

As dramatic as my life compares to others, it doesn't even scratch the surface of what some other black boys have endured. I never saw the inside of a jail cell or prison. Some black boys and men raised in the ghetto would have jumped for this life.

Right in the womb, masculinity is being molded, strengthened, influenced and shaped and reshaped, and then you leave and the real mechanics start teaching you how to act like a man. Whether they're observing or listening and taking notes, men teach young boys that women are the nurturers and the cooks. But, where the hell does it say that at? I love nurturing my children and preparing meals. I detest being the provider or even seen as the brute, but I often find myself being pressed into these narrow spaces. It's like I'm dueling with gravity trying to rid myself of these behavioral roles, but they're the only ones that fit in society.

Scholar and journalist C. P. Gause explains “Black masculinity is constituted and constructed in relation to other gender identities. These constructions are based on how those relations interface with social structures. Gender and masculinity are performed on the basis of the circumstances and people that surround us and how we view the way in which we are viewed.”

Masculinity escapes me at times. Sometimes, I misidentify it, other times its significance disappears completely. And when I'm in rage, its lost on me entirely. In the most dangerous way, I exhibit masculinity routinely. Even when men believe we're not on the bottom rung of machismo we're low enough to know about each level. We explain masculinity and sexism away as if a reasonable argument exists. We don't offer up criticism to our male friends who exhibit sexism.

Had my father not wanted me or struggled to be with me after his failed marriage to my mother I might be hard as a rock and give two fucks about my masculinity or how it struts the universe. As unimaginative and stingy as Dad seemed, his kisses and hugs and words I love you every time we departed were like natural depressants to a Brooklyn hoodlum. It was the only chink in my masculine armor.

Later in adult life, there were singular moments that took sledgehammers to my masculinity. I once watched Dr. Umar Johnson, a black psychologist and speaker argue that “the LGBT community was used to take over the black civil rights struggle.” In the same breath he lambasts, “Where the hell was the LGBT community when Michael Brown was murdered? Trayvon Martin?” Actually, on the front lines. Two of the three founders of the Black Lives Matters movement are queer women. All three founders are women. They've been challenging the system since Trayvon Martin was murdered. There are thousands of LGBTQIA members in the black movement. Their separate call for rights is indicative of their specific mistreatment. Noting that their movement utilized ours is noteworthy, but it does not equate to a government plan.

Dr. Johnson mentions that “the struggle of the LGBT community is to practice a certain behavior”. This does not sound like a clinical psychological answer. It's a petty smear. Having been in numerous marches and protests and been bred in the black power struggle through my mother's background as a former Black Panther, I've seen the LGBT community when it was obvious and apparent that they wanted their gender to be acknowledged. I watched a young black man, queer, dressed in woman's cisgendered-clothing protest the death of Sean Bell. Jasmine Abdullah (formerly Jasmine Richards) a black LGBT activist with BLM was the first person convicted of felony lynching or trying to de-arrest someone received actual jail time for something so bogus and absurd. The fact that black cisgendered speakers are floating around the country like talking heads finding homosexuality more disturbing than their lack of support for real black activists is hugely troubling for the entire black diaspora.

Bear in mind, black boys needing to be mentally treated to essentially become straight again is a critical element to Dr. Umar Johnson's proposed school model. Even if LGBT was a mental health condition, there is no way he and his politically backward cohorts are equipped to heal black boys through their barrage of degrading and homophobic insults. First, gays are 8.4 times more likely to report attempt suicide and 5.9 times more likely to report depression. Next to their parental rejection the incessant attack on the LGBT community is dangerous for our black boys.

In a riveting video that discusses the war on black boys, Dr. Johnson encourages donations to his proposed school. He states, “I want this school to be a blueprint, a role model to every other independent African school in the world.” In NYC schools, there's an estimated 40,000-100,000 gay students so just the idea that Dr. Johnson will have the capacity to mentally treat gay black children that are a significant percentage of the students in one urban city is preposterous and poorly thought out. Black gay and queer boys are having a lifetime of drama just going through school struggling to just be human. I am hardly metaphysical, but there isn't any amount of science that would make me abandon my brothers because of whatever gender they find themselves comfortable. The very notion of transforming genders without helping black boys cope within their society that reduces their humanness is evil and anti-blackness. How can you be for black boys and yet, have numerous conditions for those who are yearning to be black and proud.

Recently, I saw the funniest thing on Facebook. A black boy (Jay Gunter/Jay Versace) lip-syncing Patty LaBelle, Teena Marie, Anita Baker and Fantasia. I was in hysterical stitches. Then I ventured into the comments section and saw black men creating more black male division between other black boys because of their warped sense of masculinity. On his same page of over 200,000 followers and 5,000 friends, Jay Gunter had a litany of cultural photos and political videos strewn together beaming with black pride and power. His blackness and gender identity at 18 was more broad and evolving than most 40-year-olds I've met. There were no boundaries.

The sadness is that Jay Gunter/Jay Versace has read the same comments and countless memes determining what manhood is supposed to be and he's not listed and or valued. Gunter posted one such meme on June 23 of this year which disparaged his acting like a woman. Gunter was forced to write a long message along with the meme sharing his picture in disrespect, “I have no desire to be a woman at all and I never have.” I was proud that the young man exclaimed, “Let people be themselves. Stop trying to make them seem like a bad person because they aren't doing what you're doing.” Right. Not everyone is trying to behave in gender roles.

Most of the world accepts masculinity as a biological function that is inherently male and set with male sex gender roles and behaviors. However, we see that the resources, power, and social actions and history of sex have benefited men over women. Some of our evidence include women being only 20% of the legislative branch (104/535 Congressional seats) while 50% of the US population, women earning 70% off of every US dollar in the workplace compared to men, and women are generally the victim of the overwhelming majority of rapes and murders between women and men. The manner in which masculinity parades itself is not only aggressive and violent, greedy and selfish and destructive and ruinous, it pretends to be absolutely necessary to our societal function. The purpose of masculinity is to retain power for men. Regardless of how many Serena Williams's, Rhonda Rousey's, Laila Ali's or Becca Swansons's (world record holder for the squat and deadlift) there are, masculinity will finagle an explanation to favor men.

In every nook and cranny of the world system there is inequity in the form of sex, race, class, social status and species. We also recognize that there is a particular explanation that determines that unjust hierarchy. For species, humans explain we are the dominant organism because it's based on our function of intelligence. In regards to class, we may say it's ode to ambitiousness. When it comes to sex and gender, how do we explain men having more power and resources?

Understanding the root of masculinity, especially black masculinity in the U.S. can be a lot easier to pinpoint where it began than how to rid ourselves from it. There has been a 400-year punishment of black men being forced to claim masculinity just as the name Tobey. I acknowledge it will take time to expunge it from our souls. As many times as black men use the movie Matrix to explain corruption and deception in society, it's surprising that no one realizes that male behavior or masculinity is an act in a scene we play out. Problem is, scholars are scripting the complexities of masculinity as if it were crystal clear to the world that masculinity is a behavior when the world is already conditioned to see masculinity as a sex trait.

Most every popular black Hip-Hop artist or athlete is a reminder of black masculinity. The most masculine are fighting opposing teams off-court like a Carmelo Anthony, while emitting a quiet demeanor on the basketball court. It is Adrien Broner, arrogantly engaged in loud, brash costume buffoonery while displaying boxing skills at the center of the ring. Our masculinity is in the public eye entertaining the world. Even when we're on the streets hustling, our artists rap our life, entertaining the whole globe. It's exhausting visiting the world and being expected to wear jewelry, rap or dunk a basketball.

Embarking on this topic of masculinity, I wanted to present an honest piece for black men on masculinity and make it widely accessible in terms of black male readership but also palatable in terms of reaching their sensibilities. Like all struggles with change, there exists some hurt. If I can appeal to black men’s last societal sheath of masculinity, dig deep down and take it my brother.

Underneath the tough exterior of black masculinity are centuries of pain. From the kidnapping to the bondage of our people to the edge of the coastline to the traumatic months-long journey, through the Middle Passage and the arrival to the Americas where we were operating against our own interests. The brutal torture endured throughout our existence begins in the US around 400 years ago. A brief glimpse of our enslavement commences with our ugly welcoming to the east coastal shores of Jamestown, Virginia. Immediately led to auction blocks for the commercialization of our naked human bodies we were further stripped from our family and disconnected from our name, identity, language, culture, and entire way of being. It is significant to understand that what must be taken out must also be replaced with new identity, language, culture and a brand new way of living.

Throughout our experiences under slavery, it is important to understand that we had to grasp hold onto every object that held hope. The replacements during our enslavement included distaste and hate for our former culture and the Africans that did not send sufficient resources and assistance to rescue us. Those new forms of love included Christianity and new cultural foods of pig feet and chitterlings, more animal flesh and less plants of sweet potato and greens, and western culture.

Our existence had been ripe with dreams for freedom and many thoughtful slave rebellions took place ceaselessly. They were led by men like Denmark Vessey, Gabriel Prosser and Nat Turner. These men plotted major slave revolts with hundreds to thousands of slaves and freemen that were ultimately suppressed by the whites in power and those poor working class whites at the lowest plateaus of freedom. Various pathways towards our freedom were tried in order to avoid a life of excruciating pain working in the hot sun and winter cold, including suicide and the death of our babies.

From the outset the black man was destined to learn who and what the white man was to the power structure and his own relationship to that power structure. Black men were mutilated, hanged and burned in front of their sons, fathers, brothers, mothers, daughters and sisters. After slavery or the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the horror did not subside but about 12 or so years during the Reconstruction Era. In a short amount of time, black men and women had rushed to own land under the protection of the 13th, 14th and 15th Constitution amendments which outlawed chattel slavery, provided civil rights and voting rights, although, there were no enforcement of these laws.

In 1877, federal troops left the south and gave safe entry and power back to southern states after making amends for the Civil War. During this time, the Klu Klux Klan sprung up and terrorized the black South under Christianity and white supremacy. Many of the KKK membership were officials of the state government, the courts and law enforcement. The new black community went from owning land of their former white slave masters and searching for jobs to giving property right back to whites in exchange for low-paying sharecropping jobs, which was virtually slavery. Sharecroppers, which were normally men, were essentially serfs tied to the land with a strict duty with no way out because they were under unfair contracts. Most blacks in the South could not read. In instances where there were disputes between landowners and sharecroppers, such as black men suggesting to leave under federal law, they were either forced to work by groups of white men or threatened at gun point, beaten or hanged. Many Black families, especially men had migrated by the 1920's, still, significant pockets of black populations stayed, being trapped financially or mentally, because black families knew no other land but the South.

The KKK raged throughout the South well up into the 60's, an almost 90-year reign of terror that saw no justice with all white juries and judges and no federal protection. Throughout this time of white supremacy and terrorism black people were still using the opportunities of freedom to build and develop for future generations. While we were fighting at the polls and electing Republicans and members of the Populist party of which some were black, black men and women were becoming successful entrepreneurs.

A black community in Rosewood, Florida sprung up a wealthy black town. Tulsa, Oklahoma, a place where blacks had a 20-block foundation of black wealth later deemed Black Wall Street created millions that floated from business to business with almost no outside influence. Both examples of black wealth and brilliance were destroyed by white terrorists. The bombing of Black Wall Street in 1921 was the first time a plane had dropped bombs on any people of the U.S. Hundreds were murdered and no one brought to justice.

These struggles get recorded in the annals of history and in the temples of future black minds. Black men have attempted fleeing from white supremacy, working with it as sharecroppers in the cotton fields after slavery, ignoring it and remaining numb, negotiating with it on the basis of electoral politics and even constructing wealth away from its power structure. At some point, the black man, deflected from mirroring the white man's masculinity and began to develop his own while using the exact same replica. Black men's masculinity has metamorphosed. We have emboldened each day forward. Some might say we gained adequate education and skills some time during the early 1900's and 1920's under philosophies of Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey and W.E.B Dubois. However, since we were still being lynched without fluctuation into the thousands since the end of Reconstruction I'd like to focus more on when the guns arrived in black hands coupled with the ability and guts to use them. We'll settle around the late 1950's to 1960's, although Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was known to have armed guards during the mid-1950's.

Black organizations like the Deacons for Defense and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which radically adopted a message of self-defense during the mid-60’s were fed up with racial attacks and social and political injustice. Individuals such as C. O. Chinn and activist couple Mabel and Robert F. Williams were known to be armed all the time, advocating for black self-defense. However, none are more highly regarded than Malcolm X, who not only inspired the most recent of black organizations to begin defending themselves, but his 1959 Nation of Islam (NOI) televised presentation in New York was the first time that a black leader had confidently and defiantly addressed other black people in the company of various demographics. Malcolm X spoke on the current conditions of white oppression and black history in his speech initially scaring the black community even though it was the east coast and not the deep South. Initially, Elijah Muhammad, leader of the NOI was against Malcolm X speaking live. As more black people became more emboldened, the messages and rhetoric changed of the organizations. A sense of power was developing in the black community. The new black man was evolving and bringing with him a new set of roles and behaviors.

From the corners of Brooklyn and Harlem black people clung to any group with a foundation of masculinity; be it a formation in NOI, Israelites, Nation of Gods and Earths or other uniform group found especially in the populated pockets of urban centers, be it Chicago, Oakland or Harlem. In addition to masculinity being a prerequisite, the persuasion for black men was that the outfit be boisterous and eloquent to captivate hearts and minds, historically rooted with sacred scriptures and spirituality where one could attempt to predate their existence, and they almost always shared the distinguishing characteristics and intelligence of a Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X or Huey P. Newton.

There is virtually no other type of black movement that surfaces to become the vanguard and swallows up our black people without these ideals. Almost no organization attracts the black community without first wooing the black man and none that are successful are devoid of masculinity.

The exceptions will not be found amongst notorious black gangs like the Bloods, Crips and Black P Stones. They too, are all rooted in masculinity, religious sanctity such as Islam or the Moorish Science Temple, bearing symbols and the using hand signs or signals that are completely immersed in history.

Without question, all of these black organizations are similar in where they conjure up their masculinity. What transferred from political organizations like the Black Panther Party to the Crips was their masculinity even after justice and liberation was abandoned. Towards the end and dissolution of the most attractive and useful organization to black people of the day, the Black Panther Party had its own contradictions while battling COINTELPRO, a destructive government program to annihilate the BPP. The black women members of the BPP testify to that dual struggle. Black women Angela Davis, Tarika Lewis, Ericka Huggins while holding leadership positions battled sexism and the FBI. 

Author of “Black Masculinity and the U.S. South From Uncle Tom to Gangsta” Riché Richardson offers an insightful gaze into how black masculinity bore out of white supremacist manifestations. Richardson uses Huey P. Newton's autobiography “Revolutionary Suicide” where Newton praises his father's pride and “strong” black manhood” by reminiscing on his father's “role as a family protector”. Newton is fond of the thought that he lived in a household where his mother never had to lift a finger. As jarring as it is conveyed, this misappropriation of masculinity as noble and prideful as it seems, particularly to the black community, it lends itself to the false pretentious notion that black masculinity equals black power because of strong black manhood. Through its longevity in black popular culture and black liberators' organizing on this very basis black masculinity ultimately reestablishes white antiquity.
The black community all yearn to join black groups where black masculinity contends with white power—a system in which the foremost elite of the white race own a majority of the wealth, maintain at the top of social hierarchy and operate a system that is conducive to its maintenance. It is this system, that has a history of systemic violence against the black community. The black community draws its masculinity in defense against racial prejudice and severe oppression in White America. It is critical to flush this point further of derivation of masculinity for black men who hold so dear their masculinity.

We must first acknowledge the system of patriarchy which enables the social constructive benefits of masculinity. Patriarchy is not just the man being at the head of the table representing the family as the leader or passing on the father's surname. Patriarchy also operates outside and over the home. It is the society's institutions such as governments, courts, and police departments, and financial and religious foundations being dominated and run by men and to a large extent for men. Patriarchy operates at the top of the hierarchy. It is very social and political in action. Patriarchy essentially regulates the power of sex roles and cisgendered masculinity exists as the dominant role. None of this is biological. None of it born. All of it bred. Patriarchy and masculinity is as made up as race and class. However, us as black men cannot fathom that as we harness it to rage and struggle under white supremacy.

In contrast to White America’s patriarchal system which emigrated from Europe, where the lineage always follows the male, in Africa there is very much a matriarchal society especially prior to 15th century black race slavery or precolonial black Africa. For much of the United States’ existence, children followed the father in cases of divorce or a runaway wife which might happen in an abusive marriage. Children, and to a large extent wives were regarded as the husband’s property. Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop draws contrast between patriarchy and the West African matriarchal society in The Cultural Unity of Black Africa, “the wife does not cease to belong to her own family and in no way becomes the chattel of the man she has married.” Diop further explains, “she is separated temporarily from it for the benefit of her husband and consequently for the benefit of the [husband’s] family.” Born and bred in America, it is easy to understand that black men would naturally learn patriarchy and uphold patriarchy, albeit, we have never once benefited from such a system in the US by placing black women under his thumb. Yet, we know no other system.

We often forget in America, that while black men were being lynched throughout America, women were being emasculated as well, many times with their children. Mary Turner, 8 months pregnant, hung, burned and shot to death, with her newborn ripped from her stomach and stomped to the ground after she vowed to bring the murderers of her husband to justice. Sisters, Maggie (20) and Alma Howze (16) murdered while both pregnant by the same white man they were accused of murdering. Maggie was hit with a large wrench that knocked her teeth out and across her head dying slow and painfully. Alma's newborn could be heard moving during her funeral. The parents of the victim of which they were accused of killing admitted they believed a white crazed man killed their son. Laura Nelson was raped and murdered by an angry mob. She was hung with her 15-year-old son.

For many black men, these stories ignite pain and fire up anguish and then we subsequently begin evaluating how to change the world we're currently living in. I say we try losing our masculinity. This should not be interpreted as, being passive, being silent, ignoring self-defense, rejecting our pain or ceasing to be ourselves. However, if being ourselves means we trump our black women and our children, then yes, we must be reconditioned.

Through the last seven to eight years a black man named President Barack Obama has been the leader of the country, and at the very same time we've seen steady increases in police murder of black children and adults. Where was his clear articulate voice against police murder? Not appeasement of law enforcement, but outright chastisement police murder. I'll never understand why in 2008 President Obama decided against words of courage and empathy during his campaign and instead parted harsh words to black youth to be decent prior to the Sean Bell murder verdict. It was his only solemn advice bestowed upon a grieving New York. I cried that day at work for a man that I had not known who was celebrating getting married. And why had the President seven years later not transform into the president every black voter clamored for? He echoed the nation of racists in calling Baltimore's heartbroken teens “thugs” after they responded in justifiable anger and necessary rebellion as one of their peers was murdered with no justice.

Because the black masculinity that cloaks me entering the cage to fight a man is the same that envelopes gangs to rumble for turf they don't own, become Black Messiahs that provide no answers or represent neocolonialist attitudes, conditions, and institutions that are the replica of white masculinity. I fear that the so-called woke, so-called scholar or so-called revolutionary will miss much of how destructive we are to the exact aims we strive for because they want to be strong. “The figure of the “Strong Black Man” can be faulted for championing a stunted, conservative, one-dimensional, and stridently heterosexual vision of black masculinity that has little to do with the vibrant, virile, visceral masculinities that are lived in the real world”, stated Mark Anthony Neal, author and academic.

A black president has managed to fill a dichotomous position of white supremacy and black masculinity. He fully accepts and believes in punishing black youth who go against the grain, even in totally reasonable circumstances where they're murdered instantaneously, like Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland and Mike Brown. With the general election ahead, I have no faith in this system. Mathematically it has had 100% of subpar or entirely anti-black lives presidents.

Right now, our experience needs more voices and champions, more recognition and safe spaces for as many genders that are necessary. For me, I not only reject leadership for myself, but I reject all male leadership, including black male leadership. There is no reason why we should be leading. If you can write reports for the movements, write reports! If you can translate, cook, clean, perform, mobilize, nurture and teach the babies, fall in line and play a worthy part. We do not have to lead to be effective.

Look at the front line and look online. Black women are in the streets for us and we can't even defend them online. Look on youtube, a bunch of armchair black men are theorizing solutions and performing mere comical sketches. Frankly, a lot of my brothers are sounding psychologically off their rocker. Women are only seen as more depressed because depression and mental illness is based on reporting and because “Men are less likely to seek help for nearly every physical and mental health problem.” Michael Addis, Researcher of behaviors.

I still value blackness as a state of struggle against all forms of oppression, including gender oppression, I just feel black women should be the face of the movement regardless of how articulate some guy sounds. Not as some consolation prize for putting up with black men and our masculinity, but as a matter of actual strategy and historical accuracy. Black women's leadership has been more than supporting as secretaries, confidantes, mothers and nurturers. Black women have also been at the forefront for us aside from our sheroes Assata and Afeni Shakur to the Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth to Shirley Chisholm and Fannie Lou Hamer and to recent leaders Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente and our founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.

Going forward, if cisgendered black men are serious about brotherhood and black justice and liberation we have to strip our masculinity little by little and be our own critics and build our brotherhood brick by brick. To be clear, this is only if you are about black justice and liberation. I know your struggles, my brothers. I know the personal difficulties of choosing a partner and providing for our children. I know the obstacles we face in multiple courts that in-house our injustice. I know police Stop and Frisk. I know being stopped, frisked, arrested and jailed for nothing. I know being criminalized as soon as you step in the room. Any room. I know having to assure everyone you're not going to hurt them, whether they know you're a trained fighter or not. I know the difficulties of not wanting to cry or crying for a family member, a friend, or just for some bullshit that makes no sense to simply because we're men.

You are always my closest friends. What I tell you, I tell no one else. Every low point I've been at, a man has helped me out of that depression. We have sensitivity, we are not just discussing sports, women and what the cops did to us yesterday. We don't have to prove anything, we just have to respect everything, particularly, ourselves. We are respecting of all our genders who resemble maleness.

We are rededicating ourselves to black male development and black brotherhood. If we need to place a moratorium on speaking to women in urban cities to make them feel comfortable or anywhere we are unwanted we are prepared to do that. Our attention is on black men and how we leave the home, not on black women. We are focused on our brotherhood, not on their sisterhood. We are nodding and lifting each brother up. We are using constructive criticism wherever necessary. If my brother has health issues, we are offering a myriad of health solutions. We are defending each other in all spaces without intimidating or patronizing each other. We are focused on becoming critical thinkers. We are supportive to our black children and other black children in our community. We are respecting black women's space to dialogue and build themselves. We are not criticizing black women on any of her features. The issues we have with black women who we are intimate with will be handled in the best way possible. We are already incredible, we are already awesome fathers and supporters. We are trying to be better black men, but ultimately a better brotherhood.

Omowale Adewale is a kickboxer and mma fighter, certified in boxing training and vegan nutrition he works with young communities of color. A co-founder of Grassroots Artists MovEment (G.A.ME), Wale is a hood mofo trying to rid himself of black masculinity dedicating himself to black liberation and justice.

“Black Masculinity” will release several volumes on the topic. If you have questions or find spelling or grammatical errors email me at omowale.adewale@gmail.com. Stay in the loop at omowale.org or by following me on facebook.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father’s Day Dads!

Happy Father’s Day Dads!

On the MTA bus just a few days ago heading home at night, as I sat tired and subdued, slouching in my seat in the far corner of the bus a young sister arrives eating blueberries. She’s maybe 9 or 10. She sits opposite a young guy and a much younger kid. Another man older than I struggles to the back of the bus with his cart on the narrowest city bus trying to align it out of the path and still grab a seat. As he tries to manuver all things at once and sit his behind sways back and forth in the girl’s face. The process is a slow-motion movie that I am soon about to interrupt with prejudice. Just then he utters something, and then again, and then I realize he’s speaking to the little girl. It’s his daughter! To my nosey-self, “oh, that’s dad! Imagine how that would have went!” Awkwaaaarrrd.

Finally, he sits. Older dad turns and then pears down at his daughter “you know you should wash those before you eat them…and don’t eat the bruised ones.” He grabs a few and then relaxes back. I see his line of sight. We’re now both watch the two young guys. He says something to the young guy, but not quite audible to me. In a minute or two I realize he’s admiring the youngest one who is apparently making a screwface in protection of his brother or buddy. I later realize that the young guys are father and son. I am really tired. The two converse across the bus. They exchange friendly words. The older father asks questions about the boy’s age who is 8 and tells the younger father that his daughter is 9. They begin to trade discussions about neighborhoods and offer that they are not comfortable with some customs as they are not appropriate for their families. That’s when I notice the liberation colors of red, black and green in a number of garments the older dad wore and on a button too.

In between their discussion, they offer short instruction to their children who remain silent throughout the ride. The children both seem quiet and obedient, but extremely alert. During full stops of communication I would wait for them to engage their children. I remember the older man saying something about his daughter’s mom and her school which gave me the understanding that he was no longer involved with the child’s mom. Throughout his conversation with his daughter he seemed so caring and happy. But, I could tell his body was marked by struggle.

I know what that feels like on numerous levels as I progressed during the stages of my life. I love proving society wrong about our fatherhood. You should see us Black men rise to the occasion. Katrina Akande, a doctoral candidate at University of Kentucky who is studying Black fathers whose children don’t live with them, shared, “There are some fathers who not only take care of their children, but they take care of their girlfriends’ children, step-children, or their nieces and nephews as well.”
It wasn’t until my 30’s when I got the profound importance of my father’s impact on my rearing. My parents split when I was 7. I am till this day the only kid happy that his parents are no longer together. Regulating their arguments was a full-time job. “All right! Go take a walk!”

I don’t remember hearing the praise of fatherhood shown on him that I receive from others. I never showed my father my appreciation. Yet, I remember chatting with my older brother earlier this year about how impressed we were with his ability to fight to stay in our lives after my mother would push him away from our house in Crown Heights. Even young, I could see he sucked at being a relationship partner. But, just the same to me, I still knew I needed a father. Before I had heard the term “weekend dad” he had already destroyed the perception of what a weekend dad was. My father came around all the time. He came around after school and on weekends. For some strange reason, and I love her to death, but my mother didn’t want my only dad around. Later, I brought this up only for her to have no answer, which is a FIRST. Like, “how was I going to become a man, without an actual man to guide me?” You can’t monopolize parenting because you picked this guy to procreate with.  

I remember my father coming around the house to fix things: sinks, toilets, ceilings, and other stuff after they had separated, until things became terminal. Then, my dad couldn’t even circle the block to see his children without being peppered with insults. I got that he sucked as a husband. But, I mean, so who was going to father us? I kind of got attached to this guy here. And I think he loves me and my older brother too.

As much as my mother pushed him away he proved resilient. He had created signals which alerted us that he was in the area. If my mother picked up the phone and someone hung up. That was Pops! This meant he was on the corner of Lefferts Blvd. or Nostrand Ave. If we were outside playing on the block, he would drive down Lincold Road in defiance of my mother’s demands and just advertise his presence with his signature white van that read “James & Sons”. For me, that’s the end of that punchball game or ‘tag you later’ guys! Pops is in the building! We would drop everything to go out with him afterschool. Most times it was too difficult for my mother to prevent us from going with my father on Fridays. Other times we’d lose this debate, because neither my brother nor I could ever have enough heart to go against our mother. No one sacrificed as much as she did.

When my brother and I would win the opportunity to go with my father no matter where pops went, this man was too proud to call us his sons. Grabbing us, rubbing our heads and sonning us, “these are my sons; did you meet my sons?” This would no doubt be where I developed my confidence and self-esteem. He reminded people over and over in the most annoying repetitive lines that we existed and were to be recognize just for being his kids. In my mind a pebble grew into a solid rock of confidence. Blame my Pops. I would literally be puzzled with this attention, “Who am I? And what have I accomplished?” He grew that in my mind. Even today, just last year at a Vincentian wake he was trying to alert everyone that I was in their presence and that I was in fact his son. People look at him like he’s nuts. Like, “Who’s that guy?” His resistance to absentee fatherhood amidst fatherhood-blocking was something I admired only in the last 5 or so years. During my childhood, it just provided anxiety and confusion.

When everyone knew I was disobedient he was the only person in the world that would not believe I could ever do anything wrong. And boy was I bad! But I was a saint around him. Most people know that dad’s don’t need to beat boys. My father’s discipline was iron and we had a strong affectionate bond when I was young. Kisses on foreheads and cheeks and hugs galore were routine. This is where I extend the same affection to my babies. He was more affectionate to me than anyone I knew.

My father would always drag us to his underground Vincentian spots where he would chill with his friends while my brother and I played pool or ping-pong. He would make us sit in the back of the van when older company came for a ride. This infuriated me. I would complain, “Why don’t you take us to Coney Island or Great Adventures like Mommy does?” He never had an answer that was sufficient at that time and don’t remember him ever spinning the attack on my mother. Then again, Pops wasn’t a great debater. In the 100% West Indian spots that he took my older brother and I to, we were often the only kids there. I realized much, much later in life that I often drag my kids to my events too. Then, I realized he did take us to family-oriented places, but they weren’t commercial parks, they were outdoor picnic areas and places where other children would be. Then he would force us to introduce ourselves to the kids and then we’d be off frolicking in some new neighborhood for hours until sundown. He rarely ever worried until we traveled to St. Vincent…wait, even when we traveled to St. Vincent we were independent journeymen. I never spoke like a West Indian, but I was always around West Indians. He took us to St. Vincent once and for his hard earned money, my mother complained that I had been bitten up by mosquitoes—the proof all along my two legs. These were monster-mosquitoes. I even got a big scar on my wrist running around that island like a madman. That trip was the absolute most fun I ever had as a kid--including the time little Lenny ran after me hurling bottles at my head for teasing him. Ahhh, good times! 

I often dismiss what terrible fatherhood is. I can’t relate well to it. My parents had fathers they loved, they had children who love them and my kids love me. I remember men on the block, strangers, and coaches and my own deceased Stepfather would also be there to show love. I also think it’s because I see a lot of good fathers who are in the home with mom and those that are outside of the home. Sure, I hear about absentee-fathers. I tend to focus on the great stories of fatherhood and feel more upset that the fathers who take over after mom is no longer in the household are buried underneath the criticism of fatherhood. 

My barometer for my fatherhood is my children and that is the only meter that’s official. When they say, “I love you dad” out of the blue, which is very often. It means they recognize the sacrifice, they are content, they feel safe, they feel loved, and they are happy that I’m around. 

The most difficult thing I have problems with is surprisingly no longer child support for two moms, but being more sensitive to my middle child who is the most expressive of my three. It’s not as easy as I would hope. I worry about my son growing up in a world that’s very angry with black men, but tells us that we shouldn’t be angry. And he is so gentle and tough. And most of all, I hope that one day my first child will live closer to me so I will not be forced to travel hundreds of miles back and forth to see her. But I am so thankful that my relationship with their moms has become respectable and mature. That took time. If I happened to be in the area it’s not a problem to call or knock on the door and see my babies or take them. Their moms can feel comfortable in asking for more resources for our children and I’ll know that even if it doesn’t go directly to the children that day, week, or month, the proof is in the well-care of my children. I’ve learned that even supporting Mom supports my children. This takes time and thinking outside of the box. This is where my dad fell short. This was his shortcoming. He wasn’t consistent financially, although he always had a new work van. Of course, this contributed greatly to my mother being upset with him. But, society makes this the looming problem among black men. 

Society pretends that money far outweighs loving your kids and being a staple in your children’s lives. They even pretend that a loving father can receive the same support as a mom from family or government when the kids don’t live with him. Only recently did they allow fathers to receive child care credit. It just dawned on the country that the dad who is paying child support and then paying when he buys the child something, takes them out is a two-pay. Yet he will receive no child care credit nor will he be able to claim the kids. The average mom in NYS who claims two kids will get $8k-$10k in one shot. No, it’s not fair when you’re a loving father. 

So when fathers are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, defeated and angry, but comfortable to complain to me that they are struggling to make the sacrifice to still show love to their kids and be active, create a respectable relationship with mom who may not be understanding and pay support even when the court portion is no where near equitable? I say, “‘ENDURE fam”. Some might say “man-up”, but that suggests that it’s not manly to complain or somehow that a woman is not placed in high-pressure situations regularly. And it’s just plain mean when you don’t know anything else except a petty slang euphemism. Endure! It’s for your child(ren) family. Trim your lifestyle. Forget them Nikes, get some reject-sneakers. Check your ego. Push as hard as you would in sports, getting a woman in the club or for that boss that punks you everyday. It’s the greatest and most rewarding challenge you’ll ever have. You paid for that food in your children’s house. You paid for that tv, fam. Maybe you even paid for that new hairdo your child(ren)’s mom got bruh. Champ Status! Happy Father’s Day to you! 

(pardon any grammatical & spelling errors.)

Omowale Adewale
If you know young black teens in severe need contact me @ omowale.adewale@gmail.com. Among the many hats I wear, I am a boxing instructor in NYC who loves to teach. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Black Feminist

Many moons ago, I knew this beautiful and intelligent black sister, Isis. In the midst of our political conversation, I remember telling her that I was a feminist. We were dating. No game, I was attempting to be honest, but I felt I was surely on the verge of that good end of a peck. Isis was no average woman. Before she turned 21, she was living on her own, already a leader, an entrepreneur, a real vegetarian --not that bullsh*t diet I was calling vegetarian, and was known for taking bold and mature stances in social and political circles. Even if she was sometimes flagrantly direct at times with brothers and sisters and almost two years younger than me, she was a vast oasis of political, scientific, and edible knowledge. It was an androgynous awakening, to see her slowly peel away at me, taking what I knew and throwing it to waste like a sculptor that transforms clay.

Discussions with her made listening very easy and palatable. Gazing upon her six-foot curvaceous body became more and more difficult during our summer conversations at her house. At times, discussions were so mentally nourishing, I often forgot what she looked like in deep conversations. I reminisce, she had brown eyes, voluptuous lips, long sweet-smelling locks, and an enveloping voice that had the softest whisper to one’s ear, except when that tongue would change tones in debates. She didn’t exude the characteristics of a stereotypically loud opinionated black sister, but was just as direct and bold when she wanted. She invited many interested brothers to organize in the community and challenged them just as she encouraged them. I never heard her utter a dirty word to a brother, but then she never received a bad word either.

Unimpressed by my declaration for women, she gave me the spare me look and said, “You’re a feminist?” I thought she was Venus Williams with a returning volley as she shattered my understanding of feminism. I thought to myself, isn’t that a good thing for women? Ain’t I futuristic? Ain’t I a noble man? I’m in touch with all things feminine?

But, what did I know about the history or truth about feminism? Well, from the college courses I took, feminism seemed to be about how women operated inside of a man’s world, recognizing how society and patriarchy made women the second sex and also the weaker sex. If I took it a step closer and examined what I pictured as feminist, I would say my historical heroine, Harriet Tubman, and my mother. Both women bore children and managed to work jobs that were traditionally only for men. Both were also members of organizations that were empowering for humanity, but especially, Black America. I guess this was why I considered myself a feminist. I recognized the contradictions within myself and throughout male society, but I respected the fact that women were not only leading to change their own conditions but the conditions for all humanity. Basically, I supported women.

As a strong admirer of Harriet Tubman, I truly don’t think another male could have done what Tubman did –let alone be willing to. With no payment and while being hunted down, she traveled two thousand miles for years to save people. Also, what shaped me were those public school films about Rosie the Riveter, the 1940’s, WWII’s symbolic heroine who transformed how women were viewed by government and industrialists in the workplace. I saw several old, black and white clips about many former housewives, happily entering the workforce for the military. That and a long history of violent confrontations with male peers and male authority would lead me to my feminist declaration. In my mind, I thought, what was I doing identifying with males? It all made sense to me; I’m a Black Male Feminist.

After an endearing smile, Isis snickered. She gently patronized my camaraderie and laid on me that she was not a feminist and neither was I. Ironically that sounded like a feminist posture at the time. With care, she stood across from me in her warm living-room hallway as if she was about to break into a monologue. Though interested, I had my coat nearby just in case this was her cold attempt at breaking ties with me. I couldn’t remember her exact speech word for word, but I’d never forget the context.

In short notice, she began: Feminism is historically white and was only engineered to help white women win economic equity in the U.S., which was dominated and ruled by white men at the time. White women wanted equality with white men and also wanted their power.

During the 17th and 18th centuries in America, patriarchy wasn’t merely a bad word among leftists, it was law. This patriarchy was a legal system which combined several laws in favor of men. Anything worth owning belonged to the white man and to a large extent, the wife as well. This of course, included land, chattel, and well, black slaves. This law can be easily defined as White Patriarchy, as patriarchy is not only in regards to lineage, but mainly defined by ownership, power and particularly, property. During this time, only white men were allowed to own any property. White men not only owned the black slaves, but he owned the house, the land the house was on and the people inside the house, namely, the children.


From the beginning of the U.S., white women endured years of second-class citizenship. In most cases, marrying a white man was the only way to protect the rights that a woman had under the Articles of Confederation. Women either stayed close by her father, married off quickly, or chose to become whores. The three options were thought to provide more security than going out in public alone and not being “spoken for”. Whores represented money to white pimps so they were protected in saloons and whorehouses -if even possible.

Married men were head of household and by American law, they was the law. White women were subject to a feudal-type of relationship. She was responsible for bearing and rearing children, managing the household, and doing all the duties necessary to maintain the land while under this union. In cases of divorce, at the very least, a wife was barred from her children and left without any sustainable resources, having been dependent upon her husband for years. This made divorces extremely rare and caused white women to put up with physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. The job market and society itself generally prevented most white women from working a range of positions. White men despised anyone who was in competition with their employment options. Besides, there was considerable work to be done at home.

Many white women began to see work as the quintessential ingredient for escaping their relationship at home. Work signaled some sought of refuge and independence.

The main strategy of white women obtaining their equality would become the campaign for women’s suffrage. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were two of the major pioneers in the struggle for women’s suffrage. These were true feminists. Feminism was going to bargain with the American patriarchal structure.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony

As white women saw it, this was the primary problem in society. If only women could be free to vote, then they would share some power and they could get better jobs and better wages after they left their husbands. It wasn’t until another woman came along by the name of Sojourner Truth, who reminded white women that their enslaved step-stools of the American population were also women. These women were actual property of their white husbands. They too were abused, emotionally, sexually, and physically but not so much by black men, instead, almost exclusively by white men. Enslaved black women would have given up their early hot cotton-picking mornings and afternoon floggings in return for a tight corset and some midday runs to the market. In the worst conditions suffered by white women, black women were made to be their buffer in society. Under slavery, feminism for black women was a non-issue. Harriet Tubman, a woman once abandoned by a philandering and thieving free black husband, suffered under white males as she toiled as a slave. She was constantly challenged and undermined during her rescue missions by the insecure black males she had risked her life to save and never did she consider herself a feminist. Even if Tubman was merely against using terms to identify her life’s struggles, she bravely sacrificed her life to lead women as well as men out of slavery and through the end of the Civil War. Although, Sojourner Truth is historically remembered for working with feminists, she never considered herself one either. The major contradictions of second class citizenship for blacks in society, even for a free black person were far too great to allow them to compare to any white person, even for a homeless white woman with a bad leg. Truth recognized that every white woman could get away with anything they wanted to against her and whomever she lived with, be it a woman or man.

Sojourner Truth
Feminism, like the segregation struggle of the 60’s is one of those words that have managed to travel into the lives of other cultures and races even when there are more blatant problems for the adopting group. As the word feminism reinvents itself, the history and purpose behind it dissolves into nothingness.

Prior to Europe’s gift of revelation that women were not equal partners to men, in precolonial African society as explained by Cheihk Anta Diop in his book Precolonial Black Africa, men inherited from women, the total opposite of patriarchy. The truth is that, the patriarchal system in America was and continues to operate entirely white. This is still the reality 500 years later. Patriarchy is not an idea prevalent in all societies. When patriarchy left Europe and traveled America and parts of Africa it was a white idea. The very same idea has been institutionalized in thousands of learning centers for hundreds of years. Tubman and Truth understood this.
an African (Yoruba) Matriarch
One could argue that black women are able to become feminists now since black women and black men are free from chattel slavery and they are afforded the same rights as whites under the constitution. The conditions that black women face everyday, every hour, even with their own counterparts, may now call for identifying as feminist.

Harriet Tubman
However, this is after we recognize that now we are changing feminism’s historical definition based more on black women’s partake in freedom. Because, black women are no longer chattel slaves or property to anyone they can now aspire to become feminists. There is an upgrade with this way of thinking. Even Sojourner Truth would reject the stamp of feminism to this day. Harriet Tubman would reject this form of thinking as well. Not only did Truth declare she was not on equal footing with white women at the time, but that she recognized her present contradictions. Tubman worked until she died, about 50 years before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. While both women asserted themselves and checked men as they saw fit to, they saw contradictions far greater than feminism. It is operating in reality. Thus, in order to change the historical definition, and for clarity, all definitions derive from history, even their name--society would have to eliminate what we know as patriarchy. Interestingly, patriarchy that gives rise to feminism has not changed at all. 

A major element of patriarchy is physical strength. This is the foundation from which men rule. However, men were bigger and stronger in most cases in pre-colonial Africa, just as they were during American slavery and in today’s society. Nonetheless, stronger black men accepted that, most of the African societies were matriarchal. Physical strength did not create patriarchy in Africa.

Patriarchy is not only a system that aggressively places its hands on you, sexually mistreats you, and demeans you. It withholds resources from you, it obscures and defiles the accurate image of yourself and it institutionally steals your children. It limits your job options, and it attacks the less powerful males in your family.

The elements that makes patriarchy a powerful and manipulating structure becomes irrelevant when waving feminism at a black male, mostly because, black men do not own much of anything in American society. The black male trails economically to both black and white women, he is less educated and more unemployed than black or white women. The institutions that control all the resources place him at the mercy far more often than any other group in American society, including all women. Essentially, black males function under the system of patriarchy much like white women did and still do to a large extent.
The black male utilizes his physical brute strength to overpower women in society much like many of the examples in patriarchy. Yet, strength comes in other forms such as money, political power, military, and religious power of which he has none of.

White men don’t oppress and in micro-environments repress black women simply because they are females. They don’t create stereotypical images under white corporations of black women because they are female like that of “Aunt Jemima”. The images of loud, obnoxious, aggressive and overweight black women finger-waving in flicks are no more aimed at their sex than a stereotype filmed out of the same studio of black men acting like pimps on the corner selling dope pretending to be “Superfly”. This system of white patriarchy that allows white men to rule over all else is also capitalist and racist and these vile images of black women conjure up maids and women too exaggerated to be deemed as feminine.
Aunt Jemima advertisement
This is today’s contradiction and it is bigger than stealing feminism from white women or being forced to see Sojourner Truth as one, and then subsequently following this planted idea. Because, if a strong proud black woman is a feminist, then Truth should be branded one too.

A feminist or rather a white feminist wants to identify and be on equal footing with those in power and privilege. There was nothing in the vernacular of Elizabeth Cady Stanton that said she identified with those oppressed. To the contrary, feminism's heroine demanded that white men denounce and place to the wayside the black man’s calls for civil rights and recognize her sisters' rights. The feminist movement wanted a seat at the American table --the racist, capitalist, colonialist, and imperialist table. The term feminism is merely a brand of old-fashion American reformism, and therefore, the stance is politically liberal at best. 

So much has changed for white women in America that the cries of women empowerment are coming from women of color all over around the world. White feminists who haven't a cause of their own are occasionally assisting African and Arab women in countries of women oppression --an indicator that feminism doesn't make sense if one is not white. Quantum leap wage earnings and political clout for white women has helped pacify the real feminists. Although, still far behind white male wealth and power in America, white women have become content just being at the boardroom and able to capitalize off of capitalism. Liberation and the total dismantling of the white patriarchal power system was never on the feminist agenda. If it were, high incarceration rates among black women, centuries of negative black women images, and police killings of young girls and old women would be on the feminist agenda here in America.
Unfortunately, it is not so simple to conclude, but I can say with complete certainty, that I am not a feminist. 
Maybe, I’m simply a man who wishes to ally, defend and empower women or hoping that women would empower and utilize me as Isis did. If a woman feels compelled to call herself something other than feminism, let it be because of Isis, not this guy. 

Even if not part of this white patriarchal system, I like all men, exhibit a sexist and repressive nature as a man, maybe even within this article. I, in a small way, even if I declare I am not hetero-cisgender reinforce patriarchy in some way shape or form, simply because the patriarchal system exists at this moment. 

What I internalized from my time with Isis was that she was truly a gifted sister and my first mentor, feminist or not. If you ask me what she’s doing today, I’d say whatever women do when men aren’t around. I don’t pretend to know.

Omowale Adewale is the author of "An Introduction to Veganism & Agricultural Globalism" and executive director of Grassroots Artists MovEment (G.A.ME) and fighter.