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 Stay in the loop at or by following me on facebook.


Anonymous said...

I love this. Your analysis of masculinity is vital to gender studies and intersectionality. We haven't seen work like this in sociology that addresses this generation in the way you do. Finally someone calls out Umar on the homophobic insanity and myth that he is going to save black manhood with hatred and inhumane and unrighteous practices. Peace. Dr. Ayo Alabi

Olusanya Bey said...

Eku S'oro Baba!!! This needs to be shared across the entire internet, ideally read by every Blackman (conscious or unconscious) throughout the Diaspora!!!!!