I absolutely took it there.
The past few weeks have been especially taxing on the image black men. From Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Floyd Mayweather, to whoever that guy sings that “Lifestyle” song is, it has been especially tough to be in the shoes of a black man. While I generally don’t like to speak on specific racial matters all that often, there has been an overwhelming amount of negative attention pointed to undeserving men of color.
I know this may be a bit shocking; a “fierce” feminist such as myself coming to the defense of the horrible male species. How could she betray her lady folk like that?! But as I explained in my last Feminista Howe article, being a feminist does not adhere to cookie cutter definitions drummed up by societal opinion. Alas, I have decided to take on the point of view of the man and help them redeem themselves. With that in mind, allow me to gently read you on this breezy Friday afternoon.
Stop generalizing and bashing the black man for the actions of a select few.
As someone who has been hurt and extremely disappointed by the male gender (and more specifically, black males), I understand completely how it feels to hate them with every fiber in my being. Some of them, even the “nice” ones, can find ways to reduce even the strongest of women’s feelings and dignity down to a smidgen of dust. And though it may feel good to group all men into a box of douchebags in the interim, I’m here to tell you today that it only hurts us all in the long run.
It’s time to drop your notion that ALL black men behave in a specific fashion, based on a singular experience that you or someone else may have had. And this is not to say that only the majority race feels this way. There are plenty of brown skinned people who feel that way about their own; perpetuating the belief that all black people are fit the negative stereotype placed on them, due to the actions of a certain few.
When news of the now infamous Ray Rice video first broke, the social media eruption that ensued afterwards sparked a national trending topic on how much women really hate men. The #yesallmen hashtag and a various amount of other tweets saw all sorts of women speaking quite horribly on how all (not most) black men are the root of all evil and bane of our womanly existence. Observing the incredible amount of hateful words spewing out in 140 characters to complete strangers prompted me to question just why so many people felt it was okay to group all black men together with an isolated incident. Was it because women genuinely felt that all men were the scum of the earth? Or was it that they were conditioned to feel hatred towards black men, due to misconceptions from the media?
To further prove my thesis on how some are helping and not hurting the public perception of the black man even if they think they are, the popular “black-culture based” online publication The Root, published a piece that made the lot of us raise an eyebrow. The article, aptly titled “When Black Men Mess Up; Do We All Feel Shame?“, highlights the author’s frustrations on walking around in the skin of a black man in 2014, solely based on the actions of the media’s cup of shaming tea for the week. Generalizing all black men into the category of “embarrassed” and “holding your head down in shame” because of the actions of a few certain cases actually doesn’t help the image of the black man. That article offered no progression and certainly no real resolution to the problems that were presented. Suggesting that it is embarrassing to be a Black American male and with the undertone of “we should all walk with our heads down because of the actions of celebrities” is degrading to the men who are working to make something of themselves. While I agree that the actions of certain black men in the media this month were deplorable at best and black men may feel embarrassed for the actions of Rice or Mayweather, some opinions should be left to the back pages your journal.
I challenge you all today to let go of your reservations and deeply seeded rage on what you think the black man represents. A man of color defines strength and dexterity, much like the rest of the population. The black man is as human as anyone else walking these harsh streets; and with the added stereotypes placed on them based off the actions of a minority sect, it can make life exceedingly difficult. Do a lot of men walk with a sense of privilege, solely based on the fact that they are men? Absolutely. It doesn’t, however, mean that all men are to be revered as chauvinistic animals with an affinity of abusing and degrading their female counterparts. If generalizations were relevant to everyone’s life, then we’re all a big bag of hot boiling basura that should be thrown into oblivion.
While I still believe that the men of our generation have A LOT of maturing to do, at least give them chance to screw up before you place that cloud over their heads. No human is perfect, and by generalizing the actions of few, you ruin the reputation of many. Instead of stating to everyone with a pulse that all men, especially the ones of color, are pigs, considering changing the public opinion to that most of them in fact, are not.
To the media: stop placing all actions of a minute few on all black men. And to the consumer: stop helping them do so. Those generalizations, no matter how harmless or broad you may think they are, harm us as a whole rather than they help. The black man is already fighting an uphill battle in the face of racism; cut them a break. Change the conversation from shame and hate to help and progress, and you’ll be surprised at just how far we can all go.