Wake Up!

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Black fraternities were set as a template for manhood training. Set trainings were set up to help educate and enlighten young black males into strong black men.  But over time the meanings of those rituals have been lost, altered and embedded in a new meaning. Traditions were lost and the meaning behind black fraternities has turned for the worse. These black organizations have become over sexualized.

In Spike Lee’s School Daze the concept of over sexualized black fraternities is one of the many reoccurring themes that are brought up in the movie. Women are seen as objects. They are passed around between the frat brothers. The concept of pass the “pussy” is used frequently to refer to these women. Also the idea of conquering obstacles in life, but also the idea of conquering women is seen quite frequently in the film.   One of the fraternities had a strict no virgin code. The code was set into place so it wouldn’t hurt their image as men. And you’re not a real man if you never had any pussy.

The over sexualized concept can also be applied to the VCU Black fraternities. Throwing the best parties on campus is the new goal. Having the best parties on campus tends to attract the hottest girls to come out. Usually frat brothers compete with one another to see who can get the most girls by the end of the night. This new hypersexual masculinity is overshadowing past traditions and teachings that were originally the black fraternity was founded for.     My question is, is this the new tradition?

Wake up! Wake up! When will we wake up? Theses over sexualized black fraternities are setting up stereotypes associated with black masculinity.  Individuals such as Donovan McNabb, are being scripted by the media due to these stereotypes. Scripting places her or his world view onto another.  The act of scripting has lead to negative assumptions, negative characteristics and negative behaviors of African American men. African American men are challenged to brake these “scripts” and to find their own identity within a space that constantly targets them negatively. Society needs to understand that there are ranges of identities that comprise black masculinity. Thus  black fraternities does not  describe us as a whole put a piece of a negative space in our black masculinity.

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Progressive Black Masculinity

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There is a difference in the concept of ideal masculinity and black masculinity.  The idea of masculinity is centered on patriarchy.  Masculinity is a western idea that is seen as male dominance, aggressive, violent and has a hierarchy. The idea of masculinity does not involve any space for any anti- patriarchy values to exist because it will deny your masculinity. For example caring and emotions have a space within feminism, but in the idea of masculinity it does not  allow any space for emotions. Because of the strict boundaries that the idea of masculinity has a lot of people fall short to what is expected to be masculine. The concept of the ideal masculinity was put into place by white males that thought black men were never going to achieve.  Thus why is the concept of the ideal masculinity than apply to black masculinity? All of the negative stigma of masculinity is  automatically put on black masculinity such as being aggressive, be sexes or practicing patriarchy. Black men have been searching for an identity and trying to figure out what characteristics is seen masculine to them. I can personally say we kind of lost our way to build our own concrete definition of masculinity, but this does not give the right for any organization such as black feminist to come in and try to fix us. There shouldn’t be this space of black men vs. black feminist if we really want to progress.  The future of black masculinity is up to us.  To further progress in our  masculinity we have to destroy anything that is socially masculine and rebuild the idea.

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War on Drugs (EC)

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The war on drugs? Do we even know what it means? Most Americans think the war on drugs is pertained to other countries. The war on drugs was preconceived by President Nixon who introduced the idea to gain more American voters.  Now the United States government spends billions of dollars into the war on drugs that hasn’t gotten us anywhere. Drugs are readily available more than ever on the streets. The war on drugs doesn’t benefit the American people but further hurts communities, families and corrupts our system.

The war on drugs has corrupted our law enforcement. Cops are praised with raises and bonus due to high rates of incarcerations. So, this means a cop that has busted 10 drug related crimes will have a higher pay due to overtime than a cop who solves 1 murder case. This promotes cops to go search for drug users in urban communities. The idea of looking for drug crimes has further destroyed relationships between the law enforcement and communities. Communities now see the law enforcement not as protectors but more has destroyers of families. Leaving communities questioning who can we trust?

What I found interesting is that these law enforcers benefit with higher raises due to drug busts but also benefit from the drug money they collect. Money, cars, drugs anything that the cop has seize doing the arrest they take. They can buy anything that is needed to support themselves rather than putting it into struggling communities. Its so shocking to me that people that we look up to for protection would stoop so low.
After the being convicted, a minimal jail sentence has to be served.  The minimal sentencing are harsh and are long.  The idea of harsh sentencing was introduced by President Nixon on his war on drugs campaign. Now, 5000,000 inmates are in jail over non-violent crimes. This is unfair and unjust to have these inmates serving life sentencing on holding a couple of crack vials.

Once released certain rights are striped from convicted felons. One right in particular is the right to vote. In her book The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander compares the rights striped from convicted felonies as a new wave of Jim Crow. It’s unfortunate, but black men are the poster children on the war on drugs especially when the crack epidemic broke out. Black men are being targeted in these urban communities and are being arrested for drug related crimes. Plea bargains are given to the convicted to minimize their sentencing. Once the convicted agrees to the bargain they instantly become a felon. Because of the enormous rates of black men being incarcerated by drug crimes, Alexander equates it to Jim Crow. Its an ongoing cycle that black men in urban communities are sent to prison than lose their rights as American citizens. In a sense black men are being controlled and regulated.

TO READERS: To get a better understanding on the war on drugs i recommend watching: The House I live in directed by -Eugene Jarecki

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Black Fathers

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It’s common for young black males to grow up in a single family household. Unfortunately, a lot of these young black males are growing up without a father figure. Incarnation, not owning up to responsibilities or not knowing how to be a father there’s multitudes of reasons nevertheless, the child won’t have their biological father around to look up too. It’s a touchy subject, but the topic hits close to home. I grew up without my father around.

My father wasn’t around as often has I would want him to be. I learned a lot through my mother and I’m grateful for that. But there’s certain things a father teaches their son that mothers can’t do. For example, my first experiences at the barber shop. My Mother dropped me off an asked one of the barbers to cut my hair evenly. As I looked around I noticed how a lot of fathers were interacting with their sons. The fathers would “boast” about how their son is the star running back on the little league football team scoring touchdowns. The fathers would ask for a precise cut for their son’s hair so he can look his best and find him a little girlfriend. Most importantly the father was preparing their son to get accustomed to the shop and its “masculine rituals” such as talks about who’s the best rapper, women with fat ass and of coarse sports. I know it sounds stupid, but know looking back on it was some sort of tradition passed down through generations. The barbershop became this space that a father and son could have a bonding experience, something I didn’t get to have.

In the Progressive black masculinity book, edited by Mutua I found it surprising that the idea of baby –sitting of one’s child was brought up. When I did get to see my father, it was only when my mother had something important to do. She would drop me off at his place with toys, food and importantly money. My dad would refuse to take me with a couple of dollars waiting for him. My dad would call my mother constitutionally on when she would pick me up. I was interfering with his time and money he would say. Basically, my dad was my personal babysitter.

For those short hours being with my father I couldn’t recall ever being disciplined by him. I got to do what I wanted to do with no repercussions. I felt free for those hours, but was there a reason behind it? In the Masculinity of the Black Imagination , Rex L. Crawley wrote about how black fathers were scared to disciplined their children. I was shocked further reading the article. I thought it was somewhat hilarious that these men would put the discipline on their wives hands. They had this fear of hurting their child, but doesn’t this buy into this stereotype of black men being physically aggressive? Either way could i correlate Crawley’s findings to my fathers no discipline rule? Maybe or maybe not, but I did find it quite interesting.

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The new Slavery ?

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Mass incarceration is the new movement of racism targeting young black males. Majority of young black men in major cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled as felons. The felon label takes away their American rights such as voting. Rights that past generation have fought for us to have and be able to express freely as American citizens .Thus is the justice system trying to control African American men just as Jim Crow?

In her book The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander argues that we have not ended racism in America, but we have simply redesigned it into our judiciary system as the new Jim Crow. Alexander tries to prove her argument in the numerous chapters with endless statistics and analysis. Alexander does a hell of a job throwing numbers in your face which helps back up some of her arguments, but she misses her execution behind her reasoning most of the time. But one things for certain, black males are faced with a dilemma where rights that their grandfathers before him didn’t have are now once again being taking away.

Officers love to hit the incarcerated with a hefty plea bargain. The officers try to fine the incarcerated with anything under the sun. The plea bargain is used to help the convicted from doing a long prison sentence. Many convicted men fear of losing their case and accept the bargain offered. Accepting the plea insanely makings the convicted a felons which results in loss rights as a citizen. Question readers, would you give up our rights to serve a lesser time in prison?

I came across an article by Michael Skolnik. He brings up the “War on Drugs” which was used to target black communities. Stating that there was no war on drugs but a false war that President Nixon gave to the American people to target blacks. Blacks were the face of the new epidemic against the war on drugs. Skolnik writes that these convicted black men that were associated with the drug war would be incarnated with fines and then giving a plea bargain. The plea bargain would strip them from their rights and cause this viscous cycle of black men relaying on plea bargains. Skolnik does reference Alexander in his article but he equates the unfairness of blacks in the judiciary system to slavery, which would have been a better argument in Alexander’s book.

We think that there’s progress in the African American community, but how when majority of us are still being mistreated? Its crazy how your not seen as masculine if your not serving a jail sentence or selling dope, but yet its ok to lose your rights as an American citizen. Thus bring us to a new age of slavery.

An informative video of Michelle Alexander discussing her book: The New Jim Crow

Michael Skolnik Article : More Black Men In The Prison System Today Than Slaves in 1850…
http://globalgrind.com/2013/04/10/more-black-men-prison-system-today-slaves-1850-secret-our-success-michael-skolnik-blog/

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I’m denied my masculinity because I’m not a criminal or because I have not yet served a jail sentence. Unfortunately, black men today are stuck in this criminal manhood. Where violence, drugs, aggressiveness are depicted as the new black masculinity. This criminal mine set where I should sell dope and be in a gang will prove my manhood. Pop culture feeds this fire where songs like “Chopper” emphasizes on guns and violence. In the song, Lil’ Wayne and Rick Ross’s masculinity are not questioned or denied because the song promotes violence. Both rap artists are seen as a “boss” to most due to their lyrics of killings and being this aggressive man, which equates to being masculine. The song states having guns ready in the car to blow a pus*y ass nig*ea’s head off. Black men buy into these rappers and start repeating the rappers actions, to prove that they are also aggressive and as masculine as them. Many other rappers add to this criminal manhood stigma that further pushes us back.

Due to oppression, black bodies have trouble finding an identity. Thus, what it means to be masculine in the African American community has shifted a multitude of times over generations. In Jackson and Hopson’s edited addition of Masculinity in the Black Imagination, Christopher Davis writes about such a generation shift of the black masculinity. White supremacy laws like Jim Crow denied African American rights to own property, provide for families and security. Most importantly it denied men, especially men during the civil rights era their masculinity. African American’s fight against the injustice and oppression is simply the fight for the rights of citizenship. Men during this era correlated their masculinity with their citizenship. Citizenship to black men didn’t just mean just voting but, the rights to live freely seek education etc. The concept of democratic manhood allowed black men to redefine themselves on how they should live as men. It provides a foundation of set personal values and day to day practices that are essential to control over their own life.

The civil rights movement gained more rights for African Americans, but black bodies were still being oppressed by under toned laws from whites. The civil rights movement was seen as a failure to some which gave raise to anger black men, who were feed up with peaceful ways in protesting. New methods were used to get back more rights. This aggressive method was one of the contributing factors that lead to the criminal mind set which lead to African Americans definition of masculinity. Due to the raise of the new masculinity in black men they were are seen as this unwanted traffic. Black men are seen to either belong in the ghetto as underclass men or put into the jail system. The criminal mind set and must be apprehended and put away were seen by others. Black men did not fit in society and were known to be obsolete. Most black men who are sent to jail face hardships such as being assaulted and raped.

Due to my interest on the topic of the jail system I viewed a documentary entitled Turned Out – Sexual Assault Behind Bars. The documentary informed viewers how males use sex as a way to pay and gain safety from others. Majority of the time most males are raped for another males satisfaction. Some males become “turned out” and continue their gay relationship out of jail and there’s some that turn it off when they leave. It is hard for most heterosexual males because society places this one time gay rule. Where if you have sex with another male just once you become automatically gay. The inmates do what they have to do in jail to make sure they don’t make themselves look weak or to have some sort of power. Due to their actions in jail most black women are scared of the DL brother.Thus, jail time tarnishes a women’s perception of the black male’s sexuality and ultimately their masculinity.

The other day I was questioned about my masculinity by another black man. The male said I didn’t have this masculine demeanor, which made me less aggressive and I didn’t fit this thuggish lifestyle. I grew up quite and shy, so excuse me for not wanting to start punching holes in walls. Other than my sexuality, he said I wouldn’t be seen as masculine to other black males if I didn’t walk, talk and most importantly start a fight or get buck with another male to prove how much of a macho man I am. Sadly, this is what our generation thinks of what the definition of masculinity is. Hopefully the next generation is a lot more progressive than we are.

The first part of the documentary: Turned Out – Sexual Assault Behind Bars

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Black Bodies in Media

Having black bodies on TV is a huge accomplishment and should be applauded by our community. It was a fight for us to have the right to be on TV.  Thus are we taking this for granted?  People will argue that majority of the time African American males are portrayed negatively through media. Either through shows that are hyper sexualized or shows that give an underlying of what a black male should be; drug dealer, rapper, or gangbanger.  In their book Masculinity in the black imagination, Jackson and Hopkin agued that public enemies leading man Flavor Flav is portrayed as a “super coon.”  A super coon is an outrageous character that is known to be the comedic relief.  A character that sheds negative light on the African Community by making a fool of themselves on TV or a media outlet. This could be seen through Flavor Flav’s gaudy attire, his extremely large gold clock that he wears around his neck and his over exaggerated FLAVOOR FLAVV catchphrase. Is Flavor Flav’s movement of black rights striped from him when he was in Public Enemy due to his new super coon role? 

Hopkins and Jackson also state that new characters represent a rescripting of black masculinities with new meanings of class, race and sex. The 3 new characters emerge in black films in today’s media are a ghetto protagonist, bourgeois protagonist and bourgeois antagonist. The ghetto protagonist tries to shed his “ghetto” aura to become the bourgeois protagonist. The bourgeois protagonist is educated, middle class and helps the ghetto protagonist to become like him. The bourgeois antagonist in the other hand prides himself as a better class and protects it by deeming the ghetto protagonist unworthy. Although we are moving away from the coon and Uncle Tom roles and we are providing new roles for black actors are we still limiting ourselves?

In Noah’s Arc, Jackson and Hopson try to prove black masculine diversity within the show. I must disagree because how the show is scripted the males on the show are shown to be effeminate. In Noah’s Arc , the characters refer to themselves as she or have a certain lingo that associate with themselves as a female. Alex uses boogina to refer to Noah’s anus. The charters on the show seem to be taking a feminine space which allows them to express themselves due to the masculine space does not accepting them.  For the show to be progressive for masculine diversity it should of challenged the masculine space and tried to make the characterized less feminine. ( love the show, but disagree with the author)

 

Nathan Grant’s article, “Mirror’s Fade to Black: Masculinity, Misogyny, and Class Ideation in The Cosby Show and Martin,” writes on the stereotypes of political blackness. The Cosby Show allowed for African Americans to be seen as a middle-class family with parents who had professional careers such as a lawyer. Martin portrayed more of a rugged and raw light towards the African American community . Nathan Grant criticizes both of these shows as not being apart of the black political progressive movement. I must disagree because The Cosby show shed a positive light on how African Americans can be successful and live a comfortable life style. 

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