Blacks / Men / Race / Violence

Once More, Black Men Do Not Come In One Model

A few days ago I received a message that has prompted me to repost this blog: Black Males Feel Pain and Joy.

I feel I have always written on the fact that black men do not come in one model. But perhaps I have wrongly assumed that saying it a few times will make others understand and treat black men as internally differentiated. It seems, though, I need to repeat it, to show what the implications of seeing each of us, illustrate the differences I am talking of, and represent the heterogeneity of black masculinities until I get heard by those who can put the necessary weight behind these simple facts until the whole of society starts to treat black men as other ‘the masses’. Until not only all women and whites, but black men treat black manhood as a plural, varied, changeable. And I need help.

Say it loud and clear with me: black men are individuals too.  They have individual hopes and dreams, peccadilloes and nightmares, personalities, unspoken beliefs and disorders. Is that hard to admit?   

I believe in the life of the group. I believe individuals need others. We are made into the kinds of subjects we are by our relations with others.

However, to believe that we are part of a group, does not mean we are not individuals too. Say it again then: black men are heterogeneous. And over and over again.

I said simple facts: The idea of black men and masculinities as multiple and internally differentiated I am talking of goes beyond the one fact that men come in many models.

But perhaps there is a fact that ties black men together as black men. And this is expressed in my view that I have repeatedly sought to make clear that we are not going to overcome the problem of men’s violence against women and female and male children unless we overcome the problem of men’s violence against other men. And vice versa, we are not going to overcome the problem of violence against men and male children by adult men and women unless we overcome the problem of men’s violence against women ad children.

Violence has fundamentally shaped, and continues to shape, black masculinities: colonial, apartheid, and capitalist structural, representational and bodily violence.

If there is a dominant – not the only – model of black manhood it is one infected and deformed by violence. 

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