The Black male is only conscious of himself through the ideals of the dominant culture that does not see him or allow him to function as a man of equal status. Thus creating a conflicting identity of being a Black man in a White society.
Black masculinity has been institutionalised and socialised by the White male patriarch society we live in. It is the White masculinity we see on television, in the history books, and see in society as the social norm of what it is to be a man irrespective of race. It is the same for men’s self image and fashion that has set the standards for what is attractive and the achievements of a man.
There is very little room for the Black boy to truly discover and transition into his own (African) masculinity/attractiveness. The Black boy image is invisible in everyday media unless he is portrayed on TV and video games as someone “token” or “cool” selling trainers, fast food franchises, earphones, sofas with his White girlfriend/wife or being portrayed as a gangster, criminal, rapper or comic relief. The little Black boy is left to struggle and fight for an identity, respect, power, and for understanding who he truly is against the projected identity of being a “nigger”.
In reality, the Black boy knows he is not respected, that he is powerless, and bombarded through media and music to become a “nigger”. It creates a sense of helplessness which directly conflicts with being masculine; therefore he surmounts to the pressure to conform to either White male standards (white washing his identity) or the White male’s stereotypes of black males. This is usually seen from teen years.
The Black boy entering puberty transition usually is conscious of his victimisation, especially if from a poor background. He may feeling ashamed and guilty. It is through role modelling of those that look like him, or came from their socio-economic status who have “made it” that allows him to redefine his masculinity through sexual promiscuity, fighting, thrill seeking, and violence. We can see this through gang activity with ‘at risk’ Black boys.
The Black boy internalises the post-colonial standards of manhood to be accepted as a man. However, the Black boy grows up into the Black man who continually experiences inequalities in education, employment, health services, housing, justice system and have limited opportunities to fulfil the Eurocentric masculinity standards… So he never quite becomes a “man”.
Could this be why our Black culture pertains Black masculinity by the size of his manhood, athleticism, sexual prowess, multiple partners and stamina of intercourse?
I think so. White patriarchal society knows this and literally (In history) and symbolically castrated Black men in order for them not to fulfil their masculinity within the Black community. In the historical context, lynching, castration of genitals, no rights to vote, could not own land, could not marry, Women becoming breadwinners, Civil right leaders and groups dismantled, introduction of betting shops, drug epidemics, high unemployment, taking away of sons and daughters into social services, incarceration, in the modern fashion, sexual aggression under PC, stop and frisk, disproportionately sectioned by police and police brutality.
The dominant society benefits from these types of castration as to eliminate the threat of Black sexual and genetic potency. This is to protect the false supremacy of their internalised inferiority. Also, to slow down the population increase of black offspring. Lastly, feminization and castration is to ensure no Black messiahs to relieve the bondage of poverty and identity crisis.
And when that doesn’t work, the dominant society demonise the Black man as a way to discredit, dismiss and destroy him in front of his family, his community and the world. Just look at the stereotypes: “Black men are dogs”, “Black men don’t know how to be fathers”, “Black men are criminals”, “Black men are lazy”, “Black men are players”. And Black communities especially women perpetuate these sayings as well as reinforcing these stereotypes to their children. Thus a cycle of victimisation, violence, and patriarchal dominance in the Black community in order to attain some kind of “manhood”.
Every Black boy wants to know when and how he becomes a man. They observe other men in masculine roles and are reinforced in the home, school, sports and workplace. However the Black boy struggles in his identity crisis from childhood to becoming a young man. The boy becomes a man with unresolved issues, disappointments, and disillusionment of realities of being a Black man in a White man’s world. Now the Black boy is a man, he is suffering from ‘masculine retardation’ as he cannot achieve what his White male counterparts can in a discriminatory system that seeks to castrate him of his power, status, and respect. This becomes increasingly evident in his career prospects, academia, and social interactions with others.
The Black man now identifies his masculinity in a state of depression and anxiety from everyday unconscious and conscious traumas (the castrations).
The Black man have witnessed the castration of his own father, and father figures may be by the mother, the boss, loosing a job, or being stopped and searched… Thus may fight not to be “weak”, “fearful”, and “powerless” as this is usually the identification of femininity. He may engage in sports, aggressive activity, or some physical demonstration of masculinity (i.e. playing basketball, starting fights with other Black males, etc). This is his defiance. Another defiance may be raising his son with knowledge of his ancestry or sharing knowledge of what he has identified as his true culture, beliefs and rituals. Lastly, another defiance I could think of is gaining financial wealth to exhibit that he has “made it” as a man in the Eurocentric sense, being “one of them” but even then he can be rejected by the White community, harassed by police for driving a nice car in a nice neighbourhood.
Economic oppression is the greatest tool to castrate the Black males as a way of not being able to provide in the home and in the community.
Emasculation in the world leads to seek out validation of superiority. Black males that experience self- hate look for women that can maintain their superiority ego. The need to feel to be the “king of the castle” not only comes from White patriarchy that oppressed civilizations to rule over them but comes from the feeling of castration in social constructs that upholds the image of the opposite of a king- a slave, a pauper, a criminal. And when a woman cannot maintain the feeding of ego she is dismissed, abandoned, demonized and victimized just like the Black man.
Black men can become marginalised, threatened, alienated and dejected in a society that simultaneously “promotes” equality and citizenship with one hand and destroying their self worth, cutting down positive role models, limiting opportunities to better themselves, and infringing on their rights to enter into manhood with the other.
It is no wonder there are angry Black boys and men internalising guilt, shame, anger, helplessness, anxiety and frustration associated with victimisation on a daily basis causing sane little Black boys to grow up have Mental Health issues as Black men.