A twitter discussion trended through the hash tag #solidarityisforwhitewomen was being used to tweet about how the mainstream feminist movement has often excluded the perspectives of women of color. Jamilah Lemieux, Ebony’s Digital News and Life editor was inspired to begin a separate discussion through the trending hash tag #blackpowerisforblackmen that tweeted about issues Black women have with Black men. A term emerged in the discussions that followed: Black Male Privilege.
The first problem with this discussion it took place on Twitter. Despite the fact that social media allows us to have a global discussion, the discussion is often reduced to one way declarations that are 160 characters or less. Twitter isn’t hardly the place to discuss a personal, multi faceted conversation such as misogyny in the Black community. I will agree that it is a worthy discussion and one that does not take place often; however, the subject — being as deep rooted as it is and not thoroughly explored — is a pointless tackle for a twitter platform. Issues like racism or feminism have been explored for years and already have a solid foundation. From what I have seen, discussions of misogyny in the Black community has been limited to talks about the use of the word bitch, video vixens, Hip Hop, and gender roles. All are poignant; however, I have not seen a clear objective discussion that discusses how Black men are privileged oppressors of Black women.
The reason I think there hasn’t been such a discussion is because Black men are not the oppressors of Black women and there is no such thing as Black male privilege. Which is the biggest problem exposed by the trending topic. There are so many issues with the notion of Black male privilege. I have stated in a previous post that in conversations on discrimination and prejudice, language is everything. We have to choose our terms carefully — and not select sensational terminology because its provocative — because when we do not, we pollute the discussion and fail to ever describe whatever pain we are feeling.
So while we carelessly toss around the term Black male privilege, I don’t think anyone would dare to give it the weight that we give to White privilege or White male privilege. And that is because there is no privilege that Black men specifically have in America unless we think of incarceration, death, less education as a privelege. Now we can say that Black men can access or can benefit from male privilege. That would be a true statement because as men, Black men stand a better chance of getting a man’s salary (I am referencing that fact that women have historically been paid less than men) or because Black men stand a better chance of obtaining a job in a make dominated field than women. But that fact is not based on them being Black men it’s based on the fact that they are men because their being Black does not give hem an advantage; in truth, it is what hinders them from fully benefitting from male privilege. That is no different than the argument Black feminists have made in regards to the fact that their being Black to some degree excluded them from be benefitting from Women’s Suffrage and The Women’s Rights movements despite their participation in the efforts.
So, then, for Black women to direct their anger, about being excluded from mainstream women’s movements because they are Black and being excluded from male privilege because they are women, at Black men in particular is sophomoric and asinine. What exactly is the intention of such an act? To out minority each other? Every relationship is a dynamic in which both parties play a part and both parties are responsible for the success or failure of that relationship. There is no finger to be pointed.
I recently encountered a supporter of my blog on twitter. She responded to one of my tweets and began to tweet back and forth in support of one another. One of the most powerful things she said to me was We/I need you/Black men. That one statement changed everything I was feeling and we drew closer to each other because of that single encounter. That, to me, was evidence that Black men and Black women want each other. We need each other. Our acceptance of one another does no have to come with a license to abuse each other, it does mot mean we have to sacrifice ourselves and our values to be together, and it definitely does not mean one must die for the other to live. We can occupy the same space and remain intact, independent, and progressive. We have to accept the reality that we have and will hurt each other sometimes and we must give ourselves the permission to be flawed works-in-progress.
I’m not suggesting that misogyny doesn’t exist in Black spaces and that it shouldn’t be challenged. What I am saying is that we can deal with those issues without creating enemies of one another and celebrating the public denigration of each other (What better way to render a movement impotent than by turning those people on themselves?) Black men and Black women have to stop standing apart from each pointing their fingers and slinging accusations and instead stand beside each other and uphold each other and chastise one another with love. No one has ever obtained love by hating their beloved.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man