A twitter discussion that took place nationally through the use of the hash tag #blackpowerisforblackmen brings into question the notion of Black Male Privilege.
The Story

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 Problem

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.

The Point

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

  1. My main problem with #Blackpowerisforblackmen is that it completely ignore, guilt, and shame good black men who never thought they was better than black women. In this online firestorm the good black man is the biggest loser. We just don’t matter and our views aren’t welcome to the discussion. I completely agree that a lot of brothers are in fact misogynistic but is every black man one because I remember brothers tweeting and posting about the issue but if you let black women tell it, “We don’t exist”.
    If you search online you can clearly see article after blog after forum of black women attacking ALL black men and calling for them to leave us alone… I mean you do find sisters like the one TABMIA mentioned that can cede that behind all that hurt black women still want black men but really this has to be the most appalling why to go about it. Why should all the good black men get written off with the same brush as all the lower class, street-harassing, “Women aint shit but hoes and tricks” niggas (using that word on purpose).
    The educated black male community has always been careful to say “Some not all” whenever we bring up our grievances with females within the community. Black Feminist don’t afford us the same respect and well blame good black guys for stuff that they themselves haven’t work to combat. When was the last time you seen black feminist marching for something? Have you seen them in any low class areas protesting Street Harassment and informing young ladies of their options when dealing with such people? If mainstream feminist can organize a slutwalk why couldn’t black feminist do something about Street harassment other than blog about it? They are just as much “All talk” as the good black men which they accuse of not doing enough to reduce the number of no good dudes.
    Most educated good black men also don’t like or agree with many hip hop artist and we are the first to stop listening to them while it’s the lower class of black women that keeps buying their music, going to their concerts, and creating sex idols out them. We also tell our peers and young that it isn’t right to harass girls on the street while we go outside and to see black women giving their numbers to these on-the-corner brothers (Once again men don’t dictate what works on the opposite sex, they do).
    Overall most of the criticism in #blackpowerisforblackmen refer solely to two groups of black men. The first one is the ignorant well-off/fake conscious black men that sincerely harbor sexist views that other black men are quick to call out and join sisters in the refuting of and the other is the ignorant lower class inner city black guys that we all know is more or less hope-less. We good black men can admit that to ourselves with zero denial on our parts. We have heard about and seen these brothers all our lives and many of us had a hard journey trying not to be that brother. That is the difference between the black men approach to his gender in comparison to the collective black feminist approach which refuse to write about, acknowledge, or challenge the worst of the black female population. To them a black woman is incapable of self-hate and to call a female a Negro bed wench means your calling them all one. They don’t believe ratchet lower class black Women (which outnumber them) effect how America view black women as whole and that those women damage/burn a lot of would be good black men. According to them all black men should be made accountable to the actions and behaviors of the worst among us but they won’t use the same level of scrutiny on themselves.
    That’s why I’m crying foul on Black Feminism as it is right now and this whole #blackpowerisforblackmen bash fest

    • DesiBjorn says:

      Yo brotha I really appreciate you coming through and reading and responding. We definitely need more Black men to speak out on the way that Black Feminism is approaching gender relations. I agree that, from what I have seen recently, it seem to be a lot of rhetoric and male bashing. And the only call to action I ever come across is one demanding Black men to do what these women say, which is not in a Black Man’s nature (especially given our history in this country) to just do as we’re told and also that type of message creates opposition through blame placing. Instead we need to have a discourse that allows Black women to say how they feel and give us their perspective and then we give ours and somewhere in the middle we could agree on acceptable behaviors, new methods of communication, and ultimately how to love each other in respect.

      I agree with you also that I do not believe that the majority of Black men hate Black women. I will admit that the majority of us (including myself) have not mastered communicating with Black women (simply because men and women communicate differently) but that just does not equate to a hatred of women. Many of the things that Black women, especially Black Feminists speak out in resistance too, are appalling to me. However, when it is addressed it must be done in objective truth and not exaggerated sensationalism in order to provoke a response (although I do think that Black women have a natural tendency to do so but that’s another story). The fact is that method is not working. I am actually starting a series on Black Masculinity and through that series I am going to explore this relationship between Black Masculinity and Black Feminism. Hopefully, I can get brothas and sistas to comment and discuss this issue because the bottom line is we need each other. There’s nothing wrong with interracial dating and marriages (I’m all for that) but there has to be some collective healing between Black men and Black women because we need each other if we are going to save the Black family and I truly believe that’s what most of us Black men and Black women really want. We are just hurting and in our feelings about the situation and it’s making things worse. So, yea, please stay active brotha in the conversations you find on this subject because we need the brothas to speak up. And keep your head up and keep loving and respecting our sistas even if they don’t see it, because we’re not doing it to get pussy or to get them to love us, we do that because its what we should do. RESPECT.

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