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A Response To “Straight Black Men Are The White People Of Black People”

A Response to “Straight Black Men Are the White People of Black People”

The two most insulting gibes you, as a Black person, can hurl at another are to talk about “yo mama” or call them “White,” especially if what you’re saying is right. They are guaranteed fighting words in any corner of Black America.  The receiver will vehemently lambast the offender to edify themselves and draw a wedge between their character and the quip.  My Big Mama would simply say, “a hit dog will holler.” And, holler did dozens of Black men this week after reading Damon Young’s VSB article Straight Black Men are the White People of Black People .

Before you continue reading, there are three facts with which you must be familiar and agree. Otherwise, you’d only be reading to feed your frustration and gain traffic for me.

  1. Based on historical context, White people collectively and globally have committed the most heinous crimes against humanity.  Their record of slaughter, genocide, pillaging, colonizing, and systemic oppression is incomparable. And, it has not ended. Their benefits through White privilege greatly imbalance the scales of justice and wealth. It would be futile to compare their notorious chronicles with any other group.
  2. The aforementioned article did NOT compare Black men’s role in society-at-large with White people’s role throughout history. It just did not do that. It very concisely and concretely compared the present-day engagement of White people (in America) and Black people (men AND women) with Black men and Black women (in America). That’s it.
  3. Black women and girls are the most oppressed group as a whole in the world. Point. Blank. Period. That doesn’t mean that some of us aren’t doing well. That does not negate that we are the most educated group in America, or that we are clearly bosses in every aspect of our lives. It is to say that our fight is daily, without much reprieve, and comes from every angle.

If you know these facts to be true, then continue onward.

When the article first stamped my timeline, I figured it was “click bait;” some spoof of our feelings. No one dared tell this truth, especially not a heterosexual Black man. So, I kept it scrolling.  It danced its way into my newsfeed again, this time shared multiple times by people whose opinion I respect. Finally, it was posted in a forum I manage specifically for Black women to 

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – SEPTEMBER 26: Kofi Siriboe at the “Queen Sugar” Press Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on September 26, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)

focus on our complete healing and restoration and sip Tea. I immediately felt hopeful. I knew if it were there, in our sacred space, it had to be or lead to uplift for US all. (The big “us,” as in all Black folks.)  That’s not only the mission of our group, but the main rule of engagement. So, I opened the link and cautiously expected reprieve. No doubt, anything presented in the article would have been voiced by Black women long before now, but now a man, a Black man, was saying it. This had to mean we were being heard. He was selected as the Black male delegate of the week to usher in a wave of honest and transparent dialogue to help us all do and be better! Kofi Siriboe was busy being fine. Jay Z had all other relevant Black men busy screening life-changing mini documentaries as an appendix for 4:44. So, Damon Young was selected as tribute.  Yes, this was it! Black men and Black women were about to “call a thing a thing” and heal ourselves. Bring it Beloved!

I read, “Intraracially, however, our relationship to and with black women is not unlike whiteness’s relationship to us. In fact, it’s eerily similar,” and I fainted a little bit. Then he hit me with, “But when black women share that we pose the same existential and literal danger to them that whiteness does to us;….their words are met with resistance and outright pushback.”  And, this was me:  

Finally, a man, a Black man said everything we’ve whispered in our closets or prayed to be released from or suffered attacks for thinking aloud.  There is now a concrete validation from one of our reflections that we are not evil or ignorant for voicing disdain when we are hurt by Black men, murdered by Black men, raped and assaulted by Black men, harassed by Black men, dismissed by Black men, overlooked (for White women) by Black men, antagonized by Black men, patronized by Black men, underpaid compared to Black men, unheard by Black men. This was a victory and a step towards our collective progress….I thought.

Then, Black men, our kings, our confidantes, husbands (thankfully, not mine), sons we’ve raised singly in many cases, responded ready to fight. One brother said simply, “it was offensive.” I saw his offense and raised awareness to our murders, rapes, and assaults. Another angrily posted that it’s not possible because Black men aren’t free; as though oppression is not layered and you cannot experience privilege if you’re also oppressed. Their sentiments were even echoed by some of our sisters. And, the collective deflation of Black women resonated through timelines and inboxes, private forums and chat rooms. A brother writes a piece critically assessing Black men’s engagement with Black women. Black women raised their heads in awe that someone other than they “gets it” and feel this could move in the direction of healing, healthy dialogues, and progress. Black men responded overwhelmingly with discourse and, ironically, proved every assertion in said article correct. Black women got back to work on just themselves because we’re still not ready to work together. Still.

“We all we got,” was the refrain and it has come to mean that our internal critiques from which we are disallowed must be met with swift and venomous retort, else all the work we’ve done to pretend we are well in order to prevail will become undone. The responses read like a parody themselves. It has been surreal. Every response could’ve easily been scripted for a White person to say in response to being accused of being racist. When I read them, I recited the internal dialogues Black women have been having for years that halts us from ever addressing Black men about their shortcomings:

You have to be gentle when talking to Black men or they’ll be offended.  You mean like White people?

They take offense to being called sexist, ignoring the basis for the assertion altogether. (Replace “sexist” with “racist.”) You mean like White people? 

They’ll say it’s divisive.  You mean like White people?

They’ll say it’s not all of them. You mean like White people?

They’ll get angry and throw insults demeaning your intellect and credibility. You mean like White people? 

They’ll list anecdotal examples of their positive interactions with you. You mean like White people? 

They’ll patronize you with insincere praise, all the while defending their own honor and never taking accountability.  You mean like White people? 

They’ll list their own trials and oppression as proof that they couldn’t possibly oppress another. You mean like White people?

They will not listen. They can’t take accountability because that would cast them in a poor light. Their reputation is more paramount than your safety.  You mean like White people? 

They don’t see gender within our race. The’ll say we are one (race) or “we’re all we got.”  You mean like White people? 

They cannot denounce the throne of male privilege, so they deny it exists. : (Replace “male”  with “White.”) You mean like…

I, as a Black woman, must fight the world all day long. It attacks my humanity, intellect, appearance, worthiness. It espouses misogyny, brute force, and bigotry. It condemns my very existence and questions my value before determining it for itself. It threatens me with public reprimand and hindrances if I am not docile and silent. But, when I’m home in the presence of Black men and women, I need to feel safe, understood, heard.

The only necessary and correct response to a Black woman’s lamentations is to listen. It is not to dismiss or find offense. It is not to center your own feelings and plight. It is not to rebut, refute, or refuse to accept. It is to hear her, make amends, and help her move through the pain. Whether you agree or not, recognize these concerns or not, experience these same grievances or not, are a woman yourself or not, this is the modus operandi. I have learned from this exchange that Black women are all we got, save a selection of Black men we can depend on as allies. And, there are even some (I’m so thankful my partner is my ally and is not above introspection and criticism. That he recognizes and maximizes his minimal privilege for my benefit and that of other Black women.) But, just like with White people, Black women must wear a guard of protection when encountering Black men until they prove themselves to be a safe place.

For Those Who Lament, “What Can I Do? I’m One of the Good Ones.”

1. Listen. Resist being dismissive or defensive. Check your ego and listen.
2. Believe us. Don’t ask for data. It’s on Google and it falls from our lips.
3. Defend us to other Black men. Defend us from emotional, verbal, and mental abuse as well as physical. They are all damaging. Defend us in Black music and the Black lexicon. Defend us in the barber shops, the church, social media, your dinner tables, and the streets.
4. Hold other Black men accountable. Don’t let them get away with abusing us in any way. Exclude them from your circles. Call them out. Meet them with the visceral disdain with which they approach us.
5. Continue to be a protector of Black women and girls at every turn in every setting. Don’t let any type of degradation happen in your presence. That means some relationships will be severed.
6. Be knowledgeable about our plight. There are enough resources and data points out there that confirm what we’re feeling. Don’t ask us to educate you when you can take charge of that yourself.
7. See us as more than objects of affection or sexual satisfaction. Engage with us for intellectual exchange and stimulation as well. Respect us as a whole, not just our parts.

This Post Has 13 Comments
  1. I agree with the post. I only ask as a black man raising my black daughter that we continue this dialogue and translate it to action.

  2. That man is not only gorgeous he is brilliant & kind toward black women. I love him ever more now. Also – thank you for this piece. As a white woman I do not always listen as respectfully as I should – I get defensive & want to blame white men for white supremacy without owning my own collusion in their crimes – similar to what you describe black men doing to black women regarding male supremacy. This article helped me to gain insight & empathy, too, on how to be a better sister to black women. Thank You.

    1. What a powerful statement. Thank you for sharing your sentiments. We all have a role to play in our collective healing.

  3. “It very concisely and concretely…”

    Lmao. Everything in that glorified opinionated think piece was picked apart hours after it dropped. Shit, he picked a part his own argument in the first paragraph ??‍♂️

    1. I take it you disagree and are unwilling to take any accountability in the similarities between the mistreatment of Black women by Black men and Black people (including Black women still) by White people. Sadly, that doesn’t surprise me. Very few were willing to self-assess and reflect.

  4. I want to apologize in advance for referring to you in 3rd person… I didn’t write this with the intention of putting it on your page, I was discussing this issue with a Sister.


    ROSA PARKS sparked the civil rights movement, that was derailed by integration, and then affirmative action was given to everyone… HARRIET TUBMAN rocked the underground railroad. The list goes on.. but maybe that’s just me patronizing black women with insincere praise?

    We couldn’t do it without black women! It just wouldn’t have happened. This is OUR struggle, how can she deny that oneness? We *absolutely cannot* divide our struggle. Not to say that there’s no internal struggle between the sexes of any race, there will always be a tug of war between yin and yang…

    You should be gentle when talking to ANYONE or they’ll be offended, that’s human nature; so straight black men aren’t human? * only white people* … who wouldn’t take offense to being called sexist or racist, especially if they are fighting beside you? who wouldn’t see this as divisive by its very nature?

    Is there anyway that I can be included and support her if she just said ALL STRAIGHT BLACK MEN? Wouldn’t that include the author of the original post and even her man? even within the article the lady justifies her blanket statements, “you mean like white people?” …. And then she says we’re not supposed to take offense, when she’s dragging straight black males through the mud like we don’t love our sisters.

    But this is mostly a gender issue, not a race one, but the title has mixed the two to create an explosion of BS surrounding a genuinely righteous cause. who is this “they” that is denying male privilege? I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but in my black male experience it has been a constant emasculation of the straight black male.

    My experience has been totally different; the gay black males and the black women got the jobs because they don’t want the brother who won’t bend over; major artists taking it in the ass, black men being put in dresses, and even when the arabs enslaved africans they’d make them eunuchs. See, my dad and I cooked the meals, did the laundry, cleaned up. But maybe that’s just me defending my character?

    She has an answer for every response before she hears it, which reminds me of a sister that i never dated because she’d attempt to finish my sentences with negative preconceived notions based on bad stereotypes of black males… So does that help bring us together? NO.. Now I don’t know if I’m going to meet the black girl lost or the Black Queen when I walk by, but I surely won’t say hello quite as readily to either, and i definitely won’t say “you’re beautiful” because that might be harassment.. She better be grinning ear to ear and waving! So really you just made it harder for all black women to unite with black men..

    My grandma said don’t ever let a woman do anything for you that you can do for yourself. she didn’t believe in all the gender roles. I know the pain of black women dealing with sexism AND racism from all sides – I have 5 sisters. I’m just saying that to suggest ALL straight black men are this way is ridiculous and uninspiring of togetherness.. And that’s the “out” she doesn’t give her supporters, like me. Didnt give us the room to say she’s right and we support her…

    Even white people were abolitionists and freedom fighters. Did martin or even malcolm [el haj malik] cut them off, or come out and say they’re all the evil? She claims she wants a healthy dialogue, but pre-disregards the response of the same men she wants to be heard by, the ones that actually listen and take time to respond?

    “But, just like with White people, Black women must wear a guard of protection when encountering Black men until they prove themselves to be a safe place.” Is that not the case with everyone and everything in this jungle? Speak on it, but don’t close your ears if this is a conversation – and chill with the blanket statements.. gosh.. its just irresponsible…

    I apologize if I misinterpreted, I was half asleep. After reading my writing over it makes me wonder if you actually said those things.. I hope I’m mistaken..

    1. This is exhausting. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. We only know what we read. From what I read, I infer that you are a Black man. That alone connects us. That alone unites us in the struggles and triumphs of our people. That alone means I love you. That alone means that I have the right and obligation to show you admiration and adoration, but also critique and truth. We are each others reflections, and reflections are truthful. They are both beautiful and flawed. Your interpretation of my article was misguided, but common. Fortunately, there were enough brothers, very few by comparison, but enough who heard our lamentations and cries for help (because that’s really all this conversation was) and offered their accountability and reprieve. That moved the needle towards progress and that’s all I ever strive to do. It won’t be ALL straight Black men that understand, just as it wasn’t ALL straight Black men that fall in the categories described. And, that’s ok. It’s a flaw in our reflection.

  5. My response I would love some feedback:

    The article “Straight Black Men are the White People of the Black Community” and its companion piece “A Woman’s Response To ‘Straight Black Men Are The White People Of Black People” are predicated on a false premise, riddled with huge generalities, and contain factually false information. However, the articles have an extremely poignant message that can be deciphered from the wreckage. I want to start off with the great aspects of the article before I move on to my critique. I pray that you the reader will indulge me and not turn off your active listening based on your preference or dislike of the aforementioned articles. I read the articles and was forced into introspective thought based on the claims it presented. I consider myself a critical thinker and have no problem analyzing and critiquing aspects of our society that I hold near and dear to me. In layman’s terms: I know how to take my medicine. After much conversation with others (which is always a good way to get a broader perspective on a topic) I decided to write this article at the request of one of the Queens in my life Ms. Sandra Valminord.
    Never forget that the black man and the black women in this country are two peopled deemed fugitives while attempting to escape an unjust prison. We are shackled at the ankles to each other and any attempt to hold back one will undoubtedly hold back the other. This analogy will become more poignant as we move on.
    Aside from the solutions offered at the end of the companion piece by Dr. Kristian H, my greatest takeaway from the articles is that black men need better public relations. Let me explain first in practical examples before I clarify the overall thought in abstract. I would love to see a black man who just so happens to run across Tommy Sotomayor or Gilbert Arenas pull out their cell phone, give it to a bystander, and confront these individuals. On the behalf of black women and black men (remember the chained metaphor). Now I would be a fool if I wrote an article promoting violence, but perhaps a public apology is due from these two men (I’m no fool). The purpose of that is to send a very public statement that any talk of disrespect to black women will not be tolerated by the majority of black men. I omitted Kodak Black from this because of his age and subsequent willingness to see the error in his ways. However, a light boycott of his music would go well to send a message to any other entertainer who feels the right to say some dumb sh*t (pardon my French) about the Queens. I would like to see the video of those confrontations posted online, and a movement of black men on website forums openly (key word is openly) supporting the cause. I would like to see a “I love black women” challenge go viral. Black men creatively expressing their adoration for our Queens (I use “our” to reinforce our union not to imply any sense of ownership). I would like to see more black men stop arresting black women’s sexuality with the notions of a “thot” or a “ho”. If that girl slept with your boy on the first night then either she is a free and mature woman or your boy is a “thot” too, choose one. I would like to see straight black men march in support of the lgbtq community at pride events. I would like to see black men more PUBLICLY call out the effects of white supremacy on not just ourselves and our sons, but more so on our daughters and the Queens in and around our lives. There is a reason I am framing these acts in a very visible way. What the articles and subsequent conversations have made painfully clear is that black men are suffering from horrible public relations in terms of our relationship to black women. Now since the inception of this American experiment black men have suffered from negative public perceptions. However, this article seems to be the zenith of those perceptions in relation with our Queens.
    Make no mistake about it, I agree that black men of righteous intent must do better in showing black women we are 100% committed to their love and protection. Now in the sentence you just read I purposefully specified a type of black man for a reason. I will label and define this black man of righteous intent partially through statistical averages. This black man is 28 years old makes about 24,000 a year is unmarried and has between 1-2 children. This black man sees toxic masculinity as not only a threat to the wellbeing of the Queens in and around his life, but also as a direct threat to his own well being. This black man understands the evils of oppression, and will not consciously partake in the oppression of any group such as black women or members of the lgbtq community. I define and label this black man of righteous intent partly with statistical averages because it is my assertion that this is the overwhelming majority of black men, up to the tune of let’s say 70% (my opinion based on my analysis of the data). This statistical expression allows my problems with the article to be expressed in numerical terms. If the reader would permit: the article assumes that 30% can speak for 100%, thus hiding the plight of the 70%, which in many ways is fighting against the 30%, but in a way that places proper blame on the creators of the 30% mentality, while simultaneously not demonizing the 30% in ways that separate the 100%, due to the fundamental principle of if not for the grace of god go I. Wheew! As you can properly assume, one of the largest problems with the article is the gross generalizations it makes. These generalizations are oftentimes the same ones used to create and uphold the system of white supremacy, which in chain creates and upholds the 30% mentality that caused the creation of the article. The cycle is complete.
    Now an intelligent person reading this would say “well you could say that only a portion of white people are racist, but we address them all when talking about fixing white supremacy”. This is true but it highlights where the racism/sexism generalization comparison breaks apart. Let’s assume that 30% of white people are active supporters of white supremacy to evenly equate my assertion that 30% of black men are active supporters of toxic masculinity. This premise would then naturally beget the question: Why can we address all white people while addressing white supremacy but not all black men when addressing toxic masculinity? The answer lies in the notion of benefits. Not all white people are actively racist but the overwhelming majority of white people benefit from white supremacy (obviously some more than others). Now with toxic masculinity, not only does the 70% of black men who are not active participants not benefit, but they are actively punished for the actions of the 30% in debilitating ways. By the way, the 30% offenders receive no net benefit either. The criminal justice system is living proof of that. Toxic masculinity has been rightfully criminalized in our society. My Queen’s we are on the same side fighting the same enemy because toxic masculinity kills more black men than black women.
    The only large scale benefit a black man has over a black women is that he has more muscle tissue, and that can be systematically negated by picking up the phone and dialing 911.
    In hiring, black women are more likely to get a call back than black men. Black women are more likely to receive a loan than black men. Black men are more likely to get a longer prison sentence if a crime is committed. Black women are more likely to get into college and receive more scholarship money than black men. Black women have greater housing options than black men. Black women are perceived to have more parental rights than black men. Black women are recommended for advance placement classes at a higher rate than black men. The entire education system of standardized testing and classroom desk learning favors young girls learning style over young men. In every single quantifiable standard that we have in our society black women outperform black men. Now you are our better halves so I’m not surprised nor complaining, but I think you get the point. The only two arenas where I concede that black men have a distinct advantage over black women appear to be in the areas of sports and rap music. Now unfortunately for most black men, rappers and athletes become our representatives in this society. Rappers are way more visible and have the opportunity to be more outspoken than athletes so in many ways they dictate the perceived black male culture.
    In the world we live in negativity is much more attractive to the eye than positivity (I suspect the author was well aware of this fact hence the article title). This is due to the fact that negativity is perceived to be outside the norm, and can be equated to freedom. So a music industry executive like Jimmy Iovine who has made millions by selling negativity, i.e. Eminem, 50 cent, Dr. Dre, Marilyn Manson, and Snoop Dogg, then goes and signs Chief Keef to a record deal and calls him the “voice of the generation”. All respect due to the brothers I just mentioned but the harsh reality is most of them grew up in areas rifled with toxic masculinity. So the dynamic of black men in America is that the 30% often represents the 70%. Now some may say, well the 70% listens to the toxic entertainment so they support it. Well according to that logic black women support the drink throwing attitude we see in reality television shows since they are the overwhelming majority of viewers. That is obviously not true in regards to both black men and women. The system is at play against us and we must understand that. Unfortunately, negativity draws more attention in this world. If I wrote an article confessing my love for my Queens it will undoubtedly receive less attention than if I wrote an article entitled “What’s Wrong with Black Women, A Black Man’s Perspective.” For some of you your mind is already salivating to read that.
    The overwhelming majority of black men date black women exclusively, yet because of the 30% representation that is not perceived as the truth. The majority of black men support their children and do not abuse their spouse, yet that is not the perception. The overwhelming majority of black men have never called a black women out her name in any malicious way, yet the 30% representation unfortunately has that in doubt in some people’s mind. This false narrative is extremely dangerous and has led to the figurative castration of the black man in our society. Let me further explain.
    There was a statistical claim asserted in the Article by Dr. Kristian H that black men abuse their significant others at higher rates than white men. Further analysis of the data must be presented. The CDC study that the doctor quotes does not factor in yearly income. When we do, we see that levels of domestic violence among white and black men are more closely matched. As a matter of fact we see less levels of domestic violence among black men that make over 60,000 dollars a year than their white counterparts. Studies show that domestic violence drastically drops when you look at data of all men who make over a certain amount per year. That shows that the higher rates of domestic violence amongst black men is directly related to socioeconomic status. Why are there more poor black men on average compared to white men? I pray you said white supremacy before you read it. So to present that data without analyzing it within the context of white supremacy paints a picture of black men that we are inherently more dangerous than our white counterparts. So instead of battling and understanding domestic violence within the framework of economics, job training, etc., we then take the conservative route and say that abusers need to stop abusing on their own and if they don’t lock them up and throw away the key. That will always lead to disproportionate rates of black male incarceration due to the failure to address white supremacy’s socioeconomic impact. This line of thinking is extremely dangerous and articles like this have and will be used by those that have explicit intent to further destroy the black community. Please remember the chain analogy.
    Black women please continue to join the 70% of black men of righteous intent in our ongoing attempts to disassemble toxic masculinity. Do not support the notion that we created and therefore own this mental disease, rather the notion that this is a system placed upon us in which you play an active role in perpetuating. If you don’t believe me, examine this scenario. Your black male significant other (you have been dating for 1 month) comes to you in tears. He expresses to you his hurt feelings over his female employer’s verbal abuse towards him. How many of you would look at him in a more positive light. Regardless of what your answer may be, the overwhelming majority of black men would assume you would see him in a less positive light. Now remember if you argue that, you can be accused of being white and not listening to black men’s concerns. That was a cheap shot designed to show how ingrained toxic masculinity is in all our psyche and society. I believe in accountability, but we must also prioritize and focus our energies. I don’t mind if people in salons and barber shops have frank discussions about gender, race, and everything else. Undoubtedly people are going to generalize and say things like “black men this…” and “black women that…” However when someone writes an academic article under the guise of analytical intelligence then we all should expect, rather demand, a comprehensive full view of our problems be laid out. The alternative is extremely hurtful and dangerous.

    1. 1. Self-reflect and assess. Though you may be perfect now, there was a time when you were not and you caused offense or pain to your greatest ally.
      2. Take accountability for the aforementioned, ask for forgiveness, and commit to never doing such again.
      3. Hold your brothers accountable for their ill-engagement with Black women, and we’ll do the same when it comes to our sisters.
      4. Influence the next generation to be better; to listen to Black women, honor us, appreciate us, value us and our contributions, respect us even when we’ve lost our love of self and fail to respect ourselves.

      That’s it. That’s all we’re asking of Black men. I know men tend to be task-oriented, so those are the tasks. Hopefully, that makes it easier to understand. That’s it. Accept or deny, but that’s all we’re asking of you.

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