Can We Please Leave This “Pussyfication/Emasculation/Feminization Of The Black Male” Garbage In 2015? Please? Like, please? Can we do this? Immediately if not sooner?
We are setting our sons up for failure by denying them their humanity like this. We are forcing our boys into a box void of humanity and emotion. In said box, their manhood is attached to how many women they fuck and how hard they can hit.
Author’s Note: Names in this piece have been altered to protect the privacy of my relatives. Let me also say unequivocally I do not believe Black people are somehow more homophobic or transphobic or misogynist than others. However, it is impossible to be pro-Black and homophobic. If your pro-Black involves sexism, misogyny, homophobia, or other systems of oppression, your pro-Blackness is white supremacy, fam.
Over the Christmas break, all nine of my younger cousins were staying at my house – six girls and three boys ranging in age from six to nineteen. Was it crowded? Definitely. Did I have to give up my room for a few days? Yes, but it was a sacrifice I gladly made for my folks. It was the kind of Christmas that would give Tyler Perry material for the next decade. Five generations of my big, beautiful Black family in my mother’s Brownstone cooking, eating, laughing, and being thankful for having made it through another year.
The morning after Christmas, I heard loud music playing from the kitchen. I figured it was my cousin Tey since he was the only one not in the bed. I walked into the kitchen and saw him dancing to “I’m Every Woman”. I noticed him before he noticed me and didn’t want to interrupt his slaying.
In case you’re curious, his vogue game was on a thousand. I had to tighten up.
I became less annoyed with the Whitney Houston at 9 AM and more taken aback by this ten year old who knew all the words to the song.
He spun around, saw me standing there and froze. I saw the joy leave his eyes. He scrambled for his phone to shut the music off and started crying.
He pleaded with me not to tell his mom or brothers. He proceeded to tell me boys at his school call him a faggot for listening and singing along to “women’s music.” They say “that’s not what real niggas do” then continued by telling stories about their fathers “putting their mothers in their place when they said something outta pocket ” i.e. their fathers put hands on their spouses. His teacher (who happens to be a Black man) even told him that boys aren’t supposed to like things made for girls.
My cousin said he likes girls, but he’s afraid that “he’ll become gay if he keeps doing pussy things.”
The pain and torment he is subjected to reminded me of my own struggles trying to reconcile my Blackness and sexuality. I’ve been out of middle school for the better part of a decade and my cousin, ten years my junior, has to combat this even earlier than I did. There was nothing he told me that differed from what I experienced in school. Actually, I take that back. There was one difference: I played a sport.
I was a football player – a defensive lineman to be exact. My job was to collide with the O-line over and over and over again. I played one of the most violent positions in the most violent sport a middle-schooler could participate in. That constant display of male aggression helped insulate me when rumors of me being gay circulated through the halls.
Ex. “He can’t be gay. He plays football.”
My cousin told me he’s going to join the football team to put an end to the bullying. He hates football. He’s willing to do something he hates and possibly get hurt in the process just to prove to his boys he isn’t gay.
Truthfully, it wasn’t hard to wrap my head around…I did the same thing and I bet a whole bunch of little Black boys are doing the same thing too.
I would make another bet – I bet his teacher who pushes this anti-gay rhetoric down his throat will turn around and preach about pro-Blackness from an exclusively masculine standpoint.
To my brothers, I have to be truthful in assessing your views on liberation. The truth is that in some of your pro-Black worlds, there is no room for me, my cousin, and Black people who move outside of accepted gender roles synonymous with a hetero-patriarchal society. There is no space because you actively push us out and use misguided Afrocentric theory to soothe your conscience.
I remember reading The Isis Papers by the late Dr. Francis Cress Wesling after sophomore year. A number of my pro-Black guy friends swore by this book. In the chapter entitled “The Politics Behind Black Male Passivity, Effeminization, Bisexuality, and Homosexuality,” she states:
‘Black male bisexuality and homosexuality has been used by the white collective in its effort to survive genetically in a world dominated by colored people, and Black acceptance o f this imposition does not solve the major problem of our oppression but only further retards its ultimate solution.’ (92)
Cress’s commentary on Black queer people centers the experiences of everyone except Black queer people. In this framework, homosexuality is anti-Black. Bisexuality is anti-Black. Anything that creates room for a Black man to be anything other than a dominant and macho warrior is not only anti-Black, but a tool of the white supremacist power structure to diminish and reduce the virulent Black man to the ungodly status of a Black woman or a Black queer person.
To be clear, I am fully aware of Dr. Cress’s passing and I speak and honor her name as an ancestor. However, if we are serious in doing something about the narrow and unilateral depiction of Black masculinity, we must be willing to honestly examine how our elders have actively and/or tacitly perpetuated it.
To my brothers, I’m begging you; can we please leave this effeminization/emasculation/homofication/pussyfication of the Black male garbage in 2015? Please?
Y’all do know that your son’s testicles will not fall off if he cries, right?
We exist in a space where we give known rapists and pedophiles second chances. Yet if we even suspect a Black person might be gay, we cast them aside without batting an eye. Our young ones see this and they’re soaking it up.
When you openly bashed DeAndre Jordan after appearing in the StateFarm commercial in a dress, our young ones were listening.
When you constantly called Odell Beckham Jr. manhood into question for dancing with his friend on Instagram or dying his hair or allegedly looking at another man’s butt (did I miss anything?), they were listening and learning and repeating.
We are setting our sons up for failure by denying them their humanity. It’s toxic. It will eat away at them. We are forcing our boys into a box void of humanity and emotion. In this box, their manhood is attached to how many women they fuck and how hard they can hit. There’s no room in that box for emotional or spiritual exploration. The residual damage will negatively impact Black women, queer folks, trans folks, gender non-conforming folks and anyone else who challenges the antiquated conception of manhood they’ve been conditioned to hold true.
In 2016, let’s think about how we as Black men can make room for, practice, and exhibit a progressive pro-Black masculinity, one that demonstrates strength not with muscle mass but through self-love, vulnerability, honesty, and accountability to our family members more marginalized by white supremacy.