This is about black conservatism. Black conservatism ultimately privileging black masculinity as the only construct in need of protection. Because, under its tenets, once black maleness is protected then everything else falls in line. Need to protect black womanhood? Protect black manhood. Need to protect our children? Protect black manhood. Need to save the trees in the hood? Protect black men. The water in Flint? You know they’re just trying to get to the black man right?
Everybody else? Everyone else’s experiences? Merely the system’s collateral damage to get to the black man.
The last straw for me was on campus a few weeks ago when I saw a poster board celebrating that a black male was president at all levels of the student government. From freshman class president to the president of the graduate student body. It was advertising a whole story placed on the school website about how this “historic election” was “changing stereotypes about black men”. And then I came across the article, which starts off like this: “For decades black men have been subjected to unfair and untrue stereotypes. Now in a historic election during the 2016-2017 academic year, which propelled six black male students to the presidency at every level of the Student Government Association… is helping debunk negative stereotypes. This significant accomplishment is shining a light on black men… for their innovation, education, work ethic, and polished appearance. There are qualities many have always known black men possess, yet some choose to ignore.”
Then I find out, my school has a newly started black male initiative. Essentially, faculty, staff, and students go out to churches in the area trying to convince members of the community to send their black male kids to this overpriced university when the state school is right down the street and their students aren’t starving to death trying to print for class… but I digress. The male:female ratio here is 30:70, which is what apparently sparked the need for this. A few weeks ago, an administrator at the university speaking at one of these churches said something to this effect: “We’re always loving on our black sisters, it’s about time we show our black brothers some love”. In the words of one of my favorite women in life right now: “Well if this is what love looks like, I don’t wanna see what abuse is”.
WHY. In 2017, are we still playing black women as competition to black men? Why on my HBCU campus am I being told that I need to step aside and let somebody else win? Is there a reason why your masculinity still feels threatened by the mere presence of me? Literally, I could have gone to a PWI for such a denial of my personhood.
And please. Don’t get me started on how administration wishes to enact dress codes for all students. Including grown ass grad students with kids and grandkids. Then there was the installation of our university president: the women were instructed to wear skirts and dresses with stockings. Stockings in Atlanta in the middle of the summering months. No, there wasn’t a simple pants option in case you were wondering.
The issue is this: If the school spent less time being occupied with the APPEARANCE of being great, it could actually focus on being great in real life.
Article: “Black Male exceptionalism? The problems and potential of Black male focused interventions.” – Paul D. Butler
Next post: A university not equipped to equip me. (Part 3 of 4)