(Part One of Two)
Patriarchy takes for granted that women are inferior and “the weaker sex,” as assholes used to refer to women decades before. The system of patriarchy is smug in its paternalism towards women. Patriarchs love to hold open doors for women and treat them with what they (patriarchs) imagine to be “respect.” “Respect and protect women,” they chant, like a bunch of crows perched on a tree branch. They love to talk of women being “queens” and how “strong” and “lovely” and “noble” and “fair” they are. They say women are romantic and emotional while men are visual and phallic, that women are from Venus while men are from Mars and all that crap. Actually, both are from planet earth but who cares? The language of patriarchy puts women on a pedestal that women themselves did not create.
The paternalistic language of patriarchy is highly indulgent and ever-adaptable. It is a shape-shifting chameleon, and therefore a dangerous language. Actually it has evolved to the point where self-proclaimed feminists can borrow extensively from it without their even realizing it. Feminists speak of their bodies being “sexualized” by “heterosexists,” of the “oppressive male gaze,” and so on. This is a white, Western middle-class concern, voiced in rhetoric that has precise roots in the blue-stocking language of Victorian social reformers, nearly all of whom were White, female (and largely racist) Anglo-Saxon Protestants. But today’s Social Justice Warrior does not do his or her research; in fact they do not read books at all unless they are schlock books by Amanda Hocking or Jonathan Safran Foer. They refuse to realize that when they express shock and horror at the expression of overt sexuality they are walking in the high-laced shoes of Carrie Nation, Anthony Comstock and their ilk.
These modern-day Victorian social reformers will never admit to themselves that their rejection of sexuality (especially heterosexuality) is heavily tinged with racism. It is the exact same racism of their late 19th century American ancestors, who were horrified that newly-freed black male slaves were now free to put their hands on white women. These ancestors had once been Abolitionists and felt relatively safe in protesting the enslavement of Africans–safe, because he was in chains; because he was illiterate, and generally not in any position to challenge the authority of white Americans. But when he was freed he became a threat. Feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton made her position clear in an oft-quoted statement from 1868: “Think of Patrick and Sambo and Hans and Yung Tung who do not know the difference between a monarchy and a republic, who never read the Declaration of Independence or Webster’s spelling book, making laws for Lydia Maria Childs, Lucretia Mott, or Fanny Kemble.”¹
Of course, it probably never occurred to Ms. Stanton that Patrick the Mick, Sambo the Sambo, Hans the Kraut and Ching Chong simply did not think it worth their time “raising” themselves to the allegedly “high” Democratic cultural standard of the superior Anglo-Saxon Race. Today, her ideological descendants, many of whom are black, think that such a feat might still be worthwhile. Many of these black descendants are self-styled “feminists,” “feministas” and “New Black Men,” who are quite young and generally middle-class oriented. A lot of them are self-styled “Afropunks,” and though they are among the most privileged of all African Americans in light of their economic standing (and the willingness of the white Establishment to employ them), they often pretend to be at a social disadvantage vis-a-vis other black people–most especially “heterosexual black men.”
The writer is familiar with these kinds of privileged blacks because he attended high school and college with them. He knew (and still knows) a lot of them personally. So when someone such as Damon Young writes that “Straight Black Men” are the white men of Black America, he just rolls his eyes to the ceiling of his room and says, “here we go again.”
Yep, here we go again. There are no shortage of articles in print or on the internet that deal with this very same subject: the supposed savagery of the Black Male. I compiled such an enormous amount of data researching it that I decided to tackle the subject of Black Male Savagery from an entirely different historical context and in an entirely different nation: French Algeria.
“Beneath the patrilineal pattern of Algerian society,” Frantz Fanon writes, “the (French settler) specialists described a structure of matrilineal essence…The Algerian woman, an intermediary between obscure forces and the group, appeared in this perspective to assume a primordial importance. Behind the visible, manifest patriarchy, the more significant existence of a basic matriarchy was affirmed. The role of the Algerian mother, that of the grandmother, the aunt and the “old woman,” were inventoried and defined.
“This enabled the colonial administration to define a precise political doctrine: ‘if we want to destroy the structure of Algerian society, its capacity for resistance, we must first of all conquer the women; we must go and find them behind the veil where they hide themselves and in the houses where the men keep them out of sight.’ It was the situation of woman that was accordingly taken as the theme of action. The dominant administration solemnly undertook to defend this woman, pictured as humiliated, sequestered, cloistered…The behavior of the Algerian was very firmly denounced and described as medieval and barbaric. With infinite science, a blanket indictment against the ‘sadistic and vampirish’ Algerian attitude towards women was drawn up. Around the family life of the Algerian, the occupier piled up a whole mass of judgments, appraisals, reasons, accumulated anecdotes and edifying examples, thus attempting to confine the Algerian within a circle of guilt.”² (Italics mine)
If Fanon’s words sound eerily (and nauseatingly) familiar to an African American reader, that’s because they are familiar. Since the end of Reconstruction we have heard similar rhetoric not only from our avowed enemies but even from liberal and even left-leaning whites and blacks who call themselves our allies. From Elizabeth Stanton to Joel Chandler Harris to Charles Carroll to Robert Shufeldt to Susan Brownmiller to Alice Walker, Ann DuCille, Sapphire, Mark Anthony Neal, bell hooks, Bill Cosby, Cornel West, Kevin Powell and lately Barack Obama, Robert Lashley, Jemelle Harris and others we have heard variations on this same tiresome theme. It would be a waste of our time to trudge through all of their paternalistic nonsense–I invite the reader to do this independently–but to sum it all up their words toward black men (particularly heterosexual black men) can be summed up with a few words: stop acting like a nigger savage and act like we tell you to.
We are not that stupid. We know that VSB is a subsidiary of The Root, which in itself is a subsidiary of Univision, a white Cuban-American owned TV station. The Root is really rootless. (Univison pretends to be non-white whenever it has to deal with Dolt 45 and the alt-shite. When it deals with African Americans or Afro-Latinos, it puts on blackface and makes monkey noises.)
Although not entirely without merit, The Root has a long history of condescending to rank-and-file African Americans. Nearly ten years ago The Root was roasted by Ta-Nehisi Coates for insinuating that African Americans were an anti-intellectual people. The author of that article was right on many accounts but Mr. Coates was even more correct in calling the author into question. It was the same old black bourgeois condescension towards the unwashed black masses that we have been hearing for God knows how long, and quite frankly we are sick and tired of hearing it.
We, the unwashed negroids, are surfeited with privileged blacks scribbling this stuff on high for Harper’s, or the Huffington Post, or from The Grio or The Root telling us to “clean up our act” and “pull up our pants” or some such shit. And in the case of Mr. Young–well, it isn’t so much what Damon Young said concerning allegedly heterosexual black men vis-a-vis “black people”–one wonders which “black people” he really has in mind–but how he said it, and how he framed his narrative concerning black machismo. He generalized about an entire subset of the American population and not-so-subtly stigmatized them as The Enemy.
It is white paternalism disguised as black brotherly advice. Damon Young talks of black heterosexism³ and “patriarchy,” parroting the language of the white liberal academy, which doesn’t give a shit about blacks one way or the other. The white liberal academy’s job is to make sure that African Americans are sufficiently divided and compartmentalized so that the white political establishment can manage them better. Some have suggested that Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas was being satirical. He isn’t being satirical; he is doing the white liberal’s dirty work, like Robert Lashley before him, and Mark Anthony Neal, Kevin Powell, Randall Kenan and countless others before that.
Mr. Young’s piece is getting accolades from wannabe black establishment writers who foolishly believe that this is actually a subject worth talking about. “I thought Damon did an excellent job tackling a difficult and complicated issue, and I was happy that he used his male privilege to help tell our stories,” a Dr. Kristian H. wrote in the Huffington Post. “Black women have not been allowed to be both Black and female. Historically, we have had to choose our race over our gender, and we have not had the space to express the challenges we face as women. We have not talked about our pain in order to protect our Black men’s dignity. We have not been able to be truly feminist, for fear that it disregards, or contradicts, our shared Blackness. We are so worried about the repercussions of discussing our issues with toxic masculinity that we ignore them.”
Of course, when Kristian H. says “we” she is referring to her own subset of black middle-class women who go through the same trauma and pain she describes. I’m not going to say that the pain is all in her head, but she is pointing to the wrong source of that pain. She can at least gently protest Damon Young’s whitewashing of “heterosexist” black men by saying his basic analogy is “divisive and hurtful,” but in her elite feminist angst she goes on a tear and contradicts herself: “You are not absolved of the responsibility of both acknowledging and uplifting your Black women. Black men have a heavy burden to bear, and you have been taught and conditioned that it is somehow acceptable to dump that burden on Black women. Black men have historically only had power over Black women, so you’ve made us suffer to help ease your pain. You have disrespected us, you have degraded us, you have silenced us. Yes, slavery, oppression, colonization, and dehumanization can take its toll on your psychological well-being. We get that you are in pain, we are too, and we want to support you. But being in pain is not an excuse to cause pain; we must stop the cycle of abuse.”
Kristian H. continues: “Black women are often harassed on the street by Black men who objectify our bodies,* and we are taught to be polite and smile to ensure our safety from a young age.º We are taught victim blaming, we internalize it, and we try to dress a certain way because only “respectable” women deserve respect. I am sorry, Damon’s piece is not dividing Black men and women; Black men are dividing us with their own actions, of their own accord. They are doing that when they refuse to date Black women. They are doing it when they call us aggressive, argumentative, or a feminist (which is apparently a bad word) for talking about these issues.” (Italics mine)
If I were white, I might believe Kristian H’s rant. But I am not. I can only remember my mother decades ago frequently putting my father firmly in his place whenever she felt he had said something she disagreed with. (I owe my razor-sharp tongue to my mother as well as my father, by the way.) I can only recall black women on the streets of Washington D.C. in the eighties, nineties and 2000s wearing skin-tight latex pants and not too worried about the “heterosexist male gaze;” if anything, they appeared to relish it. They made up the majority of black women in that city then and still do now. Kristian H. does not. She is a product of a fake white liberal academia that is so paternalist in outlook that it thinks it can not only manufacture our history and identity but also–absurdly enough–imagines it can dictate the exact terms of our own oppression to us.
Fanon himself has been accused of sexism on more than one occasion. Yet in spite of this we should listen carefully to Fanon’s words here, in light of Damon Young and Dr. Kristian H. We have seen all of this before and not just in America, not just in colonial Algeria. “Colonial society blazes up vehemently against this inferior status of the Algerian woman,” Fanon writes, and a French feminist-settler is quoted in the book as saying, “We want to make the Algerian ashamed of the fate that he metes out to his women.”
Today we know that the colonial French were completely full of shit. When Algerian women refused to fall for the bait, the French colonial patriarchs and matriarchs alike declared a “nigger-hunt.” After November 1, 1954 the French liberals and feminists decided that an Algerian was an Algerian, feminist, patriarch, gay, straight, light, dark, rich, poor, or otherwise. The events of that day (and subsequent ones) showed French colonialist liberals that their attempts to forestall Algerian independence had been in vain. Nonetheless, they kept at it:
A strand of hair, a bit of forehead, a segment of an “overwhelmingly beautiful face” glimpsed in a streetcar or on a train, may suffice to keep alive and strengthen the European’s persistence in his irrational conviction that the Algerian woman is the queen of all women. (Fanon, p. 43)
Algerian women were not falling for it. After 1955 Algerian women were allowed to fight in the war for independence. Whatever Djamila Bouhired thought of Algerian patriarchal machismo she was not chipping in her lot with French liberals and certainly not writing sob sister stories to center-left French magazines, detailing her abuse at the hands of macho Algerian men. Nobody is dare suggesting that such men did not exist: they did. But that is not the point.
One million Algerians lost their lives in a fight against the kind of liberal fuckery that Damon Young and Kristian H and Kevin Powell and Robert Lashley childishly spout. Understand that the aforementioned negroes are only concerned about their own personal glory. They want literary prizes, they want book contracts, they want to see their names on the New York Times bestseller list. But they don’t want to look like obsequious alt-right colored bootlicks like that lump of shit, Jesse Lee Petersen, or those two gold-dust twins Diamond and Silk. So they take a route which they imagine is more honorable: calling out black men on their abusive and irresponsible behavior. And not just any group of black men, mind you, but straight black men.
But Black liberals do not understand gay culture, whether black or white. The black liberal image of the black gay male is just as condescending as its image of the straight black male: whereas all straight black men are priapic crotch-grabbing machos, apparently all gay black men are limp-wristed, faggoty snap-queens who look like RuPaul. As a heterosexual black male even I have to call bullshit on this. But you know American liberals–they, like their supposed enemies on the far right, also live in a world of cheap stereotypes.
Most of these violent black machos–and there are many of them–are either heterosexual failures, or actually gay. A few of them have been caught wearing dresses, as this lovely example clearly shows. Many of these ultra-macho black (c)rappers are rumored to be gay, and according to Suge Knight himself at least ninety-five percent of them are. Now American society does not give a shit about black gay men, but they see some of them as useful tools in beating other black men in the head with; they imagine that the black gay man–because he has been ostracized from his community (and let’s face it, he often is)–will be useful in ridiculing and beating down the rest of us.
Anyone who has spent time in Black America knows who the real “white” people are in our communities. They are the pseudo-educated black males and females or they are black male pastors, drug dealers, entertainers, politicians, pimps, cops and of course, thugs. The irony of this is that in real time–not in Harvard’s make-believe ballroom time–black women are far more likely to avoid jail, to get employed, to choose whichever mate they wish to be with, and in general they are single out of choice (no matter what some liars may say).
Black American women in general prefer men they perceive to be glamorous, and that perception is unpleasantly skewered towards outlaws, bad-boys, thugs, etc. It is one thing to accuse the black heterosexual male of being a thug and quite another to ask who made him that way. The Harvard liberals won’t go there for a reason. They know that it was that black thug’s mammy who made him the way he is and they also know that black women (generally speaking) prefer black men to be thugs because they—well, many black women think that’s sexy.
Your average straight black man in America is not considered desirable because he is “a broke-ass nigga,” as anyone will tell you on the street. He has no real money and drives a shitty car. He is unemployed or underemployed. He does not own anything. He does not manufacture anything. He does not print the money. He does not head any army or any navy. He has a flag which, at the moment, does not stand for much more than angry ressentiment. Above all he has zero control over black women, who will tell him exactly what they feel about him in no uncertain terms. These same women will insult him, reject him, beat him up, jail him or even kill him. He has no privilege other than that which exists in the heads of Anglo-Saxonized negro feminists, racist Asians, racist Latinos (especially Mexicans), racist white ethnics, and toothless redneck trash who think “niggers” are stealing their jobs and women. In fact he is collectively what white men used to call “the lady of the races,” and for good reason: he is nothing in the eyes of America, nothing in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of his wife, girlfriend, mother, father, children and finally even his own.
Negro-Saxons and their lot are not interested in talking to this man. They have already decided that he is not really a human being. They are too keen on playing leap-frog over this man to get to the top of the Anglo-Saxon’s totem pole. They don’t give a shit if this black macho is systematically dehumanized and depersonalized. They don’t give a shit if his actions have less to do with privilege and more to do with his having been turned into a man-child after four centuries of slavery. And more importantly, they certainly don’t give a shit if millions of black women really do get beaten and killed by these machos–as long as they can’t write a book about it and make millions.
Damon Young “clapped back” when thousands of angry writers responded to his ill-thought out article. He now pretends that “moist” is worse than the word “nigger.” Damon is entitled to his opinions, but he needs to stop treating black Americans like children. Not just STRAIGHT black American males–we don’t need anymore of these stupid colonial-style divisions–but African Americans, full stop. Everyone is implicated. Any mother who has raised a straight black male child is also implicated, because that mother largely made him what he is. Mr. Young, Mr. Lashley and Kevin Powell are either too ignorant, too confused or too contemptuous of African Americans as a group to see that when they attack “heterosexual black men,” they are also leveling the gun at themselves.
They are too short-sighted to see that articles and theories such as these are used as alibis by the white public to socially ostracize black men on sight, regardless of their sexual orientation. When a cop, or a white woman or man sees a black man in a predominately non-black social setting, the first impulse will be to have him singled out and then detained. We know that white society makes no distinctions, and when the shit hits the fan in a few years Damon Young just might find himself in the gas chamber before most of us—if only because he is more visible and more prominent than the rest of us. But—like those Jewish collaborators for Adolf Hitler– he might get lucky and join some future Neger-rat that will protect his ass from immediate death.
Sterling Brown once said, “Harvard has ruined more niggers than bad liquor.” He was right. And ditto for white liberalism.
¹Written in 1868 for The Revolution, a suffragist paper funded by Irish-American Democrat and arch-racist George Francis Train.
²Fanon, “Algeria Unveiled,” Studies in a Dying Colonialism, p. 35-45
³White people call it a “jock mentality.”
*How quaintly Victorian of her.
ºSpeak for yourself, Kristian H. Most black women we see on an every-day basis are as in-your-face and rude as they see fit. Of course there are exceptions, but we don’t see too many of them.