by Kenray Sunyaru
As a Black man living in racist America, from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I go to sleep at night Black manhood is under attack. Most neighborhoods where Black men live facilitate demoralization: few opportunities, options, support, and services.
Every day a Black man must affirm his 'Life' with self-worth, self-respect, and a prideful sense of Black manliness, without these self-notions being a Black man in this country can be a very demoralizing experience. Indeed it’s a daily challenge to remain positive, productive, and progressive.
Every day I see too many absentee Black fathers, many are just flat-out irresponsible; while many others are driven out the home by very-very difficult to get along with women. Every day I hear too many Black women along with women of other races ‘male bash’ Black men; constant dissatisfied talk that Black man aint doing enough; no matter how much he does it aint good enough, you know the chorus ‘niggas aint shit’!
Every day I see too many Black men being totally unproductive idly standing on corners, or sitting on porches gossiping and arguing all day just wasting their time. I hear Black men spending countless hours debating self-righteously over who has the correct religion and doing nothing to improve their communities; while others argue over whose the best rapper or professional athlete; whose the baddest gangster, drug-dealer, or whose hood is the most dangerous.
Every day during this COVID-19 Pandemic I see many-many Black men not wearing masks and social distancing especially younger adults; I see these same non-complying Black men crying at funerals asking why their homeboy died from the deadly coronavirus. Every day I see young adult Black males driving like 'maniacs' recklessly speeding down residential streets with no regard for life.
Every day I hear Black male preachers preaching about the ‘gospel of hope’ and heavenly rewards in the hereafter to the ‘hood’, at the same time their living the ‘gospel of prosperity’ prospering right now wearing expensive suits, driving luxury cars, and living in big ass houses with the white folks out in the ‘burbs’.
Every day I see Black men ‘consumer-slaves’ tripping over and risking their priceless lives and freedom on clothes, shoes, jewelry, and cars; distortedly believing their self-worth is I am what I have. Every day I witness Black men enrich non-Black men (Arabs, Chinese, Koreans, East Indians, etc.) who dominate the businesses in our neighborhoods.
Every day as a Black man I witness so many unemployed and poor Black men. Every day I see too many Black men selling drugs, using drugs, arrested for drug possession, and sentenced to prison on drug charges.
Every day I hear about too many Black men killing or being killed; hearing about Black men being either targeted, harassed, or murdered by the police. Every day I see too many Black men with physical and mental illnesses.
Every day I see so many Black men that are 'haters', full of jealousy, envy, and intense dislike; hating on each other over money, material things, sectarianism, reputations, notoriety, women, and dumb shit! Every day I witness too many Black men exhibit the following self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors:
*It’s all about me, myself, and I:
These are Black men who are extremely self-absorbed and selfish. They believe in urban Darwinism, survival of the fittest. They use Black people for their pleasure and self-serving agendas. They have no regard for others and practice an exclusive morality; everybody else don’t matter. They are very narcissistic.
*I’m all-that and some:
These are Black men who make themselves believe they are larger than life, supermen. They believe they are superior and invincible which creates a megalomania complex. Their false sense of grandiosity causes them to be irrational and insensitive. Their exaggerated sense of self-importance results in recklessness and destructiveness.
*A playa and just playing:
These Black men base their manhood on womanizing and sexual conquests; they never want to establish genuine relationships. Constant sex provides them with consistent psychological relief from the tensions of racism, stress, attacks, and feelings of emasculation.
*What is it hitting for:
These Black men base their lives on numerology; gambling on the winning number. They play all types of daily lottery games; they gamble at the casinos; they play the ‘street-lottery’; they shoot-dice at gambling houses; and they bet on horse races. They are betting on numbers to predict their financial future.
*It aint no use in trying:
These Black men believe its the white man’s world; so it’s futile to try and make progress; planning and preparation is a waste of time; they accept external control instead of internal control. They are pessimistic and fatalistic.
*Lying, bragging, boasting, and joking:
These Black men are deceivers and pretenders. This deception and excessive exaggeration provides them with fantasy protection to hide their insecurities. They joke a lot to make light the heavy burden Black men must bear.
*Just a baby-boy:
These Black men are irresponsible and expect others to take care of them. They always have excuses about their shortcomings. They typically respond to constructive criticism defensively or offensively; from persuading others to feel sorry for them or through intimidation.
*It’ll be greater later:
These Black men anticipate better days ahead without applying themselves now to make their situation better. They are caught in a waiting game; waiting on divine intervention, heaven, something miraculous, a winning lottery number, sweepstakes, or some other lucky break. Their outlook is based on wishful thinking and is unrealistic.
*Just want to get high:
These Black men use drugs, or drink alcohol daily as a coping mechanism to deal with the tremendous challenges of Black manhood. They falsely escape through self-medication. They become gripped by addiction; spending their whole lives medicating their psychological wounds and self-inflicted
*Life is all about money:
These Black men are preoccupied with earning money whether legally or illegally. Their sense of manhood is based totally on finances and consumerism. The ones who make money honestly often work two and three jobs, becoming Workaholics often times at the expense of their own health ‘dying prematurely. The ones who make money dishonestly, chase it at the expense of their lives and freedom.
*Got to have some game:
These Black men are manipulators; always trying to get something for nothing. They are exploiters, who are always lying and scheming; they are constantly searching for victims to take advantage of.
*Angry as hell:
These Black men are filled with rage. They are full of hurt and resentment; often times they have been victims of violence. They are mad at the world and want revenge. They become callous and often times engage in senseless violence.
Everyday when I witness so many Black men engaging in reactionary, unproductive, and sabotaging behavior, I know they’ve succumbed to these actions because of our vulnerability; which stems from our underlying insecurity of being dependent; lacking the 'power' to control our lives. Our extreme dependency on white men for jobs, food, clothing, and shelter.
This reliance is not dependable, increasingly Black male labor has become expendable. Compared to white men, Black men know they face greater unemployment and have less job security. Everyday Black men have to live with this uneasiness that they have to cope with; some try to deny it, some stuff it, some ignore it, some mask it; and most conceal it, especially from Black women; as Naim Akbar states:
“It hurts to show a woman you care about that you are hurt. It hurts to show that type of vulnerability, because vulnerability is frightening thing for many Black men. Its dangerous. It puts you in the position of revealing your ‘Achilles’ hill in an environment that you fear is bent upon your destruction. You learn to keep your vulnerabilities to yourself, even from those you love.”
Every day I see many hardworking Black men raising their families not getting the acknowledgment they deserve. I also see the small number of Black men who volunteer with dedication coaching and mentoring our youth not getting the support they should; I also see a much-much smaller number of Black men who have been leading and sacrificing for years for genuine community development and progress not getting recognition and backing.
Everyday as Black men we have to deal with the burden of racism, for sure it’s a grinding experience as Thomas Holdcroft said: “Life is a grindstone,” Black men whether life grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us.