What is it about the black male? man or child that evokes an unexplainable aura especially in the mindset of white men; for as long as we can remember? Why does his presence stoke threat, fear and for lack of other words, envy? Why is he continually marginalized, discriminated against and blatantly hated?
I have delved deep and really find it difficult to understand in-as-much as I have heard, read and experienced the bitter truths of being a black man, I still struggle to accept the perception the average ignorant white person has of me and the first thing they perceive when they see me and behold the color of my skin.
The “blackness” of my skin, the melanin that makes up my pigmentation is not akin to the darkness and light that evil and good are depicted by, neither is it inherent in the thoughts in my mind either way.
Just like every other race – black men have dreams, ideals, ambition, aspirations, intellect, wisdom and any other lofty attributes under the sun, and yes, just as white men have every other negative attributes that exist depending on the orientation of the individual and regardless of race or creed.
When we examine slavery and all its machinations, slaves were traded commodities that were put towards hard labor without pay. This arrangement warped the thinking of the black man for a long time as he was helpless, and at the mercy of the his owners.
We have come a long way since then, but with every discriminate newsflash of injustice on the black body we recede even further away from whatever progress we may have made.
What changed the narrative after the abolition of slavery?
Simple: The former commodities or work animals- realized they possess various latent qualities. They were not just “machines” to run plantations, they were living, breathing and vibrant human beings who had been ripped from their ancestral lands and everything they ever knew and held dear to their hearts. Liberation brought clarity. These “machines” possess much more than brute force, they could reason, they could organize and lead.
A great example of the ingenuity of African Americans post slavery is the Greenwood District in Tulsa Oklahoma also known as “Black Wall Street” where fine, bright and vibrant black men established a burgeoning financial district. Greenwood was sadly destroyed in one of the worst racial tragedies recorded in American history.
The Greenwood tragedy revealed that the black man had to be contained in such a manner that they were no more slaves but continued to be dominated in ways that they will never be fully emancipated. How is this achievable? Systemic racism is insidiously embedded within every system to protect the status quo.
In a situation where black lives are snuffed out periodically and only make it to the mainstream when it is captured on tape then, what progress have we made from slavery through Jim Crowe to Civil Rights till the present day?
I have had to explain to my 14 year old son over the years why he should pull his hood down in public and why he needs to understand that when he is out in public not everyone sees him as my son whom his mother and I will give our lives for, and that he is presumed a potential threat to any white person depending on the circumstances and perspective of who is concerned.
The average black boy has several serious responsibilities that his white counterparts do not even think about when they step out into the world. Many of them are already disadvantaged from their first cry even before the umbilical cord is snipped, they are already labelled.
He is taught to be ten steps ahead of the next white boy in all positive spheres of life if he has aspirations of being successful. He is told especially if he happens to be a big lad to be always cautious and courteous when expressing himself especially when white people are involved, in other words “curtail his God-given talents, perspective and true feelings”.
There is an aura and an inexplicable spirituality that surrounds a black man! it is not tangible, it is not taught and it cannot be bottled, it is innate and God-given and it cannot be hidden or ignored regardless of how hard you try.
The black man’s indelible mark is etched into history from great ancient African kings to fiery Afroamerican preachers and orators, in the world of sports and entertainment, to science and technology, this is the particular sector where our “hidden figures” abound and have been historically shrouded, their intellectual properties stolen and rebranded some of which will never be recovered.
Again I ask, What is it about the Black Male?
He is just all round special and enigmatic, charismatic yet misunderstood stylish with a killer swag yet gentle enough if just given the opportunity to exhibit that attribute, but how are you able to show that when all you chronically experienced is hatred and dominance mostly from those that are supposed to have your back.
Your neck has had the collective knees of haters and envious white counterparts wedged into it for centuries some of them not even knowing it or understanding why as this has always been the norm. The average white person who feels superiority towards a black person could not even tell you exactly why or make any sense of their stance or beliefs.
The black family fabric in America has been continuously decimated in a viscous cycle, fathers have been torn away from their families through the fledgling prison system business that the white man has continued to profit and build a billion dollar business on the sorrow, sweat, tears and blood of the black family.
Where do we start?
There is systemic disputes in every sphere of African American life, health, education, security, employment; all designed just to keep a “brother” down, to make sure that although slavery was abolished over a hundred years ago, the slaves emancipated on paper will not be liberated mentally or emotionally. The worst thing a “free” human being can live with is an imprisoned mind.
In all of this though, I am encouraged and very much hopeful with many of the young black men coming up in the world. The current generation of youth, black or white are a movement comprised of freethinkers, they do not generally need a leader and do not readily conform with the status quo.
They are ready to make their own reality if we like it or not, they will question every move we make and will break every rule, culture, tradition that may have been written in stone, they are not here to only rock the boat, they will look to risk everything, sink the boat and swim for the shore without us and our antiquated ways.
These young generation of black brothers are on a mission and we need to get out of their way or be crushed by the momentum.