Black masculinity is the subject of a lot of public scrutiny and debate. The struggle to affirm a multiplicity of Black masculine identities as part of a larger, collective dynamic remains pervasive in our mainstream discourse.
The fear for some is that full acceptance of the spectrum of human identity and gender expression threatens to destroy the Black Family and is complicit in the feminization -and thus the systemic eradication- of the Black male.
…we are continuing our narrative as freed and freeing people;
and perhaps someday we’ll live in a world
While we must continue to work toward dismantling unjust systems and oppressive institutional practices, we must also challenge ourselves to take responsibility for our own complicit and oppressive behaviors.
Once we embrace the larger spectrum of Black identities, we will balance out the hyper-masculinized images and expectations that we have all been conditioned by with a broader, richer, and more authentic representation of the mosaic that is the Black experience.
If all people are free to express the truest nature of who they are, and we break free from the limited and limiting perspectives, practices, and expectations inherited from oppressed and oppressive generations, Black Americans could experience a modern day equivalent to the Harlem Renaissance and build upon our collective social awareness as we seek better pathways for all our communities to thrive and be sustainable.
The real threat to Black masculinity is the perpetuation of socially manufactured expectations and biases that restrict the breadth of our human perspective, power, potential, and experience.
Who are we in spite of the people we see on tv or in movies or on the street? What do we want for our lives; for our families; for our communities? What legacy are we leaving behind? It is easy to focus on the oppressive actions of others; perhaps we can examine the ways in which we are oppressive in our thinking and actions also.
Human gender identity and expression illustrated by the graphic below: