All Articles Tagged "black males"
Earlier this year we became very well-versed in Brian White’s thoughts on black women when he spoke about reality TV and how much of a stereotype or simple depiction of true life he thought those representations they were. What was interesting was the same weekend he made those questionable remarks, the movie “Good Deeds,” in which he portrayed a corrupt businessman who certainly would never be a nominee for son of the year, hit theaters. Coming out after his trifling role in “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” I know I certainly wondered just how the actor reconciles the negative images of black men he represents on film after having so much to say about women, and in a recent interview with Sister 2 Sister, he spoke about that very thing.
“These are very, very, very important characters to be out there and discussed,” he told the magazine. “They’re not —I don’t want to use the word ‘stereotype’—but I see lots and lots and lots of guys like those three guys.
“These kinds of guys are no good. I want girls, young ladies, women, to know that they can do bad in life all by themselves.”
There obviously is a difference between someone acting out in front of the cameras to get a bigger check in a reality TV production and someone being a paid actor playing a specific role but what I find most interesting about his explanation is that again the lesson in his on-screen character’s behavior is only for the ladies. Come again?
I’m pretty sure there was a lot for men who can’t take responsibility for their actions to learn from his “Good Deeds” character Walter, and though being a child molester in “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” and a cheating husband in “Daddy’s Little Girls” certainly served as warnings for the types of men women need to look out for, is it that difficult for actors like him and his best friend Tyler Perry to stretch their minds just a tad and teach black men something from behind the scenes too?
Brian said that he’s comfortable taking on these parts as long as the negative characters aren’t portrayed as heroes in the films but we only see one side of the villain, which is the damage they do to women. How about exploring the internal damage they cause and teaching men not to aspire to be like them, because all I see when I watch these types of characters is an inspiration to live just like these fools but not get caught. Or how about actually being a good black man for once and dispelling the negative labels placed on men like him? Novel, I know.
Thankfully I was done with this man a long time ago and didn’t really expect anything profound to come out of his mouth about black men and what lessons they can take from his characters but you can’t help but notice the hypocrisy in thinking women are the only ones with need for improvement.
What do you think about what Brian had to say?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Finally black men are asking one another the questions that everyone else has been asking about them behind their backs in a new documentary titled “Question Bridge: Black Males.” The transmedia art project seeks to redefine black male identity by forcing them to think about who they really are when confronted with questions like:
Do you want to get out of the situation you are in?
What is the reluctance for taking responsibility for improving our community?
Why are you afraid of being intelligent?
Are your children better or worse off as a result of your involvement?
A few of the featured men also explain why they perpetuate the cycles that they do, while others give their thoughts on why things are the way they are. What’s exciting about this project is that you see black men holding one another accountable, and I think black men are much more receptive to critique when it comes from someone who looks like them as opposed to “outsiders” like black women or society as a whole which often sparks defensiveness rather than an open mind.
The film, directed by Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas, was selected for the inaugural Sundance New Frontier Story Lab and is currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum with more exhibits planned in Oakland, Atlanta, and Utah throughout 2012.
Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think about the concept. What are some questions you have for black men in 2012?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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BlackEconomics.org estimates that if no action is taken to revise the status quo, then Black America will reflect the following 2050 statistical outcomes: A population of 60.1 million; 26.2 million workers (12% unemployment); annual average household income of $96,100; 10.6 million businesses; an average of nearly 15 years of schooling; 1.4 million incarcerated; and life expectancy for males of 80.5 years and 84.1 years for females.
In this context, BEV for BAF (Black Economists’ Visions for Black America’s Future) Interviews inquires about the pivotal problems that Black Americans face over the next 20 years; the most ideal solutions to the problems; and the actual outcomes that are likely to unfold. BEV for BAF Interviews with the nation’s top Black economists enable Black America to envision the future and provide guidance on how to reshape that future to improve outcomes for the next generation.
In this segment, Dr. Gregory Price, Charles E. Merrill Professor and Chairman of the Economics Department at Morehouse College in Atlanta, discusses the role of Black males in Black America’s future.
(ThyBlackMan) — There are those who are angered and surprised by the violence of urban “Flash Mobs” (quickly forming groups of young people using technology to organize), especially crowds of young Black men, descending on mostly White, affluent downtown American cities. However, if we analyze this phenomenon, it is not so surprising. In fact, it is highly predictable. While there is no justification for young Black men to rob and beat people of any race, the activities of flash mobs are easily understandable in the context of recent social history and current economic conditions. Most of these young men are poor, desperate and hopeless. They come from broken families and broken communities. They have been failed by their schools and by social and faith organizations in their communities. They don’t have jobs and many of them will never have jobs. They live at the bottom rung of society. The kind of havoc they wreak among us through “flash mobbing” is the kind of havoc they have lived with their entire young lives.
Dr. Waldo Johnson, a social scientist at The University of Chicago, has put together a book that he hopes will gets us closer to understanding the plight of Black men, whose trials and tribulations are yet to be fully explored in academia. His book, Social Work with African American Males: Health, Mental Health and Social Policy, integrates the perspective of several Black scholars and, hence, integrates both a professional and personal insight into “what’s hurting and helping young Black men.” We spoke to Dr. Johnson to learn more about this important work.
What inspired you to write this book and collaborate with others on this project?
The book is the result of a research conference that I hosted at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago in May, 2005. Earlier drafts of several of the chapters contained in the book were presented as conference papers at the conference. At the encouragement of my dean, I decided to organize the research presentations and invited several other scholars to contribute research papers to form the edited volume.
Because the focus of the conference was social work responses to African American males across the life course, I invited social work and other social science scholars whose research examines the various social statuses and well-being indicators represented in the volume. As a fatherhood research scholar, I realized that my capability to address all of these issues and social statuses was limited. I also sought to identify new and emerging scholars, many of whom were junior research faculty, as contributors to the volume because my early research efforts were supported by mid-career and senior scholars.
I recognized that the younger scholars would either bring fresh perspectives to persistent issues and problems that plague African American males or would be addressing emerging issues and identifying human and social capital among African American males for solving problems.
Obviously you’re familiar with your subject matter but what would you say was the most most surprising finding, for you, that came from this book?
I am broadly familiar with the various issues and problems that are addressed in the edited volume. I have addressed a number of these issues in my own research. The most surprising findings are not simply the approach that individual contributors take in conducting this scholarship contained in the volume but also their personal motivation for doing so. For example, my earlier research which focused on unwed fatherhood among low income African American males emerged as a result of my prior social work practitioner career engaged in adolescent pregnancy prevention programming aimed at high school and young adult African American males.
As a social work practitioner and subsequently as a social work researcher, I came to recognize that the lack of strong paternal and son relationships contributed significantly to the escalation of intergenerational adolescent and young adult fatherhood among those in my studies. As an African American male growing up in Americus, Georgia located in the state’s southwestern region, I enjoyed a strong, positive relationship with my own father. My interest in examining the growing phenomenon of unwed and nonresident fatherhood among low-income African American males emerged as I began to consider how profoundly different my life course might have been under such circumstances.
However, like many of the contributors to this edited volume, I recognize the fragility of our respective social statuses and how as African American males, many of us have been touched personally or indirectly by many of the issues and problems examined in this volume. Recently, I participated in a social science research scholars network meeting focused on masculinity and the wellbeing of African American males in which one of the speakers asked those in the audience to stand if they knew someone personally who is or have been incarcerated. In a room of approximately fifty early and mid-career African American research scholars, all holding at least a doctoral degree and many on faculties at some of the nation’s top colleges and universities, less than ten persons remained seated. I dare say that incarceration does not impact the lives of our peer colleagues in this manner. The increasing pervasiveness of such issues and problems among African American males heightens the urgency that we as African American social science researchers share in seeking viable solutions.
There’s a section on how criminal activity amongst black men like gangbanging should be viewed as suicidal/homicidal. That’s not a view that has been discussed outside of academia.
Within the academic research realm, African Americans are viewed largely as a group that does not commit suicide. However, Professor Sean Joe, the author of this chapter, steps outside the traditional social science research paradigm, in which white Americans are typically the comparative reference group in examining homicidal and suicidal behaviors among African Americans. While it may be true that the behavioral modes and patterns of suicide and suicidal behavior such as self-inflicted gun shots and overdosing on drugs that characterize suicide among white Americans is far less frequently executed by African Americans, Professor Joe argues that the prevalence of drug-trafficking and gangbang behaviors that often result in deadly consequences reframes African Americans’, particularly African American males, likelihood to commit and participate in suicidal and homicidal behavior.
Professor Joe’s foray outside the traditional social science research paradigm offers a compelling look at the physical and mental health status of African Americans and how it is uniquely different and therefore imperative that further research is conducted to identify culturally-appropriate interventions.
Why do you think that society in general or policy makers should (or should not) take this perspective when speaking of black criminal activity?
The motivation for engaging in criminal activity is not always the result of bad people doing bad things. In the current economic environment, it is possible that in the loss of access to employment opportunities, some individuals may be led to engage in criminal activity as a means of providing material support for themselves or others when other means appear out of reach.
While I do believe that engaging in criminal activity is never justified, African American males have historically experienced marginal paid labor force opportunities in the US when compared to racial and ethnic peers. Policy makers and society alike often share a common perception of African American males: dangerous, uncaring, and other descriptors that depict them as unworthy of help and assistance.
The distinction lies in how policy makers may contribute to the enactment of public policies that reproduce skewed societal perceptions of African American males. The extent to which African American males see themselves as others see them increases the likelihood that they will engage in self-destructive behaviors, including suicidal or homicidal behaviors because they also see themselves as unworthy of help.
In your personal opinion, what’s the biggest misconception about black men and black male youth?
Stereotype and bias collectively have contributed to the societal perception of African American males, from boys to adult men, as uncaring, fearless predators who have little or no regard for their children as fathers, community and societal norms of behavior as boys and adolescent males.
In doing so, the humanity of African American boys, adolescent and adult males is continuously chipped away and their vulnerability as sons, husbands, uncles, brothers, fathers and civic-engaged individuals within their families, neighborhoods and communities is heightened. In reality, the social construction of masculinity within families and communities in which so many young African American males come of age manifests itself in the “bleeding of boys into men” long before they are chronologically and emotionally prepared to assume adult roles. In addition, various forms of violence (interpersonal, family and community) affect them in uniquely gendered ways such that they are routinely engaged in violent struggles for unknown rewards, displaying fearless demeanors as means of deflecting personal assaults, and persistently worried that they will be the next victim of violence and ashamed that they can neither prevent nor shield themselves unless they too engage in violent behavior.
5. What would you suggest that the general public take into consideration when it comes to understanding the plight of imperiled black youth?
The above statement
6. Social welfare policy constitutes part of your expertise and you’ve studied family households as part of your research. Many people believe that the lack of two parent households is the most important crisis facing African-Americans. Would you agree with that?
The presence of two loving and supportive adults serving in parental roles is important but the loss of the village in which all children are the responsibility of all adults is equally critical. Given the increasing rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock parenting, it is unlikely that all youth can expect to live with two parents during their formative years. As Joseph Richardson points out in his chapter contained in this volume, uncles, both kin and fictive kin, provide important family-based social capital when fathers cannot do so. Another contributor, Kevin Roy, describes the important reciprocal relationships between paternal grandmothers and their sons as another important form of family based social capital. The ability to sustain in-tact two parent households may become increasing elusive for many families, irrespective of socioeconomic status for a variety of reasons.
According to the Sentencing Project, more than 60 percent of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. Of black males at least 20 years of age, 1 in every 8 is in prison or jail on any given day. Given the disproportionate number of black males incarcerated, it begs the question of why are so many black men the targets of the prison industrial complex. A corollary question is in order here: is there a motive behind keeping black men in prison?
One explanation to illustrate a motive as to why black men are disproportionately incarcerated is social control theory. Social Control theorists contend that when social constraints on antisocial behavior are weakened or absent, delinquent behavior emerges. An example of social constraints and how the state exerts power is the New York City Police Department practice of racial profiling documented by Bob Herbert of the New York Times.
He found that minorities were involved in 84 percent of the stops made in regards to police looking for weapons, drugs, and other illegal antisocial acts blacks are perceived to engage in. Moreover, racial profiling by NYC Police Department underscores the strength of the state and is an example of how state power serves as a deterrent to crime–NYC cites that crime has steadily gone down as a result of the state exerting its power. In addition, the reduction of crime is used to justify the criminalization of black males and the over incarceration of black males.
Another reason black males are cannibalized by the prison industrial complex is the need of the capitalist system to exploit labor—black labor has been the labor of choice for exploitation since the founding of the United States. Blackmon, in his book Slavery By Another Name, does a yeomen’s job explaining this forced labor black men were subjected to once they were freed. Today’s over-incarceration of black males is a continuation of capitalistic practices looking to exploit black labor.
Most of us are not aware that the prison system, as we know it, did not develop until black slaves were manumitted. Once they were freed, the South needed to recapture the free labor black male slaves provided. Thus, the invention of the current day prison system was born.
In the year 1820, there were 783,781 black males enslaved providing free prison labor and in the year 2000, there were 792,000 black males incarcerated providing free prison labor. Ironically, black males while incarcerated work for Fortune 500 companies such as Dell etc., but once released, the felony conviction precludes them from gaining meaningful employment. Now consider the year 1860, the zenith of slavery. In 1860, 1,981,395 black males where under labor bondage and juxtapose this to the year 2017 when 1,999,916 black males will be incarcerated. According to Graham Boyd (2001), author of the Drug War Is the New Jim Crow, by 2017, 1,999,916 black males will be incarcerated and they will be under labor bondage and will receive no compensation for their labor although it is contracted out to multinational corporations—see Figure 1 for computation of inmate population for 2017.
Taken together this research strongly suggests black males have been targeted for their labor. Moreover unbeknownst to many is that the custodians of black male labor–the prison system and for-profit prison corporations–make billions of dollars off their labor. Sadly, many states have not set a fair wage standard to govern prison wages and employment. Wages in prisons can range from $.50 cents an hour to $2.00 an hour. There is something patently wrong with this arrangement. This is a modern version of slavery and the basis for intergenerational cycles of penury.
Consider an aside here: Karl Marx characterizes the oppressed as the surplus population—in this discussion it connotes the black male population. The continuous exploitation of black male labor is state-sanctioned dehumanization. The prison system, the state apparatus is sine qua non in capturing black male labor for capitalist production. Sadly, forced slavery is sanctioned by Section 1 of the 13th amendment which reads as follows: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
The final motive in regards to keeping black men in prisons is a product of elite deviance, which uses state power to maintain the status quo instead of dealing with social problems which are byproducts of inequality. Instead of dealing with the poor and oppressed, they are incarcerated so we do not have to deal with the issues they create as a result of their social conditions. Black men are viewed as incorrigible reprobates unworthy of rehabilitation. Given the perceived threat of black men to the superstructure, fake campaigns such as the war on drugs and get tough on crime will continue the criminalization of an ever widening range of social problems for the sake of exploiting black male labor. Politicians are more interested in militarizing the police, building prisons as opposed to providing quality education for every child, creating jobs which provide livable wages, and developing an intelligent sound public health response to drug abuse.
Byron E. Price is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and the author of Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?
According to The Providence Journal, “Osiris Harrell, an outspoken activist at School Board meetings, has organized a new group of black fathers who are determined to change how their children are treated in the school system so that their stories are of success, not failure.”