Click on this image to learn more about M. Garvey whose quote is used for the title of this post.
I’ve talked about it, you, dear reader have talked about it. The world at this point has talked about it, the slap that was seen across the world. Some call it “Nothing more than a pimp slap”(that in itself is problematic but I will save that for another day!), others call it “Chivalry at its best” and others note this act as sexist and harmful to the image of a woman not capable of protecting herself. Whatever your views are on the act of the slap, I would like to explore this national conversation around black masculinity and the concept of blackness within the framework of white male hegemony, a framework in which we all reside.
Black Man, Black Man
I think it is challenging to be a black man in America.
The history of the enslaved black man in this country to filled with trauma. Not only were men of color stolen and ripped from their family, language, culture and religion; they were dispersed among the Americas. They then became emasculated over and over again as their female counterparts were raped, beaten and sent away. They themselves were raped, beaten and sold over and over again. Children born from enslaved unions were not the right of the parents but rather the “master” of the plantation (the very thought that someone could come and snatch my child from me…I just couldn’t imagine). Nonetheless, this happened over and over and over again.
The trauma experienced during the transatlantic slave trade is one that still affects us today all the way into 2022-generational trauma. What does this unfortunate history have to do with us now, in 2022 with the slap that was seen, heard and damn near felt across the world? Well, this history complicates our current relationships today. We, as a people are always in the role of proving our worth. If you talk to any student of color, any professional of color, any employee of color-one may hear the reoccurring theme of always having to give more than 100% all the time. We can never have a slow day, an easy day, a “I’m just going to give 10% day“.
We do not have the luxury to be mediocre.
Mediocrity is not a choice when most people of color lack generational wealth, nepotism and certain privileges to make their assent into the middle, upper-middle and upper class society. There is work, hard work, blood, sweat, tears more blood, sweat and tears for many people of color to reach a comfortable or even affluent space within a system that wasn’t set up for them to win. So, how is this connected to THE SLAP? I would like to argue the incident that took place at the Oscars highlighted how complex our world has become. Here are two men, two men of color whom started off both with humble beginnings. They put the work in, honed in on their respective crafts and have become giants and key players not just in black culture, but also in American culture at large. Both names are household names from the east coast to the west coast and all states in between. Yet, the fame, the money, the power-the will to be anything and everything will not negate the fact that we as a people will still struggle within a space that was never created for us in the first place.
There’s the argument of solidarity with each other, even though not all black folks are the same. Although there may be commonality within our history, the reality is there is no ONE WAY to be black. Blackness is dynamic, fluid and ever changing. We do not all think, act or see things from the same perspective and if you thought that before just engage in a conversation with a room full of black folks about the slap. I am confident all those people will not agree with what was said and what was done.
I mentioned earlier that it is challenging being a black man in America.
I think about the overall pressures one may have to be a good dad (an image not readily seen or promoted within the larger society, albeit black fathers do exist), a good husband and an overall member of society when the world often views you as a threat, a menace, a hypersexualized creature that needs taming.
That’s the world they face.
Black men also feel. They feel no differently than their non black male and female counterparts, yet one may ask: Are there safe spaces for black men to feel without ridicule or shame?
What happens when one is not able to safely express themselves, specifically as it relates to their pain? There may be a slap but there may also be restraint.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts dear readers, until next time: blessings.