***Before reading, read Straight Black Men Are the White People of Black People***
I agree with Damon’s assessment but solutions are a key part missing in his essay. Maybe because he wanted to focus on identifying a problem some would argue doesn’t even exist. Maybe he was waiting for me to write a solutions article. (If that’s the case Damon, lets make this collab official shall we?) Damon’s write up begged the question; What can black men do to be better for black women so I went on and made a list of things black men can do to help create a more supportive and nurturing environment for black women. It’s by no means exhaustive and I welcome more ideas. Also, full disclosure, I have room for improvement as well. I can stand to drink a tall glass of my own Kool-aid.
We need to have the difficult conversations with other black men and women. There are a lot of black men who have traumatic experiences from their mothers or maybe those who’ve they’ve dated. We need to realize that condemning a whole group of people for those traumatic experiences is irrational and promotes an unhealthy environment between black men and women.
Black men need to also have conversations with the uncles, brothers, cousins, friends, who perpetuate misogynistic ideals and behaviors. This means being that voice of reason when your friend is cat calling a woman walking down the street, or having a conversation with a younger brother about the proper way to treat women. We have to be the first line of defense to call out behavior that is unhealthy and detrimental to black women.
Be extra critical about language- Lupe Fiasco gets at the core of the hypocrisy of language in hip hop in his song Hurt Me Soul:
“I used to hate hip-hop, yup, because the women degraded
But Too $hort made me laugh, like a hypocrite I played it
A hypocrite, I stated, though I only recited half
Omitting the word “bitch”, cursing – I wouldn’t say it
Me and dog couldn’t relate, till a bitch I dated
Forgive my favorite word for hers and hers alike
But I learned it from a song I heard and sort of liked….
As black men, we need to be aware of the way we socialize negative language toward black women. Bitches, thots, hoes, etc. Some may say, its just a word, what power does it have? Doesn’t that question sound familiar? And often times, hip hop is the primary mode for misogynistic, discriminatory, and down right disrespectful language. I’m not going to blame hip hop, the medium itself is like a mirror. We see and hear what’s going on around us.
Support black women in social and political struggles. There’s a whole bunch of political/social challenges that are outright destroying black women. For example, according to the Justice Department, slightly more than 40% of sex trafficking victims are Black, far outpacing White (25.6%), Hispanic (23.9%), Asian (4.3%) and Other (5.8%) victims and women are more than twice (68 percent) as likely as men (32 percent) to be trafficked for sex. (Human Trafficking By the Numbers 2017) Sex trafficking is disproportionately affecting black women and we’ve got to show up and ride for them in their struggles like they show up and ride for us. There’s so much to support; income inequality, healthcare laws, access to stem education, etc. Show up.
We need to deal with toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity leads to a false narrative of what it actually means to be a man. A false narrative leads to a bunch of men seeking the wrong characteristics to validate their masculinity. Some chase patriarchal, self destructive and misogynistic ideals they believe are at the core of masculinity and it ends up demeaning and screwing over black women. As black men, we need to re-evaluate what it means to be a man and make sure we approach masculinity from a healthy and pragmatic perspective.
Start a dialogue. It may seem a little counter-intuitive, but Facebook and Twitter are good places to have conversations around supporting black women. Yea, sometimes it can get out of control with the comments and trolls but it is a good place to continue the conversation.
Offline is another really important venue. Sit down and talk to black women about the challenges they face and identify ways you can leverage your position to support them.