Monday, June 7, 2010

The Baggage of Black Men

I am interested in black men. I mean really really interested in them. I am not talking about the interest that makes me want to kiss them or have dinner with them. Not the interest that makes me want to meet one that will love me and that I can also love without pretenses, without all the superficial fluffy stuff. I am interested in black men in a way that makes me feel for them, want to understand them, want to encourage their evolution, want to know what’s behind all that forced masculinity. I am interested in black men in a way that makes me want to kiss away all of their issues. And that means I want to do a whole lot of kissing because black men seemingly have a whole lot of issues. Erykah Badu’s bag ladies probably couldn’t fit all of a black man’s baggage into a thousand of their bags. I’m talking about major baggage. I am interested in that baggage not only because from a spectator’s point of view it's interesting but also because it makes answering questions on black men’s behavioral traits easier. I am interested in their baggage because while there is all this uproar about single black women and what they are doing wrong I want to look at all the bags of these black men.

Start focusing the attention on who these black women are trying to date and then that tired conversation of single black woman might go somewhere. I am not saying point fingers, shift blame. This is a blameless situation, everyone regardless of race or sex is pretty messed up. I’m just saying let’s critically look at what black men are bringing to the table. Let’s look at all of their baggage and then that might be more of an indicator on the supposed demise of black relationships. Black people as a whole are a complex people. They are fascinating and multifaceted. I am proud to be black but that doesn’t mean I have to turn a blind eye to our unique dysfunction. Instead, I intimately understand it and want to explore it.

Today, black women are beginning to openly admit their psychological woes, will even skirt around with the idea of therapy. We are for once starting to break the misconception of the superwoman strength complex and starting to admit that we do, in fact, have struggles. If you start asking a black man, however, what his damage is he will look at you blank faced. And even if he begins to reveal his struggles, he nonchalantly relays stories of legitimate childhood trauma with a shrug of the shoulders. I understand their inability to really explore their baggage. Their strict rules of masculinity do not allow it. Their strict rules of black masculinity definitely do not leave room for it. In understanding that though, I also see the lack of possible evolve these men have. There can absolutely be no real evolution without this kind of introspection. And there lies problem number one--black men who have so much potential are simply not evolving, not getting through their basic level roadblocks.

Black men I have observed, sadly, have a tradition of parental dysfunction largely paternal issues. As I discussed in an earlier post they are the prime example of runners of this type of mommy/daddy cycle. Therefore, how can a man, any man, reach his full potential when he isn’t severing such profound issues from his past? Men boastfully say that women hold on to baggage from past relationships. I do not disagree with that. Women have their own unique inability to sever relationship issue leaving them to fall into patterns of vigorous repetition. Men shouldn’t boast too loudly though because while women are carrying around relationship baggage these black men have a much heavier load. They are carrying around things that they literally cannot face that like an invisible leech is stunting their growth. They carry around bags of junk and haven’t even taken the time to look in the bag to understand that junk is what they are carrying. That is sad. It’s sad because their oblivion of their issues leaves them subliminally masking it, putting up sky high walls so that no one can touch that wound. It’s sad because they are never quite able to understand why they cannot fully give themselves to anyone especially not to a woman. One commenter last week simplistically labeled this problem as “emotional laziness.” I respectfully say to that commenter that it’s not a “lazy” issue is an inability one. How can any man be emotionally alert with a woman when they have had to emotionally disconnect, emotionally check-out just to suppress things from their past. They check-out in order to go on with their regularly scheduled “masculine” disposition. It should be no surprise that they have difficulty flipping that switch back on to deal with the world's most emotional creature--a woman.

I feel for black men and the strict social constructs that they have inherited by being both black and male. Issues of poverty are a much more intricate discussion when you start talking about its affect on black men. Issues on being black and growing up in suburbia or in affluent neighborhoods take on a very different picture when the focal point of that conversation is black boys. I say this to say that I wholeheartedly understand the reason behind the problem. I also understand that this problem isn’t going anywhere by continuing to carry around the bags instead of stopping to actually deal with the clutter inside them. Black people are very leery of therapy, I understand that. I just hope that one day black men, specifically, will find a way to deal with the complicated issues they are harboring. Black men are much too brilliant to let the past and their unwillingness to deal with it keep them from growing into the beautiful black men they are meant to be. Those bags are really getting in your way.


  1. What a gorgeous commentary. You have such a way with words!


  2. To begin I may not be the perfect person to comment. I know where my dad home with my mother like hes been for the past 27 years. If I needed anything he provided. Its a blessing. I dont have "bones" in my closet so to speak. I've been hurt by somethings in the past but nothing I'm not open about or anything serious. However, I agree that there is a problem with many black males. But I'll say this outside of the parental issues alot of them are not what you think. Alot of what you take for emotional baggage are excuses. I'm a black man I know. They use their father's indescretions as an excuse for their own. They use the race card as an excuse why they didnt make it to college. Society surely doesnt favor us, but ur line of thought and that of many others is what allows these black men to keep using these excuses. Why can my father stay with one woman for 27+ years and not cheat and be emotionally open and others cant? His father cheated on his mother and eventually left her. Its lazy, there is no inability. If there was an inability then it would be impossible for it to ever happen. Many black men are able to commit and give themselves to women. The ones that cant are lazy. We cant allow excuses to keep being used. Black men have to do better. The longer we keep saying there is something wrong and not asking that we search for accountablility individually the more the excuses will continue to mount. I'm harder on my black brothers than a woman would be but this is my opinion.--- Excuses are tools of the incompetent used to build momuments of nothingness.........

  3. Brilliant! I covered some aspects of our cultural baggage in a series called Black Love & War (just type it in my blog search box). However, I have to disagree with MP--there's a difference between excuses and reasons. It's hard to make a lasting change in your behavior if you don't get to the root of why you act in a particular way. A lot of dysfunction is passed down from the previous generation. You can't act right if you don't know what the right thing to do is because you've never seen it.