What it means to be a black man in America
October 14, 2007
Last year WaPo did a fascinating multimedia series on black men. (It seems) video interviewing mostly in the Washington metro area. But online responses likely from around the world.
It’s very curious that they chose to highlight black men, and not the entire race. Or even other minority races, for that matter. I suppose the stereotype of a black man is the most pronounced — you know, scary gangster, super athlete, lazy, among others. But I would like to see the world through a black woman’s eyes too.
I have always subscribed to the belief that the African American community has had it the worst of all other races in America. Allow me to explain (rant about, to some) why I think that in detail:
While certainly all immigrants have had their fair share of obstacles to overcome, one factor, the African American immigration history, sets this community apart. The English, the Irish, the Italians, the Mexicans and the South Asians all came to this country with family. Or kept in touch with them because they knew of them. But in black folks’ cases the family structure was non existent. The families were separated and sold (similar to puppies today) and resold — for 400 years.
Although most of us, in our daily lives, don’t go around saying we are the way we are because of our parents, but when asked, we certainly would attribute our core values to them. These core values were inherited. I learned the value of education, the importance of saving, the obligation to close ones, from my parents. They from my grandparent, and they from my great-grandparents, so on and so on, for thousands of years, in many cases. These values and morals did not come to me out of thin air.
My argument is that the transfer of the family structure from generation to generation in the African American community only starting recently, is what makes this community susceptible to undesirable circumstances — poverty, teen pregnancy, crime, lack of education. A tree is as strong as how deep its roots go. The seed for the African American tree was planted the latest.
Okay. I made my point. Leave a message in the comment section if you want to discuss further. Back to the WaPo thing.
It’s interesting to read the responses to the question: What does it mean to be a black man. The started in June of last year. And the responses keep flooding in till today.
For this black man, it has meant proving that I have deserved everything that I now have without the stigma of being given a handout, special consideration, or a quota to achieve my goals. I have pride in knowing that I had to constantly work harder than my white counterparts to be noticed and subsequently considered for advancement throughout my careers. I’ve welcomed the ongoing challenge and attempt to instill the same prideful values in my son.
Posted by: James L. Gerrald | June 2, 2006 08:07 AM
I see an inherent problem with the responses here….its the adjective before the noun Man – Black.
As long as u do this and anyone else does this there will always be a seperation/ division.
Posted by: David | August 10, 2007 04:42 PM
Being a black man in America? Means two opposing things – glamour and grit. Either way, the black man must take the challenge and continue to stand up for his rights. Being black according to a black man is being treated unfairly – but America sees a black man according to his achievement. When a black man rises above his circumstances, he is a hero; but when he fails, he falls alone.
Posted by: Carol Araos | April 9, 2007 01:06 PM
Being black in America takes being in control and taking accountiblity of your own action work twice as hard as your white female/ male counterparts to gain the respect that is so much desired to prove you are very capable. Being black you face alot of stigmatism but through great efforts and communications being black in America society if you work on all the small things if life can makelife worth living.
Posted by: Tommy | January 15, 2007 12:06 PM
The hardest job in america is being a black man. You are feared by your white counterparts,have disappointed your black women and you are the most stereotyped race/gender on earth. No one beleives in you…………….but you!
Posted by: CRAIG D | January 10, 2007 10:50 PM