Black Masculinity: Then and Now
By KeAsiah McLaughlin, Register Contributor
The concept of Black masculinity sets the standard for how people view Black men in our society today. In addition to this, that same concept causes Black men to act upon certain stereotypes and beliefs that impact their behavior and decisions.
Black masculinity has evolved over time, and our society and mass media have contributed to this.
In the past, society defined Black men as ignorant, laborers, and inferior. Black men were supposed to stay out of people’s way and work the rigorous jobs that no one else wanted to support their families. It was hard for them to even go to school and climb the corporate ladder in America. Black men were often imitated harshly in minstrel shows such as “Blackface.” All of this shows that mainstream society saw men in the Black community as inferior and placed negative connotations on those men.
Today, hip-hop culture has a huge influence on how Black men are portrayed. In music videos and song lyrics, Black men are portrayed to be sex-crazed, gangsters, and father figures who are non-existent in their children’s lives. Black men in mass media today are seen as criminals who will end up in the American prison system.
Contrary to belief, Black masculinity is never defined in the right way. The stereotypes placed on our Black men are formed by people who may have encountered a small group and then generalize the whole group to be that same way.
Here is the reality- there are more Black men who are taking care of their kids compared to those who are not. There are many Black men who are pursuing college degrees to land in their dream careers. There are Black men starting their own companies and businesses. There are Black men who set values for themselves and stick to them. There are Black men who respect the Black woman and what she stands for.
The worst stereotype that Black masculinity has always put on our Black men is that they must always be strong. Nonetheless, this puts unnecessary pressure on Black men to live out a perfect life and never show a glimpse of weakness.