Defining Black Masculinity

Defining Black Masculinity

Defining Ourselves By Ourselves
“For Black women as well as Black men, it is axiomatic that if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others- for their use and our detriment”

-Audre Lorde

Black masculinity is defined in three overarching categories: perception, expectation, and representation. All three of these categories are intertwined together to create an extended definition of Black masculinity. This type of masculinity is extremely different from any other race’s definition of masculinity because there is a negative connotation attached to Black men. It is impossible to define Black masculinity without addressing the stereotypes that are attributed to the portrayals of Black men in our society. It is imperative for Black men to create their own perception of Black masculinity in order to stop being misunderstood and mislabeled.

There are mixed emotions surrounding Black masculinity, white people who fear it, and many African Americans who worship it. In addition, the hip-hop culture romanticizes certain aspects of the black male culture. Whites are in fear that their communities and culture are being tainted by the polarizing image of Black masculinity that pervades throughout America. As a result, the media portrays Black men as violent, hypersexual, and incompetent beings. It is proven that the media unjustly frames their news stories to sympathize more towards whites and less for blacks. “The average stories featuring Black victims was 106 seconds long; those featuring white victims, 185 seconds long.” This causes society to unfairly see Blacks as the aggressor oppose to the victim. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Black community has a narrow minded definition of Black masculinity. If a Black man does not have views, values, and morals that align with the Black community, parts of the Black community are quick to label them as sell-outs. For example, the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson, has received a lot of scrutiny for being “white washed”. The media and some of his teammates said that he has caused turmoil in the locker room because of his white character traits. The Black community is quick to ostracize another member of the Black community because of their differences.

Hip-hop culture also has a strong influence on behavior for anyone outside of the Black culture. Instead of hip-hop giving Black masculinity a negative image; the music should present itself in a more positive manner when it pertains to the Black community. The American culture loves to romanticize with the misogyny, hyper-aggression, and drug use that hip-hop uses to portray Blacks. Many hip-hop fans romanticize with the black hip-hop culture, but nobody likes to address the issues that underlie the most prevalent hip-hop topics.

These portrayals and perceptions of Black masculinity have made society see Black men as undesirable beings. Society has the overall perspective that Black men are irresponsible in regards to family, well-being, and positions of power. Society expects young Black men to be delinquents and commit crimes. It also seems that Society expects Black men to be emotionless-hardened beings and if they are anything less, they are considered to be feminine. But Black men don't fit in a particular archetype. Society shouldn't already have predetermined expectations of what it means Black to be a Black male.

Black men have a tricky job of balancing their black masculine representations in order to adhere to everyone’s opinions and concerns, while still expressing their blackness. Besides Black pop figures and Black athletes, Black men have to align their Black masculinity with white America’s viewpoint of a so-called “acceptable black man”. If a particular Black man is unable to align his Black masculinity with what white America’s expectations, he will seldom see success in corporate America. A prime example of this is Hampton’s Business School and Morehouse’s dress code requirements. These institutions require their students to dress and look according to white society. They require this because they do not want their Black students to be misinterpreted as a threat to white society. Black men are expected to conform their Black masculinity if they want to see success in this white world. But if they drive their Black masculinity so far away from the stereotypical Black culture, the Black community deems this unacceptable. So there is this perpetual struggle of a Black man trying to make it in white America while staying true to their roots as well.

As a Black man, it is important to define our Black masculinity as a positive, not a negative. Unfortunately, Black men and even Black women are stuck with the burden of living in a system that was not made for them. If Black men want to see more success in this white society, it is going to be imperative to define Black masculinity on our terms and nobody else’s, for the next Black generation.

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.

It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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It's Been A Year And I Still Miss It

The memories with my teammates and coaches are remembered everyday.


Never thought I'd say it but here I am. I am happy to say I am proud to be where I am today but the thoughts of never playing a sport again linger in my mind. Those emotions of anticipation and excitement when it comes to playing a sport are long gone. Sad to say I will never have butterflies before running a race, floor burns all over my knees and sweat mixed with softball dirt all over me.

The little aspects that I took for granted are what I remember the most. I am who I am today because of my coaches and teammates. Each and every sport came with a support system to fall back on and friendships that would last a lifetime. My coaches and teammates taught me life long skills that I will carry with me forever. They taught me the true meaning of dedication, teamwork, perseverance and respect. Yes, I love the game but the connections and memories I have built have impacted me. Especially, the times I have created with my teammates and coaches on the bus rides, practices and game days.

Those are the moments I will never get back. I will never forget the times my volleyball teammates and I would run over to Perkins after a win. We would eat junkie, greasy food till our tummies were full but during those moments we were all owning the moment while being young and careless. Even during track season my teammates and I found time to have fun while running rigorous workouts. I will never forget the mid-dance parties during track meets to keep our mind off of the stress of performing to our best ability. Softball season always seemed to be on the road, which meant plenty of bus rides with my teammates. Those hours of traveling were the best from the never have I ever games to singing along to great hits.

I will never get the chance again to compete in front of a crowd. The cheers and the roars of the fans is such a surreal feeling. Running on the blue oval was something I will never forget. As much as I hated the queasy, uneasy feelings before running, I would go back for it one more time. Stepping foot on the blue oval meant a great athlete once took those same steps I did. The moment my teammates, coaches and I clinched the win to go to State for the first time in school history was unbelievable. It was an accomplishment for us seniors, for our coaches, for our families and fans, for our school and for the past softball players. We did something that was never done before in school history and all I can say is I'm proud to have done it with the group of girls that I did.

Getting to state and playing with the best of the best is remarkable but what seemed to be even better was getting a victory against a city rival. Everyone came out for those games from grandparents to students to alumni. Our best performances were amongst us when competing against city rivals. Particularly, through volleyball, my teammates and I seemed to be hungrier for a win whenever it was a city rival. I guess, the best moments happened when we beat a cross-town rival. You could say we got bragging rights for the year.

To all the athletes out there competing in their last game, last match or last race, relish in those last seconds because before you know it you will never pick up a ball again, race in a relay or dance after a victory.

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