“MAN”nerisms

Sugar. Spice. And everything nice. These are the ingredients used to make young women and not young men…This is one of the major issues in the Black community that perpetuates a constant stigma on how Black Men should act to be considered as “straight Black Men”. I want to mention a disclaimer to the fact that this isn’t to bash anyone that is homosexual but rather to emphasize and/or shed light on the things that we consider to be feminine or “gay” that make Black Men feel as though they cannot be themselves.

Let’s start from the beginning. In order to not only give a Black Woman’s perspective on Black Men and femininity, but I also did my due diligence and spoke with a variety of Black Men. It’s safe to say that most of them have grown up with parent(s) that did not approve of their actions. Those parents have their own bias and may even be homophobic and in raising their children, they wanted to make sure that their Black sons did not grow up to be gay or bisexual or even trans. Their children may not have even wanted to be any of those things but instead wanted to do certain things that would allow them to express their true identity. They were taught that in order to be a straight black male, you have to dress and act a certain way. They were taught that blue is for boys and pink is for girls. Some men were even beaten because they showed feminine tendencies and their fathers and/or mothers did not want them to grow up and become “gay.” Outrageous, right?

MANNERISMS/TENDENCIES

There is a big correlation between feminine actions as a child and being gay as an adult. This is something that I think people need to understand as it has been a pattern in the Black community and a constant “problem” among many cultures. A lot of my millennial Jamaican friends are open to living a certain lifestyle while their parents are very close-minded in the fact that their culture does not approve of anything pass what they have been taught. People’s experiences give them different viewpoints.

Even men who chose to groom themselves in a certain way get backlash because they aren’t rugged enough. They’d rather get manicures and pedicures than let their fingernails grow long and accumulate dirt. I personally love when men do this because it shows just how much they love to take care of themselves. Your nails can tell a lot about your personal hygiene. The problem is that I’ve dated Black Men who do not want to be seen getting their nails done but still get them done. This is a problem!

I want to make the argument that just because you act a certain way, doesn’t mean you are gay, straight, or bisexual. But on the other hand, everyone’s experience is different and most people I know that have changed the way they act now to become more expressive of who they are, have come out to be what most people thought they would be. That’s a personal experience. So what happens when the people that others placed their own societal views and stereotypes on say that they are just a straight Black Man who loves to move a certain way that isn’t “the norm”? Does that make them any less of a man?

FASHION

 OGs are in an uproar. OGs don’t paint their nails, wear skin-tight jeans and put beads in their hair…indeed they have!

Which brings me to my next point: Fashion! Probably one of the most liberating yet controversial ways of self-expression. Because of the standard set by not only society but our parents…I believe that the set standard goes a such

  • Boys that wear blue: straight
  • Boys that wear pink: gay
  • Girls that wear pink: straight
  • Girls that wear blue: still straight

This standard hasn’t even been followed by the teachers themselves.

Exhibit A: There are Black Men who were wearing dresses and blouses.

Photo Credit: Livingly

Boy has times changed!

Exhibit B: Young Thug

Photo Credit: The Fader

I am in no way comparing these two Black Men as far as their discography goes but I am of course comparing their choice of clothing and creativity.  Fashion and sexuality aren’t in the same bubble.

A Black male friend of mine made a good point: People pick and choose when they think that things are “gay.” I say “gay” because of that’s usually the word I hear when straight Black Men with major insecurities refer to when they see another Black Man living in his truth. His truth isn’t “gay”…it’s just his true self.

FRIENDSHIPS/RELATIONSHIPS

This is something that goes on across all communities but maybe even more detrimental to the Black community because of how harsh society is on black men. Black Men get enough flack from society whether it’s from being too hood or too feminine.

Video Courtesy of Dalton Skaggs

Take, for example, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr., two men of color who play on the Atlanta Braves baseball team. A video compilation of them hugging and joking around in the dugout went viral on Twitter and people had so much to say on how their display of affection may come off. However, Albies was actually just comforting Acuna during the game. The other videos included how close a friendship they share and how Black Men don’t have to act so reserved all the time.

These men have never come out and said that they were into each other. In fact, they are said to be childhood friends. Women touch each other all of the time but for the most part, aren’t perceived as lesbian or bisexual. We are taught to be loving and caring for others. To show empathy.

“Many men have not been told how to process and talk about their emotional experiences, furthering a sense of isolation, anger, and resentment,” says writer for Talkspace, Jor-El Caraballo. “For these men, this creates an emotional volatility that can sometimes manifest in seeming “shut down” in relationships and friendships.” Carballo talks about how men are praised for their physicality but are rarely held to a standard that meets their emotional and intellectual needs.

He also says that “It is a circular problem we experience. In order for Black Men to get help, they must open up enough to let someone know that they need help. But in order to open up and ask for help, they have to crack the cool façade…”

Like I said before, men are taught to not cry or show emotion as women do because that’s being “soft.” Which makes them even angrier. Not being able to show your true feelings about certain things causes psychological trauma instead.

Nonetheless, this isn’t about the path these young men chose growing up, but rather the way they chose to express themselves while doing it. At the end of the day, it is all about comfortability. Black Men should be able to be comfortable expressing who they are and how they feel whether it be through the way they act, through the way they dress, or in how they treat others. Real straight Black Men do not let others’ opinions of themselves become their reality. Opinions are just ideas based off of that person’s own experiences. A wise straight Black Man once told me, “Are you really a man if you let another man tell you what you can and cannot do?”

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The Journey Begins

If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together — African Proverb

 

Now is our time. Our fathers have fought, and they are no more. Legacies of dreams had.  Seats unrelinquished. Voting cries, fallen dynasties. Our path has been flawed with countless obstacles that those who came before us have had to overcome. They did not do it for themselves brothers. No, they did all that for us. You might be thinking why would this be titled The Journey Begins. Well, brother, the path has always been there for us. However, we have been celebrating the journey of those who came before us.

We celebrate the journeys of Mandela, King Jr., X, Owens, Tutu, Douglass, Achebe, Tambo, Du Bois, and others. We exalt in their legacies and talk about continuing them. But is that what they wanted? Did they want us to just maintain their legacies or did they fight for us to get the opportunity to use them and create our heritage? These are the kind of questions we at Black Men Who Blog ™ LLC want you to help us answer. Let’s just think back to the days of Mandela’s imprisonment, what would you have done then? Would you have been as forgiving as he was? Or would you have taken the first opportunity to exact your revenge on those who wronged you?

Mandela did not just forgive his accusers, he became an icon. He became more than his station. Yes, he was a president, but he was also more. He became the presidents’ president. Brother, if you have taken the time to read this, we want you to realise that you are more than just a content creator and this platform is more than just community. You have the potential to change everything. Heavy? Maybe. But we urge you to look beyond your self-imposed station and see how your actions, creations, and being can change the world around you.

The journey has begun. Our fathers have created a path, and they are no more. Today, you stand at the precipice of greatness, unsure of which way to go. Your indecisiveness is not your weakness for all man is indecisive at one time or another. No brother, your greatest weakness is believing that you can do it all by yourself. You leave your brothers behind because they fail to meet your criteria of what it means to be part of your community. You have created a prison for yourself that you believe is your standard. So, you keep them out to protect you. The time has come for us to realise that our fathers fought so we could stop creating our own prisons. Their fight was not to oppress our oppressors. Their match was not to make them admit their wrong. A wolf will forever be a wolf no matter how much the sheep accuses him of murder.

A lion amongst wolves without its pride will forever be timid. Brother, you are a lion. We are your pride. So, if you would like to know why a company, a platform, a community, a family is stepping outside the norms of what businesses should be like, our answer is simple. You are not normal. You are a Black Man. Feared for everything that is you. Come along on this journey and be a part of the new path that we will create.

The Journey Begins.

Ish

Founder/CEO

 

The Question About Respect (Dr Gneiss)

Dr Gneiss’ Take

  • What do you wish women knew about Masculine respect?

That it is a key element in a relationship, just as much as feminine respect. Some men don’t need the affirmation to the respect because their confidence is self-driven, however, there are some that need to see the display of respect for their relationships to run smoothly. Men should within reason relay what is important to his spouse/girlfriend what and how he will interact with her within a relationship…what his responsibilities will be, what role he will want to take on. This should be discussed and agreed upon. After the agreement is made to respect each other’s roles, that agreement should be respected.

  • What does it mean to you? (What is respect?)

Respect to me is an acknowledgement that I matter, that others matter. We should respect opinions, rules, standings and other facets of a person’s personality. As long as something is civil it should be respected, not always agreed upon, but respected.

  • How can we show it? How can we honor you in a way that makes you feel respected?

Listening and allowing the accommodation space for a man to work.  I understand women have their needs as well and do my best to be sensitive to them. Men need the exact same thing, people need it in general. I think that a genuine appreciation satisfies the honor a man should need. Being a man to me is all about fulfilling my duty as male, protector, spouse, and citizen…I want to be able to do my part without too much push-back.

The Question About Respect (Mr Ganda)

Ish’s Take

  • What do you wish women knew about Masculine respect?

I wish women knew that masculine respect has nothing to do with being macho. In other words, we do not necessarily need respect to be men. It is not about stroking our egos because most of us can do that ourselves. It has to do with the fact that we are humans. Society already has tons of ideas of what it means to be men. We don’t want the women in our lives to become part of the proverbial them. We are always learning how to be better men so work with us. Help us accept the things we fail to and encourage us to change what we must. Please, keep in mind that we do not have the gift of insight at least when it comes to the female psyche so do not assume we know when things are wrong. You deserve our respect every step of the way and do not forget to remind us of that. To, that is what masculine respect is all about.

  • What does it mean to you? (What is respect?)

A few years ago, I do not think I would have been able to tell you what respect meant to me. I’m not saying that I did not have a definition for respect. It’s just not what I believe now. So, to answer the question, Respect to me means honesty. If I respect you, I have to be honest with you by showing you the true me. I might not like what you have to say but I would rather you be honest with me. This is coming from someone who has had his struggle with being honest.

  • How can we show it? How can we honor you in a way that makes you feel respected?

All I ask is that we get our time. Give us men, our time. We hurt too, we get emotional too, and despite all the rumours, we are not dogs. I don’t know how many times men around the world have to listen to someone making a statement along the lines of you men, or all men do this and that. Whenever a man tries to explain himself, he is met with the generalisation shut down. Let me get my time to say my piece. I don’t plan on changing your stance, I just want my time to share mine.

The Question About Respect (C.J. Guy)

C.J. Guy’s Take

  • What do you wish women knew about Masculine respect?

The only thing I wish women knew or understood is only real men (not the proverbial F boys) can describe what masculine respect is. It is very important for a man to feel like a man…we get this partly from the women around us and how they make us feel.

  • What does it mean to you? (What is respect?)

Respect is valuing my role, concerns, accepting who I am, and my judgement as the man of the household. Respect is a mutual and easy aspect in healthy relationships when everyone understands their role.

  • How can we show it? How can we honor you in a way that makes you feel respected?

The best way to honor or show respect is to value his judgement and acknowledge the value of his opinion to decisions in the household. This does not mean you have to acquiesce, far from it, it just means take his judgement into consideration…we love that…we feel valued.

The Question About Respect (Regg)

Regg’s Take

  • What do you wish women knew about Masculine respect?

I wish women knew more than what they learn about men on TV, or through media outlets. Understanding men as people would lead women to a greater mutual respect both or and from men. I want women to understand there is no single definition of masculinity. Expectations and preconceived notions that women bring to the relationship annihilate many men.

When I was first married, my now ex-wife, had plenty of ideas about what she thought married life and relationships would be. The attempt to align and understand the love language between the sexes is what facilitates the breakdown of relationships. The longer it takes to figure it out, the wider the expanse becomes.

  • What does it mean to you? (What is respect?)

Respect is a mutual behavior. It’s the authentic act of displaying your care through words and deeds. It is a continuous cross-functional behavior that impacts all aspects of personal/interpersonal relationships. From feelings to communication, consideration, and expectations.

Respect based decisions and interactions determine how we receive your intentions. The level of respect between individuals determines the how they receive your intentions, your words, and even your kindness. If I do not respect a person, even their good deeds are suspicious. Copious amounts of respect should always be deployed in romantic relations if there any is any hope of longevity and mutual affection.

  • How can we show it? How can we honor you in a way that makes you feel respected?

Listening and allowing the accommodation space for a man to work.  I understand women have Clearly, there are all sorts of ways to show honor and respect. In fact, respect is as various as personality. Think about your partner and how they receive information from others. Use what you know about them, previous conversations you about others, unrelated gripe sessions, or scenarios that impressed them.

Everyday situations will give you guidance to understanding. Honor yourself. Always be an asset to your team. My partner respects me by showing the world her best self and having respect for herself. Lastly, I feel respected when you honor my desires, dreams, and aspirations. We can’t grow together without mutual honor and respect.