Manhood in the Black community is at a crossroads. Some would say it always has been. And as we become more and more removed from the days of “the man trying to keep me down,” Black men in America have to start asking the question – who are we?
A Black man is not born. A Black man is who he becomes. We are fathers, husbands, uncles, and friends. We are hardworking, honest and full of integrity. We are also lazy, shiftless, primed for jail and afraid of responsibility.
In the midst of a new economy and a progressive society, a new form of masculinity has been born, which has forced Black men to struggle with a new identity. More and more women are achieving, and raising young Black men on their own – with 72 percent of Black children being raised in single parent households. It has and will continue to affect manhood as we know it.
You see, traditional masculinity was learned, it was constructed around traditional authority – landlord over peasant, boss over worker, husband over wife, and old over young. Needless to say, this form of authority has been disrupted, therefore producing a new form of cultural patterns. Black men are plainly living through another phase of change now, and its shape is not well understood. Modern masculinity, in a variety of shapes and sizes and attitudes, has absolutely changed as I knew it.
The Black male is categorically going through a form of transformation. As I watch young men wear their pants below their waist, disrespect their elders; keep their hats on their heads at the dinner table, disregard and refuse to open doors for women, I have come to the conclusion that we have a crisis of masculinity in America. We are way off on what constitutes manhood.
Young Black men are failing to reach mature adulthood in massive numbers, mostly for lack of role models and reasonable paths toward success. Some of them are so lost that they create bloody sideshows to express their pain – but the real issue lies in manhood itself.
Which leads me back to – what about Black men? What have we been doing to analyze our role and how it is changing? Ask that question in any social setting and prepare for quizzical silence. With the way things have been going do we just cede our unfair advantages over to our women and…what? Keep just doing whatever we have been doing and concede our manhood, right?