“We few, we merry few, we Band of Brothers; for whosoever sheds his blood with me on this day, he too shall be my brother…”
-William Shakespeare, “Henry V”
One of the things a writer always confronts is how readers will respond to what he’s presented to the world; and in my personal experience of doing this writing thing over the past five years, the world can be an unforgiving place. However, I can also say that there have been quite a few instances where what I have said from my keyboard and my heart has touched someone, and I have had the good fortune to be informed of this fact.
Such was the case with a recent column I wrote, “Why I became a Black Men’s Rights Activist,” a piece that seems to have gotten around on social media last time I checked. Which is a bit ironic, in as much as I’ve never been a huge user of the varying social media platforms. Today is the day that I have to admit their power and reach.
I say that because on last Friday, while checking my Facebook account, an admittedly rather infrequent affair for me, I found the following deeply moving, deeply personal message from “Darius”; after having a chance to chat with him on the telephone over the weekend – during which I found that he was a delight to bust it up with – he has graciously consented to my sharing his letter to the world:
I sent you a request, because I ran across your article on why you became a Black Men’s Rights Activist, and wasn’t so much floored by the analysis as I felt a stinging, physical connection to it. Like, my heart actually jumped.
Because never had I seen my deepest, most personal thoughts (secrets?) laid out so tough by a modern writer. Baldwin hinted at the “dark side” of black women, and the Moynihan Report always made more sense to me than I cared to admit. But your piece punched me in the mouth and dared me to confront it.
Our experiences are so similar that it’s weird. My grandmother treated my granddad and her sons like dogs. Straight punked ‘em, day after day. Except one time, when my granddad SHUT IT DOWN. She was so shook that she ran upstairs and locked herself in her room.
But her daughters, including my mom, got a pass. Somehow, from an early age, I connected the dots and fought back against this in-house oppression – it was like all the women were trying to break me – with everything I had, which earned me intimate knowledge of switches, belts, extension cords, etc. No biggie. Every black kid got beat back then, right? But, again, it was the reasons “why” that bothered me, which eventually led to me blacking out on Me-Ma in my 20s.
My mom raised me by herself, and against her better judgment, fell into the same ugly patterns. I have to be clear: To this day, my mother loves me fiercely. And I, her. So much that it hurts just to write it. She evolved to the point of being genuinely ashamed of her past behavior, and now we are best friends. But forgiveness of other black women still escapes me. But that’s a whole other story…
Anyway, what made me write you this morning was something I saw on TV last night that was so ridiculous I couldn’t believe it was real. At the beginning of his show, Larry Wilmore, who’s work I’ve long admired, issued an apology to black women for a joke he made the night before during a panel discussion on black fatherhood. The “joke” was merely an aside to one of the guests about rating how bossy black women are on a scale of 1-10. That’s it… And yet black feminists mobilized in less than 24 hours to back this intelligent, accomplished brother into a corner because he had the nerve to suggest they’re not perfect. What part of the game is that?
Please tell me you caught it.”
The above letter is so very important for a number of reasons and levels that merits pointing out, especially at a time when the Manosphere in general, and here at A Voice For Men in particular, have been come under increasing – and increasingly unfair, I might add – media scrutiny. Among the numerous fallacious arguments being proffered by our interloctuors, is the idea that the Manosphere and AVFM itself is shot through with a bunch of, to use Prof. Michael Kimmel’s book title “Angry White Men” – Darius’ earnest and heartfelt letter puts that lie to bed. In conversation with him I learned that he has been following my work from the sidelines almost from Day One of my blogging and writing journey, dating all the way back to my very first blog, The Obsidian Files, and is an avid reader of AVFM, among other well known Manospherian outlets.
Nor is Darius the first Brotha I’ve heard from in the past five years – I have scores of emails from Black men from every walk of life and age, who’ve come out from the shadows to thank me for giving voice to their lives, for giving legitimacy to their truth.
I enter Darius’ moving account above, into the official record that will blunt the opposition’s empty claims.
The second reason as to why Darius’ letter is so important, is because it is a witness to the reach and impact of the Men’s Movement – it is now global in scope, and reaching every nook and cranny of the Male Experience in our time. I have had personal communication with men who, like Darius, were moved to reach out and let me know that what I’ve written has touched them, from Oslo, Sao Paulo, Gangnam, Jarkarta, Manila, Ankara, Burkina Faso, Paris, Madrid, Vancouver and London, just to name a few. It still blows my own mind when I think about it.
To address Darius’ query about my knowledge of the Larry Wilmore affair: unfortunately, I was not aware of it, as I don’t own a TV and watch very little of it in any event. I have since had the chance to review the matter, and I offer the following link, courtesy of Darius, for my readers to determine for themselves the left and the right of things. My views about the ruinous impact Black Feminists have had on our discourse in Black America is well documented.
I say this to my brothers out there reading this: do not let the haters tell you anything different – you, can make a difference. I offer the above as proof.
Now, is the time to lift up your voices, and in so doing, you will inspire others to do the same.
Thank you, Darius. Welcome aboard!