“David, listen to me. It’s not what’s he’s doing to you. It’s what you’re not doing.”
-Bill Cosby, May 2004
Last week’s column, written by AVFM contributor Andre Morell, rightly examines the current state of the Manosphere, particularly along racial lines. Mr. Morell observes that many of the issues activists in the Men’s Rights Movement fight for, from equity in child custody, child support and divorce courts to justice against false rape accusations and fighting against bigoted and misandrist portrayals of men in everyday situations, not only could apply to Black American men in general, they in fact loom very large in their lives. Morell then raises the question, if I may put it so colloquially, of why there ain’t no Brothas on the wall; I argue that the question, even if compelling, is ill-put.
The question is why no Brothas want to be on the wall in the first place.
Look, it has long been known that the Manosphere – that corner of the Internet where there are all manner of social media, like websites, blogs, podcasts and the like, devoted to the concerns of men big and small, profound and trivial – is a bit monochrome. Sure, inside baseballers will point to a sizable presence of (white) women, like Karen Straughan or Janet Bloomfield; they can cite statistics that firmly point to the fact that Black readership of websites like A Voice for Men and say, Return of Kings – without a doubt, two of the largest online venues for the affairs of men in day to day life to date, have a not insignificant portion of “men of color”.
But, let’s face it – it isn’t unfair, or a stretch, to say that the Manosphere, especially in terms of its biggest names and best known faces, are largely white and male.
And you know something?
I, for one, am completely cool with that.
Don’t get me wrong – in order for the Manosphere to move forward, it will, for mere reasons of its own survival, have to get serious about its Angry White GuyTM problem, because that’s the perception of the MRM from the outside looking in – and unlike the other “legs” of the Manospherian “stool” – like MGTOWs and PUAs – MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) NEED the support of the public at large in order to begin to make any headway on the issues they advocate for. The aforementioned groups don’t need such public support, and in fact in one case – MGTOWs in particular – they actively eschew it.
But, to be an MRA, is by definition, to play the public relations game. And like it or not, in the identity politics-driven world in which we live, the MRM continuing to have a largely white, and aging, “face” before the public, ignites as many fires as it seeks to stamp out.
Simply put, the MRM won’t be able to move to the next level in their agenda – which, make no mistake about it, is all about changing hearts and minds, no matter how many of the party faithful may gnash their teeth and stamp their feet about it – so long as they continue to have the perception that the MRM is shot through with Angry White GuyTM. As many in their topmost ranks should well know by now, when it comes to politics and public relations, perception very much IS reality.
But all of that is beside the point of my missive today; why aren’t Black men involved in what could arguably be called the greatest civil rights issue(s) of our time? I submit that it doesn’t have anything to do with the admittedly largely white Manosphere, and everything to do with the failure of Black men to take their own destinies into their hands.
I mean, think about it: why is there no Black analog to the Manosphere? After all, it isn’t like Black men don’t blog, or use social media. Just last month, Mr. Paul Elam, editor-in-chief of A Voice for Men, wrote a particularly frank open letter of sorts to one Mr. Damon “The Champ” Young, editor-in-chief of Very Smart Brothas, a very well known and popular website that features, among others, Damon and his partner in crime, Mr. Panama Jackson. That article featured an equally going-hard-in-the-paint quote from yours truly, about Mr. Young himself and why I felt he failed to live up to the hype of being hailed as part of the new school of Black media moguls. No matter what one may think of me personally, my take on Young or indeed Young himself, what cannot be denied is the fact that Young, nor Jackson, is no stranger to the MRM cause – I was a kind of unofficial “ambassador” for the movement over at VSB, for the better part of five years. Not only that, but both Jackson and Young, had to concede that the MRM did indeed have a number of valid points.
So, why didn’t they take up the banner, at least on a part-time basis?
Well, the easy answer is race – that the MRM and wider Manosphere, is just too white, and by extension racist, to fully get on board with the movement’s concerns, aims and goals – even if it could be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, that said concerns had much more urgency and importance for Black men than anyone else. Of course, there’s also the fact that Black men like Young and Jackson, honestly and simply do not agree with the ideas of the MRM, which is fair though in my view woefully misguided. To say nothing of just flatout wrong.
At any rate, my point is that it ain’t like Black men in the know, like a Young or a Jackson, simply don’t know any better – they do. They simply do not see the plight of Black men along these lines to be important enough to make a stink about it.
And that is what is really, truly, holding Black men back from the Men’s Rights Movement.
Back when I interviewed Prof. Michael Kimmel, recognized perhaps the world over as one of the foremost experts on mens’ issues and the so-called “crisis of masculinity” in our time, we spent a goodly bit of time discussing his then-recent book “Angry White Men” – which argues, in part, that part of the “problem” of white men in our time, is that of “aggrieved entitlement” – that they felt entitled to a world that is no longer their own, and they’re hopping mad about it.
While Kimmel and others like him indulge themselves in the rantings of white guys on the fringes of polite society, I came to discover a key factor that accounts for how and why Black men are MIA in the MRM:
It’s because, in a very real and profound way, Kimmel’s analysis is correct. White men, rightly or wrongly, are fighting to either preserve the world they know before it completely slips away (as is the case in some sectors of the Manosphere, like Return of Kings and its titular leader RooshV’s recent ideas of “Neomasculinity”), or, to remake the world in an image that is more amenable to them (as is the case of Paul Elam and Dean Esmay, here at AVfM). In either case, white men see themselves as movers and shakers, as warriors fighting for a cause, no matter how daunting, no matter how “lost”. White men see the world as theirs.
Black men, on the other hand, simply do not. Take a listen to what Black men talk about, be it on the block or in the halls of Congress – there is no sense of “aggrieved entitlement”; no sense of fighting to regain what was or is being lost; no sense of really forging a new path forward along the lines of masculinity and its relationship to the rest of the world. Black men are listless, apathetic, in ways big and small; and of those who are advocates of one stripe or another, they are largely of the type Mr. Elam took Mr. Damon Young and others out to the woodshed for – as being little more than lapdogs and sycophants to largely middle and upper middle class white women and their sisters-from-a-distance, Black feminists. Why should Mr. Elam, who’s worked his behind off over the better part of the past decade, throw his doors open to a cohort of men who can’t even be bothered to give a damn themselves about their own lives? Why should Roosh give a damn about Black men, when Black men don’t seem to give a damn about themselves?
Why is it that in more than five years, we can count the numbers of well-known Black MRAs on one hand? Why is it that Black men simply don’t care enough to make a ruckus about their own lives? Why don’t Black men show up for themselves? Why don’t Black men make their own spaces with which to articulate these issues?
I say the reason is, in part at least, due to an utter lack of ownership on the part of Black men and yes, entitlement, that white men, for better or for worse, do have. In order for Black men to truly find a place in the Men’s Rights Movement – read, among and with their white colleagues and brothers-in-arms – Black men will have to hash some things out for themselves. Black men will have to become a little entitled, too. In feeling entitled to basic rights as men, Black men will be saying that Black men are worth a damn.
That’s some entitlement that needs to happen.
Recommended further reading: How & Why The Men’s Rights Agenda Is Important To Black Men
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