“Theatricality and depiction, are powerful weapons to the unitiated…” Ra’as Al’Ghoul, Batman BeginsBy One of the more novel wrinkles to come along in the Afrosphere in recent years is the idea of “Black Male Privilege” – the notion that Black Men, taken as a group, somehow enjoy systemic advantages over Black Women, simply for being, well, Black and Male. While certain quarters of the Sistahood (read; homely or otherwise out-of-the-box Black Feminists/Black Women’s Empowerment types of varying stripe) have seemed to glam on to this latest manufactured grievance, the concept, such as it is, actually was created by a Black Man: one Mr. Jewel Woods, MSW and last time I checked, Ph.D. student out of the Midwest, who in 2008 authored a book: “Don’t Blame it on Rio,” which basically is a rehash of a takedown on my part of Ms. Demetria Lucas’ latest parakeet-laying on the same topic.
Be that as it may, this latest attempt at Black SMP Rhetorical Jiu-Jitsu on the part of the Sistahood and their allies, the Black White Knights, is, unfortunately for them, not gaining much traction among the general Black masses – due largely to the inanity of it all. I mean, c’mon – White Privilege is to Black People, what “Black Male Privilege” is to Black Women?
“Sure!” argues those who are propagators of this kind of mind-numbing tripe – and they go on to cite a number of differing areas where this supposedly systemic, all-encompassing and pervasive “Black Male Privilege” conspires/coalesces makes the average Sista’s life Hades on Earth. In fact, following the lead of the popular White Privilege Checklist, Mr. Woods has cobbled together the Black Male version, which I will be directly addressing on the morrow in my series taking up the matter (and attendant ones) in detail. But today, I want to address the general concept, examining it in detail, and explaining why the whole idea is a bunch of Bunk.
The BMP promoters argue that Black Men enjoy “privilege” because they’re able to be at the center of attention, no matter what the situation; so for example, take mass incarceration rates of Black Men – here, the focus when the matter of crime and the like comes up, can remain on Black Men, to the detriment and expense of, Black Women writ large, depriving them of their rightful shine.
OK, so let’s look at that – first, does ANY Black Man you personally know, who’s been locked up, more than likely for something he did and deserved, ever tell you he felt “privileged” by the experience? Second, how are we to explain the busloads of Black Women themselves, who go to visit their Boos On Lockdown every weekend around the country – by all accounts, they don’t seem to evidence much “Black Male Privilege Envy” – like I said, they seem very much to enjoy holding it down for their Boo while he on lockdown.
Third, let us consider a most timely facet of this canard the BMP promoters are attempting to foist onto the rest of us – gun crime. As we all know, the city of Chicago was brought prominently into the news late last year/early this year, for its continuing homicidal crime wave, and most notably, for the death of the late Ms. Hadiya Pendelton, who performed at President Obama’s second inaugural only days before her untimely death. Indeed, it was so bad, that it brought not only the First Lady to attend her funeral, but the POTUS himself to Chicago to give his take on Chicago’s rampant multi-decades-long gun violence problem.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m not seeing much evidence of Black Male Privilege here. Let’s be clear: the Obamas are from Chicago; it’s where Barack Obama himself, made his political bones. Please name me the numerous sources where either Obama banged on the drum over the issue of gun violence way back when – and did so focusing only on the tens of thousands of Black Men who killed each other over the same timeframe – a timeframe that has seen MORE dead in ONE American city, THAN THE WHOLE OF US MILITARY DEAD IN AFGHANISTAN?
No? Yea, that’s what I thought. In case you’re a bit slow on the uptake here, let’s put it this way: UNTIL A BLACK WOMAN GOT KILLED BY GUN VIOLENCE IN THE CHI, THE POTUS, NOR HIS WIFE, COULDN’T BE BOTHERED TO CARE WHAT HAPPENED TO BLACK MEN IN THEIR OWN HOMETOWN.
Capice? Again, I ask the BMP supporters – where’s the “privilege”?
And while we’re on the topic of the 44th President of The United States, let us tackle yet another aspect of this bugbear, shall we?
President Obama’s most recent visit to his old stomping ground included an address to the Black Men of Chicago, a real treat, where he once again denigrated Black Men enmasse for being deadbeats and blaming them for the homicidal gun violence rates in the first place. I mean, it got so bad that even MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry – certainly no Friend of the Patriarchy, that’s for sure – had to get in on the act to tell Obama to chill. Indeed, Obama – not just the most Privileged Black Man, but the Most Privileged Man on EARTH, has gone out of his way NOT to spread the Black Male Privilege wealth around during his time in Office, thus far – to date, he has upbraided Black Men, a core constituency of his, and cowardly slinked away from supporting two other Black Men, Prof. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, and the late Trayvon Martin when White folks got mad at him. Oh yea, Black Men all over America are just basking in the glow of all the Black Male Privilege Obama has trickled down to them.
You know what, let’s continue on this current track of examination, because, since the BMP agitators contend that Black Men make more money than Black Women, let’s take a look at how Black Men overall have fared under the First Black POTUS – well, who’s taken it more on the chin overall, when it comes to the job market – Black Men, or Black Women?
Going back to locales like the Chi, to ask the question, is to answer it. It has long been known that Black Men overall – and that includes those with college degrees, I might add – have fared far worse in the American job market than anyone else, for decades, and that this has only gotten worse under Obama. Indeed, there have been many studies and articles written that make clear that Blacks in general have largely lost all the financial ground they’ve made under previous presidential governments during the current one. Black Male unemployment rates can be as high as 50% or more, depending on the American city you want to examine – so again, I’m having a hard time seeing how Black Men are so very “privileged” over Black Women. Maybe one of you out there can see it – and explain it to me?
“But, what about the notion that Black boys are favored over Black girls, Obsidian?” – excellent question! Let’s examine that canard…
Some years back, the Christian Science Monitor put out an article that examined the Adoption Baby Market, and it featured some very interesting results; among other things, it revealed the FACT that the babies/children LEAST likely to be adopted, not just by White parents, BUT BY BLACK ONES TOO, were…wait for it…
Black boys. That’s right, out on the open adoption market, girls in general (and to be fair, Asian girls in particular) are seen as more desirable than boys; and when it comes to Black kids, Black girls are adopted at a much higher rate than Black boys. Indeed, and people who do work in social work fields – like Jewel Woods!-know well, all of these facts, and the fact that those most likely to “age out” of the foster care/home system, are yup, you guessed it, Black boys.
Where’s the Privilege?
On education and health: we know, for a fact once again, that Black males lag far, far behind on these measures; not only that, but Black Women can easily point to all manner of organizations and groups and foundations, tasked with promoting educational excellence and health and wellness awareness, all for their express benefit – the Black Women’s Health Study has been around for the better part of 20 years – clearly, since Black Male Privilege is rampant, Black Males overall should be much healthier and smarter too – right?
What’s that? You say there’s no such thing as a Black Men’s Health Study, or a Prostate Cancer Month being sponsored by any major American sports organization (despite the fact that the NBA and NFL team personnel are at this point overwhelmingly Black) – or a Presidential Office for Black Men and Boys? I’m shocked – SHOCKED, I tell you!
I’m telling ya, you can’t make this stuff up.
Then there’s the sexual and romantic arena – ahhh, now we get to the good part. Black Men enjoy tremendous unearned, and deeply, grossly unfair, privilege in this area, so sayeth the BMP activists; Black Men are taking advantage of hapless, helpless Black Women hither and yon, loving and leaving them with reckless abandon.
Does anyone actually, really believe this crap? All the proponents of this BMP nonsense reveal, is not only how utterly ignorant they are of the most basic and simple of Econ 101 concepts, but of how much they suffer from Sour Grapes – first, what they’re bemoaning isn’t ALL Black Men here, but of the very small pool of highly desirable Black Men who, YES, enjoy tremendous privilege when it comes to the sexual arena. Like ANY highly desirable good, service or commodity, they are in high demand in part, BECAUSE there are so few of them; and as a result, they can and will, exploit their marketplace position – just like any other actor, or entity or cartel or business or corporation on the open market would. Why simple Econ 101 concepts should apply to everything else in this life EXCEPT for “Black Love,” really only highlights a very real and easily documented problem in our time: Black Female Entitlement. I’ll be discussing this very important issue in an upcoming post so stay tuned, but let’s wrap up today’s offering with the following:
The problem isn’t that “Black Men,” writ large, enjoy some all-encompassing “privilege”; the problem is that a small pool of desirable Black Men are acting in a very rational manner, and the Sistas are spitting mad that they won’t “do right.” Instead of either giving said Black Men what they want and competing on those grounds out in the open market, or, dialing back their expectations and desires to be more in line with what is more realistic and achievable for them, they instead have chosen to glam on to what can only be rightly decsribed as the most cockamamie and ridiculous idea to come down the pike since the Pet Rock.
Ladies – and the Black WhiteKnights that enable them – get a freaking grip. Haven’t you heard of the saying, “All’s fair in love and war”? NOBODY does anything in the dating/mating realm because “it’s the right thing to do” – they do it because there is either an incentive to do so, or an disincentive to do so. Yea, that sucks for those who either won’t or more often than not, can’t meaningfully compete; but crying into your mimosas and spinning new fangled BS out of wholecloth theories as to why your love life sucks that can be debunked by a kid in middle school, doesn’t mark you out as some brave Sista speaking truth to power; it only makes you look like an utter – and bitter – fool.
Bonus Question: how is it possible for so many Black Men to be to the curb on one hand, and, be oh-so-privileged on the other? Hmm?
“Black Male Privilege” my A$$.
Author’s Note: This article originally appeared at The Obsidian Files, on Tue, Apr 23, 2013.
About Mumia AliMumia Ali, aka "Obsidian" is a Men's Issues blogger from Philadelphia who focuses on Sexual Politics, Class, and Race, from the male perspective. He is a cofounder of the Men's Issues blog collective known as Just Four Guys, and is Editor of Urban American Affairs for A Voice for Men.