Black men are in trouble. I’m not being dramatic or anything. They really are. Their reputation precedes them, forming an impenetrable wall between them and the rest of society.This came to me after watching an interaction between a newspaper vendor (black, but you already knew that) and a woman (white. Are you psychic?) at an intersection. The vendor was walking from window to window, peddling his wares. He came up to this particular lady’s window. She proceeded to throw her cellphone down to her feet and her bag off the passenger seat and into the space under the glove compartment. In her head, she had just successfully dodged a smash-and-grab, hijacking and God knows what else.
I wonder how often the newspaper vendor sees such and how it affects him. Is he offended? Worse still, is it something he anticipates and accepts? Judging from the above scene, it seems black men expect to be labelled criminals. As mentioned earlier, a black man’s reputation precedes him, not as an individual but as a group. They are the absent fathers, rapists, larcenists, wolf-whistlers and under-achievers of society. Make no mistake, black men and society are both to blame for the perpetuation of this stereotype. There’s no use in pointing fingers with dirt under our fingernails.
Perhaps it is time we give consideration and credence to a black man of a different status: one who seeks to be a responsible father; one who is looked to for safety, not avoided for safety; one who wants to be more than his father ever was; one whose sense of masculinity is not directly related to how much power he has over a woman or, indeed, his fellow black man.
Are YOU a black man of a different status?