Thursday, September 18, 2008

Black Male Privilege eh? Part 1

I was doing some surfing last night and came across this post by Jewel Woods. Now I've seen a few male privilege lists across the net but I have to admit that this is the first time that I've ever seen a Black Male Privilege list. From what I gather while there are items on this list that apply to all men in general Jewel has added specific items that apply specifically to black male/black female relationships. But unlike most of the other male privilege lists I've seen this one seems to have had some real thought put into it as opposed to lists that seem to be thrown together.

While reading this list I started thinking about the items on it (and congrats to Jewel if that was indeed his purpose). There are items on the list I agree with. There are items I don't agree with. There are items that have another side that people act like they don't want to acknowledge. There are items that apply to men in general. One thing to bear in mind is that I'm not attempting to discredit Jewel (come on I just discovered his site) or anything like that. Just giving my two cents. So on with the breakdown:

What I'm going to do is just blockquote each section and add my piece at the end of it.

Leadership & Politics

1. I don't have to choose my race over my sex in political matters.
2. When I read African American History textbooks, I will learn mainly about black men.
3. When I learn about the Civil Rights Movement & the Black Power Movements, most of the leaders that I will learn about will be black men.
4. I can rely on the fact that in the near 100-year history of national civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League, virtually all of the executive directors have been male.
5. I will be taken more seriously as a political leader than black women.
6. Despite the substantial role that black women played in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement, currently there is no black female that is considered a "race leader".
7. I can live my life without ever having read black feminist authors, or knowing about black women's history, or black women's issues.
8. I can be a part of a black liberation organization like the Black Panther Party where an "out" rapist Eldridge Cleaver can assume leadership position.
9. I will make more money than black women at equal levels of education and occupation.
10. Most of the national "opinion framers" in Black America including talk show hosts and politicians are men.

1. The Obama and Clinton campaigns for the White House has brought a lot of dregs to the top and this is one of them. One thing I did notice is that there was an expectation that black women would be divided over supporting their gender (Clinton) or their race (Obama) as if those were the only things they had to go on when picking a candidate. Now black men really aren't expected to have to make the same gender or race choice...we are expected to support Obama from the get go. So if you really wanna chalk this up to black male privilege then you also have to acknowledge the fact tht we had the "privilege" of being automatically expected to support Obama.
2. I agree.
3. I agree.
4. I agree.
5. I agree and think it applies to all men and white women.
6. I agree.
7. I'm a little torn on this one. I most certainly agree that black women's issues don't get as much attention as black men's issues but I would not say that they would be shut out altogether.
8. I'm a little lost on this one. I'm not sure how being able to joining such an organization is a privilege. It would be a privilege in the sense that a black man is able to hold a leadership position despite committing such a horrible crime (but that would require the counter point that a black woman who committed such a horrible crime could never lead an organization. Yet due to items 3 and 6 on his list I'm not sure how that would play out.)
9. The wage gap. I've been trying to get a handle on the wage gap for a while to no avail. As most people will agree there should be no wage gap. But the thing I've having a hard time with is finding out just what the percentage is. I've heard as little as 5% difference and I've heard as much as a 35% difference. There should be no difference but if we expect to get rid of it can we at least agree on what we're getting rid of?
10. Most certainly agree.


11. I have the ability to define black women's beauty by European standards in terms of skin tone, hair, and body size. In comparison, black women rarely define me by European standards of beauty in terms of skin tone, hair, or body size.
12. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of having my hair conforming to any standard image of beauty the way black women do.
13. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of being terrorized by the fear of gaining weight. In fact, in many instances bigger is better for my sex.
14. My looks will not be the central standard by which my worth is valued by members of the opposite sex.

11. Okay. It says "I have the ability..." and then follows with "black women rarely...". This is comparing a black man's ability to do something to whether or not a black woman actually does it or not. I was expecting a comparison like, "black men have the ability to comparison black women don't have the ability to define...". But that does not fly because it is flat out saying that black women cannot impose such standards on black men (knowing full well they could if they wanted). Perhaps something like, "black often define black women's comparison black women rarely do."? Or maybe by "I have the ability..." he means "It is socially acceptable for me to..."? I think I may have to ask Jewel some questions on this one.
12. Yes black women do have daily hassles and I don't challenge that. However I would not be so quick to say that black men do not have such hassles. Afros, braids, cornrows...etc. I keep an afro myself and yes indeed there are daily hassles. Not as many hassles as black women certainly but none at all?
13. Being overweight myself this I have to say that this is total bull. The only large men that get the "bigger is better" treatment are famous, rich, and atheletic large men. People assuming that I'm strong and therefore useful for some quick manual labor (that sound familiar?), assuming I'm an athlete (I vow to commit violence on the next stranger that starts talking to me with, "What team do you play for?"), and thinking fat jokes are okay. Not saying that women don't suffer from weight issues. But to flat out say men don't is just wrong.
14. I agree...because the central standard that a man's value is judged on is more often than not is his status. How man figues does he pull down a year? How many houses does he own? How much money is he worth?

This list is way too long for me to get through it in one post so I'll end part one here. Part two is going to be a continuation of my breakdown of this list. Don't be scared to drop in and leave some feedback. I could use the conversation.

Part 2
Part 3


frau sally benz said...

I agree with most of your issues with this list (so far). I can't wait for the next installment.

For #7, I think I agree more than disagree. I can see why you're torn, but think about the fact that even the few black women you learn about in history are almost always from the perspective of doing their part to end slavery or in the civil rights movement. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, etc. Even Shirley Chisholm is not really presented with her own story, she's just a little blip in the political sphere.

In that sense, we don't really learn about black women's history, we learn about a handful of black women in history.

Danny said...

In that sense, we don't really learn about black women's history, we learn about a handful of black women in history.

Now that is a very interesting observation and I agree. Thanks for the input.