Today while at work, I received a few heads up from some folks who were quite irritated with the rants my relative was making on his Facebook wall. I started wondering what the hell was going on and what he’d said to make that much of an impression on these people. So I head on over (really Facebook is the devil) and I read the status. It was a screed on how pink is a feminine color and how men who wear that aren’t masculine; in fact they aren’t real men and men wearing pink are very “gay”. Very few people tried to provide a different point of view–myself included–but others kept chiming in that they agreed. We were evenly matched but I was still distressed at what I was reading. I started to ask where these beliefs came from because I don’t share those views, especially after finding out we have the Nazis to thank for how we view the color pink as feminine. I’ve disagreed with my family before on their views on gays. Their views border on the Conservative (if they aren’t already) and my views are liberal.
Either way, when I tried to explain how society forms gender roles and how the majority of us have come to believe in those roles and accept them wholeheartedly; effectively internalizing them, he refused to see that point of view. He said that pink looked like the “inside of a vagina” so therefore, in his mind, that only served to prove his point.
He’s not alone in this thought process and flawed, draconian logic. This is a societal problem. What does add a little bit more sting to this whole thing is the fact that he is a black man and that is where his screed, false logic, whatever you want to call it becomes troublesome. He in reality is another pawn in this game of black male hypermasculinity and the pervasiveness of homophobia and homoeroticism within that sphere. As a woman of color, specifically a black woman, this left me deeply troubled. I know and have had the misfortune of experiencing the vitriolic nature of hypermasculinity, but black hypermasculinity–which is not simply a problem perpetuated by men, believe that–is even more harmful because it just compounds the already difficult situation black men and women find themselves in on a day to day basis. It does not build cohesion, cooperation or respect. It does not breed love and appreciation. It excuses the worst men and dismisses the best. It breeds contempt and it is firmly rooted in racism. This is just one of the forms of PTSD we are dealing with. The only problem with having a mental health problem is not acknowledging it is in fact a problem and ignoring it. That’s what we’ve done as a society and as a race; a people.
Perhaps I should have left him alone because in all reality, those rants and raves are indicative of this person’s own insecurity. When I see brothers conducting themselves in this way I recognize the reasons why, but they aren’t excuses. Just ask a sister how hard it is to be black and female to boot. We get it. Systemic racism, aversive racism, and the like are seriously taxing. Many of us have been beat the hell up before we even reach puberty or the age of 18. The answer isn’t to become angry, but righteously indignant and nothing about homophobic rants, hypermasculine and dangerous hijinks is righteous.
When men police other men in this way and measure them up for masculinity is somewhat homoerotic in and of itself. One would think that assessing a man for masculine and acceptable qualities would be a heterosexual woman’s job… Or a homosexual man’s job (depending on what he desires in a mate, of course). Evaluating another man and placing this much emphasis on what makes that man a man or not is more telling than anything. After all, these are conversations that I’ve only ever had with straight women and gay men. The men I know who are comfortable in their sexuality are busy assessing women and the qualities they find desirable or undesirable.
Ultimately, I hate to admit that someone I grew up with has internalized racist and supremacist doctrine. This person is a black man who is in effect angry for no good damned reason, cannot hold down a long term relationship without cheating or hiding things, cannot form long lasting intimate relationships without having to denigrate the person or degrade the love that person has for them, is not a fan of white women, but is almost vitriolic (unwittingly) when it comes to black women, busy focusing on posturing and is proud of the fact that his size and attitude intimidate people… This like watching someone willing walk back on to the plantation because this behavior is not healthy. It’s reduced this person to a buck and a brute all at once. Unfortunately, he believes that this in fact makes him a benefactor of some sort of black male supremacy, but if we look at the system that is behind the hypermasculine attitude that is pervasive in black and Latino communities, we will see that it is right off the plantation; right off the hacienda.
There’s not much else I can do. I tried to educate this person, but it wasn’t working. I wish I had all of the answers but I don’t. I just hope he comes to realize that he is far more valuable than he thinks he is.