It’s hardly any secret that being black in any white racist society is complicated. Sometimes it can be a hazard. The world around you sees how awful you are first, and your humanity last, if it chooses to see your humanity. It will not hesitate to exploit your problems to prove how loathsome you are as a people. And to further rub salt into the wound, it turns what you are into a pathology. Your dark melanin skin is seen as a disease of a punishment from a white male god.

All of this anti-black hatred is enough to make you wanna holler. You want to resist these constant unrelenting messages, but the fight is ongoing. Sometimes you reach a point where you are too tired to fight anymore. So, you may give up and give in to the hate, internalize it and allow it to shatter your self-esteem. You conclude that to be black is indeed a curse and that you wish your Creator didn’t make you this way.

“The issue of black self-hatred is something I am supposed to pretend does not exist. However, the great French psychiatrist Frantz Fanon wrote about this issue in his ground breaking book Black Skin White Masks in a chapter called “the Lived Experience of the Black Man”. According to Fanon, the black man is viewed in the third person, and he isn’t seen as a three-dimensional human being. The black man internalizes the perspectives of white society and its negative thoughts about blackness affect his psyche. In the chapter, Fanon discusses a white child calling him the “N word” and how he becomes cognizant of how he is different and viewed as someone people should fear.”

Orville Lloyd Douglas
Orville Lloyd Douglas hates being black

Such is the case with writer Orville Lloyd Douglas, a Black Canadian male, who wrote an article for the Guardian expressing his disdain for being a black male in Canada…Oh wait, you thought Canada was more open and tolerant in race relations? Like I said, in any white dominated society, being black is complicated.

Douglas opens with his own experiences traveling in a bus, street car or a train. He wonders about why there’s always an extra seat next to him. According to Douglas’ sister it is because people are afraid of him because he’s a six-foot tall black man with broad shoulders.

I’m sure there’s no need to remind you that the fear of black men has been around since before any of us or our parents were even born, and that fear is largely unsound and hyper-exaggerated. But even so, this fear is powerful enough to cross racial boundaries and time. It’s no secret you have black folks scared of black men as well.

Yet, there are black men who are suffering from self-hatred, as Douglas points out, and there is more of them then we would like to believe:

“A lot of black men don’t want to acknowledge the feelings of disgust we have for ourselves. It is considered emasculating to even admit the existence of such thoughts. I think my own self-hated manifests from the exterior, from the outside world. It is born out of the despair and the unhappiness I see within a lot of young black men.”

Douglas has conceded with Canadian society’s hatred for black males and have decided that being one is pure hell:

“I can honestly say I hate being a black male. Although black people like to wax poetic about loving their label I hate “being black”. I just don’t fit into a neat category of the stereotypical views people have of black men. In popular culture black men are recognized in three areas: sports, crime, and entertainment. I hate rap music, I hate most sports, and I like listening to rock music such as PJ Harvey, Morrissey, and Tracy Chapman. I have nothing in common with the archetypes about the black male.

There is so much negativity and criminal suspicion associated with being a black male in Toronto. Yet, I don’t have a criminal record, and I certainly don’t associate with criminals. In fact, I abhor violence, and I resent being compared to young black males (or young people of any race) who are lazy, not disciplined, or delinquent. Usually, when black male youth are discussed in Toronto, it is about something going wrong.

Honestly, who would want to be black? Who would want people to be terrified of you and not want to sit next to you on public transportation?

Who would want to have this dark skin, broad nose, large thick lips, and wake up in the morning being despised by the rest of the world?

A lot of the time I feel like my skin color is like my personal prison, something that I have no control over, for I am judged just because of the way I look.”

After reading this, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the brotha. Yet, I have mixed feelings around his attitude about black men and the connections it has with his own depression.

Speaking as a black man myself, I admit that I struggle with this war against my basic humanity. I too get tired of having to fight the messages that we are one huge monolith of subhumans. But I also remember not to believe that we are monolith to begin with. Sure, we have individuals within our group that are messed up, who act the fool and ruin lives, but they are just that. Individuals. They do not represent who or what I am because I, like Mr. Douglas, do not have a criminal record and do not celebrate violence.

Although I admit that I kinda like sports, but I’m not good at basketball or football – not good at all. Living in America, as a black man, you’re virtually expected to excel in sports, particularly basketball and football. But guess what, not all of us are into sports or are gifted in sports.

This is what I mean by our individualism. We all do not like or hate the same things. We all have different interests to different topics. And we all do not think the same way.

Black males come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and personalities. There are rich black men, poor black men and in-between black men. There are democratic, republican, independent and any-other-political-party black men. There are heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual black men. There are dark skin, brown skin and light skin black men. There are black male doctors, lawyers, race car drivers, pilots, scientists, inventors, construction workers, CEOs, judges, police, soldiers, rappers, song writers, comedians, athletes, celebrities, activists, politicians, college graduates, geniuses, etc.

Of course, you have black male robbers, rapists, serial killers, embezzlers, crooked politicians, wife beaters, and mass murderers. But you also have black men who are against violence against themselves, black women, black youth and human beings. Period.

In short, we’re all a diverse set of human beings.

Hell yes. It’s hard being a black man in America, Canada, the United Kingdom or anywhere else. The world chooses to only pay attention to the less-than-reputable among us mostly to build up the self-esteems nonblacks.

By being you, you already shatter racist stereotypes. You’re showing that being black is a part of who you are and not what the world thinks of you. It’s tough not to give in to the hate. But always remember that you are an individual and black men are not a monolith. My only word of advice to Mr. Douglas, from one brotha to another, is to be the best you you can be, and know that despite what the world thinks and says, you and all other black men on this Earth, are fully-functional human beings.

  • Katherine McChesney

    “Douglas opens with his own experiences traveling in a bus, street car or a
    train. He wonders about why there’s always an extra seat next to him.
    According to Douglas’ sister it is because people are afraid of him
    because he’s a six-foot tall black man with broad shoulders.”

    People are afraid of black men because they are violent and commit so many crimes against themselves and other races. They are racist against Whites who have done everything to lift blacks out of their self-imposed prison of crime and poverty.

  • Older Woman, is that you, or do you and “her” just share the same mind? lol

  • You know what? Just for the heck of it, I’m going to entertain your response.

    I see you have a reputation for leaving behind disparaging and willfully ignorant remarks on certain articles. And I see many people who strongly disagree with your..ahem…thinking.

    You’re pretty much saying that this young men and black people should feel bad for themselves and think less of themselves because of your people’s hive mind mentality and obsession of proving black people are violent and criminal because they’re black. I would express my disgust, but I’m close to being numb to these kinds of comments by soulless, heartless trolls who hate black people but will invade our space nonetheless. Whatever reason you have of doing this, I’m sure I heard it before, and I’m sure I could care less.

    Yes. I call you soulless and heartless because no one with fully-functional morals would excuse the self-hatred of any group, and no sensible or logical person would resort to the old “black crime” argument as an excuse to continue their trolling.

    What’s the matter? Did you have a terrible childhood? Were you attacked by blacks? Do you have anything going for you today? Or do you just hate and troll because it’s fun?

    I could’ve responded to you with more respect, but you see, I’m a black man, and I know you don’t want me to respect you because black people are racist against whites, right? Instead, I’m responding to you in a way that a knockle-dragging, sloping foreheaded human being can comprehend. Although, I guess I could’ve used smaller, one-syllable words. LOL

    You see, Katherine, if that’s your real name, you really humoring others when you leave your crap behind to stink up articles and blogs. We laugh at you because your responses are backward, ignorant and just plain wrong. Then again, you like that kind of attention. That must be the only kind of attention you’re getting. So, you turn to racist cyberbullying to warm your cold heart.

    In short, let me say this in a language I’m sure you can understand; Unga bunga. You bad. Get lost.

    Then again, you’ve already disappeared until the next post is published that you will express your hate. lol

  • I would like to address this as a Canadian. One of the cultural differences is that no matter how messed up things are in the states, at least there is always an ongoing conversation about race. This does not happen in Canada. Children are taught that we are a multicultural mosaic and that problems of race don’t exist here but in the U.S. They don’t even teach Black history in schools. All Canadian kids learn about is the damn underground railroad because it makes Canada look like some sort of racial utopia juxtaposed to the U.S. No one wants to talk about the treatment of slaves once they arrived her let lone the racist views held by our politicians about Blacks. No wants to talk about the Black Canadians that were kidnapped and then sold into slavery that the government did nothing about.

    The only reason by kids know about Afro-Canadians and our contributions is because I did the research and taught them. White Canadians even believe that slavery didn’t happen in Canada – which is absolutely wrong of course. The very first African slave was in Quebec. There is a culture of silence that is absolutely damming and impossible to break. Sure we have Black history month but at my kids school they celebrated and I shit you not “Africa day.”

    This is the culture that Black Canadians exist in today. It is difficult in large part because everyone wants to tell us to be thankful that we are not Americans and how good we have it, even as we deal with the same amount of racist bullshit and absolute erasure from History. I am a woman but I know exactly where this man is coming from. It’s not accident that no Canadian paper would publish this. Canada is in complete denial about its racial problems because it spends too much time getting self righteous and might about not being like Americans. It’s a complete falsehood of course but that is how things work.

  • Leota2

    So . . . I live in a county that is predominantly white. The jails are overflowing with—white men who are violent, committed crimes against themselves and other races. I lived here a long time as a black woman and I can tell you a lot of them are racist.

    So what is the difference? I’ll tell you the difference. If a black man does the same thing that a white man does his sentence usually is harsher than a white man’s. He is usually shown on television. If its a drug offense his prison time will be years harsher than his white peers. Black men are more likely to be put on death row than white men for the same crimes. Now why is that Miss I Know All About Black People?

    For years white people have covered up their own crimes by blaming Big Black Men. Stuart in Boston, Smith in the Carolina, the Todd woman from the McCain campaign, that insane woman who stole money from a school and said black men kidnapped her and her daughter—she was at Disney with the kid. On and on. And the police have dragged through black communities destroying people’s rights looking for imaginary BBM.

    And don’t give me shit about how all the white people have tried to lift black people up. This isn’t the effing 60s and you don’t know what you are talking about. You see what you see. And you choose to see are all black men as criminals. So who is racist and a bit stupid?

    I come from a family full of hardworking black men–who love themselves. Criminality is due to poverty, drugs and mental health issues. And there is a whole lot of it in the black and white community. The only difference—black males are punished harsher, publicly vilified more and used as a device for people like you to squawk like idiots.

  • Bryan Ortez

    you’re awesome. Thanks for this response also. I passed around his original article among a group of friends and mostly got responses calling him names and such.

    “It’s hardly any secret that being black in any white racist society is complicated. Sometimes it can be a hazard. The world around you sees how awful you are first, and your humanity last, if it chooses to see your humanity. It will not hesitate to exploit your problems to prove how loathsome you are as a people.”

    yes yes yes

  • Bryan Ortez

    cheers! hear hear!

  • Thanks for making those excellent points, but Katherine seems like the type of person who prefers not to think as it will upset her comfort zone. I doubt she would respond to such a valid and informative comment as that is how she seemingly does things.

  • You’re welcome and thanks.

    I knew this article would cause some flack, but I still spoke from the heart and experience.

  • Thanks for your brilliant comment. It shows that the U.S. and Canada are not so different as many people think.

  • To Scott Hardman

    With all due respect, I’ve never denied that we are judged as a collective. I see it a lot. I get it. However, we are not a monolith. We do don’t have a hive mind. We are not all the same. It’s the truth we need to tell ourselves. It’s the truth I keep telling myself all the time.

    I know telling that to white people is hit-and-miss situation. They prefer to see us as one fucked up group. They chose to do so, and since some whites that do have power, living in this world turns into a game of survival.

    The point I was making is to not allow their thinking to become our thinking. Continue to fight against it as much as possible. And to start, you must know that I, for instance, am not the same as the drug dealers, robbers, murderers, etc. the news reports, and they do not represent the whole group.

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