In Chinua Achebe’s classic tome Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo, the central protagonist for the novel, returns from a forced exile to find the society that he has not seen in several years laying in shambles. Simultaneously disgusted and puzzled by what he sees, Okonkwo angrily asks, “Where are the men?” Considering the continually escalating attacks upon African-American girls and women, it is reasonable to ask the same thing today; “Where are the men?”
Make no mistake about it, Malcolm X’s admonishment regarding Black women still holds. The Black Nationalist Titan related that “the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” The current lack of protection that Black women lived under is directly related to African-American men absconding their responsibilities as men. Put simply, the vast majority of African-American males have a flawed understanding of Manhood.
If one were to ask any marriage-age woman with some semblance of common sense what are the two primary qualities they are looking for in a mate, I am quite certain that you will consistently hear African-American women state that they are looking for someone who is a provider and offers physical protection for them and their home.
Instead of believing that manhood is composed of positive traits such as serving as both a physical and spiritual protector for those within his household. Many misguided African-American males have chosen to adopt a lifestyle that is seemingly engineered to harm not only themselves, but also leaves the women and children in their household and community to be little more than available targets for predators.
Those with a flawed understanding of manhood tend to produce droves of children from women they have no intention of marrying, participate in illegal drugs, find themselves frequently incarcerated, and exhibit copious amounts of anti-social behavior.
Historically there has always been a segment of African-American males who have skirted their responsibility to their families and the women in their lives, they were either unaware or do not care that manhood plays a critical role in the maintenance of both their home life and community; however, there influence was fairly limited during the segregation era.
Today, it appears that those who have assumed the position of irresponsibility are not only numerically formidable, but also proliferating. The alluded to vocal minority wields social media sites as an Excalibur to propagate their carefree lifestyle of sex, drugs, and crime. Most troubling is the reality that so many African-American males have not only received this message of carefree living, but also attempted to adopt it as their standard modus operandi within Black America.
The adoption of a carefree lifestyle at this moment is particularly troubling as African-American women need Black men to protect them in an unprecedented manner as they are also under horrific attack by law enforcement officers and the American Justice System.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics African-American women make up only 13% of the American population, however, they compose 21% of those incarcerated. Predictably, African-American women in some areas are over four times more likely to be imprisoned than their white contemporaries. Elsie Scott, founding director of the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center (Howard University) offered the following. “We are seeing increasingly more cases where black girls and women are being subjected to abuse and over enforcement. We must start placing more attention on the plight of females in the criminal justice system.”
Melanie Campbell, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation addressed the African-American community’s tendency to be reactionary in their addressing attacks upon Black women and girls. According to Campbell, “We cannot continue to wait for something to show up on a video to ask for change.”
The entire community was up in arms after seeing the brutalization of a young Black female student this past week in South Carolina, however, if African-American adults were proactive they would not have been aghast at this situation as numerous studies have highlighted the disparate treatment that African-American children receive in this nation’s educational institutions. The 2015 African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectional and Social Policy Studies related that African-American females were six times as likely to be suspended as their white counterparts. Additionally, 12% of Black girls were given exclusionary suspensions versus only 2% of their white female peers.
It appears that unless an incident is captured on video, it doesn’t exist; and as the saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Unfortunately, the adoption of such as a standard operating principle by Black men leaves African-American women totally vulnerable to the desires of an often hostile American society.
Many have stated that the most assured way of evaluating a society is to look at the status of its women. Using such a measure reveals that there are so many Black women and girls in our midst who are struggling without the support or backing of our community, particularly African-American men. Making matters even worse many African-American men take the struggles of Black women as an opportunity to exploit them. There is quite possibly no greater sign that many African-American males have not only lost their way, but also have no understanding of the role of manhood in any civilized society than their predatory actions/activities toward their women. If viewed from a logical place, such a situation reveals that African-American men are much worse off than even during their period of enslavement.
And that is a damn shame!!!!!!!!!
James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.
#African-American News & Issues
©Manhood, Race, and Culture 2015.