I am quite confident that if you speak with an African-American man, they will tell you that at some point in their life they have had a private exchange with a black woman that forever changed their soul. We never publicly speak of this secret moment for reasons of delicacy and respect. However, the alluded to exchange remains so prominent in our heart and soul that it often causes us to stare at the man in the mirror as we wonder what demons hide in the hearts of men.
Most devastating to the black men who have had this deep conversation is that it usually occurs with someone that we love, cherish, and trust: a lover, our wife, a family member, or our best female friend. The topic that I am alluding to is the far too frequent occurrence of rape or sexual assault of African-American women at the hand of some black man that is far from a stranger.
When I think back over the relationships that I have had with African-American women, I now realize that at some point in our engagement the vast majority of them confided in me that at some point in their lives that they had been harassed, sexually assaulted, or even brutally raped. Unfortunately, the only commonalities in their stories were that they all knew their attackers and not a single one of them was ever convicted of their crimes. Each of these women decided at some point to either not report the crime or end their engagement with an unresponsive criminal justice system. Most revealed that they refused to go through the same charade that their mothers, aunts, and girlfriends experienced after similar assaults.
As an African-American male, I find it a strange phenomenon that there is a segment of black men who have decided to prey on African-American girls and women in a manner that conveys a deep and unending hatred. In fact, the commentaries and viewpoints of so many black males are so standard that I am no longer shocked to hear their tales of sexual conquest, not to mention financial exploitation, of apparently naïve African-American women whose educational attainments and financial resources vary widely. Truthfully, there was a time when I thought that such viewpoints were a sign of ignorance, small-minds, and an absence of loyalty to the Race. Those days are gone as experience has taught me that individuals holding draconian beliefs about black women are found even within the African-American Freedom Struggle.
I find it to be peculiar that black males can pledge their loyalty to “the liberation and salvation of the black nation” while operating from a “physical might equals right” ethos in regards to their dealings with black women. The referenced individuals have somehow found space to publicly pledge their allegiance to the Race while operating out of a highly-flawed manhood construct. Rarely is it discussed that the alluded to manhood constructs are white male patriarchy in blackface.
The sexual exploitation and rape of black women within the activist community is nothing new if we believe the shocking commentary of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). Carmichael answered a question regarding the role of black women in the African-American freedom struggle as being “prone.” Carmichael’s quip translates into the role of black women in the movement is on their backs with their legs open. Even the Black Panther Party (BPP), the Vanguard organization of sixties protest politics, had so many problems with Panther “brothers” attempting to exploit Panther “sisters” that BPP leadership expelled members for the offenses.
I long ago decided that I would do my best to remain on the right side of events, even if it meant me taking a stance against the actions, activities, and intentions of African-American men. It is this commitment to righteousness that spurs my rejection of the perverse forms of toxic manhood that I see so many of my contemporaries and students using as their moral compass.
Although rarely discussed in public spaces, flawed manhood constructs are as damaging to black men as the pernicious and publicly discussed evils of bigotry, discrimination, and institutional racism. In many ways, faulty manhood constructs that mandate black males assume personas of hyper-aggression, irresponsible sexual lifestyles, and pervasive social responsibility is the final nail in the coffin in regards to their maturation.
Unfortunately for Black America, until black males are socialized into appropriate forms of black manhood, none of the women in our community are safe from sexual assault or rape. Not your mother, aunt, sister, or daughter. None are safe!!!!!!
Dr. James Thomas Jones III