African American Studies Teleconference: Black Male Studies

African American Studies Teleconference: Black Male Studies


[ Inaudible ]>>We’re good?>>I think we’re good.>>Okay. Okay, good morning, everybody. [ Inaudible ] Thank you guys for all being here. This is exciting. This is not only the first
teleconference that we’ve done here. It’s also the first one I’ve ever seen. So thanks for being patient with the kinks. I want to quickly start with some
thank-yous, first and foremost to the College of Social Science, their research
and creative activities grant, which made this event possible, as
well as the ONYX Black Male collected from co-sponsors here at Fresno State. I want to thank both organizations, as
well as the central faculty excellence, which has been helping us get online. So first and foremost, we need to
send thank-yous to those entities. This is exciting for me. This is an idea that came to me last year. And it’s always fun to see
those ideas come to fruition. But the purpose of this is at
least for me personally twofold. One, I wanted us to actually
look at some of the various ways that Africana studies and
technology work together. And there’s no reason that this isn’t
a perfect way or time to do that. And secondly, because Black Male
studies, at least the idea of it, has been something very close to my
heart, finally being able to connect with some powerful scholars who
have a lot to say on the topic, is something that I’ve been dreaming
about for the last few years. So this is important for a couple of reasons. I teach one of very few Black Male
studies classes in central California. Here at Fresno State, I’ve been
teaching it for about the last six years. And we’ve really not had a chance
to be in dialogue with anyone else. But this is an excellent, excellent
opportunity to do so because one of the forerunning thinkers in the
development of Black Male studies is here on campus, is here to speak, and
will be giving our keynote today. So this is incredibly exciting,
especially for me. He’s kind of a personal hero of mine. So I’ll be introducing him in a second. But at the end of the day, Black
Male studies, as an entity, is something that’s needed to be in existence
firmly at any time in the last couple of decades because there’s
been so much that’s happened. And we don’t really have a framework for articulating what exactly black
men experience outside of the troops that other demographics have created. So this is a beautiful
opportunity for that to happen. Now, this journey for me started several
years ago with the black male studies class that I teach, the black male experience
here at Fresno State, as well as a blog that I keep called
newblackmasculinities.wordpress.com. And with that blog, I started to reflect on
issues and even films that affect black males or that speak to black males, and do
it have the vantage point that comes out of the black male experience. And from there, I was able to kind of build
some relationships with a variety of people, as well as develop the
consent of black masculinism, which is part of my own private work, so
we’ll talk about that a little bit later. But these are where some of
these ideas began for me. And those come out of having taken gender
classes for almost the last 20 years and never hearing where black
males fit in those discussions. Usually men in general, but particularly
black men, are articulated by others. But you seldom hear black
men articulate themselves, especially in regard to gender studies. And so this became an opportunity for
me to actually marry those two areas and really reflect on what
gender means to black males. So in that sense, this has become a
huge opportunity to not only initiate that discussion, but also include black
men in the very concept of gender is one of the things that we notice in gender
studies that seems to apply to everyone, but even in particular, black men. So this became an excellent
opportunity to do a few of those things, and really pull black men outside of just being one-dimensional
stereotypical caricatures, and what the three-dimensional human beings
that deserve nuance in study, all right? Not for the sake of just presenting a new
mythology, but for the sake of really trying to grasp what black male experiences are and what they can tell the larger
society about how it functions. So this became an excellent
opportunity to do that. And one of the ways we’re
going to do it is we’re going to have the esteemed Dr. Tommy Curry give us
a keynote address as his forthcoming book, which I will mention in a second,
will be breaking new ground as to what Black Male studies looks like. And then we will follow that and I
will introduce each person later. We will follow that with a
discussion, a round table discussion. It will be all together about eight of
us talking about Black Male studies. So I will introduce each of those
people after Dr. Curry’s keynote. But to introduce our esteemed
speaker, at only 37 years old, Dr. Tommy Curry is a full
professor in philosophy in Africana Studies at
Texas A & M University. And I’m talking to the students in the room. Trust me when I tell you, 37 and
full professor is unheard of. That is ridiculously unheard of. So what you’re about to hear is from
somebody who is way ahead of the curve. He’s held the prestigious
Ray A. Rothrock Fellowship and is now the USC Shoah Foundation and AI
and Nanette Sheps Foundation teaching fellow. Dr. Curry is the current president
of Philosophy Born of Struggle, one of the oldest black philosophy
organizations in the country. He’s author of over 60 articles. Again, unheard of. And book chapters on racism, critical race
theory, hip hop, black male vulnerability. He’s also the author of four books; The
Philosophical Treatise of William H. Ferris: Selected Readings from The African Abroad
or, His Evolution in Western Civilization with Rowman & Littlefield; The
Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black
Manhood, which analyzes the sexual and neurotic drives behind
black male death and rape. Another, White Man’s Burden, Josiah
Royce’s quest for white racial empire. And co-edited with Daw-Nay,
Evans, the forthcoming anthology, Contemporary African American
Philosophy: Where Do We Go from Here. His public commentaries on topics range from
hip hop to the death and rape of black men and boys with regenerative stem cell
treatments, which have appeared on venues such as forbes.com, NPR
[inaudible] dot com and SiriusXM. They have recently been recognized
for the Society for the Advancement of Philosophies Alain Locke Award. So please help me welcome Dr. Tommy J. Curry. [ Applause ]>>First, thank you, everyone, for coming. I know it’s early in the morning,
so I want to thank Fresno State. I also have to thank Dr. Johnson. He’s a good friend and great colleague in the
work and exposition of Black Male studies. Black Male studies is something that I began
theorizing about two or three years ago, trying to develop and come up with
theoretical accounts of black male existence. One of the things that happened when I was
actually doing my master’s program at DePaul, I was minoring in men and gender studies for
graduate certificate, is there never seemed to be an answer to where black
men fit within the history of sexual and colonial exploitation. During that period of time,
which was the early 2000s, the very idea that black men were
victims of rape during slavery or during Jim Crow was unheard of. In fact, many of my teachers simply
denied that was a possibility. When I looked at from my own experience
coming from the southern United States, the realities of seeing black men
brutalized, stabbed, in many cases, killed by their spouses, again,
a reality that was denied. One of the things that I tell people
that have motivated this talk is one of the first gunshots ever heard when
I was six years old was from a wife that killed her husband a few blocks
over that thought he was cheating on her. These impacts of a first generation,
lower class black male student, is something that I wanted
to explore in the academy, but I never felt that theory
was able to accommodate that. So 16, 17 years later,
what I’m really interested in is how do we create an explanation of
black male existence in the United States and abroad that’s not built in caricature? Where black men and boys are not objects of someone else’s interest
or someone else’s experience? Now, that process, that claim is something
that’s never been [inaudible] males before. As I’ll talk about in a second, when you look
at masculinity studies in the UK, Australia, et cetera, there has been that space
made for lower class white men, where they talk about the differences their
experiences have with [inaudible] class men. You’ve probably heard the
term hegemonic masculinity. People like R.W.S. Connell,
in fact, does this work next to people like James Messerschmidt. But that attempt, that nuance, that
complexity and compassion towards experience of racialized males has never been
attempted in the United States. And that’s why I hope myself, as well as
Dr. Johnson and other scholars can change. So today I will share with you a paper on
the propaedeutic of black male studies, or the pillars necessary for the study of black men beyond pathological
accounts of violence and patriarch. I want to start off with
something that recently happened. On December 16th, 2016, two popular pop
culture black feminist editors [inaudible] that quote a lot of things black men say
to black men, and a lot of y’all’s rhetoric around this can ultimately
get us hurt, can get us killed in our interpersonal relationships. Black women under the age of 50, like black
men are our number two cause of death, that’s a domestic violence
statistic end quote. Black men are not the number
two killers of black women. The statistic is false. But it’s believable to many
Americans that black men can, in fact, be this dangerous and this murderous. Despite the original or around
this origin of statistic, there was countless blog Facebook post,
et cetera, trying to build up [inaudible]. The statistic actually originates in a 2009
speech by Attorney General Eric Holder. He said quote Disturbingly, intimate partner
homicide is the leading cause of death for African American women ages 15 to 45. In his defense, Eric Holder did not
pull this statistic out of thin air. The claim to intimate partner homicide was
the leading cause of death for black women in my implication that black
men made up the vast majority of perpetrators was commonly made in
peer-reviewed domestic journal literature in government employees
including the National Institute of Justice Journal throughout the 2000s. Ultimately, however, the claimed
statistic could not be verified as fact and consequently was revised and excised when
several reports and publications as an error. The 2003 issue of the National
Institute of Justice Journal, which revised from March 11th 2014 to say
quote homicide is the leading cause of death in the United States amongst young
African-American women ages 15 to 45. And the Department of Justice website
now includes a disclaimer [inaudible] that reads quote these remarks,
as originally delivered in 2009, sited a statistic naming intimate partner
violence, or intimate partner homicide, as the leading cause of death for
African-American women ages 15 to 45. That statistic was drawn from a range of
reputable sources, including the 2003 study by the National Institute of Justice. However, recent figures indicate other causes
of death include cancer, heart disease, et cetera, out rank intimate
partner homicide for a stage group. The maliciousness of this statement is not
its believability amongst the American public socialized to fear and sanction black males. But the way in which various theories like
hegemonic masculinity, psychoanalysis, and various aspects of black [inaudible]
ideology was used to rationalize and explain a claim that
is empirically false. What is it that allows us to believe that
theories which describe black men as lacking, as striving for the power of white men, are
valuable starting points for how we think about a subject we write about black males. What is it about theory that’s motivated
to explain erroneous facts of stereotypes about black men that are, in fact, not true? Since the dawn of the 20th century, black
males have been cast into meta creatures who imitate the works of the white male. Since the publication of John Dollard’s Caste
and Class in a Southern Society in 1939, which argued that the inability
of black males to express their resentment
towards white society at large, creating internal pathologies of
violence and aggression, self-hatred. There has been the idea that black men
who are oppressed by a racist system, of what was once known as Jim Crow, sought
to imitate the violence of their oppressors because of their low self-esteem. Abram Kardiner and Lionel
Ovesey’s The Mark of Oppression: Explorations in the Personality
of the American Negro in 1951, or even the internalized relationship
that black women were thought to have to their white masters as Stanley
Elkins’ 1959 book, Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional
and Intellectual Life. That formed the basis by which many of our gender theories seem
to parallel and co-align with. Some early black feminists actually
acknowledged this relationship. The laws in quote that the scholarship
and black male attitudes towards black men as wealthy inadequate, especially
for the period of 1880 to 1920. [Inaudible] in writing her book had to rely
on only two sources available at the time, Lawrence Friedman’s The White Savage:
Racial Fantasies in the Postbellum South, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn’s
Black Male Perspectives on Nineteenth-Century Black Women. Friedman argued that black
women were committed to victoria standards of
womanhood in the home. He writes quote clearly white
southern racists and black activists, so there’s a parallel between
white racists and anti-racists, but they’re written in similar terms. Both view the female as a second sex,
with distinctly image of privileges. But the parallel ran even closer. Since antebellum days, southern
planters idolized the white women’s view of the universe, adorning her and
finely speaking of her as near gods. By the turn of the century, as articulate
Negro activists busied themselves on the racial front, we
thought in the same terms. Both claim guardianship over the other, and both elevated the female
above the states of mortals. So their men, white and black, were therefore
participating in the dehumanization of women. [Inaudible] argues that black men,
like their white male counterparts, were reluctant to challenge
accepted notions of true womanhood. And black men’s commitment to the Victorian
notions of womanhood inhibited black women from developing their full potential. Also the guys talk includes that black men
internalize some of the culture’s notions about sex roles because they are male. Black men believe that they should protect
their women from the evils of the world, and that black women, because of their
sex, should assume the major responsibility for the moral stature of the race. On this view, black men took on
Victorian ideas of manhood and womanhood, and in effect, established a patriarchal
order of whites amongst noble free brides. On these accounts, there’s often not a major
distinction between the kinds of patriarchy that exist from setting up social
orders and social organization and the aspirational kinds of patriarchy
that many free black middle class people, both male and female, aspire to. So in the many accounts of how we think
of gender, we understand black men to simply be magnetic, meaning they imitate
the works of their white oppressors, while black women thinkers [inaudible] even
in Ida B. Wells, who believed the same thing as their black male counterpart, are depicted
as revolutionary public culture women. The idea [inaudible] who gender theory
differs little from its early introduction of psychoanalysis under the races
rubrics of white sociology or history. Now, the idea of looking to individuals who
refer to the culture as psychological pattern of the black male as a
social group is an idea mined by white supremacist social
scientists dedicated to the notion that black men only express violence
against themselves, women and children due to their cross social circumstances. These ideas deprive black men of all these
positive strategies of liberation struggle and replace their fight for
equality with pathology of violence. Stated differently, while
academics usually disown the racism of early 20th century sociologists and
historians as crazy by white supremacy and a product of their time, the government
is simply the product of racist theorists. These very same theories or
black scholars today will argue that the same racist theories and the
theories they created were ultimately correct in their thinking and depictions
of black males. The idea that black men have been subjugated
not only based on their race as victims of white supremacy, but also because
of their maleness, is not new. According to Dr. William A. Smith, black misogyny is an exaggerated pathological
aversion towards black males that is created and reinforced in societal, institutional
and individual ideologies, practices and behaviors, including scholarly ontologies
or understandings of how things exist, axiologies or values such as ethics,
aesthetics, religion and spirituality, and epistemologies are ways of knowing. Like black misogyny, or the aversion towards
black women, black misogyny exists to justify and reproduce the subordination
and oppression of black males while concomitantly erecting
edifices of racial and gender inequality. While building from this definition,
I have coined the term anti-black or racist [inaudible] to describe
the specificity racism acquires when it is directed towards
black men and boys. For black males in the society, to be black
and male is to be anticipated as a terror, is to have white men and women, as well
as some black women and other groups of color internalize the racist ideas of
black males as abusers of women and children, violent idiots, hypersexual,
and mimetic males who aspire to the ideas of white men and women. Consequently, black male vulnerability,
expressing the actual disadvantage and bias black males suffer, is both
black and male to the institutions and societal practices developed to control
and castrate black males throughout society. Employment discrimination, police
brutality, racial profiling, and lower life expectancy are all examples
of the kinds of vulnerabilities which emerge from the social conditions that
surround black men and boys. Racist misandry then expresses the
vulnerability black men and boys have to their obsessive hatred
society directs towards them. And in this age, anti-black misandry not only
expresses the pathological aversions society holds towards black males, it is not just
the attitudes one expresses in their fear or resentment or their discomfort they
have in the presence of black men. But it also names the ontological
program that is constantly operating to socialize the public into believing
that given the saddest nature of black men and boys, the various cruelties and stereotypes used to
dehumanize the [inaudible]. Even within the academy, misandry
functions to make the sociological condition of black men and boys synonymous with
their being, thereby making it necessary to morally condemn and sanction
them to [inaudible] in society. In other words, the black
males theorized as deserving as necessitating the repressive
forces set against them. The task is to assess and document these
practices which exceed generic claim to races of one of existence and bodies of
black males over the centuries. Now, what’s important to understand here
is that the articulation of misandry that racialize men does not exist
as an apologetic or patriarch. Many people in the 21st century understand
patriarchy simply as a pledge or reference, a description of one’s biological sex as men. That’s a mistake. When you look at descriptions of
patriarchy, beyond sex role theory, they are talking about class structures. Conner, for instance, calls it hegemonic
masculinity because she’s influenced by Bronchki’s [phonetic] theory of ideology,
suggesting that women class masculinity, the masculinity that controls
property, taxes, government, laws and power in fact has an idealogical
apparatus to draw people towards it. In fact, she argues that
patriarchy would be less violent than other forms of lower masculinity. Because patriarchy or the
hegemonic masculine operates through the dominate powered
idealogical forces in society, there is no need for group force. One is assimilated to the
acceptance of the authority. Which is not the case for racialized males. So the analysis which makes all males
synonymous to patriarchy misses the boat, so-to-speak, and overlooks that lesser
males, racialized males, subordinate males, in fact suffer from the same kinds
of sexual pressures within colonial and real colonial spaces of geography
that were assumed to be a race by the idea that they’re a separate male. Now, whereas masculinity studies outside the
United States have begun the arduous task of assessing the presuming linkage
among anonymous patriarchy abomination. Feminist theory in the United States has come to emphasize masculinity
as primarily patriarchal. And to claim those masculinities that do
not coincide with this dominant [inaudible] as progressive and feminist inspired. So in the United States, the idea is
either as feminists or it’s no, right? So if it’s a feminist masculinity,
then that masculinity is progressive. Any masculinity that is not feminist
thereby becomes anti-feminist, anti-misogynistic and patriarchal. But there’s something interesting here. Masculinity starts from Europe and its past
colonies have insisted on the difference between hegemonic masculinity and
non-hegemonic masculinity in order for a more accurate account of white men
that quotes further facilitates the discovery and identification of equality masculinity, or those that legitimate an egalitarian
relationship between men and women, between masculinity and
femininity, ruptures and resistance. They insist quote gender power relations
are dynamic, unstable and ambiguous, and [inaudible] of masculinity
not always legitimize patriarch. Therefore, the question
remains patriarchal oppression of women must remain an open
empirical and contextual question. Gender and masculinity researchers therefore
need to develop theoretical frameworks and arise changes, complexities,
benefits, ruptures and resistance. [ Inaudible ] So while the male descendants are colonizers,
I recognize for the match current devise of of masculinity within their group, this insistence on multiple
masculinities have been denied to black men who are the descendants of slaves. So while masculinity starts outside the
United States suggest that there is, in fact, divide within the kinds of masculinity that
have been demonstrated within set societies, black men, brown men, people who
are victims of actual colonization, are thought to only mimic
their oppressor, right? So unlike mainstream masculinity scholarship,
there have actually been few efforts to verify non-hegemonic black masculinities,
be it sociological or historical. They simply do not exist as separate from the
already-established norm and gender politics. For black males who are
stereotyped as hypermasculine and violent throughout society, they’re intuitively marked
as patriarchal within theory. Instead of being simply disrupted by the
critique to hegemonic masculinities failure to account for the class and culture
diversity within white masculinities, hyper masculinities propose
[inaudible] of black masculinity. Consequently, black [inaudible] were
thought to be the exemplifications of white [inaudible] pathological access. In other words, the toxic abnormality of a hegemonic white masculinity becomes
the conceptual norm for black men and boys. Black men are often theorized as defective. As gender theorist author
[inaudible] explains, even when black men are the
ostensible subjects, they are, in fact, objects of workshops, special
general [inaudible] et cetera. They are still marginalized
theoretically and compared to a norm by which they are usually
judged to be lacking. Because black men are not subjects or
theories emanating from their own experience, they’re often conceptualized as
threats others fear them to be. This fear, as we use to legitimize thinking
of black males as the great and efficient men who compensate for their lack of
manhood through deviance and violence. As the social sciences of
Andrea L.G. Hunter [phonetic] and James Earl Davis explain quote
studies of black women emphasize how out of oppression the unique
definition of womanhood was forged. Woman which adversely gave rise to strength. However, the discourse of our
men and oppression focuses on the stripping away of manhood. It is a perspective that casts black men
as victims and ignores their capacity to define themselves under
difficult circumstances. Now, this paradigm is far, far too
common for us not to remark upon. The idea that emerges within gender theory,
especially within the intersexual frameworks if you’re looking at something like Fran
Cooper’s work, or even Devon Carbado’s, is that some of the aspects by which
black men cope with oppression, how to relate to domestic
violence, anger, depression, those with conflict resolution,
are not environmental. These do not emerge from
the same kinds of patterns that all degradated empowerish
people would suffer. Rather, it’s assumed to be part
of their personalities, all right? That black men emerged from trauma. Not with the introspective lens to
evaluate why they are oppressed. So the intersexual thesis suggests
that black women are oppressed, they have an intellectual
reaction to their oppression to understand structures
that cause oppression. But black men, for some reason,
simply can’t grasp the same kinds of structures because of their gender. They are somehow blind to the aspect
of their suffering because of aversion to sexuality of them as lesser males. And I ask you, if we accept that black men
have been victims of lynching and castration, have been victims of rape by
white men and white women, what in that experience lets them detach
themselves from their own bodies to deny that their manhood, their
manness, is in effect victimized. [ Inaudible ] If you see a lynching and a white man
or a white woman cuts off the genitalia of a black man and displays
it for others to see and fear, what is it about that experience
that lets you not understand that there is something particular
to the fallace of your body? To the fail of nature associates to
white people that you don’t analyze. But contrary to this view, we see black men
talking about lynching and homo eroticism. We see it in James Baldwin’s fiction. We see it in Richard Wright. We see it in [inaudible]. We see it in Frederick Douglas. But we’re supposed to be ignorant
about the very imaginations that created sexual exploitation
within the colonial circumstance, as if these works are only racial and
have no such nuance or gender nuance from which we can draw
knowledge from or theories from. Black male studies simply
attempts to verify the experience that black men have had historically
and utilize that for the raw materials of understanding the relationship
that racially subjugated men have had in relationship to dominant white patriarch. And unlike other theories, like
hegemonic masculinity theory, which in many ways extricates working class
white men from this dynamic of violence, black men get to cast light on the caste
dynamic by which middle class white men and white women saw to use spectacle
lynchings to reclaim masculinity for both. So Black Male studies then attempts to
rewrite or contribute to the historiography of the colonial racial circumstance. But then why is this bit ignored? The other argument that I make is
that there’s a kind of demography of theory that’s been acknowledged in how we’ve conducted ourselves
over the last three decades. Since the mid-1970s, also 1975
and 1976 is reckless literature, black males have been the
most underrepresented group in college and Roman matriculation. The problems remain unaddressed by
liberal arts scholars and theorists because in theory, in the
life of black males, as students of college appears,
they simply remain undesired. As I have constantly argued, black males
are unwanted and unacknowledged by society, so that is why they are
claimed to be privileged in their academy despite
their massive disadvantage. In 1970, an estimated 378,000
African-Americans were enrolled in higher education institutions. By the mid-1970s, more black females
are enrolled in college and university to almost all levels of black men. In 1976, of the 1,330,000 black students
enrolled in higher education institutions. 136,100 women, 469,000 were men. In 1999, there were 1.6
million black students enrolled in degree grant institutions with
black women accounting for 1.3 or 63.2% of men accounting for 603,000. The majority of black college enrollments
have been in undergraduate programs. The same pattern holds. In graduate programs, in 1999, out of
147,800 blacks enrolled in larger programs and degree graduate institutions,
women accounted for 101,600, or 68.7%. And black men accounted for 46,000. When you look at degrees or
Ph.D.s held by title institutions, the number of black professors
working in those institutions, we see the same kind of disparity. Black men are outnumbered by almost 30,000. So what is it about this demographic
underrepresentation that tells us about the lack of development
of a specific identity? In many colleges and institutions,
right, we have two problems. One, black men are acclaimed to be privileged because of their societal
representation as victims of violence. And that translates to an interpersonal
account of black male privilege, where they allegedly are doing
better either economically or demographically than black women. We find that that’s not true, but
that ideology discourages or is used as a rationalize so that other desirables
like black men don’t have to be hired, and they can be not hired under
the guise of progressiveness. And two, that an artificial market
amongst blacks has established within white institutions where the idea
is that black men and black women compete with each other, or should be competing
with each other for the same jobs, and not that there should be a displacement
of the overrepresentation of white people, men and women, in the very same institutions. In other words, the idea is that
diversity claims utilize gender to create a zero sum gain between black
and white faculty, or I’m sorry, black men and black women faculty can apply for
positions rather than the displacement of white men and women within these
ideas, or within these institutions. Reformulating the demographic basis by
which theory has been underspecialized or underappreciated means that
we have to retell history. The environment theories are utilized to explain how black men are
oppressed simply miss the mark. The way that black men and boys
through slavery, conceptually known as the hierarchies opposed
by gender theories. It’s often suggested that
knowing protected black men and boys from the rape of white men. But the work of Thomas A. Foster’s
sexual abuse of black men under slavery, and James Hoke Sweet, Recreating
Africa: Culture, Kinship and Religion in the African-Portuguese World 1441 to 1770
show that black men were not only victims of rape by white lower class women,
but victims of mass rapes by white men in various phases of domination
in a homoerotic rage. This practice of raping black
men extended into Jim Crow. When you think about the work of Willie
McGee by Willette Hawkins, it continues today by police officers, as in
the case of [inaudible] and more whites throughout society
as in the case of John Howard who raped a mentally disabled black
boy with a coat hanger months ago. Various cases can be put through
history, they give evidence of this practice despite its racial. Now, power studies are something
that we need to reconceptualize. The idea that black men responding to this
history of sexual oppression in the works of [inaudible] simply have to be rethought. As Jared Sexton remarks in Race, Sexuality
and Political Struggle: Reading Soul on Ice, quote, in many ways, Wallace’s effort in
that now [inaudible] text provide a sort of interpretive framework for much more
popular and academic opinion on the movement in general, but black Panthers
more specifically, and Clever in particular up to the present. The idea that black men who were thought
from literally the 1920s forward, up to the [inaudible] report, the idea that
black men were docile, apolitical, deserters, feminine, lesser men, dysfunctional,
abusive, violent. The idea that a movement that has grown
in response to those racist, sociological and historical theories should simply
be equated to them as preposterous. That is not to say that there is not sexism. That is not to say there is not homophobia
that runs throughout the time periods of the 19th and early 20th century. It is to say, however, to marry any
individual instance of those ideas or those caricatures to the actual
personality of groups is in fact wrong. So then why do we choose to read? And notice what we do here. We choose to read one political moment of
the 1970s as being analogous and synonymous to every political substantiation
of black male resistance from 1864. So the birth of freedom for black men
becomes synonymous with their desire to oppress others, to oppress weaker people. So it’s a symbol of freedom. Freedom can be like your oppressor
rather than the freedom that is genuine. So we ask ourselves then, how does history
get interpreted in this kind of way? How do the victims of history
simply become the focus of their oppressor’s worst
kind of pathologies? There is no explanation. So contrary to this idea,
this caricature of black men, which is what I call now black male
maneticism [phonetic] is simply not true. This position is little more than a myth that
has been disproved by attitudinal studies on black men since the mid-1980s. In reality, 30 years of data validates
Robert Staple’s claim in black masculinity that black males simply do
not share the same definitions or hold the same culture
experiences as white men in America. Black males are socialized
to understand manhood in the context of their vulnerability. The dangers they are served with [inaudible]
are perceived to have in a larger society. In other words, whereas we say patriarchy,
is masculinity [inaudible] the power to do and dominate others at other’s will. Black men have historically
found that any exercise of masculinity or agency is swiftly punished. Black men defined based not on
their ability to dominate others, but rather on their vulnerability
to America’s racist [inaudible]. So the fourth writes quote mainly black
male youth also learn that a lacuna exists between those traits of dominance
and repetitiveness internalized in their exhibition in the larger society. They are very much aware of the high
rate of black male unemployment, black male underrepresentation in high
paid, high prestigious occupations, and the generally inferior status
of black males in American society. It’s early to think black subculture
or interpersonal relationships that black men can even
express a masculine role. So their idea of black
manhood is quite distinct from that of the dominant white society. In fact, some studies have found
that black male’s conceptualization of manhood does not include any reference
to the ideas of white masculinity. Andrew G. Huddle and James E. Davis
constructing gender and exploration of African-American men’s
conceptualization of manhood as one question to a group of black men in New York. What do you think it means to be a man? The answers and clusters of ideas revealed
that discussions of masculinity were absent from black men’s definition of manhood. Hunter and James explained that this
difference in black male perceptions of masculinity and manhood possibly reflects
a culture awareness of the differences between the physical sexual
man and the social man. A distinction first introduced in [inaudible]
bringing a black boy to manhood in 1985. Here it is maintained that black males
understood the social man as their moral and general condition which extends
or should far beyond the trappings of execution of uncommitted sexuality. Whereas masculinity was
thought of as a reflection of the dominant culture,
aggression, power and so on. For black males, quote manhood emerged
as a multidimensional construct that defines being a man in terms of the
self, a man’s relationship and responsibility to family, and a world view
or existential philosophy. Manhood is the idea that black
men used to frame how they thought of themselves outside the inners of
stereotypes of mainstream society. And a lot of distinction between
what they saw as masculine and white behavior and
the behavior of black men. As Hunter and Davis explains quote although
masculinity may be a part of being a man, for black men, it is simply not the
foundation upon which manhood rests. The world has proven racist
stereotype that holds black men to be misogynous and natural
threats to women. We know it’s a starting point for many
conversations concerning black males. It is important to note that
this stereotype did not pop up accidentally throughout history. Throughout the 19th century, the ideas
or justification of colonialism utilized by white acknowledgists was based on the idea
that they were trying to save the Negris, or black women, or other savage women
throughout the world [inaudible]. This is the introduction
to Charlotte Gilman’s work on the economics dependency
of women in the 1890s. The idea was that the savageness
and brutalness of the black male, as a beast that was not civilized, was not
man, but in fact was the just uses then as the justification for
violence against them. So it’s important to understand
that the origin of the theories that are utilized even now to suggest that
black men are so dangerous to their women, so dangerous to their children, do
not originate in an empirical study of the economic or psychological
conditions of oppression, but rather the ethnological
stereotypes of a century ago that seeks to justify the elimination, extermination
and lynching of racialized men. Contrary to these descriptions, black men
and boys have consistently demonstrated that their subordinate racial
position has made them more aware of sexual oppression and gender inequality. In 1983, there is a [inaudible] term
that racial and sexual oppression of black men were double buying into a study
that found that middle class black men, those black men thought to embrace the ideas of hegemonic masculinity most readily
have had more progressive gender attitudes than white men. To approach, approve of non-traditional
roles for women, women’s issues and egalitarian marriage relationships, and
to believe that men can learn a great deal by the way women act that can be incorporated
into their own behavior end quote. In 1989 [inaudible] on gender conscious among
black Americans found that quote the men, race and gender consciousness levels of
black women are more similar to the levels of black men and those for white women. In the early 1990s, marked by the
popularization of intersectionality of presumed gender consciousness of black
bodies based on the biological designation as male or female, most empirical
studies confirm the findings of the previous decade maintaining that
black men were solely more aware of, if not more conscious, of gender
inequality than other men and women. For instance, in 1995 [inaudible]
racial difference in men’s attitudes about women’s gender roles used the
national [inaudible] from 1960 to 1981 to test the attitude of racial concept of
gender between white men and black men. Although the study used data collected
is almost [inaudible] they found that quote African-American and
white men differ in their attitudes about women’s gender roles, that beliefs
about gender roles change across time, that individual status and life courses
processes influence gender role attitudes. [Inaudible] use the national black election
study, the national black politics study and our own national black feminist study to document the broad support
black men have for women’s issues. Some of this work dispersed the
common mythology that insists that black feminist commitment are femininely
tied to a black and female identity. According to Simeon [phonetic] quote black
women and men recognize that the problems of racism, poverty and sexual
discrimination are all linked together. Black feminists are beneficial
to the black community. Black women should share equally
in the political leadership. Black women should take on a more
prominent role in the black church. And the overwhelming number of
respondents black men and women felt that they shared a common
fate with black women. It is perhaps most controversial of
Simeon’s work is that her studies have found that black men are equally,
and in some cases more likely than black women to support black feminism. In a subsequent article, a high gender
gap, Simeon updates her findings, concluding that black men
and women share the idea of intersecting of persons and their fates. Simeon writes quote the [inaudible] provides
additional evidence to support the claim that African-American men have
truly progressed in their thinking about traditional gender roles and have supported black [inaudible]
for longer than you realize. African-American women are
similarly supported black [inaudible] but to a lesser extent
than African-American men. Several years later [inaudible]
national black women’s study to test Patricia Hill Collins’ [inaudible]. A black women’s standpoint is defined
as those experiences and ideas shared by African-American women
that provide a unique angle of visual self, community and society. Earlier work like Simeon’s found
that black men are as likely, and in many cases more likely to support the
values such as the innerconnectings of race, class and gender and political
behavior traditionally thought to build solely to a black
feminist tradition. And found that black men are supportive of
black women’s leadership roles in politics, and are supportive of gender equality more
wholeheartedly than any other group of men and more than some women end quote. Contrary to the [inaudible] gender simply
does not control the political sentiment or social consciousness of black males. Black men experienced a more
role alongside black women. They, like black women, are abused
because of their race and their sex. Yet theory holds that because
they are not women, their role in gender equality
cannot be due to their [inaudible]. So while black women’s gender progressivism
originates in their outsider position, it is suggested that black men’s
progressive gender attitudes cannot originate from theirs. These are idealogical assertions based
on imagine histories of black maleness as privilege and normative rather than
an account of the particular disadvantage that make racialized maleness
and outsider positionality and white patriarchal societies. And the possible origin of
a black male genre theory. Because of the peculiar subordinate
racial position, black males are able to understand the complexity
of social life much better than academic theories allegedly
designed for the very same hand. So what the idea, the idea that black
male studies is trying to put forth, is that the conceptualization
of black men have to be informed by the empirical study of them. It is no longer adequate for black
men to simply remain the caricatures of other people’s imaginations. Where the murder of black men becomes simply
legitimized in the minds of the very people who are protesting them,
because black men are dangerous. So while you have the story that
300 black men, or the actual fact that 300 black men per year are being
shot by cops, that reality is then made to conflict with, be opposed to the idea that
9 to 20 black women are shot [inaudible]. And the way that this rationalization
happens is not simply based on the need for attention. It is also based in the
idea and the caricature that in fact black men are dangerous. And while they may be shot in society,
they are still dangerous to the community. And that happens to be part of the
conversations about their lives. But then what is the conversation about
the violence in the community action? What is the conversations
about the child abuse, the domestic abuse that
affects men and women? The kind of poverty, the
alcoholism, the substance abuse, all things which have been
documented as [inaudible] to violence in the black community. Where is that conversation in
terms of increasing the wellness and conflict resolution
of black folks in America? It doesn’t exist. Because we reduce every pathology
in exists within the black community to the [inaudible] of black masculinity. So they may not emerge as victims, only
the [inaudible] that have been the result of white people’s violence and not the
actual systemic conditions of racism. So I ask you this, why Black Male studies? My argument is that Black Male studies has
to break with the pathological accounts of black men that are not only
held as stereotypes within society, but have also been reidentified
as stereotypes within theory. The accounts of black men is empirically
human complex and rich subjects. And this means that there
are new areas for study. In terms of empirical studies, we need
more research in intimate partner violence, in intimate partner homicide, and how it
affects black men in their communities. We need more research into the rape of
black men an boys in their own communities. Often their early sexual experience as a young black man starts
at the ages of six and nine. We have the first article by a colleague, Dr.
Yuly, and we have an article documenting some of the first experiences of this. We need more studies of that. And we need to document the experiences that
young black males have of racial misandry, how they experience stereotypes of
hypermasculinity, violence, fear, the ostracism that they get within
academic as well as social environments. In terms of conceptual studies and
conceptual aspect of Black Male studies, you need a black male hysterography that
focuses on sexual violence and homoeroticism, on black male vulnerability, and black men as
victims of patriarchy utilizing such theories as social dominance or the vulnerability
theories that have been coming out about the threats or how
black men are perceived as bigger and more dangerous threats
in the minds of whites. I would also add that we need to reformulate
how we are thinking of black power studies. Not so much as an apologetic that’s
trying to reclaim black nationalism, but as a historical intervention into
certain gender assumptions and [inaudible] that are placed on the bodies
of black men and their intents. So we have to undo the whole thing the
psychoanalysis has on the motivations that we use to point to and construct the
idea that black male liberation is, in fact, just another attempt at
dominating other bodies. So Black Male studies is not so much a
response as it is a filled or genre studies and to humanize the realities
of black men and boys. And to humanize the reality of black men and
boys, we have to challenge ourselves to think about and beyond the racist caricatures
that articulate them simply as abusers, simply as perpetrators of rape,
and simply as undesirables that have absolutely no social connection or
beyond social empathy for most of the work. So thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Okay, can we give another round
of applause for Dr. Curry, please. [ Applause ] Okay, what I’m going to do at this
point is introduce our panelists, and then we’ll engage in
some dialogue from there. Can I shift the screen? [ Inaudible ] Okay, so as I introduce the panelists,
please go ahead and mute your cells. I will start with Dr. Gwenetta Curry.>>Hello.>>Here we go. Gwenetta Curry is an assistant professor
in the gender and race studies department. She completed her Ph.D. in 2016 from
Texas A & M University in Sociology. Dr. Curry’s research areas include
health disparities, Africana womanism, black family studies, food insecurities
and food culture and American racism. Dissertation, the relationship between
education and obesity among black women in the national health and nutrition
examination survey cycles 1999 to 2010 reviewed that education does
not improve the health of black women in the same manner as their
white counterparts. In 2007, she completed her master’s
degree from Southern Illinois University in dairy sciences, which focused
on the effects of linseed oil and omega-3 fatty acids in the
diet of grazing dairy cows’ milk. The results of this study demonstrated
that increasing the levels of linseed oil in dairy cows’ diets needs and higher levels
of conjugated [inaudible] acid in milk. From 2007 to 2009, she worked as a
research quality and innovation scientist for Conagra Foods in Omaha, Nebraska. For six years, she created new products
and technology for the food industry and saved Peter Pan after the salmonella
recall, which earned her the CEO award. Her current research focused
on improving the health of black women and the black family overall. She’s at the University of Alabama. Dr. Rhonda Gaines Her research
including mass mediated messages and rhetorical studies critiques the
various aspects of black power movement, such as political, culture, religious and
economic influences, the black arts movement, black cultural communication, institutional
gender racism, African-American rhetoric, womanism, feminism, black feminism and
black women’s studies resistance traditions. She has presented papers at the
National Communication Association, National Council for Black Studies, the
National Women’s Studies Association, the Philosophy Born of Struggle Conference
and the Association for the Study of African-American Life in History. Also, she’s created and participated in the
workshop, the national conference on race and ethnicity, and the presentation
details her student activism, which challenge white hegemonic
atmosphere at the University of Alabama. She’s a 2014 NEH fellow at the Fannie Lou
Hamer Institute of Jackson State University where she studied the untold
narratives of the Civil Rights Movement. Rhonda is a native of Flint, Michigan. She completed her master’s thesis,
Race, Power and Representation, mainstream broadcast news
portrayal of the Republic of New Afrika at the University of Alabama. She graduated with her master’s in
telecommunication and film in December, 2003. She recently graduated with her Ph.D. from
Georgia State University in May, 2013, and her dissertation was entitled I am a
Revolutionary Black Female Nationalist, a Womanist and Analysis of [inaudible] Role
in New Afrika as a New African Citizen, Administrator of Information, Provisional
Government of the Republic of New Afrika, which was directed by Dr.
Elaine Bruner [phonetic]. She is a board member of the
Philosophy Born of Struggle. Okay, Zakiya Sankara-Jabar is a co-founder
of Racial Justice NOW based in Dayton, Ohio. Racial Justice NOW Ohio was founded when Zakiya’s then 3-year-old son
was pushed out of preschool in 2011. Zakiya has been on the forefront of
organizing locally, state-wide and nationally to help end the desperate impact
the cradle-to-prison pipeline has on black children, and
black boys in particular. Zakiya recently transitioned to become
an actual field organizer for the dignity and schools campaign, where she would take
her policy, advocacy and organizing expertise to help support grass roots organizations
and members of the DSC all over the country. Also, I’d like to welcome Dr. Lisa
Corrigan Ph.D. University of Maryland. Is an associate professor of communication,
director of the gender studies program, and affiliate faculty in both
African and African-American studies and Latin American studies in
the Full Black College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas. She is a feminist rhetorical scholar
who researches and teaches in the areas of social movement studies, black power
and civil right movement, prison studies, feminist studies, political
communication and history of the Cold War. Her book, Prison Power: How Prison
Politics Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation was published last
year by the University Press Mississippi. Additionally, Dr. Corrigan works as a
political and media consultant for campaigns, Caucasus, progressive organizations
and legislatures on issues ranging from reproductive justice to prison reform. She lectures across the country and
can be booked for workshops, okay? Dr. Ronald B. Neal, assistant professor in
the Department for the Study of Religions at Wake Forest University,
Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Holds a Ph.D. in religion from Vanderbilt
University, is the author of Democracy in the 21st Century American:
Race, Class, Religion and Region. Professor Neal is a theorist of religion
and culture whose primary area of teaching and research is African-American
religious studies. He also does teaching and research in
other areas including world religions, religion in popular culture,
religion in political culture, and gender studies in religion. He is currently writing a book on black
masculinity, myth and western imagination. Last but not least, we have Dr. William
A. Smith, interim department chair and associate professor in
the Department of Education, Culture and Society at
the University of Utah. He also holds a joint appointment
in the ethnic studies program. He has served as the associate dean for
diversity, access and equity in the College of Education, as well as a special assistant
to the president at the University of Utah and its NCAA faculty athletics
representative. Dr. Smith is co-editor of the book The
Racial Crisis in American Higher Education: The Continuing Challenges
for the 21st Century. His work primarily focuses on the theoretical
contribution racial battle fatigue, which is the cumulative emotional,
psychological and physiological and behavioral effects that racial micro
aggressions have on people of color. Dr. Smith’s work [inaudible] journals as the
International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Journal of [inaudible]
Education, Harvard Education and Review, Educational Administration Quarterly and
American Behavioral Scientists to name a few. Dr. Smith is a former post-doctoral fellow
for both the Ford Foundation and the Center for Urban Educational Research
and Development at the University of Illinois Chicago, and former research
associate with the Choices Project at the University of California, Los Angeles. He’s worked as an administrator or
professor at Eastern Illinois University, Governor State University,
Western Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his undergraduate and master’s
from Eastern Illinois University [inaudible] in psychology, M.S. in
guidance and counseling, and his Ph.D. is at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, educational policy studies, sociology,
social psychology of higher education. So if we can give all of our
guests a round of applause, please. [ Applause ] So from here, we’ve had a chance to hear
the excellent presentation by Dr. Curry, and I want to invite our panelists to join in
the discussion [inaudible] and observations about both lecture as well as their work. So the round table is now open.>>Well, I guess I’ll start
off the conversation here. Excellent page peer, Tommy. It was, as usual, great to hear your work. As your wife, I hear it often. Love him. And I’d like to say, I think
it’s amazing that you decided to put on this program I think
is absolutely necessary. I’m a junior in race studies department. And while my research previously
focused on black women’s health, I think it was absolutely
necessary for us to understand and consider what’s going
on with black male health. And the reason that I think there
needs to be a Black Male studies is that if there was any other population
that had 900 plus members in prison, highest mortality rate, highest unemployment
rate, there would be major think tanks across the nation to address
the problem, right? But we don’t have this. Instead, we have article after article,
wall after wall condemning black men or black masculinity, using white
supremacist descriptions of black men as being lazy, aggressive and rapists, right? So I think this is a problem. I think that’s some of the issues that I
think Black Male studies should address or ways that we can improve on this. Because as it sits now, we have black
men in education, and, you know, in the education system as a whole,
where they don’t see their value. And I think as scholars, we need
to do better at that, right? That’s what I’ll start with.>>I’ll add in, I don’t know, Tommy,
is there someone around there you or [inaudible] can maybe just kind of go
through the questions that you all sent us, and we can decide to kind
of respond to and chime in and have a rich conversation related
to the questions that we have. Myself, you know, first hats off to
you all for inviting this opportunity. And I also just wanted to acknowledge
my own work, and not to acknowledge me, but the conversations that Tonya and
I have had over the years in looking at the development of those conversations
as being tangible and significant in our lives not only inside the
academy, but outside the academy. So for myself, my research looks at the
black women’s revolutionary experiences with [inaudible] my work also begins
to create some kind of catalyzation of black women’s experiences in social
movements and different institutions. And so over the years, my
master’s program even started in my undergraduate studies [inaudible]. I talked with Tommy [inaudible] over the years just how the
way black men were discussed, specifically about the revolutionary
black nationalists men and women, was very much out of the
preview and understanding that my own experience is about. [ Inaudible ] My family having a background in community
involvement and revolutionary activism. I never saw men or women who were
discussed in these conversations pertaining to black power, black rationalism. Even civil rights that actually did
portray the men and women that I knew. So a lot of times you have the depiction
of black men as overly aggressive and as– let’s say predominantly overly
aggressive, hypersexual, and trying to assimilate
into white masculinity. These were not the revolutionary
black men that I knew. Before that, I still know. And so my work looking at the life,
the experiences of black women evolved in revolutionary activism, I had to really
go and just talk to my aunt and to my mom and to other people who are involved
in black power and in civil rights because we really know history understand
that a lot of the people involved in civil rights, the freedom
movement of power, a lot of these people are
still working considerably. And so a lot of what we are lacking still is
what Tonya has really helped us understand. We don’t have a black manhood
framework to engage black masculinity. And so when I looked at the first question, which is what is Black Male
studies, and why is it necessary? It’s necessary because I need to
engage in having to talk about and let people know about my father. My father, a working class black man,
who graduated with a high school degree, who was making 60, $80,000 a year, who died
an early death because there was no way for him to exist to get the proper
healthcare as Gwen has referenced to. And so they extend myself lacking in the
conversation lacking in the actual workplace when done for and by black men. And a lot of people who are controlling the
battle out of the institutional oppression of discourse, as well as is controlling the
representation of who or what we understand as black men, a lot of those
things are yet to be engaged. And I’ll be quiet right now because I
could keep talking for a long, long time. But I just wanted to put the first
question out there, which was, you know, what is black male studies? And why is it necessary? It’s necessary because I want to find a
way to talk about the black men that I knew and that I know, specifically Tonya, even you
yourself, so that we can engage respectfully, honestly, authentically, and even
through our own vulnerability. A lot of the framework that we have
right now is pretty much controlled by white masculinity, which has always
situated black men as rapists, as boots, as ignorant, as stupid,
as vile and hypersexual. And that representation does not allow me
to represent the black men that I know, as well as the black woman that I am. [ Applause ]>>Well, I think I’ll chime in. Can you hear me?>>Yeah.>>Yeah. Well, let me thank
[inaudible] Johnson for this invitation. And thank you, Dr. Curry,
for a very rich presentation. I just wanted to just piggyback on
what has already been said in dealing with the necessity of Black Male studies. I think Dr. Curry outlined it very well
by saying that we are dealing with a, in my mind, just an imperial problem. That is that we continue
writing in or continue to be viewed through this imperial gaze. And I think it’s important to understand
this entire problem in terms of colonization, and the larger edifice of colonization
has taken place in the western hemisphere. When I teach limited studies, and I
tend to begin in the 19th century, and I look at the way in which
the disciplines of anthropology and sociology emerged in [inaudible]. Now you have objects of people who will
turn to objects, Africans and Indians, how they were rendered as savage,
as primitive through this kind of western anthropological outlook. And I think we begin it with the same thing. And when we look at the 20th century, the
late 20th century in terms of gender studies, sexuality studies, everything
that’s under question right now, we just see a reinscription
of that entire enterprise. And I think it’s important that we
have to deconstruct, demythologize all of these notions that Dr. Curry so
articulated in his presentation with respect to black men and to look at, you know, black
men through this empirical historical lens so that we can deal with, as Dr. Curry
indicated, these problems of health, incarceration, education, to move beyond
ideology, to move beyond mythology. My work really deals with the
mythology and the underpinnings of much of what is articulated about black men,
visibly [inaudible] on feminism and the like. And so it’s necessary to take this
term of Black Male studies just to unpack the question of who black men
are as a group, who black men are in terms of the white men’s diversity, their
identities, and to begin something, something new that hasn’t been done, something that Dr. Curry himself
has initiated with his new work.>>I might as well speak next. So I’m Dr. Lisa Corrigan. I’m happy to be here. Thanks to you, [inaudible],
for the invitation. Thanks, Tommy, for the
great paper, as always. I don’t want to spend too much
time talking about whiteness, but I am generally the token white
gal at these sorts of things, and I think it bears reflecting that
there are a lot of important ideas that black men have ushered into the world
about race consciousness, about power and domination, about progressive structures
of violence that only grow over time. And so for me, as someone who studies
the black power movement and the history of incarceration and the way in which
black intellectuals movement has spread across the globe, I am particularly invested
in Black Male studies because I mostly write about black men and the tremendous efforts
that they’ve made in building new models for resistance in the U.S. and abroad.>>Hi, this is [inaudible]. Can you all hear me?>>Yes.>>Hi. I think I’m the only organizer on this
form, and I really appreciate [inaudible] and obviously Dr. Curry I
appreciate on a partly based panel. One of the reasons why I support Black Male
studies is because I think it’s a necessity as an organizer now at the national level. All of the things that you guys
are theorized and are talking about really impacts what sorts of a
national organizations do and how they work. It impacts our funding. I know that, you know, as a local
organizer, when I started to move into the national space,
I was hit left and right. So a lot of, you know,
folks who are [inaudible]. A lot of folks were lifting up, you know,
black feminism, and obviously, you know, I’m not against any of that
per se, but I saw it in the way that perpetuated what you
guys have been talking about [inaudible] stereotypes
about black boys and men. And I just didn’t feel like, wow, you know,
how can I really articulate how I’m feeling as a mother with my son, right? And the things that are happening to him. I feel like they’re not
just racial, but gender. I mean, you look at any of the data, looking
at pre-K through 12, we look at anything around the most negative outcomes,
black boys are at the top. And I’m just like, what
are you guys talking about? Like how can you not look this up? How can you not continue to talk about this? And so I’m excited to be here. I know I’ve used Tommy’s work in [inaudible]. And that this is something that we– and
I caught some flak behind that, as well. So I hope that, you know, this new
scholarship can kind of help folks like me who are in these experiences. I’m not the only one. We are the minority, right? But I’m not the only one who, as an
organizer, have felt sort of even attacked by what’s happening to
our own kids in schools.>>So our second question on
this, our second and third, I guess second is what do we not know about
black males that necessitates this new field? Zakadya [phonetic], since you’re, you know, using the work in a very–
I mean, this is real. This is your son, right? What do you see as necessary? What have you been able to Garner
and use in your home with your child in having these conversations
with people at a national level?>>So one of the ways in which
I’ve been able to kind of look up and explore is this whole
idea about native experience. So that’s kind of more the particular group
that I’m talking about when we talk about, you know, folks who have, you know, kind of
been uncomfortable with the fact that I’m with them all, you know, not
just what’s happening to my son, but as a parent organizer and in, you know,
at the very grasp is that we’re talking about mostly mothers and fathers
who have low to no income, and what kids are being shuffled right into literally this pipeline
as early as preschool. And so one of the things that I
also push back on is that, know, many of these organizers, I believe that they
mean well, but I think that they are sort of just caught up into the matrix
of how things are done right now, especially when funding is linked
to it, and trying to get them to be a little bit more creative in
how to, you know, not just say well, we’re not going to talk about, you know,
what’s happening to young black men in the states because, you know, we’re not
talking about black girls enough, right? Trying to figure out a way to be a lot more
creative in making sure they were lifting up, you know, what’s happening
really to all of our children. Because it does look differently
depending on where you are in the country. For me, I’m situated on,
you know, in Dayton, Ohio. And, you know, black boys are
the largest subgroup of students within the Dayton public school system. And so that was one of the ways we were
able to push, you know, using the data, and, you know, when we say the extra resources,
that goes to this particular population since they’re represented or
overrepresented IEP classes, right, and these emotional disturbance classes and
these, you know, suspensions, expulsions, and getting the district to commit to really
have an analysis in establishing this office of black male achievement to, you know,
make sure that we’re looking at ways in which we can lift them up, encourage them, provide them the necessary
supports they need. And I did that unapologetically,
despite what folks, you know, were saying across, you
know, the national source. And I’ve been now in the national
space encouraging new organizers, especially if they’re working locally,
look at the data and move from there.>>Absolutely. [ Inaudible ]>>Dr. Smith, you know, you’ve created
the theory of all black misandry. That kind of serves as
the basis that I’ve used to create black male vulnerability
and anti-black misandry. How do you see these things operating,
you know, on young black boys?>>Well, let me first start by saying this. I want to thank Fresno State
University, Dr. Johnson, and definitely Dr. Curry for doing this. This is something that I am now 31
years of working on a college campus, I’ve rarely ever seen something like this,
especially focused in on black people. So the black community starts
with that first question, just a little bit, why is it necessary? I think because black males need to be put at
a sooner of analysis and discussion and not as a consequence of some set of group-centered racist and
standard interpretations. So when it comes to black males, it’s
others’ idealogical, physiological and stereotypical perspectives about
them that are more important than facts. We can involve the term that’s popular today. It’s alternative facts. You’re doing a great job of kind of
breaking down those alternative facts. And in a larger way, this field,
like with the second question, I think the better question is,
because we don’t know enough accurately about black males, a new or improved
field of black male studies is needed. So when it feels like a black male studies,
we’ll be able to study the politics, the theory, literature, history, the
psychology of various perspectives, sociology, that centers black males. I don’t know what you would call it. You might call it black masculinity studies. Masculinity perspectives. Whatever you want. Name it. Where black males have to
be at the center of the analysis and the fair interpretation of it. Not often, we don’t get a chance to really
talk about the truth of the black male issues because we hurt people’s feelings. So I say that we need to be in the
business of hurting people’s feelings. We need to be the mass producers of hurt
feelings if we’re going to save black boys, black men, black women, black
girls and black families. [ Inaudible ]>>All right, so we’ve talked
a little bit about the idea that black men are ontologically
evil, all right? We recently developed a
concept of heterophobia. How do you think that’s going to play
in with things like anti-black misandry?>>I think it fits in well and
supports the idea of anti-black misandry and this notion of heterophobia. You can call it heterophobic racism. That is, the fear of straight
black men in particular. So when you think about someone like a Dylann
Roof, who walked into a church, Emanuel AME, less than two years ago and killed
nine people, six women, three men, and analyze the language that
he used, the language he used as he killed those nine black people
was very masculinist, racist language. You rape our women, you are taking over. And, you know, hence his
extermination of those black people. When he was subsequently
interviewed by the FBI, he continued to use the language of rape. And what Dylann Roof demonstrated
was a very long tradition, a long history of protectionism. That is, really at the heart of much of what
we’re dealing with is this need to protect, this need to protect a particular
population, a need to protect white women, white women as property,
white women as capital. And that protectionism
is driven by this fear, this fear that is oriented
towards containing us, policing us, oriented towards incarcerating us. And if necessary, eliminating us. And so when we talk about misandry,
racism misandry, yes, we’re also talking about a particular type of misandry
that is gendered, that is heterosexual. Because we have to remember, you know, so
much of black masculinity, there seems to be within this imagination that we’re dealing
with, there is this inextricable link between masculinity and heterosexuality. And so that black men are always, regardless,
even in our diversity, even if we’re talking about gay men or queer men,
bi men, whatever you want to call them, were read as heterosexual. And from that, you know, you have this fear,
and that fear is tied to a much larger fear in terms of perceptions about black
men and sexuality and the like, and so I do see these notions as being
working in conjunction with one another to kind of get at what it
is that we’re dealing with. And the larger problem, the larger apparatus
and beyond, the thing about protectionism, it’s a part of this larger
apparatus of law and order. So when we’re talking about Dylann
Roof, we’re not just talking about domestic violence, some isolated
events, we’re also talking about policing. We’re also talking about region. We’re also talking about the
criminal, prison industrial complex. We’re talking about an entire edifice of
ideas and practices that work to contain, survey and to incarcerate black men. And this heterophobia is not particular. It is not unique as we know
in this racist misandry. It’s not unique to white populations. It is pervasive. It is a part of this white gays
that we all of us have internalized. It’s a part of the structure of colonization. So one thing that we have to really
consider is the fact that, you know, as people who are colonized,
we have internalized this gays, we have internalized this fear of black men. And yes, in talking about the internalized
fear means that we’re going to have to step on some toes and talk about how it is
internalizing within black communities, by black women, by black
women by other black men. And those are some of our
community, some of our context. And so yes, heterophobia and racist misandry,
they say similar but different things, but they both get at this entire
problem of the racial of black men.>>It’s funny because a lot
of people forget that the idea of a black male rapist wasn’t just a myth. It was a kind of scientism. It was developed by, you
know, a white scientist from literally the 1860s
up to, you know, 1920. And it depends on the idea that there is a
kind of hyper heterosexism, or of sexuality, a hypersexuality or a hypersexualization
that teeters on the savage. The white male patriarch didn’t become the
savage Negro male because he had reason to control his sexual impulses and urges. Whereas black men had no reason to hint. They only act based on sexuality. And I think it is strange, given how we
choose to read history, that we can see even in the 21st century that the very ideas of,
you know, the sexual theory of black men as birthed by them being
released from slavery, the basis by which our white supremacists
want to read black male sexuality [inaudible] as a justification for killing black men. Just like the guy from
Baltimore admitted to New York. Couldn’t stay in interracial relationships. Thought black men were rapists. Hence, he thought he had to kill them. So that’s how it operates in the 21st
century in the minds of many whites.>>Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. [ Inaudible ]>>I mean, the pushback that
Black Male studies, of course, is going to get is based on normality. So a lot of the conversations I have already
fails to make the distinction between figures of study, which would be like your
DeBoises, your Douglases, et cetera, which we study in academy, and in
theories by which black men are studied. So many times people conflict the two and
suggest that because we studied the boys and studied [inaudible] there’s no need
for Black Male studies because it’s all about black men in the first place.>>I completely disagree with that argument. What do you all think about how–
I guess that lack of nuance?>>For me, what I have found
in my own research in looking at things given [inaudible] to identities and
institutions, what needs to be clear is that, you know, you made a point, Tommy, in your
address, basically saying this framework for men [inaudible] notion of masculinity. Working class white men and other men of color have also historically very much
revoked it and challenges these perspectives. And so a lot of what we
don’t hear is a connotation by like Michael Kimmel in Manhood in America. We don’t hear about the
connotation by [inaudible]. And even the conversations
that are so richly developed in a long history of what my [inaudible]. Even Idris Clever. I mean, there’s so many people who are of
color and non-color who have always worked to challenge this domination
of what we consider. And it has its benefits that also
understanding as black feminists, obviously black feminists in an area that
emerged with [inaudible] late 80s and 1990s, these black feminists also called for a
couple of manhood, in particular of black men in these bodies, and they
happen on the black female body. So there has been a long history of people
really calling to untangle the oppression of bodies in these institutions. And so as people who push back,
understanding first and foremost the formal which they’re pushing back, oftentimes is the
only institutionally oppressive framework, both on [inaudible] white masculinity. And so it behooves us to begin to say well,
we have to get into our own histories, our own bodies, as a man
I was just speaking to, and the fact that we have internalized
these ideas that we get to see masculinity and black masculinity through
that dominant narrative that tends to brutalize black male
bodies and understand how that particular realization actually
not only is problematic for black men, but also black women, and
also other people of color, and also women whose bodies are not
connected to this visual notion of womanhood.>>And I think that feminism I think
has really worked to draw attention to the struggle of constructiveness
of gender for women. But it strikes me that in looking at the
literature, especially that you’re citing, Tommy, in your work, it also then
there is this huge body of theory that positions black masculinity
as static, right? All of the other gender constructions are
fluid and multiple and changing over time and product of historical contingencies,
except for black masculinity. And so there are all of these, you know,
phenomenal texts that make assertions about black masculinity, as
though it is somehow different than other sorts of gender constructions. And that seems to be a massive
flaw in the way that a lot of our disciplines are arranged around
gender work that has to be undone. I think politically it has to be done,
intellectually it has to be done, and I think it’s the cause
of so many of the things. In Arkansas where I’m at, you know, the
number of prison beds that we built is based on the literacy achievements
of third grade black boys. That’s how we decide how
to build prisons here. And so, you know, some of the work
that we’ve been doing is to try and build racial impact statements
to pass bills through the legislature that will allow any legislature to tack
on a racial impact where they don’t have to justify to taxpayers how their bill would
influence screenings of color, you know? And that is something that we don’t think
about, but absolutely have a massive, you know, a huge effect on boys
of color, especially in the south.>>Right. And there’s a
sort of strangeness to it. Is it kind of in historicism, that on the
one hand, we claim exactly say there’s kind of a social construction to gender, but
then when we talk about black masculinity, it gets completely deposited in
the negativity of black male bodies and certain dispositions, or
hypersexuality becomes hyperaggressiveness. Hyperaggressiveness becomes, you
know, hyperviolence and domination. So there’s an unquestioned logic
that’s never been empirically verified that gets rationalized based on
theories of their psychoanalysis or what we call our sexuality that
kind of deposits this negativity. And it makes no class distinction. It makes no religious distinction. It makes no geographic distinction. White men and black men have to do the same
thing that black people in America do, right? In prison, black intellectuals do the same
thing that Christian intellectuals do. It’s puzzling.>>And I think– go ahead.>>Yeah, I was going to
bring up [inaudible] work. And she also thought of the idea of multiple
masculinities in research with black men. And what she found was she created
a Facebook page for black men to go, and pretty much it’s a little type of space. And she found that no one ever
asked white men how they’re doing. The assumption is that they’re okay, and
that, you know, they’re expected to provide for their families and to
not have a complaint, right? So throughout their life,
they have to reflect on like when was the last time anyone
ever asked me, was I okay, right? And some of the problems that I think that
men in the study of black men is the lack of care and concern that we have
for their overall well-being. White male bodies are used
for entertainment, for sports and like work horses in the industry, right? Society looks at black male
bodies as a product to be used like a city but not to be cared for. There’s a distance that’s created by the
belief in the perpetuation of the stereotypes of which were for black male bodies that limit the feelings of
empathy within our society. So I think that’s some of the issues there.>>I agree with them. [ Laughter ] You know, I think we should also
recognize that there’s ideological capital, and pushing this idea that
black men are undifferentiated. There is the ideological capital pushing
the idea that you can reduce black men to a single essence, all right? That means if you can identify, all
right, this essence, this thing, you can easily control, police it, you
can easily, you know, keep it managed. And there are so many interests tied to it. I don’t think that it’s, yes, it’s there. I think that their interests are there
that have to be unpacked in terms of not acknowledging the
diversity among black men. In addition to that, I think that there’s
another problem in terms of on womanness, our aversion to, our indifference
towards class analysis. It’s something that we just have a hard
time dealing with class in this country. Look at it in America. We can talk about race or we can talk about
gender and sexuality, but when it comes down to class and these conversations,
it’s just, it’s like class is non-existent. And so somehow there needs to
be this real critique of class, this real [inaudible] of class. When you think about Douglas,
you think about DuBois, you think about all of these so-called–>>A small number of black
men in history, okay? I mean, you think about [inaudible] and the
man who approached Martin Luther King Junior, who told Martin King Junior, “Dr. King,
we want you to speak for this movement, because no one is going to
listen to ordinary cast like me. ” Okay? And so I think it’s very,
very important that we look at some of these internal investments that
we have intellectually, ethically, that prevent us from talking about
black men as a pluralistic population.>>Some of the fundamental
issues that you’re speaking to is just the challenge
of race and consciousness. And I can tell you what Tommy was almost 10
years ago, almost, that we were just sitting in a hotel room literally beginning
to articulate conversations about exactly what has emerged
within this teleconference. And so it’s a matter of beginning to have
just the conversations, and even the work of the experiences that as
a kid I was talking about, about what is actually happening on
a daily basis with black male bodies. Because there’s so much about this,
even the notion in the society to say that in the patriarchal
society, a male is victimized in and of itself is a bit of
a contradiction, right? And so the connotation then becomes, you
know, well, just as black feminists did or feminists did it, how do we begin to articulate the specificities
surrounding black female bodies in a fence where they are still victims in a
white supremacist colonized state.>>It’s strange because when you
approach these questions on a patriarchy, patriarchy has never been oriented
amongst all men of a given society. That’s the whole point of colonization. The people that colonized were natives. And they then became savage barbarian,
rapist, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So then Ann Stoler talks about the role that
white women play coming into colleagues. They accentuated racial differences because now the creative proximities are
our geographies that made it come in or two. So it’s strange to me that given the work
that’s done by a white female anthropologist, white historians like Elise
Newman, where the history of feminism is very clearly the [inaudible]
between white patriarchs being white men and white women, those people who colonize, and black people become the
colonizer of the native savages. Then we have such a hard time
distinguishing and understanding the role that racially subordinate men have
in a white supremacist society. And that’s not just on a conceptual level. It’s kind of like the proof
is in the pudding. You get a bunch of black
men, they underperform next to their female counterparts in education,
in employment, in life expectancy. And yet these things have
no theoretical cause. Racism does X. It affects
everybody the same way. If you’re black, you see
these huge disparities. And I think at certain levels is a level
of third construction because the reason that these things proliferate the academy
is that they’re used as kind of capital and ideological currency to keep certain
kinds of black men out of the academy, especially working class black men who
have very distinct differences and ideas from middle class or lower class
aspiring or black folks and white people. It just seems too coincidental that the
very same threats that are called racism in the society, that black men are
abusers, rapists, murderers, et cetera, gets codified as theory, as
gender theory in the academy. That can’t be a coincidence. We identify racism. But when we call it a gender, somehow
it takes on a different dynamic. It becomes something fundamentally different. And that’s not necessarily to say that
gender itself has to work that way. It seems that black masculinity studies are
much more aligned to kind of buck studies than actually empirical,
conceptual investigation into the realities and
histories of black males.>>And that’s the danger of
having Black Male studies, right?>>Right.>>Which those questions will come up. Why do black males proliferate coincidence? Why are black males in
colleges and universities at the same rate as their other peers? Why are black men also
disproportionately represented in places where their bodies are controlled
and interchanging in sports? And don’t benefit from their effort
at the rate that they should? Those are the type of questions
that would come up in a strong Black Male studies program. However, at the same time, the parameters
of the academy is also the problem of black white male studies probably
won’t exist, or in the near future. Hopefully I’m wrong. I would like to be wrong. As long as we are assessed, rewarded,
tenured, promoted and censored by academic departments of institutions
that are rooted in anti-black misandry and our scholarship will rarely
reach the level of importance that will benefit the study of black males. So one answer to this is that we have to do
like we did in the 60s, in the 40s and 50s. A large part of this conversation has
to be held outside of the academy. Like the sister who spoke earlier, in
your community-based organizations, we need to mentor black boys and
black girls in our own communities. We need to take over our community. We need to get rid of parasites
in our community. We can’t let the academy define
us because the people like– I mean, you know failure of the system,
Tommy, I hope you understand that. People like you are supposed to make it
through high school, bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. and still think
the way you think and beaten down by now. You should have been co-opted. But you are a failure of the system. You made through, with your sanity. The few of us who can persist to
make it through a racist academy like the predominantly white
institutions that proliferate this country, so where should the base of our
education be within our communities? In community-based organization
and running these programs? We need to go back to white presses and
pull up some of the richest scholarship that I’ve read haven’t been published by
academic journals in publishing houses. Third World Press in Chicago where I’m from
have published incredibly important books. So you need to give them a chance again.>>You know, it’s unfortunate, but I
think you’re right in terms of having to work inside and outside of the academy. I just attended the National
Council for Black Studies Conference in Texas a couple of weeks ago. And what I noticed was that there were 3
sessions on black men and boys and 11 papers, and only 5 of those, 6 of those
papers were actually delivered. But there were 15 sessions on black women
and girls, and over 60 papers delivered. And one of the things I noticed, and this
is what I hope Black Male studies can do, among other things, is raise the bar
of expectation if you’re going to talk about black men and boys at all. What I noticed in many of these sessions
is there would be an assumption made, like the subject of black
patriarchy would be brought up. Nobody would ask for its definition. Nobody would ask for any empirical data about how it’s structured,
whether or not it exists. It was treated as a social
truth, a high qualification. Everybody in the room would nod. And yet there was no critical
dialogue about the nature of it. Now, you know, in the book I’m working on,
what I’m actually finding out is that we talk about ideological black
patriarchy, and we have a material, what I call a materially ersatz
matriarchy in the black community. But we don’t talk about those dynamics. So the majority of the conversation
just goes to this dialogue about black patriarchy with no qualification. And I’m only using that as a snippet for
other ways that black men are discussed with the same kind of paradigm. There is no critical empirical
data that’s critically asked for. And that’s one of the things
that I appreciate Dr. Curry, in giving his lecture today, what he
called for with black male studies, but then demonstrates it by showing
the origin of the myths of black males. And that’s something I think
we need to demand when we start to engage these conversations, we
engage in dialogue on and off campuses. If you are going to talk about black males, can you provide the citation
for where you got that? And I think if that alone, I mean,
there are other things we can do, but just with that alone, it changes
the nature of the conversation. People have to critically
bring something to the table. And one of the other things I’ve
noticed in these sessions on black men and boys is how quickly it will devolve
into conversations about my cousin’s nephew and my sister’s– but, you know, no
critical analysis, no historical narrative. None of those things were required. So what that said to me is that
black men and boys can be talked about from personal experience and
in other demographics require study. The other thing– there was one
other presentation I attended, that basically the argument was we could use
the film Boyz n the Hood to permanently talk about black males in any context. So I’m saying okay, we’ve reached the point
where we assume that there is nothing new to be said, pretty much so that we can take
a film from almost two decades ago and use that as the primary paradigm to
talk about black men indefinitely. And to me, that speaks to a bankrupt
kind of approach to Black Male studies. There’s plenty to still be discussed. There’s plenty that’s still going on. And all we need to do is qualify
that with what’s actually happening. Some type of data. So I just wanted to add that, because I
think Black Male studies can offer that space and that challenge people to
[inaudible] with more credibility than just your personal opinion.>>I totally agree with you. And what we have to also recognize is
that we’re still dealing with [inaudible] like ideologies in a post-brown society. We have not exercised the ideologies
that we’ve had from the past. So those same type of ideologies that were
carried over from the slave institution from Jim Crow are still present in the minds
and thoughts and actions of people today. So what they thought about black males and
black women back then are still consistent with how people are operating against
black boys and black men today. They didn’t just disappear. And you also need to study the psychology
of whites and whiteness because we believe that white people can pass a law and all of
a sudden say, oh, I’m not racist anymore. A part-time is wrong. And we’re all healed. How do you go from mentioning burning
something, cutting off their penis, their fingers, other extremities [inaudible]? What other human population
is treated like that? Same thing, how can you go from how you
treated black boys and black men and all of a sudden you don’t think about them. [ Inaudible ] We need strong soldiers in there to
do that of all genders and races. But we definitely need to be more involved
in our communities and trust them boys, just like whoever talked about the
sister from Arkansas [inaudible] on a third grade literacy rate. We need to be touching those boys
intellectually and spiritually and emotionally and psychologically. We need to make sure that they are
protected on the racism, the gender racism that they’re going to experience.>>But, you know, there’s
a fight against that. I mean, most of the time when we talk,
actually having conversations about gender, most of the conversations are just so
sweet, but every time you make a point about something that’s missed on black men,
somebody says, oh, that’s already covered. And you ask for a page number,
it doesn’t exist, right? [ Inaudible ] I mean, most of the work that ends up coming
out of thinking about domestic violence or even coming from the idea that black men
are imitating white patriarchy is somehow referenced to Bell Hooks, and
she doesn’t have citations. So how are we asking people who cites
without citation to have citations?>>This is part of the underspecialization
and practice of how we study black males. We read them through stereotypes. And those stereotypes become theories. And those theories become
self-fulfilling prophecies. And any pushback, and I think this is one
of the major problems that we have in trying to cultivate this literature, is
that pushback against the fact that these are not documented,
this is not empirical, or even cited where we could
debate the roles of the citation, is that people become morally
condemned for asking questions. So you have a whole group
of young black men and boys. You have a whole group of other racialized
males in the academy that don’t feel like they could approach the question
of black or racialized masculinity because the condemnation from feminist
and white progressives is so stark that it could impact their career. And the stereotypes that proliferate just
in general about black or racialized men as being aggressive, misogynist, sexist,
then becomes the way to read any kind of intervention into the discourses that are
actually used in empirical evidence or data. So it becomes a very difficult
situation when you’re talking about how a white academy utilizes different
allegedly progressive gender or race theories to continue with what construct or
create constructions and dangers of middle class or educated black men. And even men who would push back on the
dominant force from these derived theories. And I think that that, again,
that’s part of the danger, is that you end up utilizing stereotypes
about lower class black men and women and black families and environments to get
whites in the academy to consider the people, the black, educated black men next to
them, the educated Latinos next to them as indicative of the same way to
the people they feel in society. And I think any time that happens,
when you’re actually dealing with not simply a theoretical issue,
but a very real political obstacle that utilizes stereotypes and certain kinds
of racism to protect certain class interests.>>And I would add that those stereotypes
function, as someone who studies and teaches religion, functions as religion. I mean, you have a kind of orthodoxy
that exists where, you know, you can’t ask questions, you ask
do what you’re supposed to do as an academic, to be critical, okay? You’re dealing with belief,
you’re dealing with myth. It’s almost like questioning God or questioning the Bible
or questioning the Koran. And you’re talking to believers who are
deeply invested in the infallibility of the Bible, the infallibility
of the Koran, of the Torah, and they’re willing to kill you over that. And so I think that that’s the part of
the problem that we’re dealing with is that we just have– there’s
just this Orthodox creed where you have these a priori
assumptions about black men that exist that cannot be contested, and that
these assumptions are beliefs, and they have the gravity
and the weight of religion. And I think the challenge is to
continue to question that religion, to question those beliefs in
God that they take for granted.>>The other thing is that
representations just become so static, it becomes impossible to do empirical work. And so you have two things
happening at the same time. You have people saying, just like Dr. Johnson
did, that somehow we should use, you know, films to stand in for actual
data about black men across time, and the representations become
totally static and unmoving. And then on the other hand, you have the
movement of black men through public culture. So how do you do the intimacy to actually
connect with black men to build the kind of survival programs where you’re
touching, you know, black boys and men and feeding those souls and nourishing
their minds, especially in places that are so totally removed from social
welfare, you know, systems. It’s the two of them propping each other up. It’s the representation of problems
[inaudible] and then it’s the removal of black men from public culture that make
it very difficult to do Black Male studies in addition to all of the other
structural problems of, you know, the white institutions in the academy.>>It’s like a black humanity, right? I mean, that’s the surprising thing, right? Is that the lack– the
staticness is based on the fact that it’s a product of dehumanization.>>Yes.>>I mean, it’s staggering that you
can look at how many black men are in prison, almost, you know, 900,000. And you can look at the number
of black men killed by cops. And you can look at the lower
life expectancy, all right? And then from that suggest that, well, those
realities should be lessened or not spoken about as much because they
lessen other ideas. They lessen other subjects. It’s just surprising to me that
we don’t make the same claims in this country about white men. I mean, you have a whole group of scholars
dedicated to just studying [inaudible]. So it’s something about the process
of dehumanization, where in the minds of scholars and other students,
this doesn’t seem to bother people.>>I think that, you know, the part of it
going back to [inaudible] we don’t have, we just don’t have the ontological
luxury as a whiteness, okay? I mean, and we stand outside, you know? So I talk about black men as being
regarded as ontologically evil. You know, we stand outside. This is what we’re imagined as being
something that stands outside below and beyond the human, all right? We’re in some metaphysical realm. Black masculinity represents this
type of entity that is transhuman, and it’s entrenched, and it works
to continue to reify, you know, these representations that Lisa talked about. So it works to reify these representations,
these static representations of black men that operate within the imagination,
you know, that say, it’s okay, like I’m teaching a film class this week, and my students are watching the
2015 version of [inaudible], okay? And so in this class, I’ve got to
untangle the mythological aspects of N.W.A. from the real and actual realities that
were happening in the 1980s in terms of mass incarceration, the
crack era, and all this, okay? But for so many, N.W.A., listening
to Ice Cube, listening to Dr. Dre, listening to [inaudible], is enough
in and of themselves to stand for who black men actually are.>>It’s just how we see them.>>So we– because I’ll tell you from,
you know, personal experience, I mean, a lot of the pushback that I have gotten,
even speaking about the empirical evidence of intimate partner violence and intimate
partner homicide and bidirectionality of a black community, is this idea
that black men are only perpetrators and not victims in interracial violence. You know, the study that [inaudible]
and I did on statutory rape, just the amounts of data that I’m
compiling and trying to talk about, internalize vulnerabilities for why black
women abuse black men and boys, and black men and boys become socialized and abuse black
women, the pushback has just been [inaudible] from the idea that black men simply
can’t be victims of domestic violence. How you think Black Male studies is
going to try to change that terrain? I mean, the UK got there about
two decades ago in recognizing that men could be victims
of domestic violence. I don’t think that this society
is anywhere with white men. So you can imagine the kind of obstacles
and conceptual difficulties of assuming or trying to get there with black men. How do you think Black Male
studies is going to deal with that?>>Well, as a sociologist, I
immediately go to the data, right? We can only deny the data for so long. And we have these studies going on in the national data showing
what’s going on with black men. You can’t still say it doesn’t happen, right? If we live in the world where
we’re just speaking about theory and there is no data connected
to it, then people reject it. But when we have hard data
on a national level, you cannot reject it, although people try. But I think that’s how you fight
against those things, right? When you have the data to
confirm what you’re saying, right? As a sociologist, that’s how I see it. That’s how we fight it. Because we have to be solid with our methods and with our data to, you
know, confirm our case.>>I think it’s apologetic
that they’re doing a lot of [inaudible] things we have no data for. The idea is that we start with
the same ontological proposition that black men are perpetrators, and
somehow that white justifies, I don’t know, 4.6 million black men who are abused by
their spouses or girlfriends/boyfriends.>>Well, I think there’s a bigger issue here. I think part of it is what
you’re confronting. But as some would say, if
you want to find the source of pain or problem, follow the money. And black men are disposable.>>That’s right.>>Right? And so if you can believe
in a narrative that’s created, and if you can remove black males
from society, whether it’s in prison, whether it’s like death, as you talk about,
or even psychological and emotional death, and the society to perpetuate itself
with mythologies, axiologies, ontologies and everything else, is a racist orientation. So black males are longer being
most valuable and not devaluable, the understandable compilation. And we’ve been all strict because
we’re not sensitive to their plight. So we can see the dead body of a black male,
and it doesn’t leave us any law of emotion. I think it used to [inaudible]
black people, white, everybody. It doesn’t bother us anymore. And now we’re closer to the
goal of this whole experiment. We can’t be sensitive about
the plight of black males. We don’t care that they’re not in higher
education because it fits our narrative. They’re supposed to be jail. They’re supposed to be
on the street hustling. They’re supposed to be abusing someone. They’re just waiting to be arrested. So if we don’t care, if society doesn’t care,
then I think that’s part of the overall plan. So that, I believe, is
more of an initial goal. What you’re dealing with
is a subsequent problem.>>That’s why I said the
dehumanization of black men stands in for any conversation about them.>>Yes.>>One of the things that,
you know, I very appreciate, and I’m glad we’re having the
conversation pertaining to what’s happening with Black Male studies, and
the work that I’ve done looking at black women’s experiences, or women’s
experiences in the black power movement, I’ve continued to face, I still face the
real challenge of just raising consciousness. And my aunt, specifically, she passed
last summer, she made a point to me. She said, Rhondi [phonetic], when they get
committed to work [inaudible] if you can kind of chime in on this, because you’re
doing this work, and is really speaking to how we must go into our communities. I’ve been telling you over time that, you
know, I’ve been with you at conferences, there is a real cost, there is a cost that
you pay [inaudible] when you engage anything that is outside this kind of dominant
narrative, this dominant narrative, is this about cost, race, you
know, is this sexuality, gender? And so this whole notion of
talking about Black Male studies, someone posted in the thread
here for the chat, I’m curious as to how might the pseudo theory of black male privilege
perpetuate anti-black misandry. And that’s a very important question because
for me, I’m in a place to say, listen, we are raising people’s consciousness as
much as we are raising our own in that moment where someone else is being raised. And so while a lot of these are talking
about in present day, or historical, a lot of its challenge is the fact that
we are dealing with this, as he said, some of this kind of ahistorical approach
to understanding black male bodies. And a lot of what needs to be built is to
encompass on us to begin to not only go into our communities, but in
understanding that the way that the conversations pertaining to black
people are even brought into the academy were through this work that black
folks are in our communities. And so there is just kind of the dynamic
process of how the work will get done. There is the dynamic in the sense
that there is a lot of labor laws. And there are some very
real costs being with, let’s say Tommy, being in the conferences. There is a certain conference
where, you know, people are walking around seeing Tommy in
a very [inaudible] way. They’re like, oh, you patriarch. Shut your mouth. You can’t talk here. And just ridiculous. I’ve had been people tell me, don’t do that
work about black people, don’t do that work about revolutionary nationalism,
really don’t do this work. And so what we were talking about as this
inside institution, outside the institution, it’s across institutions, and to
understand that there is a need to want to just develop this work, and
then to take it into the community. But in and of itself is just the
real challenge of speaking outside of these ideologies, speaking out of
the language that we have to even talk about just gender or sexuality. And that takes a lot of commitment in understanding the costs
that go with that commitment. And I don’t want to separate the two. I don’t like separating what
happened inside the institute and what happens outside the institute. Because that– it is historical to the
development of the lives of black bodies.>>Right. And I think– sorry.>>Oh, yeah. No problem. Sorry there’s a bunch of background noise. But I wanted to just jump in really quickly
and just really legitimatize that black women in the community don’t think like that. Like all this BS with being
against black men and all of that. It is not like that at the grass
roots level, which I identify as. And so black women absolutely
they support our children, but we also support our partners
and support our husbands. And we just don’t see it from this whole
feminist framework that dehumanizes or further dehumanizes black men. And so I also wanted to add that I
think that it is really important too that we also do political education in our
communities, because that’s one of the things that we have been doing, because we do
see a lot of the stuff that we’re seeing, at least at the national level around
organizing, is extremely ahistorical, and so we, in the best ways that we can, kind
of put a little bit of political education, or at least push some of that to at
least interrogate the space a little bit and get people to at least start
asking questions about what we or what they have learned really
in colleges and universities.>>And I think that’s important. It’s always striking to me how, you
know, in working class black communities, you don’t see this kind of opposition. Oftentimes, you know, black boys
are one of two or three in classes that are overwhelmingly
dominated by women presence. And I can’t remember a single time
when in my history from K through 12 where people remarked negatively about that. It’s just kind of how it was. So it’s a very different social orientation,
especially given the higher education of black women in our communities, and
the high rise of black male unemployment, it’s kind of like, you know, you grow up
seeing women as providing both intellectual and economic assessments
for you as a young boy. So it’s always strange that
you get these theories. And the irony of it is that you get things
produced by a majority group of people who are claiming that they’re
underrepresented, which they are compared to white people. There were certainly more
black women in the academy. But then there’s this other
part of that argument, which is that they’re underrepresented
next to black men, and somehow black men are
the operative obstacles that are stopping certain
ideas from being heard. And given that black men don’t even
have a copyright on their own experience or how [inaudible] academy,
that simply seems absurd. It’s this idea that we can assert
that black men, because they are men, operate as patriarchs and
have privilege over women. And not just some women, all women. So even though there’s less than
50,000 black men in the academy, somehow we allegedly oppress or affect
the essentially 20,000 white women in the academy as well. It’s the only place I know where the most
underrepresented group, both as professors and students, somehow holds a
disproportionate amount of power over a white academic institution. I know of no other account in
society where that could be the case. So it’s very strange for us to
engage black men in that way. And the only thing that I can think about
is this idea that they’re simply undesirable in these academic social spaces. You claim that they’re already there,
so you don’t have to do anything, and you don’t replace them
when they leave or die. So it’s a situation where the
opposition between black men and black women become hypervisible
to people in the academy. And then white people, white
supremacy, simply becomes the medium by which people get different gains,
different employment opportunities or different publishing venues. So I think it’s an overall problem in
terms of how we interpret this reality. And I think that a lot of the pushback that
comes from black men asserting themselves or asserting that they want to study
the problems that affect black men and boys empirically is that we’re okay with
that as long as it’s on a descriptive level. So if you’re talking about how many
black boys don’t graduate high school, we’re fine with that. But when you start talking
about it in terms of policy, you know I completely disagree [inaudible]
in terms of how it’s formulated. When you start talking about policies
to address that or theories that try to give different accounts of why that’s
the case, that’s where you get the pushback. So then we have to ask, well, then how is
gender operating the white supremacist’s academies where it seems to benefit
certain classes and ideologies and then completely erase and deny up? Because there’s no arguing with the fact that
black men and boys have done poorly in terms of both professorships as well as
students in college, all right? Over 60% of degrees go to black women. But then how do we say from that population that there’s people somehow dominate
all the discourses about race? And I think that that’s part
of the threat construction of the liberal academy will
suggest that certain groups of people have all the voice
and other people have none. That you can’t point to one text. We tried to do this a while back. We can’t pull it to one text that’s
written about black men and boys that gives an independent theory of
how black men and boys actually live, exist can be explained outside
of certain orientations. [ Inaudible ]>>I think we also have the same
problem when it comes to talking about different types of
black male vulnerability. One of the things that I did a
presentation on last year was on rape. And I did some online work on it as well. And I found that people were highly
disturbed and uncomfortable with talking about black men and rape, not only because
rape in and of itself is a difficult topic, but also because it began to encroach
on areas that people felt were sacred and only belonged to certain demographics. So we began to really look
at what happens with rape. Rape becomes very interesting with
black males because the definition of rape doesn’t really change
until about four years ago, 2013. So prior to that, it had to do
with the knowledge of, what is it, the carnal knowledge of, forced carnal
knowledge of a woman against her will, and so it stands to reason that up
through 1999, we’ll find citations that say rapes are committed 99% by men. But when the definition by the FBI gets
radically rechanged and opened up to deal with penetration, what we found is the
number of male rapes went through the roof. And it somehow became, you
know, this new phenomenon. And then when was he started to add
new definitions of rape that pertain to men differently than it may
pertain to other groups, you know, looking at penetration, but then also
looking at being made to penetrate, what we started to find was that the
rates of male rape, again, skyrocketed. And then when we factored in prisons–
now, this is where it gets interesting. In women’s prisons, the rates
of rape were actually higher. But because of the number of men
incarcerated, the numbers of rapes for men, again, go through the roof. So when you start to outline
those dynamics and deal with actually reported rapes [inaudible]
particularly black men are highly susceptible to rape and have some of the
largest numbers in the country. You start to– you want to have
that conversation and really get at the mechanics of what’s going on. But you’ve frustrated so many people because
you’ve stepped on their political territory. And I think that’s the reality we
also have to come to grips with. Some of these issues are
about political territory. They’re about potential resources. They’re about policies. They’re not about suffering. Because we come into this discussion
thinking that we’re actually going to talk about suffering and engage
people’s lived experiences. But what we’re not being told is
this is a very political discussion, and you might be excluded, not
because your data is inaccurate, but because you’re encroaching
upon my political territory. So we have to learn how to be able to
have those kind of dynamics as well.>>And the other thing about it as well is
that, remember, these are victim, right? These are victims of trauma. So what has happened is that
they become untreated, invisible, and you only see the end result of the
violent consequence you want to see. So you look at a young black boy
who’s raped at the age of six or nine, and is continued to be raped
until he reaches puberty, this is actually a case
study we have in our study. Is raped for about four to five years,
reaches puberty and starts a relationship with a person that’s raping him. She says no, and he develops a fetish
for oral sex because she used to pay him to perform [inaudible] on her
during that period of time. So then as an adult, we have different
issues of sustaining relationships, you have different issues
of conflict resolution, you have issues of self-esteem
and depression. You turn to certain kinds
of forms of substance abuse. And these individuals exist in society. These black males exist in society. And we have an incidence of
domestic violence happening. It’s automatically doing
this hypermasculinity. There’s no study of the antecedence of the
environmental conditions that the ecology of racism and black male vulnerability, that leads us to understand
the overall conclusion. And this is the problem when we have theories
guiding the way that empirical studies like social work and sociology
are being done. Black men take a back seat. They’re expected to take a back seat. So the overarching dynamics [inaudible]. It becomes almost cynical, right? In the ways that the empirical evidence
and the kind of suffering that black men and boys engage are denied within the academy
given the preference for people of theory. And given that there’s a lack of
accountability in the minds of theorists. And many of these theorists turn to
blogs rather than publications, right? Because it’s easier to get around
the peer review process that way to [inaudible] some of these views. I know of no one that’s actually studying
whether or not the Duluth Model or the idea that men abuse simply for domination
is coming out of serious stage of working class black
men or boys, all right? And these are missed problems. And I think one of the interventions that
black male studies is trying to do is trying to situate how the theories that we’ve all
come to be socialized, or that we learned in gender courses or in
critical age feminism courses, come to have such an early termination
regarding these populations that no one can’t of course or is there even
evidence to refute them. Because in many of these cases, it’s
evidence that’s being turned away. The evidence simply doesn’t have
the same rate as the prior theory because the theory doesn’t need to be tested. I think it’s unfortunate, and just continues
to snowball and silence black men and boys when are trying to do this work. And they get one or two things
that are published in an article. But nobody makes this that kind
of so [inaudible] motivation.>>The other thing I think is that there’s
just, there’s so many factors contributing to the disappearance of black
boys and men as victims. So I was thinking as you were talking about
Penn State and Jerry Sandusky and thinking about the way in which the news media
persistently covered that tremendous series of rape as assault or occasionally
sexual assault. Well, that’s different. It has a different valence. It has a different resonance in the culture
to say that all of these boys were victims of assault because that disappears
the sex from it from the power. I also think, you know, Arkansas created
something called the Castle Doctrine. And that’s the basis for
standing your grand laws. And I think right now I’m working on a
piece about the trajectory of violence against black boys [inaudible]
and talk about how the gun, when it’s held by police
officers or white civilians, disappears black boys as
victims of white supremacy. And I think that there’s a lot of work to
be done about the multiplicity of tools that are used to make it impossible for
black boys and men to define themselves as victim in a culture like this. The other side of that, though, is like what
does it mean then for white men especially, but definitely white women too, to think of
themselves as never perpetrators or victims? What does that teach us
about the national fantasy? What does that teach us about
the nation and nationalism? What does that mean in a post-Obama America? What does that mean in America under Trump? Like all of those things are large
scale ideological constructions that are absolutely shifting
in this political movement. And because we don’t have this huge
field of Black Male studies to draw upon, everybody is reinventing all of these
arguments and building the data from scratch. And so it’s very difficult then to draw
conclusions about where we’re going or what we can anticipate or what
solutions we might be able to offer because so much of it is reactionary. So much of it is about, you
know, just trying to survive.>>One of the things that I’ve been
most frustrated about is when we talk about police brutality, we absolutely
eliminate the sexual element to it. Despite the sodomy, despite the
penetration, despite the mutilation of black male’s genitalia,
especially testes, over and over and over again, is shocking to me. Because what we do– and this is– I’m
constantly focused on the role in which when black boys are killed, be it
historical like we know with Emmett Till, we think about Michael Brown,
you see the display of the body. The body is left out, the body is
bleeding, the body is disfigured. There seems to be no conscious recognition
by anyone in the state or my scholars of the kind of remnants
this has to lynchings. David Marriott’s been the
exception of those theories. But at the same time, even in
public, in our social media culture, we share these images constantly. And we think– we don’t take
a second thought to think about how this actually affects
white black men and boys, to see their dead bodies on display. And then to have their very same corpses
say that they’re taking up too much space in how we think about [inaudible]
by eliminating the sexualization of those bodies seems to only do more damage
in terms of how we’re actually thinking about and trying to analyze the
problem of black male death.>>What does it mean then to study
black males as the dead body subject? I’m asking this because I think one
issue that I have with the studies of black male studies that I’ve set up
with Dr. Curry, might not be students, is how we study black males
as death bound subjects. What does that mean? Because there are different ways to study
black males from all of the discussions that we have been having
so far about black males. Is it possible to look at the off side of
these in terms of like the humanization of black males, and do
research on that to sort of see how we understand black male
existence, the victimization, without, you know, sort of looking at
black male bodies, you know, as the dead man subject,
if my question is clear.>>I’m writing a book called
Beyond [inaudible] Jail right now.>>Well, I mean, go ahead. I mean, because you know my work
on black male deaths, so go ahead.>>Race, masculinity, death in jail. And I think for me, dealing
with death and using death as a critical concept takes a discussion
away from where it is right now, okay? But death, you’re talking about mortality. And talking about mortality
isn’t the same thing as talking about say domestic violence
in a particular kind of way. Not to diminish domestic violence or
sexual violence or anything like that, but to move the conversation, to kind of send
the conversation around the lived experience, the lived moral experience of black men. When you think about mortality in terms of
health, when you think about it in education, you think about prison and all these other
things, it gives you much broader room to talk about black men as opposed to having
the starting point being misogyny or sexism or opposed to the starting point being crime. When we talk about death, it opens up to a broader vocabulary
for talking about blackness. So death is not necessarily a negative thing. I think that death is a very
positive starting point. It’s not an end point. But I think it’s a starting point
for talking about the gravity. That’s the most important thing, the gravity
of the condition that we’re dealing with. And it opens up a conversation
about black men across classes, black men across a spectrum,
across sexualities and the like. So death is just a starting
point, but not an end point.>>Right. That’s one of the reasons that I
called for genre studies of black male death and dying because rather than the living
aspect, you see that the dying is something that constantly happens because of the black
male vulnerability that’s never addressed. But there’s an anticipation
in death by black men. I talk about this in terms of [inaudible]. I know Lisa, Dr. Corrigan’s done a lot of
work on this in terms of macro [inaudible]. You know, these aspects by which black
men are always speaking towards the dead because they’re present and
they’re now, the hazards, the danger of black male life
is just so always in peril. And I think that that reality– I
mean, even moving beyond the theory into how this actually affects
communities has to be addressed. There are no services. There are no conversations about
the mental health of young black men and boys despite the level of homicide,
despite the level of police homicide, despite the level of incarceration,
and that’s startling to me. The living white people deal
with anything they don’t like, then something like 9/11 happens in New
York, suddenly the schools shut down, the health services, cancel
classes or council. Black men and boys get shot on a daily
basis in this country, their bodies and names displayed all across the news,
and there’s never any care for that. We find out black men have been
sodomized, there’s never care for that. There’s not one conversation, despite what
happens to black men and boys in society that deals with their sexualization. Everything we thought tends towards kind
of the deficit model of their failures, that they’re stuck in poverty
because of their criminality. But then because they’re
hypermassed, they’re criminals, so it’s kind of a [inaudible]
replication, that they’re constantly dying because of the violence that they cause. There’s never a symptom where you
can separate black men seemingly from the sociology and the
sociological environment and community where they exist would all become
synonymous with their very natures. [ Inaudible ]>>So one of the questions that I would
pose to the group is based on your position, based on your research, what types
of suggestions and what types of contributions do you think need
to be made at this early stage for developing Black Male studies?>>Wow. [ Inaudible ]>>Dealing with some of
these technical issues.>>Yeah, I think in terms of my work, and
what I’m doing right now, is I’m really– it’s really grappling with the
problems, the problems that have been so eloquently articulated during this
conversation and during Tommy’s presentation. The idealogical– I do
critical theory and religion. And so looking at these a priori assumption
and those problems as impediments, but we have these real serious
conceptual impediments that stand in the way of a real robust conversation. And I think that there’s a need for
that kind of work, the kind of labor where it’s really articulated,
it is codified, it is written. The real barriers to talking
about what we’re talking about. And it would serve as sort of like a [inaudible] you know
in theology and philosophy. The [inaudible] the real
conversation before the conversation. And I think that that’s an [inaudible]
that’s worthwhile that needs to be done. That’s one aspect out of so many
other things that need to go forth.>>So in my political work, I do a
lot of work on reproductive justice. And there’s only one provider [inaudible]. And there’s not a lot of discourse about
black masculinity and reproductive justice. And there are black men that do reproductive
justice work to secure abortion rights and access to reproductive
healthcare all across the country, not necessarily as providers,
but as supporters. And in terms of [inaudible] topics, I
would like to see Black Male studies or black masculinity studies, or whatever
it ends up being, take on life and death in that way in thinking about how is it that
black men do function as fathers and husbands and lovers and community organizers
around healthcare access, for sure. That’s a topic that I think needs–
because a lot of us work on prison, a lot of us work on radical justice
movements in the U.S. and abroad. But, you know, if we’re talking about hot
button topics that are sort of an anathema in black community, abortion
is definitely it. [ Inaudible ]>>So what other contributions do you
think need to be made at this early stage? What areas of focus should there be?>>I think definitely the idea of health. And I think that it’s important to
focus on black male health as well. Mental health as well as physical health. Because it’s not well-studied. It’s not focused on much at all. And in literature, it shows that
black men are 30% more likely to die from heart disease, 60% more
likely to die from stroke. So all these deaths are related
to, you know, all these health, negative health outcomes are
related to stress, right? And so we need to understand the stress
that black men experience and know that it has negative impacts
on the black male body, right? So I think that it’s both the Black Male
studies to also have a health aspect, right? Because if we were to continue on improving
the environment for black men and want them to be able to sustain life, we have
to consider the health outcomes too.>>I would just stick with
Dr. Gwen Curry’s statement. I don’t want to expand much on it. But my area of research is also mental and
physical health and racial battle fatigue. So it’s definitely to understand how
the social environment puts black people at risk for, you know, just
for death, for sickness, for how it impacts their relationships. You know, almost in every level that we
can think about, racism impacts our lives. I mean, that’s critically important to
understand how does it steal the hope of the little black boys from going
on throughout elementary school? How does it interfere with
the [inaudible] of someone who really should be loving
and who should be loving them? How does it hurt their
self-worth or their value? How does society impact that? So mental, physical health is critically
important in having a better understanding of racial battle fatigue or black boys
and men in general or specifically, but black people and other people of color, or more generally speaking,
is critically important.>>Well, since, you know, I was told I was
supposed to answer this question as well, so, I mean, the call for black male
studies is a project or area of study that synthesizes both the empirical and
the conceptual realities that black men do. I think that the work that I’ve done,
which focuses on 19th century ethnology and it focuses on the victims of rape,
all of these things really do speak to the kind of neglect and problems. So we have to get sort of the things and
revise and create certain theories that serve as a launch pad for us to interpret
and engage both the empirical realities and then deal with the theories
that are used to explain as well. And we keep limiting the kinds
of dominant theories that emerge from second wave feminism sexual theory,
dominance theory from [inaudible] as a privilege, it’s not a category. He doesn’t allow us to
have the kind of nuance and vulnerabilities that are [inaudible]. Looking at things theoretically, one
would almost assume that white women who enjoy a majority population, higher
education, the longest life expectancy in the United States that benefit
disproportion from the wealth of white men are somehow
equal to our worst condition from black men and boys in the United States. And when you talk about the kinds
of employment discrimination that young black men face, or even their
prospects of incarceration of poverty in the United States, we see a comparison of
groups that don’t match with the evidence. I think in order to deal with
that, we also may have to kind of reclaim historical movement, kind of
dig up and unearth a lot of the genealogy of how black men are constructed and
develop theories from that perspective. [ Inaudible ]>>Yes?>>Your thoughts on what can be done at
this early stage to kind of build this up, and what needs to be focused on?>>At this early stage, I can
tell you from doing the work and just seriously just being
very diligent and committed to one, having the conversations. And to, you know, at all
costs, continue to do the work. This is not easy. Again, I know, you know, I think
a lot of times, this whole emotion of raising consciousness, you know, for
whatever people understand that idea to be contemporarily, it is a
matter of being committed to it. So we’re talking about studying,
having these conversations. I’ve done this work with a
young lady that I’ve adopted. I do this work with my
students in this class. I do this work with my family members. One of the things that as a kid was
talking about, there’s such a need for us to just create the conversation,
but the barriers to institutional, dispersive institutional
oppression, those barriers are real. And I continue to face challenges. I’m sure, you know, I would assume all
of you are facing those challenges. Very real financial challenges,
[inaudible] challenges, social challenges, the whole process of being ostracized. So we’re talking about the people, for lack
of a better word, talking about think tanks. But really saying, how do we, you know, strategically put forth a plan
to continue to do this work? That is very literally the next step. How are we going to do the next step? Because oppression is real. We’re going to have to deal
with the financial challenges of the courtesy of time and energy. And so I have to have time to do my work. I have to have time to talk to people. I have to have time to teach
and grade all these things. If oppression is about
taking the opportunity. And so the next step is just
about continuing the dialogue and keep doing the work
that I know we’re doing. Because we are literally
involved in epistemic realities. I can kind of make that word up right now. But we’re creating something as we are trying
to create, you know, this conversation. Because the reality of what
happens to black men’s bodies. I’m the product of a black man, right? I couldn’t be here without
a black man’s sperm. I mean, I just– because this conversation
is that important, not to be graphic, but if we really don’t deal with the
challenges of just having a conversation and the work that it’s facing to even have
the conversation and being able to work in our community, I mean, we’re already, you
know, caught up in this kind of [inaudible] of oppression where we
lose these opportunities and these [inaudible] continuous works. So the next step is just to keep doing
the work and having the conversations and doing the work in our
homes and in our communities.>>I’m going to answer the question, and
then I’m going to open it up to questions. And those questions can come
from our online audience. They can chat in the questions. Or from in the room. But before that, I just want to briefly
say, I appreciate everybody’s patience. Because as much as I’ve been trying to
get this going, and I’ve been worried about everybody’s computer working, I’ve been
on three different devices in my own event. And I can’t be a part of this. So I had to push Tommy
away just to get up here. So I appreciate your patience. One of the things I would say needs to happen
is there definitely needs to be a maintaining of dialogue, even outside of
these kind of public discussions. Because I was talking to Dr. Curry
on the way here this morning, and we know an incredibly
valued point, he was saying most of us doing this work work in isolation. You know, I was commenting
on a couple of people I know. And it literally is working in
a silo, you know what I mean? You find yourself almost like
the only person in your city, and definitely at your institution,
kind of doing this kind of work. And I know from conversations I’ve had with
Dr. Neal, you know, sometimes we just have to call each other just to remind
each other we’re not crazy, that things we’re actually
seeing are actually taking place, and sharing data and resources. So I think those things need
to continue off the, you know, beaten path on the grass root level, even in
just private dialogue, but just to make sure that we can begin this dialogue
as we professionalize it, but just to make sure that that continues on. So at this point, I’m going to open it up
for questions, be it in the room, or online. And we’ll kind of go from there. We’ve got about 15 minutes or so left. So as we continue to dialogue, we can
facilitate questions, and so on and so forth. So if there are any questions, we don’t
have a separate mic in here, but here we go. Yes? [ Inaudible ] All right, so real quick. Can everybody online hear the question? Okay, you could hear the question? All right, so I think when we talk about the
resilience, I’m really fascinated by this, especially coming out of the
education theory, et cetera. Most of the talks about– I
think this is the mesh of it. Lots of the talks about the
ability of young black men and boys to succeed despite their obstacles, to still be high academic achievers,
or to be able to [inaudible]. But what I find, though, and I find this to
be a common response, there is a need for us to make black males exceptional in order for
them to get average or normalized results. And I’ll give you an example of that. In a recent, in a recent situation, there
was a young black boy, young black man, I guess, apply to graduate school. He had a 3.8 GPA. Didn’t get into the graduate program. Obviously because some of the committee
members didn’t like the topic he wrote on, he chose to write on black men and boys. The fact of that is that part
of the conversation was, well, even though you had a 3.8, excellent
letters, he should do better. So write another paper that may not be
subject to some of the same criticism. So I think that what happens is we perpetuate
our idea of John Henryism into black men. We see their discrimination, but
then tell them to work harder, instead of stopping it [inaudible]. So when that happens, I think
that the accounts of how we deal with that largely lead us to
develop theories of resiliency, that folks more on how they deal with
the failure, the personal failure of the society denials, rather than
how we talk about positive programs by which they could deal with that, which
would include things like peer groups, would include dealing with ideas of
suicide, dealing with rates of suicide for young black boys are increasing. It would be issues of self-affirmation,
image. I think that when we come into universities
right now, one of the first things that black men learn is that
somehow they’re pathological. Especially if they come from
lower class communities. So it means that we have to reorient how we
talk about black male successive struggle. That while we can criticize aspects that are
human flaws, missing something like class or gender analysis, or dealing
with issues of sex and homophobics, et cetera, those things don’t disappear. But it’s very different dealing with
the knowledge of sociological role, they’re saying that’s part of one’s innate
nature, which is usually what happens when you deal with things
like hegemonic masculinity, we suggest that because you
are hegemonic masculine, you are misogynous and homeophobic. These things don’t instill positive values
in how black men deal with their situation. And the great irony of that is that
despite the prevalence of white racism, we get more benefits and change to white
people in America despite their history of colonization, racism,
discrimination, slavery, et cetera. So white people can easily change. Conversations allegedly change
white people from adjusting from their normal white racist
view and systemic races view. But black boys somehow we think that they’re
functionally incapable of that change. And that affects the kinds of
prospects that they see in their future. Because if we don’t address the institutional
issues, blame it on their failures, tell them to get better, but then say you’re
tragically flawed on a personal level, socially, or in terms of an
interpersonal relationship. And I don’t think that leaves much room
by which we can actually see success. It doesn’t become viable. We may get a black student to strive harder, but what happens to black men once
they’ve striven as far as they could? They get their Ph.D.s,
they get their law degrees, and they still have no
employment opportunities. Who answers that question? Once we’ve moved past the point by
which we’re building resilience.>>We have another question, but did anybody
on the panel want to chime in to that one?>>I’d like to just sort of
echo what Dr. Curry just said. And this is a margin of
systemic social problem. I’m reminded of a scholarship that we
had at my university that I work at. And what Dr. Curry just
suggested was clear here where there was an African-American male,
exceptionally talented, gifted, 3.8 GPA, applying for a scholarship to any college
here, and his application wasn’t good enough until he had to talk about, and most of
this was made up, his mama was a crack head, his daddy was in jail, he was
the main provider of the family. So those are the type of
stereotypes that people want to hear, because that’s the narrative that they believe justifies
an experience of black people. It is. And I just recently spoke with a group
of black Latino male men, and I asked them, when was the first time that
you knew you were black? And ironically, despite what some people
believe, these young boys did not think about their blackness until the large
of society reminded them that they are or told them that they were black by the
way that they treated them differently. So some of them were just pre-teens, right? So how the police treated them. How they were thrown up against a car. How a teacher treated them as different. So black people have been resilient
since our history on this land. So we have a history of racial
socialization and resiliency that, you know, as long as we tap into
that, we’ll be all right. But the problem is that we
have to tap into it so oftenly. And that is the thing that is distressing
and destroying the hopes of many black boys and men, and in a larger
way, black people in general.>>Okay. We have two questions. We have a hand in the audience,
and then we have a chat question. Actually, the hand came up first, even though
this question is blazed all over the screen. So I’m going to give Dr.
Curry a chance to look at the question while we engage
the question in the room first. So Professor?>>I think as black men,
we have to be assertive, just like all other men in the world. We’ve got to take command and
control of our communities. And we need to socialize our sons. We have to take that responsibility. We are in a state of warfare, of oppressors. [ Inaudible ] And so I think our job
is to know black power. Take command and control of our communities. [ Inaudible ] The academy needs us to help the community
come up with the ideology, the study, the sociology, to enable us
as we work in our communities. And I think the critical work
is going to be what we do as men and socialize our young man
[inaudible] creating our own well system, defending ourselves and
our women and our children. We have to do what men do. [ Inaudible ]>>So partially what you’re
calling for is really the– [ Inaudible ]>>You’re also talking about
the 1968 black studies project, which was supposed to be
serving the community. And a lot of people don’t realize that. Black studies was technically
supposed to be the stem feeder for improving the black community. And that dynamic has kind
of been forgotten about. We can talk about, you
know, professionalization, we can talk about careerism,
and we’ve kind of lost track, I would argue in some respects
in that regard.>>I would only add one thing
to what I thought I heard. And I’ll just take small issue with– I don’t think it’s the academy
shouldn’t be influencing the community. It should be reciprocal. So it’s a mutual– this would
be a mutual conversation. So the community should also have
a connection to Black Male studies, black studies, and influence that
and have a communication of dialogue. So it shouldn’t be one-directional.>>I agree 100%.>>All right.>>Okay, so we’ve got five more minutes. And the question on our chart is, how
does the liberal logic of privatization and market logics accompanying
that of governmental, structural, institutional logics tie into what would
become the close work and theories, and how does the logic of privatization and
market logics trumping that of government, structural, institutional logic, tying
into what would become the craze? I guess it repeated itself. I thought it was one long question. So I’m going to extend that for
five more minutes to the group.>>So the first part of the question,
the liberal logic privatization and marginal logics trumping that of
government structural institutional logics. I think that this is in
a simulated basis, right? I mean, if you’re looking at the
work of [inaudible] the problem is that real liberalism has become the ethos by
which government, structural, institutional and academic logics actually work now. And that more liberalism and talking
ahead more of the idea of homoeconomics, which is how do you assess, measure and
get certain products out of human bodies, which is an evolution capitalist? So given that aspect of the course,
how does it become to the course work, I think Black Male studies is an anti-real
liberal project in the sense that the focus on black men is exactly in relationship to
the ways in they’re exploited as capital, either by the present industrial complex
or the academic industrial complex. Because black men are set up as
caricatures for the exploiting of, in terms of gender politics, or even
in the desirability of, you know, the [inaudible] a lot of times
what happens in these departments, this is what Black Male studies seems
to address, the specificity of the kinds of discrimination that black men focus on. The example of that would be the
kind of illusion of narrative. I mean, those academic jobs are not
decided by the merit of people involved, especially when we’re talking about black
males, what you’re talking about is fit. You’re talking about collegiality. You’re talking about the ways in which
people feel comfortable about the personality and what they bring to
the life of the community. They should be legal, but of course it
happens all the time in search committees. Given that, you know, Black Male studies, we
try to push back, and then make people aware of the kind of biases that are used
to assess black male candidates, especially heterosexual black male
candidates that are constructed as threats, deviance, hostile, et cetera. And I think that the second
part of the question in terms of the politics [inaudible] I
don’t know exactly what that means. I guess I would disagree that there’s
a kind of politics and respectability in black maleness or black
male vulnerability, largely because black men
are largely seen as deviant and outside of respectability politics. The idea is that you’re trying to give voice
to the populations of black men and boys who don’t fit within the normalized
discourse that we have within the academy or within middle class or [inaudible]
notions of race or progressivism. Their existence, in fact, is
the antithesis of how we think about progressive civil rights movements or
civil rights progress in the United States. The next question was do I think that the black [inaudible]
movement is a good representation in addressing disadvantages
of black community? Absolutely not. I think that it’s, at best, an avant garde
politics that most likely simply [inaudible]. I think the investment that black lives
matter has in the history of black power, the struggles of working class black
men and women, specifically the concerns and the impacts that black male death
have to the overall infrastructure of the black family and the marginalization
of black women focus on intersectionality, which is a close civil rights
discourse of discrimination, and colonial or anti-black logics. It doesn’t really give us much in
terms of how we are doing the policy. I think the most brilliant aspect of the
political science or political economic view of black lives matter is the
way in which certain kinds of representation [inaudible] be they black,
homeosexual, queer, [inaudible], et cetera, don’t necessarily reflect the demographic
or the people it’s supposed to represent. In other words, a very basic question that
I think should be asked to be on leadership, is do you, in fact, represent the
ideals and perspectives and aspirations of the working class black women and
black men and boys and black girls that you claim are at least [inaudible]? So I don’t think that it’s
the most effective venue. Do I think it’s a step? Sure. Is it a reaction to the
[inaudible] of black people? Sure. [ Inaudible ] So I think that when you look at things
like [inaudible] where you look at the kind of organization that black communities
have had around their own deaths that black lives matter is
merely one aspect of that and not necessarily the most effective.>>Okay. All right, let’s give a round
of applause to our panel, if we could. Thank you very much.>>Good job, panel. [ Applause ]>>Definitely want to thank
Dr. Lisa Corrigan. I want to thank Dr. Ronald Neal, Dr. William
Smith, Dr. Rhonda Gaines, Dr. Gwenetta Curry. And most especially, Dr. Tommy
Curry, for coming out and doing this. We might be doing this again next year. We shall see. But at the end of the day,
this is just the beginning of the discussion on Black Male studies. So thank you all. And we’ll talk soon.>>Great. Thank you for the invite. [ Applause ]

5 comments

  1. Dr. T Hasan Johnson, Congratulations on an absolutely magnificent and immensely informative teleconference. Dr. Tommy J. Curry's lecture presentation was excellent and the subsequent discourse that illuminated so many phenomenon within – and outside of – the academy that prevent us from accessing unencumbered views of Black men's experiences. You all are engaged in the very profound project of restoring the humanity of Black men in the face of it's ongoing vandalism by Black petty bourgeois intellectuals and the white status quo that enables them with institutional power. Salute and much respect to all involved in this teleconference…but, a special shout out to friend and respected activist/organizer sista Zakiya.

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