Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Root's Damon Young is Wrong: Straight Black Men are not oppressive patriarchs!

Damon Young, previously of Very Smart Brothas, now of The Root wrote a poorly argued, badly reasoned and completely fact free post which claimed, "Black straight men are the white people of the black community". By this strained metaphor, he apparently meant to say that black straight men are the evil patriarchs of the black community who are oppressing heterosexual black women and black gays of either gender. Young writes many posts like this. It is his calling card. This particular one stood out to me not just because of its usual simple mindededness and lack of empirical data but from the sheer bile towards black men shown by someone who is a black man himself. Progressive black people are often quick to see the self-hate when it is on display by someone who is on the right like Jason Riley or Sheriff Clarke. The left, particularly its feminist circles, can have just as much anti-black male animus. 
But assessing our privilege (or lack thereof) on these facts considers only our relationship with whiteness and with America. Intraracially, however, our relationship to and with black women is not unlike whiteness’s relationship to us. In fact, it’s eerily similar. We’re the ones for whom the first black president created an entire initiative to assist and uplift. We’re the ones whose beatings and deaths at the hands of the police galvanize the community in a way that the beatings and sexual assaults and deaths that those same police inflict upon black women do not. We’re the ones whose mistreatment inspired a boycott of the NFL despite the NFL’s long history of mishandling and outright ignoring far worse crimes against black women. 

We are the ones who get the biggest seat at the table and the biggest piece of chicken at the table despite making the smallest contribution to the meal. And nowhere is this more evident than when considering the collective danger we pose to black women and our collective lack of willingness to accept and make amends for that truth.

It gets worse after that.

Some feminist/left-wing thought argues that people are good or bad not because of what they do or what they believe but because of who they are. In this line of thinking, your moral standing depends on your race, your sexuality, your sexual identity, and your biological sex just as much as it does on your political or ideological stances. It is virtually identical to essentialist thinking on the right. It only differs in who the bad people are. This kind of framework does not work in real life. In addition, it certainly does not apply to Black American descendants of slaves. No matter which metric you attempt to measure success by, Black men and Black women are not doing as well as their non-black counterparts. In addition, by a great many measurements( life expectancy, incarceration, employment rates) Black men are doing worse than Black women are. One of the defining characteristics of the Black community is a relative lack of patriarchy. As a group, Black men are unable to prevent Black women from being hired or from progressing in the workplace. There are no important American industries or business sectors where the higher you rise in power and wealth, the more Black men you will find. It is the complete f******g opposite! As a group Black men have a lack of power and lack of wealth and lack of status in American society. 

It is ironic, but right around the same time Young scribbled this ordure, there was news that showed yet again that the greater workplace discrimination occurs not against Black women but against Black men! Or to put it another way, college educated Black women are far closer to pay equity with similarly situated white women than college educated Black men are with their white counterparts. For Blacks and especially Black men, workplace discrimination increased with education
Pay gaps between white and black workers have grown since 1979, even after controlling for education, experience and location, according to research by the Economic Policy Institute. In fact, racial pay gaps have expanded the most for college graduates, which makes it seem clear that discrimination is a leading cause. 

Last year, black college graduates earned about 21 percent less per hour on average than white college graduates; in 1979, the gap was 13 percent.
The racial disparity in earnings is even greater for men: Last year, the average hourly earnings of black college-educated men were about 25 percent less than of white college-educated men. The gaps widen up the economic ladder. The top 5 percent of black male earners make about 47 percent less than the top-earning white men.

Does this sound to you like people who have the cultural power and capital to discriminate against others? There are about 83 black men living outside of jail for every 100 black women. About 1.5 million black men are missing from early deaths, incarceration and lack of employment. In fact if you are a black man without a criminal record you can have a lesser chance of getting a job than a white man with a criminal record. Blacks are the only group in America making less money than they did in 2000!

The sociologist Devah Pager, a Harvard professor who has meticulously researched the effect of race on hiring policies, has also shown that stereotypes have a powerful effect on job possibilities. The stigma of a criminal record was less damaging for white testers. In fact, those who said that they were just out of prison were as likely to be called back for a second interview as black men who had no criminal history at all. “Being black in America today is just about the same as having a felony conviction in terms of one’s chances of finding a job,” she wrote in her book, “Marked: Race, Crime and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration.

The police disproportionately insult, harass, assault and kill Black men and boys. However, Young argues that recognizing this reality means that Black straight men (notice how he throws the sexuality marker in there) are privileged! This is akin to a person in the emergency room for a bad migraine becoming outraged that doctors are paying more attention to someone who just lost an arm to a chainsaw. It's beyond moronic.

The police who killed Tamir Rice or Eric Garner or Akai Gurley or Terence Crutcher or Philando Castile or Alton Sterling or (insert name here) did not know and did not care if those males were gay or straight. They did notice and care about their race and their sex. There is a very long history of anti-black racism in this country. Black men and Black women can experience this differently, to be sure. However, stating, as Young does, that Black men do the least amount of work and show up at the proverbial dinner table with the biggest piece of chicken is a remarkably obtuse and ahistorical framing. Many people on the right have the fundamental belief that Black people are worthless. Damon Young and like minds repackage this. They say, “No, no, no, straight black men are the worthless ones.” To them this makes sense. I say that Young is just a malicious idiot regurgitating anti-black propaganda. Or maybe he's working out his personal issues. I don't know. Even if we want to give Young the benefit of the doubt and argue that he's only responding to such black on black crimes as domestic violence/intimate partner violence the actual evidence indicates that black men are not the sole aggressors and black women are not the sole victims. From Dr. Tommy Curry, who actually has done the research:

Dr. Curry: Most people would suggest that domestic abuse in black men happens because men are trying to gain power over women. But overwhelmingly the research shows that domestic abuse in black communities are bi-directional, meaning that women hit men and men hit women, because of employment opportunities, because these are economic problems. Overwhelmingly, domestic abuse in this country happens among the poorest and the lowest socio-economic status groups in America. When you’re putting race into that, you’re finding additional issues of employment discrimination, substance abuse, recidivism, et cetera… This is what brings conflict. This is not a simple thing like all men abuse and all women are victims. Men can be victims and perpetrators and women can be victims or perpetrators.

I think it is worth your time to watch (at least the first 10 minutes) two video responses from some people who unlike Young actually are familiar with the data regarding black male status and political beliefs in this country. Not only will you learn some things, you will have the data to push back on people who spew poisonous racist lies while attempting to make you think they love black people. Young has an agenda to hate straight black men. He's really no different than your run of the mill white racist. Young doesn't know what he's talking about and is too lazy to learn. He's happy to be deaf, dumb and blind.

Antonio Moore

Yvette Carnell interviews Dr. Tommy Curry, author of "The Man-Not"

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