by: Ty Greenwood
Currently, my work centers on toxic Black Masculinity and the negative representation of Black Men in media, television & film and other visual rhetorics. I argue that Black Males are voiceless and invisible, groomed not to ever show their emotions, groomed into a vision of hyper-masculinity heightened by the media, but even more so by their own environment. Therefore, it is time for an INTERVENTION and BLACK REVOLUTION that showcases positive portrayals of Black men that are not damaging to their identity, existence and Black bodies. The associations built around masculinity include: white, powerful, heterosexual, college educated, upper class, strong, tough, aggressive, sexually dominant, ripped body and the list goes on and on. This concept has shaped and molded the way Black men are viewed and the unrealistic standards conjured by white people.
The Black male experience today has become one inflicted with fear imposed by the seemingly never ending police killings of Black men. Black men are at risk. The same qualities and values that white people have placed on Black masculinity are the same ones killing them today. Black men can’t breathe, walk down the street, go into a convenience store without being feared, followed and or killed. Black bodies are adding up. The qualities of being aggressive, thugs, criminals, ghetto, uneducated, drug dealers, sexual assaulters, professional athletes, sex symbols, the Black muscular body, deadbeat fathers and unprofessional, are just few of the commonly publicized descriptions in today’s media and various other forms of rhetoric. Thus, when it comes to the Black performance it is nothing more than a minstrel puppet show that is being composed by white people and sold to white audiences who buy into a false sense of what being a Black man really is. It is time for this to end. How many more Black bodies have to be sacrificed for it to really mean something?
Black men can no longer be a sacrifice and killed off senselessly and carelessly. Who will protect the innocent Black boy who is walking down the street to the candy store? Who will protect the innocent Black boy who goes to college and must deal with all the white faces that don’t understand him? Who will protect the innocent Black men when the white cops who are suppose to protect them murder them in cold blood and leave their bodies on the street for all to see? WHO WILL PROTECT OUR BLACK MEN?
An excerpt from my short play, “LORE”:
DAD: So, what color is Sasha’s dress?
JR.: It’s an African print dress.
DAD: African print? She ain’t African, hell she barely black!
Jr.: turns his back to his dad and approaches the clerk’s desk
CLERK: Hi, can I help you?
JR.: Yes. A pick up for Jeffrey Cole Jr.
The clerk goes to the back. He comes back with a long dashiki in a gourmet bag.
DAD: What the hell is that?
JR.: It’s called a dashiki, dad.
DAD: A what? That’s a damn dress!
CLERK: The dashiki is a colorful garment for men widely worn in West Africaand other parts of Africa as well.
DAD: Sir, I know what a dashiki is, I grew up in the 70’s but this is a damn dress! I’m not paying for that shit! Jr. you’re suppose to wear a suit to prom. A tailored, fitted suit.
JR.: Dad it’s not a dress. Just think of it as a long t-shirt. And look it even comes with pants.
DAD: A long t-shirt? This is prom not a sleepover. And if that’s what you’re planning I can tell you right now Sasha ain’t gonna give up nothing with you in that shit. Uh-Uh. Excuse me, sir? Where are your suits?
CLERK: We have suits over to your left, but we wouldn’t be able to have it tailored in time for your son’s prom. I’m sorry sir.
JR.: Dad would you stop embarrassing me?
DAD: Embarrassing you? Jr. you’re embarrassing me! Picking out a damn costume to wear to prom. What the hell is wrong with you?
JR.: It’s not a costume, dad, it goes with Sasha's African dress.
DAD: Why the hell are you two even wearing this African shit? Ain’t neither of you African. Let me guess, you saw it on tv.
JR.: Dad this is in style! They wore these back in your day!
DAD: Back in my day men wore suits to proms and formal, son. Hell a tux even. But this shit here, NO!
JR.: What is the big deal?
DAD: The big deal is that you don’t understand the purpose of tradition. You leave out of the house everyday wearing pants off your ass and clothes too big for even me but tonight of all nights you’re supposed to look like you have some sense. We have family coming over and I am supposed to sit there and just smile while you come down stairs looking like the Prince of Zamunda? I’m not paying for that. I trusted you to come to the store, pick out something sensible, didn’t even give you a price limit because this is your day…
JR.: If it’s my day then why are you trying to control everything?
DAD: Jr., listen to me, you are going to wear a suit to this prom. We can pick out a dress shirt to go with your black suit at home. And we can find a nice tie.
JR.: Dad that’s not want Sasha wants. She wanted us to wear/
DAD: I don’t give a damn what she wanted. It’s not happening!
JR.: But Dad/
DAD: I’m not paying for you to wear some dress to look like a little bitch Jr. If you want it, you pay for it.