Let me just admit that I am an A.P., an Afro Pessimist. I don’t know when it started, maybe around the time when the statistics came out on how many unarmed Black men and women are killed by police officers. It could have been around the time I woke up to realize that there are Black men that could be categorized as “cultural pimps” for how they use knowledge of self and Afrocentricity to explore new and even more misogynistic ways to exploit Black women while using Africa, and more specifically Kemet, as proverbial foreplay. Or, could it have been when the cries of solidarity rang from the lips of Black women like Sandra Bland and Korryn Gaines, only to have a plethora of Black men stand in judgement about their “attitude” and how they were detracting from the struggle. These of course are the same Black men that walk around proudly wearing their Malcolm X t-shirts of him looking out the window holding a gun, and they don’t think that there is some hypocrisy in their perspective. I don’t know. I do know that at some point, I started to look at myself in ways that I never have thought I would. I came to one big conclusion—I am the problem.
It was a hard conclusion to come to, believe me. Years of thinking that I had the answer to all our ills and then to have it revealed that I didn’t know shit. Women that truly love you, have a way of telling you about yourself in terms that hit hard but hand you the hydrogen peroxide for the lashes they just gave you. I blame my sisters. I blame my best friend. I blame all the Black women that I saw at some point as potential lovers, wives or even “hook-ups.” They all let me know in no uncertain terms that I was a piece of shit—spoiler alert.
It was then that I realized that there is this unseen force within the Black community that seems to revel in the lower citizenship that has been thrusted upon our women. Look at me, trying to unpack some shit and here I am saying “our women” as if we own them. This article wasn’t going to be about this. I had another topic in mind revolving around how Trump being president of the United States of America was going to bring about the dystopian future we have all been silently, or not-so-silently, preparing for. Somehow in the middle of the first paragraph things switched. What caused this switch? The story of Claudette Colvin.
Claudette Colvin is the predecessor to Rosa Parks, but because she was only fifteen years old and pregnant, it was thought that her face could not be the face to define an era and set the tone for arguably the greatest social movement in the history of the United States—I blame patriarchy. Patriarchy at times has seemed to be more concerned with the image of something than to be concerned with what is truly at the root, and that’s when it becomes toxic. Religion, social idealism, colorism and a dose of patriarchy, put Colvin on the backburner and gave way to Rosa Parks nine months later. Rosa Parks fit a better aesthetic to base the struggle on, had a more palatable complexion and seemed to legitimize the plight of Black people in a way that a pregnant Claudette Colvin could not without shifting the attention to teenage pregnancy. This is not to say that Rosa Parks should be vilified; on the contrary, Parks has earned her place among the pantheon of civil rights activists and should remain there for all time. Claudette Colvin is mentioned here to get you to understand the problem I have within the Black community—toxic masculinity. This is the concern I have about the struggle for equality, justice and independence. I think that the whole point of this fight is that we as a people refuse to accept the “place” that was given to us as we strive to make things better. So why are the men in the Black community more concerned with image and attitude than they are with the struggle itself? The Black men need to take the advertising campaign of a Sprite commercial to heart, “Image is nothing; thirst (the struggle) is everything.”
Which brings me back to now. Why are women like Sandra Bland and Korryn Gaines looked at as “out of pocket” and don’t necessarily receive the same admiration as those Black men who were also victims of police brutality? I say this as I watch a complete meltdown of Dr. Umar Johnson and General Seti as they go at each other in video beef like two studio rappers trying to battle each other for record sales. This video brought out many of the negative social paradigms that plague our community. Seeming to be a new script written by Quentin Tarantino, this tirade had everything from colorism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, fat-shaming and yes, of course, height-shaming as well. I can’t tell which one is Biggie and which one is Tupac; or, more appropriately, which one of them thought that they would gain followers by tearing each other down. This behavior is indicative of the toxic masculinity that plagues the Black community. The same toxic perspective that had Black men saying that Sandra Bland had an “attitude” and that Korryn Gaines was “crazy.” The same toxicity that has Black men questioning the Black Lives Matter Movement. With this latest episode, the “fuckboy” status of both Johnson and Seti has been immortalized. This isn’t all about them though; I’m pretty sure that the status of many of us Black men has been immortalized in the despicable annals of fuckboy village—including myself.
I’m not saying ANYTHING that Black women have not already stated. As a matter of fact, I know that there will be some who will look at this and say, “and?” The “and” comes in the solution to this rampant problem in our community—accountability. I could blame an abusive mother or grandmother, but the real facts are, my actions are my own. Being a “player” and overall “cultural pimp” in my twenties and some of my thirties is inexcusable (I won’t use Hotep seeing that I know the meaning and history of that word). I’ve exhibited issues of colorism and I have seen how my male privilege and even my light-skinned privilege has helped me in ways that I may not have been aware of at the time, but I am fully aware of now. Denying it won’t do anything but give me that false pretense that I am treated the same as other Black people when the truth is, I’m not; especially when it comes to Black women. It was a long meandering search for self that brought me to this point. A lot of hearts being broken, including my own, and women in unison screaming out, “wake the fuck up.” I can only say thank you to every Black woman that was there to guide my indoctrinated into toxic masculinity and ignorant ass to a better plane of understanding—and I’m still not done. Every day is a fight to look at every word I say and write and wonder if I am speaking truth to power or if I’m exhibiting culturally destructive behavior. This is what Dr. Johnson and General Seti need to do. If you speak on the fact that words manifest destiny how can you demean each other and call each other words that were created by white slave masters to keep us in a place of subservience? If you believe that no society that did not venerate its women ever prospered how can we continue to put these patriarchal limitations and misogynistic teachings on the backs of Black women? The point is, we can’t. I say we, because this is not a problem that Black women can fix, they didn’t create it. This is a problem that only Black men can fix by making each other accountable.
The only way that we work things out is if we start being accountable for our actions and start doing the work to change that patriarchal paradigm of toxic masculinity. We have to expose ourselves and chisel all of that bullshit away so that the end result is something that will continue to outlast global white supremacy, toxic masculinity and all other internal cultural ills that seem to be hitting us on all sides right now. It starts with telling ourselves the truth and wanting that change like we want to breathe. Hello, my name is Khalil Asadullah, and I’m a misogynistic fuck boy . . .but I don’t want to be.
Khalil Asadullah is a comic book geek, science nerd, Star Wars enthusiast and conspiracy theorist. He’s also a hopeful romantic, and the protagonist of his own story. He can be reached on Twitter @KhalilAsadullah and on Facebook under Khalil Mustafa Asadullah.