The black men who have protested against #youOKsis and #standwithjada have created a terrible irony. In their rage to defend black male honor-and one has to sift through a lot of cognitive dissonance in regards to their opinions in that subject-they have made twitter a violent wasteland.In both memes, hundreds of black men have unloaded a torrent of abuse towards women of color, attacking them for telling their individual stories about what they have to go through on a daily basis, and attacking a girl who had her rape made viral. In short, they have become worse than the monsters they accuse every black woman who criticizes a black man(no matter the subtext) of portraying black men to be.
What is also agonizing in regards to this subject is the silence of a different class of black gender warriors. Black men like Steve Harvey, Jimi Izrael, Hill Harper, Ishmael Reed and Tyler Perry won’t resort to the same rhetorical abuse of Tariq Nasheed, the despotic dean of Black MRA’s nation wide. More than that, they frame their arguments as them performing a service for the race. They “Care about black women, not feminists”. They see a” feminist conspiracy to destroy the happiness of the black family”. It doesn’t matter that they expect black women to be twice as good and twice as human, to”act like a lady and think like a man”( whatever that breathtakingly problematic and gender restrictive sentence means). They are policing black women out of love and the betterment of the community; and if black women just sacrificed more and kept their ambitions/backtalk to themselves, the black community would be improved.
Which leads to this question: If the soft-core wing of the black male gender police squad was so concerned about the betterment of the entire black community, shouldn’t #youOKsis and #standwithjada be the perfect time for them to speak up? If they cared about the community as a whole,shouldn’t doing what one can to stop street harassment and speaking out against a rape made viral( or rape, period), be an urgent subject? If they wanted all of us to sacrifice for the greater good, shouldn’t at least one of them say that hundreds upon hundreds of black men hurling abuse on black women and defending an online rape is a terrible thing? The answers to what they should do, have done, and will do-have depressed me more than almost anything I have ever seen as a cultural critic. For if the Black MRA’s who spent a week terrorizing women of color online need to be shamed, it also needs to be said that they are doing the broader black media’s dirty work.
Soon, Black media networks will try to forget all this. Harvey will soon scold a feminist in his emphatically corn-pone manner. Harper will go on a television forum and try and tell black women that the thing that will help them the most is that they learn how to settle. Reed and Izrael will rage at the sight of a online commentator saying something about a black man, and Perry will make another movie where a black career woman ends up tortured for her agency and actions. Each of them will make the case that-by concern trolling more than half the black sky-they are doing something to to help us, something that-in the christian parlance of Perry-will get us closer to the promised land. Forgive me if that place seems somewhere closer to hell.