Black men must assume their share of communal responsibility

 

BeMore SquareIn today’s society, it is no secret that many Black male-female relationships are in turmoil. African Americans have the highest single-parent-household percentages in the country. We have continuous representation of conflicting relationships in the media, and those conflicts continue into the community. So from where does this come?

Local counselor Sam Simmons states that this all began with slavery. Simmons says, “On the plantation, the slave master asked for big mama, not big daddy.” Simmons, an expert in historical and generational trauma, believes that the extreme stress conditions that enslaved Africans experienced shaped their behaviors to cope. These behaviors became their culture over time and have manifested in many ways.

Simmons is licensed as an alcohol and drug counselor with over 25 years of experience as a behavioral consultant in the areas of chemical dependency, violence abatement and historical trauma. He specializes in practical, culturally sensitive, trauma-informed work with African American males and their families.

Simmons also contends that the practices and customs developed during slavery helped start the rift between Black females and males. This idea is also expressed in the Willie Lynch doctrine that became popular in the 1990s. It highlights the idea that women were expected to play stereotypical male roles and males to play stereotypical children roles.

It is unclear if this gender divide came about deliberately or by happenstance. Either way, the effects are pretty evident in outcomes of today typical Black female and male relationships. This has led to confusion, misunderstanding, and division amongst Black females and males. These outcomes are not favorable to the health of the Black community.

Black women have become the “last bastions of hope” for the Black community. Historically, Black males collectively have been crippled economically, educationally, and socially in many areas, which has forced Black females to step up and take a pseudo-patriarchal position. Black women have become the main breadwinners, nurturers, healers and protectors of the Black community.

This one-sided support goes against the societal norm, making it a struggle to compete and maintain equality with other ethnic groups. Black males are statistically below women in many economic and academic achievement areas. This begs the question of what are Black males to do?

Some constructive suggestions for Black males moving forward are: 1) having men engage one another about advancing the standard of manhood, 2) listening to what our female counterparts are actually saying, and 3) developing balance and boundaries amongst each other.

Black males must take responsibility and accountability for themselves. We can’t be individuals — we must function as a brotherhood. If we do not, our families and communities will suffer.

If Black women must assume more than the societal expectation for women, the community will continue to struggle. Both Black women and men must place a greater emphasis on building an affluent community. The responsibly and accountability cannot be left to one gender.

Black males hold a pivotal role in the advancement of the Black community. We do not need just one man to stand up and be the hero. We need many men to stand up and show the way.

 

This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-CY-AX-K008 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this program are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.  The authors welcome reader questions or comments to SSimmons@thefamilypartnership.org.