Tag Archives: race

Stabbin’ in the UK

Britain is experiencing a rash of teenage knife crimes, nay, murders in the 2008: 27 to date. While I hope that I am well out of the stabbin’ demographic, I’ve been continually disturbed by the U.K. media’s malignant neglect of the race and gender issues implicit in teen violence. Specifically, the utter failure to grapple with the problems of black masculinity that are inherent in male violence. What are young black men angry about? That they, much like their fathers, are denied the fruits of patriarchy. Orchards of nice cars, big houses, fine women, and real diamonds to replace the glass studs they wear in one drooping earlobe.

This race/gender blindspot in both media, non-profit, and governmental practice was laid bare on a recent BBC Radio 4 program discussing the media’s coverage of knife crime. Truth be told, I’m getting a bit fed up with the media’s navel-gazing, but in this instance it was one of the few time race was even acknowledged as a factor the deaths of, predominately, young black men stabbed over what was, undoubtedly, some bullshit. When you add the ways in which young white men have been disenfranchised since Thatcher got done privatizing Britain’s undoing and so-called New Labour furthered the project, one can only guess at the anger that sharpens the knives of young white men, descendants of colonialists and inheritors of a declined empire.

Anne McElvoy reporter from conservo-rage The Evening Standard, in her assessment, hypothesized that knife crime was “finally” entering the press’ consciousness because of the “random” nature of the stabbing of [age] in a South London bakery. The Guardian’s Joseph Harker quote rightly and quickly calls her on the blatant racism in labeling the stabbing of a white boy random, while implying that the young black men somehow courted this violence (sort of like “ ‘innocent’ AIDS victims”). Her snippish reply was along the lines of “Well, you choose your words and I’ll choose mine.”

No shit, Sherlocka, one would assume that you, as a journalist, would pick yours more carefully and not be a defensive cow when called on your shit. In this instance, ascribing randomness to white crime and “the natural state of things” applied to black crime is indicative of how the media covers knife crime and how law enforcement responds.

Additionally, gender analysis gets shortshrift with the “my daddy wasn’t in the house, so I get to be an asshole” routine. Yes, true, there is an economic and even a social impact to fatherlessness, as well as motherlessness. Nonetheless, since gender continues to be a relational category, when will U.K. social services begin to discuss how to teach these young black boys how to be men? Not patriarchal, sexist men, but self-respecting, women-respecting, life-respecting men.

This is a failure of black men, black women, and black culture to raise our expectations of how we want black masculinity to look if we are to ever emerge from the morass of fucked up gender relations in which we find ourselves. Demands to “man up” aren’t gonna cut it. Once again, it’s Nation Time and interrogating masculinity and its patriarchal assumptions should be on the agenda. Black boys are stabbing one another because they’ve been pissed off that they’re being denied everything they’ve been taught to believe is their rightful inheritance.

Perhaps it’s time to change what’s on offer. This is not to the exclusion of work training initiatives (Olympics 2012 labor force training, Mr Prime Minister?), the end to the racist revival of stop-and-search laws, and investing real time and attention to education reform. Community action (and I don’t mean impotent marches) is but one solution that needs to be implemented if we’re ever to stop the roll call of violence.


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Black Male Privilege

What About Our Daughters is discussing black male privilege.


Yes, black male privilege.

The discussion was sparked after the posting of a Black Male Privileges Checklist. The list was created by Jewel Woods, author of Don’t Blame it on Rio: The Real Deal Behind Why Men Go to Brazil for Sex – I haven’t read it, can’t vouch for it.

WAOD is beginning their commentary with Leadership & Politics. Here’s that list (from Woods’ website):

The Black Male Privileges Checklist
Leadership & Politics

1. I don’t have to choose my race over my sex in political matters.
2. When I read African American History textbooks, I will learn mainly about black men.
3. When I learn about the Civil Rights Movement & the Black Power Movements, most of the leaders that I will learn about will be black men.
4. I can rely on the fact that in the near 100-year history of national civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League, virtually all of the executive directors have been male.
5. I will be taken more seriously as a political leader than black women.
6. Despite the substantial role that black women played in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement, currently there is no black female that is considered a “race leader”.
7. I can live my life without ever having read black feminist authors, or knowing about black women’s history, or black women’s issues.
8. I can be a part of a black liberation organization like the Black Panther Party where an “out” rapist Eldridge Cleaver can assume leadership position.
9. I will make more money than black women at equal levels of education and occupation.
10. Most of the national “opinion framers” in Black America including talk show hosts and politicians are men.

An enthusiastic response from WAOD re: point #4:

I have to send out a triple hand clap of praise on number 4. I spoke about this on a panel at a conference. Look at organizations such as the NAACP where a HUGE chunk of the membership and volunteers are Black women, but when it came time to select a new President, not a single Black woman was among the finalists. BEFORE you go yammering about there not being any qualified Black women, let’s remember they selected a 35 year old with no experience running a civil rights organization. There wasn’t a single Black woman with equal qualifications to those of Benjamin Jealous? I’m just asking. Same for Rainbow PUSH and National Action Network and SCLC. And I don’t want to hear about all the women that are on the boards or are Vice Presidents of “Directors.” Its okay for Black women to be the running backs or the wide receivers, maybe even the quarterbacks, but when it comes time to lead a social justice organization, they won’t let Black women coach the team. If a corporation behaved the way some of these freedom fighting and equality champions behave, they would be picketing themselves.

Read more at WAOD.


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