type, type, type . . . delete.

every time i get ready to start writing, i get bashful and quit. i’ll erase it all or save it as a draft . . . all because i’m not even sure i’ll like or be comfortable with what’s gonna come out. maybe i remembered that people read this blog, and i considered folks’ feelings before my own. not gonna work. whatever’s swirling around in my head has to get out. somewhere. somehow.
i need to put pen to paper.

i’ll be back, probably within the week. got some shit to let out first.

friday links:

youtube is gonna be the death of me.

feist on sesame street (feist + puppets = awesome):

stevie wonder on sesame street (even MORE awesome):

1

2

jill scott, “gimme”

the enbedding was disabled, so go here. LOVE this song.

now i’m off to prepare for a debate drinking game thought of by mos def’s other other wife, lauren.

otherness.

i was talking to a friend this evening about otherness, even within groups oft-marginalized people. that is, if you’re black and bisexual (or latino and homosexual, or of caribbean blood and heterosexual, or asian and gender-neutral or whatever), it’s almost a given that you’re going to be exotified as the other other by someone you deal with. it’s wack. cuz you’re being made into the other other, possibly by someone readily identifed as the other. it got deep. it did.

i had a point. i did.

too much wine. not enough time to formulate thoughts.

i’m frustrated, though. it doesn’t even have to be a sexual or romantic interaction. it’s as simple as folks laying their shit at your feet and deciding that you’ve got to fit into that. it’s a long drawn out mess

but yeah
when i sober up… maybe i’ll take another crack at this.

i suppose that this constitutes a countdown.

october 7.
you have been warned.

and now, onto my wishlist:

a 120 gig ipod classic. black. with dope girl fresh engraved on it.

a day of total leisure, doing what i feel like doing

a new tattoo*

perfectly arched eyebrows

pocket money

lingerie

the perfect pair of jeans

a delicious plate of awesome food (paging tia clara! i’d like some mole, pleeeaaaaaase)

birthday serenades

birthday cards hand-made with glitter and tempura and other preschool sort of things

a chocolate cupcake with hazelnut-praline icing from flying monkey patisserie

a day free of unnecessary fuckery

a great big old bottle of malbec

a manicure and pedicure

a great big old sloppy wet kiss from my favorite baby

an ear cuff made of copper and peacock feathers

a happy birthday for each person under my sun sign (insert libra dance here), especially my cousin crystal, dia, malaika, mel, jess, amal, lauren and that dj guy

a few spectacular orgasms

bliss, bliss, bliss

a really lovely dinner date

and for the crush i dreamt of the other night to, like, make a move

* a fly henna tattoo will be an acceptable substitute for a new permanent tat.

self love blog #1

mi cara.
my face.
the mug.

i finally learned to love this face of mine
after 27.9 years of wondering why i didn’t have a “more black” nose or fuller lips like my mom

after learning late in the game that there’s nothing better than fly spectacles

i look like the moon, lol
and that’s kinda dope.

i don’t even know dude like that

to be dreaming about him.
shit.
barely three conversations, and he’s traipsing through my REM?
we’re in this dream, talking about learning portuguese and what we felt was the presence of yemaya in favela rising
and i’m all kinds of twisted about this
maybe it means something
maybe i should just get some fucking sleep
i don’t know.

but what i do know is that the feeling has been with me all day long.
*sigh*

on: standing in the gap

when a friend falls down
falls apart
falls out w/ someone they love
needs to scream
needs to cry
needs to use expletives excessively, in succession, making little to no sense
that’s when you know you trust them
that’s when you know they trust you
that’s when you honor that space & that event
i give thanks for the opportunity to do that and be on both ends
and if i count you in that number
please know that you’re more than welcome, as long as i have the ability to provide for you the arms to hold you up or the hands to piece you back together
the back to carry you
the courage to see that you are not a burden, but a reflection
i will love you
i will support you
i will honor and respect you
let this be my pact
from now until the last blink.

ashé + amen

oh, negro please.

(disclaimer: i really don’t trust black dudes w/ chemically processed hair as a general rule. but this motherfucker takes the cake.)

i present to you, lovely blog readers, michael warns who appears to be the leader of of a group called blacks against obama. some things i notice:

this man relies heavily on scripture to explain why obama’s not worthy of the vote.

the scriptures referenced paint a catastrophic picture of death, destruction, and general mayhem as the fault of some mystical satan woman named lilith (i’m presuming this is the lilith who was adam’s first wife)

the cover of michael’s book entitled satan revealed her name is lilith she is 33% of the black women in america contradicts the sidebar on the right side of the second index page of the website, where he refers to one-third of black women in america as ‘jezebel.’

the artwork of the book very clearly plays upon the binary thinking typical of the west, of which the united states of america (refered to by michael as babylon) is a part.

the artwork very clearly displays oprah on the side of evil/ wrong/ the devil/bad/ black (note the black text describing things that this dude is purportedly against) . . . even down to the photo of ms. winfrey (open mouth, hands at the side of her head, not smiling, possibly exclaiming something at the top of her lungs).

in brief, the ideas put forth by the man who calls himself michael warns remind me of every person i’ve ever known who has required treatment for schizophrenia. i’m not saying this to be mean or to have a laugh at his expense (that’s what the relaxed hair comment was for) — it’s apparent to me that something is wrong. following what he’s saying, am i to believe that oprah gail winfrey is the devil and that she has chosen barack obama to do her bidding and lead us all . . . to hell?

really?

i’m sorry, but there’s no fucking way. none. and i’m disappointed in anyone who buys into this. it makes zero sense.

if this dude were on the corner in any major urban center talking about this stuff (in the same way, speaking in abstracts and everything), who’d listen to him? who’d take him seriously? because he has a url and a self-published book and a ustream.com account he’s legit?
fuck
outta
here
with
that
bullshit!

i’m not saying that this dude and his crew (who interrupted a barack obama campaign speech just the other day) don’t have the right to talk about what they want

but exactly WHAT the fuck did this dude say/ do to get support from these cats?
they’re anti child support (why?)
they’re staunchly christian, from what i gather (if the men in the group are in alignment with the head of the body, then that’d more or less be the case right?)
they believe in something “traditional,” which from what i can tell is rather ambiguous (they haven’t got a lot of presence on the web and seem not to have put forth any manner of a mission statement) but involves women not voting (suggested by the preface to the book)
it’s just too much like un-set jello
i daresay every last one of these fuckers is out of his mind
so yeah
i wanna thank renee at womanist musings for posting about this
and implore any of you who come across this kind of shit to dismiss it as what it is: a h.a.m sandwich with a thick slice of bullshit cheese, on par with youtube “star” reh dogg’s video showing viewers barack obama’s “true colors.” nonsensical, at best.
thank you, and good night.

i don’t wanna go to bed.

because when i wake up i have to go to work.

i don’t know how to stop thinking i should be exempt from this bullshit.

random:

i’m always hungry at 8:30 pm, even if i’ve had dinner already. i think it’s the pangs of unfulfilled desire, not legitimate hunger. still, i’m about to get into some raspberry sorbet, cuz why not? i bought it to be eaten.

soaking fruit in peach rum for 3 days = yum

changing the lighting in my apartment is doing wonders for my mood

autumn is when i’m most on point

soy really is not my friend. i can’t even do a soy latte these days without some rasclaat fuckery popping off. insert sad face here.

i love chocolate and raspberries together.

i made some potato & kale soup, but had the wrong ratio of greens to liquid. secret weapon: pureed cannelini beans & vegetable stock. HOLLA!

i consistently heart nezua’s blog. such a wealth of good ol unabashed chicanoness. yupper.

it’s about to be hoodie season. joy.

do not look a gift horse in the mouth

do not look a gift horse in the mouth
do not . . .

fuck that
these white ppl who live somewhere in my building or the building next door (same landlord, same big ass back yard) decided they wanted to celebrate the full moon this morning
. . . at 5
before sunrise
by climbing up and down the fire escape with beer and food and shit

why the fuck are you thisclose to my bedroom window
yelling “yoooo” to your friend
like it’s 5 pm
like you’re the only motherfuckers who live here
like nobody matters except you

fuck you
fuck your over privileged, bratty sense of entitlement
i called the landlord
i hope he tells you to stay your ass off the fire escape up here unless there’s a fire, especially since you do not live on my floor
fuck you
fuck you
fuck you
i hope you fall and break your leg or drop your iphone
or get locked out of the building and nobody comes to help you and you get stuck out back w/ the gangs of raccoons and possums who dominate the trash cans in this part of the city

*exhale*

i prayed for this apartment
i work hard to keep my rent paid
i just took a serious blow financially trying to get in this joint
i will not allow some inconsiderate dickhead white boys to fuck it up for me
i’m (totally not) sorry
but i gotta pull your coattails on this one
it is not okay to abuse the amenities of this property
not as long as you have neighbors like me
and the next time you have a loud balcony party i’m gonna let the cops into the yard
cuz thursday nights are not the same thing as friday nights. dickheads.

this morning’s rant was brought to you by our sponsors, the full harvest moon, the impending autumnal equinox, and fela kuti’s “water no get enemy.”

growing.

olaomi says that the elders told her to give thanks @ full moons, to observe what has come to fruition.

so let me share my gratitude some:

well-meaning idiots
random warmth this close to autumn
two legs, feet to carry me
almanac.com
bright green nail polish
my own intuition
being able to walk away
sobriety
intoxication
serendipitously meeting my (two!!) black neighbors
clean clothes & the laundromats to make them happen
good freebies
my gift of gab
“perfect” eyebrows
summer baldies
ori tutu
water
love
light
wind
the calm of night
autumnal equinox
malbec
guerreros
fuerza
twitter
casa atabex aché
memories
the dead
the living
babies
grown folk
kisses
ppl who don’t return calls (they are a gift, trust me)
ppl who call out of nowhere
red wine
making my own toothpaste
home made florida water
iya sade
the women who stood up
those who refuse to apologize

i get so excited

when i have a new commenter.

hi, nezua.
glad you came to visit. i love your blog. deeply. thank you for coming to visit!

for those who aren’t familiar w/ nezua’s blog, go forth and read, especially this entry:

a september remembered

leave the men out of it.

i was reading the healing black womanhood blog (which has some dope stuff, y’all should check it out) and something kinda bothered me.

the blog owner writes about black men in two out of the (as of this date) seven posts on the blog, and though i think understand her efforts as to not only heal black women but the community as a whole, i take something of an issue with this. not because black men don’t matter. it’s the posts themselves. if we’re healing black womanhood, wouldn’t honoring black manhood and discussing why we love black men come towards the end of the steps towards healing?

i cringed while perusing the blog. i am all for healing. i genuinely believe that healing work has to be done in the lives of a lot of women (not black women exclusively). but what some of us have come through and have yet to work through, though it may be or is tied directly to dealings with men, needs to first be discussed in depth and candidly before we jump on the celebration bandwagon. yes, positivity is necessary — but before we give thanks don’t we sometimes have to look at all the fucked up stuff that has gone/ is going on? where’s that part? where’s the part where we say “i don’t like when brothas do this” to ourselves so that we are perfectly clear about what we do not want and are more capable of seeking/ naming what we DO want?

it’s about process for me, not so much content.

i understand that negativity can kill and destroy us. but there’s a difference between expressing genuine facts about the experiences some of us have had so that we can fully release those things to our pasts, so that we aren’t carrying that crap around inside of us. so that we aren’t apologizing needlessly for others.

why is it that so many sistas who want to help us womenfolk in virtually the same breath express adoration of black men like it’s a fucking disclaimer?

i love my sistas, BUT BROTHAS I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN ABOUT YOU, I PROMISE

no.
stop.
please.

it’s a lot more complex than that, and no disclaimer makes it any easier to swallow: we have all hurt each other and are hurting now
there is no magical salve to lay on all of us at once, cuz we all need different things to different degrees

and most importantly
if we ladies are continually trying to rebuild ourselves, how healthy can it possibly be to stop every few minutes and speak on the men, who should be fixing their own shit?

maybe i look too deeply into these things, but analysis has to be the name of the game when you’re talking about fixing broken folks.

i don’t like it when

ppl tell me what i need to do.
taxes, payin bills, etc — totally not the same thing as “instruction” or “advice” from someone who has zero clue about me, where i am, where i’m going, who the fuck i actually am.

so with this, i say a hearty fuck you
to anyone who thinks they can herd/ bully/ talk me into whatever is safest for them
to anyone who thinks they can figure out what my “problems,” “issues,” or “shortcomings” are (and can lead me to the “righteous” path they’re on)
to anyone who thinks they’re gonna see me fall, fail, lose, or otherwise land any way other than on my fucking feet
to anyone who loves her/himself so much that sharing that self love with me is actually an effort to influence me to emulate their monkey ass
basically, thanks, but no thanks
i came here with a mission
god and i have planned some thangs and they’re being put in motion even as you talk shit
i understand, baby, that you think you’re being helpful
i get it, dear heart! you wanna share cuz you think there’s something i’m not seeing
so keep talkin
that’ll be nice background noise while i do my thug thizzle
maybe i can get karas to remix all the nay-saying into a song for my get up in the morning and knock this shit out mix

iono
at the end of the day, though i’ve got me
i’m fine
i’m lovely
i’m beautiful
i am favored by the most high god/dess and there isn’t shit that’s gonna stop me
i am stepping into the place that’s meant for me

so fuck you very much
thank you so much for your commentary
it’s reminded me of why i never took you seriously to begin with

this is for aj.

See more Gina Gershon videos at Funny or Die

revisiting privilege.

i posted that list because it was important that i share with those of you who read (or may stumble upon) this blog. i feel that it’s important to share the feelings/ thoughts of more pro-feminist / pro-woman/ men, especially non-white men.

it’s a good start.
i’ll be picking it all apart at some point, and re-posting with my own notes. there’s a lot to digest. some of the privileges listed trigger me strongly.

i’m glad to know someone’s at least trying to break this mess down, even if it is brick by brick.

the black male privilege checklist.

you read that right.

The Black Male Privileges Checklist
By Jewel Woods
© Renaissance Male Project (2008)

What does “privilege” have to do with Black men? We understand some kinds of privilege. The privilege to call a black man “Boy”, even if that black man happens to be 60 years old or older. The privilege to drive a car and never have to worry that the police will racially profile you. Privileges that have nothing to do with what a person has earned, but rather are based entirely on who a person is, or what color they are.

As African Americans, we have the ability to critique and condemn these types of “unearned assets” because we recognize that these privileges come largely at our expense. We have also learned from social and political movements that have sought to redress these privileges, and academic disciplines that have provided us with the tools to critically examine and explore them.

However, there is another type of privilege that has caused untold harm to both black men and women but has not had the benefit of being challenged by a social and political movement within our community, nor given adequate attention within our own academic community. The privilege that I am referring to is male privilege.

Male privilege is more than just a “double standard”, because it is based on attitudes or actions that come at the expense of women. Just as white privilege comes at the expense of African Americans and other people of color, gender double standards come at the expense of women.

Given the devastating history of racism in this country, it is understandable that getting black men to identify with the concept of male privilege isn’t easy! For many black men, the phrase “black male privilege” seems like an oxymoron — three words that simply do not go together.

While it is understandable that black men are hesitant or reluctant to examine the concept of male privilege, the African American community will never be able to overcome the serious issues that we face if we as black men do not confront our role in promoting and sustaining male supremacist attitudes and actions.

Inviting black men and boys into a conversation about male privilege does not deny centuries of discrimination or the burden of racism that we continue to suffer from today. As long as a black man can be tasered 9 times in 14 minutes, shot at 50 times on the morning of his wedding night, or receive less call-backs for a job than a white man with a felony record, we know that racist sexism that targets black men is alive and kicking.

Examining black male privileges offers black men and boys an opportunity to go beyond old arguments of “personal responsibility” or “blaming the man” to gain a deeper level of insight into how issues of class and race are influenced by gender. Gender is one of the most important tools in the production and reproduction of power because it relies on consent and not just coercion.

The items represented on the Black Male Privileges Checklist reflect aspects of Black men’s lives that we take for granted, which appear to be “double standards,” but in fact are male privileges that come at the expense of women in general and African American women in particular.

I offer this checklist based on years of experience working with men, and with the faith that we as men have far more to gain than we have to lose by challenging the privileges that we take for granted.

I believe that there are more similarities between men than there are differences. Therefore, many items on the Black Male Privilege Checklist apply to men generally. However, because of the specific privileges that black men have in relationship to black women; there are specific items that apply only to black men. I will leave it up to you to determine which items apply only to black men, and which items apply to men in general.
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.

Beauty
11. I have the ability to define black women’s beauty by European standards in terms of skin tone, hair, and body size. In comparison, black women rarely define me by European standards of beauty in terms of skin tone, hair, or body size.
12. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of having my hair conforming to any standard image of beauty the way black women do.
13. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of being terrorized by the fear of gaining weight. In fact, in many instances bigger is better for my sex.
14. My looks will not be the central standard by which my worth is valued by members of the opposite sex.

Sex & Sexuality
15. I can purchase pornography that typically shows men defile women by the common practice of the “money shot.”
16. I can believe that causing pain during sex is connected with a woman’s pleasure without ever asking her.
17. I have the privilege of not wanting to be a virgin, but preferring that my wife or significant other be a virgin.
18. When it comes to sex if I say “No”, chances are that it will not be mistaken for “Yes”.
19. If I am raped, no one will assume that “I should have known better” or suggest that my being raped had something to do with how I was dressed.
20. I can use sexist language like bonin’, laying the pipe, hittin-it, and banging that convey images of sexual acts based on dominance and performance.
21. I can live in a world where polygamy is still an option for men in the United States as well as around the world.
22. In general, I prefer being involved with younger women socially and sexually
23. In general, the more sexual partners that I have the more stature I receive among my peers.
24. I have easy access to pornography that involves virtually any category of sex where men degrade women, often young women.
25. I have the privilege of being a part of a sex where “purity balls” apply to girls but not to boys.
26. When I consume pornography, I can gain pleasure from images and sounds of men causing women pain.

Popular Culture
27. I come from a tradition of humor that is based largely on insulting and disrespecting women; especially mothers.
28. I have the privilege of not having black women, dress up and play funny characters- often overweight- that are supposed to look like me for the entire nation to laugh.
29. When I go to the movies, I know that most of the leads in black films are men. I also know that all of the action heroes in black film are men.
30. I can easily imagine that most of the artists in Hip Hop are members of my sex.
31. I can easily imagine that most of the women that appear in Hip Hop videos are there solely to please men
32. Most of lyrics I listen to in hip-hop perpetuate the ideas of males dominating women, sexually and socially.
33. I have the privilege of consuming and popularizing the word pimp, which is based on the exploitation of women with virtually no opposition from other men.
34. I can hear and use language bitches and hoes that demean women, with virtually no opposition from men.
35. I can wear a shirt that others and I commonly refer to as a “wife beater” and never have the language challenged.
36. Many of my favorite movies include images of strength that do not include members of the opposite sex and often are based on violence.
37. Many of my favorite genres of films, such as martial arts, are based on violence.
38. I have the privilege of popularizing or consuming the idea of a thug, which is based on the violence and victimization of others with virtually no opposition from other men.

Attitudes/Ideology
39. I have the privilege to define black women as having “an attitude” without referencing the range of attitudes that black women have.
40. I have the privilege of defining black women’s attitudes without defining my attitudes as a black man.
41. I can believe that the success of the black family is dependent on returning men to their historical place within the family, rather than in promoting policies that strengthen black women’s independence, or that provide social benefits to black children.
42. I have the privilege of believing that a woman cannot raise a son to be a man.
43. I have the privilege of believing that a woman must submit to her man.
44. I have the privilege of believing that before slavery gender relationships between black men and women were perfect.
45. I have the privilege of believing that feminism is anti-black.
46. I have the privilege of believing that the failure of the black family is due to the black matriarchy.
47. I have the privilege of believing that household responsibilities are women’s roles.
48. I have the privilege of believing that black women are different sexually than other women and judging them negatively based on this belief.

Sports
49. I will make significantly more money as a professional athlete than members of the opposite sex will.
50. In school, girls are cheerleaders for male athletes, but there is no such role for males to cheerlead for women athletes.
51. My financial success or popularity as a professional athlete will not be associated with my looks.
52. I can talk about sports or spend large portions of the day playing video games while women are most likely involved with household or childcare duties.
53. I can spend endless hours watching sports TV and have it considered natural.
54. I can touch, hug, or be emotionally expressive with other men while watching sports without observers perceiving this behavior as sexual.
55. I know that most sports analysts are male.
56. If I am a coach, I can motivate, punish, or embarrass a player by saying that the player plays like a girl.
57. Most sports talk show hosts that are members of my race are men.
58. I can rest assured that most of the coaches -even in predominately-female sports within my race are male.
59. I am able to play sports outside without my shirt on and it not be considered a problem.
60. I am essentially able to do anything inside or outside without my shirt on, whereas women are always required to cover up.

Diaspora/Global
61. I have the privilege of being a part of a sex where the mutilation and disfigurement of a girl’s genitalia is used to deny her sexual sensations or to protect her virginity for males.
62. I have the privilege of not having rape be used as a primary tactic or tool to terrorize my sex during war and times of conflict.
63. I have the privilege of not being able to name one female leader in Africa or Asia, past or present, that I pay homage to the way I do male leaders in Africa and/or Asia.
64. I have the ability to travel around the world and have access to women in developing countries both sexually and socially.
65. I have the privilege of being a part of the sex that starts wars and that wields control of almost all the existing weapons of war and mass destruction.
College
66. In college, I will have the opportunity to date outside of the race at a much higher rate than black women will.
67. I have the privilege of having the phrase “sewing my wild oats” apply to my sex as if it were natural.
68. I know that the further I go in education the more success I will have with women.
69. In college, black male professors will be involved in interracial marriages at much higher rates than members of the opposite sex will.
70. By the time I enter college, and even through college, I have the privilege of not having to worry whether I will be able to marry a black woman.
71. In college, I will experience a level of status and prestige that is not offered to black women even though black women may outnumber me and out perform me academically.
72. If I go to an HBCU, I will have incredible opportunities to exploit black women

Communication/Language
73. What is defined as “News” in Black America is defined by men.
74. I can choose to be emotionally withdrawn and not communicate in a relationships and it be considered unfortunate but normal.
75. I can dismissively refer to another persons grievances as ^*ing.
76. I have the privilege of not knowing what words and concepts like patriarchy, phallocentric, complicity, colluding, and obfuscation mean.

Relationships
77. I have the privilege of marrying outside of the race at a much higher rate than black women marry.
78. My “strength” as a man is never connected with the failure of the black family, whereas the strength of black women is routinely associated with the failure of the black family.
79. If I am considering a divorce, I know that I have substantially more marriage, and cohabitation options than my spouse.
80. Chances are I will be defined as a “good man” by things I do not do as much as what I do. If I don’t beat, cheat, or lie, then I am a considered a “good man”. In comparison, women are rarely defined as “good women” based on what they do not do.
81. I have the privilege of not having to assume most of the household or child-care responsibilities.
82. I have the privilege of having not been raised with domestic responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and washing that takes up disproportionately more time as adults.

Church & Religious Traditions
83. In the Black Church, the majority of the pastoral leadership is male.
84. In the Black Church Tradition, most of the theology has a male point of view. For example, most will assume that the man is the head of household.

Physical Safety
85. I do not have to worry about being considered a traitor to my race if I call the police on a member of the opposite sex.
86. I have the privilege of knowing men who are physically or sexually abusive to women and yet I still call them friends.
87. I can video tape women in public- often without their consent – with male complicity.
88. I can be courteous to a person of the opposite sex that I do not know and say “Hello” or “Hi” and not fear that it will be taken as a come-on or fear being stalked because of it.
89. I can use physical violence or the threat of physical violence to get what I want when other tactics fail in a relationship.
90. If I get into a physical altercation with a person of the opposite sex, I will most likely be able to impose my will physically on that person
91. I can go to parades or other public events and not worry about being physically and sexually molested by persons of the opposite sex.
92. I can touch and physically grope women’s bodies in public- often without their consent- with male complicity.
93. In general, I have the freedom to travel in the night without fear.
94. I am able to be out in public without fear of being sexually harassed by individuals or groups of the opposite sex.

Background:

The Black Male Privileges Checklist was born out of years of organizing men’s groups and the numerous — often heated — conversations I have had with men while utilizing Barry Deutsch’s The Male Privilege Checklist. In my experiences, most men would object to at least some items on the Male Privilege Checklist. However, “men of color”, and especially African American men, often had the sharpest criticisms of the Male Privilege Checklist and the most problems relating to the idea of male privilege.

There are many reasons why black men would be reluctant to identify with the concept of male privilege. One of the most important reasons is that our experience with privilege is based on a history of political, economic, and military power that whites have historically exercised over black life. This conceptualization of privilege has not allowed us to see ourselves with privilege because the focus has been placed largely on whites. Privilege is not restricted to economic, political, or military areas of life. Privilege is also social, cultural, sexual, institutional, and interpersonal in nature. Our inability to have a more expansive understanding of privilege and power has foreclosed important insights into virtually every aspect of black men’s lives and other “men of color”.

As black men, we have also been skeptical of pro-feminist males, most of whom were white and middle class. Black men who fought for freedom during the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movements were suspicious- to say the least- of the motives of white men who were requesting that black men give up the privilege they never felt they had. Given the timing of the pro-feminist male movement and the demographics of these men, it has not been easy to separate the message from the messenger. Black men had a similar reaction to the voices of black feminists, who we saw as being influenced by white middle class feminists. Alongside this, there has long been a belief among many black men that racism provides privileges to black women that are denied to black men.

In addition, many of the items on The Male Privilege Checklist simply did not to apply to black men and other men of color. As a result, many black men argued that the list should have been called The White Male Privilege Checklist. In light of these considerations, the Black Male Privileges Checklist differs from the Male Privilege Checklist in several respects.

First, It departs from an “either/or” view of privilege that suggests that an individual or a group can only be placed into one category. Therefore, the focus is on privileges and not privilege. It also highlights belief systems that often serve as the basis for justifications and rationalizations of exploitation and discrimination. Second, The Black Male Privilege Checklist takes a Life Course perspective, acknowledging the fact that privilege takes on different forms at various points in men’s lives. Third, it takes a Global perspective to highlight the privilege that black males have as Americans, and the privileges black men share with other men of color. African American men rarely acknowledge the privilege we have in relationship to people in developing countries — especially women. Too often, our conception of privilege is limited to white men and does not lead us to reflect on the power that men of color in Africa, Asia, and Latin America exercise over women. Finally, it calls for action and not just awareness. We need “men of color” to be actively involved in social welfare and social justice movements.

Invariably, the Black Male Privileges Checklist will inspire some men to create their own list describing the list of privileges they believe black women benefit from. What men need to understand is that paying attention to male privilege does not mean that women are without faults. Rather, it means that black men cannot be blind to the facts that black men earn more than black women do, black men continue to dominate most of the political, religious, and cultural institutions within the black community, and that black men continue to dominate black women in areas of physical and sexual abuse.

As “men of color”, we have a responsibility to acknowledge that we participate in this system even though it offers us little rewards. Most African Americans, for example, take for granted the system of capitalism that we all participate in, even though we know that it does not offer us the same rewards that it does for whites. The sex-gender system, which privileges men over women, operates in similar way for all men. Black men and other “men of color” can participate in this system even though it does not offer similar rewards.

Finally, the Black Male Privileges Checklist is a tool that can be used by any individual, group, organization, family, or community that is interested in black males having greater insight into their individual lives and the collective lives of black women and girls. It is also a living tool that will grow and be amended as more discussion and dialogue occurs. This is the first edition of the Black Male Privileges Checklist and will be updated regularly. This checklist was created with black men in mind, and does not necessarily capture the experiences and cultural references of other ethnic males. I would welcome dialogue with others who are concerned about these constituencies as well.

Please visit our website at http://renaissancemaleproject.com/ to view our Teen & Male Youth Privileges Checklist. An historic tool for all young males, schools, community organizations, youth groups, sports teams, and families that can be used to assist our young males in becoming the type of adult men we want them to be.

Jewel Woods is a gender analyst specializing in men’s issues and executive director of the Renaissance Male Project . He is also the co-author of ‘Don’t Blame it on Rio: The Real Deal Behind Why Men Go to Brazil for Sex.’