The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Redefining Masculinity

For black boys, good grades, college acceptance and graduation, traveling around the world, and good jobs are a must, and these accomplishments should be applauded. But these achievements will not prepare boys with the skills needed to be emotionally and socially well-rounded people. Black boys must be nurtured with a masculinity that teaches empathy and stresses relationships and connection. These are the markers that must be associated with what it means to be a man, and are just as important—if not more so—as a high-paying job.

That the above comes from a blog post from an organization started by George Soros is probably enough to turn some in my circles off. But, if the truth is to be (bluntly) told, those who are turned off by that fact probably weren’t going to do a lot to help change the situation in the first place.

For everyone else, follow me.

People speak all the time about how the current generation of young black men are “lost.” Many are going up in single-parent homes (where the single parent is often a woman) lacking a strong male influence in their lives. Often, that single parent is working multiple jobs and/or in school, so the young man is left to several babysitters-Lil Wayne, Drake, and Waka Flacka (?) among them. With that, his definition of what a man is and does becomes defined by the narrow worldviews he sees in their videos or hears on the radio…and, all too often, sees in the streets.

Educationally and career-wise, there’s little for him. How can you take someone telling you to “stay in school, cause you don’t wanna be like me” seriously when they’re drinking all the time, selling drugs, and (occasionally) driving around in the latest car (that’s parked in front of their government-funded residence)? He has no marker of what a good relationship is, because he sees his mom introducing him to several “play uncles” that only seem to come around at night.  And he may be athletically talented, but he soons finds out that the expiration date on people’s interest in him is at his first injury.

Meanwhile, the positive brothers-with the education, the stable families, and the corporate jobs-all left his block as fast as they could. They have theirs, and feel no obligation to reach back and help others along.

For too many of our young black men, the scenarios above are their reality…a result of an educational system that puts more interest in achieving tenure than acheiving students, and a political system that allows one party to enact policies that (further) hurt the black community while the other…just doesn’t even try.

So what to do? How do we teach our young men (and it’s not just black men; other demographics have issues with their young men as well) that masculinity isn’t wrapped up in how many girls you sleep with/get pregnant/leave, or how big a car you have, or how much rock you sling or how wicked your jump shot is?

We as black men must model real strength and gender equality with our female peers, and create counter-stories of masculinity to model for our boys. We must give black boys opportunities to explore and identify masculinity’s positive potential in its broad and complex reality.

For those of us who have moved to better-myself included-we have to reach out beyond our circles to other young men who we see could use the benefit of our example. It’s a requirement for those who are ours-our sons and familiy-but helping them isn’t enough. Get out and tutor, or coach a sports team at the rec center. If you know a single mother, ask her if your kid(s) and hers can hang out together, so he can see the image of a man who’s taking care of his responsibilities (and having fun while doing it!).

By doing these things-and by not doing those in my earlier scenarios-our young men can grow into men who understand that masculity isn’t defined by what you can take-it’s defined by what you can give.


Written by Coby Dillard

December 22, 2010 at 10:33 am

Posted in Editorials

One Response

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  1. It may very well be that all of our nation’s woes boil down to that one super important issue – a crisis of manhood. Thank you for posting this.


    December 22, 2010 at 11:25 am

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