Credit: Kwesi Abbensetts

Credit: Kwesi Abbensetts

How many times have you encountered a black man who claimed to be down for the cause — black equality that is — yet willfully enjoyed and upheld every facet of male privilege afforded him on a daily basis? Don’t worry, we’ll wait while you count. We know it’s a lot.

Somewhere along the way, some of our black male leaders got things twisted and pro-black actually came to mean pro-black men, with every word flowing out of their mouths indicating that the agenda to push black men forward also required black women stay in their antiquated place.

But praise be to sweet baby Jesus in an intersectional manger for Daniel Johnson who wrote a letter schooling his fellow brethren, poignantly titled: “Dear Black Men, You Are Not Pro-Black If You Are Not Pro Black Woman.” stated:

It’s just that simple.

Over the past few days I have gotten into heated arguments with men who have presented and positioned themselves as Pro-Black, yet they find themselves incapable of standing against a Black man who has repeatedly violated Black women.

There is something inherently wrong with your Pro-Blackness if it is a gendered Pro-Blackness incapable of taking stances that improve the position of Black women.

There’s no Huey P. Newton in your philosophy if your main concerns are a caricature of everything the men and women who constituted the real Black Panther Party stood for.

There’s no way you can announce to the world that you are Pro-Black, yet blatantly cling to misogyny, uphold rape culture and mimic a White patriarchal system, which seeks to keep Black women underneath your boots.

That’s not Pro-Black. That is Black Patriarchy.

Look around you when there is a violation of your human rights as Black men. Who is there to lead the marches and the protests and the rallies on behalf of Black men everywhere? Without a doubt it is Black Women who have stood up and protested and protected Black men’s lives in this country. Why is it that we cannot return the favor? Why are we so intent on dogging Black women and insisting that those women are only out to ruin The Black Man? What you’re saying when you say things like that is that Black women are not to be trusted. That their worth and their lives are only useful when they are propping up the agenda of a Black man.

This is not any iota of what it means to be Pro-Black. Pro-Black means you fight for your people. All of your people. Not just Black men, not just straight Black men, not just Black men you think are upstanding and productive members of society, but all of your people.

You are not Pro-Black if you erase Black women who are feminists from the conversation by telling them that feminism destroys the Black family unit. Pick up a book. Google bell hooks. Google Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Google something scholarly. Something with the letters .edu behind it.

Google: Critical Black Feminist Thought.

Read those texts, absorb those texts. Listen to what your sisters are trying to tell you about being a Black woman in America. Hear their pain and think deeply about what you can do to help alleviate that. Do what you can to help them navigate social spaces a little bit easier. Do not erase them from existence because you don’t like hearing women say that they don’t need men. Truth is they don’t. They don’t. If anything we need them. We need their strength, we need their vibrancy, we need their softness, but most of all we need their support.

Without Black women, where are Black men? That’s a question that every so-called Black man needs to ask himself daily.

He also needs to ask himself, what do Black women need me to do, need me to say, need me to become so that we both may improve our lots in this American pecking order that wants to put us both at the bottom rung? Those are the things that are needed, that are necessary. I never want to see a Black man questioning whether a Black woman is really here for the race again. Because Black women have been here for the entire race and will continue to do so because that’s what Black women do. They fight. They stand. They make themselves known.

Black women are on the front lines of the fight every day, suffering in silence, suffering in plain sight.

And I get it, our concerns may be more overt – it may seem like more of us are dying at the hands of police officers, but so are Black women. Black women and girls are also at more of a risk of slipping through the cracks of the American academic system. Black women are institutionalized at higher rates than Black men.

Black women are stigmatized by the larger society at every turn. Shouldn’t we be trying to ease their burdens instead of questioning their motives?

But I guess it’s not an issue until it hits home. I guess the rape and the silencing of Black women by powerful men is not a problem unless it is your wife, your daughter, your friend.

Understand this, Black men. It should not take someone you know being brutalized for you to wake you up and realize that these women do not deserve to be treated like insurgent agents when a narrative you do not like ceases being a narrative and starts being the truth. We need each other in this crazy world, and it is past time that Pro-Black started meaning more than Pro Black Man.

It is time that Pro-Black means Pro-Black Everybody.

And the church said Amen.

Just as Johnson said in his opening sentence, it’s that simple: black men can’t have it both ways. We’ve lamented the disproportionate way in which black women hold black men down a number of times on this site, not to discourage us from continuing that support but to encourage black men to return the favor. We’ve all got issues and, consequently, should be in the struggle together. Sure it’s nice to stand side by side with black men when we march in protest of cop killings but the silence from our male counterparts on issues like rape and street harassment and women’s rights in the workplace are deafening. You can’t be about black people as a whole yet only push forward the cause of a few. It’s about time someone told black men this. We just hope they listen and act accordingly.

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  • Mitch

    to paraphrase Malcolm, who taught black men to disrespect black women?

  • Persephone Jones

    “…We’ve lamented the disproportionate way in which black women hold black men down a number of times on this site, not to discourage us from continuing that support but to encourage black men to return the favor…”

    The support needs to be discouraged and dry up. Only then might black men learn.