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For decades now black men have been the subject of relentless attacks from the media, government and even their own communities. From slavery up to post civil rights, black men have had to continuously prove to the world that they are valuable and continues to defend their integrity and character in all aspects of life. It is now 2019 and there rises a new threat to black men in the currently polarized society that seems to always find a way to divide people against each other. I bet you are wondering what I’m talking about… No worries, I’ll tell you. Toxic Masculinity!

Although toxic masculinity affects all men, it has a greater impact on the black community and the men therein. Toxic Masculinity is a recent phenomenon that surfaced in our country’s mainstream public view in the last 4 years. As I researched the term “Toxic Masculinity,” many vague definitions of this word have been presented but the best definition came from Dr. Nerd Love’s article “What is Toxic Masculinity.” Toxic Masculinity is a term from social sciences that describes norms of accepted behaviors among men that are portrayed as good and natural but are, in reality, physically, socially and psychologically damaging. The toxicity doesn’t come from being male or masculine. (Sigh….) So as we see the definition is vague and leaves the behavior of a man up to the interpretation of the person who engages him. In my opinion this is a dangerous and irresponsible way to deal with the minority of men that abuse women.

How does this affect men in the black community? The systematic oppression of black men has manifested over the years through many different ways. From being 1/3 of a man to not white enough to work, being underpaid to having a lack of opportunities, from being incarcerated and stripped from their homes because of welfare, black men have experienced the worst of the worst. Now they will deal with the idea of toxic masculinity. One form of toxic masculinity that men should worry about is the natural male interactions between male and female. How can men begin conversations with women when the idea of what is disrespectful is depended on who you are engaging? As shown in the recent Gillette Commercial, even just trying to talk to a women on the street is Toxic Masculinity. Black men are not only faced with challenges that arise when engaging women in the now but also the challenges in how they engage women in the past. Women and certain “movements” are attempting to make natural response that men have toward women they attract to wrong and disrespectful and in the process discrediting a man character because of it. So seeking the attention of a woman can be viewed negatively because the lines of what is truly disrespectful are being blurred. Men now have to play guessing games with women. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that there is a certain etiquette that should be utilized in any engagements with the opposite sex but with the understanding that not all situations should be deemed disrespectful. If a guy “cat calls” the disrespect should be judged by what is said and not merely the act of cat calling as it was suggested in the recent Gillette razor “advertisement/short film” … I don’t know what that was.

In conclusion, if we continue to allow people to dictate behaviors in a broad sense and not on the integrity and individual personalities of people, many men will face charges and lawsuits in the near future. Courtrooms will be filled with ridiculous claims of sexual harassment and rape destroying men’s lives everywhere, especially in the black community. Just one more thing to bring enmity between black women and men.

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