What My Three Sisters Taught Me About Being…
Well before I read books on black feminist thought, I learned about sexism from the stories and experiences of my sisters. I recall listening to their stories of unfair treatment, and harassment based strictly on gender or a combination of gender and race. Also, because we were close enough in age to, at times, attend the same schools, I was a witness to the onslaught of misogyny inflicted upon them and no doubt other females every day. I understand now that we grew up in different worlds even while being raised in the same house. My sisters grew up in a world that devalues, marginalizes, and subjugates their gender.
Outside the house, I often felt the restrictiveness of mainstream masculinity directing my interactions and activities. My worth was never determined by my level of aggression, athletic skill, or monetary success. As a child, it did not matter if I played with dolls, participated in sibling-only singing or dancing contests, my masculinity was never on trial with my sisters.
In a previous article, I talked about promoting a progressive masculine agenda through reclamation of the term “sensitive.” Through embracing being a sensitive black man as a core part of any masculine identity, traditional images of the emotionally stoic, controlling, narcissistic one-dimensional male identity is obsolete. This agenda is similar to Mark Anthony Neal’s conceptualization of being a New Black Man, which he describes as “resisting being inscribed by a wide range of forces and finding a comfort with a complex and progressive existence as a black man in America.”
Sadly, he learned it too well.