The tune has reached a fever pitch. The salvo against black and white women was fired by Stayve Jerome Thomas and many responded in kind. Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill wrote an open letter to Thomas, questioning his comments and goading him to do better. Thomas, who is known to the world as Slim Thug, fired back and engaged Hill in a debate on Twitter.
Slim said his comments were taken out of context, which is a common refrain from entertainers (either journalists should reexamine their methods or the “out of context” defense is tantamount to pleading the fifth). Whether Slim meant what he said or not isn’t the most relevant part. After all, being a rapper from the streets of Houston doesn’t exactly qualify you to be an expert on critical relationship theory.
Slim Thug’s blanket generalization of how “Black women need to stand by their man more” is merely reflective of his experiences with Black women. Some random guy in, say, San Diego, California could utter the complete opposite and be just as wrong – or right.
I know plenty of brothers who feel the same way, just as I know many women who say “guys are all dogs.” Are they misguided? Perhaps. But these are their experiences. Their opinions. I can’t tell someone how good applesauce taste. I can only tell them how good it tastes to me. That’s where the response to Slim Thug’s comments fall short; ultimately what he said is what he felt. His platform is just high enough for his musings to reach millions.
Were his comments wrong? Not necessarily.
Did his comments strike a nerve? Yep.
Did his comments speak to the nature of archaic and idealistic gender roles? No doubt.
That’s where the problem lies.
Joking or not, Slim Thug brought up a great talking point that goes much deeper than the whole “Slim Thug is a douche and his music is crap anyway” ad hominem attacks that dominated the social commentary. Even in his hood persona, Slim Thug – and many others like him – can’t escape that aspect of European-styled patriarchy handed to him.
“It’s hard to find us so Black women have to bow down and let it be known that they gotta start working hard; they gotta start cooking and being down for they man more.”
Slim Thug’s “bow down” statements are indicative of a cultural trend that bases masculinity off of subjugation. This is understandable. For years, the American Black male have been fighting for equal standing from the dominant race. This fight has been passed down from generations, from the first slave off the Middle Passage to the current millennials. Over the years, many Black men have railed against white supremacy. They have brought discrimination and racist practices to light in the attempt to gain a sense of humanity in a country that was built on striping it. But in that fight, many Black men have forgotten to shed the patriarchal mindset that came with being acculturated into the American way.
During the Black Power Movement, Lyndon B. Johnson commissioned Daniel Moynihan to come up with a report to figure out what was wrong with Black America. This treatise would be known as the Moynihan Report. As J. Farand wrote:
In this white man’s mind, the problem with the Negro Family was the inability of black men to outperform black women. His stance was that there would be great improvements in the Negro condition if it were more patterned after other patriarchal societies.
From that point on, it was on to the races. The black woman was the enemy.
The media has perpetuated (maybe even bought into it) this narrative that Black women are rambunctious, insatiable and edgy (exotic). We’ve already seen how the single Black woman “pathology” has been drawn out. Conversely, the myth of the docile, subservient white woman has become a quixotic fantasy of the unexposed Black man, who relies on these media tales because he is, well, unexposed. While there are many men and women who reject this notion, there are also many men and women who buy into and play the game for their advantage or disadvantage.
Society has a tendency to subconsciously digest stories – false or true – without examining whether these stories are valid. Because of this lack of scrutiny, components of a skewed masculine system will always rear its head in some form or another.
All races use oppressive powers to subjugate women. But in the case of black men, it’s a special problem. Though hip hop is not the cause of hypermasculinity, it has become a case of the effect intensifying the cause. One could make an argument that the hip hop movement was a forging of black men expressing themselves, to say that “we, too, are human and have something to say.”
But it was doomed from the start. All because it was birthed into a patriarchal world that doesn’t even understand what true masculinity is. Consider the case of the American (U.S.) plantation owner (always a male) who procreated with black women only to leave her to raise the child alone. Then consider the irony of the Moynihan Report, which placed absentee fatherhood as a significant reason for the ills of the Black family. The legacy was passed.
Pop culture has a way of crystallizing the sociological and psychological shortcomings of a cultural agenda. Last week I wrote about the men accosting Katt Stacks. This week, it’s Slim Thug. Next week, and the week after…and the week after, it will most likely be something else.
Until the notion of Black masculinity is reexamined and reconciled, illusion and media-fed drivel will dominate the Black male psyche. Slim Thug’s statements exposed more than just his ignorance. It exposed a deep societal flaw, one that dates back to the birth of America.