Rahim Islam is a National Speaker and Writer, Convener of Philadelphia Community of Leaders, and President/CEO of Universal Companies, a community development and education management company headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Follow Rahim Islam on FaceBook(Rahim Islam) & Twitter (@RahimIslamUC)
This is a very complicated discussion and controversial because many of us today don’t understand the connection between this issue with the legacy of slavery where many of the habits, attitudes, and values about each other were created. Fundamentally, Black women don’t trust or believe in Black leadership (manhood). By the way, the Black woman is not alone, no one believes in the concept of Black leadership – it’s an oxymoron. This idea is further supported now and historically by Black men unable to provide for and protect their women, families, and communities. There is so much evidence that supports this and it also can be seen whenever we speak about the Black woman; we refer to her as “strong.” Black women have unfairly been placed in a role that doesn’t allow them to fulfill their God-given purpose (mothers of civilization).
There is nothing wrong with being strong and our Black woman are, but they should also be viewed as loving, caring, warm, compassionate, and soothing to their mates and families. In many cases the word strong replaces these adjectives and in a very sneaky way justifies the bestiality of Black people (our people are without feeling) and because of the make-up of many of our Black families (little or no male role models), the Black woman has had to be everything (mother and father). Women who grow up in these environments are unable and sometimes unwilling to follow the leadership of a Black man. There is a general mindset that many of our young girls are seeing and have adopted: “I don’t need any man.” There is a tremendous level of hostility between Black men and women that has much to do with our history in this country.
Black men have been further weakened by a mindset of sperm donating and “pimping.” Because of the structural challenges which prevent Black men from assuming the leadership of his family and community, he has morphed into becoming a full-time dependent. Those structural challenges that threaten the Black man from taking his rightful position as the leader are many, but let me highlight a few:
• Incarceration of Black Men – Composing approximately 7-8 percent of the American population, Black men represent more than 50 percent of America’s prison population. This type of disparity is statistically challenging and nearly impossible to believe; but it is true. What is also nearly impossible to measure is the ramifications of these statistics: more broken families (many of the men still have children); more children living in dysfunctional families and living in poverty; more men in the family courts that foster even greater hostilities between the man and woman; fewer role models for what a “real” man looks like and how he interacts with a woman; increasing destructive attitudes and behaviors on the role of the man which is being emulated more and more by our young boys. Pimping (getting something for nothing) undermines the responsibility of the man to take his rightful position as the provider and leader and now we have a disease that has infiltrated our culture which is fed structurally by massive incarceration.
• Academic Achievement of Black Men – Given the high school graduation rate amongst black males (25 percent) and black females (75 percent) and enrollment and completion of higher education, over the next 20-25 years, we will have more and more Black woman able to compete in the labor market than Black men. This will further the divide in the traditional male /female relationships. Many Black women have to consider a spouse that she is not only more educated than, but she also earns more money than. Sometimes she also is the sole breadwinner because of the education achievement and possible incarceration background, the Black man is unable to compete. These issues and more threaten the stability of the Black family because they threaten the Black man’s ability to be in a leadership position.
• Violence, death, and stress – While I don’t have the actual numbers, last time that I checked, there were over 12,000 murders that take place in America annually with more that 65 percent being Black men killing black men (Blacks are only 14 percent of the population). Homicides are the leading cause of death for black males ages 10 – 24. This is absolutely devastating to the Black culture. Without the remarkable trauma care hospitals that we have America, this number would be much worse.
A recent CDC reported stated that for every gunshot homicide, there are roughly six non-fatal shootings. While not measured, this impact is equally catastrophic to the Black community and specifically the Black man. With all of this type of violence and no measurable response, it is implied that a Black man’s life is not worth much especially compared to a White man (if this was reversed, I don’t think you would see this type of apathy). In addition to the above alarming issues, Black men have been documented with the highest level of stress produced by a multitude of issues: death of family member or close friend; homelessness or the new homelessness (moving from house to house); unemployment or underemployment (finding a job and/or being fired or laid off); and involvement with crime or some type of legal matter (i.e. child support, traffic court, probation, parole, etc.).
Self-Hate – There is no bigger disease that threatens the Black community and ultimately impacts our Culture and our ability to succeed, without truly understanding the ramifications of self-hate perpetuated by the media. “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” -Malcolm X.