Monday, March 8, 2010

Real Niggas Ain't Faggots

According to Ice Cube, “Real Niggas aint faggots”. Im in the middle of a book called “Your Average Nigga Performing Race Literacy and Masculinity”, by Vershawn Young. The author has a PHD and is a college professor, but also is a black male that grew up in Chicago projects. So far the book talks about the Nigga/Faggot dichotomy so eloquently expressed by Cube.

The main premise is black men have to underplay their masculinity to survive in the corporate and academic world as black masculinity is often tied to “black speech” and certain fashions. And since the white who run those institutions are threatened by black masculinity, those things which signify it do not fly in an office, or even an academic setting.  Therefore the black men that attain a level of success in those settings must forfeit those aspects of themselves, but concomitantly are viewed by whites, and other blacks, who have not made such sacrifices, as lacking masculinity. When one lacks masculinity the natural corollary is homosexuality, or being deemed a faggot. Pretty interesting. I touched on masculinity a little in this post here.

The author defines both nigga and faggots positively. He defines faggot as a black man who embraces education and speaks proper English, and he defines niggahood as a black man's “victorious statement of being” asserted against a stacked deck. The odd thing about the book is this notion of yearning: for niggas to be faggots, and for faggots to be niggas, and the contradictory and often counterproductive performances each grouping gives towards that end as niggahood and faggotry are mostly mutually exclusive. Past a certain point, say after high school, there is little to no boundary crossing. Both niggas and faggots get locked into their respective destinies, each given paths and opportunities that diverge.

The author also touched on our fascination with characters like Ice Cube or Gucci Mane.  Beyond their obvious talents, they have also managed to earn lucrative livings exaggerating their masculinity.  Which is something even, or especially, Harvard educated black men are unable to do.    

This might explain why everyday before I went to that corporate 500, 9-5 office gig, I would bump the most nigga affirming, blow niggas heads off, head bopping, Mobb Deep, or Cam’ron niggnaorance, misogynistic types of music available at stores before I went in and had to self regulate my speech and mannerisms.    Because real talk, I aint no faggot yo! Well, maybe just a little.

But is the dichotomy even real? I for one tend to agree with Dr. Young and I wonder if there are better ways we could define manhood.  I also wonder what implications this nigga/faggot dichotomy has on the current state of black relationships.  Way I see it, any phenomena that assesses penalties to personal growth cannot be good.

3 comments:

  1. i think that if you allow another man, whomever that may be, to define who you are, then you probably are a faggot... or a nigg[er]...take your pick.

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  2. That may be so.

    What about the youth? The book also focused on young children who are influenced by the so called "nigga/faggot dichotomy". How children who choose to follow the "nigga" route later miss out on opportunities. And how children that follow the faggot route risk alienation. Any opinion on that?

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  3. @anonymous

    I think you missed the point of the post. I could be wrong but what I think the post was trying to get across is that society influences black men to behave in certain ways that may be detrimental. So it was less about letting another man "define you", than being influenced by society, which I think we all are.

    @ Fair sir
    Alot has been written on the "pathology" of black culture and its effect on the literacy of black children, particularly young boys. http://www.slate.com/id/2213618

    Personally, I think this is yet another thing black people have to deal with. In the end, we are stronger for it.

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