The Black Man’s Burden

Why the double standard for Black men?

“The difference between a saint and a hypocrite is that one lies for his religion, the other by it.”
-Minna Antrim

Last month’s truly bizarre and bone-chilling, cold-blooded murder of senior citizen Robert Godwin at the hands of 30-something Steve Stephenson, captured on Facebook Live and broadcast ’round the world, is something no thoughtful, reasonable person would attempt to defend or explain away. We all agree that Stephenson, a college-educated Black man who pledged Omega Psi Phi and worked in, ironically enough, the behavioral health field, is responsible for his actions – which included the taking of his own life as the police were closing in on him.

Fair enough – right?

Apparently not, according to the many self-appointed do gooders and virtue-signallers – of which there are many in our times today. Suddenly, the actions of ONE Black man, has suddenly become a referendum on the state of Black men in toto. Writing for the Huffington Post on Apr 18, 2017, Sophia A. Nelson attempts to make the case that Stephenson is the tip of an ugly iceberg – a legion of Eliot Rodgers in Blackface – looking to take out their frustrations on Black women en masse and scapegoat them for their failures in life:

“I am concerned. I am deeply concerned. The very recent national tragedy of a deeply troubled, angry and violent younger black man, Mr. Steven Stephens of Cleveland, Ohio killing an elderly black man, Mr. Robert Godwin on LIVE Facebook has rocked me and tens of millions of black Americans to our core.

It is no longer okay for us as a community, or us as a nation, to ignore the mental health crisis that is clearly going on with black men in America. Is it all black men? Of course not. But it is far too many, as evidenced by the violent and hateful videos that many black men have on social media from YOUTUBE/GOOGLE (where they menace, threaten, demean, attack and harass black women) to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. These videos (among other hate or violent videos) have become so bad that major advertisers like AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, GSK, to name a few have left YOUTUBE/GOOGLE in a great exodus in March 2017 and the company has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. See links: You Tube Loses Major Sponsors and You Tube Loses Major Advertisers Due to Offensive Videos”

Of course, never one to miss an opportunity to be, well, an opportunist, Ms. Nelson is sure to remind all who would listen that she is just a breath away of being some Deranged Black Man’s(TM) latest victim:

“I have been the unwitting victim of some of these senseless hate videos by black men I do not know. Have never bothered. Or spoken about. These clearly emotionally disturbed men are angry at the world. They hate their lives. They hate their women. They hate the white world that they believe marginalizes them. While we can all agree that black men and women earn less, are still largely invisible in corporate America, and industry. Too many of us get up everyday, go to work, run businesses, and keep keeping on despite the devastating effects of racism and sexism. We do not harass, demean, curse, threaten to murder, rape or attack our fellow neighbors or countrymen. We live our lives, we make the best of it and we keep pressing forward.”

Nelson ends her piece with a ham-fisted appeal to the former POTUS, the Divine Nine and the Urban League, among others, to do some kind of intervention, least there be a wave of crazed Black men out to kill again. Of course, no statistical analysis was offered or necessary; when you claim to “care” for others – in this case, Black men – one needn’t not worry themselves with the facts or context.

Not to be outdone, Panama Jackson, one half of the popular blogging duo Very Smart Brothas, trains his righteously indignant ire at those who suggest that Stephenson’s actions were the result of Black women, all the while taking a gratuitous shot at the boogeyman known as “Toxic Masculinity”:

“I don’t remember the first time I heard the phrase “toxic masculinity” but it has stuck with me ever since. It’s not a hard concept to define or understand. Effectively, and simply, it’s a label placed on actions and behaviors attributable to “manhood” that are destructive, often violent, and naturally come with extremely negative consequences toward both men AND women.”

Jackson continues, staunchly refusing to play the “Mental Health Card”:

“I’m also not going to be so quick to jump on the he has mental health issues bandwagon. I’m no psychologist, armchair or otherwise, and neither are most people with opinions on his state of mind. Some people just have evil in them and those demons surface. I do believe that all of us, especially Black people, need to engage in more self-care, ensuring our ability to manage in a world that is very hostile to our livelihoods, spirit, and bodies. That is important. You can’t help anybody if you cannot help yourself. Stephens may very well be an unwell person, his actions indicate that as a possibility.”

Now having warmed up, Jackson moves in for the righteously indignant, “Man Up/Tough Love” coup de grace:

“I don’t care what happened between he and Joy Lane. The fact that he attempted to place the blame on any woman for his actions is asinine. What he did to Robert Godwin Sr. is irredeemable. Just like any time a man has taken the life of a woman or anybody due to rejection, and violence due to rejection is far too frequent to be silent about it. This shit has got to stop. We have to hold our brothers, fathers, friends, and really ANYBODY accountable to the destructive actions and behaviors that exist, even if they haven’t resulted in extreme circumstances. Our culture is one rooted in this type of patriarchal behavior for which there is entirely too much access to information explaining why its toxic. Knowing better to do better is ALWAYS a possibility. If you have the pre-meditated wherewithal to make such terrible decisions, the entire onus for them is on you, not the woman who broke your heart.”

In the comments section to the above article – over 1,600 last time I checked – is little more than one cavernous echo chamber about how Black men must learn to “do better”. NOT how ONE Black men did something incredibly jacked up – but how BLACK MEN, plural, “must do better”.

This is the kind pf pablum that passes for any kind of discourse on difficult topics in contemporary Black America, but by now, you all knew that. Here’s the real kicker, though:

Only a few weeks later, Peter Selis, a White 49-year old mechanic from southern California, shot up half a dozen people and killed one, because of his own breakup with his girlfriend. Here’s what New York Magazine reports:

“On Sunday night, 49-year-old Peter Selis killed one person and wounded six others when he opened fire at a pool party in his San Diego apartment complex. According to San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, he was “despondent” over a breakup and called his ex-girlfriend, because he “wanted [her] to listen in as he carried out his rampage.”

The incident was initially being investigated as a possible hate crime (Selis is white, all his victims are African-American or Hispanic) but Zimmerman told press there is “zero information to indicate that race played a factor in this terrible and horrific crime,” adding, “the victims were targeted for no reason other than their mere presence in the vicinity of the suspect.”

NY Mag continues:

“Selis and his girlfriend had split up a few days prior and he was reportedly “distraught and depressed.” He was also over $100,000 in debt.

Selis was described as eerily calm at the time of the shooting, with one witness saying, “He had his beer in one hand and his gun in the other.” The incident began around 6 p.m.; police arrived to the scene shortly afterward and fatally shot Selis when he opened fire on them.”

Eerily enough, both Nelson and Jackson – as well as their sycophants – are more quiet than church mice on that story.

Why, oh why, am I not surprised?

Whether you buy the “mental health” angle, the easy availability of guns angle, or the “toxic masculinity” angle, the point, is clear – there is one set of standards for Black men in the eyes of do-gooder Black folk like Nelson and Jackson, and another set of standards for White guys like Selis. Mind you, Selis not only shot more people than Stephenson, he shot BLACK & HISPANIC people – and even more to the point, he shot primarily BLACK WOMEN. In fact, not only did one of them die, but one of the callers in to my talk radio show actually knew the Black woman Selis shot and killed(!).

Again, not a peep from Nelson, Jackson, or the Do-Gooder Blackety Black Folks.

One mo ‘gin, for the nosebleed seats: for my money, Stephenson is a poor excuse of a human being, who did the world a favor by taking himself out of here; he should have done so without taking anyone else with him. But I feel the exact same way about Selis – in fact, and the facts back me up on this, Selis is markedly WORSE than Stephenson.

So why aren’t do-gooders like Nelson and Jackson wringing their hands over that?

There is a notion out in the hinterlands of Black America that holds, that the actions of ONE Black man is somehow indicative of ALL Black men – in fact, it is wholly OK to generalize, often in the worst of ways, about Black men that if the same thing were done in reverse about Black women, White men or koala bears, would be pilloried as unreasonable at best and downright “misogynoirist” (is that a word?) at worst. Not only that, but it’s somehow the “duty” of ALL Black men to “keep each other in check”, as if we’re wild beasts out on the make or something.

White men are seen as INDIVIDUALS. Black women? INDIVIDUALS. But Black men are viewed as some kind of DudeBro Borg Collective, where we supposedly all share a kind of hivemind mentality.

It’s patently absurd.

Steve Stephenson no more represents me or for that matter, Panama Jackson, than Peter Selis represents “all” White men, or the fill-in-the-blank-ratchet-chick on the latest “Real Houswives of The Latest Reality TV Show” represents “all” Black women – and notice, there are no florid appeals to White men, or Black women, to “police their own”, now are they? Nope, ONLY Black men, get subjected to this kind of tripe.

Perhaps the reason why the Selis mass shooting didn’t get much out of the “I’m So Black” crowd, is because they just might see Selis as one crazed nutjob who in no way has any bearing on White men as a whole.

Too bad they don’t see Black men in the same light.

Mumia Obsidian Ali is the Sunday columnist for the Negro Manosphere. He also hosts a daily podcast “talk radio show” called “Obsidian Radio” on YouTube. Follow him on Twitter @ObsidianFiles.

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