The Difference Between A Setback & An Excuse

As "Saint Kevin" Samuels' "High Value Man" concept continues to get backlash, what becomes crystal clear is just how many Black men think being mediocre losers is perfectly OK

I literally cringed while watching the shit show that was "Saint Kevin" Samuels' Black male callers last Friday night. If this is the pool of Black men we are to select the leaders of Black America of tomorrow from, we are surely doomed!
I literally cringed while watching the shit show that was “Saint Kevin” Samuels’ Black male callers last Friday night. If this is the pool of Black men we are to select the leaders of Black America of tomorrow from, we are surely doomed!

“There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth a new each day. We have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.”
-Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, 1955

“America is the worst place for alibis. Sooner or later the most solid alibi begins to sound hollow.”
-Eric Hoffer, Before the Sabbath, 1979

As the wholly unanticipated backlash and fallout from professional image consultant by day, “Black Love” expert by night YouTube sensation “Saint Kevin” Samuels’ take on what a “High Value Man” is continues unabated, what becomes increasingly clear to this Dating Coach for the Non-Select Guy, is the following:

1. That there are A LOT more men in contemporary Black American life who think doing just enough to get by is not only OK but should be placed on the same plane as Black men who strive to be their absolute level best everyday than I had originally thought;

2. That success does indeed breed resentment and “haters”;

3. And perhaps most sadly of all, that all of this makes mending the deep rift between Black men and women that much harder to do, because the anecdotal evidence seems to bear out that there are A LOT of Black men out there today, who simply aren’t measuring up.

These points were burned into my consciousness as I watched in horror, Samuels’ most recent late night livestream on Fri, Sep 18, 2020, “High Value Critics and Detractors”, (YouTube). Not only were just about all of the “critics” unable to clearly and concisely articulate their points, they demonstrated horrible listening skills, piss-poor reading comprehension (despite one of the callers being a teacher of science and math – God, help us!) and many were downright belligerent in their manner and speech towards the host. One brother argued that a high value man was living the “Pookie & Ray-Ray” lifestyle, slumming it on the couch of a hot woman he was banging and driving her car; another brother demanded that Samuels take out the word “high” in “high value man” and only leave the remaining two words – which reminded me of something I’d see at a dollar store; and yet another brother was so mean-spirited that Samuels was forced to end the call.

Much has been made of how Samuels’ quasi-psychologically-informed style of listening and questioning of Black female callers has revealed abnormally high levels of delusional expectations and magical, wishful thinking; but what could not be denied was that last Friday night’s show revealed that they are by no means alone – far too many Black men are just as deluded, too.

Samuels, in his role as an image consultant and lifestyle coach, has a very simple message which I think is nothing short of genius: “Helping men become the best version of themselves”. It goes well beyond the trite, shopworn bromides about “just being yourself” or high-handed appeals toward “self-improvement”; rather, what Samuels is advocating for is Black men doing their level best to be the best them that they can be.

One would think, “Who can argue against that?”, right? I mean, who in their right mind can actually fix their mouths to make a case against Black men getting their act together, being more ambitious, caring about their health and physical appearance, making more money and being more successful in their lives? I mean, would everyone benefit in a positive way from this – Black women first and foremost, Black America, Black men themselves and indeed, the entire country, by extension? I mean, what gives?

Well, the sad truth is that there are quite a few Black men who, instead of simply getting down to the hard work of making oneself successful in life, have instead resorting to taking to lowbrow attempts to shoot the messenger. Thank God they’re a bad shot!

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As noted above, what I’ve learned from being a fly on the wall as this “Get Kevin Samuels” dynamic has played itself out on “Black YouTube” and beyond, is that too many Black men (and to be sure, I am well aware of the fact that a not insignificant number of Black women also have their dander up over Samuels’ work but I am going to focus on the brothers here) have confused a “setback” in life, with an “excuse” not to pick yourself up, dust yourself off (pardon the pun!) and get back out there on that horse.

Please allow me to explain.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online defines the term “setback” as: “a defeat or reverse; to slow the progress of, as in to hinder, or delay” and offers the following synonyms: “problem”; “difficulty”; “issue”; “hitch”; “complication”; “upset”; “disappointment”; “misfortune”; “mishap”; “piece of bad luck”; “unfortunate development”; “reversal”; “reverse”; “reverse of fortune”; “blow”; “body blow”; “knock”; “stumbling block”; “hindrance”; “impediment”; “obstruction”; “delay”; “holdup”; “check”; “glitch”; “hiccup”; “(double) whammy”; “kick in the teeth”; “knock-back”; “one in the eye”; and, “foil”.

On the other hand, the same Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online gives the following defintion for the word “excuse”: “to make apology for; to try to remove blame from; to forgive entirely or disregard as of trivial import; to grant exemption or release to; to allow to leave; to serve as excuse for” and also offers the following similar terms to convey the same meaning: “alibi”; “apology”; “defense”; “justification”; “plea”; and finally, “reason”.

What many Black men – especially those in the Black Manosphere at present – seem to misunderstand, is that it is one thing to experience one or many setbacks in life; indeed, that is to be expected. But it’s another to use those setbacks as an excuse as to not move forward life, justifying how and why you’re a LOSER.

Yes, I used that dreaded word – and it’s high time that we did, too. What Samuels’ “high value man” argument has done – and I don’t think he planned it this way – was separated the men from the boys. The contenders, from the pretenders. Samuels has inadvertently revealed the sorry state of far too many Black men in our time – and, as one of the “founding fathers” of the Black Manosphere, I am very sad to say that it has become a repository of losers, there, I said it. Black men who aren’t well-rounded, aren’t accomplished, aren’t successful, aren’t driven, aren’t competitive, aren’t industrious and aren’t ambitious.

A lot of Black men aren’t courageous, aren’t innovative, aren’t creative. Far too many Black men are quitters. And way too many Black men live lives of not-so-quiet desperation, full of fear, doubt, suspicion, anger, even hate.

Many Black women bemoan a real or perceived “bro code”, a kind of unspoken system among Black men where we give “a wink and a nod” to wayward behavior on the part of other Black men; we can debate that, but what can’t be denied, at least from where I sit, is that there is another kind of bro-code: One where you’re not supposed to openly say the things Samuels and I are saying, on YouTube and in print, about other Black men. But the truth has an odd way of working: It is not unlike a double-edged sword. And it cuts both ways.

Simply put, Black America cannot and will not progress in the ways it can, should and must, without a plurality of competent, driven and productive Black men, in just about every field of endeavor. Black politics, Black education, Black business, heck even – especially(!) – Black love, cannot function without it, full stop. And if there aren’t Black men from within the ranks of the Black Manosphere willing to stand up and tell the truth, Black America truly is doomed.

I have a much more optimistic outlook than that – don’t you?

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As this is a dating coach column, I suppose I should say a word as to what all of this has to do with affairs of the heart and hips, ahem; and I imagine the best way to do that is to use myself, as I have done ever since writing my very first column in this regard more than a year ago.

Being a “non-select guy” – short, blue collar, little formal education – I came to the dance with quite a few setbacks in life. But instead of grousing over the unfairness of it all – and to be fair, it IS unfair – I instead got to work. Literally. When I first stepped out on the shop floor, I said to myself that NO ONE would outwork me – and in 22 years on the job, no one HAS outworked me. From my first days right out of high school until my final days on the job several decades later, I worked an average of 65-plus hours a week, 6 days a week at that. I was the third-highest paid man on the job that wasn’t a high-ranking union man or part of the management. It would be an easily transferrable trait to what I do today – my days begin at 4AM, same as ever – and I often work until late in the night before I’m done. And unlike other Select Fuckboys, I have NEVER been told that I’m broke by the ladies, nor have I ever been accused of not having a work ethic.

I am often asked by people, why I never went on to university. I could write an entire article about that topic alone; but the long and short of it is that I my inherent intellectual gifts were not supported by my environment – starting with my parents, who, while they were good people, not particularly intellectually inclined ones. The Philly schools that I attended, were not optimized to identify and isolate Black male academic talent and potential, and so I was “tracked” into the trades. And, because we didn’t have the sheer money to send me off to top tier schools. These would be real setbacks that could easily justify how and why I’d give up. But I didn’t let any of that stop me from teaching myself. After work – which often meant late into the evening – I would hit up at spots like the old Borders bookstore, small indie bookshops and then, ordering books online. I would hire associate professors and teaching assistants at the many colleges in Philly to help me learn thus and so – you’d be surprised how many academics will work for cheap! – and they would help me get up to speed on certain topics that I didn’t fully understand. When I arose in the early morning, I would study and read for an hour or so before getting ready for work – and on Saturday nights and all day Sundays, I would read and study. I honed my writing skills by buying an old dinosaur of a computer and teaching myself to type until I was able to blast out somewhere around 80 words a minute. Today, to those who don’t know me, I’m often mistaken for a top ten university college grad.

As for being short – well, as we all know, that is something I and fellow short guys can do nothing about. But we CAN do something about our grooming, our fitness, the way we dress and move – and I’ve been known to do well in those areas, too. Even for those ladies for whom I don’t turn their crank, they can’t say that I’m not well spoken/written, not well-dressed/groomed, not ambitious or successful, not funny, etc. – all they can say is that I ain’t their cup of tea. In an age where so many Black women make their failures in love out to be an existential crisis, I’d say that’s moving the needle in a big way.

Even when my career ended prematurely a little over a decade ago which left me technically disabled, I decided to myself that if I had to use a cane for the rest of my life, it would be some of the sexiest canes I could find. I researched the styles and fashions of men from the past and found that a walking stick was an important accessory for a gentleman, and completed his look. Then, I discovered “Cane Fu” – martial arts that made use of the everyday walking cane – and learned basic moves from watching YouTube videos. As I got better at it, I took more formal lessons locally, to the point where I could kind of come up with my own eclectic “cane fu” style. Interestingly enough, and as it turns out, I have never gotten a hard way to go from the ladies for walking with a cane – in fact, it has on more than one occasion, been a point of conversation with the ladies! Shout out to the great pickup artist Mystery for his “Peacock Theory”!

Speaking of my career ending far sooner than I had wanted or expected, after I settled my legal affairs surrounding all that and got my body back together, I then set out on a new course in my life – that would lead me to writing this very column today. It sounded absolutely insane that I could go from being a lifelong blue collar guy to a writer and blogger on (Black) male issues – but that’s exactly what happened. After spending more than a decade in what is known as the “White” Manosphere, I left to found what would become known as the Black Manosphere – and I never looked back. Today, I’m a successful businessman, writer, soon to be published author, podcaster, talk radio host, DJ, amatuer social scientist and yes, semi-professional pest, LOL!

I say all of that to say this: If there is one big takeaway from my life that the students in my dojo should learn and learn well, it’s to see setbacks as opportunities to grow and get better, instead of using them to make excuses as to why you’re not moving forward in life.

May we hope more Black men in the Black Manosphere take heed of this lesson!

Now adjourn your asses…


Mumia Obsidian Ali is a citizen journalist, podcaster, talk radio show host, newly minted dating coach and soon to be author. You can catch his daily live shows on the global livestreaming radio website Mixlr, as well as the all-new members-only Obsidian Radio Zoomcast, and his podcasts on YouTube and Black Avenger TV, as well as his weekly dating coach column at the Negromanosphere website. He’s also a semi-professional pest.

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