I've had this conversation amongst close friends of mine before so this will come as no surprise to them. Recently, while watching an episode of HBO's Insecure, this topic reared its ugly head and I felt a strong need to express my opinion. Let me forewarn you, if you haven't seen the episode I'm going to refer to, this is a spoiler alert.
In season 1 episode 6, "Guilty as Fuck", Jared and Molly share stories of wild things they've done in the past. Amongst a slew of things I'd consider PG as hell, Jared drops a bomb on Molly. Jared casually lets Molly know that he experimented sexually with a guy friend of his one time, and one time only. Whoa! Of course, this didn't sit well with Molly and she went to her girls to express her concerns in which the girls talk about how this act ultimately made him gay and if he were a white male, they'd be more accepting and forgiving of the situation. Molly, couldn't accept this and broke up with Jared.
Wait a damn minute, because Jared is a black man, this is an absolute no no?? But, if Jared were a white man, this little tidbit of info could be swept under the rug??
Here lies the issue that our society faces. Women are giving the most privileged group of people, white men, even more privileges. It seems as though in the definition of masculinity there lies extra hidden clauses that only apply to black men. Not only can white men be sensitive, wear flip flops, man buns, and fitted clothes without being considered feminine/homosexual, but they can also explore their sexuality with no repercussions. This is not the case for black men!
I feel that being a black man is one of the hardest things to be in life. There are so many standards of masculinity set on us that we never had a hand in creating. They're passed down through generation after generation breeding a slew of men abiding by social norms forced on them, instead of deciding what manhood is for themselves. Moreover, beyond the pressures of society, we also have to feel it from women, particularly women of color. Where does this cycle end? Now I'm most certainly not advocating men to go on sexual explorations, that's completely your business. I am, however, encouraging EVERYONE, to allow men (especially black men) to make their own decision of what masculinity and being a good man looks like for him and don't let whatever deal breakers you have be exclusive to black men based on your taught ideas of black masculinity. Allow men to be! Allow black men to be!!