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Black Masculinity at the Ath

Yolo Akili Robinson delivered a poignant speech at the Ath last night. He addressed mental health issues induced by unhealthy social constraints imposed on black males. Black males oftentimes are expected to be “stoic, rigid, and emotionally sparse.” They are expected to love sex with women and love sex with women without respecting them. These unhealthy norms, Robinson believes, have deep roots which lead back to slavery and the white-black/men-women dynamics in this system.

He told us five stories to illuminate some societal problems. The first story was about Robinson’s grandson who as an eight month fell and cried. This young boy’s father scolded Robinson for his comforting of this boy and said this boy needs not “grow up like a punk.” Robinson says this hypermasculinity is rooted in the inability to express emotion as slaves and leads to deep social problems today. For example it leads to rage which is turned into a way to express emotion “without expressing emotion.” It also leads to homophobia and sexism. Robinson elucidated this problem in black men, but many of these problems, he says, is caused by white men and are equally applicable to white men and represent issues with masculinity in general.

As men, we have the responsibility to treat women with respect (and this requires a lot more thought than this phrase implies) and as heterosexuals we need to treat homosexuals with dignity.

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