Echoes of the Past
Toxic Masculinity is defined as, “A cultural concept of manliness that glorifies stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance, and that is socially maladaptive or harmful to mental health.” In almost any patriarchal society, toxic masculinity is present. However, in the Black community, this definition becomes more complex due to the effects of slavery in America.
Black men have been emasculated since their forceful bringing to this country. They were bred like animals for their strength and beaten in front of their families. Instead of seeing them as humans, they were treated like animals. They needed to be big and strong to be ‘useful’ in society. This psychological trauma carried through generations and presents its toxic nature in men today. Homophobia, misogyny, and masculine centered attitudes are all echoes of our enslaved past.
As much as I have to say on this topic as a woman, it is especially important to hear from Black men. In an interview with some young men on the University of Miami campus, the main consensus mentioned is that black men are taught to show no emotion. When asked to define what toxic masculinity means in their own words they used adjectives and phrases such as, “men have to act a particular way”, “outdated”, and “[a] disregard [to] men’s mental and emotional health.” This means that they must dress, talk, and express themselves in a certain way to not be seen as ‘gay’ or ‘too feminine .’
The everyday struggle of having to hide parts of yourself to fulfill the archetype of masculinity takes a toll on a man’s mental health. Men are not given an outlet for their emotions which can sometimes lead to substance and domestic abuse and an increased need for professional mental help. Unfortunately, many go without the mental health services they need due to other underlying issues in society.
As a community, this is an issue that we must address. Toxic masculinity not only needs to be examined but also eradicated. We need to stop teaching our children that they should not express their emotions and that the way they dress determines their sexuality. So men, wear what you want, cry when you want, and be who you want to be. On that same note, stop judging people for being themselves.
REPORTER: Clarke Weddington
THE ART, Gravity Magazine, 2020