Author Archives: dcart3r

Poor Excuses and Missed Targets: A Response to Boyce Watkins

According to NewsOne, Brown and his crew had it out with Drake’s entourage at a New York City nightclub:

According to eyewitnesses, the melee involved flying bottles and swinging fists. The fight allegedly broke out because of a conversation that involved Brown’s ex singer Rihanna. According to TMZ, rumors have swirled in the past that Drake and Rihanna were an item at one time (NewsOne).

Brown’s beloved face was cut during the fight and, of course, he tweeted a picture of his lacerated chin.

     The fight is only the backdrop to this post, as I’m mostly concerned with Dr. Boyce Watkin’s response. Some of you may know Watkins, also called the People’s Scholar, for his insightful commentary regarding race, economics, and American culture.  Earlier today, Watkins posted his reaction to the fight in an article titled “Advice to Drake and Chris Brown: Only Punks Fight Over a Woman.” In the piece Prof. Watkins rightfully defines the altercation as a “N*gga Moment” (a reference to the animated series The Boondocks) where “otherwise rational African American men get involved in a clearly avoidable confrontation over something really stupid” (Watkins). The “something really stupid” in this case is male bravado, but Watkins would have us believe that Rihanna is the problem. According to the Watkins, the fight was about “two perennial alpha males with enough swag and money to choke a horse, risking their freedom, their careers and their lives to fight over a woman who seems to want everyone to believe that her body is for public worship” (Watkins).

WHAT?!?!

When did a case about grown men acting like unrestrained children become a springboard for critiquing Rihanna? Further, how does “public viewership” of her body somehow make her less respectable and their actions justifiable? Apparently Watkins believes Rihanna is a man-eating woman gnawing on the bones of successful black male entertainers. Aaannnddd, since she likely won’t end up mothering Drake or Brown’s children defending her honor is simply a waste of time.

It’s sad and frustrating that instead of holding these men accountable for their actions, Watkins resorts to the antiquated, yet all too familiar excuse that it’s the woman’s fault. Why not interrogate the cultural codes of conduct that led these men to resort to violence? Why not implore readers and fans to hold these entertainers and their crews accountable for their lack of decorum?

Watkins goes on to offer this simple gem of wisdom to Brown and Drake:

“The downfall of most great men usually involves a woman. A good, loving nurturing and supportive woman can make you greater than your wildest dreams. But a bad woman in the wrong situation can turn your life into a living nightmare. Fighting over a woman is one of the many no-nos that men should keep in mind when it comes to protecting everything you’ve worked hard to obtain.”

Soooo…what have we learned? Great men should be supported by a great women who, in this logic, sacrifices her aspirations to support that man and be the proper trophy. A bad woman can ruin a great man’s life by refusing to uphold a mantle of respectability that affirms black men’s patriarchal chokehold on racial representation.  And, when resorting to physical violence to solve a problem, men’s portfolios are more important than people.

How about this: men should not be celebrated for policing women’s bodies, nor should they use women as warrants for engaging in senseless violence. As fans, critics, and readers we have a responsibility to make known the issues that affect our social quality of life. When we (scholars) misread the motivating factors that propelled Brown and his fellas to battle Drake’s crew, we miss the opportunity to cast a critical light on the real problem: violence. We must recognize that Watkins’ critique misses the mark by focusing so heavily on Rihanna’s role in this situation. More importantly, though, we have to abscond from such shaky and oppressive theses and focus instead on preventing violence and gendered oppression.

Derrais


Byron Hurt: Are You Man Enough to Challenge Too Short?

An excellent piece by filmmaker and anti-sexist activist Byron Hurt:

NewBlackMan: Byron Hurt: Are You Man Enough to Challenge Too Short?.


99 Problems

Hats off to Dr. Boyce Watkins for his commentary on Jay-Z banning b$tch from his linguistic repertoire. The decision came after the birth of Jay and Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy. The rapper has received well-deserved criticism regarding his decision and he should. However, virtually nothing was said a few years ago when Hov rapped “when the Jena 6 don’t exist…thats when I’ll stop sayin’ bitch…BITCH!!!” (from “Say Hello” on American Gangsta). Hov takes an aggressively masculine tone, separating gender from racial oppression. His view of race is decidedly masculine with little, if any, investment in black women. I don’t like that it took one of my favorite rappers this long to get his act together. Nor do I like that it took his daughter being born for him to make the decision. At the end of the day, though, I’m glad that Blue Ivy inspired Jay to change. For any parents reading this, I’m sure that the birth of your little one(s) made you think twice about your values too, right?

What concerns me more than Jay’s actions are the millions of fans that buy (or download) his music while blindly accepting the warped gender dynamics reinforced in his songs. These are the people who, on a daily basis, are presented with opportunities to shift the power dynamics that Daddy Hov fears his daughter will have to confront.

Facebookers (myself included) are “liking” Prof. Watkins’ post as if doing so delivers a death blow to gender oppression. Newsflash!!! It doesn’t. And that means we have work to do. Gender oppression extends far beyond saying b&%@! As I climb off my soapbox, please indulge me by educating yourself on gender oppression and gender equality. Here are a few websites and videos to get you started:

Stop Street Harassment

Men Can Stop Rape

Stop Sexist Remarks

Miss Representation (2011)

Then put this newly-acquired knowledge into practice! Look for groups/organizations in your area that fight gender oppression. If one doesn’t exist, start one. There are also online initiatives that you can get involved in. You can contribute to a blog and spread awareness online. You can create art that educates us on this issue. You can create an app that supports gender justice. The possibilities are endless!

It is easy to sit back and critique Jay-Z without being self-reflexive. However, we perpetuate and/or survive gender oppression every…single…day. Now is the time to change the game. What are you going to do?

D. Carter


Mobile Masculinities – Progressive Masculinities Mentors

This video is from last month’s Men’s Institute at the University of Northern Iowa


Mobile Masculinities Project – Jamar

Jamar Thompson discusses masculinity at the Men’s Violence Prevention & Leadership Conference. This video is part of an ongoing project called Mobile Masculinities. The purpose of the project is to encourage open conversations about manhood, masculinity, and anti-violence work.

To get involved in this project, contact Derrais Carter: derrais-carter@uiowa.edu


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