Black Masculinity: The Black Male's Role in American Society

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More About This Book

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780933296060
  • Publisher: Black Scholar Press
  • Publication date: 11/13/1990
  • Pages: 180

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2005

    Pioneering Black Masculine Text

    Robert Staples is the father of studies on Black masculinity. He wrote this book in 1982 and sooooo much has happened in Black gender and sexuality politics since then. The Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy, the literary and filmic success of 'The Color Purple' and 'Waiting to Exhale,' rap music, the AIDS pandemic, the O.J. Simpson trial, and many other phenomena have happened since that time. Still, this was an impressive foundational book. Nevertheless, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Staples laments that more Black men are going to jail, less Black men are going to college, and that few Black men have the skills needed in a rapidly changing economy. Two decades later, these issues are still salient and often have gotten worse! Some readers may find this book depressing. While Staples focuses on adult male Blacks here, he is not androcentric or ageist. His curriculum vitae covers all parties in the Black family. He's written on Black women and Black children in other spaces. He even mentioned that he has researched Black singles, of both genders and several sexualities. Along those same lines, he does not look at race as the be-all to end-all: he mentions class, region, and education often. He mentions Latinos and other people of color. This is not a unidimensional text. Staples is kinda red; he is from the old school. He critiques capitalism and slams the military. I thought Angela Davis was the only activist speaking out against 'the military-industrial complex', but I guess not. Even when I do not agree with Staples' point on Black gay men and lesbians, I still LOVE that he made homosexuality a subject when many Black male writers avoid it at all costs, and still avoid the issue two decades later. Not only is Staples an amazing pioneer, but his imitators are not better. After reading this book, I realize how inferior, and practically plagiarized, Kunjufu's and Cose's works on Black masculinity are to Staples. I think many will disagree with some of Staples' assertions, but even still, he is thoughtful. He seems like someone awesome to which to speak or for whose class one would want to take. His introduction is more complex than the body chapters. Though very scholarly, this book reads quickly. I had to use my diction a few times (needed to look up 'internecine,' 'ipso facto,' and 'cavil'). His chapter on racism against Black men were well-researched while his chapters on Black gender politics were anecdotal and hypothetical. Yes, the latter subject is less researched. Still, the first chapters are what almost everyone in the Black community would agree upon while the latter section is where the divisions arise. Throughout the book, Staples asserts that he supports feminists and women's liberation. However, many may think he really feels just the opposite. Some may feel that this is not a pro-feminist work by any means. Unbeknownst to him, Staples is really trying to flesh out what a Black men's studies would look like. He asks legitimate questions: Do oppressed men really oppress women like their majority counterparts do? Does majority feminism apply in communities of color? How does a person juggle their privileges with their disadvantages? Even if the reader doesn't agree, one must respect the convictions of his theorizing. I feel honored that I was able to find and read this book. I do think it would still be relevant in current writings by professors and students.

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