Friday, November 27, 2009

The Black Man’s He-cession.


Sometimes when I look out on the black blogosphere I see some distressing conversations. I see black women downing black men and black men having to defend themselves. There is a lot of black on black hate on the web. I do understand some of the animosity on behalf of the women bloggers. As black men, some of us have been falling down on our jobs. But on the flip side, all black women haven’t been easy to deal with. In the end, we’ve all got our hang-ups. Unfortunately the recession has the potential to make our relationships worse.


Due to the high numbers of men affected by the Recession, our current financial difficulty is being called a He-cession. And black men have seen the worst of our economic problems. The national unemployment rate for black men is currently 15.7%. The national unemployment rate for black men (20 years and older) is currently 17.1%. So if you are a black male and hate your job, suck it up and ride it out!!! This bombshell dropped by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sent shockwaves from the city to the suburbs. Once again black men are the low man on the totem pole. And this is where the problem begins. Black women don’t want to hear any more excuses!! Black women have their own complaints concerning racism and sexism. They are tired of hearing about how “The Man” is holding black men back. I especially know this because my wife hates to hear it at our house. So here we are with something else that black men have to gripe about. Columnist David Zincenko, wrote an article about the he-cession in USA Today. One of the phrases mentioned in his article was “the decline of the endangered male.” Uh Oh! Needless to say some Feminists didn’t like the tone of the article. I guess women of all races don’t want to hear men complaining either.


So what do black men do now? Do we pull a Michael Baisden and “cry in the dark?” They have a saying when it comes to race and economics in this country. When white folks catch cold black folks catch pneumonia. Well black men are past the pneumonia stage. It appears black men are at the emergency room hooked on an intravenous drip. Regardless of whatever Keisha thinks about Leroy, the numbers are real. And the men that were raised to go to work every day are hurting. All they want to do is provide for their families. They would work if they could and take any job they could get. I just hope that this subject doesn’t divide black men and women. We have too much working against us already. We don’t need to muddy the waters with who has the biggest grievances. Because even if black men win the argument, with a 17% unemployment rate they still lose.


Do you agree?

18 comments:

RiPPa said...

I agree with this post and everything you said. I've been involved in some pretty heated discussions with "womanists" and have had a hard time getting them to understand that racism predicates their issues as much as it does Black men. Somehow, and maybe it's that male privilege I'm exerting as I'm often told. But somehow very few see it that way.

msladydeborah said...

The puzzling thing about this current downward spiral is this-are the numbers high because of the types of jobs that AA males tend to work? Or are the numbers so high because the brothers who had jobs are now unemployed?

My mother was a Depression Era child. Her father worked the entire time. It was tight. But my grandparents worked as a team to make it through. We raised children during the recession of the Regan years-it was tough but we made it. Now it seems as if the great divide is going to do a whole lot of us in.

I don't understand what has happened. But having a lot of battles over forces that we do or do not have control over isn't a solution.

It really bothers me that a solid economic development plan never emerged in our communities even though many of the leaders knew it was needed. Now that things are in the dire straits-it sounds like we are whinning too much again.

I think this time around-we'd better start thinking more like capitalist and less like consumers. We aren't even strong enough to unite to develop a plan at this point. Well, let me re-phrase that-some of us are not prepared to do the work. It is like going to hell in a handbasket.

KissMyBlackAds said...

This is a crazy time for me and my family as well. We've buckled down to ride it out depression style. Downsize my staff to only freelance. Closed my office (sob). Created a workable home studio. Private school kids turned into home-school kids (that God for wifey's fortitude). Eat out less -- cook in more.

The point to all this is; even though I have lost up to 70% of business revenue, my life, my family life & marriage have become immensely richer. In a lot of ways our marriage is much stronger. I knew my wife was amazing, but she has been straight depression era gangster - al capone, ride-or-die, bonnie and clyde, me and muh girl-friend, locked and loaded, down-for-what's-clever chick... uh, woman!

I clearly see how these pressures and finances can become a pseudo-catylast for black relationship demise. But I think that's mostly due to faulty foundations to start with.

Materialism and television based belief system are sadly the order of the day. In a brief era of unattainable "celebreality" folks are losing their minds. An Erykah Badu song has a dialogue that I paraphrase here that says, "Gimme my 20 inch rims and my flat-screen and we are good." Truer words have never been... spoken, sung, rapped???

Jennifer said...

Interesting article. My husband is among those hit by the "he-cession"...working a nice part-time position (with full time offer) and balancing a full load as a non-traditional undergrad student. About this time last year he was informed by letter that all that was gone...we decided to focus on his academics. He's graduating in two and a half weeks (whoo hoo!), and in full gear conducting a job-search. I'm nervous, but have full confidence in him and our ability to get through this.

I say "we" and "our" because we work together on this. He's in the search, but as his wife...I have my feelers out too. We look for opportunities, network, review his resume...not because he can't do it alone...he's got it covered. I help because we're partners. (I should mention that this is the example set by my parents who have 37 years of partnership going strong.) He was also there for me when I finished my MA and as I work on my business...I couldn't imagine not being there for him step by step.

I am a feminist, but also a wife and mother of a son so I see things from a broader perspective. I feel both that men enjoy some privileges, but I also see how it's easier for me to navigate things as well.
Especially when considering race...Goodness, I could go on and on. I love this and thanks for this perspective. I am hoping that things resolve well, quickly, but I need to keep this in mind as my husband engages in finding full time work.

lincolnperry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lincolnperry said...

@Citizen
This is a good post, but a complex and convoluted issue. A lot of sisters have been fake out by the white women liberalism; employment like anything else in society is a limited resource. White men and women have used this economic wedge as a divisive tool within the black community. Black Men and Women compete against one another for this resource!

During the late 80s and mid 90s, there were individuals that dismiss the value of blue collar employment amongst black males, and that marrying these types of men were impediment to moving up the corporate ladder. However, White Women continued to marry men in non corporate occupations...Auto Mechanics, HVAC Specialist, Plumbers, Electricians, etc and many of these men own there businesses and were self employed.
White Males still dominate these trades, while many brothers enter the service industry, White Males still dominated high paying skilled, and union trade jobs, which have historic ally discriminated against Black Men.

What we don’t get is that White people collaborate to maintain the status quo, attack a groups social institutions, and you can destroy them from within. The problem is that we don’t establish a defensive strategy to advance collectively

Citizen Ojo said...

Rippa - Thank you this is a subject that doesn't always go over well but I took a page out of your book and threw all rules out the window. ha ha ha.

MsLadyDeborah - Thank you for providing the Depression Era perspective. It adds some background to the conversation.

KissmyblackAds - Thank you for talking about this subject from the owner of a business side. I have been living this economic nightmare from a co-worker that was laid off perspective. But good hearing from a small business owner.

Jennifer - Thank you for bringing in the married woman view. Thats exactly what I like to hear.

Folks, from your comments I see that the He-cession has played a role in your lives but...BUT!! You all have rolled with the punches. You didn't let the current circumstances stop you. I think it's safe to say that others have not adapted. What is the magic bullet for this problem? Or is there?

Lincoln Perry - I use to work with a sista that was in Corporate Communications. Her Husband is a plumber. He owns his business. I went to college got a job working in corporate America and I was laid off. Black folks have been lead away from jobs where people use their hands. Carpenter, Brick Layer, Electrician etc. Sometimes these jobs pay more than white collar customer service jobs. And some of these individuals are small business owners. Yeah it's safe to assume we got suckered on this one.

Snarkysmachine said...

As a womanist, I reject those who seek to use it in support of their bigotry. Black women should and must work both as feminists and social agents in concert with Black men. I do not find these goals in conflict. I too have noticed the animosity of some womanists and find it very problematic.

I am very concerned about the dramatic rates of unemployment within the community, particularly as it relates to our men. I am troubled there is a lack of discourse.

This is a stellar blog, by the way.

Anonymous said...

@Snarkysmachine
Is Michelle Obama a womanist or feminist, or did she just rolled the dice and lucked up?

The Smoking Ace said...

I agree with you on this post Ojo, I have so many male friends that are getting laid off. I am grateful these day, but I also know I want more. Women do not be surprise if men start going to school and catching that nice Bachelors, Masters, or Ph.d. Like Willie Hutch say, "Brothers going to work it out."

Jay_fever said...

Pride and the lack of familial responsibilities keep me from saying that all men should just grit and bear it if they are in a bad occupational situation. But I am aware that there are men with families...and if thats the case, by all means that man should stay at it until something better comes along. But as for that having to hear grievances... I dunno. Hearing a women complain about somebody else complaining just rubs me all types of wrong. I know many men that rarely complain. Most of the women I know on the other hand are habitual complainers...and most of the time its not even as big an issue as ones occupation or lack of...its usually something menial like their favorite nail polish got discontinued or some random lady cashier rubbed them the wrong way...IJS.

lincolnperry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Citizen Ojo said...

Snarkysmachine - Thanks for stopping by. And thank you very much for the compliment. I understand that there is a lack of discourse but I just don't understand how and when it happened. Working together seems so difficult but yet so necessary.

The Smoking Ace - "Willie Hutch!!!" I'm not mad at you for that one. I would love to see the stats for who is going back to school. Good Observation. I think that you will see black men retraining, especially if these "green" jobs can open up.

Jay Fever - ha ha ha! You are crazy...

DOUG said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/us/01race.html?_r=1&ref=us

This article demonstrates that there is talent, amongst ranks of African American men - a fact that we know all too well. But there is a lack of organization amongst these Black men and their communities. If there was better organization, we'd be able to provide for ourselves and create new economic structures that leverage our human capital (talents, education and skills), our social capital (others' education, skills) and our financial capital.


Despite having our fraternities, despite having our megachurches, despite having our numerous degrees, we have no REAL organization. We are severely suffering from a dearth in productive communal leadership, with leaders who see the vision of how to leverage the capital we have, as opposed to advocate depositing more of our capital into the bank accounts of Mr. Viton and Mr. Benz and Mr. Pulte and Mr. Cheesecake Factory and Mr. Sprint and....


Again, I simply argue that we have the talent/capital to provide each of those services and products - but until we spearhead the creation of new structures that organize people and leverage their capital, the ratio of Black men with graduate degrees to the number of unemployed Black men will continue to rise (exponentially as the larger economy tanks).
dg

the uppity Negro said...

PErsonally I'm interested as to who and what was said in the deleted comments....

However, I will say that after encountering some true womanist theologians, I am quite concerned that too often black women are much more inclined to raise themselves up at the expense of black males.

Granted black men have our plethora of issues, but by the same token while I don't have a problem with black women calling us out on our ish, it's really the spirit in which they do it. Black men tend to feel as though black women are yet another level of oppression that they have to deal with within our own community. The problem that many black men have with black women is that too many of them act as if their shyt don't stink!

I'm just sick and damn tired of hearing black women clowning black men as if it's all of us. And then the ones that aren't royal fuck ups, they not interested in. I know way too many black, urban, professional women who declare this womanist or feminist approach and claim they want some reformed bad boy. I go so far as to make the assertion that the same issues that black women criticize us for are some of the same things that they helped instill in black males be it from mothers (single or married) and from sisters and aunts.

Sorry....I just needed to vent.

Citizen Ojo said...

Doug - Thanks for the comments. Sounds like you are talking about this black agenda I keep hearing about.

Uppity Negro - This has been a sore point with you lately. I think we need to have a group meeting to get these feelings out. Or maybe another Blogger Fight Club. Whatever is more convenient. Ha ha ha.

Quintessence said...

patience seems to be a priceless commodity these days...noone has time 2 sit around waiting for things to happen....our 1st reaction is 2 always lash out consciously or subconsciously & manhandle egos..

i look at some young men & see how they're handling the "He-cession" --i guess the permanent IV hooked 2 the Henny bottle isn't always the answer...

Citizen Ojo said...

Quintessence - apparently some of us aren't handling it well. Increase in crime, emotional and mental issues. BTW thanks for stopping by.