The “Fatherless” Red Herring & the Knockout Game Propaganda

This one time… at band camp… I thought the planets had aligned as I saw a RT of @blackrepublican where we totally agreed!

Yay! Common ground & shared concern for the needs of Black folks! But then… And she lost me. We agree about the necessity to take the initiative in guiding and supporting Black youth BUT suggested solutions far too often start and end with *insert Black man here*. It’s possible (and probably more beneficial) to express concern about violent acts by young people and  the presence/absence of Black men in the community, without conflating the two. Both issues deserve plenty concern and work to prevent, but it’s intellectually dishonest to pathologize Black folks and assert that literal patriarchy would cure all of our problems, as is often the case in rhetoric by and/or about us. The latest hot topic in a long line of of what are characterized as inherent Black flaws is the Knockout Game. The trend has been mischaracterized in much of mainstream media as all but a race war waged by naturally violent, angry Black youth on unsuspecting White folks. Fortunately, Clarence Page sets the record straight:

Infuriating anecdotes don’t make a trend, especially when crime data show the vast majority of victims and perpetrators of violence to be of the same race. According to the latest annual FBI crime report, 62 percent of hate crimes in 2012 involved victims of anti-black bias, compared to 22 percent who were victims of anti-white violence.

Most violent crimes are intraracial. Perpetuating the myth of the Black boogeyman awaiting to rape/beat/rob/kill innocent White folks simply sells racism as a protective measure, leaves White folks with their guard down to likely potential predators, and unjustly criminalizes Black folks by subjecting many of them to criminal justice system fueled by this same lie. This same idea of inherently criminal Blackness validates and vindicates vigilantes and police to devalue Black life to the point that it isn’t even safe to seek help while Black. While there is no excuse for violence and attacks on strangers, the dominant narrative of feigned concern is being used to perpetuate that stereotype. The Knockout Game is NOT a Black problem.

Yes, there does seem to be a lack of Black men in many of our communities for reasons like the prison industrial complex criminalizing & targeting them as boys, lack of funding for community resources like after school programs, and violent crimes. Although these same issues are undoubtedly tied to some of the Black youth engaging in violent activities, the narrative of the Black man band-aid is problematic. Black children will likely be better off without being subjected to the prison industrial complex, generational poverty, racism, lack of resources, etc. However, simply the presence of a man does not guarantee healthy, supportive, loving guidance. Many people who blame any Black folks’ deviation from White middle class cis hetero cultural norms also consider raising children to be women’s work (like cooking, cleaning & unrelenting submission). Every male presence isn’t necessarily a positive contribution and every unconventional household isn’t automatically damaging to children. Black queer folks being more prominently out & proud is most definitely not a flaw/problem/mistake and would not be “fixed” by virtue of a man being around.

Let me insert a quick “get your head out of your ass” if you think that. Queer, trans*, and LGB folks are everything.

jackass-movies-come-to-facebook-26e219dd85We’re socializing, encouraging & glorifying violence for youth across race/class/gender/etc. Did I miss the mainstream media rhetoric about all these White men mass shooters being as a “White problem”? Community issue? Proof of broken families? All I recall about those incidents was “This 1 guy needed help. No one noticed in time. Too bad he had violent fantasies & access to guns.” Shoot a few dozen people at a time and the news posts your prom pics if you’re White. Some Black teens punch strangers = scary Black problem. If we stop promoting destructive/violent fuckery as proof of supremacy/manhood/power, maybe kids won’t be so desensitized or drawn to violent acts. Are Bam Margera, the Jackass crew & MTV being harangued for all the programming similar to the Knockout Game? Nope. “Shame on those scary fatherless Black thugs. Case closed.” The media is rarely solely responsible for any social phenomenon, but the Jackass franchise and pranks were everywhere during these young folks’ childhood. Our Western culture of sensationalized, ominpresent violence is warping young minds and has been since “Happy Slappy” became a trend in London 8 years ago. 

Nuance is so necessary and the only way to genuinely address the problems we face. If the concern about absent Black men or violent youth isn’t worth more honest and holistic discussions and approaches, what is the real intent behind the rhetoric? The impact of shady soundbites clearly isn’t getting Black folks anywhere.

Posted on November 27, 2013, in Refined Rants, Social Justice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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