As I anxiously and giddily sat watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion Part Three a few Sundays ago, something that Kenya Moore, one of the women featured on the show, said stuck with me during the rest of the week. Her accusations of her former boyfriend Walter being gay seemed spiteful and juvenile. She contradicted herself following her allegation with a statement basically claiming that she only questioned Walter's sexuality, but that it wasn't malicious, and asserted that being gay isn't a character flaw.
I'm not exactly a fan of Ms. "Gone With The Wind Fabulous", but her attempt to clear up that particular madness scored her a few brownie points with me, especially knowing that she's buddies with a few gay men on the show. With my small moment of joy in mind, I began to think even more about the situation, which tends to happen frequently, especially within the Black community.
The week before Moore was gunning to be crowned drama queen on the reunion show, NFL player Kerry Rhodes made headlines with claims that he is gay. And author and former video vixen Karrine Steffans took to Twitter to share her opinions about men who verbally and virtually attack her for her success: She pegged them as "homosexual."
Unfortunately, according to the aforementioned scenarios and in black social realms, if a heterosexual black man doesn't want to have sex with an arguably attractive woman then he must be gay. Or if a man shows affection to another male that isn't his child, he must be gay. Or if a black man belittles, verbally attacks or is jealous of a black woman, he must be gay. And unlike Kenya's attempt to address the situation, this is all directly related to the notion that being gay is one of the most shoddy and undesirable things that a man could ever fear being.
Black men have long been emasculated in America. They were purposely separated from their families during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and today they continue to be separated from their families due to the prison industrial complex. During and post slavery, their genitals were also taken as trophy pieces during and after lynchings. This was done to cease reproduction, prevent sex with white women, for entertainment and it was also a warning sign to keep other black men in check.
From that gruesome point in American and black history, intertwined with systematic oppression and economic disparities, black men have been forced to defend their manhood. Out of externally forced insecurity, homophobia, sexism, misogyny and other oppressive subtle and blatant dogmas were born.
Black men have demonized black women, demeaned them and zeroed them down to "baby mamas," gold diggers, "jump offs," breeding machines, whores, sluts and more in order to beat their chests, feed their egos and falsely reign supreme in a society that often deems them as at the bottom of the social ladder.
On the flip side, you have some women who in their attempt to fight sexism and misogyny end up resorting to mining internalized sexism, misogyny and even homophobia. Insert Steffans and bisexual rapper Azealia Banks who has repeatedly tossed around the word "faggot," defined by her as a "male who acts like a female." Specifically in Banks' and Steffans' case, you can't verbally fight a man in a misogynistic paradigm with a word and notion that derives from misogyny. Highlighting those examples, what women (and all people) fail to realize is that trying to fight oppression with oppression just doesn't work.
Doing so only continues to spin this vicious destructive cycle and reinforces oppression. What black men and women both need to do is recognize and call out the root of their issues and stop using each other as a punching bag. If we continue to attack each other physically, verbally, systematically and otherwise we will only add more bruises to the historical wounds and we will never be able to heal as a community and catapult ourselves into becoming the great beings that our ancestors fought for us to be.