Okay, I am by no means a Chris Brown fan; however, I am quite interested in both him and Rihanna because I feel they are a prime example of typical young Black people in America. When the whole abuse thing came out and the media and general public was weeping and wailing for poor Rihanna and simultaneously demonizing Chris, I felt there was a level of delusion and/or ignorance going on. Because I had conversations with Black men and Black women of varying ages about the situation and most did not hold the prevailing belief that Chris was a “woman beater” and Rihanna was a “battered woman.” Both of these terms were used to take the situation and categorize it with a serious national issue. It just wasn’t that serious.
This time I am chiming on the recent Chris Brown and Frank Ocean fight. Here again, no one knows exactly how the incident started. What is known is that the two have been beefing (mostly via Twitter) for a few months. Is it any surprise that when they ran into each other at the studio something popped off? Not for the average Black youth. We see that everyday.
The media has been throwing out the Chris Brown’s rap sheet: everything from his fight with Rihanna to his twitter beefs. He was recently trashed by Ebony writer, Michael Arceneaux. All this amounts to negative PR and paints Chris as an out of control man who needs help. Me? I see your average Black man in America.
There is an inherent anger in young Black people today, especially Black men. Oh c’mon. we can pretend that Chris Brown is some anomaly and that the average Black man is mild mannered and gentle. The truth is that despite how it is expressed or whether it is repressed, there is a fire brewing beneath the surface. The reason that we see young Black men react so violently at times is because most of them do not know why they are angry. I will never forget my college African American Studies professor said that to the class one day. He said, “You guys are angry…and you don’t even know why you’re angry.” His thought was that we were angry and we had every right to be angry but it was our ignorance that made our anger self-destructive.
I would have to agree with him. Although, I can personally attest to knowing why I’m angry and still finding myself with stitches because of some blow up I’ve had. That is the next level of anger, I think. So let’s chop it up about angry Black men for a moment and let me see if I can add a little insight (afterall, the name of this block is not purely sensational).
The First Level: Disappointment
The first level of anger for the angry black man is one of realization. It’s the awakening of Black anger. It’s the first time someone calls you a nigger. Or the first time you spend 30 minutes hailing a cab when the white girl ten feet away left 25 minutes ago. It’s the first time you step onto the elevator and a woman grabs her purse. It’s the first time a white teacher is impressed with how well you speak. It’s the first time you find yourself plastered to the concrete with your car being searched because you were speeding or had a tail light out. It’s the first time a salesperson follows you around the store.
The first time you’re disappointed. You’re shocked and hurt by the disenchantment. The brightness of the hopeful, just, equal world where people are more than skin color begins to fade. If perhaps this were the only time it was going to happen, you might be able to come back from the experience. In truth, it is only the beginning. By the time you reach your twenties, it’s happened at least a dozen times. More than likely than not you tried a few things to avoid it. Then comes the realization that it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the world around you. These experiences and the damage they cause are beyond your control. You realize you cannot make these situations happen or not happen. It is then that you go to the next level of anger.
The Second Level: Frustration
In level two you stop blaming yourself. You realize that while there are things that may make it easier for these situations to befall you, it doesn’t mean that you deserve to experience them. More than likely you have considered that you were the problem. Maybe you stop hanging out in the hood; maybe you stop hanging with the dudes in the street; maybe you stop wearing baggy clothes and sagging; maybe you stop using slang; maybe you stop smoking weed; maybe you vow to have kids only with a girl you’re married to; or maybe you go to church and try to be gentlemanly. When the fruits of the labor do not pay off, you really become angry. You realize that you are not in
control of what people think. You can influence it at best but that’s no guarantee. But the hurt from being discriminated against and having the odds stacked against you for no good reason made you want the guarantee or nothing at all.
This level of anger is frustration. It is because of the injustice of the situation. At this point a man still may not know why he’s angry. He thinks it’s because it’s not fair, because it’s not right, because he didn’t do anything wrong. Then he begins to look around for someone to understand his pain and frustration. Level Three.
The Third Level: Anger
The black man enters level three frustrated and disappointed. In his disappointment he seeks understanding. He is trying to make sense of things. He looks for another individual to help him to understand why it seems like the world hates him and he just wants to be a regular person full of good and bad attributes. At level three, frustration becomes anger when he finds that even people within his own community are resigned to the belief that something is inherently wrong with him and/or that he has brought these situations upon himself. It is then that the anger comes. I am reminded of an interview clip of Tupac Shakur commenting on the anger of rappers (aka Black men).
This anger that Black men possess is not some arbitrary over reaction over one situation. If that were the case he would seem irate. What it is the spillage of an anger that has been boiling for years. It is the festering of unattended wounds that have lain open and become infected.
At level three, the Black man is angry and it shows. He’s no longer quietly longing to belong. Instead he makes peace with his anger and it begins to define. He becomes that which the world sought to make him. He is prone blow ups and what is viewed as rage. In truth, he is merely fed up.
What many Black men don’t realize is that their anger isn’t about prejudice, injustice, or racism. It isn’t about the lack of support from the Black community. It’s really about powerlessness. These young Black men are facing a world that is in general selfish and wicked. And it has a particular agenda against Black men. Going up against the world is daunting and would leave any man feeling powerless.
All men desire power. The mature man knows that power does not dominate and it does not oppress. They know true power doesn’t have to prove itself. That’s how men learn that being in control of themselves and their lives does not always equate to control of their environment or the people in it. They learn that power comes from inside and it cannot only be removed from the inside.
They learn to pick and choose their battles and to realize that there is nothing wrong with walking a way. Most of all they learn that the enemy they truly seek to destroy is institutional and systematic and that war is fought on the battleground of legislation and the influencing social and political climates.
I would never justify violence as an appropriate expression of anger. What I will say is people are products of their environment. In the Black community we have too soon tossed Black men to the streets and left them to their own devices. We have crucified instead of chastised. We have lynched instead of listening. We have judged instead of understood. This kind of emotional environment would make anyone angry.
In Chris Brown’s case, he is a boy and he needs some guidance. That much I will agree. But what happened to the good old days when an old head would reach out to a brother and say, “Lemme holler at you” and listen, understand, and then chastise and guide. I will not add my voice or judgment to an already troubled soul and perpetuate the alienation of young Black men. You have to engage to change and if we want to see Black be something different, we’ve got to give them something different to respond to.
Im not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man