While studying the current body of literature concerning Black masculinity, I came across a term, cool pose. In a previous post I analyzed what I had discovered about cool pose. There were several assertions concerning cool pose that I felt were underdeveloped and neglected the complexity of an intertwining of nuances that encompass the American experience for Black males. One of those nuances deals with the way that Black men are compelled to approach the imperative that all living creatures suffer: to find a way to engage with the world around them. It is this imperative that has led to the creation of cool pose.
The Development of Cool
I would argue that every unhealthy defense/coping mechanism that has been adopted by Black people over the generations is a direct response to oppression and a by-product of double consciousness.
DuBois had an inkling about the great significance of double consciousness on Black people. He knew that the weight of what he described had been and would continue to affect Black people for years to come. What we can understand now is that DuBois’ theory is that double consciousness is a psychological dilemma but also a natural response.
Sociologist R.K. Merton in his theory on society and societal structure uses the term anomie. Anomie describes what happens when a person ascribes to a set values that outlines what it means to be successful but are denied access to those things that would allow to meet the requirements. This theory layers itself nicely upon DuBois double consciousness theory. If we accept that as DuBois states, Black people in America function with a dual awareness that allows them to on one hand ascribe to the ideals of dominant social opinion which direct the ways In which an individual can obtain success and achieve happiness while never forgetting that they are not meant to partake of the benefits of these ideals.
Double consciousness, then, creates an anomie or norm lessens that births deviant behavior. In a psychological sense Black people, at some point, have to reject the ideals and rules of society in order to maintain their sense of self-worth and esteem as well as to find some means to the same ends. For example the belief that education is good and desirable and leads to a greater chance of economic success which the leads to a greater chance of personal fulfillment and happiness is a generally accepted idea in mainstream society. However, numerous Black college graduates (especially I’m the current economic environment) have found that their improved chances of following the aforementioned chain of events produces minimal – if any – increase I’m the chances of following the chain of success and happiness. At that point these individuals are faced with a psychic crisis to naturally reconcile their beliefs with their reality.
Often the reconciliation of anomie is a natural reaponse. It is often undertaken subconsciously which does not allow for a progressive analysis of the efforts that are being taken to balance the scales. When this happens a number of negative side effects may occur. The individual may blame themselves and some flaw or shortcoming that they can belief caused the disparity. This would create a personality that is insecure and defensive. Or the individual may blame their parents or their socioeconomic background. This would create a personality that is distrustful and/or despairing. Or they may blame those whom they name as their oppressors. This would create a personality that is aggressive and offensive. Whatever the path of reconciliation, unless it is consciously directed, it is likey to create as many problems as it seeks to solve.
The development of cool pose as a psychological coping mechanism is complex. In reviewing the current body of literature on the subject, there seems to be an oversimplifying of cool pose. Instead of exploring cool pose as a natural psychosocial phenomenon, cool pose has often been framed – bound is a better word – in a context that seeks to diagnose the issues of Black men. This kind of intellectual dishonesty hurts the scholarship and burdens the discourse. To truly understand the lives and minds of Black men, we must assume nothing and must objectively explore that complexity.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man