10 Black Men I Just Can’t Trust

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Peter Gunz and Rowan Pope are perhaps the two most hated men on TV right now. At first glance, they don’t seem to have much in common. (Well, much in common besides a preternatural ability to ruin their daughter’s lives.) But, a close glance reveals a trait linking them both. Actually, you don’t even need to make a close glance. Just look at them and you’ll see.

Two grown ass Black men. And not a facial hair between them.

Look, I get that some Black men just can’t grow any real hair on their faces. I don’t think there’s a name for that affliction, but if there was it would probably be paulpierceidits. I also get that some—presidents, news anchors, strippers, etc—have to cut it off for professional reasons. But, for Black men who fall outside of those categories, “an intentional lack of facial hair” usually equals “this n*gga takes showers with no curtain.”

Anywho, a Black man with an intentional lack of facial hair is definitely a Black man I just can’t trust. Here’s a few more.

The Black Man with two first names

I’m not saying that every Black man I’ve ever met who goes by two first names—i.e. K. James Jenkins, John Michael Johnson, K. Bill William Williams, etc—is a self-important prick I wouldn’t trust with a bag of counterfeit bitcoins, but every Black man I’ve ever met who goes by two first names—i.e. P. James Jenkins, John Michael Johnson, F. Bill William Williams, etc—is a self-important prick I wouldn’t trust with a bag of counterfeit bitcoins.

The Black Man who dresses like a White man

Unbunch your panties. “Dresses like a White man” doesn’t mean “looks nice” or “wears suits that actually fit” or “knows his kids” or anything like that. No, “dresses like a White man” means “it’s 15 degrees outside, and this n*gga is at the store with a f*cking Levi jeans short set and some chancletas.

The grown Black Man with the dress shoes that point up

Let’s just say that if you try to shake my hand with your Catholic school confirmation ceremony-ass dress shoes looking like this…

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…I will spit in your eye. And then I will run. Because you probably have a couple felonies. And you won’t catch me. Because if you try to run, you’ll stab yourself in your shins.

The Black Man who gets mad at other Black men for not effing with another Black man

I get it. You don’t think peeing on 12 year olds is that big of a deal. Fine. I’ll still invite you to the BBQ. You’ll have to eat with a plastic spork, and your food will be on a paper towel instead of a paper plate, but you’re still invited.

You know how to get yourself uninvited? Have the audacity to be mad at me for my decision not to eff with guys who pee on pubescents.

And, speaking of that…

The Black Man who uses the White man as his basis for morality

If the words “well, White people still supported ***insert celebrity’s name*** after he did ***insert some random effed up sh*t***, so why can’t Black people still support… ” ever oozed their way out of your mouth, kill yourself. Tell me where you’re going to be buried first, though, so I can dig up your grave three months later and pour orange Kool-Aid on your corpse.

The Black Man who’s the only other Black man at a work event but refuses to talk to you

64% of the time, this is the exact same Black guy with the jean shorts in the frigid weather.

The Black Man who, instead of just admitting that he’s cheap as hell and was raised by a flock of pigeons, gives you a thousand word long constitution about the economy as the reason why he doesn’t tip

Also commonly known as the “prisonsmart” Black Man

The Black Man with the perpetual bluetooth in his ear

I haven’t done any type of study or survey with this population, but I’d bet 60% of them look like they smell like honey Jack and ginger ale. And 60% of that 60% are named “Tommy.”

The Black Man who promises to make a list of 10, but since he could only think of nine, writes about himself for the 10th

That’s it for me, people of VSB. Did I miss anyone? Are there any other Black men (or Black women) no one should ever, ever, ever trust? The floor is yours.

(Oh, and those with Tumblrs, make your way over to the reason why they never should have given you n*ggas money.)

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

On Successfully Navigating Life As A Black Male Introvert

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It’s a story my parents have shared with my friends, their friends, my girlfriends, our family, their neighbors, cashiers, mailmen, telemarketers, people who happen to be pumping gas at adjacent tanks, and anyone else who will bother to listen.

When I was three, my parents took me to the hospital. My mom was worried that I never cried, barely spoke, and rarely showed much emotion, and she was hoping I didn’t have some type of emotional or mental disorder. After running a day’s worth of tests, the doctor came back with the verdict: I was fine. Possibly even gifted. I didn’t talk or cry much because I just didn’t want to.

It’s been three decades since that day. In the time since, I’ve had a version of that scenario repeated more times than I can count. I don’t speak much or show much emotion, someone thinks something is wrong with me or that I’m upset, and they eventually learn that I’m fine.

And, for the first half of my life, I assumed something was wrong with me as well. I mean, I was popular, I performed well academically and athletically, and I was a generally happy person, but why didn’t I feel as comfortable at parties as every one else seemed to be? Why was I fine shooting pressure-filled foul shots in front of thousands of people, but overcome with anxiety if made to change homerooms? Why couldn’t I be as talkative, goofy, and funny around acquaintances as I was with my closest friends? Why did people think I was uncaring when I actually cared so much that it could be paralyzing? And why did it take so much damn energy for me to engage in small talk and flirt?

You have no idea how relieved I felt after learning there was an actual name for people built the way I was. And, the gradual acceptance and embrace of being an introvert actually helped me socially. Ironically, learning that there was nothing wrong with considering small talk, flirting, and approaching women to be arduous tasks helped me get better at doing it.

There was still one problem. I was (and still am) a Black male. And, of the myriad things Black men are expected to be, introverted is not one of them. We’re generally assumed to be uninhibited, gregarious, and sociable—at least more uninhibited, gregarious, and sociable than most other types of people. Basically, we’re expected to be natural extroverts, and this expectation has a tendency to make people uneasy when we’re not. So, while I accepted and embraced the way I am, it’s still an uphill battle to convince others I’m not “aloof” or “uncaring” or even “asleep.”

Anyway, the past several months have seen dozens of introversion-related articles, listicles, essays, and studies circulating the web. Each shared, cosigned, forwarded, and commented on numerous times, but none specifically addressing how to successfully navigate life as Black male who also happens to be introverted.

Well, none until today.

Embrace who you are. Seriously. It’s ok. 

Even as an adult, this can be a difficult concept to grasp. For instance, VSB’s three year anniversary/book signing party in 2011 was the first time Panama and I met in person. Knowing that 500 or so people were expected to attend—many of whom meeting us for the first time—and knowing Panama is basically the textbook definition of an extrovert/social butterfly, I convinced myself beforehand that I would match his energy.

Bad idea.

After the first hour or so, I was exhausted. Panama, on the other hand, was actually gaining energy. Seeing that convinced me that I needed to stop trying to compete with his personality and just be myself. Sure, me being a bit more laidback and dry may not have been what people expected when meeting “The Champ,” but by being me as I was able to make some legitimate connections and finally have some fun.

Stop being annoyed by extroverts. (At least visibly). They are not bad people. Just different from you. And, when you’re done being annoyed by extroverts, befriend a few. Maybe even date one. 

Do all of your friends need to be extroverts? No. But having an extroverted buddy or three—especially one that will happily connect you to people at social gatherings—is a necessity. This is especially true if you’re single. While, again, there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert, a group of solemn-ass Black men all clubbing together will, to put it bluntly, scare the shit out of people.

To that end…

As a Black man, you may have to do a little extra to convince people you’re not slow, shy, stupid, or scary

America—Black America included—just isn’t equipped to deal with a Black man who’s a bit more reserved and pensive than what they’re used to. Seriously, there’s no doubt in my mind that part of the intra-racial criticism Obama receives is due to the fact that he’s not a fire and brimstone type like most of the Black male politicians and leaders we’ve experienced.

Anyway, none of this is your fault. But it wouldn’t hurt you to meet people halfway. And, although it’s antithetical to your nature, doing “a little extra” may include smiling occasionally, starting and engaging in small talk, and even feigning interest in activities you’re not all that interested in. Trust me. Your half way will go a long way.

Being an introvert is not an excuse for being an asshole

***Repeat this five times in the mirror every morning while brushing your teeth. When finished, repeat it five more times.***

You know one of the main reasons why being yourself is so important? If you do it, women will like you. 

Actually, let me rephrase that. Being yourself will give you a better chance at women liking you. A much, much better chance.

Since you’re an introvert, I know you’re pretty observant and self-aware. It comes with the territory. And, since you’re observant, I know you’ve noticed that women—Black women especially—seem to be more drawn to the life of the party types. I won’t lie and tell you your observations are false.

What I will say, though, is that you have to resist the urge to emulate those types of men. Sure, it wouldn’t hurt to be a bit less inhibited (repeat this to yourself five times as well, please), but you’re not a social butterfly, and you will look and feel awkward trying to be. Instead, shift the goalposts so that you’re interacting with women on terms you’re more comfortable with. How exactly you do that is up to you.

Why is this so important? Well, here’s a secret. There are many women—Yes. Black women too—specifically attracted to men like you. But, you’ll never get a chance to connect with them if you’re busy playing Fisher-Price extrovert.

Maybe you’ll never be the guy hopping from corner to corner, engaging and entertaining groups of women at a time. It’s okay, though. Everyone eventually sits at the bar.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

The 10 Real Reasons Why So Many Black Women Are So Damn Single

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While on one of those time-wasting and slightly creepy journeys through Facebook the other day—you know, when you click on one status and click on a tagged pic and click on another status and all of a sudden, you’re here—I came across this:

3.  Get in shape

We know, we know….we are shallow, misogynistic heathens. But guess what, we are men. We are visual creatures. We know what we like. For most of us sans a small segment of chubby chasers, some of us don’t like the biggens. It is what it is. You can’t realistically be pushing two spins and then wonder why the cute guy on your bus stop with the ripped up arms and flat stomach just doesn’t seem to be into you.

and this…

9. Know your role

One of the primary reasons the fellas will put your ass on waivers is because the woman cannot or will not play her position. I don’t mean be submissive or look the other way if he’s being shady. I mean be a friend if he wants a friend, be a great lover if that’s what it is, be a girlfriend if both of you decide that’s the right thing to do. Nothing will get you put into the “f–k buddy” file faster than demanding or taking privileges designed for someone you are not. If you are not his girlfriend, why are you checking his phone or asking where he was last night? You can’t force a man into anything he doesn’t want to do. Earn his trust and admiration before you earn his ire.

 

…each parts of The Things That Keep A Woman Single — a 10 point list from Chicago-area flame fanner Evan Moore that quite a few of my friends shared on their profiles.

Although reading it felt like I was in a time machine—the piece and the video attached to it felt very October of 2009-ish—I thought Moore made some good points. My only issue was that Moore didn’t do more. (See what I did there?) While well-intentioned, the list was too pandering, too nice, and too thirsty for likes and direct messages.

Me? The only thing I’m thirsty for is the truth, and the only thing I’m nice at is basketball. And while I appreciate Moore’s efforts, here are the 10 real reasons why so many sistas are so damn single. 

1. They’re not Zooey Deschanel.

No piece about the laundry list of issues facing this generation of increasingly faulty Black women can begin without acknowledging their biggest problem:

They’re not White women.

If they’re not White women, they can’t be Ellen Page. And if they can’t be Ellen Page, they damn sure can’t be Zooey Deschanel. And, if they can’t be Zooey Deschanel, what educated Black man in his right mind would even bother retweeting her text?

2. They wear too much damn lotion.

More than anything, this proves how silly these “sistas” are. How the hell do they expect a man to catch them if their arms are too slippery to hold on to?

3. At least one of them slept with the barber of Stevie J’s little cousin seven years ago.

Why buy the cow when you can make it rain with free milk tokens?

4. They all voted for Obama.

Who in their right mind would marry a woman dumb enough to vote for a man who was dumb enough to marry a Black woman?

5. Sometimes, when men visit their houses to pick them up for dates, they might answer the door fully-dressed and invite the man inside for a glass of water. While the man is sitting on the couch and drinking water, he might accidentally reach his hand into the couch crevice and land on an old hair curler. 

IT’S PROOF THAT SOME OF THESE BLACK BITCHES BE WEARING HAIRCURLERS AND SCARVES AT NIGHT SOMETIMES!

6. They make good men wear condoms.

We know they let Ray-Ray the Milkman and Lil Shitty hit raw indiscriminately. We see their bad-ass kids getting caught stealing tennis balls and Naked Juice in Target, so we know they belong to at least one of them.

But, when they decide to date a good man with a good (pre-paid) legal job who wants to bust some good, hard-earned, God-fearing, nuts inside of them, they all of a sudden want to use protection.

7. While they were flicking channels during a Hannibal commercial break last spring, they caught a few minutes of an episode of Scandal

You know what “Olivia Pope” rhymes with?

You ever gonna get married? Nope!” and “Bed wench.”

8. They think they’re too good for Chinese men.

They can rock the Chinese man’s nail accessories, do the Chinese man’s yoga, wear the Chinese man’s wigs, and even eat the Chinese man’s Thai food, but somehow they’re too damn good to be the Chinese man’s wife.

9. They love Black men too much.

I mean, have you seen a Black man lately? I have. Shit, I do every time I look in the mirror. I would not marry someone who looks like me. And, if I wouldn’t marry me, how can I trust someone who would?

10. Someone once told them that going to church wasn’t a bad thing to do if you happened to believe in God. So, some of them go to church. Some even join church groups.

And who in their right mind would marry someone with no daddy and a White Jesus?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Either She Homeless, Or She Got Problems

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A couple weeks ago, the Gay Reindeer and I were sitting in my car, people watching and eating applesauce (don’t ask), when a conversation about Pittsburgh neighborhoods segued into gentrification, which then segued into the surreal experience of seeing White joggers trying to navigate past the hordes of people standing outside of liquor stores and check cashing marts, which then finally landed on a point she brought up: Those anonymous people hanging outside of those stores all day long—people who usually are middle-aged, Black, and poor—often serve as the neighborhood’s Shakespearean fools.

Perhaps they don’t seem particularly lucid or observant, and maybe their English isn’t the best, but they’re watching, recording, and assessing everything that’s going on in the surrounding area. And, if you ever have the opportunity to talk to one of them—like, seriously sitdown and talk—they have the tendency to provide plain-spoken insights and witticisms about the community and the people who inhabit it that would make you wonder if they were secretly undercover PhDs doing a years-long anthropological study.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because this was the first thing I thought of when listening to Charles Ramsey’s entire interview. (Actually, that was the second thing. The first? That’s a really nice white tee he’s wearing. It must have been brand new.) Like a true Shakespearean fool, Ramsey’s appearance and “commoner” sensibilities belied the wit and bravery he so obviously possessed. And, also true to Shakespearean fool form, an off-hand, matter-of-fact statement made towards the end of the interview ended up being the most memorable (and insightful) thing he said.

(Paraphrasing) “If you see a pretty White woman running towards a Black man, either she homeless or she got problems.”

You know, out of all the interracial dating/relationship-related conversations I remember having, I can recall in-depth, nuanced, emotionally charged, and surprisingly sober discussions about…

1. The type of Black man who dates White women

2. The type of Black woman who dates White men

3. The type of White man who dates Black women

…conversations where everything from the way they typically look to the base reasoning behind their choices is examined and assessed with care.

But, there doesn’t seem to be that same level of discourse among us about attractive White women who choose to date Black men, mainly because we have a tendency to dismiss whatever attraction they may have for brothas as some sort of sexual fetish, a way of “getting back” at her family in some way, or a blatant cash grab.

Basically, if she runs to a Black man, either she homeless, or she got problems.

While this line of thinking is usually thought to be an indictment on White women—or, rather, the type of White woman who primarily dates Black men—it actually is a bigger insult to brothas. By believing that White women who choose Black men are effed up in some way, you’re also implying that there’s no reason for a normal, well-adjusted White woman to want to be in a serious relationship with a Black man.

Admittedly, I’ve fallen victim to this line of thinking as well. I’ve joked before about the type of White woman you might find at a predominately Black nightclub (I even have a name for them: “snizzles”—a term that derives from “snowbunnies”), but those jokes were rooted in a very real belief that something had to be wrong with a White chick who was into Black dudes. While I do believe that there has to be something wrong with someone who only dates outside of their race, I make concessions and justifications for Black men, Black women, and White men who do this that I never have with White women, and this lack of interracial dating-based empathy boxes me into a very awkward corner.

“If I believe that there’s something seriously wrong with her if she’s into me, that a decision to date a Black man is a seriously bad one, doesn’t that also suggest that I believe there’s something seriously wrong with me?”

I haven’t answered that question yet. Maybe I just don’t want to hear the answer. And, maybe I’m just not smart enough to be a fool.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

On Black Men, And Why We’re Not “Allowed” To Be Human

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I first became a fan of Louie CK four or five years ago. I’d heard of him before—and had even watched an episode or two of Lucky Louie—but I didn’t really pay him much attention until I started to notice that more and more writers and comedians I respected considered Louie to be a comedic genius. This sparked my interest, and after watching a couple of his stand-up routines, I realized they were right.

Perhaps the thing I enjoy most about Louie’s humor is his tendency to speak about taboo subjects and use taboo words. This in itself isn’t noteworthy. There are dozens of popular comics whose acts revolve around them touching on untouchables. But, while most of those comics incorporate this tactic for shock value, when Louie does it it seems to be to prove how absurd it is that anything would be deemed untouchable in the first place.

For instance, in one of his shows, he has a bit where he spends a few minutes talking about fellatio. I forgot exactly how it starts, but by the end of it he jokes that he’d suck an audience member’s d*ck. It was classic Louie—absurd, inappropriate, self-deprecating, and subversive—and the audience loved every minute of it. I did too, but I couldn’t help but to make a somewhat sobering observation: a Black comedian could never tell this joke. 

Actually, let me rephrase that. A Black comedian, a popular straight Black male comedian could in fact tell that joke. But, if he did—if a Chris Rock or a Kevin Hart told a man in the audience that he (paraphrasing) “probably has a beautiful d*ck and would like it in my mouth”—the hundreds of trillions of tweets, articles, posts, studies, and stories it would prompt would likely shut down the entire internet. There’d also be never-ending rumors about his sexuality, his HIV status, and his sanity.

The dynamic allowing Louie CK to go places that a Black comedian wouldn’t be able to go extends past comedy. In fact, that dynamic is a direct result of the (mostly true) idea that straight Black men aren’t expected or even “allowed” to be multi-faceted, to be fully free, to be, well, human without having their sexuality and even their Blackness questioned. If we don’t fit a certain hyper-hetero ideal, we’re not really men and not even really Black.

This is not a new observation. For years people have written, spoke, and even created art about the fact that African-American men are burdened with a suffocatingly rigid definition of who and what a man is supposed be. It’s also common to blame this on a combination of history, socialization, and sexual expectation. Basically, Black men are the way we are because society in general—and Black women specifically—expect us to be that way.

But, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how valid this is today. Yes, it’s true that there have been some very major historical influences on the way we’re supposed to be, and yes it’s still somewhat true that Black men who fall outside of the hyper-hetero ideal might be sexually shunned in a way that other races/cultures of American men may not have to deal with, but I wonder how much of this is self-induced. I think we (Black men) do it to ourselves more than anyone else does it to us. I think we’ve grown comfortable inside the shell. I think many of our problems in regards to being hyper-hetero are completely psychosomatic. I think we have a bit more leeway to be human than we want to believe, and I think there’s a bit of a mental and emotional safety net with not fighting against this expectation, as any crude, sexist, homophobic, racist, and just generally unprogressive act could be blamed on socialization. It may not quite be learned helplessness, but it isn’t far from it.

Also, I think some of us need to truly ask ourselves if we’re ready for that type of freedom. While an increased leeway to be who and what you want to be—as exhibited in Louie CK’s ability to tell a joke that a Black comedian couldn’t say—is one positive aspect of it, with more freedom comes more responsibility, with more responsibility comes more expectation, and with more expectation comes less leeway to make excuses. Basically, “You wanna be free? Fine. Now grow the f*ck up.”

I’d say be careful what you wish for, cause you just might get it, but I think we already got it. I just don’t know if we really want it.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)