When I first heard about YouTube series, Bk chat London, I was extremely excited because I thought to myself “the UK needs something like this”. I hoped and wished that it would be a platform to really encourage, educate and empower people particularly the younger generation, after all, their slogan is, Real people. Real topic. Real talk. After watching weekly episodes and the recent reunion, I can say that the show has no substance and moral lessons to it or whatsoever; indeed, the show has taken totally different direction from what they portrayed it would be. Since watching the show, (mainly season 2) there has been many issues that keep surfacing but the one I would like to address and focus on is the issue that Adreyn (one of the cast members) doesn’t fit the ideology of hypermasculinity that dominantly exists in the black (African) community so he is very much disrespected and mistreated on the show.
So, what is exactly is hypermasculinity? Wikipedia describes Hypermasculinity as a psychological term for the exaggeration of male stereotypical behaviours, such as an emphasis on physical strength, aggression, and sexuality. In other words, hypermasculinity is the belief that in order for a man to be classified as a man (or as Lucas would say an “Alpha male”) you must in no way possess traits such as tenderness, sensitivity, emotional, “softness” which are commonly considered feminine. Instead, men are allowed to have characteristics such as lust to present sexual prowess, rage to show off strength, and bravado to display courage.
I don’t know why (probably stems from slavery because a strong black man with no emotions who obeyed the orders of their master at any minute was a slave owners dream) but when black boys are soft and in touch with your feminine side then, it was (is) seen as a weakness in society. Moreover, due to their inability to fit in with the norm of how a black man should be, then people, (particularly black women and men) become intimidated. Why? Because they cannot bring themselves to fathom their individuality and they don’t know how to accept that difference. Therefore, they would do anything in their power to make the person conform and this is my problem.
Hypermasculinity is a problem because it comes from insecurity in oneself and their masculinity, so much that they have to project their attitude onto the next man. The hypermasculine man does police other men with what they believe to be masculine. This also goes hand in hand with policing women and telling women what their role in society. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a masculine man, but once you start needing to project that onto others then, you’re approaching hypermasculinity. Richey Collazo said it best when he said:
Because of this viewpoint of black men, they are immediately assumed and mistaken as criminals by police. They are immediately seen as suspicious when they walk into a store. They are immediately presumed to be ready to attack someone just for wearing a hoodie in public and this thought process that a black man has to be hard as steel with no emotions that is perpetuated by black and non-black people is getting our boys and men killed (or having them kill themselves). It’s making black men appear to be inherently dangerous and up to no good to society and devaluing us down to something who will be nothing but a criminal who fails out of school and ends up in jail.
Even our own black community, mock, tease and dismiss black boys for exhibiting humanness and that must end.
I read a self-explanatory poem by Nayyirah Waheed which basically puts things in perspective for me. It goes like this:
happens to my son
living within my skin.
drinking my cells.
his soft psyche turning cruel.
does he not remember
is half woman.”
Therefore, in order to abolish this ongoing stigma, we must let black boys show their emotions. We must let them be soft. We must let them show their happiness. We must let them show their softness. We must let them show their sensitivity. We must let them show their sadness. We must let them show their tears. We must let them show their feelings without criticising them because feelings are an integral facet of manifesting humanness.