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Ear to the Ground

‘Why I Hate Being a Black Man’

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Posted on Nov 9, 2013
Nina J.G. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Canadian author Orville Lloyd Douglas gives voice to the self-hatred a society still hostile to those with dark skin color imposes on black men.

“Who would want to be black?” Douglas asks Saturday at The Guardian. “Who would want people to be terrified of you and not want to sit next to you on public transportation? Who would want to have this dark skin, broad nose, large thick lips, and wake up in the morning being despised by the rest of the world?”

He begins by explaining, “Every time I sit on a crowded street car, bus, or subway train in Toronto, I know I will have an empty seat next to me. It’s like a broken record.”

Douglas goes on to note, “I know I have good hygiene, I dress appropriately, and I mind my own business. However, recently, I finally became cognizant of why people might fear being around me or in close proximity to me: I am a black male. Although Canadian society presents the façade of multiculturalism the truth is Canada has a serious problem with the issue of race.”

The issue of black self-hatred, Douglas argues, is something he is supposed to pretend does not exist. He believes some black people refuse to discuss the issue because they will be seen as weak or opposed to the sloganized value that many black people engender: that “black is beautiful.”

“The truth is,” Douglas writes, “the image of blackness is ugly—at least it’s perceived that way. There is nothing special or wonderful about being a black male—it is a life of misery and shame.”

Black men are especially silent about their contempt for what they are, he points out. Many of them consider it emasculating to acknowledge “the feelings of disgust we have for ourselves.” Douglas believes his self-hatred comes from society, rather than within himself, even though his own heart and mind are where he experiences it.

“I can honestly say I hate being a black male,” Douglas confides. “Although black people like to wax poetic about loving their label, I hate ‘being black’. I just don’t fit into a neat category of the stereotypical views people have of black men. In popular culture black men are recognized in three areas: sports, crime, and entertainment. I hate rap music, I hate most sports, and I like listening to rock music such as PJ Harvey, Morrissey, and Tracy Chapman. I have nothing in common with the archetypes about the black male.”

Douglas describes his skin color as often feeling like a “personal prison.”

“Not discussing the issue doesn’t mean it is going to go away,” he contends. “In fact, by ignoring the issue, it simply lurks underneath the surface. I believe a dialogue about self-hatred should be brought to the fore in the public sphere, so that some sort of healing and the development of true non-label based pride can occur.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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