Black Men and their White Heroes

Although we know well the treatment of Blacks at the hands of White men in America, Black men my age between 35–45 years old do not hate White men or White people. Growing up in the 1980’s and 90's, White men were our Heroes. We had Rocky, Rambo, Superman, Batman, He-Man, Captain Planet, Captain America, Karate Kid, Sergeant Slaughter, Rick Flair, Hulk Hogan, Conan the Barbarian, Santa Clause and all the White male heroes America gave us in the 80’s and 90’s. Images are so powerful; they weren’t all we had but we loved them. We really thought we could be them, or at least be like them. Still, there was one hero, who was truly larger than life, he gave us life, and even had real superpowers. And most of us [then Black boys] believed this particular larger than life hero was a White man. Jesus, the son of The Most-High himself was believed to be a White man no matter how you spin it. Yes, Jesus along with our favorite superheroes, the most prominent guardians of the universe, were all White men.

Sure, in the late 80’s and early 90’s television delivered and we caught a glimpse of hope with shows like A Different World, The Cosby Show, and later The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, so on and so forth. However, these shows weren’t necessarily about Heroes or acts of heroism that defied common capabilities of everyday man. These shows were about families and they finally revealed to the world that Black people in America had good regular American families too. By the time these shows aired, our consciousness, now accustomed to white adventuresomeness, was enamored by White male heroism. To some of us, the best chance to stand up against bullies, bullets, leap buildings in a single bound, drive a Batmobile, have the powers of Grayskull, and even conduct super humanitarian acts like delivering billions of presents to kids all around the world in a single night. These acts all lie with some white guy. Nonetheless, the most endangering yet significant impact any of these White men had would be introduced in any black child’s trip to their Grandparents. Upon that visit, in their homes lie the most beautiful and pleasant [by societal standards] picture of any white man a child has ever seen to date, even better than Fabio. It was Jesus the Christ himself, long flowing hair, blue eyes and all, the absolute hero of all heroes.

How unconscionable would it be for Black men today [speaking for those of us 35–45 specifically] to have any qualms with White males? See, for the most part, adoration for white male dominance is just as inherent to Black male youth as Kool-Aid and being told, ‘you know you already have one strike against you and that is, you are Black’. Fortunately enough there comes a time when all awaken to smell the proverbial coffee. One may even realize in that awakening that the coffee bean originated in Ethiopia, and it was sold around the world as one of the more popular commodities, directly linked to colonialism and slavery, yet no repair had been offered to those slaves who funded the European Empire, working hours for centuries, for free, doing these works and countless others while lynchings painted stamps and postcards, Black women raped, Black men castrated. But I digress.

When one finally wakes up, it will not be to the smell of coffee beans being ground, it will be the stale smell of a conundrum, a compromising enigma.

This awakening happens in every context, but in this one, the tale of the superhero, one will find the onlooker[just as enthralled in their youth by these superheroes] is often blind to how optimistic a Black Man in America must be in order to survive. If I were to give this conundrum and enigma a title I would call it, ‘The Black Man who grows up to be a Proud American’. Yea, that would be fitting.

The reality of all the lies we were told as children play out on the regularly televised news and TMZ updates nowadays. We continuously find out some of our very own heroes may espouse the same colonial views as our oppressor. See, before women [especially Black] were beguiled by the ‘Bey-Hive’, during the same period every human was hypnotized by Michael Jackson, I remember this very interesting group, a very strong and proud group of Hulkamaniacs. All around the world, men and women young and old had become nationalized citizens and voters [no voter ID necessary] in the Nation of Hulkamania. Long story abridged, we never thought we’d see the day Hulk Hogan himself refer to young Black Men as Niggers.

Just say we are all created equal, we know what we really mean.

Through an academic lens, any student could see this coming as educators have long warned us about this unavoidable collision course. Our scholars tell us that consciousness is indeed culturally inspired. Evidence has proven, ethnic boys, in this case, Black, have a ‘conscious confrontation’ in early adolescence whereby awareness of their ethnic identity increases. So, one might be concerned and ask where is the disruption in the minds of these young black boys between the ages of 10–14 who grew up with these White heroes? The fact is, there is none. These same Black boys who grow up to be men do not begin to hate white men, even as they learn a congregation full of white men devised a system to keep them and their families disenfranchised and called it the Constitution.

The Black men who realize Hulk Hogan viewed Black men just as white slave owners once had, and at some point come to the acknowledge Jesus was Black too and looked nothing like that precious White man hanging in the home of their grandparents, do not grow to hate nor have violent tendencies as some would love for us to believe. These Black men have some of the best white male friends, some grow to have white wives, and maybe they don’t have the easiest time assimilating to predominantly white schools and culture, but they do it and do it without a single chip falling from their shoulders. The only thing they despise as they are now ‘woke’ is the system; they begin to see it is, in fact, the system, the same system that told them they couldn’t be men, or vote, or be free, the one that views them as easy targets to keep prisons packed, the one that told their parents they could not live in white neighborhoods and has yet to lift a finger or pen to truly reform the atrocities committed against their ancestors. This system once invisible, analogous to the system that strategically placed white heroes on their TV sets, has now become the villain in plain sight.

Today the Black men who grew up with White heroes are heroes themselves. The Black men you see doing the hard work in their communities, speaking out against the system that hunts them down and kills them on television are our new superheroes. They have heard and seen the stories of their ancestors, they know the truth and in spite of all the lies and continued attacks on their loved ones, these Black men do not hate White men or white people for that matter. Black men have and will always despise the ‘system’ and I pray for the peaceful lives of my children they [I] continue to fight like the White male Heroes Black men like me grew up watching.

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Socioeconomic & Sociopolitical Equity for African Descendants Worldwide. When an Organizer and Activist Writes.

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Duane L. Vandross

Duane L. Vandross

Socioeconomic & Sociopolitical Equity for African Descendants Worldwide. When an Organizer and Activist Writes.

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