Tariq St. Patrick and The Black Male Issue
If you’re like me, and millions of other tuned in viewers, then this season of STARZ hit tv show POWER was absolutely stressful for you! I mean, from episode one all the way to last nights season finale, I found myself having to lie down frequently, call in to work for mental health reasons, and spend adequate amounts of time in my self-care routines of burning sage and wearing clay mask. I was sick of it ya hear me?! This season was the most abusive relationship I've been in since Ms. Shonda Rhimes decided to kill off Wes Gibbons in HTGAWM (bitch!)…but i digress. During this season of POWER the character of Tariq St. Patrick took an interesting journey into the world of drugs that revealed to me a reflection of what so many black American men go through, or better yet what we don’t go through which often times lays the foundation for the rest of our lives. Following are a few things I noticed in the character Tariq St. Patrick which mirrored to me the culturally relevant themes and patterns that speak directly to the souls of millions of men throughout the western world, but more specifically to the black man in America.
What was most evident to me about the character of Tariq this season was his natural instinctual drive to go from boyhood into manhood. For many cultures around the world the dawn of puberty in a man-child is a call for his nature to rise from one state of being into the next. That is, from a boy into a man. In his natural instincts, the young boy is unconsciously desiring to be validated or recognized by the men in his community as a fellow man. When a boy has no system or ritualistic way of becoming a man this often times looks like acting out, rebelling against authority, and taking foolish risk that lead to no greater end. His masculine nature MUST be expressed but without the proper protocols in place we see many young men, just like Tariq, behaving in an emotionally out of control complex which often times leads us down a regrettable road. Now, Tariq has a father which we all know is James St. Patrick, otherwise known by his street name, Ghost. By many different measures Ghost is what we would call a good father. He married Tariq’s mother, Tasha St. Patrick, is present in the home (for the most part) provides greatly in a financial capacity, and is even shown as being affectionate towards his son both verbally, with “i love you son” and physically with hugs and kisses. With all of these factors in play you’d think Tariq would be happy and appreciative of having such a supportive father in his life. However, we see Tariq lash out at his father on numerous occasions, and he even goes behind his fathers back becoming mixed up in a game so wicked that we see his little sister pay the cost with her own life. Tariq is lost, like many of our boys out in the streets and is looking for a way to get in touch with who he feels he should be, a man. There was a pivotal moment this season when we see Tariq face to face with his father and in one line he says something worth millions “Teach me the game, Ghost” I was absolutely floored by this moment, it rocked me deeply. It wasn’t until days later that I had a realization of why though. What i’d seen was Tariq not merely speaking of wanting to learn the drug game, what he was really saying was “teach me how to be a man” Tariq’s natural instincts have kicked in and he wants an all access pass into the world of men. He wants the recognition of the men in his family that says “yes you are a man” and “yes you can stomp with the big dogs now.” With Ghost denying his son a rites of passage into the world of men, we see Tariq adopt a surrogate father in Kanan, who, unlike Ghost invites Tariq into the fold fully and without limits. Kanan puts him through test of courage, strength, and emotional control which makes Tariq feel like the man he wants to be. Kanan even introduces Tariq to his first sexual experience with a woman in an earlier season via a paid sex worker. By allowing Tariq the danger, independence, and adventure that his masculine instincts drive him into, Kanan, whether knowingly or unknowingly has placed himself in a position as an Elder in Tariq’s life, subsequently earning his admiration even through betrayal and death.
Many black men have fallen victim to a culture that does not value true masculinity or the cultivation of such a powerful essence in its men. When it comes to models of masculinity it seems we have only two options. The first is to basically become a eunuch in which we sacrifice our aggression, directness, and strength for being seen as the good guy, the righteous guy, or the guy with good morals. This kind of guy does not like to rock the boat, turns into a pretzel to avoid confrontation, and has a weak sense of honor or loyalty to anything or anyone besides himself. He’s most likely overly religious and very rigid in the rules he places on himself due to his faith. He believes this makes him a good man, but what it really does is drain him of his potency for making real change in the world. The other option it seems, is the polar opposite in which we see the drinking, smoking, tattooed, hyper-sexual, over exaggerated caricature of masculinity that so many of us have adopted as the height of black male masculinity. For black men this road of masculinity often times leads to addictions, prison, death or all three. Ive seen both of these up close and personal and ill tell you first hand that these options are extremely undesirable to any young man with common sense. Whether you are highly domesticated; in an unfulfilling relationship, working an unfulfilling job, currently in a position of life that is killing your testosterone levels, or numbed out from drinking and smoking weed everyday, attracted to street shit that makes no sense in 2018 and have found yourself behind the bars of a prison cell a few times. Id like to say that we have at least one more option and that its never too late to make the shift. Without a cultural frame for many of us to initiate as men, it is paramount that we take it upon ourselves to accept the call of man by intentionally initiating through lifes’ challenges in order to become the men that we are meant to me. Sometimes, there will be challenges presented to you that you will intuitively know you must overcome with your own strength, and cunning. You have to stand on your own two! This is the call of standing firm in your masculinity and using the masculine strength to create a new you, and a new world in which that new you lives in. This does not mean that you are going at it alone, because apart of growing in your masculinity is being able to submit to people that are more knowledgeable and experienced in the areas of life in which you’d like to master for yourself. In reality, what this means is that you are now 100% responsible for how your life turns out. Its no longer societies fault, or moms fault, or dads fault. In the world of men, no one cares whos fault it is. Handle your fucking business and get shit done. Empathy comes after action not before in this realm. The call of manhood will often times look like overcoming addictions, fears, breaking bad habits, starting new habits, mastering your sexuality as well as your finances, and learning how to properly convey your emotions in a diplomatic way among other things. In the latter part of 2018 I predict a rise in the sacred masculine forces as men begin to unlearn and relearn themselves, subsequently returning to a state of natural masculinity. This state of natural masculinity is necessary for creation of a new world where many of our young brothers, just like Tariq St. Patrick will no longer have to look to the streets, drugs, or violence for manhood affirmation but a system will be built into the culture that takes us from baby boys to leaders, warriors, and teachers.
For all of the men out there that feel the call, ANSWER IT. This is mens work and can not be done or taught by women. You are the teacher, the master, and the leader that the world has been waiting for. So, get to work!