Wednesday, July 30, 2014

(Part One) Lessons Learned About Being Black From A Male Perspective

What does it mean to be black and how important is it for a black man to love a black woman? A former journalism class-mate from Florida A&M University, Reginald Alceus, agreed to answer questions pertaining to this topic. The following are his experiences and his viewpoints. 

Do you remember what age you started to notice your skin tone was different from others?

I was made aware that my skin tone was different from those around me around kindergarten most likely. I attended a predominantly white Catholic private school where I was one of the only Black children available.

What was the first thing you learned about being a black man? 

I suspect one of the first things I learned about being a black man was that other races, typically White individuals, assumed I was cool or talented or athletic simply by virtue of being Black. They also expected me to, in certain ways, be in tune to all matters of being Black, as though I was a representative of Black culture. This wasn't something I thought of as difficult or offensive at the time since and my friends were all kids and I felt like it placed me in a special position to receive attention. 

However, I eventually ran into problems for two primary reasons, the first being that I hailed from a Haitian American family whose culture and traditions are fairly different from an African-American family's. The second was that I really didn't have much interest in "Black" culture at the time and did not know much about issues, trends, and other such factors related to the Black community. In other words, having grown up in a Haitian-American household with a Roman Catholic faith surrounded primarily by white students in a predominantly white school, I quickly became regarded as one of the whitest black kid my friends knew, so my authority on anything "Black" didn't hold the clout it used to when they believed I was about that world.

What was the first thing you learned about black women?
I didn't make any real distinction between White women and Black women growing up. They were all women to me, capable of inspiring the same sentiments within me. 

I had White female teachers who I respected immensely and Black female relatives and family friends who I admired and respected just the same. It never occurred to me to draw a line or make a distinction as a child or even as an adolescent. I still feel that way to some extent to this day, though I can say I notice the impact the influence of respective cultural experiences has on how women represent themselves and it shows in their demeanor. 

There is something truly distinct about the charisma, grace, and dignity you see in women like the late Maya Angelou or actress Phylicia Rashad or the soulful, enterprising spirit of Oprah Winfrey that identifies them somehow as uniquely Black. 

The same could be said of characteristics of women such as the late Princess Diana or actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie or strong-willed, hawkish Hillary Clinton. Their race is a crucial component to who they are as individuals and what they choose to do, but I personally recognize them as women first capable of amazing things.

There is more. Click on the link to read Part 2, How Important Is Black Love To The Black Man. Reginald breaks down how the world views a man when he dates different races of women. He also explains the good and bad parts of dating a black woman. 

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