f*uck respectability, we need to re-establish brotherhood among black men

April 10, 2017
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By Asher Primus*, AFROPUNK Contributor

As of April 2017, Netflix still has its dose of must-see independent films. One of the platform’s best and most heart-wrenching movies I have seen so far is called Honeytrap. It tells the story of a Trinidadian teen named Layla who moves to London and stays with her mother. Layla struggles with fitting in as her innocent personality does not grab the attention of the boys and the popular girls. So she becomes less focused on her grades in order to snag the attention of a popular rapper named Troy.

Troy is the abusive-type who uses performances of hyper-masculinity to lure Layla into his trap. While the couple is on and off in their relationship, a kind-hearted boy named Shaun defends Layla even though he does not trust her as she constantly rebounds back into Troy’s arms. Troy’s jealousy of Shaun triggers his abusive tendencies, and an argument ensues between the couple, forcing Layla to tell Troy she does not care for Shaun. Troy forces her to prove this by participating in a hit on Shaun, and she fearfully agrees to tell Shaun to meet her at a bus stop where he will be ambushed.

Once there, Troy’s gang jumps Shaun, choking and striking him with a bat before Troy makes the brutal point that Layla is his girl by pulling out a knife and fatally stabbing Shaun. Layla is devastated at the loss of her best-friend, and the next day she is taken into custody for her connection to the murder. Her mother is surprised her innocent daughter could ever do something so heartless.

The film is based on the true events leading to the death of 16-year-old Shakilus Townsend. It is a reminder that hyper-masculinity and abuse are killing black men. Black men lock themselves inside of these ideas of masculinity that have them believe that black women are only attracted to bad boys, so treating them with respect is an assumed turn-off.

I know black men who do not want to be abusers, but they fear rejection, moving on and accountability. Black boys may fear loving a black woman because they think being a knight in shining armor could cost them their lives like it did for Shaun. They learn not to defend black women, so it ends up feeling like an unwanted chore or a suicide mission rather than something that men naturally do for women.

There needs to be a locker room discussion with black boys on how to treat our sisters. We start by losing the ego-driven urge to prove who has the highest body count. Our ideas of masculinity are also affecting how black nerds/alternatives/pro-black men and boys develop anti-black woman rhetoric. I do not believe these black men hate black women, rather their poor treatment of black women stems from their view of other black men whom they would consider unfit to be in a relationship. Self-proclaiming “good black men” blame the bad boys for them being single. Many times, the blame game leads to black men favoring other races of women as they believe those women know how to treat good black men.

Black men need to stop attacking black women on their dating choices. The problem is within ourselves because of toxic masculinity. From street to alternative boys and men, we all need to re-establish the brotherhood among black men.

*Asher Primus is a graduate of Augusta University majoring in Communication with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. While in Augusta University, he was a part of Black Student Union, The Initiative, Thinktools Inc., Cru and Women’s and Gender Studies Association. His hobbies are video gaming and blogging.