Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Armchair Sociology: Beyonce Rules--This is What Happens When Black Men Are Systematically Absent in the Homes of Their Children

Forgive me the indulgence. As I always say, this is what happens when dad (or some responsible proxy) isn't around to mentor our young men--you have sexual assaults on ottomans; Latarian Milton; jsmoovery; and now teenage boys choreographing dance routines to Beyonce's music.

We are truly a society too sick to survive. Once more to the Moynihan Report (every time I see some ign't stupidity I am going to cite that grand document):

Chapter II. The Negro American Family

At the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family.

It is the fundamental source of the weakness of the Negro community at the present time.

There is probably no single fact of Negro American life so little understood by whites. The Negro situation is commonly perceived by whites in terms of the visible manifestation of discrimination and poverty, in part because Negro protest is directed against such obstacles, and in part, no doubt, because these are facts which involve the actions and attitudes of the white community as well. It is more difficult, however, for whites to perceive the effect that three centuries of exploitation have had on the fabric of Negro society itself. Here the consequences of the historic injustices done to Negro Americans are silent and hidden from view. But here is where the true injury has occurred: unless this damage is repaired, all the effort to end discrimination and poverty and injustice will come to little.

The role of the family in shaping character and ability is so pervasive as to be easily overlooked. The family is the basic social unit of American life; it is the basic socializing unit. By and large, adult conduct in society is learned as a child.

A fundamental insight of psychoanalytic theory, for example, is that the child learns a way of looking at life in his early years through which all later experience is viewed and which profoundly shapes his adult conduct.

It may be hazarded that the reason family structure does not loom larger in public discussion of social issues is that people tend to assume that the nature of family life is about the same throughout American society. The mass media and the development of suburbia have created an image of the American family as a highly standardized phenomenon. It is therefore easy to assume that whatever it is that makes for differences among individuals or groups of individuals, it is not a different family structure.

There is much truth to this; as with any other nation, Americans are producing a recognizable family system. But that process is not completed by any means. There are still, for example, important differences in family patterns surviving from the age of the great European migration to the United States, and these variations account for notable differences in the progress and assimilation of various ethnic and religious groups. A number of immigrant groups were characterized by unusually strong family bonds; these groups have characteristically progressed more rapidly than others.

But there is one truly great discontinuity in family structure in the United States at the present time: that between the white world in general and that of the Negro American.

The white family has achieved a high degree of stability and is maintaining that stability.

By contrast, the family structure of lower class Negroes is highly unstable, and in many urban centers is approaching complete breakdown.

N.b. There is considerable evidence that the Negro community is in fact dividing between a stable middle class group that is steadily growing stronger and more successful, and an increasingly disorganized and disadvantaged lower class group. There are indications, for example, that the middle class Negro family puts a higher premium on family stability and the conserving of family resources than does the white middle class family. The discussion of this paper is not, obviously, directed to the first group excepting as it is affected by the experiences of the second - an important exception.

There are two points to be noted in this context.

First, the emergence and increasing visibility of a Negro middle class may beguile the nation into supposing that the circumstances of the remainder of the Negro community are equally prosperous, whereas just the opposite is true at present, and is likely to continue so.

Second, the lumping of all Negroes together in one statistical measurement very probably conceals the extent of the disorganization among the lower-class group. If conditions are improving for one and deteriorating for the other, the resultant statistical averages might show no change. Further, the statistics on the Negro family and most other subjects treated in this paper refer only to a specific point in time. They are a vertical measure of the situation at a given movement. They do not measure the experience of individuals over time. Thus the average monthly unemployment rate for Negro males for 1964 is recorded as 9 percent. But during 1964, some 29 percent of Negro males were unemployed at one time or another. Similarly, for example, if 36 percent of Negro children are living in broken homes at any specific moment, it is likely that a far higher proportion of Negro children find themselves in that situation at one time or another in their lives.


Unknown said...

Is it at all possible that in this case, the three guys do in fact have a stable father figure in their lives, and they're just gay? A father figure who's probably upstairs in the kitchen facepalming while the mother is attempting to explain that teenagers need a chance to explore their sexuality? Just saying.

macon d said...

That seems pretty possible to me, Taylor.

Jacquetta said...

I am mildly offended at the homophobic implications of this post. Those young men are obviously gay and as noted by Taylor, there is no indication they suffer from "absent fathers/black male syndrome". This is not at all good evidence of the deterioration of the black family structure, unless one is implying that a lack of black male presences in the home makes male children homosexual or effeminate. I feel this video makes a far better example of the way media is influencing our society and the pervasiveness of hyper-sexuality in our culture.

chaunceydevega said...

It was supposed to be provocative...

Question: Should boys or girls of any sexual orientation be dancing on Youtube to Beyonce (or anyone else) for that matter?

I think a strong and responsible father in the home or in said boys lives would make it clear that is a no.

Check out the other embeds to see the consistency of the position.
Ottoman molestation, jsmoov grounding, etc. etc. are all part of a bigger problem with bad parenting and folks not teaching their children appropriate boundaries of private and public.


jacked UP jazz said...

It is blatantly apparent to me that these, um, young men "got skilz". I hope the divine Ms. B lurks on this channel and offers these fellows a chance to audition for her next tour.

Also, on an unrelated matter, I would like to commend the center dancer on his choice of sensible shoes. Most people have no idea how hard it is to find two inch pumps with a wide heel and sufficient support for dancing.

You go gurl.

chaunceydevega said...

@Jackedup Jazz--He is doing something special with those shoes!


krystal*lyte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
krystal*lyte said...

It isn't a display of homophobia when someone makes a point that there’s still such a thing as being socially responsible, no matter what gender you wish to portray yourself as...i'm just sayin.

Anonymous said...

But it is homophobia to say that "we are truly a society too sick to survive" WHEN (or because) "teenage boys choreograph dance routines to Beyonce's music" and to connect this to "sexual assaults on ottomans" and "jsmoovery," which I as a frequent visitor to this blog know is part of a larger argument about how gay the behavior of hypermasculine young black males really is (much to your vexation), and to claim all of this is the "fault" of absent fathers (or father figures) thereby implying if there was some man around to show these boys how to be men these gay children wouldn't be... [For the record, not learned. One either is or is not!]
(Singing: "And the world would be a better place." Really?)
THAT'S when "we are...too sick to survive"? When gay young people--boys!--dare to show themselves on camera?

CD, I am not satisfied with your "it was supposed to be provocative" reply. That is all too often the response when people are called on bigotry. ["That's not how I feel personally. I was just being provocative."] Don't say it; I'm sure you "have gay friends."

Here is the other problem with this supposed bad parenting argument of yours: You pretend to be on the side of black women ("It's the fault of black men for running off and leaving the women with all the responsibility."), but your argument screams at black women: "Y'all don't know how to raise no damn children properly. Look at what happens when YOU do it!"
Just so we're clear: Absentee fathers are not a new phenomenon in the black community and we managed to turn out some respectable Negroes anyway!

On behalf of the single women (mothers and grandmothers) SUCCESSFULLY doing their best to rear productive individuals--male and female--who are so confident in who they are as to be their true selves, thanks so much for... nothing.

gordon gartrelle said...

Your hateful mind just can't fathom resistance to the heteromormative order.

They are dancing in pajamas and high heels as if to thumb their noses at traditional modes of masculinity; their performative gender-bending would make Judy Butler proud.

Media and technology have democratized celebrity and enabled a level of narcissism to which the average person has never had access. Now everyone's vapid, banal, or vulgar lives are on display for all to see.

Don't you see how wonderful and transgressive this is, Chauncey?

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...


Wow! I like your energy. We are looking for some guest bloggers so please feel free to send us some things.

Now, I can't stand ign't culture period. You know this. As a matter of policy I think too many folks are showing their behinds and acting stupid on the Internet...desperate for their five minutes of fame and then retreating when they play themselves. If those were my sons acting that way--straight or gay--they would have my foot in their behind.

I call out the hypermasculine thugs because in my eyes they represent an interesting mix of problems. They are "real men" but they continually act in feminine ways. They are also to the one very homophobic, but then they idealize prison culture where homosexuality is a norm. They walk around showing their behinds to each other, but would kill you if you asked them if they were "punks." They are often on the "DL" I hate that word btw, but aren't gay because they are tops.

It is a hell of a puzzle.

Now, you won't like my explanation for their behavior one bit anon, but hell it will be a fun exchange. I think that we need 2 parent homes. This isn't to say that one parent can't do it alone, but it is considerably more difficult. I do think that young men in particular suffer greatly when dad isn't in the home. They are feminized in the worst: part of being a baby boy is being infantilized. These boys are made into men ("little men") at an early age. They are made the object of all attention in the home and often live an extended adolescence where their worst traits are enabled. Finally, there often seems to be an almost incestuous relationship (emotionally) where sons are made into the man of the house by their mothers/aunties/cousins when dad is not around.

I am old school. Young boys need good male role models to learn how to be men, and most importantly to learn the boundaries of abstract authority. Some of these young ign'ts end up in prison precisely because they grow up in a youthocracy, where there are no true elders, and they are enabled in all manner of stupidity as "little men" and baby boys.

Interestingly, there was an episode of Judge Mathis on the other day where a young mother listened to her kids who confronted her and told her to divorce their stepdad because "he had too many rules, i.e. structure in the home, do your homework, and accountability." This lost soul listened to these children!

To point, the oldest of the brood--16 years old--stole a car, wrecked it, and then dad wanted to kick his behind and hand him over to the cops to teach him a lesson. What did mom do? Her boy needed a hug so she held him...and didn't punish him. This is the mess I am talking about.

Sorry if that sounds patriarchal. I will own the comment.

I am hard on the sisters because the men are so raggedy and lost. It is unfair that women have to do the jobs of both parents, but these "men" are so lost, perhaps we ironically are not better off because these "men" are not in the home. Who knows?

chauncey d

Mec said...

Chauncey D,

"As a matter of policy I think too many folks are showing their behinds and acting stupid on the Internet...desperate for their five minutes of fame and then retreating when they play themselves. If those were my sons acting that way--straight or gay--they would have my foot in their behind."

Fortunately,there's enough room on the internet for people to "show their behinds" and/or act stupid as well as display more serious endeavors.
Who is being harmed by the behavior of the dancers in the clip? What in that clip warrants your foot in their behind or warrants any other admonishment? Most professional dancers were amateurs at one time.

Should these gentleman wait until they're offered a paycheck before they dance and submit the routine for public viewing? No room for male dancers in your family, understood. The Judge Mathis anecdote is worth discussing but it irrelevant in this matter unless the you know the particulars of these dancers parents.

The point of my post is to suggest that the Moynihan Report, although informative, is being used as camouflage to justify your "discomfort" with these seemingly gay men. And your 1:59AM comment supports my suspicions. That's my armchair psychology. Btw, I do like your blog. :-)

chaunceydevega said...


Well damn. Question: just because one can should they? re: showing one's behind for millions on these Internets?

Judge Mathis is relevant for all things! Watch your mouth!

just kidding...

chauncey devega

Mec said...

lol..Well,I wouldn't make it the 11th commandment; Thou Shalt Not Show Thy Behind Upon Thine Internets, if it causes no harm...Besides, there has to be some effort to see most of the antics people think are worth filming.

I'm sure that I will not see 99.8% of what You Tube has to offer. Most of the You Tube clips I do see I come across them because they're posted on websites I visit. So I can't say whether they should do it(show their behinds) or not but I can say that I shouldn't spend time actively seeking it out.

I see I crossed a line putting "irrelevant" and "Judge Mathis" in the same sentence, it was out of ignorance it won't happen again! :-)