This’s me trying to be all gung-ho with it, hence why I am at present hunkered down in the Starbucks on campus in a booth all to myself at a garbage and notebook-strewn table with nothing in particular streaming through my headphones, hence why I can make out the music playing across one, two, three, four overhanging speakers I just counted, which is probably Al Green, and all the while two young ladies in a pilgrimage-to-Mecca-like queue to the registers boogey to Al Green, or who I think is Al Green, though I’m pretty sure it is Al Green, as I once again try to be all gung ho as I weather a sick laptop whose trackpad is busted so as to make the cursor do things I don’t want it to, never want it to, and shouldn’t unless I want it to, which is why I have to say lastly that if this attempt of mine should go unfinished it’s because. Just because. And excuse the typos.
It may or may not be fair to say that unbeknownst to most whites, or those whites behind the depictions of radicalized characters in comics, or more specifically those behind the manifestations of characters in the midst of increasing popularity to portray historically classically handsome straight white male superheroes as anything but, it is easy to believe that They themselves believe that such characters should be represented with dignity and not as they have been since time immemorial where they were arguably mostly reflected the external signifiers of, say, a one late-ODB; or even Jay-Z for that matter. But now, hm, Jay-Z, now he is an interesting fellow to bring up here, I think, and for whom I have the utmost deference as a fan of the music he makes for mass appeal and the fattening his et al’s pockets, or so I speculate, as one tends to concerning the motivations of rich people who don’t seem to be satisfied with how rich they already are, because then why would they continue doing things they of are only going to make people want to throw more of their conceivably hard earned money at them for whatever their peddling this time.
Anyway: What makes J so interesting is the fact that as a black man in American (BiA hereafter) he has done more than what any considerable numbers of blacks let alone black males will do and can do in this country, which is (albeit born a ghetto youth into BK’s Marcy Projects, who statistically in relation to geography and a # of other contextual factors such as, for one, drug dealing on Mr Jay-Z part, shouldn’t’ve even be walking among us now here today) become a worldwide sensation and multiplatinum artist whose music for a lot of, I want to say, young and old people, is a gateway into hiphop, and what’s more is that he’s been able to do this–that is, gain status and rub shoulders with the best of them not just in music but in business and then some–while maintaining his black masculinity, and by black masculinity I mean Jay-Z as a rapper embodies the type of exaggerated manhood, i.e., hypermasculinity, recognized in black males as a recipe for disaster, or in theory What Makes One A Legit Rapper.
Note that this brand of masculinity is a policed masculinity in association w/ badassery, too much tattooery, and overtly crass word and lifestyle choices that are not recognized by the Dominant Consensus, unless it is to codify what constitutes what’s good and what’s bad. There’s that and there’s the brooding, the disdain for The West, the departure from what is considered “okay” and “PC, the “cool pose,” and the reluctance to appeal to the sensibilities of the Dominant: things that mark the black body as “problematic” or a “nuisance” and whose inherent qualities are to be staved off from if one should ever at all to be considered for mainstream qualification within a predominantly white social order that race-wise: disqualifies BiAs from privileges and opportunities conceived of in the minds of white people for other white people; and gender-wise: prohibits BiAs from exhibiting any authenticity (read: Blackness) as a requisite for entry into (white) middle-class.
And so: Jay-Z is truly a unicorn in this regard: because having done none of the shapeshifting or genderbending or whitewashing or UncleTomming asked of of BiAs looking to better themselves, he (Jay), made it.
The aforementioned racialized gender performance is not ltd. to the black community, or just black males, but to all colored folks. What it means is that the rules for how, say, black males should act both publicly and privately is specific to them (blacks); in other words: a black dude not gonna act the same way as a white dude, or vice versa, nor is either expected to. Another way: the rules or standards by which they are measured in determining authenticity are different, i.e, radicalized. “Or, more generally, [Vershawn Young argues] that in relation the mainstream, white masculinity defines black male gender performance within a patriarchal American culture” (“Compulsive”). Reasons for this amount to slavery and Jim Crow and legislation that made it so that blacks were less than, i.e., subhuman, and a multitude of other sordid, draconian feats we disparage and condemn today thanks to time and blips in time that amounted to movements and after-movements and laws and to refrain–time–and the wonderwork thereof. Bullshit or not that it took this long, does not trump the fact that, friends, we made it(, sort of).
“African American culture has historically been deemed contrary to the norms of heterosexuality and patriarchy” (Ferguson, 04); “assigning heternormative behavior to black men historically exists as a way to disenfranchise us from the opportunities reserved fro white men in this country and thus from perceptions of “true” manhood, and from that “true” heterosexuality (Young “Compulsive”). This results in behavior and gestures that run counter to heteronormalcy, “deemed deviant, in need of correction, straightening out” (Young) and marks black men as anti-men and not black enough. A common invective that I myself can attest to having heard growing up as a burgeoning black youth who constantly found hisself against his volition in Public White Spaces and thronged by whites is “[Andre,] You act white” or “Stop acting white,” or “You talk like a white person,” or “You’re the whitest black person I’ve ever met,” and so on. Mind you I encounter people in my so-called adulthood who in their so-called adulthood still think it is just fine to say things like this to me and mean it as a joke, or can’t believe that I have the interests I have, or the vocabulary I have, or the sensibilities I have, because I am black and they don’t know jack–that is, to say they probaly couldn’t wrap their brains around it–about intersectionality and that I am a nexus, a confluence of things that do not necessarily go together all that easily…..