Last week, the internet was in a tizzy over Aliya S. King’s article for Vibe. The piece, titled the Mean Girls of Morehouse, explored how Morehouse’s change in dress code was really a reaction to a small group of genderqueer students on campus. The article dove into the lives of these students on campus. Vibe and King were both blasted for attacking Morehouse, a bastion of the black community, and a video was quickly uploaded to the internet showing a spirited discussion at Morehouse around the content of the article, exploring everything from lack of queer perspective to the representation of Morehouse.
However, through this whole debate, two things have stood out to me:
By Guest Contributor L’Heureux Dumi Lewis, originally published at Uptown Notes
A few days ago, my talk at the 143rd Morehouse Founder’s Day Symposium went up on the web. The talk was entitled, “Shadowboxing the Self: Confronting Black Male Privilege.” I was very excited to give the talk because I knew that it would ruffle some feathers, but I viewed it as a labor of love. My goal is to speak truth that inspires thoughts and actions. While not everyone will agree with me, this is not a surprise, I do think the conversations that Black Male Privilege (BMP) has generated thus far are good. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive and many are asking for clarification. I’ve decided to respond to three thematic questions I’ve received, most often from incredulous Black men. I highly recommend that you watch the video of the talk below. This is an emergent area of research for me, though I’ve been living Black male privilege (BMP) for some time now. There are a number of great talks from the Founder’s Day symposium with was a 4 hour plus affair (My talk was only 35 minutes). Please do check them out.
1) What is Black Male Privilege? Is that like irregardless?*
I got this question a bunch. I think its because, on its face, the placement of the words Black male and privilege close together appears contradictory. Indeed, I want you to think about the juxtaposition and open up to the possibility of its existence. While most of us are used to the crisis narrative of Black men in America, we continue to overlook the ways that male privilege is experienced and leveraged by Black men in our everyday lives. While most folks who asked this question didn’t watch the video (all you have to do is click play). I’ll write out the working definition I gave during the talk, “a system of built in and often overlooked systematic advantages that center the experience and concerns of Black men while minimizing the power that Black males hold.”**
I’ve been trying to avoid writing this for some time now. As an alumnus of the institution, it’s hard for me to see you in such condition. Many of my fellow alumni complained of your disrepair and your besmirched image when they heard about students being beaten for their sexuality, shooters graduating, and cross-dressing, but I have bigger concerns. While all these things mattered to me, they did not disturb me because of what was being done to the image of our institution; they disturbed me because they demonstrated that Dear Old Morehouse was terribly unequipped to deal with the realities and lives that Black men in America live now. In fact, it is the Old Morehouse that is more dangerous to me than any student with a gun, sagged pants, or high heels would ever be. Let me explain.
When I visited Morehouse for the first time, it was about 1994, I remember seeing hanging banners and brochures that talked about the development of leaders, community servants, and caring connected brothers. The culmination of these developments was to be the Morehouse Man. I remember reading about the crown that Morehouse held up for its students so that one day they too would embody the Morehouse Mystique. I was sold. I was ready to be in that number. I was ready to be at the only institution of higher education dedicated fully to the education of men of African descent in the United States. But like most things, I soon found out all that glittered was not gold. Read the Post Dear Old Morehouse