Handcrafting your own Mask

​The goal of my paper was to shine light on the topic of African American males conforming to the ideas and viewpoints society has on us. Reflecting on my paper, I believe I did a phenomenal job at getting my point across of how we only confirm the thoughts and stereotype of society when we commit murders and do other things that negatively impact our communities. I believe that everyone on this planet has a chance to be great in life regardless of the preconceived dilemmas set against them. But in order to be great you have to be different; create your own identity. Writing this paper was something that came pretty easy due to the fact that this directly applies to my life and how I’m perceived.

Question I am investigating: How does society construct or destroy feelings of identity and belonging?

“Wassup Lew. Where you going, yo!?” he shouted as he galloped across the street as if it was his light.

“What’s up Tyreke. I’m headed to the Library. What are you getting into tonight?” I responded.

“Oh you that type nigga!? I didn’t even know we had a library around here! Why the hell you going to the damn library?”

“What do you mean, Tyreke? The type “nigga” that cares about his future?! I retorted as I stormed away…

The feeling I got after this moment was dreadful. I didn’t understand what was wrong or abnormal about an African American male who cares about his future. I couldn’t grasp the idea of why more African American males cared about their future. Then it hit me; I felt like I could answer this question. I was surprised at how simple the answer was actually. I came to the conclusion that us African American males were victims; victims of ourselves and of the system. By this I mean that blacks hold other black back from prosperous, positive lifestyles and so does the system.

The system being how things work and are structured in America.  All the way from 1746 (when blacks were first enslaved 1) to now we have conformed to the lense that society sees us in. We are viewed as these beasts who have no control over what they do. 

“In that first year, my first away from my hometown, I was to become thoroughly familiar with the language of fear. At dark, shadowy intersections, I could cross in front of a car stopped at a traffic light and elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk of the driver--black, white, male, or female--hammering down the door locks. On less traveled streets after dark, I grew accustomed to but never comfortable with people crossing to the other side of the street rather than pass me. Then there were the standard unpleasantries with policemen, doormen, bouncers, cab drivers, and others whose business it is to screen out troublesome individuals before there is any nastiness.2” Personally, each and every line in this quote is a stereotype of this black man. Throughout the whole journal, he had not displayed any actions to warrant these “precautions” taken against him. And that’s what leads me to believe it’s a racial and sex problem.

This is half of the problem. The other half is how us blacks respond to these acts of “safety”. I see why people are scared of us. We confirm every stereotype they have about us. Out of the 21 black males who have been murdered this year, 18 have been murdered by another black man.3  This is a prime example of conforming to the lense society uses to view us.

By Tyreke saying “Oh you that type nigga!?”, he was boxing himself in; taking away a source of knowledge that could propel him to create his own identity instead of wearing the social mask handcrafted for our kind.

                                             “Progress is impossible without change

                                            and those who cannot change their minds

                                                         cannot change anything.”

                                                            ~  George Shaw