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Fetishization of Black men is a form of prejudice

Fetishization of Black men is a form of prejudice

Fetishization of Black men is a form of prejudice
November 07
13:00 2020

The fetishization of Black bodies is nothing new. The thought of being desirable in itself is something most of us want. We all desire to be loved, attractive and respected. However, fetishization provides none of these things. For all the loving interracial relationships that exist, some carry this limiting culture within them. The fetishization of Black men often has little to do with the individuals but what the individuals represent according to mainstream stereotypes.

It’s no surprise to anyone that the stereotypes of Black men are rooted in anti-Blackness and the process of othering. Black men are desired for their aggressiveness, sexual prowess and an explicit form of masculinity. However, each of these traits originates from colonial racism. They perpetuate forward to today because of the systemic and social racism that lingers on. The aggressive Black man is portrayed as strong, not the most intelligent but functional enough to use. He is characterized by an absence of both emotional and physical pain. These traits are what was used to justify the use of slaves gathered from the Atlantic Slave trade.

Black men and women were seen as nothing more than animals to rear, a lower form of consciousness with a higher pain threshold. Today, this all transfers into a form of hypersexualization of the Black man. He is in all cases seen this othering differs him from other men and is what creates the draw of “jungle fever.” His aggressiveness is seen as some natural way of being.

Rather than realizing the root of this stereotype, which would be a common response for any person stripped of their culture and forced into labor, many simply believe that it’s innate in his conception. His anger today could not be in turn because of the repercussions of 400 years of slavery and the consistent neglect and abuse he’s exposed to due to the political systems at play, but only because that’s “how he is.”

The belief that all these traits are innate is what leads to the medical racism that refuses pain medication to Black Americans. It’s the belief that limits and allocates mental health awareness and opportunities away from Black men because their feelings aren’t seen as nuanced or complex. They are the beliefs that bleed into the workplace and halt progress because Black men aren’t seen as mentally capable. For an attraction to be based on these assumptions, it only gives rise and power to the beliefs which they stem from.

These beliefs are all inherently racist. Furthermore, we must look at the messaging young Black boys gleam from such standards. It says you are only desirable if you hold these traits. It inhibits young Black boys from being emotionally open and expressing gentleness and kindness. The fetishization of Black men is another way that toxic masculinity is reinforced. Black men deserve to be accepted for all that they truly are and not what society has told them to be.

Today, these stereotypes and fantasies accumulate in the image of “thugs” and “gang members.” It is the idealization of violent culture that many who are deprived of resources and education feel the need to take part in. Economic disparity and the effects on the community are romanticized through their sexualization and thus lose their significance. To find this attractive would only mean the political and social oppression that creates these lifestyles is something you support. Black men come in a variety of different shapes, carry a multitude of differing beliefs and each one is a person who deserves an identity outside your limited scope of attraction.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Davion Smith

Davion Smith

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