Exposing Black Male Privilege

| 12/16/2010 | Comments (19)

I was in the process of creating a list of the many privileges enjoyed (and unchallenged) by Black men in America when a friend sent me an excerpted version of this information in an email. After a little research, I found the original blog posting and am reproducing it here in its entirety, with a few additions.  I welcome your comments and any additions you feel should be added to this list.

I’ve repeatedly heard Black men express the belief that they are victims of a matriarchial society, that they are denied rights and privileges and the opportunity to “be a man” by “strong Black women.”  I’ve heard grown men whine that women need to be responsible for men’s attire (sagging pants), teen pregnancy amongst 11, 12, 13 year old girls (who are actually victims of child molesters, not willing adults making a choice for sex), and assign to women the responsibility for changing the Black community.  With women being blamed for all that, what the hell is it that Black men are going to get off their asses and do?

Here is an analysis of these Black male attitudes and behaviors by Mr. Jewel Woods, author of the original Black Male Privileges Checklist.

What does “privilege” have to do with Black men? We understand some kinds of privilege. The privilege to call a black man “Boy”, even if that black man happens to be 60 years old or older. The privilege to drive a car and never have to worry that the police will racially profile you. Privileges that have nothing to do with what a person has earned, but rather are based entirely on who a person is, or what color they are.

As African Americans, we have the ability to critique and condemn these types of “unearned assets” because we recognize that these privileges come largely at our expense. We have also learned from social and political movements that have sought to redress these privileges, and academic disciplines that have provided us with the tools to critically examine and explore them.

However, there is another type of privilege that has caused untold harm to both black men and women but has not had the benefit of being challenged by a social and political movement within our community, nor given adequate attention within our own academic community. The privilege that I am referring to is male privilege.

Male privilege is more than just a “double standard”, because it is based on attitudes or actions that come at the expense of women. Just as white privilege comes at the expense of African Americans and other people of color, gender double standards come at the expense of women.

Given the devastating history of racism in this country, it is understandable that getting black men to identify with the concept of male privilege isn’t easy! For many black men, the phrase “black male privilege” seems like an oxymoron — three words that simply do not go together.

While it is understandable that black men are hesitant or reluctant to examine the concept of male privilege, the African American community will never be able to overcome the serious issues that we face if we as black men do not confront our role in promoting and sustaining male supremacist attitudes and actions.

Inviting black men and boys into a conversation about male privilege does not deny centuries of discrimination or the burden of racism that we continue to suffer from today. As long as a black man can be tasered 9 times in 14 minutes, shot at 50 times on the morning of his wedding night, or receive less call-backs for a job than a white man with a felony record, we know that racist sexism that targets black men is alive and kicking.


Examining black male privileges offers black men and boys an opportunity to go beyond old arguments of “personal responsibility” or “blaming the man” to gain a deeper level of insight into how issues of class and race are influenced by gender. Gender is one of the most important tools in the production and reproduction of power because it relies on consent and not just coercion.

The items represented on the Black Male Privileges Checklist reflect aspects of Black men’s lives that we take for granted, which appear to be “double standards,” but in fact are male privileges that come at the expense of women in general and African American women in particular.

I offer this checklist based on years of experience working with men, and with the faith that we as men have far more to gain than we have to lose by challenging the privileges that we take for granted.

I believe that there are more similarities between men than there are differences. Therefore, many items on the Black Male Privilege Checklist apply to men generally. However, because of the specific privileges that black men have in relationship to black women; there are specific items that apply only to black men. I will leave it up to you to determine which items apply only to black men, and which items apply to men in general.

The Black Male Privileges Checklist

Leadership & Politics

1. I don’t have to choose my race over my sex in political matters.
2. When I read African American History textbooks, I will learn mainly about black men.
3. When I learn about the Civil Rights Movement & the Black Power Movements, most of the leaders that I will learn about will be black men.
4. I can rely on the fact that in the near 100-year history of national civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League, virtually all of the executive directors have been male.
5. I will be taken more seriously as a political leader than black women.
6. Despite the substantial role that black women played in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement, currently there is no black female that is considered a “race leader”.
7. I can live my life without ever having read black feminist authors, or knowing about black women’s history, or black women’s issues.
8. I can be a part of a black liberation organization like the Black Panther Party where an “out” rapist Eldridge Cleaver can assume leadership position.
9. I will make more money than black women at equal levels of education and occupation.
10. Most of the national “opinion framers” in Black America including talk show hosts and politicians are men.

11. I have the ability to define black women’s beauty by European standards in terms of skin tone, hair, and body size. In comparison, black women rarely define me by European standards of beauty in terms of skin tone, hair, or body size.
12. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of having my hair conforming to any standard image of beauty the way black women do.
13. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of being terrorized by the fear of gaining weight. In fact, in many instances bigger is better for my sex.
14. My looks will not be the central standard by which my worth is valued by members of the opposite sex.

Sex & Sexuality
15. I can purchase pornography that typically shows men defile women by the common practice of the “money shot.”
16. I can believe that causing pain during sex is connected with a woman’s pleasure without ever asking her.
17. I have the privilege of not wanting to be a virgin, but preferring that my wife or significant other be a virgin.
18. When it comes to sex if I say “No”, chances are that it will not be mistaken for “Yes”.
19. If I am raped, no one will assume that “I should have known better” or suggest that my being raped had something to do with how I was dressed.
20. I can use sexist language like bonin’, laying the pipe, hittin-it, and banging that convey images of sexual acts based on violence, dominance and performance.
21. I can live in a world where polygamy is still an option for men in the United States as well as around the world.
22. In general, I prefer being involved with younger women socially and sexually
23. In general, the more sexual partners that I have the more stature I receive among my peers.
24. I have easy access to pornography that involves virtually any category of sex where men degrade women, often young women.
25. I have the privilege of being a part of a sex where “purity balls” apply to girls but not to boys.
26. When I consume pornography, I can gain pleasure from images and sounds of men causing women pain.


(continued on page 2 below)

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Veteran social researcher, relationship advice columnist, author and radio host. Author of hundreds of articles on American and black culture, gender issues, singles, dating and relationships. Author of "Sucka Free Love!" , "The 24 Types of Suckas to Avoid," "The Black Church - Where Women Pray and Men Pray," and "Why Vegan is the New Black" all available on Amazon.Com. Her unique voice and insightful commentary have delighted fans and riled haters for 20 years. Read her stuff on SurvivingDating.Com and AskHeartBeat.Com.

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  1. AnthonyBlakMartianTinney says:

    Razzy AnthonyBlakMartianTinney  If you don`t like the advice someone is trying to “SELL” you,DON`T BUY IT,DON`T LISTEN TO IT!!! You do have freedom of choice after all

  2. Aabaakawad says:

    @Guapo1492 It’s all relative. Privileged in relation to whom?

  3. AnthonyBlakMartianTinney says:

    I have a solution for ALL black women.If black men are so bad……..LEAVE THEM ALONE!!! Problem solved.It`s not my obligation as a black man to morph myself into ANYONES` version of who they think i`m suppose to be.Live your life,Stop trying to live MINE.

    • Razzy says:

      Black men need to stop expecting black women to morph themselves into what they want them to be as well.  Look at all these black men out there like Steve Harvey and others all up on black women’s tip telling them how to get and keep a man. Yet when you get similiar message you don’t want to hear it.

  4. brian says:

    I found my way to this blog by Google happenstance. After careful consideration I regard this list of black male “privilege” as an anachronistic litany of gynocentric stereotypes. Perhaps not all are specious but that’s moot since given the hardship that black men endure in this society, the prospect of having any kind of relationship with a women who thinks we enjoy “privilege” in relationship to them is unattractive. I do wish you and others of your ideology well though since I acknowledge that black women have a hard time of it in our society and deserve better. If such privilege were to exist the more natural couplings would be between black men with white women and black women with asian men so as to avoid exploiter with exploitee pairings.

    • Raz says:

      Brian“After careful consideration I regard this list of black male “privilege” as an anachronistic litany of gynocentric stereotypes. Perhaps not all are specious but that’s moot since given the hardship that black men endure in this society, the prospect of having any kind of relationship with a women who thinks we enjoy “privilege” in relationship to them is unattractive”

      Another dude sounding like Oswald Bates but clearly has no clue what he’s talking about since his comments shows a marked lack of reading comprehension skills and the inability to make intelligent inferences based on what he’s read.

      You are under the erroneous belief that the black man’s plight in life makes him immune to enjoying ‘male privilege with regards to male/female relationships. These are 2 different things. And since you’re too dumb to comprehend what you’ve read even though Ms. Cooper and Brother Jewel Woods broke it down to you with the Black Male Privilege checklist, nothing else I say will enlighten you. You don’t want to understand and you are in denial that this exists.

      Yet all day long you would understand white privilege when it means your azz is being mistreated by white folks, but when it comes to black men having the upper hand and mistreating black women, suddenly you become obtuse. Meanwhile everyday thousands of black women and children suffer abuse from your marked unwillingness to understand black male privilege gown awry and black women suffering from it. FOH with that BS. You need to go back to school and learn understanding instead of how to make verbose statements that really show how stubborn and ignorant you are and your inability to get over your defensiveness and realize that black males do have and exert privilege when it comes to black women in this country.

  5. Guapo1492 says:

    Didn’t know being a black male in America granted us any privileges.

  6. Chris says:

    Very good article. It just blows my mind that in this patriarchal society men try to put blame women arguing that we’re the victims, when we’ve got so much male privilige. I know that a lot of black men resent black women because the women are typically more successful, better educated than they are. They look at the fact that black girls and women are doing better than they are in school and far more black women are graduating college than black men. I think a lot of these men assumed that they would be able to get a good job without a college degree, just because they are men. But now men are blaming women and feminism claiming that they are the ones holding men back and make college a bad place for black men to be. They are arguing that the colleges have become more feminized and that placements test, teachers, administrators, favor female qualities and people than male. Of course this is rediculous, and the fact is, the most qualified people applying for college are women and it’s women that are going to college in droves and it’s women that are giving everything to obtain their degree. Even overcoming male privilage in college, where women maybe discouraged from pursuing more male dominated courses in math, engineering, etc. Instead of celebrating how successful and smart are women are, we are belittling them, complaining and resenting them for being so successful. We resent them for being successful while were the ones that dropped out or decided not to go to college at all and are now broke. This is how I felt when I married my wife and she went on to finish school and get her degree. Instead of celebrating her success, I was fool and resented it. I resented it because she made more money than I did and was much more successful. It wasn’t until later that I realized that she’s only pursuing what she wants and I should be celebrating and encouraging her instead of putting her down. She did nothing to pull me back. It was my own decision to drop out of college. No women made me do, it I did it on my own because I thought partying and screwing around was a lot more fun. We men need to stop blaming women for our own failures. Women are finally rising up, after years of not being allowed in school or being discouraged from higher education and they are pursuing their dreams to become doctors, lawyers, dentists, nurses, etc. and who are we as men to fault them for doing so? We should be encouraging and celebrating their success. If we as men are to lazy to figure out what we want to do with our lives than it’s our own fault

  7. Bosco says:

    This isn’t Black male specific. Several men of all races and cultures use this behavior. Also if women do go for it, it doesn’t happen bottom line. I remember as teen in NY black females were less likely to talk to you unless you had flashy things or were aggressive. Again I say “IF WOMEN DON’T GO FOR IT, IT WON’T HAPPEN”

    • This places control of what men do on women. Not working for me. Men need to get their shit together and do what they are going to do to be the best men possible. If they don’t, and their mother wasn’t successful at it, then it is not their date’s job to raise them and mature them.

  8. Hodan says:

    greatly detailed and informative column, and I would say substitute any other men of color and the same exact privilege apply….but since this is about black men, I’ll keep it there.

    ps. I love how you respond to trolls, hysterical.

  9. Danta' says:

    If’n it was a Black Male privledge explain, Racial Profiling, Amadou Diallo, and many other unfair things that have happened to the Black man, You can’t hold all Black men responsible for the terrible things these fools have done. Blame those commercials that tell you how you need to be seen, or the Videos telling them how to step to sistas, not us. and let the truth be told it has Been Black women that have done terrible things including Child molestation, and get people murdered We all need work. But again it’s one-sided.

    • You miss the entire point. The issue with privilege and black men has nothing to do with Whites, it has to do with how you all treat Black women!!! The treatment of Black women, the attitudes of superiority, the belief that you have rights to shout at us on the street, demand that we “smile” when you say so, and talk to you when you want us to, that we not make more money than you or we are “emasculating” you as well as the blame you place on us for single parent homes when it takes two to create a child are prime examples of the Black Male Privilege at work.

      The fact that you could sit here and try to blame child molesting on women when it is MEN that promote child pornography, molest their step daughters and step sons, and their own children and their relatives, rape Black women in packs like its a damn sport or something, slap punch and beat Black women, kill Black women and give Black women drugs to get them hooked so you will have even MORE control … talk about that why don’t you?

      • Danta' says:

        I no miss the whole entire point. I hear what you sayin’ but you not hearin’ me. There ain’t no such thing as Black Man priviligde if it was you wouldn’t be writing this. I was making a general point. All behavior is learned Male and Female. And it’s cat calls in all backgrounds and it’s not all men that do that, I don’t. and many that have common sense don’t. It’s these knuckleheads that do all that good stuff everything from Honk the horn, yell across the street with phrases such as Hey Ma’, and Yo Shawty that women from all backgrounds especially sisters respond to. True it takes two to make a baby, problem is that baby suffers once it’s born to parents that won’t see eye-to-eye for the child’s sake, and family, also the irresponsiblity of both people when all they wanted to do is bone each other. Mostly all of what you talked about again goes back to slavery and it was passed down and passed on to all races let alone mental disorders as well that most people after finding out the crime they did had psychological issues to begin with. So when you make blank rants like that look at it from all angles and in case you dinna know this what Real Men do they best to prevent Niggas or anyother Man or woman from doing to anybody I talk about it, and I do something about it. Let’s see some action from you.

        • Raz says:

          Danta: “and it’s not all men that do that, I don’t. and many that have common sense don’t. It’s these knuckleheads that do all that good stuff everything from Honk the horn, yell across the street with phrases such as Hey Ma’, and Yo Shawty…”

          Danta, if you don’t do this sort of thing, why are you taking it so personal as if this message applies to you? And just because you claim this isn’t something that you do, doesn’t mean that the issue should be ignored and not discussed talked about by sisters who are on the receiving end of unwanted catcalls and behaviors by the ‘knuckleheads that do this. You’re talking out of both sides of your neck. One the one hand you say, ‘you don’t do this behavior’ but then you agree that this behavior exists by knuckleheads’. You don’t know what women want or don’t want. Often women respond just to get the clown off their back so they can go about their business. You also fail to realize that often women are raised to ‘not say no’ to a man which is another part of ‘male privilege’. http://survivingdating.com/when-he-wont-take-no-for-an-answer It’s hard for you as a male to recognize and acknowledge black male privilege just as it is hard for a white man to acknowledge and recognize ‘white male privilege. Those who are in power have a hard time stepping outside of their place of power to see the other side of it from those who have to ‘deal’ with ‘their’ power’. Just because you don’t ‘get black male privilege’ doesn’t mean you should dismiss it anymore than a white man should dismiss’ white male privilege because he’s not a victim of it. However Danta, if these posts don’t apply to you, why do you feel the need to act as if they do and defend’ yourself? You don’t represent all the other black males in this world.

          • Danta' says:

            Raz, Raz, Raz It’s alot of justification your writings, you hate it but you give it a pass at the same time. Your Doubletalkin’ skills are astounding, downright incredible,incomporable, I’ll even go as far enough to say: Swell.

            and How can I talk outta both sides of my neck? Wouldn’t that make me Fish or Merman? Where I take issue is I as well as many other I ain’t gonna say nice But Down-To-Earth brothers that get lumped in the catergory of the knucklehead behavior you speak of because we are the same gender. I acknowlegde all of this exists, I get mad when y’all fall for it and by into it. Down-To-Earth brothas ain’t gonna approach nobody like that, the knuckleheads do it because they know you will respond. You can just go about your business or say you not on that, and any dude that respects women will honor that. The knuckleheads that don’t take no for an answer ususally get the Girl I seen this happen when he will pull up, ask what she or a group of females on, the knucklehead will say something that she will like and either give her info to him, or get in the car right then and there! You can’t dispute it because I know you seen it happen as well. When he won’t take no for an answer it’s like a twisted sense of persisitance and the female goes for it. If’n you really read anything I wrote you will see that I said females that like, or knuckleheads that is I don’t lump all into a catergory that’s unfair, it ain’t right. And like you said it doesn’t speak for everybody. I rep the silent majority those out there being good people, and dating responsibly the ones that Folk like the knuckleheads and women that think they too good for everybody says are lames, or believe we don’t exist. I feel passionate when anybody is attacked and they are not personally responsible. So as you say these things look from all angles it’s good and bad in everything and everyone, Black men on that tip of doin’ trifling, horrible things believe they can get away with it, women on that the same way too. Look at it from all angles it will broaden your understanding, and possibly have you come up with some solutions as well.

        • Negro, you don’t tell me what to write or how to write it on MY blog! If you don’t like what I write, then go elsewhere. I started this blog to post MY thoughts, and yours are totally irrelevant. I suggest you start your own blog. You can do it free all over the web. But I pay for this site, I pay for the bandwidth, and I pay for the images, and I write the content. It says what I want it to say and it looks the way I want it to look.

          As for your excuses, they are silly. I would never blame people acting a fool in 2010 on what happened 500 years ago. That is a weak ass cop out and something people with low self esteem always seek to do – blame.

          Check this out homie, people make babies and that is what they want to do. I don’t have to like it and neither do you, but you ranting and raving about women like they have tails is not going to change anything. Haven’t you heard the phrase “you get more bees with honey than vinegar?”

          You and men like you spew vinegar and toxic acid at women and think someone is going to listen to you or take your ass seriously!? Think again!

          • Raz says:

            Deborrah: “ranting and raving about women like they have tails is not going to change anything. Haven’t you heard the phrase “you get more bees with honey than vinegar?”You and men like you spew vinegar and toxic acid at women and think someone is going to listen to you or take your ass seriously!? Think again!”

            Which is why a lot of males who spend an inordinate amount of time putting down women in cyberspace, spend much of their time, in cyberspace on blogs instead of in the arms of a woman in real life. The only closeness they get is through interacting with women on cyberspace lol.

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