The Performance of Manhood Vol 2: Get Gangster

Two recent events epitomize the themes of a previous post entitled, The Performance of Manhood. In that post, I talked about a basketball game where I almost got in a fight with an opponent, whom I was dominating. After blocking his shot, he started pounding his chest, shouting profanity and proclaiming how easily he could beat me up. This outburst was a charade, a performance designed to salvage what manhood he felt had not already been pinned against the glass, during the game. Several NBA players engaged in a similar conflict two days ago in a game between the Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks:

Some could argue that this fight had nothing to do with manhood, but I will challenge us to dig deeper. Look at Anthony (#15), who sucker-punches his opponent, then backpedals to safety. Then, after the fight is over, he continues to rant and point aggressively at people from his bench. This is comparable to Anthony telling boys, “HOLD ME BACK,” as if he can’t wait to get violent, when in actuality, he is the one seeking refuge behind his friends. In short, I saw it as a performance. I ended the first volume of The Performance of Manhood with an analysis of how this performance affects our community.
When young Black men just want to fit in, to what lengths will they reach to affirm their manhood?

This brings me to another post, Food For the Beast, where I talked about two 21 year-old upper middle class Black men (friends of mine) who were recently arrested for their roles in over 50 armed robberies. S.T. Vaughn and Kenny Cross were sentenced yesterday to 18 and 15 years in federal prison, respectively. Cross’ attorney Brian Phillips explained his role in the robberies as the result of peer pressure, and feeling the need to be a real Black man:

They called him “Uncle Tom” and told him that he was “not black enough,” Phillips wrote. “After continuous taunting, Kenny broke down and said that he would help (in the robberies). He wanted to show these ‘new’ friends that he was a strong ‘black’ man and no matter where he came from, what his parents did for a living, or what kind of neighborhood he grew up in, he was tough. … He would take the ‘chance to get gangster’ that his ‘friends’ had given him.” Cross told the judge that he was trying to please his friends, “trying to be hard, what they call gangster.” (read entire article here)

This performance ended up costing Cross 15 years of freedom, the opportunity to swim in the Olympics and a Masters in Business. I’m sure it will cost Carmelo Anthony 15-25 games of the best season of his career and perhaps millions in fines and lost endorsements. All so some 21 years-olds can “get gangster” to their friends. We have to do something about this.

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Published on December 18, 2006 at 12:33 pm. 10 Comments.
Filed under black image,men's issues,sports,television.