Lens Of The People: Are Black Men Overly Spoiled?

Good Afternoon, readers! Lens of The People is a column dedicated to the capture of the real-life scenarios and events in the local Houston area whilst also giving the thoughts and opinions of the Houston community its own voice to speak through.

This week I’m bringing my focus once again to men. More specifically, young Black men, and their place within their respective Black households. Many in the Black community, specifically older Black men and young Black women, believe that young Black men are far too spoiled in Black households, especially the men that are born into households with a single mother. Many Black men argue that their younger counterparts don’t have to put up with what they had to when they were younger, while Black women say that when growing up with a brother, the parents are typically much more strict on them as a girl, with boys receiving much more freedom and overall responsibility simply for being a man. That being said, my question for this week was: Do you believe that Black men are overly spoiled in Black households, and if so, in what ways? This is what the people had to say:

“Yes I do think that Black men are overly spoiled in Black households; however, there are some good Black men who have been spoiled that are still very caring to others, especially those that are the only child. What I mean by that is, because they didn’t grow up with any siblings, they end up being very close with their friends instead. For example, when I was in middle school there were these two boys who were best friends but one was very less fortunate than the other one, and lo and behold, the one that was more fortunate was the only child. Almost every day he came to school with an extra pair of shoes and a jacket to give to his less fortunate friend. So while I believe that yes, Black men are spoiled within their households, I also believe that can develop into a more generous personality overall.” -Megan Burnett-Morale

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“Oh yes, I absolutely believe that, especially in homes in which they were raised by single moms. The moms tend to baby and coddle and do everything for them, but if they have daughters, they are harder on them than their sons; which is something I’ve seen firsthand with my mother and brother.” -D’Antrese McNeil

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“In some respects, sure, Black boys are given space and freedoms to explore more than their female counterparts. This could be due to two statistical realities, one being there are more women being born than men, and two being that a lot of Black households are absent of a father or male role model. This interesting mix of feminine excess in the presence of male absence could create in the (female) guardians of the household’s conscious and unconscious efforts to please and build up men in ways they see fit with almost unbounded energy. Add in the constant onslaught of societal attempts to commodify his maleness and Blackness and there is some funky math Black families must deal with. A boy might get whatever video game or toy he wants because ‘boys need to play,’ and Black boys especially so, or however much food he desires because ‘he is a growing boy,’ and Black boys especially so, or, because he is presupposed to be ambitious and maximally capable, he is given more opportunity to express himself outside of the house, usually in sports by way of mere exposure to that sort of famed and fun lifestyle, and definitely inside of the house. At the same time, I’m hesitant to make any of these statements because I feel this question places me against an undefined contrast. I must ask: overly spoiled as opposed to what? I implied earlier what I imagine many believe that boys have the privilege of ‘being boys’ as provided by our patriarchal society, which means they have more support to be and do anything they want without as much opposition as would a girl have. But specifically, because Black males are such a target in society, carrying the most dominant (threatening) reproductive genes in the world, and because Black people are so accustomed to the attacks, that is the long American catalogue of hatred that has become central to this nation’s culture, that there is an almost conditioned response to give him everything one imagines the world will not. The traditional thinking, ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ has found its way to the backs of Black boys, however, in an attempt to make them strong or keep them from moving in a certain way that might reward them with loveless beatings they wouldn’t be able to get up from. So what am I saying? Because Black men are so awkwardly positioned in American society, I cannot give a definitive answer that Black households are ‘overly spoiling’ their boys because I feel they are in ways trying as best they can to keep the elusive enemy in society from spoiling them.” -Tyrelle John Haney

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“The Black family has been defined by many historic events that have shaped the overall structure of what it is today. One can say that single Black women have taken on a more masculine role when it comes to raising children, coddling the boys that they are raising thinking that it’s protection. Women have been taught to be strong and independent while Black men who are often times in single parent homes are shown what a woman should be but not what it means to be a man in the fullest capacity. Are Black men spoiled? It depends on the upbringing of the man and their own ideology of what it means to be a man. Some Black men feel like the woman should take care of him, while others feel like the man she be the provider. So yes, some Black men are spoiled and many Black women also condone this behavior.” Destiny Long

Photographer’s Thoughts

In my opinion, and by extension the opinion of a Black man, I believe that many Black men, especially in single parent households, are spoiled to a fault. I can’t speak on this issue in comparison to Black women, but I’ve experienced firsthand as well as witnessed it in the households of my friends or cousins that there’s a sincere lack of discipline when it comes to Black men. I feel that this is in part because of how patriarchal and male-focused many Black households tend to be. So much so that I would argue that young Black men are treated as a sort of priority or necessity. However, I don’t believe this comes out of sheer favoritism for men as a whole but from the desire to create “masculine” men to serve as leaders for the family. I believe that Black men are spoiled within their households, but in such a way that they wouldn’t even be able to notice because what they’ve been taught subconsciously is that’s how men are supposed to be treated. This causes pressure on the young Black man trying to live up to the expectations and responsibilities of a “real man” and also demoralizes young Black women and leads them to believe that the reasons they’re not being held to the same standard is simply because they’re women. This is, of course, the wrong types of messages to be sending to children on both sides and something I strongly believe should be improved upon.

This was Lens of The People, a column dedicated to giving the Houston community a voice and a platform. Stay on the lookout for more, all made possible by The Forward Times!