A lot of black men don’t want to acknowledge the feelings of disgust we have for ourselves. It is considered emasculating to even admit the existence of such thoughts. I think my own self-hated manifests from the exterior, from the outside world. It is born out of the despair and the unhappiness I see within a lot of young black men.
I can honestly say I hate being a black male. Although black people like to wax poetic about loving their label, I hate “being black.” I just don’t fit into a neat category of the stereotypical views people have of black men. In popular culture black men are recognized in three areas: sports, crime and entertainment. I hate rap music, I hate most sports and I like listening to rock music such as PJ Harvey, Morrissey and Tracy Chapman. I have nothing in common with the archetypes about the black male.
There is so much negativity and criminal suspicion associated with being a black male in Toronto. Yet, I don’t have a criminal record, and I certainly don’t associate with criminals. In fact, I abhor violence, and I resent being compared to young black males (or young people of any race) who are lazy, not disciplined or delinquent. Usually, when black male youth are discussed in Toronto, it is about something going wrong.
Honestly, who would want to be black? Who would want people to be terrified of you and not want to sit next to you on public transportation?
Who would want to have this dark skin, broad nose, large thick lips and wake up in the morning being despised by the rest of the world?
A lot of the time I feel like my skin color is like my personal prison, something that I have no control over, for I am judged just because of the way I look.
Not discussing the issue doesn’t mean it is going to go away. In fact, by ignoring the issue, it simply lurks underneath the surface. I believe a dialogue about self hatred should be brought to the fore in the public sphere, so that some sort of healing and the development of true nonlabel-based pride can occur.
Of course, I do not want to have these feelings, to have these dark thoughts about being a black man. However, I cannot deny that this is the way I feel. I don’t want to be ashamed of being a black man; I just want to be treated as an individual based on the content of my character, and not just based on the color of my skin.
Orville Douglas is a Canadian writer. This column originally appeared in the Guardian newspaper.