The Hyper-Sexualization of Black Males
Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown must be fearless. Snoop dogg and Lil Wayne lost their virginity at 11 and Chris Brown lost his virginity at 8. I remember being 9 years old and my older brother and his friends threw a party for their 16th birthday. My parents and their parents chaperoned the party, so I came with them. The go go band CCB played at the party. It was lit. There was a midget there too. A whole midget.
At that time, 2003, the only phrase that described what we now know as “twerking”, was called “freak dancing”. So I was at the party, and was like, what? There is a midget here, out there getting dances, if he can, I can. So my older brother’s friends walked me to the dance floor and started being my wingman, this older girl (a high schooler) was like “yeh I will dance with him. I then turned red, my heart started beating fast and I got up out there.
The next day my brother and his friends clowned me. Looking back at it, to actually even visualize a nine year old getting “twerked” on is wild. As I hear stories similar to Lil Wayne , I ponder, what is the root of hyper sexualizing black boys. How did having sexual encounters at an early age become a symbol or stepping stone to becoming a man? For starters, black manhood in America is rooted in prostitution.
Dr Rachel Yehuda, professor of psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, did research on epigenetics and intergenerational trauma . After testing the genes of the descendants of holocaust survivors, she found out that they were at higher risk for PTSD than the general population. Her research shows that trauma can be inherited and passed down.
This means that the trauma from slavery and jim crow has been passed down from generation to generation amongst black americans. It also means that one did not have to have experienced the trauma of our ancestors to display symptoms of trauma. Racial terrorism such as lynchings and bombings are only a little over 50 years ago. Many black people that are alive today grew up during that time period. That being said if different illnesses such as alcoholism, depression, anxiety, PTSD, diabetes, cancer, etc., can be inherited, why wouldn’t sexual behaviors and sexual disorders be inherited.
The relationship between black males and the Americas, is rooted in sexual violence and pedophilia. It is confirmed that sexual violence , incest, and pedophilia can cause PTSD, psychological disorders, sexual disorders, sexual promiscuity, and make a person more likely to commit sexual violence and acts of pedophilia.
Now take into account that sexual violence and pedophilia was used as a weapon to oppress black males for three hundred years. A three hundred year cycle is extremely hard to break, for example the N word. “Nigger” was used as a weapon to oppress us for centuries and now it’s nearly impossible to get black people to stop saying it. The trauma from the system of slavery genetically altered black people. If black people internalized a whole entire word, then who is to say black people didn’t internalize more extreme forms of pain and torture, such as sexual violence. There are indeed black males out there like R Kelly who have committed those acts because they are evil, but does historical trauma explain this cycle on a wide spread aspect in our community?
Take for example breeding farms.
The emotional and mental development of black males was severely stunted under slavery. A former slave named Lewis Clarke stated,
“I told you in the beginning, that it wouldn’t do to let the slave think he is a man. That would spoil slavery, clear entirely. — No; this is the cruelty of the thing — A SLAVE CAN’T BE A MAN.”
Once slavery removed black men from their land, language, and identity, it allowed foreign identities to be imposed on them. One particular identity imposed on black males was being a sexual object and a prostitute. This would be one of the most destructive identities forced upon black males. During slavery, slave owners set up breeding farms, where they would force male slaves and female slaves to have sex with each other to produce more slaves for labor.
Some male slaves were expected to impregnate multiple women. These male slaves who were used as prostitutes were given better treatment as well as rewards. Female slaves were expected to have at least 4 babies by the time they were twenty. Some were promised freedom if they birthed 15 babies.
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This process of sexual abuse altered the definition of manhood of black males in America for ever. It set in a cultural pattern of associating manhood with the amount of women a man could sleep with.
Below are descriptions from former slaves,
“Dey uster [used to] take women away fum dere husbands an’ put wid some other man to breed jes’ like dey would do cattle. Dey always kept a man penned up an’ dey used ’im like a stud hoss. “
-WILLIAM WARD, enslaved in Georgia, interviewed 1937 [WPA Slave Narrative Project]
“A slave girl was expected to have children as soon as she became a woman. Some of them had children at the age of twelve and thirteen years old”
-LLIARD YELLERDAY, enslaved in North Carolina, interviewed ca. 1937 [WPA Slave Narrative Project]
“On this plantation were more than 100 slaves who were mated indiscriminately and without any regard for family unions. If their master thought that a certain man and woman might have strong, healthy offspring, he forced them to have sexual relation, even though they were married to other slaves. If there seemed to be any slight reluctance on the part of either of the unfortunate ones, “Big Jim” would make them consummate this relationship in his presence. He used the same procedure if he thought a certain couple was not producing children fast enough. He enjoyed these orgies very much and often entertained his friends in this manner; quite often he and his guests would engage in these debaucheries,choosing for themselves the prettiest of the young women.Sometimes they forced the unhappy husbands and lovers of their victims to look on.”
-Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in The United States
An ex slave described how slave owners would take “all the fine looking boys and girls that were thirteen years old or older and putting them in a big barn. They used to strip them naked and put them in a big barn every sunday and and leave them there until Monday morning. Out of that came sixty babies”
This same former slave follow ups about these babies. He discusses how the slave masters made the mothers take the babies to work with them. A storm flooded the field and the babies drowned. The former slave did not say if all sixty of the babies drowned, but it’s safe either all or say most did.
“They was too many babies to leave in the quarter for some one to take care of during the day. When the young mothers went to work Blackshear had them take their babies with them to the field. It was two or three miles from the house to the field. He didn’t want them to lose time walking backward and forward nursing. They built a long trough like a long cradle and put all these babies in it every morning when the mother come out to the field. It was set at the end of the rows under a big cottonwood tree.”
“When they were at the other end of the row, all at once a cloud no bigger than a small pot came up, and it grew fast, and it thundered and lightened as if the world were coming to an end, and the rain just came down in great sheets and when it got so they could go to the other end of the field, that trough was filled with water and every baby was floatin’ round in the water drowned. They never got nary a lick of labor and nary a red penny for ary one of them babies”
-Slave Narratives: Interviews with Former Slaves Arkansas Slaves Part 3
The former slave an legendary abolitionist wrote about nudity on the slave plantations in his autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas.
“Children from seven to ten years old, of both sexes, almost naked, might be seen at all seasons of the year.”
-(Douglas pg. 10)
In the narrative, Frederick Douglass also mentioned how families were forced to live crowded together in barns without proper clothing.
It is clear that black boys and black girls were forced to endure a dehumanizing system that sexually abused and violated them. This system of slavery was a system of pedophilia and sexual violence. This sexual enterprise took place over a period of three hundred years in America.
The sexual violence against women and girls during slavery is pretty well known. What is not, is the sexual violence against black males during slavery. During slavery white women raped black men as well. If black male slaves resisted they were threatened with being sold away or physical torture.
In a 2011 article in The Journal of the History of Sexuality, Historian Thomas Foster sheds light on sexual assault against black males at the hands of white women during slavery. The article stated that,
“the [white] woman preyed on more than one man… [she] “did not make advances . . . to her father’s more intelligent servants” but singled out for sexual assault instead a man “over whom her authority could be exercised with less fear of exposure” because he was so traumatized. Such a man, it is suggested, had been terrorized into submission on the plantation, and she took advantage of his state of mind to force herself upon him — with the threat of additional punishment if he did not accept her assault and if he did not keep it clandestine. (p. 462)”
An even more sadistic form of hyper-sexualization of black males during slavery was the sexual violence, abuse, and pedophilia at the hands of white male slave owners.
When you think of the case of Raz B from B2K who said his manager put him and his friends in a room together and made them do sexual things, it is obvious that those encounters were molestation. What is not so obvious is the process of molestation on slave ships. Black boys were stripped of their clothes, chained up and were forced to lie on top of each other and with grown men, like stacks of potatoes.
What many historians leave out about slavery is also the rape of black boys at the hands of white male slave owners. Below are examples from “To Filthy to be Repeated”: Reading Sexualized Violence Against Enslaved Males in U.S. Slave Societies, by Fredrick Charles Staidum Jr.
“In Pará in the late 1750s and early 1760s. Francisco Serrão de Castro, heir to a large sugar engenho, was denounced for sodomy and rape by no less than nineteen male slaves, all Africans. Among those who were assaulted were teenage boys and married men. As a result of these sexual attacks, a number of the victims suffered from “swelling and …bleeding from their anuses.” Francisco Serrão de Castro apparently infected his slaves with a venereal disease that eventually took more than quarter of his victims to their graves.”
“Some of these ‘relationships’ were consummated literally at the end of a whip or the barrel of a gun. …Similarly, a Benguelan slave named Joseph claimed that he always resisted the acts of sodomy that were imposed on him by Carvalho. Carvalho responded by threatening, and at times, giving ‘rigorous punishments’ to his slave.”
Another case involved a slave owner named Manuel Álvares Cabral, and up to six of his enslaved males, on separate occasions. One of the descriptions goes as following,
“Mina slave named Luís da Costa, confessed that one day while he and his master were out in the woods, his master forced him to submit to anal sex. Cabral threatened to shoot his slave if he did not comply. Luís unwillingly surrendered to his master on this one occasion, but claimed that it never happened again because he fought against his master’s continued advances.”
Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman, “’The Strangest Freaks of Despotism’: Queer Sexuality in Antebellum African American Slave Narratives,” African American Review, 40.2 (Summer 2006) 223.
Here is an example about how a white man, named William Holland, had a female slave “Pull up her Close and Lie Down he then Called a Negrow Man Slave” “and ordered him to pull Down his Britches and gitt upon the said Amwood and to bee grate with her.”
Another white man with Holland, named John Pettigrew pointed a pistol at the unamed enslaved man and the female slave, Elizabeth Amwood, while Holland taunted them both, asking if it “was in” and “if it was sweet”
Project MUSE - Journal of the History of Sexuality
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Another form of sexual assault black men endured under slavery was inspection. Slaves were inspected to determine their health and prepare them to be sold. Inspections included having their sexual organs and naked bodies being touched. European slave traders would also lick black men to taste their sweat, which they believed determined their health.
-“To Filthy to be Repeated”: Reading Sexualized Violence Against Enslaved Males in U.S. Slave Societies, by Fredrick Charles Staidum Jr. (pg. 60–62)
This process of touching black sexual organs for profit can be found on the streets of black neighborhoods all over America as well.
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At the end of the day, I believe rape and sexual assault occurs when one person views another person as a sexual object. Black males were property and were used for sex so they were indeed sexual objects. Many men regardless of race, do believe women are sexual objects, which is how I believe rape occurs. That being said, I still believe this issue in our community is rooted or has been systematically elevated and perpetuated due to slavery. Please let me know if I am reaching or did sexual violence against black males disrupt the natural sexual behavior and mentality of black males? Feel free to leave a comment on whatever social media platform you are using now.
Link below of Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown and Usher talking about being molested.
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