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Black Men’s Studies

Black Manhood and Masculinities in the U.S. Context


Serie McDougal III

Black Men's Studies offers an approach to understanding the lives and the self determination of men of African descent in the U.S. context. It not only frames their experiences, it also explores the multidimensional approaches to advancing the lives of Black men. Particular attention is given to placing Black men in their own unique historical, cultural, and socio-political contexts.

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Chapter 3 Black Males, Gender, Manhood, and Masculinities


Chapter 3

Black Males, Gender, Manhood, and Masculinities

Manhood and masculinity play critical roles in the health and well-being of Black men and boys. A great deal of writing is available on the roles these elements play in the challenges that confront Black males. However, not enough knowledge has been produced about the history of Black manhood and masculinity and the social and cultural contexts in which they are nurtured. Thus, this chapter outlines the history of Black manhood and masculinity from its pre-colonial African roots to its more recent unfolding. The role that power plays in the development of Black manhood and masculinity is explored in addition to their unique qualities and expressions. Because it is important to understand how Black manhood and masculinity are viewed in the mainstream, this chapter outlines some popular scholarship about Black men, while challenging misperceptions. Lastly, this chapter explores Black manhood development programs and initiatives.

The Meaning of Gender

Gender is a term referring to the personal traits and qualities that members of a society attach to biological characteristics, including but not limited to male and female designations. As Ratliff (2014) explains, “classifying someone as “male,” “female,” (or “intersex”) takes into account the social construction of gender, which emphasize sex differences associated with masculinity and femininity” (p. 20). Yet, through a spiritual lens, male and female are sometimes interpreted as physical manifestations of divine complementarity and synergy. Gender, a social construction, has to do with...

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