Please welcome my friend and fraternity brother James Hines to the blog. Today he addresses an issue I wrote about recently at change.org, which is the ways in which men–particularly Black men—embrace womanism and feminism. He also discusses the challenge of balancing womanism with not-so-womanist tendencies. (btw, you can find him on twitter @jimmysunshine).

I’m just gonna get this outta the way…

I’m Black.

I’m a male.

I’m a womanist.

I’M A MALE-WOMANIST!!!

Uh… sometimes.

Now while some people might be looking at the “sometimes” and be like “WTF?!! Either you is or either you ain’t!!!” I’m thinking since I didn’t know what womanism exactly was ’til I looked it up recently, I’m doing aite by saying “sometimes”. Now that I think about it, I’m more then a womanist “sometimes”. I’d say I’m a womanist 79% of the time!!! That sounds like a good number, just about average. And since I believe that the average Black male tends to be a womanist and not even know it, I have a lot of company.

While reflecting on the ideology of womanism, I thought to myself, “Damn!!! I believe that… and that… and that!!” In discussions with other Black males, their believe systems tended to reflect womanism, despite their differing backgrounds. So when I say “sometimes” (in my case 79% of the time), I speak more specifically of the struggle for womanism.

The racism that has plagued Blacks has fostered in us a sense of ultimate discrimination and causes us to become self-centered and sometimes unable to recognize the struggles of others. The targeted attacks on Black males has created a void between us and Black women while exacerbated this problem and like in most situations where one loses (at least some) perspective, we have minimized their struggle. If anything, the struggle that I speak of is the struggle to recognize the mirror image of ourselves in others.

Womanism embodies not only a knowledge of self (in this case, the Black woman) but also acknowledging their place in the larger community and how when we work together, we become more then the sum of our parts. All the while respecting the uniqueness of our experiences as these qualities teach us to expand our minds beyond what we can experience personally.

In the end, the struggle to embody the values of womanism is the struggle for us to become a complete person. To know one’s self and be able to fully respect the unique experiences of someone else while using that to become more. Once we get to this point, maybe we’ll not need to acknowledge these virtues because they will not be so unique as to outshine the experiences that are the true treasure we need to share.

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