Last night Monday I stumbled across an article with the headline, “Man who had 30 kids with 11 women wants child-support break.” Of course the ethnicity of this father turned out to be Black. My first reaction to this story was a shaken head, because Black male bodies seem incapable of accountability. Missing fathers, no doubt, are common in Black family life, yet here we have a case of no limits.
How is this man capable of having thirty kids without first thinking about his abilities to take care of them? If you ask me, the Black man would not be allowed to only make a baby without a culture that approves. Black womyn most definitely have never approved of dead-beats, but a womyn’s contempt has not changed the way a man thinks of his body. The culture of the Black man’s body makes his body into a site through which he can disregard others.
When us Black men have sex our final satisfaction has the potency to create life with another capable body. This is not different from any capable man of a different race. However, something about the experience of being Black leads the man to run away from the repercussions of his pleasure. Black people in general, as well as other categories of color, have a different relationships with their bodies. We can make the connection between the anti-black constructions of the body and the sense of freedom and independence that comes with the absence of the Black father.
What I mean by an anti-black construction of the body can be understood by the obstacle of raising Black girls. Almost everyone knows about the Clark Doll experiments, which showed how little Black girls indeed feel inferior and ugly in their own skin. What the Black body meant for these little girls certainly were not created by the girls themselves. In terms of boys, media coverage of Trayvon Martin exemplifies the effort to ascribe a social value to the Black male body. Releasing information about Martin’s suspension from school and intake of marijuana changes the meaning of his body. When he has the body of a criminal—hoodie included—the public stops talking about Trayvon the person and focuses more on Trayvon the Black body.
As just Black bodies we are guilty before we walk in the room. The worst part about it is that Black bodies participate in a culture whereas their intentions are always framed by anti-Black others. Therefore, Black male bodies have a destructive logic behind abandoning their children. In fleeing from the situation of pregnancy, the Black male finally has an opportunity to determine the functions and meanings of his body. Due to the biological reality of sex, the penis excretes life instead of nurturing and containing it like the womb of a womyn. Freedom of the body becomes possible for the Black man since he controls the meaning of his dead-beat action.