How one online community has channeled their misogynoir into the “Save Yourself Black Men” movement
The motto is laced with virulent misogynoir and overt anti-Black racism.
by Aaron Fountain
This essay contains quotes with extremely hateful rhetoric against Black women
Wearing a helmet that covers his face and talking over a compilation of photographs of Black men with mostly white women, Youtuber MadBusDriverX frequently tell his listeners “save yourself Black men.” Save themselves from what, one might ask. The answer is simple: save yourself from the alleged, inherent dysfunction of Black communities, especially from Black women. Move out, and date out.
He coined the phrase in 2014, just a few months before the protests and subsequent riots in Ferguson, Missouri. In the midst of the unrest, he criticized protesters. “Here’s the problem brothers that Black people in the community have,” he began. “See, there’s no men in charge of the community, there’s no men in charge of the Black household.”
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He went on to say that the women who run these households operate on emotions, not logic. This presumed dysfunctionality made him conclude with, “Brothers, that’s why you need to go out and get you something different.” Essentially, get any woman but a Black woman, because other women “still come from a culture that respects men and they will impute that culture into your children.”
MadBusDriversX’s comments are emblematic of the core philosophy of “Save Yourself Black Men,” or more popularly known by the acronym SYSBM. Established by the originator as a movement that is inherently selfish, anti-Black, and misogynistic. It believes Black men can find salvation by dating interracially and distancing themselves from Black people—Black women specifically.
SYSBM could best be summarized as competitive victimhood. Self-described “thinking Black men” view themselves as victims of Black women’s autonomy. It supports a worldview that Black men are more “safe” being away from them and their alleged dysfunctional behavior, and can find a peace of mind by dating interracially.
For them, this esoteric cabal rationalizes their views about Black pathology, their intentional decision to have children with non-Black women, and to live abroad or in middle- and upper-middle class white neighborhoods they call “Pleasantville.” Proponents believe SYSBM is a growing international movement, but in reality, it’s just a regurgitation of unresolved problems of internalized racism and misogynoir among Black men that has found a home on the Internet.
London-based writer Babatunde Umanah, editor of the website slayingevil.com and author of the self-published book Negro Wars, recently outlined the tenets of SYSBM. “SYSBM is not about saving the Black community,” he claims “As far as we are concerned the Black community is dead and Black women were the ones who killed it.” He went on to declare that SYSBM rejects feminism, LGBTQ+ people, women of other races who “lack class,” and non-Black women who have Black female friends.
He also maintains that SYSBM is “concerned” about the future of children, believing that Black women have a “deep disdain and hatred for Black children” and will seek to destroy them through abortion or physical and mental abuse. And while this doctrine purports that not all Black women are undesirable, Umanah insists that Black women who can still be seen as desirable have “become an extreme rarity to the point of extinction.” This sentiment has become increasingly popular on social media, even amongst those not firmly in the SYSBM movement.
Although supporters of SYSBM view themselves as living their best possible lives and expanding their romantic options, the motto is laced with virulent misogynoir and overt anti-Black racism. It associates Blackness with danger, discomfort, and stagnation, whereas whiteness is associated with tranquility, security, and upward mobility. Additionally, it endorses conservative talking points by blaming Black people’s behavior for persistent racial inequality.
Black neighborhoods, which it refers to as the “communitah,” are inherently dysfunctional and lack any propitious prospects to improve. Commentators frequently misuse social science research to support their arguments. They believe Black women are socially irredeemable and incapable of possessing “feminine” traits, referring to them as “scraggle daggles” and succubi. “You cannot build anything with the Black witch in your midst,” asserts Umanah.
SYSBM also promotes a quasi-eugenicist ideology. Advocates believe procreating with non-Black women will provide their children with the best resources, fairer skin, “good hair,” and more intellectual capacity. Black men who date and sleep with white women are deemed as “winning.” Other popular hashtags such as #EBM (Escape Black Men) and #Passportbros follow this sentiment.
Traveling is heralded as one of the main methods by which Black American men can save themselves. People often migrate to new locations for a lucrative job offer, to be closer to family, or to follow a significant other in their career aspirations. SYSBM is not at all concerned with these factors and instead encourage Black men pack to their belongings and move across the country, and even abroad, to increase their prospects of dating interracially.
In recent months, advocates have told their followers to obtain passports. To SYSBM, a passport isn’t just a government-issued document that allows citizens entry into foreign countries; it represents liberation from only dealing with (Black) American women. Moreover, having one grants a sense of superiority since SYSBM labels Black women as fearful and jealous towards passport holders (overlooking the obvious fact that many Black women also have passports). It believes Black women’s dating options will dwindle significantly if Black men continue to travel abroad for sexual conquest overseas or to find a submissive foreign bride.
If one lacks the ability to live abroad or is disinterested, SYSBM encourages them to travel within the United States to places that are allegedly more accepting of Black men, but this perceived acceptability isn’t about whether one will encounter racism or better job prospects. It’s measured by whether or not the white women there are open to dating Black men.
SYSBM believes certain parts of the United States are more difficult for Black men who date interracially than others. Ditch the Northeast and the deindustrialized sections of the Midwest, and move to cities and college towns past the Mississippi River. Go where Black men lack a negative reputation. They believe that the fewer Blacks there are, the more exotic one will appear in that area. Infrequently do SYSBM mention the respective job markets, affordability, and desirability of these locations.
I often wonder what exactly leads someone to adopt this philosophy and become mesmerized by the white aesthetic gaze. The majority of content creators rarely give their biographical backgrounds or reveal their identities. But the ones who have share common experiences. They either felt ostracized by Black people for “acting white;” had difficulties dating Black women but had a better reception from white women, often viewing them as nicer, passive, more submissive, and non-argumentative; grew up in single mother household and hold animosity towards their Black mothers; or came to see Black culture as inherently dysfunctional through various life experiences.
Such beliefs inevitably lead to a quasi-eugenicist ideology. Advocates believe that when two “low quality” individuals have children together, those kids also grow up to become “low quality” themselves, and the cycle continues. Therefore, they believe Black men’s semen is a valuable commodity and must be used strategically. “Protect your seed Black men [and] invest it into white, Asian or Latinas [sic],” reads the title of one video produced by MadBusDriverX.
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Youtuber Gyokko Jones tells his followers to “protect the seeds.” “They [Black women] will do anything, even entrap your son, to get his genetic goodness,” he claims. Married to a Japanese woman and the father of two multiethnic children, he warns his followers, “You have to guard your sons from the desperation of the daggle. She is going to want to seduce your son or she’s going to have her daughters seduce your sons to fall into the pit of scraggledaggledom.” His analysis portrays most Black women as inherently deficient and most non-Black women as superior in looks, financial stability, and genetics.
The best way to combat this ideology is for Black men to join Black women in calling out its logical fallacies. How are Black men somehow better off with white women when those marriages have the highest rate of divorce out of all interracial couplings (to which, MadBusDriverX’s response is “so what”)? Black men as a collective group lack wealth, access to capital, and are less educated than Black women, so how can distancing oneself, if even possible, lead to salvation?
Regardless of class, Black people are still rendered disparate behind whites substantially, face significant barriers to achieving upward mobility, and often live in segregated communities. SYSBM at its core—aside from being anti-Black and misogynistic—is individualistic and actually cares little, if at all, about the plight of Black people, especially the Black men it claims to uplift.
Aaron G. Fountain Jr. is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. His writings have appeared in Al Jazeera America, Latino Rebels, The Hill, Black Perspectives, and Occupy.