John Mitchell: Stop making boogiemen out of Black men

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum gives his concession speech as he is joined on stage by his wife R. Jai Gillum, right, and running mate Chris King and his wife Kristen Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. Gillum lost the Florida governor’s race to Republican Ron DeSantis. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

It’s the Black guys’ fault.
That was the message the paternalistically bigoted liberal media (of which the Black press is not; we’re just Black) disseminated via unwitting, fat-cat agent provocateurs last month.
To the chagrin of many, African Americans didn’t get the desired results the majority of us had hoped for in the gubernatorial runs of African Americans Stacy Abrams and Andrew Gillum in Georgia and Florida, respectively. In response to that, African-American Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham blamed, you guessed it, Black guys.
After running down the tenacity with which Black women supported the two Democrats in both states, Graham gave it to Black men for not voting for the two candidates with the same fervor. She did, however, acknowledge this one not-so-subtle contradiction: Black male support for Gillum exceeded that of Black women’s.
That’s kind of a house of cards-toppling argument, but why ruin the long-running liberal narrative (think: super predators) that Black men, particularly straight ones, are primarily responsible for the myriad holes in the heart of the Black community?
Earlier last month, after President Donald Trump publicly belittled three African-American female journalists for doing their jobs, Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy, an employee at the paper for more than 40 years, had the opportunity to come to the women’s defense from what is an extraordinarily powerful bully pulpit.
But rather than pillorying Trump for being the blatantly xenophobic sexists he is and taking him to task for his treatment of Abby Phillip, Yamiche Alcindor and April Ryan, Milloy, in the ultimate act of irony and betrayal, somehow deduced it was better to pander to the hair-trigger emotions of Black women and White liberals by questioning why more Black men didn’t come to their defense?
The better question: why didn’t he?
The headline read, “Where are Black men in the fight for Black women?” It couldn’t have aligned more perfectly with the long-running and highly trumpeted liberal narrative of the absentee Black man. No doubt, it left the innkeepers satisfied.
For decades, Milloy has seen talented journalists of color passed over for opportunities at the Washington Post for no other reason than their race. This is likely particularly true of Black men, some of whom likely would have defended the three ladies rather than pander to the masses for clicks. Armed with that knowledge – every African-American journalist is – it is his obligation to defend Alcindor, Phillip and Ryan, for they too are industry outliers.
To add insult to injury, not only did he abnegate his responsibility to defend these women, but in another ironic twist he actually paraphrased Malcolm X, who said that Black men should be willing to lay down their lives to support and protect Black women. Milloy missed his opportunity.
No one is disagreeing with the premise that Black men must vote for candidates that obviously have their best interests at heart. And I don’t consider it going out on a limb to say many in Florida did so with Gillum due to stigmatizing blond of being an African-American man in America.
No other demographic has been more targeted for failure, disenfranchised and disappointed by the American political system than African-American men. Time and again, it has demonstrated that it does not protect him or his children, particularly his sons, from rogue police; shield them from the school-to-prison pipeline, or shelter them from an education system that inherently attaches low expectations to them without needing to be prompted. The president’s last name can be Trump or Obama, or Kennedy or Roosevelt, it does not matter. These cultural norms are rarely altered or deviated from.
So excuse Black men if our vote isn’t as monolithic as you’d like for it to be. But please, also give some legitimate consideration to the reasoning behind that. We simply aren’t as trusting as others of the fox assigned to guard the henhouse.

John N. Mitchell has worked as a journalist for more than a quarter century. He can be reached at and Tweet at @freejohnmitchel.


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