We spend a lot of time talking about how, what, and who women should be doing, why men do the things they do to women, and how a man should act and behave in public…ultimately so that he can get a woman. But we spend very little time discussing men in relation to each other. Of course we have our discussions about man law, the g-code, and other related rules of testosterone. Yet for whatever reason the topic of men supporting and helping one another rarely gets an ear (or eye) on this side of the blogosphere. Writing for a predominantly female audience has its challenges, but I’d hate to think that’s the only reason topics like this don’t get much play.
For some of you reading, seeing the words “men in relation to each other” or “men supporting and helping one another” may have made you do a double take or envision a circle of men with arms around each other singing Kumbaya. If this didn’t happen, congratulations. You’re not hypersensitive about this topic. If you did react, this post is especially for you regardless of your gender.
As a member of the most testosterone-abundant fraternity in the world, I understand the emphasis on manhood and ensuring that no one can question it. Men will often go the extra mile to prove what they were born. Sometimes it works out in our favor. Sometimes we’re just plain extra. But there are a few things that are undeniable when it comes to men: nobody likes the downlow, women love manly men, and fathers should take care of their kids. What else is new? But let me quickly go back to the fraternity bit.
At its core, a fraternity is defined as a body of people associated for a common goal or interest. But as we understand it today, it’s more narrowly defined as a group of men associated for a common mission, set of principles, and/or networking. Yeah, there are coed fraternities but that’s not what this post is about.
What’s ridiculously lacking amongst men inside and outside these organizations is true and unequivocal support. We know that in most instances we can count on the homies,
chapter frat brothers, family, and often members of our respective churches if we need assistance, but there’s still a multifaceted problem. We still aren’t adept at supporting each other and here are a few reasons why:
We’re selfish as sh*t and competitive as hell.
Men are competitive. Doesn’t matter if it’s videogames, sports, bench pressing, or drunk rapping. But often times when someone’s trying to move up in the same field or niche, we don’t wanna share information or teach the next man how to get ahead. We take on the “I’m not carrying you to victory at the expense of myself” attitude. We’ll see someone struggling and say “He gotta learn the way I learned” or “He should be able to handle this on his own.” Little do we know that were abdicating one of the many responsibilities that comes with manhood and not just raising our children.
We think we know what another man should have and should be capable of.
There are things that a man should have and should be capable of or have a plan for by a certain age, but everyone doesn’t learn the same, wasn’t raised the same, and certainly doesn’t have the same set of priorities. And most importantly, we never know what someone else’s situation is. We bypass that and assume what it should be. A teaching opportunity becomes a judgment opportunity. You shouldn’t judge what you haven’t tried to change. That’s a motto I’m trying to live by. I acknowledge that it’s much easier said than done.
It doesn’t get us any sweet succulent poon…or anything else for that matter.
“What’s in it for me?” is a fair and important question when it comes to sacrifices and commitment of time. However, we often won’t help or support another man because it doesn’t directly benefit us in the moment or the near future. We need to remember that if we wanna succeed in our own lives then we need to help others succeed. Put more simply, the more people you help become successful the more likely you are to be successful yourself.
We don’t like to support outside our circles.
“Negro, I don’t know you” is a popular phrase many of us have uttered when someone we didn’t know asked us for something. Sh*t, I said it a few days ago in response to a random email I got with 21 questions. I’ve found that this is 1 area where women constantly “outperform” men. As cliquish as chicks may be, they’re always more interested in helping each other than men are. The evidence is all over the internet. Everywhere you look women are joining together to form Lady Voltron. There are organizations and networks like BlogHer and budding — yet controversial — groups like Pi Nappa Kappa (Whether this is a legit group isn’t up for debate). What do men have? A few websites geared toward us that are read and supported mainly by women.
I can’t help but think of the frat brother that is reluctant to help anybody outside his chapter or ally chapters, the dude who only works with people at his church, the friend that only helps his friends, and the family member that only helps his blood relatives. We think we’re doing so much but we’re doing so little. But hey, a little is better than nothing at all.
Ego is a muggafugga.
Support doesn’t always mean pitching someone a few bucks or taking an hour to help them on a project. It can be as simple as offering a few words of encouragement or complimenting a job well done. It can mean buying someone’s book or contributing the minimum to their fundraising campaign. But because our egos get the best of us, we sit back and watch others — usually women — take action while we do nothing. The idea of supporting another man we don’t know at that level sickens us into apathy.
This post isn’t an attempt to man bash or panty pander. It’s a reality that gets swept under the rug to make space for what’s pop. And given the recent Troy Davis saga and what this could mean for other young Black men, you should be able to see the value of supporting someone on the most basic level regardless of who they are. And if you can’t help them yourself, then at least try to point them in the right direction. It’s not just altruism, it’s what’s expected of you as a man.