The Male Socialization Process of African American Males
All people are situated in an historical as well as a culteral process. Any understanding of African American men must be based understanding the African American history and culture. This implies that counseling approaches must be based on an understanding of African Americans. Young African American men in today’s society are confronted with many challenges and difficulties that can and often do affect their psychological developement.
Historically, Manhood and masculinity has not been a birthright for the African American male and to this day is not accepted as such by the majority of the American society. With the forces impacting the development of African American men, it is essential that dedicated counselors help and support them to develop attitudes and behaviors that will enable them to function psycho-socially in this demanding world.
Adolescent African American males keep facing great hardships and obstacles as they mature. The central issue is that they are raised in an antagonistic, hostile and non-supportive environment. Often the environment includes poverty, criminal justice and injustice, unemployment, inequitable educational opportunities and negative media images.
A African American male’s gender identity and masculinity has been and keeps on being unstable. It must be earned and and is being tested on a daily basis. A man can’t simply be manly, he should continually “validate” it. The socially endorsed masculine behaviors require men to work against the fulfillment of their own needs, to compete, to be aggressive, and to evaluate their lifelong success in accordance with and the perspective of others. Male’s are caught in this impossible-to-win situation: ig he lives out the role society has written for him, his basic needs stay unfullfilled, if he satisfys his needs, chances are he is being judged by societ or even himself, not to be a real man.
Today’s socially accepted picture of a male, especially the African American male is that he doesn’t verbally express his feelings, either because he doen’t have any or because he has been taught not to. It appears many African American males have problems expressing feelings openly, giving up emotional control and are being vulnerable to self, others, and new experiences.
Given Afro-American history, the Afro-American man has – for many generations –
been taught to ignore his own feelings and become out of touch with with his body. He doesn’t recognize internal stress, strain and symptoms of illnesses as such. If he is aware of his inner distress he usually doens’t accept these signs and refuses to see a doctor. This behavior opens the door for diseases like cancer, strokes, heart attacks, and mental illnesses.
Strongly related to the issue of Black masculinity are the problems encountered on the path to manhood. Most Americans are aware of the presence of young African American men but they are generally viewed as a source of tension, trouble and problems within the social structure because the American society does not allow them to stay in touch with their feelings and express them in a healthy way.
- Counseling African American Males – The Male Socialization Process
- Counseling African American Males – Practitioner Related Issues
- Counseling African American Males – Therapeutic Problems