Masters Thesis

What constitutes masculinity in the Black/African American community?

Past and current research has shown that the construct of Black masculinity has yet to be clearly defined (Belgrave and Brevard 2015; Ferber 2007: Connell 2005; Courtenay 2000). With no clear definition of Black masculinity, some theorists have argued that Black masculinity should be defined as an “alternative masculinity” (Karp 2010). By the time a young Black man has reached his adolescent years he has already been bombarded with pro-masculine and anti-feminine speech (hooks 2004). Theoretically hegemonic (or traditional) masculinity has focused on those standards and expectations that have various negative consequences. This could include objectifying of and/or abuse of women as well as being extremely homophobic. In the Black community, masculinity includes these norms of hegemonic masculinity, but added are the factors of overt and covert racism (Hall 2008). This study will examine what factors contribute to the construct of Black/African American masculinity. Twelve in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted of Black/African American men from the Bakersfield and Los Angeles areas. During the interview process the participants were asked to give their definitions of what masculinity is to them. They were also asked if they identify as Black or African America. The research supported the three major themes I feel contribute to the construct of Black/African American masculinity. The themes are family structure, social issues and peer interaction. While analyzing the data an additional two themes emerged; “Homophobia: As it relates to Black masculinity” and “Glorification of Incarceration.” Participants described what factors contributed to their masculinity. This study’s findings suggest that being masculine is important in the Black/African American community. The results are based on the participant’s explanations of what feel contribute to their masculinity and what didn’t. The findings will illustrate the influence the family structure, social issues and peer interaction has on the participant’s Black masculine identity. Moreover, the research intends to further explain, help define, and contribute to the past, current and future studies on Black Masculinity.

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