Toxic masculinity and sexual assault have been major topics of conversation over the last few years, with growing movements such as Times Up and #MeToo many are seeking answers, results, and often – support.
Many celebrities have made it their personal mission to use their platforms and privilege to shine a light on these issues in various communities, actor Terry Crews, is an example of someone who has been working diligently to be one of those celebrities.
Over the past few years, Crews has become an award-winning symbol against toxic masculinity and sexual violence. He has spoken countless times about these issues, testified in front of Congress about the need for better protection for assault victims, and written a book critiquing perceptions and definitions of what “manhood” means. His voice and efforts have been vital, as not many high-profile men from any community have been outspoken about these issues, especially as they pertain to their own traumas.
In 2017, Crews came forward about his own alleged sexual assault at the hands of a Hollywood executive. Crews’ vulnerable moment was met with support by many, but not from everyone. Many high-profile Black men such as comedian, DL Hughley, and social media personality, Tariq Nasheed have actually made light of his situation, especially as it relates to Crews not physically defending himself.
During a VLAD TV interview, Hughley insinuated that it was Crews’ fault that he was assaulted because he didn’t use his physical stature to defend himself. “Hey motherf–ker, God gave you muscles so that you can say no, and mean it,” he said.
Nasheed also had this to say about Crews not getting physical with his abuser:
I don’t know why actor Terry Crews is so mad at me.
He sure didn’t have that same energy when he let that white man grab his crotch pic.twitter.com/2uandGTVwG
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) January 24, 2019
Crews took to Twitter recently to call out some of the men who have made his situation a joking matter, and more so call out their problematic takes on sexual violence:
I have looked up to you my whole career as one of the funniest most talented people I’ve ever seen.
I remember when I saw you warming up the crowd at FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR and I thought “this man is a genius.”
— terry crews (@terrycrews) January 27, 2019
While Crews did address these men for their specific toxicity towards him and about the subject of sexual violence, this issue goes far deeper than toxic masculinity, it’s actually an issue of continuous anti-Blackness.
Both men have built a reputation, audience, and platforms in-part for their views and calling out injustice and inequality against the Black community. Often times, many consider them to be “pro-Black”, a term which typically refers to a person who is focused on and actively attempting to elevate the Black community educationally, financially, and socially.
But, it has become ever-apparent that Hughley, Nasheed, and many who support them are not interested in uplifting the entire Black community, but rather specific parts of the community. Both men have made it clear that these parts often don’t include Black women, Black LGBTQ, and Black men who do not align with their views. Even straight men like myself have received threats and attacks from their supporters that are at times even worse than those of racists because I don’t meet the standards of their Black straight misogynoir.
Nasheed is notorious for his misogynistic and homophobic attacks on Black people he doesn’t agree with, an example of this can be found in his often referral to Black women he doesn’t align with as “bed wenches”. He has also claimed that attacks on Black masculinity can be found in the empowerment of women and the LGBTQ community.
Hughley’s apple doesn’t fall far from the same problematic tree. He recently defended past homophobic jokes by Kevin Hart, which eventually broke out into a war of words online with transgender actress Indya Moore. That exchange led to Hughley to eventually calling Moore a “pussy”.
These types of interactions are sadly not rare and give greater context to their views on Crews’ handling of his assault. Both men and have developed cult-like followings of Black people who view them as needed resources and voices for the Black community to combat white supremacy and anti-Blackness outside of the community. But, the same issues they are combatting are often manifested in their own rhetoric about members of the community, and their supporters spew the same vitriol at fellow Black people.
If you truly feel that is a correct way to deal with toxic behavior…
Should I slap the shit out of you? https://t.co/GmePqluEIX
— terry crews (@terrycrews) January 27, 2019
The divisiveness of these interactions and views has created a fracture amongst the Black community and inherently led to mistrust and separation in a time where we need one another more than ever.
People such as Hughley and Nasheed have inherently drawn a line in the sand and proclaimed what is and isn’t their kind of Black. If you’re their kind of Black, you are worth fighting for, and if you’re not, you’ll be met with similar attacks employed by whites against the Black community.
These men have created a sphere of influence that is not only destructive but corrosive to the very idea of Black liberation from the bondage of societal and systemic chains they so vehemently claim to despise.
Both men have chastised Crews for not physically defending himself against his alleged assailant, simply based on the fact that he is muscular, tall, and Black. This toxic take should sound familiar as it’s the same ideology that Hughley, Nasheed, and their supporters argue against white people for using on a daily basis.
The notion that Terry Crews should have fought his way out of his assault because of his stature is rooted the “Mandingo” ideology. They’ve developed an archetype of what a Black man is that directly aligns with racist views of Black men.
During his Senate testimony on sexual assault, Crews had this to say about why as a Black man, he didn’t feel he was in a position to defend himself during his alleged assault.
“You only have a few shots at success. You only have a few chances to make yourself a viable member of the community,” Crews said. “I’m from Flint, Michigan. I have seen many, many young Black men who were provoked into violence and they were imprisoned or they were killed.”
Because of their toxic obsession with his physique and Blackness, it seems he should have actually been explaining the complexities of white supremacy to Hughley, Nasheed, and their supporters.
Blackness comes in all shapes, sizes, joys, and pains. Because of this, it’s impossible to be “pro-black” and have agendas that do not include or protect all Black people. Even further, it is anti-Black to weaponize Blackness against other Black people because they don’t fit your standards for Blackness.
Until Tariq Nasheed, DL Hughley, and their supporters understand that there is no freedom for Black people unless all Black people are included. They will continue to be to a regressive force akin to the oppressors they so often fight against.
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