Manhood refers to the state of being a man or qualities that define an individual as being manly in nature. Therefore, manhood is a composite of characteristics such as bravery, vigor, determination, valor and courage which are often associated with men as being appropriate characteristics. Thus, in the case of African Americans manhood entails what culturally defines their males as men who have attained manhood.
The American communities of African Americans (men) are historically characterized with violence, vulgar, substance abuse, gang crimes and affiliation as well as various other vices. These characteristics define most young black Americans. Thus, growing up in communities with such an image gives their youth a false impression of what they should be as men in the African American society. As a result, most youths in these communities often fall to these vices as a matter of cultural and environmental influence that helps define what they view as the state of manhood.
Historically African Americans have been oppressed greatly in the U.S society (Spraggins, 1999). Their income, standards of life, education and employability suggest a systematic oppressive trend against them. In turn, the oppression has shaped and cultured the African American population negatively. The hard survival and struggles have led to strain that has cultured a violent nature enshrined in crimes and violence. Similarly, it has led to substance abuse and deterioration of family values for an inordinate length of time (Nedhari, 2009).
As a result, the men and youth cultured in the African American society have learned to associate the expression manhood via violence, vulgar, substance abuse, and disrespect for female gender and gang crime. Their definition of manhood-the African American way-endangers their own existence. This is because all that the definition defines and recommends for manhood threatens their existence (Jagers & Watts, 1997).
According to Roderick (2006) engagement in crime has seen many black Americans end up in prisons leaving behind many single mothers. The single mothers in turn cannot rear their children appropriately, and thus; the vicious cycle continues as some die in the violence and substance abuse.
The improvement of this situation lies in the redefinition of the African American manhood. This will help youth in these communities to grow into law abiding citizens. This will in turn guarantee them safety and their own existence and growth.
Jagers, J. R, and Watts, J. R. (1997). Manhood development in urban African-American communities. Rout ledge Publishers.
Nedhari, A. (2009). In Search of Manhood: The black male's struggle for identity and power. Student Pulse Online Academic Journal, 1.11 retrieved from < http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/32/3/in-search-of-manhood-the-black-males-struggle-for-identity-and-power#citation>.
Ramos, M. J, Gullotta, P. T, and Hampton, L. R. (2006). Interpersonal violence in the African American community: Evidence-based prevention and treatment practices. New York, NY: Springer Publishers.
Roderick, A. F. (2006). African American Masculinity and the Study of Social Formations. American quarterly Journal, volume number 58, issue number 1, pp 213-219.
Spraggins, D. J. (1999). African American Masculinity: Power and expression. Journal of African American Studies, volume 4, issue number 3. New York, NY: Springer Publishers.