Black Men Can’t Read?

It turns out young black men have a better chance of getting made fun of for reading books than for playing sports. Not news, I know, but the commentary on how that fact intersects with gender is:

John Thomas, superintendent of the Aliquippa School District, said the notion that black men who read books are less masculine is one that should be dispelled in the African-American community. “It’s just as powerful to carry a book as it is to carry a football or a basketball, because the power of knowledge is in the books,” he said. “If we prepare our bodies for the gridiron or the basketball court, to me it’s just as important to prepare your mind to survive in society. The body will soon wear out for athletic competition, but knowledge you have will carry you through life.”

What’s interesting to me is that the cultural forces that would discourage black men from learning – because being brainy isn’t considered “masculine” or “strong” – are exactly the opposite of the ones at play that have historically kept women from learning, who are/were told that being too brainy makes a woman “unfeminine.”

& When cultural forces say being smart isn’t masculine to one group, & too masculine to another, you know there’s something rotten in Denmark.