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Insights from a Man's Perspective – Black Men's Jealousy

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A little talked about fact is the level of jealousy that seems to be prevalent among black men. Whether it's called "hating", envy or simply distrust, a jealous man can be malicious to those he encounters and as Noble Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn once wrote, "Our envy of others devours us most of all."

Some critics might argue that jealousy is bred from a lack of trust. Yet, we can also contend that many critics display a degree of jealousy. Take this comment: "It is hard to believe that he would want to associate himself with a book so intellectually weak, so ugly linguistically and so obviously animated, to no good reason, by rank jealousy of a fellow academic," wrote the Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy in a famously critical review of a book in 1993.

But such furious debate about what jealousy is one matter, how we deal with one another as men is another. In many ways I continue to have hope but am disappointed that, as black men, we continue to be unable to reconcile our differences and come together.

It's sad that guys illustrate to our women so many shortcomings in character. Sure, we all know that guys tend to be competitive. It is well known that in reality competition doesn't create character--it exposes it. So, does this further underscore our lack of progress?

Many women will tell you how men come at them. They try to instill their reputation on them along with their conquest. They shower them with their image as seen by others, what they have and the women they have conquered. Have we forgotten that reputation is what the world thinks a man is; character is who he really is.

Psychotherapist Philip Hodson, "Jealous Men Who Love Too Much" writes that morbid jealousy is twice as common among men than women and according to Consultant Psychiatrist Dr. Colin Wilson, the basic internal dialogue runs: "I'm useless – no one would want to be with me – she'd be stupid to be with me – I don't want to be with someone who is stupid and if she's not stupid then she must be deceiving me", and usually results in progressive paranoia.

But jealousy towards other men among black males runs high. Consider this recent article found in the Huffington Post. The number of young black men and teenagers who either killed or were killed in shootings has risen at an alarming rate since 2000. The study, released by criminologists at Northeastern University in Boston, comes as FBI data is showing that murders have leveled off nationwide. Not so for black teens, the youngest of whom saw dramatic increases in shooting deaths, the Northeastern report concluded.

Last year, for example, 426 black males between the ages of 14 and 17 were killed in gun crimes, the study shows. That marked a 40 percent increase from 2000. Similarly, an estimated 964 in the same age group committed fatal shootings in 2007 a 38 percent increase from seven years earlier. The number of offenders is estimated because not all crimes are reported, said Northeastern criminologist James Alan Fox, who co-authored the study.

The truth of the matter is black kids are killing each other at an alarming rate. This is fueling the hatred and insane jealousy of each other that too often is over petty issues. But don't be fooled that it is just the black youth so pitted in jealousy among one another. It's also black men.

Look at these statistics. From The Color of Crime, "Race, Crime and Justice in America, Second, Expanded Edition, 2005

  • Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.
  • When blacks commit crimes of violence, they are nearly three times more likely than non-blacks to use a gun, and more than twice as likely to use a knife.
  • Of the nearly 770,000 violent interracial crimes committed every year involving blacks and whites, blacks commit 85 percent and whites commit 15 percent.

We have heard all the arguments; society has been unfair, too many broken homes, we need reparation, our manhood is always questioned. At some point we must look within. It's interesting that men always talk about their manhood and protecting their manhood. It's funny you never hear women talking about their womanhood.

Freud counts jealousy among the emotional states and in doing so makes it parallel to grief. While we as black men can be emotional about our manhood my contention is that if you want to be a better man, simply become a better person. At some point, we as black men, must be accountable to ourselves, our sense of character and integrity.

We must take the time to embark on what will serve all and not just one. When we stand around and criticize another black man, when we beat our women because we are jealous while we cheat on them or when we do cowardly acts of violence taking what we don't have from others has nothing to do with manhood. Yes, I'm disappointed that we as black men fail to see that jealousy is something that we do not want as our legacy.

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