Mar 27, 2011

Today on Savvy Talk Radio at 6PM EST we will be discussing Chris Brown and the Man-Child Syndrome that is plaguing the black community. Please call 718-664-6383 to listen to join the conversation or listen to the show in the archives at Please feel free to leave a comment about the show.

After Chris' now infamous GMA meltdown and subsequently reading Kevin Powell's prolific open letter to Chris, I had an 'A-ha' moment. The black community has become inundated with men suffering from the Man-Child or Puer aeternus syndrome. Psychology describes the syndrome as an older man whose emotional life has remained at an adolescent level, usually coupled with too great a dependence on the mother. Hmm...sounds familiar doesn't it?

When we look around our community (I'm only referring to the black community in this article because this is primarily what I deal with on this site. I know other communities are affected by this syndrome so you don't have to tell me in the comment section. I already know.) we can see the examples of the man-child syndrome all around us from the number of unwed pregnancies, the Hip-Hop videos, the decline in black marriage, the treatment of our women, and the campaign to blame everything on the Black Woman. I'm not saying that black women don't share in the decline of the village, but all the blame cannot be laid at the feet of the sista's. We have found ourselves at a tipping point in our community and until we face it head on there may be no turning this problem around for the better.

Chris Brown has become the poster boy of the 'Man-child' syndrome. Physically, he is a man (and if you saw the nude pics you would totally agree with me), but emotionally he is an adolescent. Somewhere along the line his emotional self became stunted and stuck between the ages of 13 to 17 years old. This is a problem that is occurring with a lot of our men. I don't know if it's because mostly women are raising the boys in our communities, and unless you are an exceptional woman, it is very hard for a woman to raise a man. Iron sharpens iron. I know it may be hard for some of us to hear, but it truly does take a man to raise a man. A woman can teach a boy how to be a good person but not how to be a man. There is a difference. Thus we are seeing this warped sense of manhood being perpetrated throughout our community.

Our society allows women to be complex beings, but the same grace is not given to men. Men are not allowed to tap into their emotional selves on the grounds that they may be deemed weak. This in itself has contributed to this warped sense of manhood. If you ask a person 'what is a man?' they probably give you the Steve Harvey answer, 'A man is what he does, who he is, and how much he makes.' This is a superficial answer that again contributes to a warped sense of manhood that places the value of one's manhood upon that which is simplistic. Men are not allowed to go deeper and explore the things that make them complex human beings. As humans we are emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical beings, but society only teaches men to focus on the mental and the physical aspect of their being thus neglecting the others. Hence, this is why we have a lot of men-children running around proclaiming themselves to be men.

So when Chris Brown, man-child, was confronted by Kevin Powell, man, about having a conversation, Chris didn't respond because the presence of a man was something that was foreign to Chris. Chris is use to hanging around other men-children. He doesn't know what it means to be around a man. Kevin Powell, in his open letter, admitted that it was the same for him but it wasn't until he went to therapy that he realized what was going on. Ooh...there's that word again, therapy. Now, we already know that Kevin lost a lot of us when he mentioned that word. Therapy is just not one of those things they we as a people are not willing to participate in, but yet, it is a stigma that we have to overcome. How else are the men-children going to figure out why the child within them have a bigger voice and more say in their life than they do as men? They must reflect upon themselves and go inside and have an honest conversation with that child. It is only then that these men-children will be able to cross over into manhood.

I know you are wondering, well Savvy Sista then what is your definition of a man. I wished I could give you a simplistic answer but thus I cannot. You see, for me, a man is not some simplistic being that can be summarized in a one sentence definition. Men, like women, are complicated and flawed. This is what makes us so great in my opinion, our complexities. Listen, only a man-child will say that a woman can take his manhood. I have never met a woman that said a man took her womanhood because a woman knows that her being a woman is not predicated on what a man does or does not do. At the end of the day, she is still a woman. This has to be the same way for men. No one can take your manhood from you. You can give it away but it cannot be taken.


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