This article was originally published by MoCha, the ANU Ethnocultural Department’s new online magazine, created by Men of Colour, for Men of Colour. Click this link to view the full site: themochamagazine.com.
I was asked by Reza to write an article for the new Men of Color (MOC) magazine called MoCha. I asked for a subject to write on. He said that he didn’t have one and that I could write about whatever I wished. I had a blank check for this project. This left me in a conundrum. One of the things that I liked about attending college, for the last 8 years, was the process of writing. I take my reader on a journey, guided by my words and driven by my thoughts. However, during most of my scholarly years, I was given a specific topic to write on. This article was going to be in the inaugural issue, and I had to get this right. I was panicking.
I got an invite to a group at ANU for Queer Person of Color (POC) to meet up for coffee. In Canberra, getting a chance to connect with other POC on a genuine level is not something that happens often. So, off I went. However, as usual I was late, CPT of course. I showed up an hour late, but there were still a few people around and it was cool.
I mentioned the magazine and shared the difficulty I was having. Other people were just as lost as I. One person, who happened to belong to the Women’s Department, said that they would write about toxic masculinity if it was them. That comment sat with me and festered. Ultimately, it drove me to the write on the topic of, ‘Why I need MoCha.’
I took the suggestion, writing about toxic masculinity, as erasure of my race. Before I continue, I must make clear certain declarations. I am not a feminist, nor is this another meninist red pill manifesto for the Manosphere. I am not anti-feminism. I think that there is a place for feminism in this world. I’ve read wonderful third-wave feminism, by black feminists, black womanists, and third-world feminists that have inspired me to think about intersectionality. I appreciate how these branches of feminism have given various Women of Color (WOC) such as our mothers, sisters, and friends, voices to talk about their experiences. It allows them to move from being an object to being a subject. They know their stories better than anyone else, and they can speak about, and with, their own experiences. This shines light into the blind spots left by mainstream white feminism. Further, these branches of feminism are not off limits to men. We are able to enter them as observers, listen to their stories and to consider their experiences. MOC are included in these intersectional places, and they are the object of some of these works. However, within black feminism and third-world feminism, MOC are never subject, and such feminism is not centered around male experiences. This is as it should be for feminism and feminist spaces.
I need MoCha because it creates space for MOC to be the subject, and not an object. This allows us to engage with our shared experiences in a unique manner. My father didn’t teach me the lessons of how to be ‘a man’ in this world. He taught me the lesson of how to be a ‘black man’ in this world. I am not visible as a black male in society, but I’m seen as a black-male in society. My race and gender presentation have been so intermingled that they are inseparable and I experience them both at the same time. This is because the modifier of race is infused with my gender presentation. This marks my visible masculinity. MOC are often seen as more threatening than white men. This often causes social trauma to MOC that is not talked about. The coded social language and signals that MOC specifically deal with are numerous. This is not to say WOC don’t have to navigate through similar things. They have to endure misogynoir. However, we MOC don’t talk about our experiences with this social trauma openly, and we suffer in silence. An African proverb goes, ‘he who hides his disease cannot hope to cure it.’ Spaces such as MoCha aim at giving voice to Men of Color as we are ignored by the rest of society.
I’m often frustrated when I speak about the social issues that I have to navigate through daily life, as a MOC presenting person, and people don’t get it. They either outright dismiss my experiences or they gaslight, whether they mean to do it or not. Once or twice in a lifetime can it be written off, however when it’s a constant thing, it’s overwhelming. There’s a feeling that I get when someone understands and acknowledges the chronic experiences that I speak about. It’s an indescribable mix of emotions – it’s part release, part joy, part excitement, and so many other wonderful feelings. Overall, it’s the feeling of finally being visible and tangible to someone. In the pages of MoCha MOC can finally be visible subjects.
DC P.S McComrick is an African-American who graduated from the ANU with a Masters in International Relations (Coursework) and Masters in Diplomacy (Advance) – Diplomatic Advocacy of Queer Rights in State-to-State Relations Case Study: U.S-Zimbabwe Relations.