This month, we sit down with Tommy Curry (University of Edinburgh currently; Texas A&M at the time of the recording) to discuss a new area of academic research called black male studies. You can see his full bio at the end of this entry, and you can click here to listen to our conversation.
When we think about examples of people being oppressed on the basis of their gender, the go-to case is women. Which makes a lot of sense–women have of course been the target of oppression on the basis of their gender across many different cultures and across a long historical timespan. But what about other demographic groups? Can other people also be targeted for oppression on the basis of their gender? If we scratch our heads a little further, the example of gender non-binary or genderqueer people might also come to mind, and it can be interesting to compare and contrast their lived experiences with those of women. But is there anyone else? Our guest this month says yes! Black men. Black men in the US have historically been the victims of oppression on the basis of their gender, and this has manifested itself in the ways they are depicted in the media, the social opportunities they are given, the tracks they are placed onto in our legal and economic system, and so much more.
In the episode, Tommy Curry makes the historical case that the rhetoric of liberation from patriarchal oppression was appropriated from black people in America toward the end of the 19th century, then turned back on black men, who were portrayed as perpetrators of patriarchy despite being some of its biggest victims.
As for what to do about the problem in its current form, our guest recommends turning to the increasing body of empirical data from the social sciences about what different people’s lives are like. Studying the data and viewing it against the backdrop of history, he suggests, can serve to help us check any false assumptions we may have inherited from our culture about who the perpetrator is and who the victim is.
I hope you enjoy the episode! There is no shortage of socially and politically important material to consider. I also highly recommend his book on these topics, The Man-Not, which you can order here.
Tommy J. Curry is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He holds a Personal Chair in Africana Philosophy and Black Male Studies. His research interests are 19th-century ethnology, Critical Race Theory & Black Male Studies. He is the author of The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood (Temple University Press 2017), which has recently won the 2018 American Book Award. He is the author of Another white Man’s Burden: Josiah Royce’s Quest for a Philosophy of Racial Empire (SUNY Press 2018), and re-published the forgotten philosophical works of William H. Ferris as The Philosophical Treatise of William H. Ferris: Selected Readings from The African Abroad or, His Evolution in Western Civilization (Rowman & Littlefield 2016). He is also the editor of the first book series dedicated to the study of Black males entitled Black Male Studies: A Series Exploring the Paradoxes of Racially Subjugated Males on Temple University Press. Dr. Curry is currently co-editing (with Daw-nay Evans) the forthcoming anthology Contemporary African American Philosophy: Where Do We Go from Here on Bloomsbury Publishing, (2019).His research has been recognized by Diverse as placing him among the Top 15 Emerging Scholars in the United States in 2018, and his public intellectual work earned him the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy’s Alain Locke Award in 2017. He is a past recipient of the USC Shoah Foundation and A.I. and Manet Schepps Foundation Teaching Fellowship (2017), the Ray A. Rothrock Fellowship at Texas A&M University (13-16), and the past president of Philosophy Born of Struggle, one of the oldest Black philosophy organizations in the United States.