Lately, I’ve been wondering, when will the bulk of Black men begin to speak up for themselves and tell the world what they really think and feel?

It’s not as if Black men, both educated and uneducated, don’t know that they are plagued by a plethora of problems: unemployment, underemployment, high illiteracy rates, high incarceration rates, homelessness, early mortality, intragroup homicide, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, police killings, cultural imperialism, and anti-Black misandry, etc. Yet and still, as a whole, Black men do not feel comfortable enough to speak up about their problems and work with one another to provide solutions. If black men do say something, it is usually in support of other subgroups causes within the Black community.

One of the reasons that Black men do not speak up for themselves is due to fear of social and political ostracization. When Black men do speak up, they are often met with opposition and even outright hostility. The True Kitchen debacle demonstrates my point. A little over a month ago, Black male restaurant owner, Kevin Kelley, politely told a group of Black women twerking in his establishment to cease several times. The women dismissed his concerns and continued to create a scene. After ignoring his initial requests, Kelley explosively demanded that the women leave. In addition to hastening their egress, he chided them for not exhibiting moral decorum in a public restaurant. Shortly thereafter, various members of the black community gave Kelly and upbraiding for engaging in respectability politics, policing black women’s bodies, and for engaging in patriarchy and misogynoir.

Concurrent with the True Kitchen debacle is the Kevin Samuels fiasco. Samuels, a breakout YouTube content creator, was recently chided for speaking a bit too frankly to a Black woman about her dating prospects. In short, Samuels informed the 35-year-old single Black mother of a teenage son that her age, single mother status, and list of high expectations, would likely prevent her from being able to draw the attention of the kind of man she desires. The YouTube community went bonkers over this. They accused him of being insensitive, misogynist, superficial, and patriarchal.

But it’s not just criticism from Black women and the overall society that makes Black men uncomfortable with speaking up for and expressing themselves. Criticism from other Black men, particularly Black men that purport to be sympathetic to Black men’s concerns is also an issue. Too often black men who have problems and who share them with other black men are scoffed at and ridiculed for being vulnerable.