Yes I said it. No I don’t know you personally. No I don’t care if it hurts your feelings or makes you feel insulted.

The first time I was told that I had sexist and misogynistic tendencies was around this time last year. I was outraged, I couldn’t believe someone would call me that (kind of like a white person acts when you call them racist). I even asked a few of my homies, it went something like this.

 Me: “Hey bro, you don’t think I’m sexist do you?”

Homie: “What? Hell naw man.”

Me: “Cool, I didn’t think so… Keesha just trippin bro.”

The fact I asked multiple of my guy friends if I was sexist or misogynistic should let you know how blind I was to my toxic words and actions. After all, I didn’t hate women, I didn’t call them B word, I supported women’s rights.

In fact, I said things like “Black women are the vanguard of the movement,” and I could even recite a few Audre Lorde quotes.

I was certain that I was embodying a true Black revolutionary, and for someone to call out my misogyny made me feel insecure and guilty. I masked these deep-rooted feelings by expressing anger and slandering the woman who named my thoughts and behaviors – rather than attempting to understand why she made her statement.

When I finally grew the courage to ask someone who I knew would tell me the blatant, honest truth, a radical Black woman and lifelong friend of mine, she gave me a short checklist that sounded something like this:

  • Do you call women by dehumanizing names like Bit**, Hoe, female etc.?
  • Do you abide by the “bro code?”
  • Do you take advantage of women emotionally? Sexually?
  • Do you love all women… including gay, trans, unattractive, dark-skinned, etc. women?
  • Do you speak over women or use your male privilege to dominate discussions?
  • Do you fetishize, objectify, or sexualize the bodies of women?
  • Do you call your friends and family out when they make oppressive statements and actions?

While the list was certainly not extensive and all-encompassing of the toxicity in the way which I viewed the world, it was truly a moment of self-realization for me.

To my Black brothers, we have to understand that for the majority of us, the values and forms of respect we internalized growing up were permeated by a hypermasculine, sexist, misogynistic culture – and we will continue to perpetuate these behaviors unless we consciously and actively work to identify and rid ourselves of them.

Pick up a book, remember our Black queer feminist heroes, read some articles and engage in discussions about feminism with other Black men – whatever we have to do to learn without it being at the expense of our sister’s emotional labor.

I say 99% of Black men are sexist and misogynistic not because we are any more guilty than men of other races. Not even because it’s probably true. But because as a Black man, I am most concerned with how it continues to impose violence upon our women and plague our communities, relationships, and liberations movements.

We are much better than this my brothers. Now let’s act like it.