Racial capitalism and the crisis of Black Masculinity

Type Journal Article - American Sociological Review
Title Racial capitalism and the crisis of Black Masculinity
Volume 81
Issue 5
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 1014-1038
URL http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0003122416658294
In this article, I theorize “complicit masculinity” to examine how access to capital, in other words, making or spending money, mediates masculine identity for un- and underemployed black men. Arguing that hegemony operates around producer-provider norms of masculinity and through tropes of blackness within a system of racial capitalism, I show how complicity underscores the reality of differential aspirational models in the context of severe un- and underemployment and the failure of the classic breadwinner model for black men globally. I draw on participant observation fieldwork and interviews with men from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s informal sector from 2008 to 2009. I investigate two groups of men: political propagandists (orators) for former President Laurent Gbagbo and mobile street vendors. Rejecting racialized colonial narratives that positioned salaried workers as “evolved,” orators used anti-French rhetoric and ties to the political regime to pursue entrepreneurial identities. Vendors, positioned as illegitimate workers and non-citizens, asserted consumerist models of masculinity from global black popular culture. I show how entrepreneurialism and consumerism, the two paradigmatic neoliberal identities, have become ways for black men to assert economic participation as alternatives to the producer-provider ideal.

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