Death leaves a vacuum, and the saying goes nature hates a vacuum so it’s only a matter of time before someone fills the void. The death of self-help speaker Kevin Samuels yesterday is leaving a massive size hole in the black community and already creating division as people rationalize mourning or celebrating his death. I’m sure there will be endless thought pieces on his life and views, but that’s not why I’m writing this. No, I’m writing this to say what we can mine from his life and how we should move forward from it. At a time where social media fans the flames of division more than ever, we have to focus our attention on what we can gain from its biggest and most controversial figures.
You Need People Like Him
Whether we know it, having a mascot for our love and hate is key. It’s the reason people love to root for and against teams and why people love to deal with either or comparisons in life. Kevin Samuels was, for some people, the embodiment of their frustration against men and for others, a spokesman for the anger and frustration they felt with women and themselves. Some people felt as if he needed to lose his position and popularity, but what they fail to realize is that you need people like him to grow and also to gain clarity on what your purpose is in this life. You disagree with him? Cool. You feel as if his rhetoric was hateful? Fine, now you can make the conscious choice to educate others on the faulty premises in his logic. You loved what he said? Understood. How can you take what he said and apply it to your life? Often, in our efforts to silence the people we dislike, we miss the merit of what they got right. Undoubtedly this weekend we will see nothing but a collage of his greatest hits, but I’m more than sure the most jarring clips will be the ones that get the most attention. Such is life.
Black Men Have An Opportunity to Fill the Void and Change the Narrative
Saying that large amounts of black men agree with Kevin Samuels won’t really ease the worries of black women who are committed to seeing us as patriarchs, so I won’t argue much about why we aren’t. I will say that this is a chance for another black man or black men to rise and decide what the next conversation will be in our community.
It’s obvious that the amount of younger black men who vibrated with what Kevin Samuels said needed a person who understood the challenges of comprehensive masculinity and that desire won’t go away with his death. Now is the time for us as black men to decide where we want to steer the community next and truthfully, it needs to be someone with actual depth, not fly-by-night podcasters.
In the end, we will look at a person’s life and filter it through our own experiences, deciding if they were someone we should love. All I can say is we should look at the good and the bad and decide how much of each is accurate and once we do decide to live by it.