“The black male is the cheapest life there is.”

This is a comment by Eric M. on the post “Society Set Up Trayvon Martin“.

“Black boys? Glass wall. They don’t even hear me. Why am I telling you this? I need help. Presumptuous, insulting, stereotypical, even racist—I know. But what the heck. I have to try.”

Thank you for trying, and please don’t give up. Kids sometimes hear you years later but you’re not around for them to tell you they heard you. But, also high school is too late for many kids. Also, the problem is not yours. It is a centuries old systematic oppression and discrimination against of black males especially in the United States of America.

You are seeing evidence of fatigue and despair, just as was hoped for. Keep them down. This has successfully kept and torn black males down, damaged and destroyed generations of families, created often self-destructive anger and rebellion, which results in more despair. It is a cycle that will NOT be broken unless it is 1) acknowledged as having been caused by how this society has dealt with those men, and 2) taken action (not just words) to fix what it continues to tear up.

The sad reality is that those with voice, those who claim to care about the less fortunately, including those who claim to be for gender equality, have shown by never acknowledging what has and continues to happen, that black males are excluded from their concern. They are invisbile. Trayvon Martin doesn’t exist. The 256 black males that are murdered each week don’t exist. Providing evidence of your statement:

Hence, you will never see government funded programs, agencies, or legislation to correct that inequality and imbalance, expressly of the truth of your statement:

The black male is the cheapest life there is.
The white female is the most expensive life there is.

Again, had Trayvon Martin been a 17 year old white girl, would there have been an investigation without protest marches?

Photo credit: Flickr / woodleywonderworks

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  1. Give me a break. Yes society is holding us down, but it’s more than a suggestion to fail than a mandate these days. We have a black president for starters. I’m a black male in my late 20’s who dropped out of college twice. I’m also recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. An affliction that is popular in my family. I make close to $150k per year and all my kids are with the same woman. I felt the same pressures and I ignored them. I have experienced racism first hand. Been followed around the mall? yep. Met right wing gun nuts who tried to educate me about the difference between black people and niggers? uh huh. Harassed by the cops for no reason? still happens. Passed over for jobs and promotions? happened last week… Racism isn’t going anywhere. It’s probably getting worse as the racists get richer and proliferate more and more stereotypes. The point is to become successful anyway. This is the largest economy in the world and civil rights passed in the 60’s. Our problem now is maybe 30% racism and 70% low expectations and self loathing. I’ve been to a few pretentious, ambiguously cautious, upper middle-class communities. I just never wore a hoody and talked junk to creepy gun nuts. This Treyvon thing is a tragedy but he probably wasn’t the only black teenager to get shot the same way that week. The only reason this is even a big deal is because it wasn’t the police this time.

    • Sorry, but I’m not the least bit impressed. I’m a six figure earning black man too, with kids from my first and only wife. You and I can smugly sit in our suburban homes and look down with disdain on the millions of young black boys and men who won’t ever come close to a reasonable quality of life such as we enjoy, which partially explains their despair and self-loathing. Perhaps you’re too young to grasp the circular and inevitably declining nature of this that started hundreds of years ago. The reality of the statistics speak for themselves.

      Black males are in no way inferior. So, why the poor results? Hundreds of years of oppression and racism has created a situation that will not improve if we keep doing what we have done. What we have done isn’t working. It’s only making a big mess a collosal mess. Doing the same thing while expecting different results is insane. The loathing is not only self-loathing. The facts show that this society also loathes black males, which is why it is perfectly content to allow tragic the status quo to exist.

  2. well, speaking of ”the cheapest life” seems that even american dogs has more valuable than black males. and when i say this i meant it. remember when Mike Vick killed that dog and all americans got nuts and they were protesting and all. and still some people hate him. but nothing happens when an innocent young black kid got killed because he look suspicious which means his skin color……..man gotta love american justice.

  3. It looks like I’ve had a comment responding to MichelleG struck down.

    Is there a moderator who can help explain why?

    MODERATOR’S NOTE: Generalization against all feminists.

  4. david chipps says:

    I agree for the most part with the article. I think what is more interesting is how racial politics are currently used by mainly white liberals in the U.S. to push all poor people on board with the corporate agenda. Not that I’m against Obama’s health care program or gay marriage. I’m for all of the above, with an insecure fear that the health care insurance might make my body an American car (you have to have the insurance to be a part of the program) and not like Canada’s system (but who thinks their vision of socialism works—honestly socialism rarely works on large scales).

    Anyhoo….a book you should read, if you haven’t Guns, Germs, and Steel. This book made me realize that the african american and african experiences may still be globally one experience relating to years of imperialism and conquest that has unfortunately created a racial divide for african americans historically and globally. I used to see the african american and african experiences as compartmentalized. I think you have it better if you live in the United States. However, first it was England, then the United States, and now China and Inida are exploiting one of the wealthiest continents on the planet as far as natural resources. Historically, africans have been used to get at resources. The Tutsi fight the Hutu in Rwanda because of an economic divide centuries old created by England. These racial divides continue to exist on every continent since african americans were used as slaves and while we have an african american president our country supports the continued exploitation of the african continent by supporting China and India. We didn’t hit them they did. I don’t know. I hope Oprah’s schools will change the dynamics…but how do you erase years of abuses.

    Your also right that white women are using racial politics to play political ball. Have you seen current T.V. they don’t even have one african american on that is supposed to be the most leftist station on our networks. I don’t know maybe I’m out there and off the mark.


    • John Sctoll says:

      Well David, I am in canada and I think our vision of socialism works quite well actually. The state of our economy, health etc is doing quite well. Is it perfect NOPE, sure isn’t. I would contend though that our vision seems to work much better right now than the US vision of capitalism, that being “Greed is good”.

  5. Black men are depicted as historically being victimised by being excluded from combat, possibly the single most ridiculous definition of discrimination humanly possible.
    On the other hand sending white males into combat is depicted by politically correct history as a form of preferential treatment. The fundamental point is that white males are not portrayed as priviliged despite being sent into batlle but directly because of it, possibly the single most ridiculous definition of privilege humanly possible.
    I’m looking forward to lots of personal attacks and absurd accusations of “racism”, bring it on!

    • HeatherN says:

      On the face of it, I get what you’re saying. Surely being a protected class (instead of part of the one doing the protecting) is better? However…when you look at why African-Americans (and women, and lgbt people) have been excluded from combat, that’s when you see the racism (sexism, anti-lgbt-ism, etc). They (we) weren’t considered good enough, strong enough, trustworthy enough, or human enough to be given the responsibility of defending our country. Real equality means being considered equal enough to take on the same responsibilities (in this case, military service). To be viewed as fully equal and capable human beings means being given the same responsibilities (and privileges) as the normalized classes.

      • Blacks haven’t been held out of combat (men anyway). They were forced into combat in the south during the civil war and (if I remember correctly) joined voluntarily in the north to help end slavery.

        Ever since then black men have been allowed in the military.

        In fact, I once read a story of a black soldier just out of WWII who tried to do the same thing Rosa Parks did (refuse to move to the back of the bus) and was murdered. He didn’t think he should have to move to the back since he had fought for his country.

        • Kirsten (in MT) says:

          Blacks haven’t been held out of combat (men anyway).

          Really? Let’s just see here…


          “The issues of emancipation and military service were intertwined from the onset of the Civil War. News from Fort Sumter set off a rush by free black men to enlist in U.S. military units. They were turned away, however, because a Federal law dating from 1792 barred Negroes from bearing arms for the U.S. army (although they had served in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812). In Boston disappointed would-be volunteers met and passed a resolution requesting that the Government modify its laws to permit their enlistment.

          The Lincoln administration wrestled with the idea of authorizing the recruitment of black troops, concerned that such a move would prompt the border states to secede. When Gen. John C. Frémont (photo citation: 111-B-3756) in Missouri and Gen. David Hunter (photo citation: 111-B-3580) in South Carolina issued proclamations that emancipated slaves in their military regions and permitted them to enlist, their superiors sternly revoked their orders. By mid-1862, however, the escalating number of former slaves (contrabands), the declining number of white volunteers, and the increasingly pressing personnel needs of the Union Army pushed the Government into reconsidering the ban.

          As a result, on July 17, 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation and Militia Act, freeing slaves who had masters in the Confederate Army. Two days later, slavery was abolished in the territories of the United States, and on July 22 President Lincoln (photo citation: 111-B-2323) presented the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet. After the Union Army turned back Lee’s first invasion of the North at Antietam, MD, and the Emancipation Proclamation was subsequently announced, black recruitment was pursued in earnest. Volunteers from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Massachusetts filled the first authorized black regiments. Recruitment was slow until black leaders such as Frederick Douglass (photo citation: 200-FL-22) encouraged black men to become soldiers to ensure eventual full citizenship. (Two of Douglass’s own sons contributed to the war effort.) Volunteers began to respond, and in May 1863 the Government established the Bureau of Colored Troops to manage the burgeoning numbers of black soldiers.”

          “Segregated units were formed with black enlisted men and typically commanded by white officers and black noncommissioned officers. The 54th Massachusetts was commanded by Robert Shaw and the 1st South Carolina by Thomas Wentworth Higginson—both white. Black soldiers were initially paid $10 per month from which $3 was automatically deducted for clothing, resulting in a net pay of $7. In contrast, white soldiers received $13 per month from which no clothing allowance was drawn. In June 1864 Congress granted equal pay to the U.S. Colored Troops and made the action retroactive. Black soldiers received the same rations and supplies. In addition, they received comparable medical care.

          The black troops, however, faced greater peril than white troops when captured by the Confederate Army. In 1863 the Confederate Congress threatened to punish severely officers of black troops and to enslave black soldiers. As a result, President Lincoln issued General Order 233, threatening reprisal on Confederate prisoners of war (POWs) for any mistreatment of black troops. Although the threat generally restrained the Confederates, black captives were typically treated more harshly than white captives. In perhaps the most heinous known example of abuse, Confederate soldiers shot to death black Union soldiers captured at the Fort Pillow, TN, engagement of 1864. Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest witnessed the massacre and did nothing to stop it.”

          In summary, blacks were initially excluded from the Civil War era military, until the law was changed to permit them to fight. But once there were allowed into the military, they were kept segregated from in their own units. They were paid less than white soldiers until that discriminatory policy was reversed and retroactively evened out with back pay. And then when they were captured, they suffered much harsher retribution than did white soldiers.

          • Hey Kristen,
            I am not a historian, but isn’t this an example of a battle for black men to join that was WON?
            How does this disprove my point? Black men wanted to join the effort and were turned away in 1862, but were allowed to join in 1863.
            And they have been free to join ever since. This doesn’t disprove what I was saying.

            • All these responses prove my point and you’re all oblivious to the fact which only reinforces the fact. Indocrination is a very powerful thing whereby a direct observation is twisted around by propaganda and manipultion.
              Women are excluded from combat because they are considered too precious and valuable, that is why the language is manipulated in such an obscenely demented way so that “excluded” has this negative connotation.
              If not being considered good enough saves your life how is that not an inadvertent privilege for god’s sake? Would you rather be underestimated or dead? Seriously, what would you choose? How can being sent to your death equate with being valued?
              Real equality means being considered human enough that your death means more than only the impact on another demographic.
              How would you respond to a black only draft for example? I’m dying to know.

              • HeatherN says:

                “Real equality means being considered human enough that your death means more than only the impact on another demographic.”


                “Real equality means being considered equal enough to take on the same responsibilities.”

                These two aren’t mutually exclusive…in fact I’d say they are closely linked together. A society that is set up in such a way that it divides people into protected and protector classes ends up screwing everyone over. The protected classes are viewed as less-than-adults, and the protector classes end up risking their lives more when it comes to war.

                • Society does not divide people into protected and protector classes arbitrarily, it does so because of biology. Put simply if you can have babies you are protected, if you can’t you’re the protector, it’s a question of women being valuable and men being expendable.
                  That is why women being seen as less than adults is a major social issue that has created enormous upheaval and men being drafted is a non issue. Oh, except in terms of how it affects women and minorities of course, so whose lives are cheapest in real terms?
                  At least your response is civil and it’s like you’re almost conceding I have a point but you’re reluctant to see where the rabbit hole goes, at least it wasn’t the abusive tirade I was expecting, that’s something I guess. I will not give up on this however, I’m going to annoy the crap out of you all! Ha ha ha ha…..

                  • Right well clearly your not interested in having a dialogue about this but in pushing your opinion, so there’s not much of a point in discussing it further. We’ll just end up repeating ourselves and probably end up getting frustrated. I understand what you are saying, and I even understand why you are saying it. I disagree with you, but I understand.

                    To quote F. Scott Fitzgerald: The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

                    Which isn’t to say I think I fit that, but to say that’s what I strive for. And to be honest, it’s something I think everyone in a discussion should try to achieve.

                    • What do you mean I’m not interested in having a dialogue about this? That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. I am not pushing my opinion whatsoever, I am merely stating facts and asking questions which follow logically from those facts.
                      What specifically is the bit where I express my “opinion”, give an example please. All I’m really doing is asking questions based on observations which no one appears to be prepared to give a straight answer to. If you actually read the text it’s predominantly questions I’m asking. Difficult, confronting questions that are met with politically correct dogma for the most part which defuses MY attempt at a dialogue. If you understand what I’m saying then what is the specific part you disagree with?
                      How is asking questions not inviting someone to answer them? If I was only interested in pushing my opinion why would I ask questions? My opinion is irrelevant. The buddhists (as far as I can recall) believe holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time causes mental illness. I’m simply pointing out contradictions.

            • Kirsten (in MT) says:

              As Heather said, “when you look at why African-Americans (and women, and lgbt people) have been excluded from combat, that’s when you see the racism (sexism, anti-lgbt-ism, etc).”

              The point is that yes, African-Americans were excluded from combat, and in order to include them the law had to be changed. Then once it was changed and they were allowed in the military, they were STILL discriminated against through segregation, lower pay (which also had to be corrected), harsher retribution when captured… Even once they were allowed in combat, they were STILL not viewed as equal human beings.

              • If ONLY Afro – Americans had to register for the draft, and whites were exempted, would you welcome this as finally being veiwed as equal human beings?
                Something tells me you wouldn’t, but wouldn’t that be a logical extension of the affirmative action principle? I mean it follows logically from what you’re saying if being sent into combat is such a wonderful privilege and it would put an end to the injustice once and for all.
                I don’t think you’d be keen on it actually, and you certainly wouldn’t be casting whites as victims for being excluded. This is my final attempt to reason with you because I know it’s pointless but I enjoy being a pain in the arse and having a mind of my own (fiendish laughter)! It’s my evil white male way.

  6. MichelleG says:

    “The black male is the cheapest life there is.
    The white female is the most expensive life there is.”

    Is it just me, or does the second line sound misogynistic? I don’t agree with that line — the most expensive lives are the billionaires — and currently the world’s top ten billionaires according to Forbes, are all men. 8 out of the 10 look like white men, and the United States is the only country to show up three times in that top ten list.

    i would also argue the first line. If we are talking globally and culturally, the cheapest life is that of the unborn female; the genocide and abortions of female fetuses and babies due to their gender and second class citizen status.

    • So if it’s misogynistic to say that ‘the white female is the most expensive life there is’ is it misandric to say that ‘the white male is the most expensive life there is and the female fetus* the cheapest?’

      *So you’re pro-life I take it.

    • John Sctoll says:

      Michelle: Here is where I would argue that female fetus are actually more valuable than male fetus, WHY??

      People around the world actually care about them. The people who abort them don’t BUT the rest of the planet seems to , after all female sex selective abortions are becoming a hot topic, in fact here in Canada, the Canadian Medical Association wants to withhold sex information until it is too late to get an abortion.

      • I don’t agree with sex selective abortions in principal, but if you’re going to argue that someone has a right to do something, then they have the right to do that thing even if you disagree with their reasons for doing so.

    • Michelle,

      The fact that some groups are responding with outrage and trying to stem the abortion of female fetuses but there is no comparable action against the abortion of unborn male fetuses seems to refute your point.

      The cheapest life is unborn male children who never get a mention in the mainstream media.

    • “Is it just me, or does the second line sound misogynistic? ”

      Not just you – the wording is a little off. it should say that white female lives are the most valued. and in
      the Us that is prety undeniable.

      “…the most expensive lives are the billionaires — and currently the world’s top ten billionaires according to Forbes, are all men.”

      Actually no. They don’t get some kind of special police or Secret Service protection. They do have awesome secusrity, but they pay for that themselves.

      We need more information to confirm your statement, in the form of a kidnapping of a millionaire, say. Then we would be able to see if Fox News flogged the story for hours at a time for six months they way they did over ONE white girl, Natalie Holloway. May she rest in peace.

      Valuing female over male life has very deep, conservative roots in the culture.

  7. HeatherN says:

    “The black male is the cheapest life there is.”

    Actually…the black, Muslim, bisexual, disabled, poor, uneducated, transman – is the cheapest life there is.

    Yeah yeah…that was snarky…but comments like the bit I quoted from you, Eric, just get on my nerves. It’s not that I disagree with the sentiment (that African-American men are devalued in our society) – it’s that I disagree with the ‘who has it the worst’ undercurrent in what you said.

    “Again, had Trayvon Martin been a 17 year old white girl, would there have been an investigation without protest marches?”

    Yeah, but if he was a 17-year-old white boy, there also probably would have been an investigation without the protests. And if Martin was an African-American girl would there have been an investigation? Maybe…maybe not. In this particular case, it is certainly probably that Zimmerman felt threatened due to the fact that Martin was black and male, but from what I’ve read about it, it looks like the lack of a proper investigation was more to do with ethnicity than to do with gender. I think it’s important to remember that there are two separate issues with this case – Zimmerman’s encounter with Martin is the first, and the lack of a proper police investigation is the second. The motivations for both of those issues are not necessarily exactly the same.

    • @ Heather

      “And if Martin was an African-American girl would there have been an investigation?”


      During slavery there were laws protecting female slaves from rape and abuse (how effective they were is another matter, but legislatures did try to protect them, somewhat) and during the early industrial revolution, once again male legislators came together to enact laws to protect female workers from dangerous conditions and being exploited.

      In both cases despite being part of a disenfranchised group, women were singled out for preferential protection, over the men in the same disenfranchised groups.

      Lower class and non-white men are seen as not worthy of compassion and social protection, like all men, but they don’t have the protection of wealth and social status of higher class and white men.

      • HeatherN says:

        Yeah but typhon, we’re in 2011 not the 1800s…which is why I said ‘maybe.’ Again, I’d like to point out, that I’m not disagreeing with the sentiment that Eric expressed here…that African-American men are devalued…because they are. It’s the absolutest terms used which are problematic for me.

        • I just want to note that Anthony Zarat was the one who originally said:

          ““The black male is the cheapest life there is.
          The white female is the most expensive life there is.”

          Not me. I don’t want to get credit for something I didn’t say.

      • Non white men are seen as not worthy of compassion? Are you serious, do you actually believe that? Can you actually support that proposition with evidence or facts?
        Compassion is for women and minorities ONLY. Open your eyes.

  8. The Muslim life is the cheapest there is. Shaima Alwadi, those 16 children and women killed by Sgt. Bales in Afghanistan, and the “sport hunting” by more soldiers from JBLM are just few of the many instances of muslims who are brutally killed for nothing more than the fact that they are brown or muslim. RIP Shaima and Trayvon, much love for you all.

    • Kirsten (in MT) says:

      That would be Muslim female. Let’s not forget who suffers from so-called ‘honor killings’.

      • I’m in no way minimizing so-called honor killings but, in the United States, are 18 honor killings of Muslim women every day?

        On average, over 6,500 black boys and men are murdered each year. I’m very sure that there aren’t anywhere near that many honor killings each year, at least in the US.

        • Kirsten (in MT) says:

          Um, why exactly would we artificially narrow our vision to the United States only?

          • No idea what “artificially” means here.

            Countries with honor killings don’t even pretend to be for gender equality. Their behavior is reprehensible and vile but completely consistent with what they claim to believe.

            I live in the United States. By contrast, here, a very large percentage of people who claim to be advocates of gender (and racial) equality have been completely content for black males to be murdered 18.3 times a day 365 days a year, and 366 every four years, claiming that they enjoy male privilege. Thus, their plight is largely ignored.

            I live in the United States. And it is here that people who claim to be advocates of gender (and racial) equality appear to be content for black males to be murdered 18.3 times a day 365 days a year, and 366 every four years.

    • Even Muslims think that their life is cheapest, otherwise why would a person put on a suicide belt to kill others???

  9. You summed it up nicely, Eric

  10. “The black male is the cheapest life there is.
    The white female is the most expensive life there is.”


    You’ll also note that black men are considered hypermasculine and white women more feminine then other races(except asian women.)

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