I am endlessly delighted by this video:
[Transcript: "To the Western World." A couple of men saying "I am an African man." "But do you know who we are? If you've only seen us in Hollywood movies, this is what you may think of us: machine guns." Their words are intercut with scenes from Hollywood films showing what they say. "We shoot our machine guns from trucks. We shoot our machine guns from boats. When we run out of bullets, we shoot rocket launchers. We are obsessed with violence. We hate smiling. Smiling is stupid. We are fantastic role models." Black man stomping away from a black boy with a machine gun. "We only speak in one-liners, and when we speak, we sound evil. However, there is nothing more dangerous than a brave Western protagonist. We are talking to you, shirtless Matthew McConaughey. And one thing's for sure: a day without war is a day not worth living. But you don't really think of us that way, do you? We are likeable and friendly guys, and we are even on Facebook. We are more than a stereotype. Let's change the perception." Black men playing sports; text on screen tells about their studying medicine or human resources management. Text on screen: "Build a future, not a stereotype. Education gives a voice. Guarantee it. Stop the pity, unlock the potential. MamaHope." One black man teases another about having a Matthew McConaughey poster in his room.]
I think it is extremely common for marginalized men– especially poor men or men of color– to be constructed as being far more violent than privileged men. My pet theory is that this is rooted in the equation of manhood and power. Men are supposed to be powerful; privileged men are powerful, by virtue of their privilege. If men are marginalized, they are either not really men (queer men) or they express their power in less subtle ways, that is, violence.
Africa, of course, has often been torn by wars, violence, and genocides. Nevertheless, Hollywood’s simplistic depictions erase that Africa is an entire fucking continent and therefore has many people who are not violent and places that are not at war with anyone. It also ignores that a lot of African violence was directly caused by the history of Western colonialism and neo-colonialism. Maybe if white people hadn’t, say, invaded the countries, stolen everything of value, drew up illogical country boundaries, and then abandoned the place, we wouldn’t be having so many problems, hmm?