It’s Funny How 1 Title Can Fuck Up the Game: Thoughts on the Response to Damon’s Piece About Black Men

VSB screenshot
VSB screenshot

1. I didn’t love the title, either. The substance of the piece itself was perfectly fine—to argue and debate that would be stupid (more on this later). It’s no different from conversations many of us have in any number of spaces we congregate when sober, perhaps not wrapped up in as neat a bow as Damon presented, but to pretend the substance of the piece was insincere or inaccurate is fucking stupid.

But that title. Man, it ... stung. Look, any time you compare black folks, especially men, to white people in terms of privilege, it’s going to set off a million nuance and complexity alarms. Black men get to be white people? OK.

But then I think back to my ABSOLUTE favorite couplet in ALL of hip-hop history, and possibly the most important in terms of knowing your audience:

“And even after all my logic and my theory/I add a motherfucker so you ignant niggas hear me ... ” —Lauryn Hill, “Zealots,” The Score (1996)


Damon called you motherfuckers a motherfucker at the front instead of AFTER the logic and the theory, but the principle holds. Many people stopped at the title—probably more than many. Considering some of the stupid-ass discussions that occurred, I’d wager that most people didn’t read past the title (more on THAT later, too) and never even read to see why Damon led with it. But if it started a whole lot of conversation, does the end justify the means? Only time will tell, I guess. Sometimes you’re right, even when you’re wrong.

2. “Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?” —Jay-Z, “Renegade,” The Blueprint (2001)

Look, disagreements are OK. In fact, healthy discourse is encouraged. But to determine that, because you disagree with the premise presented in a title, everything else is moot is intellectually dishonest. Also, more importantly, I’ve had more than a few conversations with men I know who, mostly on behalf of others, said that quite a few men were having trouble grasping the point of said article.

And I’m just going to go ahead and throw lighter fluid on that fire: If (most) MEN are the ONLY people taking issue with the piece, then perhaps there’s SOMETHING TO IT. It’s kind of like how white people really hate being called racist even after doing racist shit. They take issue. There’s some man-in-the-mirrorness that needs to occur.


To pretend that black women’s lives are a crystal stair compared to ours is some absolutely stupid shit. The fucking civil rights movement as a whole is full of stories of marginalized women and rampant sexism. I guess men gon’ men, huh? Which is the fucking point of the piece, is it not? Black men want white people to see how much harm they’re doing to us. Yet if black women want black men to see how that same marginalization rolls downhill, even if it’s not racial, it’s a problem? Which brings us to the next point.

3. Some of you men REALLY hate black women. Good gotdamn. Like, I think I’ve been more lucky than I realize to be around such great women and other black men who also not only love black women but LIKE them. But I’ve read some articles—and no, I won’t link to any of that drivel—that actually made me more appreciative of my upbringing, thankful for my boys, and fearful for our daughters who will have to deal with offspring of these terrible niggas one day in life because undoubtedly, these ignorant fucks will all have offspring.


4. Dear academics who don’t read articles that you decide to do videos about or generally don’t seem to know what the fuck you’re talking about: *CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED*

5. Piggybacking on how much some black men hate black women, if being supportive of pieces that uplift and ACKNOWLEDGE black women makes one a simp, then I’m a simp, too. I’ll be that. You bitch-ass niggas want to be acknowledged for who you are and yet don’t care to do that for the very woman who birthed you. So I’ll be that—along with Damon and others who are willing to do our part to uplift black women, see them and acknowledge them publicly and in the privacy of our own homes. We all need to do better at it. Period.


Seriously, how the fuck is the black community going to thrive without black women feeling like we see them as much as they see us? They’ve been there for us in every capacity possible, marching next to us, leading the damn charges, etc. How is saying that we need to SEE them, HEAR them and SUPPORT them even REMOTELY controversial? Niggas are ready to boycott both the NFL in the name of racial inequality and VSB in the name of sexism. Let that shit marinate.

6. Jemele Hill retweets an article addressing what is pertinent to her safety and security as a woman, and the very men who supported her on racial grounds get pissed. Talk about proving a fucking point. Too bad so many are too stupid to realize that acting in such a fashion both validated Damon’s points and vindicated him titling it the way he did.


7. There was one very important silver lining to the entire affair. See, what happens often in online discourse is that folks say things like, “Why are you focused on THIS when THAT is so much more important?” For some reason, people think that it’s difficult for people to do more than one thing at the same time. Well, fortunately, Damon inadvertently proved that black men can definitely walk and chew gum at the same time: Many of you niggas manage to be both ain’t shit AND oppressive toward women AT THE SAME DAMN TIME. Well, that “walk and chew gum” argument is now settled.

8. Amazingly, in nearly EVERY convo I had or in the videos I watched or in the analysis I listened to was this idea that yes, black men do need to do better. But it got glossed over in every single fucking conversation, as if that isn’t the ENTIRE point of Damon’s piece. Like, that’s the WHOLE point. He could have framed it differently, but he didn’t. The point is still the same. The sad part is that right after acknowledging that we need to do better, most men did worse. Awesomesauce. Way to be exactly who you said you are.


9. To get back to the title of his piece, the title definitely colored how men or women read the article and either set you up for hatred (men) or “FUCKING FINALLY” (women). I did see how some women said that maybe since a man said it, men would pay attention. Sorry, ladies—that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Many of these men want to keep on being exactly who they are because while we believe racism exists, apparently sexism is a much harder sell.

10. Numbers 1 through 9 are why it wasn’t clickbait, for those of you who struggle with the concept of clickbait.


11. I don’t want it to seem like all men save for, like, four thought the piece was terrible. Some men agreed, some grudgingly or with trepidation in their hearts. Not every man was out here ready to offer over Damon in the race draft. And let’s be real: Not every woman agreed with him, either. But as is usual, the most vocal critics are the loudest and most active. They should ... stop.

Logic. Theory. Motherfucker.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

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I hear you on all of Mr. Young’s piece, wasn’t a lie to be found.

That said, any good writer knows that if you’re calling out a mothafucka, and you actually want said mothafucka to *hear what you’re saying*, you do NOT lead off with calling them a mothafucka. That’s just Human Nature 101. No one—as in, no one on this planet, woman/man, black/white, whatever—responds well to that, and immediately shuts down, unable to hear much, if anything, what you’re actually trying to say. This piece could’ve been titled 1,001 different ways, but in trying to be clever, VSB lost an innumerable amount of potential readers of a very important piece, AND lost out on getting their message to many of those readers that most need to hear it: black men themselves.

The title of an essay shouldn’t matter so much, but to deny or complain that it does is more than a lil’ bit disingenuous.