Over this past weekend, I came in contact with the type of person I had never met before. My friends and I hosted boy from a small town, who was visiting American University with his friend. This boy had a connection to one of my friends which lead to his visit. Over the course of his visit, I was dumbfounded when one of his white friends used the derogatory word for a black person that begins with an ‘N’. I did not grow up with this word, nor have I come accustomed to hearing it. I was so shocked by the use of the word that I did not confront the situation, instead mentioned it the next day to the boy staying with us. His reaction to my uncomfortability was simply, “Well yeah, we aren’t like the type of guys you hang out with here we are just regular guys’ guys”. I was unaware of the origin of the initial disgust I had for this reaction until much later.
Our guests use of the words “guys’ guys” linked serious racism, dehumanization and cruelty with the idea of masculinity. This harmful link permeates our society, evident in many’s subconscious categorization of words like ‘strong’, ‘harsh’, or even ‘uncaring’ with the word manly. This correlation is not an excuse for this one boy’s behavior, rather an epidemic that needs to be addressed. After understanding this unhealthy strain masculinity, I also began to realize that I had met boys like his before, not any overtly racist, but many affected by negative masculinity complex’s.