Introduces the conceptual foundations for Black Male Studies, going beyond gender theories that cast the Black Male as a pathological aspiring patriarch

The Man-Not

Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood

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Tommy J. Curry

"Tommy Curry has written a cool, brilliant defense of the men who are the pariahs of American society: the ones who, regardless of class, find themselves at the bottom of every hierarchy; the ones whose demographics and statistics in terms of the criminal justice, health care, and other systems are abysmal. Countless billions have been made from the portrayal of Black males as Boogeymen. The Man-Not is heavy work, but the general reader will find its arguments well worth the time and effort. This book is controversial. Those who've dogged and stalked Black men in the academy and popular culture for the past few decades are sure to have their critical knives out. I know. But it's rare for an American intellectual to step up, regardless of the fallout. This book is the one that I've been waiting for. Curry has taken a bullet for the brothers."
Ishmael Reed, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and Visiting Scholar at the California College of the Arts

Tommy J. Curry's provocative book The Man-Not is a justification for Black Male Studies. He posits that we should conceptualize the Black male as a victim, oppressed by his sex. The Man-Not, therefore, is a corrective of sorts, offering a concept of Black males that could challenge the existing accounts of Black men and boys desiring the power of white men who oppress them that has been proliferated throughout academic research across disciplines.

Curry argues that Black men struggle with death and suicide, as well as abuse and rape, and their genred existence deserves study and theorization. This book offers intellectual, historical, sociological, and psychological evidence that the analysis of patriarchy offered by mainstream feminism (including Black feminism) does not yet fully understand the role that homoeroticism, sexual violence, and vulnerability play in the deaths and lives of Black males. Curry challenges how we think of and perceive the conditions that actually affect all Black males.



Read an excerpt from the Introduction (pdf).



"In a bold—indeed, fearless—intervention in the ongoing race/gender/sexual orientation debates, Tommy Curry challenges the cozy consensus among self-conceived progressives in the humanities. The oppression of black men has been conceptually erased, he argues, by theoretical frameworks indifferent to the social science data that refute them. Sure to ignite a firestorm of controversy, The Man-Not is an impassioned protest against orthodoxies, both mainstream and radical, white and black. It is required reading for anyone interested in understanding oppression or having unquestioned assumptions put to the test."
Charles W. Mills, Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center

"[The Man-Not] contains so many studies in detail, that [it] first might appear to be an anthology of research done over the years: from race in 19th century ethnology, through black writers' experience of the effects of the prison-industrial complex, to white women raping black men under slavery, and supporting their lynching in a later period of history.... [S]lowly I started to understand that these were not case studies, and the book is no anthology. It is systematical and methodical to the core, forming theory from actual issues in the lives of black men and boys."
angelaroothaan blog

"Curry's style of writing and the occasional boldness of his assertions make the book well worth reading. The overall aims of the book are highlighted through mapping the vulnerability which makes the genre theory of Man-Not(ness) a useful framework for further theorizations that consider the presence of the Black male corpse and sexual vulnerability in conceptualizations of Black maleness. Curry's revising of Black masculinity highlights the need to theorize Black masculinity without using white masculinity as a benchmark."
NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies

"The release of Tommy J. Curry's new text, The Man-No t, is both monumental and groundbreaking. This text inaugurates a new field of study-namely, Black Male Studies, and Dr. Curry lays the foundation well by establishing a multi-layered, nuanced approach that encompasses new approaches to conceptualizing gender, develops new gender theory, re-evaluates sexuality, and creatively applies class-analysis in an effort to consider Black men on wholly new grounds. Curry accomplishes this difficult task with seeming ease."
New Black Masculinities

"The Man-Not is an important work that is essential in the day and age of disposable blog entries that ride on incorrect tropes about Black men. This is factual work backed up by data that can be proven, and that is what is missing in conversations about race. The Man-Not is a very dense book. There is a lot to digest here, but a book about racism and white supremacy should not be a quick read. This is a triumph in Black studies and about how the African-American man and boy is written. I felt pride and satisfaction reading this book. A Black man writing a book to humanize Black men and boys: it couldn't have come at a better time for me and everyone else."
The Good Men Project


Introduction • Toward a Genre Study of Black Male Death and Dying: Addressing the Caricatures that Serve as Theory in the Study of Black Males

1. On Mimesis and Men: Toward a Historiography of the Man-Not; or, the Ethnological Origins of the Primal Rapist
2. Lost in a Kiss? The Sexual Victimization of the Black Male during Jim Crow Read through Eldridge Cleaver’s
The Book of Lives and Soul on Ice
3. The Political Economy of Niggerdom: Racist Misandry, Class Warfare, and the Disciplinary Propagation of the Super-predator Mythology
4. Eschatological Dilemmas: Anti-Black Male Death, Rape, and the Inability to Perceive Black Males’ Sexual Vulnerability under Racism
5. In the Fiat of Dreams: The Delusional Allure of Hope and the Reality of Anti-Black (Male) Death that Demands Our Theorization of the Anti-ethical
Conclusion • Not MAN but Not Some Nothing: Affirming Who I Cannot Be through a Genre Study of Black Male Death and Dying

Epilogue • Black, Male, and (Forced to Remain) Silent: Censorship and the Subject/Subject Dilemma in Disciplinary Conceptualizations of the Black Male



About the Author(s)

Tommy J. Curry is a Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies at Texas A&M University, where he holds the prestigious Ray A. Rothrock Fellowship (2013–2016). He serves as Executive Director of Philosophy Born of Struggle and is the recipient of the USC Shoah Foundation 2016–2017 A.I. and Manet Schepps Foundation Teaching Fellowship. He is the author of The Philosophical Treatise of William H. Ferris: Selected Readings from The African Abroad or, His Evolution in Western Civilization.


Subject Categories

African American Studies

Philosophy and Ethics

Gender Studies



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