Black male privilege is often articulated through the ways in which "Black" is usually shorthand for "Black male," such that discourses about race and racial diversity (particularly in conservative Christian circles) curiously conceal the existence and conditions of Black women, thereby (re)authorizing patriarchical arrangements and sexist practices that, in part, produce Black male privilege!

From NPR's Tell Me More:
But first, we want to talk about black men for a moment because on just about any day, there is some tragic story about black men in the news on the Internet or bandied about at the water cooler. And often those stories are about how black men are mistreated by police or underserved by educators or about how they are falling short in some way. But sociologist LHeureux Lewis, who is himself a black man, has been thinking about and documenting a fresh take on the question of black men and race and power, as a theory that he calls black male privilege.

And if that raises your eyebrows, you are not alone. So, we called him to find out more. Hes - LHeureux Lewis is an assistant professor of sociology at the City University of New York, and he joins us now. Welcome, thank you for joining us.

Professor LHEUREUX LEWIS (Sociology, City University of New York): Thank you for having me on.

MARTIN: So, define black male privilege. Im sure thats a phrase on its face that will get people to sit up and take notice.

Prof. LEWIS: My working definition is really a system of built-in and often overlooked systematic advantages that center the experience and the concerns of black males while minimizing the power that black males hold, which is a fancy way of saying, we are absolutely used to talking about African-American men in crisis. And we can talk about this crisis so much that we miss the ways in which black men are oppressed and can also serve as oppressors.

MARTIN: And when you say privileged, I think generally people think of privilege in relation to whom. So, when you think of privilege, are you speaking relative to someone?

Prof. LEWIS: Absolutely. Black male privilege is first centered as being relative to black women. Im not comparing black males privilege to white male privilege. I think one could argue that, but itd be a very dangerous leap. When we look in the African-American community, there are actually spaces where black men are advantaged and often sometimes dominate a dialogue, when we should be listening more carefully to whats happening with black women equally.

MARTIN: Give an example.

Prof. LEWIS: In particular, if we think about the narrative of mass incarceration, we think about the ways in which black men and black boys have been locked up at increasing rates since the 1980s. While this is true, the fastest growing incarceration rate is particularly among black and Latino women. And because we havent thought seriously about whats happening with black girls and Latino girls, we tend to make the issue of incarceration solely male, and we miss the different ways in which we need to be intervening not just for our young boys, but also our young girls.

MARTIN: Well, give another example then, because I think people would say focusing on those who are even worse off than you doesnt mean youre well off.

Prof. LEWIS: Well, the first time I really came to think about black male privilege was when I was a freshman at Morehouse College. And at that point, there was actually an incident of sexual assault between a Morehouse student and a Spelman student. And what I found quickly were that black men were -instead of actually talking seriously about issues of sexual assault, which are very common in our community, it became a discussion about the ways in which black men become vilified. So, what happens is we often look at issues like domestic violence or sexual assault, and instead of actually dealing with those who are survivors or the victims of it, predominantly African-American women, we re-center it on black men.
To read the rest of the article, click here