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Kevin Samuels’ death sparks heated debate among black men and women

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Wearing his signature glasses, suit and tie, Kevin Samuels casually sat in his chair to talk to a 35-year-old single black mother who called up his popular YouTube show asking for dating advice. The woman, who said she has a teenage son and earns six figures from her pet grooming business, explained that she wants to meet a man of her level who also earns six figures.

Suggesting that she lower her standards, Samuels repeatedly insulted her looks, her business, her age and the fact that she is a mother.

“Thirty-five-year-old, 13-year-old son, with a sketchy father, why would a man who is in the top 10%, who women all over the country want, want that?” he said in the December 2020 YouTube video which has since garnered 2.8 million views. After calling her “average at best”, he then told her to lower her expectations. “Women like you die alone, all right. Because you think you’re better than the men you qualify for.

Samuels rose to fame on social media for videos like this, featuring controversial relationships and dating advice, offering highly critical remarks about women – many of whom were black – determining their “worth” based on their appearance , their age, income and number of children.

So when news of his death at 53 circulated last week, it drew mixed reactions from people familiar with his channel. On the one hand, there were those who viewed his viral comments as sexist toward women, stereotypical of men, and perpetuating a long-standing divide between black men and black women. On the other hand, his many supporters viewed Samuels as a truth-teller – and the critical reaction to his death as disrespectful.

From fans to hate watchers, however, Samuels’ call was his willingness to say what he wanted, but he meant it, said Julie Wadley, founder and CEO of Eli Simone LLC, a matchmaking company and personal coaching in North Carolina.

Wadley said many black men still feel blamed for why black men and black women can’t have healthy relationships. Instead, she said, Samuels became known for blaming women as well.

While some black men viewed Samuels as a hero because he “said things to women that most men wouldn’t say,” she said, his videos also fueled long-running divisions of a way that many have found humiliating for black women.

Popular culture started embracing black women and celebrating black love, “and then here was Kevin Samuels, who blew it all up,” Wadley said. “So now we’re back on both sides of the coin, looking at each other like, ‘OK, we can’t come to an agreement because we just can’t agree.'”

“I have a reputation for hating black women,” Samuels said in a February interview with rapper Nicki Minaj, “and I’m far from it. There are over 50 black women who report that ‘they got married after watching my content.Yet they were still the focus of criticism from Samuels, who once said that black women exist at “the opposite end of the spectrum at all ranks.”

Samuels, an image consultant, started his YouTube channel in 2015 and gave advice to men, with a 2017 video explaining 15 things men should have, including a tailored suit and a sense of humor. Eventually, he shifted his target audience to women – which proved successful, growing his online presence to nearly 1.5 million YouTube subscribers, 299 million video views and 1.2 million likes. followers on Instagram.

But much of her content was aimed at the same black women who grew her brand. Some of her recent videos are titled “Women Should Let Men Use Them”, “Modern Narcissistic Women Driving Men Crazy? and “Are modern women proud to be selfish?”

Among his millions of subscribers is Houston’s Leonardo Jacobschild, who said he was drawn to Samuels’ content because his candor “seemed like a breath of fresh air that people needed to hear.”

Jacobschild, 38, said he had been watching Samuels’ videos for years. While he was drawn to Samuels’ advice about men working, investing and saving before getting into a relationship, Jacobschild said it was similar to what he had learned on his own from the experience. He said he was drawn to Samuels’ videos because they gave black men a voice. He also said he sometimes watches the content with his wife of 11 years, who often agrees with Samuels.

Jacobschild said he was shocked when he learned of Samuels’ death and quickly tried to verify if it was true. Once it was confirmed, he noticed the flood of posts celebrating Samuels’ death, prompting him to tweet about it himself.

“I mean, it was disgusting,” Jacobschild said. “Whether you agree with him or not…you don’t have to follow him.”

“I mean, this man has a family. He has a mother. Like, you don’t care how they feel? he added.

Tamura Lomax, an associate professor of African-American and African studies at Michigan State University, said while she didn’t celebrate Samuels’ death, it evoked feelings of “calm.”

“It was a relief, not that he was dead,” said Lomax, 48, “but it was a relief because those he terrorized would no longer be terrorized by him – but that was even short-lived. .”

Lomax, which disagree with Samuels’ views, said he had created an army of people influenced by his views. She assumed someone else would carry on her work, which she described as “ambitious black capitalizing patriarchy.”

She also said that many black women find Samuels’ patriarchal statements appealing and that its content promotes black women “twisting to be in that ideal so that black men will love them.”

“Some of us are so overwhelmed with all the ways white supremacy harms black men, that we actually trick ourselves into believing that black men stepping into some part of the patriarchy will somehow restore them. another, and thus help them to love us,” Lomax said. .

At the heart of the problem, she said, is that black men and women want to be liked.

“I’ve seen black people find love,” Lomax said. “Love is where the heart falls. So what Kevin was throwing up wasn’t very helpful to black people.

While her views were controversial, Wadley said it was her delivery, not the content of her message, that was the problem.

“What he’s really saying is, ‘Take personal responsibility for what you want,'” she said. “If you want a certain type of man, if you want a certain type of woman, you have to be a certain type of person.”

As for Samuels’ millions of followers, his unexpected death remains shocking.

“It’s quite sad to see him go,” Jacobschild said.

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