Published on October 28, 2022.
By: Edden Yohanes
Lately, the gender divide in the Black community has been amplified due to public cases of hate and violence against Black women. An example of this lies within the response to the Tory Lanez and Megan the Stallions incident, where Megan was portrayed as a villain in her assault due to public backlash. Tory Lanez’s supporters, mostly Black men, defended him in an issue where he was the perpetrator. This speaks to the epidemic of anti-Black women sentiments in men’s spaces. Some of the most popular Black male creators in the entertainment and commentary industry have been known to express damaging stereotypes.
Kevin Samuels became an influential leader in the online space. Samuels and his followers subscribe to traditional values in romantic relationships of heterosexual relationships, often to the detriment of the women in the relationships.
Samuels’ followers have risen in numbers in response to the feminist movements during the last decade. The former amateur personal stylist advocated for hypermasculinity in his male followers’ lives, while also demanding old fashion femininity from his female viewers.
His last YouTube video live stream, posted on May 5th, a day before his death, was titled “Modern Women are a party of 1?” In this live stream, he discussed the faults of modern Black women. “Why are so many modern women holding out? What are you holding out for? Whatever it is, ladies, it ain’t worth it. And the net result of it is you become a party of one.”
Samuels believed that modern women are too focused on their careers and that the most attractive thing a woman can focus on besides her looks is being family oriented. He mocked the phrases educated Black women often declare proudly, “’I got my masters.’ But can you cook?” And, “They don’t want to have a cookbook, but they damn sure do have a dog.”
Samuels believed women should drop their passions and gain skills that will make them good housewives, cooks, and mothers. Samuels belonged to a network of male figures on the internet called the manosphere, who spread “anti-feminist and sexist beliefs blaming women and feminists for all sorts of problems in society.” Over the past decade, Samuels and his peers in the Black side of the manosphere have set unreasonable standards for Black women. Some Black women reject these standards, while those who try to accomplish and fail, are shunned.
Samuels was the kind of internet personality who had change.org petitions made about him. This campaign, created by The Goldie Jones Channel, received over 33,000 signatures demanding he be removed from YouTube and Instagram. She, and all those who signed the petition, believe that “removing this leader of hatred against women will bring reprieve for all of us.”
This campaign continues to receive signatures even after his death, which speaks to the unfortunate fact that his legacy continues to live on through his videos. It will continue to supply talking points to those who wish to support him.
Who is Kevin Samuels
Samuels, a self-described image consultant, functioned as a life and style coach on his eponymously named YouTube channel, Kevin Samuels, where he acquired 1.5 million followers. The trailer on his front page promises to offer a channel that is “raw, funny, eye-opening, conversations with “real life testimonials and solutions.” On his Instagram and other social media accounts, he reports his most controversial rants and interviews. As his following grew, people were drawn towards his virtual consultation service on his website bykevinsamuels.com.
After high school, Samuels attended the University of Oklahoma, where he studied Chemical Engineering, until he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and was unable to complete his degree. Once recovered, he worked unrelated office jobs until he found his passion and place for advocacy on social media while living in Atlanta, Georgia.
His rise to fame
In the beginning, Samuel’s channel started as a review channel for men’s fragrance, where he would advise his audience, mostly male viewers, on the trendiest fashion and grooming tips.
He targeted professional men and portrayed himself as a mentor for the everyday person. His fans viewed him as a father figure, as his conversations about lifestyle and relationships became a staple of his brand. In his videos, he explained the difficulties Black people have with dating and marriage, especially when it comes to gender roles. In the last two years of being active, he garnered triple the numbers on his live streams about controversial topics, figures, and opinions.
His work as an image consultant exemplifies the long line of social media ‘professionals’ with no real—or relevant—experience, who make a lucrative career offering services they are unqualified to offer.
Social media influencers have audiences that are always active. An audience like the one that followed Samuels found his channel because they were looking for quick and accessible councillors online. As a result, Samuels could gain a professional reputation without being a licensed professional.
Samuels’s audience became an enthusiastic congregation, absorbing his guidance with the same dedications they would express towards someone with a background in therapy, psychiatry, psychology, or any other kind of behavioural or communication study. Although, in these situations, it is easy to misguide an audience with biased, though popular, opinions.
His controversial behaviours
Samuels is a relationship guru who has had several controversial opinions go viral, and has proved to be unbothered by the backlash he receives. The titles of his videos state intentionally provocative meanings to match his equally provocative opinions. Some of his most viewed videos are titled “ Women Should Let Men Use Them,” “We Are Educated and Make Money Why Do Need Men?” and “Stop Playing It Safe | Why Men Simp.”
With titles like these, he plays on the insecurities of his viewer. Samuels gained notoriety for his brutal attacks on the women on his call-in shows, where he would insist that a woman’s value lies within her looks and attitude, regularly degrading their social and economic merit and achievements. He also constantly affirmed that unmarried women over 35 are “leftover women,” and that women should accept their partner’s infidelity while remaining faithful to themselves as the subordinate partner in any relationship.
Samuels warns viewers that his opinions are a “dose of reality,” and he is an example of the average professional man viewers should look up to for reputable advice. Although he does claim to approach his advice in good faith, the evidence of his behaviour with his audience proves otherwise. Samuels discovered that his offensive work acquired the most views on his channel and that many male viewers could relate to failed marriages and relationships.
During the pandemic, his work gained a lot of attention. However, his name entered the social consciousness with his video titled, “The ‘Your Average at Best’ Video – The full Interview.” The description given for the video explains that “Most people haven’t watched the entire segment. Here is the full interaction for your viewing. Make your own decision.”
The caller, a female business owner, came to Samuels asking for advice on how to date men in her socioeconomic bracket. He then began to humiliate her, stating that she was “average at best” and that high-earning men within her pay grade would not be attracted to “mid-30s baby mamas.”
The controversial response to his death
The controversial response followed by Samuels’s death reveals the anxiety the Black community faces when controversial figures die.
Various social media personalities, celebrities, and news outlets have covered an array of reactions to his death. Many have also connected the responses to the issue of “grief respectability” in the Black community. The term “grief respectability” comes from the theory of respectability politics which “utilizes respectability narratives as the basis for enacting social, political, and legal change.” After the death of an influential figure, the grieving community is able to call for a period of mourning where the memory of the figure is respected. This is popular in the Black community which tends to idolize its social and political figures while also excusing their faults. In this case, Samuels’ fans have summoned a narrative of “respectability” around the memory of his life and work online, which protects him from any criticism after his death.
Critics celebrated his death, to which his fans and those unaware of his presence defended him amidst the controversy. Many find it difficult to criticize an influential figure after their death, regardless of how unforgiving they may be. This response is unfair as Samuels still has his content available online.
This means that although Samuels has passed, his legacy lives on. He was nasty and vitriolic to those who opposed him on his live streams, and this behaviour is still available to view. His unsympathetic approach to his work completely negated any helpful advice he had to offer his audience.
The core of his ideologies embody misogyny as they work against Black women in favour of Black men. As a result, many male-identified women were drawn to him. He built an image as a smart, high-earning, well-dressed and well-spoken Black man; thus many of his consults were the kind of women looking for these kinds of men.
Samuels provided hope for these women who faced difficulties in their relationships, only to send them away with new insecurities in their appearance, etiquette, hobbies, behaviours, and a skewed perception of themselves and their gender.
The problem with Samuels’s advice is that he generalizes the habits and behaviours of men and women, then paints his own gender with a more favourable bias. Not only is he academically unqualified, but he is also brazenly supporting his theories with vague anecdotes. He demonstrates how you should not walk into your relationships or view future partners. There are benefits to approaching relationships with close-minded gendered expectations, however, he should have advised viewers to adopt open communication in relationships.
His fans continue to comment on his latest posts and videos, stating how much they miss him and how much his teachings influenced him. He may have provided some useful advice to fans, but his most basic theories are rooted in misogyny and his work as an interviewer was bigoted. Unfortunately, his lessons will continue to live on in the manosphere, and those who learned from him will continue to attack the Black women community with their ideologies. However, it is with articles like this that we can inform Black men and women on the dangers of Samuels’ ignorant teachings, and slow down—or even stop—his mainstream influence.