Saturday, November 15, 2008

Black and Male in America

Wednesday, November 12 I attended the Black and Male in America: A town hall meeting

It was moderated by Soledad O'Brien and featured the contributors of The Black Male Handbook: Kevin Powell, the Editor, The Black Male Handbook; writer, activist, and recent Democratic candidate for Congress in Brooklyn-He's too fine
Lasana Hotep; Founder of Hotep Consultants
Byron Hurt; Award-winning filmmaker, writer, activist, lecturer
Ryan Mack; President of Optimum Capital Management
Kendrick B. Nathaniel; Mentor.Youth Advocate
Dr. Andrae L. Brown, Assistant Professor, Lewis & Clark College and Co-Director of Affinity Counseling Group
Dr. William Jelani Cobb; Associate Professor of History of Spelman College

This town hall was very riveting and I encourage those to attend any such meetings in their community. It was especially exciting to attend in the wake of the win for our new President-Elect Barack Obama.
Of course the significance of this win resonated in each of the panels views and points and instilled that Barack Obama is just the beginning. The change doesn't come from Barack Obama, but within the Black community.
Physical Health was the vocal point of view for Kendrick Nathaniel, he made an excellent point when he stated, Bodegas in every corner of our neighborhoods is one of the culprits in which we are eating trash that our bodies can not process.
The comical and long drawn Dr. Andrae Brown wanted to stress that Suicide is a major issue in our community that we sweep under the rug. Most recently, Def Jam Executive Shakir Stewart
committed suicide. He was an established, well known, successful man however that wasn't enough. Suicide is an extremist form of mental illness. Black men are living in a state of depression and its bottled up because its not usual, or cool to show weakness.
Dr. Jelani Cobb made an interesting point of President Elect Obama new point in power. What this creates for black men is now they have to step their game up. Barack Obama has successfully gone through all the steps of man hood. He uses his intellect over emotion, and he is confident of his wife.
Lasana Hotep focused on the spirituality of the black man. He expressed that everyone needs a time out in the day solely for prayer. We need to be internally motivated. This allows you to center yourself within this word.
While this was a town hall geared towards the issues in the black man's life, the panelists all stressed the severe issue of domestic violence against women. Black women are dying, Black women are getting beaten frequently and daily by men who hold the position of their man, husband, partner, etc. Its an epidemic that is getting sweeped under the rug and every man on that panel is sick and tired of it and encouraged the audience to take a stand and end it. Stop being quiet, if you know a woman that is being battered, or a man that is a wife beater, don't be silent STEP IN.
The message of the night occurred when an audience member asked, "how can we fix issues within our community, can we depend on President Elect Barack Obama or NY Governor David Patterson to fix it due to the color of their skin?" The answer was simply, we can not expect both men to fix 300+ years of oppression and violence that has been placed in our communities. We will set them both up to fail. We can not hold them responsible for the issues in our community. We need to attend town halls and bring these issues at the front. We need to attend schools and be a figure for young black boys and girls, we need to put ourselves out there to show that we care about changing the community for the best. It all starts-and ends with us.
I encourage all black men to read the Black Male Handbook. This book can be purchased in Bedstuy, Brooklyn Brownstone books, and amazon.


chanel said...

Inspiring, indeed.

Portia said...

Absolutely wonderful! I definitely agree about the comments on physical health because Mel and I both lived in a predominantly black neighborhood in Queens. The grocery stores carried spolied produce and there was some type of fast food resturant every 1/2 a block.

I also commend the panelist for saying that Barack Obama is not the answer to our problems; the black male carries a heavy burden and he can only overcome it if we as a community start talking about and addressing the "taboo" issues.