I just wanted to give a little reflection of this evening's (Monday, January 7th, 2008) group discussion, BLACK and MALE in America: Black Males and Understanding Self-Hate http://www.blackandmaleinameric
First, I should mention these series of monthly workshops are the brainchild of intellectual and motivational speaker Kevin Powell . Kevin periodically has his State of Black Men in American forums which is a tool to teach, motivate and exercise to all men of African descent to navigate through the quagmire of issues that face Black males in every day life. Some of these issues include but not limited to incarceration, unemployment, physical & mental health, health care, relationships, etc Getting back to this Monday meeting, it was my first time there tonight, though I've heard about the meetings for a few months now thru emails. I was quite encouraged while being there as a first impression. And these groups are open to BLACK MALES ONLY!
Interestingly enough, I found the tone of the group to be an extension of the kinds of progressive dialogs I was accustomed to hearing when I was involved as a member and later as part of the leadership of BMX-NY (Black Men's Xchange-New York) in Harlem. More specifically, talks of political & economic empowerment as well as cultural self-determination were definite key points that both BMX-NY and Black and Male in America (BMA) share. The only difference is that BMX-NY specifically deals with same gender loving Black men's issues and the BMA group is tackling a general scope of Black men's issues.
A quality and comprehensive full color agenda (8 1/2" x11" sheet) for the evening was given out to bruthaz as they assembled into a very big room at Brown Memorial Baptist Church. We were told that the head of the church, the pastor or was it the minister (I'm an atheist so I don't know the differences in titles and duties of church members) of Brown Memorial Baptist Church has been gracious enough to donate the space to BMA for all the monthly meetings. The venue is located at 484 Washington Avenue at the corner of Gates Avenue.
The prodding to get me to go to the evening's meeting was my friend Neal who went to the previous month's meeting and came away encouraged by the positive dialog that went on from what he told me in a phone conversation. He said there were about 30 bruthaz at last December's (2007) meeting.
So when I got there there were already well over that amount of bruthaz there and more. In fact, they had to go get and lay out more chairs in the semi-circled group. So, after finding a seat, I had my agenda in hand, and Kevin addressed the brotherhood as an opening salutation along with meditation. They explained that they preferred to use the word "meditation" as opposed to "prayer" to be totally inclusive of all diverse bruthaz who come into the space.
Afterwards the main topic of discussion was led by Mo Beasley who is a poet, activist and author of "No Good Nigga Bluez". He did an excellent job of leading the discussion and used his poetry/prose in an open mic/spoken word style of presentation in particular segments of the conversation to hammer home the points of the self-hatred we as Black men inflict of each other. The inflictions such as Black-on-Black gun play, drug selling and using, to Black men recklessly spreading their "seeds" to different women to prove their manhood and leaving babies fatherless were some of the things raised through Mo's spoken word. He referenced very often his own real life experiences with friends and family. In between all of this, was a constant interaction from the bruthaz raising their hand and waiting to be called upon with questions, comments, expositions and unfortunately some wanna-be-heard brutha comments.
Toward the later part of the conversation, it did take a bad turn and disrupt the room. Before that bad turn happened, a young brutha (not older than 25) who I knew there from a recent KWANZAA celebration, a discussion group about police brutality at Audre Lorde Project (ALP) and a member of BMX-NY was very honest when answering Mo, the facilitator's question of " who hates or hated themselves?" The young brutha raised his hand to the question. Later on he expounded more on his dislike for himself. He explained that he suffered from the hands of other Black people when he was younger of how "dark" or "black" he was and made fun on him. He literally said that Black people (men) "terrorized" him by calling him "fag" or "faggot". All these hurtful and oral words of expression he said contributed to his self-hatred and that he continues to work through those issues/struggles.
The turn for the worse came not too long after the young brutha said what he said when another brutha a row back behind me when on this tyraid about what's destroying the Black family which comprises of a man and a woman in his mind. He yelled out incarceration, unemployment, guns, drugs and a man with another man. At that moment, the young brutha looked at me and I looked at him, and we were clear by our expressions of " Oh, here goes one of those guys on his homophobic binges and tangents".
As the brutha had the floor and went on I felt my blood boiling. After a few minutes of his ranting and mentioning homosexuality in a negative light again, I simply yelled loud and out of turn with no raising of my hand and not within group protocol, workshop in Clinton Hills, Brooklyn, New York. "MAN, YOU NOT GONNA BE DISRESPECTING THIS YOUNG BRUTHA AND MYSELF IN HERE BECAUSE WE'RE HOMOSEXUAL..." and before I could blow his shit up and finish him off, Mo Beasley, Kevin Powell and brutha George (another leader behind the scenes) had to calm the room down to restore order and shouts of "BRUTHAZ! RESPECT! RESPECT!" came from George.. And both Kevin and Mo drew upon the self-hared trying to creep in the room. I lost it because I refused to be in a space that is meant to affirm, support and LOVE each other as Black men and be minimized like that. My outburst was wrong, of course, but I wasn't going to let homophobia in the room go unchallenged like that. As Dr Joy DeGruy-Leary said in one of her lectures, "...you're not going to erase me. I am here...."
Mo drew on his experience and admittance that when he entered the performing arts as a Black male that a older same gender loving brutha (mentor) took him under his wing and had valuable life lessons to show him so Mo could navigate his way to freedom of expression, especially in an art form where one's masculinity can be challenged by the masses. And Mo expressed that his mentor was totally respectful and wasn't trying to initiate any sexual overtures; it was simply showing a young brutha how to navigate life in the performing arts.
At that point the room was much lighter again in tone and the conversation resumed on its very, very fruitful pace. At this time I should tell you that the room was packed with over 100 bruthaz in attendance. It was an incredible sight to see!
Then a dark skinned brutha stood up and started talking in Spanish. There was a moment of pause for me as I didn't know what he was saying. Then he spoke in English and said (paraphrasing) " My name is Carlos Santiago and I'm Black and Latino. And this shows you that we are all very diverse in this room and that is to be respected no matter what". And that was the icing on the cake that despite our different hues of brown tones, we are far more diverse than what appears to be scene whether it be sexuality, ethnicity, etc.and that we can still come together for the issues that need our attention. Harambe! (Let's pull together!)
It was a great night to remember and I will definitely be back and participate. They are looking to not just sit and talk for 2 or 3 hours and fell good but to put some serious action in place. There's a Black networking resource guide that is on the horizon and 4 sub-committee groups that need Black bruthaz to be on to increase the group's resources.
Also, as part of the agenda, there is a 30 minute networking session where bruthaz are encouraged to hand out business cards, socialize and build relationships to help each other and strengthen the community. EXCELLENT!!!!!! LOVED that!
I can't emphasize enough how much of a great experience it was. Which ever bruthaz read this emial/post/blog listing, I hope you can get involved. YO! The ultimate enlightening y'all!
I will send out follow-up emails of next month's meeting. Meanwhile, information at a glance is below.
LASTLY, after some prodding from a few friends for quite some time now, I have decided to start the Nubian Knights Network: Writings on the Black Wall BLOG. Yeah, I know... yet another blog, right? It's a natural progression despite my disgust at so many blogs out there where half of tem ain't about nothin'! However, it will complement my Nubian Knights YahooGroup... just more personal. This email/post will serve as my first official blog realease.
Thanks to all my FRIENDS for their LOVE! I appreciate and LOVE you all, too!
Harambe! (Let's pull together!)
ROD (aka BIG ROD)
ROD's Space: www.myspace.com/nubian_knights
BIG ROD's Photography: http://big-rod.myjalbum.net (Turn Ya Speakers On 4 Some Bangin' Music While Ya Lookin')
Join ROD's Network: http://groups.yahoo.com/group
Topic: "Friends, Family & Marriage: Black on Black Relationships
Workshop Leader: George Mitchell
Monday, March 3, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
FREE Black Male Empowerment Workshops in Brooklyn
Kevin Powell and Black and Male in America (BAMIA)
The Black Male Empowerment Workshops…
A MONTHLY SERIES FOR MALES ONLY
(all ages of males are welcome)
Admission is FREE
Topic: " Knowledge + Action = Power
...An Economic Empowerment PLAN
for Black Males"
BROWN MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH
(Pastor: Rev. Clinton Miller)
484 Washington Avenue
at the corner of Gates Avenue
The Fort Greene section of BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
(A or C to Clinton/Washington stop)
No RSVP Needed,
and seating will be on a first-come basis
PLEASE BRING A PEN AND NOTEPAD AND PLEASE COME PREPARED TO WORK, LEARN, AND SHARE….
For more information call 718-390-3520 OR
email us contact@blackandmaleinamerica
Visit us on the web at www.blackandmaleinamerica.org
PLEASE NOTE THAT each month there will be a workshop dealing with some aspect of development and empowerment for Black males, be it financial literacy and responsibility, taking care of our physical, mental, and spiritual health, stopping the violence in our communities, how to become a mentor to Black boys and young Black men, understanding the history and state of hiphop, nurturing fatherhood skills, and so on.
PLEASE ALSO NOTE the following dates for this year-long monthly series at Brown Memorial Baptist Church….