Podcast: How do you surround yourself with such amazing people?
Thank you everyone that supports me and the issues that I care about!
I’m surrounded and supported by such amazing Black Women and Men.
Got some surprise love for my community building work today. I’m trying to receive. But also, making sure that I share.
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There is a struggle here. Something I’ve struggled to put into the words that even feel appropriate enough to share in a public space.
I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone except Black Men, but we struggle with relationship building. I think I get a double dose of it as a SGL (same-gender-loving) guy. I see and analyze interactions a bit differently than my straight and gay identified counterparts.
I shared the story of my neighbor (in the video) because it just befuddles me how, after realizing that you stay in the same building with someone, you can see them on the street and look past them, regularly. Like imagine me walking on the street, walking past the guy who lives in my building. Looking him dead in his face/eyes, giving a head nod, and him carrying on with his business. This specific interaction with this guy has happened… enough to the point where now I just laugh when I see him. I walked past him on the street yesterday, and he just looked at me, and I just shook my head and laughed.
To be clear, Black men aren’t the only people who struggle with relationships. But as a Black man, I’m most impacted and struggle with talking about and dealing with my relationships with other Black men – the most. Sometimes I think I’m too open and friendly and invested in the idea that everyone is a great and valuable person.
But I also know that part of our own downfall is our inability to recognize the strengths and value we can place in each other. Like the super duper gutter petty part of me wants my neighbor to be locked out or just need something that only I can give him one day. I really want to challenge myself to reach to my inner depths of petty to just ignore the fuck out of him and rub salt in his face for his inability to get out of his own way and open the door for… at the very least a platonic acknowledgement of existence… Something other than us walking past each other every damn day day ignorant of what we may actually be able to add to each others’ lives. If that day ever comes I’m kind of mad that I know I’ll probably choose to be bigger and just, engage. Even though at this point, I don’t want to.
I just really worry about us sometimes. Beyond the present – like no one really gives a damn about me and my neighbor’s relationship. But as a cultural…thing – like why are we so good at pushing each other away? Why do we value each other so little? Some of y’all may not be able to relate to the specific situations, but I wanna challenge you to think about areas in your own life where this may be applicable. I know that while I’m focusing on my neighbor here, and more loosely my ex and other men I’ve just had to deal with in life. I too am responsible for overlooking Black men in my life. Constricting myself to a “certain group” of people that I feel are acceptable to bless with my presence, and my friendship. Communicating in a way that shows certain men they are valuable to me and others that they aren’t.
What do strong relationships look like for you and the Black Men in your life? How do we develop relationships where we trust each other and support each other just as human beings here on Earth? Is that too lofty to think about?
I know its not, but I just wonder sometimes how we can make this different. We have so much to offer each other. How do we each begin to do the work to cross the bridge to connect? I don’t believe in a powerful and fully capable world where Black Men don’t and can’t connect with each other. I don’t want to live in a world were that is the only reality that exists. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
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A lot of educators in the room. Both the first and second gathering was filled mostly by educators. I’m curious to know what draws us to these events. I’ve also been unsuccessful drawing and maintaining the attention of non education centered folks. What work can I do to better engage this audience?
I’ve realized that this is difficult to do. I was explaining to a friend that I’m entering a new phase in my skillset, in my work. I’m leaving a phase of education and learning via graduate school and learning a new industry and field of education. I’m not in a creation phase. Trying to create an educational vestige in my own image. Its hard. Its overwhelming. It’s humbling. It makes taking constructive criticism so much more difficult to hear and implement. I’m in a space where I’m re-nervous. Re-insecure of my moves and actions.
People wonder why I’m doing this. What’s the mission? What’s the point? I haven’t developed a clear concise answer for them yet. But I know that the space is necessary and so I’m still trying to carve it out and save it while we figure out what language to prop it up and ground it in.
There have been a variety of men who have attended for a variety of purposes. Coming from many different stages of life and hoping to reap various benefits from such a gathering. My mind is focusing on usefulness. Making the space useful and beneficial for the participants. I think we’re getting there. Again I probably need to expose myself to language from other organizers as they worked to define the specs of their work.
Some more positive reflections is that we stuck to our 2-hour agenda window. That felt good considering some of the feedback of our last one was the difficult position we put attendees in when we went over time. Ending on time actually allowed for natural networking to take place at the end between the men in attendance.
Teacher moves are still on point and applicable. I had forgotten a chord to hook my mac up to the University smart board. Luckily there was a computer already in the room, but I didn’t know the password. With about 20 minutes to go I started frantically making flipchart of all the slides. I was just about done with the flipchart and rearranging a few pieces on the agenda when with 2 minutes to spare we got the password for the classroom computer. I made all of the materials available on Google Drive so it was just a matter of signing in an cueing the materials up from there. I felt good knowing that in the time of a crisis I didn’t panic, came up with an alternative plan and rocked with it whole heartedly in the spur of the moment. That’s absolutely what’s needed.
I must say that I was a bit shocked that it was time to have the second gathering. I was overwhelmed with work. Trying to have a somewhat full personal life. Still readjusting from traveling overseas, and… just drained. I had very little time to properly publicize the event. Luckily, I opened a MeetUp group with supported the engagement of interested community members.
I’m excited to work on the publicity in the future as I know it’s not my strongest area. Which is a perfect segue into two of the most pressing pieces of the work to date. Finding a Name for the group, Determining a mission, and Figuring out the proper Branding. This part is the biggest headache. Probably because I have my undergraduate Public Relations training pushing against my Education training. I absolutely know the importance of a strong image and marketing portfolio. However, I feel like that can easily be developed once I have a strong foundation and understanding of my curriculum and community services. It’s the battle of which one do I focus on first.
We express our love through our actions and each action should always be inspired by care and concern.To love is to put the well-being of those you care for on the same level as your own well-being. This society has trained us to put our individualistic desires before the needs of the common folk and that is detrimental to any society. An expression of love is an attempt towards unity. Division is crippling and nothing divided in many parts can ever become one. A divided family, community, corporation, team cannot reach its fullest potential.
Standing vs. Sitting
Sometimes you disgust me. You’ll spend 6 hours in a club in one night but can’t spend a few hours a month helping mold your future. This “I don’t have time to give back” excuse that many of us use is just no longer acceptable.
You’ll brag about how successful you are and how far you’ve climbed the corporate ladder, yet you won’t use any of your time to give the knowledge you’ve acquired to assist others that are in need of the guidance you can provide.
Most of you Black men are probably being underpaid because you do more work than the higher ups are willing to compensate you for. They know they can underpay you because they know that you’re dependent upon them. You’re probably one of the few if not the only Black male at the office so you feel you have to work twice as hard as your meager salary suggests because you want to show boss that you’re not like the “rest of them.”
Nevertheless, you probably trick yourself into saying that you love what you do but deep within you know that there is more to life than your profession. You look at the world and you see how it’s functioning. You see injustices and even if you don’t consciously speak on them, your soul is telling you that something is wrong. Something within you is telling you that you can and should be doing more.
You’re probably afraid of identifying with the youth (who you once were) because you don’t want to be associated with the imperfections of youthfulness and inexperience. You think you’ve made it, but in actuality, the world only sees you as a nigger with a suit on.
You see how our young Black boys are treated by others and unfortunately Black boys have been beaten to the point of devaluing themselves. It hurt you to hear about Trayvon Martin. You may have changed your facebook profile to a picture with you in a hoody to show your support but you knew deep within that there was more for you to do. It pains you to hear about the Black-on-Black killings that have been happening in cities all across the Western-hemisphere.
Every time you feel pain within, your soul is speaking to you and telling you to do more. Your soul is telling you to take your rightful position in your community and in this world. You are supposed to be doing more and you know it. Let’s start with mentoring. We will build off of that.
A Knock at Midnight
Your words may not completely change the minds of those that you mentor but that doesn’t mean that your words won’t influence them. It doesn’t mean that your words won’t challenge his traditional way of thinking. Your presence will positively affect them if you approach them with humility and a willingness to show them that you care.
Many of you say that you haven’t reached the point in life where you feel comfortable with mentoring a child. I respect that concern because that was me. I was a broken male and strongly in need of mentorship myself. Nevertheless, I realized that although I had not reached the level of success I initially deemed necessary for a mentor to have, I did have some knowledge and experience that could be beneficial to someone.
People of other races step up quicker than us to mentor our children. Some of them have been monumental in helping get children to college and I commend them for that. Unfortunately, many of them do it as a means to puff their resume.
No man of another race can ever show a Black boy how to deal within this society as a Black man. You know the very makeup of this society. Its economic, educational, and political systems are adverse to the rise of these Black boys. That in itself should light a spark within you to do more because you know what it feels like to grow up in this world.
I know most of you are hurting internally. You may not want to admit it and you may be afraid to be vulnerable. You’re in pain because many of you never had the opportunity to address some of the issues that have been eating at you for years.
Many of you have never talked about the issues you grew up with as a Black male in this society. You never had a chance to be open and talk about some of the issues that have bothered you for so long. You’re expected to walk around like Supermen on the outside but you are weak and beaten down within. Many of these kids out here today are going through the same issues you were going through 10, 20, or even 30 years ago. Unfortunately, many of our youth don’t have the luxury of support that some of you had when you were growing up.
It is time for you to step up and provide the needed light to a generation that is surrounded by darkness. You are like a candle. The combination of your wisdom, knowledge, and experience is similar to the flame that burns when a candle is lit. The flame can work towards eliminating darkness and it can also light other candles all while remaining lit itself. Your mind, like a burning candle, is light. Use it to enlighten and illuminate the minds of the youth and just watch how your own light will brighten.
Call to action, and mentoring resources:
Imentor – is a school-based mentoring program matching public high school students in New York City in one-to-one relationships with college-educated mentors. iMentor partners with public schools to ensure every student at these schools receives a mentor and to augment existing guidance and college counseling programs. Mentor-mentee pairs are matched for three to four years and exchange weekly emails and meet monthly in person.
Big Brothers Big Sisters – What is every child fulfilled his or her potential? Think how amazing that would be. Now, you can start more LIttles on the path to big things.
Quinton M– Is a graduate of Purdue University currently working for Lukoil Pan Americas. He has served on the Board of Brooklyn CARES Mentoring Movement, and also contributes to the Mentor Advisory Council for iMentor and on the Junior Board of Directors for Urban Pathways.
I’m quiet about my profession. Outside of this here blog. I rarely volunteer that I teach. Or that I’m a special education teacher. Or that I teach students in Brooklyn. Or that my students are all Black and Latino. Or that they’ve had a few academic failures in that pathway to my high school’s door. Or that they can be… rambunctious to the untrained eye.
That media, they sure is good at what they do! Every single time someone finds out I am a teacher, the first thing they comment on is my patience to work with those crazy kids, or the fact that they could never work with bad ass kids. Everytime. It always makes for an awkward introduction. I’m normally compelled to contextualize black-adolescent behavior in historical context for my new comrade real quick. It always seems to bring the other person to a hard stop when I completely reframe the conversation about how bountiful my students are in every which way and how I wish everyone could teach so they could enjoy the same feeling.
I mean, when I tell yall that there NOTHING better than teaching a classroom of my kids I mean it. They are such amazing vessels to be surrounded by. My kids burn off energy and brilliance like its been out of style since style was style. I love working with young wo/men that are developing into our nation’s newest and brightest minds. Everyday my mind is blown from their ability to spontaneously combust into catastrophic clashings sometimes of joy and other times out of terror. Everyday I learn something new from my kids. Each day I’m humbled with their knowledge and understanding of the world. Each day, their resilience reminds me of how easy I’ve had it in my life so far. Each day they push me to come with my A-game to even share the same space with them. Honestly, and I could drop the fuckin mic right here. These kids have me on my fucking A-game. Everything I wasn’t in track and field, I am for them. Nothing in my life has made me want to succeed as bad as these kids.
Everyday they suckle on every last piece of energy and knowledge that I have to bestow upon them. And each day I feel like I gotta reup and find some new shit to feed them. If I’m not nourished, in the traditions and the virtues and spectacle of my own being, then how can they be? They show me more respect than I feel like I’ve earned and deserve. Each day, they welcome me into their midst when they don’t know how raunchy and pathetic I may have been the night before. They accept me, and expect me! Even when I come home and struggle to accept and expect myself!
These kids fight-fight everyday against a society that has already fucked them so over-over-over that they great grandkids’ futures are probably already on some statisticians desktop being plotted and pointed for gross profit-propagandalization. And the real shame is n****s prolly great-great-great-great-quadruple-great grandkids have already literally been accounted for. We’re livin in a world where we’re all statistics. Period. And even still my hittas hustle for opportunity and perspective that the layman takes for granted. Everyday I see my kids cast out into the depths – hungry for knowledge and a success that even I struggle to envision and create for my damn self.
I know I can’t pay it justice. But… there’s absolutely nothing like walking into a room of people 9 years younger than me – and trying to give them every piece of me that I have so they can do great things in this fucked up world. These kids feed my soul. Oh my god. Its so insane. Knowing my seats are filled with stardust, blazing bright and high in the sky.
I don’t need no fucking book to say it. No fucking body to say what I know I can say.
I love teaching my little Black kids! And don’t nothin feed me more than being in a class with these Black kids! They the real ones with soul.
What if someone told you to build a house in which you would live for the rest of your life? You have no experience in home building and you have absolutely no clue where to begin. However, you are given two options. The first option is to essentially build the house from scratch with little to no help. The only examples you have to use as a guide to building your house are the other surrounding houses that are in whatever particular environment you are in. You are not provided with the tools needed to build the house nor are you provided with the directions needed to construct such a large structure.
The second option is to build the house with as much help as you can possibly have. You’ll have help from people who will bring a vast amount of knowledge of house building to the table. Not one of these experienced builders have houses that are identical to another because each construction project experience was a unique experience.
I assume most sane people would select the 2nd option. I assume most people would want as much help as they can get as they undertake such a challenging task.
Let’s look at it in a different light. Let’s replace the house you’re supposed to build with manhood. As a boy, would one prefer to develop his manhood with help from successful men or would he prefer to do it on his own? Personally, I would prefer assistance.
The Dilemma and the Challenge
As I examine our society (United States of America), I see too many boys having this “every boy for himself” option thrust upon them. Manhood is not given to us by age and seniority but rather it is gained by us with knowledge and work. This concept is evidenced by the plethora of adult males walking around this society with absolutely no idea of how to be a man. Either these men have no knowledge of what manhood truly is or they lack the determination and will to put in the work needed to build their manhood.
These males look great on the outside. They wear the costume of a man flawlessly. A house built by a novice whose only guidance were the surrounding houses in the neighborhood may look great on the exterior; however, the interior and foundation may be weak due to being built incorrectly.
A person may look, dress, and speak like one would assume most men look, dress, and speak. However, you’ll notice that these males are weak internally and that weakness is manifested in their childish and amateur behavior.
Nevertheless, too many boys, especially Black boys, are not being equipped with the proper tools and knowledge needed as they embark on their personal journeys toward becoming the greatest men they can become. This is where I become a huge advocate of mentoring and its power to change the world. Many men want to help and many boys want help.Mentoring allows for a structured environment that lessens the cultural barriers to entry that may exist in the streets and communities.
Susan Taylor, founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, said that the most revolutionary thing we can do is love one another. We express our love through our actions and each action should always be inspired by care and concern.To love is to put the well-being of those you care for on the same level as your own well-being. This society has trained us to put our individualistic desires before the needs of the common folk and that is detrimental to any society. An expression of love is an attempt towards unity. Division is crippling and nothing divided in many parts can ever become one. A divided family, community, corporation, team cannot reach its fullest potential.
House vs. Field
Much of society vehemently critiques our boys for not behaving in a manner that they believe men are supposed to behave in. Some of the most burning critiques come from Black men that are deemed successful by society’s standards of success. The doctors, lawyers, business owners, executives, consultants, teachers, or any other persons that believes they’ve “made it” are filled with condemnations against our youth. I understand their recognition of and frustration with the many problems that exist but I also suggest they look in the mirror if they’re truly interested in solving the problems.
Imust say that I do not think that a man with copious professional credentials and achievements is more qualified than his less educated peers to work towards uplifting our youth. Some of those men are so psychologically damaged that I’d prefer that they stay as far away from our children as possible. However, I do believe the professional Black man has the power within him to change the minds of those young Black boys he encounters.
His profession isn’t as important as is the opportunity to offer a presence that may be foreign to the mind, eyes, and ears of the young Black youth. This new presence is sure to challenge many of the homogeneous thoughts, norms, and axioms that have been beaten into our kids’ minds.
Professional Black man, you provide the opportunity for many of our underserved youth to be exposed to ways of living that they may not otherwise have access to. Don’t act as if you don’t know how Black men have always been portrayed in ‘Murica’s media.
You know that society is either covertly or overtly telling our youth that their place in society is either on the mic, field, in the bed, or in jail. Many of you Black men were told and sold the same garbage that these kids are exposed to today. Think about the light that was illuminated within when you discovered that there was more out in this world to capture.
Whenever you start a new job, you expect to be trained on the responsibilities of your position and you also expect to be assimilated into the culture of the organization. Well, who is training these Black boys on the many responsibilities of manhood? Who is assimilating them into America’s culture? If there aren’t many real men to guide them then they have no choice but to learn on the job. Yet you blame them for the mistakes they make.
Quinton M – Is a graduate of Purdue University currently working for Lukoil Pan Americas. He currently serves on the Board of Brooklyn CARES Mentoring Movement. He also serves on the Mentor Advisory Council for iMentor and on the Junior Board of Directors for Urban Pathways.