African American men are challenged in this 21st century to redefine what
it means to be a man and to redefine masculinity period. The definition of
a strong Black man is in need of re-tooling.
For far too many Black men who accept the European model of Man as “Head” (or
Boss which is what many subtly interpret it to mean) of the household and wife
have also encountered the unrealistic self oppression that comes with it. If
we as men are expected to be stoic, non-emotional (except at sports events)
always in control, always the problem solvers and never shedding tears, then
it is no wonder that in this “Bush whacked” society we are suffering
from performance anxiety.
Is it any wonder that those who don’t need Levitra, Viagra and Cialis
are using these erectile dysfunction drugs more than those men who actually
have erectile Dysfunctions? Performance anxiety! We end up constantly wondering
if we are matching up to this unreal expectation of being able to handle everything
that comes our way. We end up thinking that if I can be dominant in the bed
sexually then my other dilemmas will disappear. Performance anxiety.
It also is little wonder that far too many African American men disproportionately
succumb to treatable, preventable health challenges in their life times. So-called “real
men” don’t talk to each other about their illnesses because they
don’t want to expose their weaknesses.
I am suggesting we re-define what masculinity means. I am suggesting that
Black Men must do this themselves. Malidome Some, the African scholar of the
Dagara people suggest that “there is a call that goes out from every
young man and in the West that call has consistently gone unanswered.” He
further suggests “Indigenous African culture creates rituals or initiation
to help understand our existential reality and how we fit. Black Men in America
for the most part have abandoned our constructive rituals of man hood and created
in the void initiations that are far more painful than anything else” (gangs,
and/or elitist groups that out white white folks).
I am suggesting that we need to make intentional efforts as men to throw off
shackles of insecurity and come together as men in streams of rejuvenization.
I don’t mean for us to come together and rehash old oppressive patriarchal
models that have added to our frustrations. Men of faith need to be in pockets
of prayer groups and men’s study groups.
At Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago we are attempting to begin this
journey when we gather this October 22nd and 23rd in our Men’s Conference
2004. Every Black man has too many dimensions to his life, too much depth in
his Soul to be limited to being only the disciplinarian in the home. We are
too creative for that. We are going to come together as men with some of the
best minds in Black America to start a process of re-defining what it means
to be a strong African American man in this 21st century.
We will have with us Dr. Mark Lomax of Lithonia, Georgia, Dr. Otis Moss, III
of Atlanta, GA, Rev. Delman Coates from Clinton, Maryland, Dr. Dwight Hopkins
of the University of Chicago, Dr. Al Sampson from Chicago and Author, News
Correspondent John W. Fountain (True Vine) and many others to help us chart
this journey to become better as African men of faith living in America.
For information on the conference call Rev. John E. Jackson, Sr. at 773-962-5650
x 426. Trinity United Church of Christ, Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Pastor.
© 2004 BlackandChristian.com, Used by permission.