Lessons on What It Must Be, Not What It Could: Growing Up Black and Boy in America

March 14, 2013
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By Hashim Pipkin  At age twelve, before I had one full year of formal schooling, I had a notion as to what life meant that no education could ever alter, a conviction that the meaning of living came only when one was struggling to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering. Richard Wright, Black Boy  One must say yes to life, and embrace it wherever it is found and...
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Black Men Writing to Live: Brothers' Letters

March 14, 2013
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By Mychal Denzel Smith, Darnell L. Moore, Kiese Laymon, and Kai M. Green What follows is a series of letters shared between four writers who have quickly become brothers. We have vastly different backgrounds, but discovered that we share so many similarities writing and living as black men in the US today. Peace fam, I’m just waking up on the anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination, the birthday of Nina...
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Willy Wilkinson and Kylar Broadus in Conversation: Measuring ourselves by our own yardstick

March 14, 2013
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We met each other over a decade ago through our work on transgender issues around the country. Though we rarely get to see each other in person because we don’t live near each other, we always enjoy each other’s company. Recently we got on the phone to discuss the trappings of masculinity. What follows is part of that conversation. WW: Describe yourself for me. KB: I am a black...
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Fear of the Sonic [Un]Known: Sonica Trauma and Black Masculinity in the Popular Imagination

March 13, 2013
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Fear of the Sonic [Un]Known: Sonica Trauma and Black Masculinity in the Popular Imagination

By Regina Bradley Black masculinity is frequently framed within the context of visual culture. In other words, discourses about black masculinity often consider questions of: what black men’s bodies look like; what their experiences look like; and what their identities look like. This past year, I have been pushed to think about black manhood outside the realms of visual discourse. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and, more recently,...
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In Search of our Brothers’ Gardens: Considering Literary Black Masculinities in the 21st Century

March 13, 2013
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By Lisa Guerrero James Baldwin brought me here.  Not just here to this meditation, but here to this place in my life as a scholar.  It was the works of James Baldwin, along with those of Ralph Ellison and Paul Beatty that compelled me to become a scholar of race and African American literature and culture.  There were other thinkers, authors, and artists whose works helped me stick to...
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Visualizing Masculinities: An Artistic Rendering by John Jennings

March 13, 2013
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Masculinity, like other social constructs, is extremely limiting.  It is difficult to find a flexible space to express personal identity. Although masculinity and its overtly dominant representation through patriarchy is thought of as inherently “powerful,” there is a weakness; the inability to truly be oneself without restriction. This piece was created to illustrate this tension. The figure is obviously male; his phallic body ripples with physical power. However, the...
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The Star Barbershop

March 13, 2013
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By: Joseph Ross Outside the Star Barbershop its red, white, and blue twisting barber pole announced a fraternity inside. Holding my father’s proud hand I was led here monthly, for haircuts and initiation into this world, an army of smells and sensations. I waited on a smooth brown couch in a world of mirrors, until I was called to climb up into the red leather chair, a giant lap...
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“Touch: A Letter to the Mother”

March 13, 2013
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By: L. Lamar Wilson I’ve driven 654 miles without sleep to make you better, but when I ask how you feel & you thrust your breast within my grasp & say See, it’s fine, I see it’s not. Cool! I lie, then recoil. But you never have. Not when I came to you, instead of Daddy, to show hair down there. Not when I followed you, finally bra-free, to...
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Bebop, Jazz Manhood and “Piano Shame”

March 13, 2013
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By Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. In sixth or seventh grade, a time of life when most guys my age were trying on their swagger, I was walking back home from a practice session at a buddy’s house that was furnished with a piano.  Along the way, my instruction book clutched under my arm like any average nerd, I passed some classmates who asked with simple curiosity and no malice, what...
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White Men Rule the World*

March 12, 2013
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By Joseph Osmundson I have spent much of my life running away from white masculinities. I don’t write about home very easily or very often.  When I write, I write about New York or about public policy or, most often, about science.  Recreating the deep past, the blood memories, can be emotionally exhausting.  But it is in the deep past, in my blood memories, that I came to really...
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What Do We Talk About When We Talk About American Indian Imagery in Sports: Thoughts on Mascots and Racialized Masculinity

March 12, 2013
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By C. Richard King When we talk about Native American mascots, we are talking about the entanglements of race and gender.  It is easy to forget this, to prize race and racism over gender, sexuality, and (hetero)sexism. In fact, most media coverage and nearly every public conversation about the subject let gender slip, typically narrowing the focus to issues like intention, honor, offensiveness, and sentiments. I say this, I...
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