Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Conversations about Race: Black Men Speak

(Internet Photo Question Bridge)
Many of us never get in on a conversation between Black men or about Black men so we have trouble imagining what it might be like. 

As a young woman occasionally returning home to visit my parents, I had the chance to listen in on some of those conversations. A group of young Black men would congregate on Saturday nights around the yellow Formica kitchen table with the chrome legs and matching chairs. Bringing in extra seats, my father would lead the discussion of the evening while doling out the cookies or slices of cake my mother had baked.

The Brothers discussed race and religion, what the world was coming to, gardening, what it took to be a man, relationships, and any other question or concern someone brought to the table. Respectful, questioning, needing to be heard, they looked to my dad for answers. He’d respond, but he’d also help them find the answers within themselves.

Without a gathering around our kitchen tables, it’s hard to fathom how such conversations might sound and how the participants might look. But thanks to the vision and work of the originators of Question Bridge: Black Males, a video Q&A exchange, we have the opportunity for experiencing a dialog between a diverse group of Black men. 

I first heard about the project in an email from my friend Peggy who wrote “…at Randolph College in Lynchburg - videos of black males discussing being black etc. … [It] is spectacular and exhausting.” So, with a little research, in moments, I, too, became enthralled with this enlightening, contemplative peek into how real Black men see the world and themselves in it.

In an article on Code Switch, an NPR blog on race (in existence since 2013), Shereen Marisol Meraji writes:

Executive producer Jesse Williams, an actor best known for playing Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey's Anatomy, says the project is an attempt to take back the narrative of "this country's most opaque and feared demographic," and to expand society's idea of who African-American men are and what they can do.

Here’s an opportunity to expand our knowledge and views on the Black Male experience and maybe find common ground for further meaningful conversations about race.

Tune in to Question Bridge: Black Males. It's a lengthy video so give yourself time and make yourself comfortable. 

Did anything surprise you? Provide new thoughts? Confirm your ideas and feelings? Cause a reaction?

We’ve begun our conversation. Let us keep it going.

~ xoA ~


  1. With permission from Anke Hodenpijl via email:

    I tried to post to your blog, but it was not accepted. Thanks for "Question Bridge". I was intrigued by the comment, "We are miseducated as to who we are." I recently read an article in Sun Magazine about "The Church of the Gridiron" Here is the quote that stuck in my mind, "Saying football is a learning experience is just one of many arguments that people make in its defense. . . . certain kids - meaning poor kids, and usually kids of color - football is their only way to go to college. If that's true, then we've got a problem, because it means we don't give a damn about educating the poor unless they can knock down a middle linebacker. Then they deserve our attention because they entertain us, not because of the content of their character, mind, heart, and spirit." We continue to accept violence inflicted on people of color. Does football provide white Americans with "a continued sense of dominion over African American men? . . . Most professional sports have a disproportionate number of players of color. That's why, if you ask people to name a hundred famous African Americans, the list will be dominated by athletes. Yet blacks are still underrepresented as coaches and quarterbacks . . . and owners." The stereotype is white is more cerebral and black is more athletic. The article goes on to describe how when a black player makes a great play, he is described as going into beast mode. If he's white, he is described as having great football intelligence. "That language of 'beast' and 'stud' and 'specimen' would have been right at home on the plantation." - The Sun, September 2015 Issue 477. "The Church of the Gridiron, Steve Almond on How He Lost His Faith in Football." p. 4-12.

    1. Re: your last remark: Interesting how language has a subliminal message that keeps the stereotype alive. AND contributes to the miseducation concerning "who we are."

      I found the Question Bridge fascinating. Thanks, Anke, for taking the time to watch it and to give us this thought-provoking comment and another source for perspective. xoA

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. As a white woman, I have been having a lot of trouble figuring out how to be part of this conversation in any meaningful way. Maybe it's my time to listen and learn more than talk or write. Conversations about race are hard; I feel like I've never learned how to do this in a respectful way. Okay, now to watch that video.

    1. Kathleen, thanks so much for your comments.
      I think you describe a situation that is like so many when you say, "As a white woman, I have been having a lot of trouble figuring out how to be part of this conversation in any meaningful way."

      All of us are unsure and hesitant in a situation that is out of our everyday realm. We're afraid of offending or making things worse. As a Black woman, I've been there, too. I applaud your willingness to jump in and listen and learn. That's what it's going to take for all of us -- to see each other as human beings beyond the surface stuff. xoA