Tag Archives: experience

Man Up! How?

I’ve spent the weekend in the presence of up to 30 men. An environment where masculinity and mental health within men were explored with a view to an eventual performance. It gave scope for bonding, conversing, unlocking doors to experiences that have brought joy, pain and indifference. It allowed creatives to create and every voice to be heard.

At the end of the first day, my niggling thought was, can I separate masculinity from race? I ignored the thought because I didn’t have a place in this sphere.  At the end of the second day, it returned. The truth is I don’t know if I can make a definitive separation.

Whereas some groups have to an extent, found a voice to articulate their struggles and versions of their humanity, I cannot say that my voice has the capacity to capture hearts in the same way. Some go as far as labelling other groups as “the new black” as they draw parallels with being a minority group, and discriminatory attitudes towards them. This is not to say that I am jealous of the shift towards social acceptance, or seek to dismiss their voices. Rather, being within earshot of this has been a trigger, a point of reference from which I begin another journey of understanding.

When I entered the room ahead of the session, I entered as a creative. I entered simply seeking inspiration and hoping that I might write something I could show off. That was the way I would get by.

My masculinity has been heavily influenced by cultural expectations, traditions and race-based perceptions. They have been compounded by faith based interpretations of manhood.  I don’t get to see myself as just a man. I am black man and whisper it….I’m a Christian. To the world around me, to the world inside of me.

I am not socially acceptable in my real form in as many spaces as others are afforded.

In seeking to stay on topic I kept my mention of race down to one conversation to provide context for my story. I didn’t want to as people say….play the race card. Was this men’s space a white space?

In the black community, we are pretty expressive, yet Mental Health is something we collectively seem to be quieter on. My mother was a mental health nurse so she was and still is aware of the signs when particularly I have encountered struggles with mine. In wanting the best, tough love was a method of dealing with it. Yet even in that I was never just a man. Always a black man.

“You are a black man…..you cannot afford to let yourself slip. You cannot afford to….”

I have always had to be aware of how I speak, how I act so that someone else feels better about themselves. At times it feels like as a black man, I don’t really get to have a safe space because I am going to be a threat to someone. I am going to be lumped with some part of society. I am part of something that will be invaded by well-meaning trend seekers who will sell a version of me back to me as though they were Christopher Columbus.

If I show I’m intelligent, I’m a threat so I’m getting passed on for promotions and meaningful career development activity.  If I wear certain clothes, I’m a threat. If I show that I’m angry I’m a threat. Then there’s the projections of promiscuity and prowess. I self-edit constantly to ensure that everyone feels comfortable.

Should I seek black spaces?

Again….do I get to have shared experiences? After all I am male, I was once a child that has become a man.

However, as a child in primary school, my white headmistress sent for me during lunch time. She told me that a black kid has to work 100 times harder than a white kid. I wasn’t given any reasons as to why she chose that moment to give me “the fact of life” that many black kids have drummed into them from birth. Yet, it eroded my self-confidence as a child.

Through the years, versions of this were re-iterated in order to keep me on the straight and narrow. I was even told that if I was a white guy, I’d be ten-a-penny. That I should be fortunate that black people are a minority, as it’s the only way I would stand out.

Shared experiences where being black doesn’t have a say in proceedings seem few and far between. Celebrity deaths get more reaction than folks arrested for waiting at Starbucks. Maybe that’s a different issue. Somehow, somewhere, between principles and expectations, nature and preference, I exist

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Filed under Just Living, Non Poetic Blogs

8/ 30 More Fire!

How much more love do we really need?

Does it look like more stable marriages and less divorcees?

More faith to find a way though we disagree?

Should there be less tantrums about our wants and needs?

Is it about acceptance instead of accommodation?

Is it a contract without an escape clause .

Is it enjoying the meal in spite of the waiter

How much more love do we really need?

If it truly starts with you and me….

Is self-love a missionaries position?

Is there a bible?

What’s the core values of this religion?

Are the different types of love denominations?

How do we get to more love if some loves seem hateful?

When love shows its face why can’t some fall for it?

Mass produced in many ways, is it cheapened by brand disloyalty?

 

Your love and my love should have some common ground.

When and where can this so called more love be found?

Is it in the 18 years you stayed for the kids

Believed in second chances while refusing to forgive

Refusing to forget and let he or she live

What’s love if you’re going to act like ….well I love you too much to use you as an insult

It is uncaging, reincarnating, composing without imposing

More than doting on your yes men

It’ll give you more exposure than a naturist at a winter clothing convention

Yes!  Full of foibles, fantasies and awe-inspiring flaws

Love is adding a rug, unafraid to be naked when you open the door.

Out of love we go to war and in love, we find peace.

If love makes the world go round, it takes your will just to be.

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Filed under 30 day challenge, Random Poetics

Paper Thin Walls

paper thin walls
Paper thin walls
They keep mixing colours
Blending her out
On those paper thin walls
Paper can’t cover the cracks
On those paper thin walls
A doodle draws a whimper
The thought of making murals musters mournful murmurs from those paper thin walls

Passed around like a guest book at a funeral
The feeling fading as they drive away
The whitewash isn’t cleansing
A broken slate is never wiped clean
She is only 15
Miss Paper Thin Walls

Laying bricks, roofless
All her rocks are demons dancing in the sea of safety
Her will shredded like leaked script pages
She’s an over plucked daisy
On her knees she a dress maker seeking out hope like a lost sequin
Wondering where was God when man destroyed the self she’d believed in

Miss Paper Thin Walls pores over scattered bricks
From the many times her box has been ticked she’s an exam in herself
Exiled from affection, ignoring the laws of attraction.
Hands that reach her are fractured to heal her scars
When she’s fully built she may be chasing cars
For now…..she’s in thrall to the casket of cat calls
These travails are an ailment of which no ointment can heal
When she’s fully built she’ll bruise the serpent’s head and heal
She’ll no longer be Miss Paper Thin Walls

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New Year New You?

The clock has ticked and we’re now two weeks into 2013. Some people make resolutions, promises
to all and sundry as to what they are going to do differently. As is commonly said, most of that goes
out of the window the moment that life starts to take shape. Would we be better off not making
promises or exclamations? What does new year / fresh start mean to you?

My one and only promise to myself is that I will water and nuture the seeds I had planted last year.
Sometimes we know what we’d like to happen in advance, sometimes we leave it and hope for the best.
If anything, it is most important to be comfortable with the season of life that you are in

It is not about the sweeping changes that you can immediately create or accumulate. It is about how you’re
going to keep going even when you are happy with your curent state of affairs. As a baby when its born,
adapts to its new environment and communicates in the only way it knows how. We must “give birth” to
newness be prepared to adapt/ nurture that through the seasons.

If we truly believe in fresh starts regardless of the time of year then it is for us to lay to rest the stigma
of our bad experiences. Unshackle ourselves from fear and doubt. Ultimately bury the chapter of pain and
never dig up its grave. Accept that season of nothingness as a season of rest. Cling to those things that
make us smile naturally. You don’t need to wake up singing the soundtrack from “Thesound of music”.
Bring yourself to a place of being thankful that somebody, somewhere, was looking out for your suffering to stop.
Accept the light that’s trying to shine in your life.That first minute always seems blinding until you see
something beautiful in the light. Let that first beautiful thing you see, be you!

 

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Filed under Just Living, Non Poetic Blogs