As an advisor at a college institution I serve in a variety of capacities that take on many roles. Roles that have extended to facilitator surrogate father, confident, friend, shaman leader and spiritual guide that help’s to navigate and cultivate malleable minds through life and academic experiences. Only recently have I come to identify with one more role, that of an “educator”. Whereas prior to relative experiences simply working in education did not qualify me as being an educator by proxy. Not until recently have I occupied spaces where by definition I had been given the responsibility and opportunity to actually educate and not casually regurgitate information. A couple of weeks ago I assisted in a retreat geared towards the retention, development and empowerment of minority male students. As a colleague of mine made her introduction to the group she stated something so vastly profound that it continues to reverberate within my thoughts. She summarized that which I have always innately known to be true but could never quite articulate it so simplistically. She said, “Vulnerability drives connection”… After sitting on that notion for a few days I’ve decided to take those remarks not only to heart but also a bit further in that “Vulnerability drives connection so that intimacy can fuel relationship”. At a very basic level we all desire to feel connected. If there is no vulnerability in your relationship there is no intimacy.
Which brings me to my overarching point, Navigating masculinity can be a daunting task especially for those of us exposed to a culture that does not value nor finds strength in being vulnerable as men. Our society, tells our young men in not so subtly ways that they should mask themselves in a façade of bravado to shed and do away with feelings, emotions and all things perceived as being weak. To that end we continue to groom a generation of men who do not possess the emotional intelligence to be supportive brothers to each other and strong husbands to their wives. In the song “Love Is” by Common he tells us that “As men we were taught to hold it in that’s why we don’t know how ‘til we older men”. He’s speaking about love and all those things birthed from it, the very reason why as men we struggle in the many aspects of our relationships today. The kind of deep seeded issues that can only be remedied by the willingness to educate ourselves on our own emotional deficiencies.
I have always prided myself in being an emotionally aware man attuned with ones self. Admittedly, I too struggle with my own insecurities and expectations of beauty but I acknowledge them. I look upon that as being a positive. As an artist also who makes music, writes poetry and expresses himself through various creative mediums this has served me well in that being relatable comes from the platform of authenticity. If, in any way I am going to reach, teach and connect to you I must first offer something of great value, myself. For this I will always gladly lay myself on the alter to be slaughter if it is for the benefit of others to learn. I believe this even more so now that I work closely with young men. I cannot say for sure that they all understood the message or even received in full the gem she bestowed on them but because I know they are watching me, I want to continue to be a more hopeful example of masculinity.
Suppose I'm Just Scratching the Surface.