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What it means to be a Black Man in American today. By MinNefer "Mjayi" Mernahkem

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Being a Black man in America today is a complex and multifaceted experience, shaped by a rich history, ongoing challenges, and a resilient spirit. Here's an exploration of what it means to be a Black Man in contemporary America:

1. Carrying a Rich Legacy: Black men in America are descendants of warriors, kings, slaves, and civil rights icons.

We carry the legacy of their ancestors — from the painful memories of slavery and segregation to the triumphant moments of the Civil Rights Movement and the election of the first Black president, Barack Obama.

2. Facing Systemic Racism: Despite significant progress, systemic racism remains a pervasive issue. Black Men often face racial profiling, discrimination in the workplace, and disparities in the criminal justice system. The Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by instances of police brutality, underscores the urgent need for reform.

3. Cultural Pioneers: Black men have been at the forefront of cultural, musical, and artistic revolutions in America. From jazz, blues R&B, hip-hop to literature, business, sports, and fashion, Black men have shaped and continue to influence American culture in profound ways.

4. Navigating Stereotypes: We as Black Men often grapple with societal stereotypes that label us as aggressive, uneducated, or dangerous. These stereotypes can influence interactions in everyday life, from encounters with law enforcement to professional opportunities.

5. Championing Change: Many Black men are actively involved in community organizing, mentorship, and advocacy. We are leaders, activists, and role models, working to bring about positive change in our communities and the nation at large.

6. Embracing Diverse Identities: The experience of Black men in America is not monolithic. It's shaped by factors like socioeconomic status, education, region, sexuality, and more. There's a growing recognition and celebration of this diversity within the Black community.

7. Prioritizing Mental Health:

Historically, discussions around mental health were stigmatized in many Black communities. Today, there's a growing emphasis on the importance of mental well-being, with Black men leading and participating in conversations about mental health, self-care, and healing.

8. Building Community: There's a strong sense of community and brotherhood among Black men in America. Whether it's through fraternities, church groups, or local organizations, Black men often come together to support and uplift one another.

9. Facing Economic Disparities: While many Black men achieve significant economic success, as a group, they often face economic disparities, including higher unemployment rates and wage gaps. However, there's a growing emphasis on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and economic empowerment within the community.

10. Celebrating Progress:

Despite the challenges, there's a sense of pride and celebration in the progress Black men have made in America. From breaking barriers in politics, science, and business to influencing global culture, the achievements of Black men are a testament to their resilience and talent.

Being a Black Man in America today is about navigating a unique set of challenges while also celebrating achievements, heritage, and community. It's about honoring the past, confronting the present, and shaping a brighter future. All while trying to be the best we are in a society that continues to try to silence us, erase our presents, delete our history and remove our voices. But as Maya Angelou once said "Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.”

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