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Historical Projects

The Holistic relationship and Parent Programme.

A program funded by National Lotteries Reaching Communities supporting Men/Fathers and families to develop positive interactions with and between one another and for both men and women to listen to each other for the benefit of their children.

Manchester Parenting Strategy Fund, work with Somali and Caribbean Communities

Workshop examples: “Black Men Who are we?”

The workshop was established as part of a programme to engage men/father in an exploration of what it is to be a man & a father, in contemporary Britain there has been much discussion extolling the negative aspects of Black Masculinity and its pervasive nature within the communities.
Without an understanding of the dynamics that have created this phenomenon, it is impossible to have a balanced discussion or debate about the issues of masculinity & the exploration of the human male species expressed as African Caribbean man. This workshop would explore in depth a series of questions that were answered by black men themselves, and testimony of how various issues have affected the compilation of the masculine nature. The workshops were aimed at all men of Caribbean extraction between 18-65, 15 men attended with a cross section of the age range represented, one respected elder whom has been in England since the 50’s was able to give some insight into the change within the generations and how the whole debate around black men & their role has changed. The workshop was arranged using a format that laid out specific ground rules such as:-

  • Confidentiality
  • Respect for individual opinions
  • No abusive language or gestures
  • No talking over one another

The next two questions were not answered as a discussion took place over a statement that was deemed important due to the very nature of the workshop. It was proposed that the issues of our historical nature had to be addressed in an appropriate manner. As it has been established that the whole basis of work taking place regarding the restoration of the black mans image and persona, the dynamics of slavery and its psychological & emotional impact had to be recognised.

A series of structured questions were put before the group, these questions were as follows:-

  • What is a Black Man?
  • Do you feel valued & validated as a man?
  • What do you most/least enjoy about being a man?
  • Who would you identify as a representation of Black Manhood?
  • What are the most pressing issues for you to deal with at the present time?

The first question “What is a Black Man”? Elicited various comments and definitions that were all interlinked by the common feeling that they all represented the essential nature of black men. Definitions ranged from Universal man, consciousness, phenotype African, and change society, symbol of humanity, protector, root, and spiritual, defined by society, adaptable. Most of the words used were clarified by a story from their personal experience or narratives of beliefs that have been developed or passed down through the generations. A discussion took place about the historical legacy of slavery & colonialism and what this has left in terms of conditioning and beliefs about how the term Black even came into being. It was evident that there was a vast wealth of information to be gleaned from this terminology and this prompted an exploration of the terms that have been used to define men from the African continent whom have black skins. An elder explained that even the idea that we as men & being of African extraction can have this discussion means that there has been a significant shift in thinking and feeling about who we are. Ideas and beliefs expressed brought out points about melanin, spirituality and divine knowledge/consciousness, it was expressed that research has shown that ancient civilisations of Egypt were of African origin, it has not been understood or surpassed and this was testimony of the black man’s genius. The discussion brought up the point regarding the terminology of the word “nigger and what it meant and why it has been used as a definition to describe who we are. The two points highlighted the contradictory nature of the way we define and call ourselves at differing times. This prompted the question of “do we feel valued & validated as men”; the overwhelming answer was No. asked to qualify these respondents stated that “It all depends on your internal view of yourself”, “the views and beliefs at the time when you ask that question”, also it was stated that all of the above were subjective because it was an internal discussion with the soul & spirit. In capturing the essence of the comments to the question it would take a long time to tease out all differing views, it was evident that there was very little in the way of validation of masculinity and this could be said would have an impact on self esteem, confidence and worth. As no real conclusion was drawn from this it was left to reflect on throughout the rest of the programme.

African & Caribbean Men & Fathers Programme.
  • What do you most/least enjoy? Was answered with a few comments such as “giving thanks for life, being a husband/father, sharing knowledge and waking up. A negative comment given was mean, this was then elaborated on, it was stated that as men we can be mean in the pursuit of specific goals such as wealth, power and control. Examples used were the conflict in Iraq & how agendas were manipulated for the right to assert power in a particular way. Also how man would kill, rape, maim & destroy for his own satisfaction. Over all the men felt that they were glad to be alive and they enjoyed as much as they could about being whom we are.
  • An elder whom has written specifically on this subject stated “that as black people, we are in a constant state of war & terror as we have been forsaken, are homeless and are not seen as men”. In addition to the above we have deep issues with trust and our own psychological construction of a human being because we have been reduced to the status of a Boy or an animal. It was mentioned that every man has the capacity to protect his own progeny, because black men are homeless, i.e.. we do not inhabit our own indigenous habitat, we are at the mercy of alien forces that we do not fully comprehend and therefore the nature of the whole conversation is predicated on the fact that we are searching for a meaning to who we are. This is the start of the dialogue that is needed on an community & country level in order for Black men to feel any connection with the past and create a better future for their children.
  • Overall the workshop revealed deep seated challenges for black men and it will take sustained efforts to dissect the issue but a start has been made and it was commended that it should carry on as it is long overdue.