It’s Time to Change the Narrative Around Black Masculinity

This week, I find myself looking for meaning in the face of so much tragedy. I find hope in seeing my fellow citizens organize for change by going to Black Lives Matter rallies, kneeling on the football field, and advocating for restorative justice in our schools and justice system.

As we mourn the addition of Terence Crutcher and Keith L. Scott to the nearly 200 black men who have lost their lives in police-related violence this year, it is critical we dismantle the false narrative that defines black masculinity as criminal and dangerous. As protests erupt in bloodshed, we must remember violence in America is not limited to certain communities but born out of a culture that reinforces violence and oppression and then institutionalizes it.

That’s why this week, I’m calling on each of you to use the power you have to influence the systems you are a part of. If you are eligible, register to vote and vote for unity, not destruction. If you are a storyteller, make sure the narratives you create defy — instead of reinforce — gender and racial stereotypes. If you interact with young people, see them in their expansiveness and look for ways to nurture and celebrate their whole humanity.

As Nelson Mandela said, “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Together, let us recognize our common humanity, acknowledge that our children’s hopes and futures are intertwined, and that we must all work together to create a more just and free society.


Jennifer Siebel Newsom & The Representation Project Team

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Representation Around the Web

sadboyistock_101272075_xlarge“A new documentary The Mask You Live In films boys from every kind of background who describe the way they suffer from our culture’s narrow definition of acceptable masculinity. A viewer can’t help but be impacted. Given the long-range effects of this public health crisis, everyone should see it. The pressure to be constantly strong means that boys learn to wall-off feelings.” – ParentMap

  • ABC11: Seven-Year-Old’s Open Letter to Party City: Girls Need Career Halloween Costumes
  • Be Street: This 8-Year-Old is the Youngest Girl to Skate in the Vans US Open Pro Series
  • Huffington Post: We Need to Talk about the Dreadlocks at Marc Jacobs
  • Huffington Post: What Fraternities Would Look Like If They Were Feminist
  • New York Magazine: Obama’s Female Staffers Came Up with a Genius Strategy to Make Sure Their Voices Were Heard
  • Upworthy: A Man Studied Photography in Prison. These Are the Photos He Took When He Got Out


Aziz Ansari on being a feminist

Aziz Ansari on being a feminist.
Image via The Mask You Live In‘s Instagram.