Inaugural instalment of In The Barbershop ‘Men Talk’ provides food for thought … and action

Saturday’s inaugural In The Barbershop Part 1 “MEN TALK” at Ohana Barbershop in Somerset offered potentially fruitful discussion and insight relative to Bermuda’s male particularly Black male population.

The conversation began with talk centering on the importance of men as leaders within the family structure, something that has become of prime concern in an age where female led, single parent homes have proliferated among the Black community.

A young school teacher told of the behavioural drawbacks of male child-rearing by single mothers he sees on a daily basis within the local school system, some of which hen attributed to a real life ‘battle of the sexes’.
“It’s about us as men having actual value,” said the teacher. “Instead of just giving us value once we need to be used, but actually respecting our position in the household.

“In any relationship, with regard to certain aspects, I know a lot of times you may say some things, especially in relation to our counterparts, but it is really coming from a place of care, consideration and sincerity.

“But what we have is like this battle of the genders going on right now.
“So I feel that our place in the house so it could be a little bit more valued and respected as well.

“I work in the schools, so I get to see a lot of these students that that don’t have like both parents or mommy and daddy. I get to see how these students act when they just have mommy and a lot of these students, when they do just have mommy in the household, they don’t really know how to control that emotion.
“It may come out like in a form of rage or something like that, because when something is done to them they don’t have a man that can  really break it down logically and tell them the logic behind it.

“Those that just have mommy in the household may see her just react emotionally, but I see a lot of guys that come up with a man in the house act quite differently.
“Even myself having more exposure to men coming up I may have a greater tendency to think, rather than simply react.

“So I see a lot of students that come up just with Mommy they may react more than think about the situation and just respond to the situation.
“I believe that men are good emotional stabilizers and I think placing importance behind the man’s role in the household can impact how males act in social environments.”

Barber #1 wondered aloud as to where in mainstream society could young males venture to have their concerns heard and acted upon, rather than be ostracised made to feel rejected buy the community in which they’ve been raised.
“Where can young men go and get the opportunity to open up and not feel like outcast in their own society, because so many have been labelled as no good,” he asked. “We are supposed to be men and there are expectations that have been placed on us, but where do we go and get guidance when we haven’t learned these things or have not had male figures around us to teach us how to go about different situations.

“How do men ask for help? Because you know in society it seems like they expect men to be strong and to be protectors and providers, but men also have an emotional side to them and how do we express that without being labelled as weak.”

Moderator Trevor Lindsay noted that men had to take responsibility for so many of their offspring being raised in single parent homes as, in many cases, men had dropped the ball and left women to deal with the children all on their own.

He then asked patrons: “So how do we take back what’s rightfully ours?”
“We simply have to step up,” replied the school teacher.

Chimed in Barber #2: “We have to put community first, because that’s where it starts. Everyone has to hold themselves accountable.

Added Barber #1: “Everyone likes to talk about it being a societal problem, but each of us has to recognise the reality and do what’s what’s right and what’s beneficial to the whole.

“For instance you know how we have many guys who have a girlfriend or wife with children and then got a girl on the side. And we’re more than willing to talk to our brethren about this little shorty that we’ve got on the side, but at the same time we both know that you got a a good girl at home taking care of family, yet you’re going and doing things and talking up this side piece.

“So it’s deeper than simply just out here working, providing and paying the bills, it’s more than  just that. It’s deeper than that when it comes to raising a family and contributing to our community and society as a whole. There are moral standards to be considered in raising a  family.”

While many have associated many of today’s problematic familial issues with the current crop of youthful Black males, the teacher said that older males bore a significant burden of responsibility for current trends.

“I feel that we guys, those of our generation, and not to discredit the older generation, but we are the seeds of the generation that dropped the ball,” he said. “So I see that what we’re having right now is, while some men may be stepping up, there are many systems in play that prevent us from stepping up.
“And we are open to be miscast or categorised as being no good, not this or not that and I have to speak up for those types of men as well.

But, at the same time, instead of giggling and laughing about it, we have to hold people accountable for the predicament that we  find ourselves in today.”
Also in attendance, albeit in a personal capacity, was Progressive Labour Party MP and west end native Dennis Lister, who offered some factual information relative to the benefit of having a male presence in households.

“Last week I read some facts that single parent, male single parent homes produce more positive children that single mother parent homes and that’s because, yes we should encourage dual family parent homes, but we know that doesn’t happen all nowadays, but single males, they bring discipline, structure and correction,” said Lister. “Because, as you said Mike, we all know males and females are different.

“They’re made up different. Females are more reactionary. They act without thinking sometimes, while men take more time to think and act as you said.
“If you’re growing up in a single mother home as a young man you’re seeing how your mother reacts toward different things and when you go out in the world, in school and your first reaction, if you don’t know how to control your aggression, as a man you want to swing.

“But your father teaches you the right time and place to do it. When you don’t have a father there your aggression goes first. And so having a male structure is crucial.

“So, like you said, males have to step up. You have to hold yourselves accountable, hold your friends and even go out and hold young men accountable.
“because if a young man is growing up with no male role model as a male influence, the person in the neighbourhood or the barbershop might be the only male influence he has and so you have to take those chances to talk positive, act positive around them.

And another thing, not just for young men, but men in general is to raise our own standard, hold ourselves higher.
“And I say this about the simple things, such as the way we talk and how we’re quick to call each other the ‘N’ word  even if not in a negative way, but we need to start changing our vocabulary and call each other ‘brother’ or ‘king’.
“When you talk positive to a brother that brother takes it in as a positive. If you call a brother ‘king’ that will have a positive impact in your head, that I’m a king.”

Stay turn to TNN Facebook page for the second discussion of “Men Talk” In the Barbershop July 22nd 2023 at 2:30pm

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