As far back as history can take us Black men have always been a part of our storysome good and some challenging. Far before the hashtags, Black mens names and narratives have been written for them and at times by them. In the following letters, 21 Black men openly share radical intimate words and with their fellow Black men. Providing space and time for growth and healing. During these times of daily unrest from views of Black men being killed, abused, protesting, and peacefully kneelingwe must not forget to celebrate Black boy joy, Black men making the world smile, and spreading countless affirmations that Black Men are magical, too.
I call you King because you are powerful and deserve your crown (you just dont know it yet). Tomorrow people will follow you, be influenced by you, and be better positioned because of you. Even so, I vividly remember the fears you currently wrestle with.
I will keep this short but listen to me well
Life is reinvention YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH!
-Darius HicksFounder, While Black Podcast
Dear Black Man,
God has great things in store for you. I know you are tired of hearing people lightly toss those heavy words and you are right to be skeptical of the manner in which they so easily roll. The fact remains that God does have great things in store for you but they will not come without struggle, suffering and sacrifice. You will love and fail, fight and lose, strive and fall short. Even still, God has great things in store for you.
Nothing about your life has been easy: born to a rebellious teen mother, absentee father, reared by your grandmother, financial hardship, the death of your mother and so many other obstacles. Yet, you have been surrounded by a loving family, a nurturing village and have received the best education.
Every lesson and experience of adversity that has shaped you as an adolescent will cement the character you will need as a man. There is value in learning to trust God early in your life. Be strong and courageous. God is with you wherever you go.
The Rev. Eric G. VickersPastor of Beulah Baptist Church, Vine City
Dear Black Man,
I would tell you to slow time down as much as possible and dont be in a rush to get old.
With age comes more responsibilities. At fourteen years old, I wish someone would have told me to wait until I was a little older to have sex, as its more meaningful when you find the right person.
At fifteen years old, I would say to stop hanging around with the older kids on the block, they are bad influences. Hang with the people headed in the same direction as you. Being sixteen, all there is to do is get better in school and get those grades up, theyre horrible. The more you know is the more you get paid.
At 17-years old, I would say that youre doing better in school, but dont be jealous of the seniors that have the hot cars and the hot girls. One day youll have all the hot cars that everyone will be jealous of. You are 18 years old now, study hard, and earn straight As. The real cool kids are the smart ones. Look into studying architectural engineering, you will be a builder one day, that will come in handy.
Nineteen years old, finish college and get your degree; youre paying for it, you might as well get something for all the hard work you put in. In your twenties, enlighten yourself with real estate. You will be a broker and a contractor one day and own multiple properties, own apartment buildings, build houses, and manage properties.
Overall, stay true to yourself, stay loyal, stay humble, work hard, help others, protect your peace, and find happiness in little things. You will find your tribe and get to the place where you want to be in life. You will face challenges, but you have what it takes to overcome them. Use the gifts that God gave you.
-Shaun WedderburnFounder of SEW GLOBAL REALITY
Dear Black Man,
First of all, youre fourteen and Mommy passing away is not your fault. At fourteen, you have a fourteen-year-old mind and youre not mature enough to understand that you need to love your Mother and dont take her for granted because no one is promised to be here tomorrow, especially your Mother. When you are boxing down in Miami, take your training more seriously and really immerse yourself in itTAKE IT SERIOUSLY. Boxing can take you places and the discipline that you will learn from boxing will help you in the future.
When you move in with Daddy, try to spend as much time as you can learning and being committed to learning. Time is going to go by so quickly and, before you know it, you will be an adult; so take your time and try to focus on things that can and will help you in the long run such as real estate and online marketing. Think for the long term. Just because you feel a certain way today doesnt mean you will feel like that tomorrow. Stay out of harms way and follow your own path. Dont be swayed by what everyone else is doing.
When you finish High School, STAY IN THE AIR FORCE. Toughen it out no matter how hard it gets, stick with it. There is nothing to go back to Springfield. Stop thinking about what your friends are doing and what parties you can be throwing and stay in the AIR FORCE. Make Daddy proud once you get out of the Air Force. Dont go back to Springfield. Move to Houston or somewhere progressive but, no matter what you do, dont go back. There is a big world out there just waiting for you to conquer it and dont try to be in the Music Industry and dont waste your time being a manager. Thats STUPID. Theres no money or longevity in that; instead, focus on the Internet and real estate.
Dont waste time on things that you cannot control and people you cannot control. Focus on yourself and on education because the more you learn, the more you earn. And there are millions in real estate, the stock market and the Internet. The cool kids wont be around but the smart kids will be. Leave them alone and walk your own path and stay out of harms way. Associate yourself with people who are going somewhere. Get out of your comfort zone and stay in the military. Dont listen to others, but follow your own heart.
-Ricky McKenzie Founder of McKenzie Brothers Realty
Dear Black Man,
I write this on the day of my daughters 21st birthday. Take your time, young man. There are many lessons hidden in the work. Yet, more to be learned by simply living. There is no way to prepare for losing loved ones; just understand that it will happen. Honor them by being grateful for each breath. Save your money now. Your family will love you for it later. Although this life has many ups and downs, trials and injustices, you must wake up every day and love it. Walk tall, keep your word, and always keep the main thing.the main thing.
-Tory Edwards Co-Founder of Atlanta Influence Everything
Dear Black Man,
This life wont be easy, but it can be when you learn to let go and laugh. You have to be willing to use anything beneficial for the greater good of humanity. You will laugh harder than you thought you could and probably find yourself in tears with the same intensity.
Youll find that discrimination is rampant and real. Its even more disheartening when it comes from people that look just like you (and me). Its psychological. Taking on the perspective of your oppressors is def-minded at its highest level, but still, you must and will rise. The same thing they use against you will provide you ultimate power and alignment from the ancestors. When I speak of tapping into your power, use it wisely.
Now, let me speaksingularly to myself. Ive stumbled hard and many times. Ive been fearful, uncertain, and insecure at different points, but it will get better. Focusing on the Creator and finding purpose puts things into perspective. Lack of self-control (chasing every woman you see), envy, greed, and all lower vibrational thoughts will keep you stuck. Avoid those things and always strive to be better.
Pay homage and show respect to other Kings. Uplift them. There have always been and always will be, multiple Kingdoms. Lastly, respect our Queens. Protect our Queens and watch how much better things become. I cant get it all done in this message, but its a reference point for us to begin to get better. I think I need part two.
-Osei KwekuI am a Father First, Philanthropist
Dear Black Man,
Youre a gift to the world that only you can open.
Trust yourself. Everything you want for yourself is yours to earn. You are already the version of yourself that you see in your head.
Youll meet people who fall short in their understanding of your hopes, your focus, your gifts, your beauty. Laugh. Laugh at them. Laugh at yourself and with yourself. Laugh every time you get yourself wrong, and every time you get yourself right.
Youll be older soon, and youll learn more about yourself. Youll rise, and fall, and prove yourself, and free yourself from the desire to prove anything. That comes with time. And laughs.
And your laughs are the sweetest sound on Earth.
-Howard L. Robinson, Jr.Founder of RedClay-Hill
Dear Black Man,
We need you. You can do thiskeep going. There is so much more on the other side, do better find your tribe, and lastlyGO NOW!
Compaero, know this: none of this is just for you. Look, of course, some of what you go through is only for you but, mostly, not so much. The experiences and lessons you have the opportunity of going through are also for who you meet and those that come after you.
One of our main gifts is facilitating in any situation, helping and reaching people where they are. Think, point guard run the offense and set up the situation so that you and whoever you are connected to can be in the best position, more moments than not.
Set boundaries. If you dont know where they are or youre not clear about them, be prepared because things fall apart.
Now, GO be who you are capable of being. I love youGO NOW!
-Derrick J. ParrisFather of a young Black Man
As you progress in life learn a healthy selfish love for yourself. The better you maintain yourself, the better man you will be for your family and community. I beg you to remember the following:
Richard DunnFounder of I AM Richard Dunn and Muddy Waters Group
Dear Black Man,
As you go through life now, you look back at the things that you thought were cool or things you looked at as a way out is no longer cool or an option.
Learn about real estate and pay close attention to politics. A Black man making money, buy houses and be a power player in the political space. Also, try your best not to have children by random women, use condoms every chance you get.
All though we are taught not to have regrets, you will have them. My biggest regret today is becoming a Sports Agent instead of going to Law School.the money was great as a Sports Agent but the world (our communities) require more Black men as Lawyers more so than a Sports Agent. Think long game. Its chess and checkers.
Duwon Mooley RobinsonOwner-Franchisee of Mr. Everything, Decatur
Dear Black Man,
There are things I want to tell you about the life you are about to experience. While the path you will choose wont be easy, be confident in your journey, even when you arent clear where you are going.
Relinquish control as early as you can.
Fatherhood will scare the hell out of you, and it will also make you the best you that you could possibly be. For a period, you will be lost. This is perfectly alright. In fact, its a requirement of the job. Dont spend as much time attempting to figure it all out, as much as you spend the time to truly be present through the experiences. There will be many of them. Each will teach you to lead your home and prepare you to lead communities. You will need every aspect of this preparation.
Fully accept both the honor and the burden of leadership. That balance matters.
You have always desired to lead. You will. Despite your confidence, you are about to discover that you are not fully in control. There is great mystery in this life, and that is the beauty of it.
You are up for the challenge.
Remember what you have learned so far, and be ready to surrender what you think you know for sure. Some of your majestic thinking will have to be sacrificed along the way. You understand the power inside you, but you are a bit naive about the way you understand that power working. That naivety will be taken and replaced with regal understanding,IF you allow it.
You will receive direction at various points of your journey. Not everyone will understand the nuggets you receive, why you receive them, and why you respond the way you do. Thats because your purpose and journey is uniquely yours. Its not for anyone else. Its for YOU.
Enjoy the journey. Be happy with where you are on the journey, even when you dont know how it will end. Many people will give you advice. You will thank them sincerely, store their recommendations away, and live YOUR life. Do not hesitate or second guess that mode of operation. Its exactly how you live a life of no regrets, and the key to the life you desire.
Dont take so long to let people experience the whole of you.
Feel your feelings fully. All of them. You can expect to get lost in the journey to understanding your place in the world and your place in YOUR world. You can expect for your heart to hurt -and it will. Your ability to feel is what will protect you, keep you safe, and give you the empathy to continue to give your gifts to the world. Let yourself feel that. Let it sink into your soul.
Giving is how YOU receive. Those who take advantage of your giving spirit arent getting over, theyre getting by. GIVE MORE. It sounds good, but in the midst of those moments, it wont make sense to anyone. GIVE ANYWAY. Maybe theyll get it later. Most likely they wont.
Run your race.
No matter what happens, you cant lose. Finish the race you started, and be proud of the race you run. Regardless of the outcome, have an experience that you are proud of. Thats what you can control. The rest will remain a mystery. As soon as possible, get right with that. It will be easier to live, love, and lead. Enjoy the ride as well as those who join you on it.
I Love You.
Your biggest fan,Odie Donald IICity Manager of City of South Fulton
Dear Black Man,
Being a Black man in todays world as we know it requires knowledge with positive energies. We must always be enlightened by our history and what our ancestors have endured in order for us to be where we are today.
Be inspired, stay motivated, because the reality of life is we were born at a disadvantage this requires us to work twice as hard to achieve the bare minimum. From the teachings of Marcus Garvey to the rise of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States, lets not forget our true value and self-worth, never doubt yourself or your abilities to be great.
Unity is strength hence the reason they put us to fight against each other, lets unite and claim our right to existence. Today, I say rise and be great lets live in love and peace while we change the narrative of the Black man. We were born kings, we are still kings today and we will be Kings forever.
Elrick CrossRetired Corporal of The Jamaica Defense Force
Dear Black Man,
First of all, I just wanted to say, thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time out to read my thoughts and ideas as a Black man and father of two at 41 years old. I was wondering what to say, then a song came through my playlist, The Light by Big Sean ft. Jeremih. Thats when I knew what I wanted to tell you do not to let them take your light, no matter what they throw at you.
In my experience as whatever an African American male is, it seems as if conformity is pushed on us at every turn. America, in particular, doesnt seem to be too keen on embracing the Black mans light. Im not sure how others would define the light, but my definition is based on The Glow from The Last Dragon and my own wanderlust to live my life to the fullest. In theory, this shouldnt be hard, especially due to the monetary status of some Black men, but this is just perception mirrored in reality.
In truth, its identifying your true self and using that to ride the wave of the world, because it is truly yours, King! As Im currently experiencing, when you start embracing to your own light, it starts to glow outwardly for all to see. At, this point, you must remember to whom much is given, much is required. Protecting the Black Woman, raising the Black Family, and leading the Black Community shall lead us all into the source of the LIGHT GOD!!!
Bem JoinerCo-Founder of Atlanta Influences Everything
Dear Black Man,
Continue being patient in making moves and accepting all people.
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