Panel discusses black masculinity

By Krista Starker, Staff Writer

To honor her ancestors, Betty Sawyer performed a traditional libation ceremony by pouring purified water on a table.

As part of Black History month, Sawyer, program coordinator for the Black Student Union, performed the ceremony before a panel discussion on black masculinity in the Union ballroom Friday.

Panelists discussed the role of black men in the 21st century and how family and the media have influenced that role.

For Bryan Hotchkin, an education graduate student at the U on the panel, there are three generations in his family who have helped shape the way he views black men.

“For me, it’s about protecting, being willing to die for those that you love and that I’m willing to make sacrifices in order for the next generation to be better than myself,” Hotchkin said.

Panelists discussed how the media has been influential in the defining or stereotyping of black men through images and what is reported.

Wilfred Samuels, an English professor at the U on the panel, said his sense of being a man has not been affected by the media but feels many men’s are.

“Black masculinity is performative,” Samuels said. “People tell you how to sag your pants, how far down your leg your pants must hang to be a man.”

Panelists also discussed President Barack Obama and whether or not he has disrupted the stereotypical image of black men.

“I don’t really think he disrupts that, and I don’t take just one image to cover all,” said Jasen Lee, a Deseret News reporter on the panel. “I don’t take the images of hip hop as the image of black people the same way that I don’t take the images of Will Ferrell as the image of white people.”

Panelists said having families and elders who can talk about their experiences of what a man is can make the most impact on those who want to listen.

But Keith Embry, a student at Westminster College who participated in the panel, said he fears that young men are looking toward coaches to be their father figures.

“It’s fine, but when they no longer have anything left to give as a player, they no longer have that father figure,” he said.

The forum ended with panelists discussing the problem of how many black men are dying before the age of retirement.

Landi Kotaro, a senior in international studies, said she thought the forum was an enjoyable blend of different outlooks on the role of black men.

“It was interesting hearing the perspective of black men about black masculinity in a place (that doesn’t) necessarily have a lot of diversity,” Kotaro said.

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Nate Sorenson

Dr. Land welcomes students to the ?Black Masculinity in the 21st century lecture? held in the Union Ballroom Friday afternoon. Panelists talked about how the media and family life have affected the images of black men.