Listen on Apple Podcasts

Jason Osei, a native Londoner, left the UK to play American Football in Europe before moving to America in 2012. With four conference championships under his belt, twice voted all-conference player and graduating from university with honours, Jason has clearly struck a winning formula.

The secret to his success isn’t particularly secret however. Jason shy’s away from any suggestions of being especially gifted in any particular way that makes his success any less attainable for the average individual.

“From grit to greatness…” a statement Jason proclaimed in a 2017 ad campaign by Texas A&M Commerce University, where his image was featured on Dallas-area billboards, television ads, online and at the local airport.

Success often requires a combination of patience, effort and self-discipline. These are attributes which must be nurtured and developed to create an environment under an optimum outcome is most likely achieved on a consistent basis.

It takes work and hard graft which sometimes goes immediately unrewarded, but serves as a foundation to build upon.

His days as a collegiate American Football player are over, but Jason isn’t slowing down. He is undefeated as an MMA fighter and is currently a championship winning semi-pro tag-team wrestler going under the moniker, ‘The Summit‘.

The summit is an apt metaphor for the journey to success. It’s arduous and uphill all the way, but with every step you take forward, you’re one step closer to your goal. The process shapes you in immeasurably valuable ways; it shows you the weaknesses that hold you back and each new victory serves as motivation to keep moving forward.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

This is the final episode of a 3-part series titled, ‘Paternal’. It is honest, funny and heartfelt. If you haven’t listened to the previous episodes, then I’d recommend you click the links below to do so now:

  1. In the Beginning
  2. The Beginning of the End

Last year I wrote a blog post titled Am I Enough… It was my attempt to articulate more than 20 years of hurt and anger for what I perceived as my father’s unwillingness to fight hard enough to keep me in his life.

Maybe it’s unfair to have placed all of that at his feet. Maybe in some situations, regardless of best efforts or honest intentions, collateral damage is just an unavoidable consequence of relationship breakdowns. Maybe there are innumerable shades of grey that I had never been able to consider before.

Whatever the reality of the situation, it was my commitment to breaking the cycle. And I think the conversation you’re about to hear is our commitment to each other. A commitment to be better men.

On this episode, my father and I talk about the impact of our family’s breakdown and our struggles in forging our own identities in manhood.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

NEW EPIOSODE OUT NOW: Paternal - The Beginning of the End.

This is the second episode of a 3-part series titled, ‘Paternal’. It is honest, funny and heartfelt. If you haven’t listened to part 1, In the Beginning, then I’d recommend you click the link to do so now.

When I was 9 years old, I had a teacher called Miss Bryant. In class one day, she noticed I had become withdrawn and subdued. She took me aside to ask what was wrong and after some prodding, I explained that things at home between my parents weren’t great. It wasn’t long afterwards that I moved to a different school, largely owing to the financial pressures under which my newly single mom now found herself.

A couple years later and entirely by chance, mine and Miss Bryant’s paths crossed again. We talked for a little while, and she asked whether things had improved at home. It was difficult to find an answer. I mean, things were certainly different; my father was no longer living with us and the volatility of my parents’ relationship had now moved into a space far less accessible to me. But I couldn’t honestly say things had improved. We just had different challenges now.

For me, chief among them was trying to help mom pick up the pieces of our broken home.

On this episode, my father and I talk about the circumstances that led to the breakdown of our family and our father-son relationship.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

My parents split up when I was about 10 years old. The last eighteen months of their relationship was, as I perceived it, a traumatic, disruptive and chaotic mess.

In the years that followed, my relationship with my father broke down. There were many reasons for this, but it mainly boiled down to the fact that I didn’t feel emotionally secure in the situation to continue loving him as I did before, and I didn’t feel like he put enough effort into providing that security for me.

On this episode, my father and I have a direct, real-time conversation with each other for the first time in over 20 years.

We talk about his childhood, the abuse he suffered at home and the circumstances under which I came into this world. This is the first episode of a 3-part series titled Paternal. It is honest, funny and heartfelt.  

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

We are relational human beings, and as such we often encounter conflict in our relationships. Conflict is normal, its common, but it’s not necessarily a harbinger of doom.

Conflict within positive relationships between men can instil respect of each others’ differences and jovial provocation. But sometimes, conflict can result in the breakdown of relationships or lead to serious difficulties and sustained interactions.

In this episode, I talk with Chukwudi, Daniel, Raymond and Spregs about our experiences of being in conflict with other men and with each other.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

DISCLAIMER: One of the guests uses the ‘n-word’ to describe incidents of racism he’s faced.

When I started the Podcast, I said I wanted to reveal the inner lives of men and that while many of the men featured on the show would be black men, we wanted the stories told to resonate with all men.

With the current socio-political landscape in the wake of the high-profile killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, I felt it was right that the stories told in the last couple of episodes focus on our blackness.

In this episode, I continue my conversation with Daniel Peat from Episode #14: Black Men In White Spaces, but we talk about our identities as men beyond the colour of our skin;  what makes us who we are.

This is a bonus episode, so it’s much shorter than usual, but just as impactful all the same.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

We’re in the middle of a global conversation on racism and its insidious nature. I felt moved enough to present my stories and experiences of racism on a company-wide call along with 4 of my black colleagues.

Recounting my experiences and listening to my colleagues share their own was, quite frankly, traumatising and left me deeply troubled. After the call, several of my white colleagues reached out to me to thank me for my courage and to tell me about the profound impact hearing these stories from people they know well, had on them.

One colleague admitted to their own naivete on the matter and asked about the microaggressions I had been subject to at my current company. Below is my emailed response. I share this because I now realise the depths to which most well-meaning white people are mired in ignorance. Ignorance about their own contributions in making the spaces they control toxic for the black people who inhabit these spaces with them.

On this episode of the podcast, I’m joined by Daniel Peat as we reflect on these toxic interactions and try to find a way to both survive and thrive despite it.

Thanks for reaching out. I’m glad these conversations are moving into a more open forum.

To be honest, this is one of the better organisations I have worked at. I have always felt respected and seen as an individual by my colleagues. With that said however, there has been the occasional interaction with someone where they say something that makes me cringe. Often in those moments, there’s an internal dialogue I have with myself about whether to challenge their remarks or just leave it and move on because no one wants to be perceived as the ‘angry/confrontational black person.’

I can tell you about a few conversations I’ve had or overheard where I felt the need to speak up in the moment.

Someone mentioned to me last year how thankful I must be that Britain led the charge to abolish slavery. They completely overlooked the fact that Britain perfected the transatlantic slave trade and was its preeminent driving force. They also ignored the reality that one of the main reasons for ending slavery was the fact that cotton replaced sugar cane as the money crop of the industrial revolution. It was no longer financially viable to continue those voyages to seed the concentration camps in the Caribbean with bodies to keep an arduous agricultural enterprise with diminishing returns going. Also, slaves could be a rowdy lot sometimes and uprisings weren’t uncommon. Ultimately, it was more trouble than it was worth. Even then, it was the slave owners who were paid reparations by the British government. So no, I didn’t feel particularly thankful.

I’ve had conversations where people justify police brutality and extrajudicial killings by saying how dangerous a job it is, and if the black people in the videos had just complied, things would be okay. Essentially, black lives are justifiably dispensable when black individuals are disobedient. I could draw all kinds of connections to the history of the particular power dynamic, but you get the picture.

Conversations framing immigration and multiculturalism as being a blight on Britain’s social fabric and its public services, particularly post-referendum, rankle me. I’ve had many during my time here. In my experience as an immigrant, I’ve spent upwards of £20k on fees to the Home Office for visa renewals, solicitors to check documentation or act on my behalf, and to cover the NHS surcharge (despite the fact I’ve paid taxes all my working life). Also, every visa I’ve ever had allowing me leave-to-remain in the UK has the line “no recourse to public funds” indelibly etched onto it. I couldn’t claim benefits even if I wanted to. If you make a mistake on your Home Office application, it’s automatically rejected, and you have to pay the fee all over again to submit a new one. Add to that the emotional and financial weight of family or friends who may have somehow gotten into difficulties with their own immigration status, whether because of an innocent mistake on their part, or they unwittingly fell afoul of a system whose default position is to reject you unless there is no other option but to accept you. I comfortably earn more than the financial threshold required by the Home Office, but I still submit my wife’s payslips alongside my own because I can’t afford to take anything thing for granted.

People sometimes bring up other atrocities against people of other races to suggest black people do not have a monopoly on oppression. Obviously, that has never been the argument anybody has ever tried to make about why slavery and racism is particularly heinous, but to bring it into the conversation feels like little more than an attempt to minimise the tragedy of what tens and hundreds of millions of Africans and their descendants endured and continue to endure. Over 2 million Africans perished on the voyage to ‘the new world’. Whether due to the despicable conditions aboard slave ships, or because they were thrown overboard for the insurance money.

Then you have the Trump apologists. Enough said.

This week, someone mentioned to me watching 12 Years A Slave, and how they found it remarkable that despite enduring all of that abuse, the slaves still held on to their Christianity and faith in God… because worshipping a white Jesus is what religion looked like in West Africa before they were abducted and trafficked across the ocean.

I don’t believe people intend offence but there is an intellectual laziness that sits at the foundation of this whole paradigm. Every time I hear someone say, “I can’t believe this still happens”, is a reminder to me that life is such that you have the luxury of inhabiting its spaces without a second thought about your right to be there. It also reminds me that the ignorance itself is the poison that fuels these interactions. It doesn’t happen to them; therefore, it doesn’t exist. And if it doesn’t exist, then these people shouting about injustices over there are just making a fuss for no reason. This, for me is the real face of racism. It’s not being called the N-word or being told to go back to Africa. Most ‘good’ people don’t behave like that. It’s the assumption that the world is more or less fair because you get treated fairly… the implication being, your view is the only one that really matters.

Every black person knows they have to teach their children how to survive in a world that, every day, seeks to inflict little cuts on their soul. How many white people teach their children not to be the blades?

This goes nowhere unless people everywhere take responsibility for educating themselves. It needs white people to disarm themselves and invite these conversations with their families, friends and colleagues. More importantly, it requires their deliberate and consistent action to be agents of change within their spheres of influence.

Best wishes,

Jamie

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

The population of Jamaica is about 97% black, but it wasn’t until 1968 when Karlene Waddell, became the first black woman to win the Miss Jamaica title. Many of the black winners since have features that many could describe as more Eurocentric or less African in appearance.

As an English-speaking, majority Afro-descent society, skin tone plays a significant role in the desirability stakes and it has become the trend for many to apply dangerous chemicals to leach the melanin out of their skin.

There’s a soap advert from my youth I remember aired regularly on Jamaican TV. In it, several black people are relaxing by the poolside. Suddenly, a svelte light-skinned woman emerges from the water oozing oodles of sex appeal. Her hair is long and silky, and her skin is very light coloured. All the men sit up, paying attention to her soft curves and smooth caramel tones. The women stare on in equal parts admiration and envy at her glowing skin and luscious locks. A voice-over booms in a rich baritone announcing the name of the soap and proclaims, “for the complexion you want.”

Our preoccupation with skin tone is not a uniquely Jamaican thing, its pervasive in many black cultures, and particularly those with histories set in juxtaposition to white colonisation.

On this episode, we explore some of the elements of colourism that affect us as black people, we talk about interracial dating and whether the concept of upholding whiteness as aspirational is a real problem in some of our communities.

Check out this music video by Ghetts, mentioned on the episode.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

In 2018, a team of Australian and Danish psychologists recruited over 300 heterosexual men to analyse their porn viewing habits. They found that 94% of the men surveyed had viewed pornography in the last six months, 82% identified as regular viewers of pornography and the average frequency of their porn viewing was 3 to 4 times per week.

One popular porn website recorded over 90 billion videos viewed every single day by more than 64 million visitors. Almost 75% of which, were men.

Clearly men are watching porn, and plenty of it. But should we be concerned by this? We hear stories about the crippling effects of porn on men and their relationships, but is there any real evidence to suggest this is indeed the case?

While there is a correlation between porn use and an increased likelihood of a relationship’s failure, this is not necessarily centred on the use of porn itself, but how one party feels about their partner’s use of porn.

To varying degrees, porn has been a feature in the lives of the men you’ll hear on this episode. We talk about our first experiences with porn, and how it has shaped our sexuality throughout adolescence and adulthood. We also talk about why we watch porn, and the moral conflicts we sometimes struggle with as a result.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

Dads play a pivotal role in our lives. Children learn how to temper their emotions and physicality through rough play with dad, and they learn how to form secure and healthy relationships through the influence of their dads.

Children often idealise their dads, but as we get older, we realise their fallibility and their humanity.

As black men, we contend with the stereotypes of the absent father. Some fathers do just up and leave, but the reality is a lot more nuanced than that.

Most ‘absent’ dads don’t just decide to go absent from their children’s lives, sometimes they are constrained by circumstance, unwittingly repeat the traumas of their own progenitors, and lack the emotional intelligence to adequately respond to the crises in their relationships with their partners and children.

The men you’ll hear on this episode have all, in some way, had to navigate parts of their lives where their dads were either physically or emotionally unavailable. We talk about how these moments and experiences shaped us for better or worse, and what we want to take from them to use in our own journeys through manhood.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.