I’m angry. I’m hurt. But mostly, I’m tired. I’m tired of the platitudes, the calls for peace and unity. I’m tired of the thoughts and prayers at times like these. I’m tired of watching and reading about another black person murdered in their home, in their car, at the grocery store, in the park… just going about their normal lives. I’m tired of the silence and inaction of white people and their failure to confront and throw out the giant white supremacy elephant in the room.

If you’re a white person reading this and it makes you uncomfortable, then I’m glad, I hope it stirs you into action. If you feel attacked, then use some of that righteous indignation to defend those in society who need defending most.

The thing the #AllLivesMatter brigade refuse fails to acknowledge is that all lives don’t matter. Not really. Some lives matter more than others. The lives of the police officers who shoot first and ask questions later matter. The Amy Coopers who are quick to call the police on their black neighbours for occupying the same space as them, their lives matter. The people who are okay with seeing children imprisoned in cages because their parents had the audacity to want a better life for them, their lives matter. But you know who’s lives didn’t matter?

George Floyd, aged 46, he wrote a cheque in the grocery store and was killed as a result moments later.

Ahmaud Arbery, aged 25, was killed when he went for a jog in his neighbourhood.

Botham Jean, aged 26, was killed while he sat in his apartment watching tv and eating ice cream in his underwear.

Alton Sterling, aged 37, was killed because he was selling CDs.

Atatiana Jefferson, aged 28, was killed while playing video games at home with her nephew.

Breonna Taylor, aged 26, was killed while she slept in bed with her boyfriend.

Trayvon Martin, aged 17, was killed because wore a hoody and ate Skittles.

Renisha McBride, aged 19, was killed because asked for help after a car accident.

Tamir Rice, aged 12, was killed because he was playing cops and robbers in the park.

Philando Castile, aged 32, was killed in front of his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter because he told a police officer he had a licensed firearm with him.

Freddie Gray, aged 25, was beaten so badly he suffered an internal decapitation following an illegal arrest.

Eric Garner, aged 43, was killed because he was selling cigarettes.

Walter Scott, aged 50, was killed because he had a broken brake light.

Michael Brown Jr., aged 18, was killed while he walked in the middle of the street.

John Crawford III, aged 22, was killed while shopping at Walmart.

Samuel DuBose, aged 43, was killed because he was missing a front license plate.

Jamar Clark, aged 22, was killed after he broke up a fight between his girlfriend and another woman.

Terence Crutcher, aged 40, was killed because he got high.

The list goes on… All killed despite posing absolutely no threat to the authorities or those around them.

#BlackLivesMatter exists because the despicable reality is that you need reminding.

Let’s be honest with each other for a moment… white people have fought, lobbied, protested, rallied against and rejected social injustices when it mattered to them. Gay rights, gender equality, sexual assault. They didn’t let up until real, lasting change occurred. Black people were, and continue to protest alongside you on these issues too.

But where is the white activism for reforming the judicial and prison systems? Where is the white activism against healthcare inequality? Where is the white activism for education funding reform? Where is the white activism against housing discrimination, tokenism, the use of racial profiling in policing, anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric? Where is the white activism for dismantling these structures that maintain and perpetuate white supremacy? Where is it??

The pockets of a few dozen, or a few hundreds or even a few tens of thousands are but a drop in the ocean when a few tens of millions remain silent.

If you are a white person who doesn’t put the same energy or passion into calling out and protesting against the casual slaying of black people as you do when you confront homophobia, or sexism, or misogyny, or sexual abuse, then you should definitely ask yourself, “why?”. I’d suggest it’s because all lives really don’t matter as much as you say they do.

This is the true face of racism. It’s not the N-word, or the KKK burning crosses into black folks’ lawns. It’s not graffitied swastikas, blackface, or even the racial slurs. Those things reside in the corners of life and are enacted by a depraved minority. The true face of racism is the white silence. It’s the knowledge of a deeply unequal society and the absence of will to change it. It lives in the “I don’t see colour” remarks, the spurious claims of reverse racism and the denials of white privilege. And it thrives in the ignorance of middle-class suburbia, the meritocracy myths and the assumptions that good intentions are enough.

“The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.”

The New Jim Crow

Let that sink in.

Talking about unity, togetherness and peace ultimately solves nothing. Our society was founded on the broken bodies and discarded corpses of people of colour. An entire group of people continue to exist as little more than commodities especially because of society’s success in dehumanising them. At worst, we are mindless and uncivilised thugs, and at best, a select few of us are ‘exceptional individuals who are a credit to our race’… People see videos like the senseless murder of George Floyd and make remarks like, “I can’t believe this is still happening in 2020”. Why can’t you believe it? What have you done to change it?

The racism of slavery and Jim Crow never went away, it just became better packaged and more insidious. Segregation, voter suppression, redlining, mass incarceration, discriminatory lending, Eurocentric school curriculums, the racial inequities in access to public spaces and public goods… the fear of people of colour.

I watched the video of George Floyd being killed. I watched as he pleaded for his life. I watched as his struggle faded and he lay there lifeless – still pinned under an officer’s knee. For ten minutes, I watched as one human being slowly killed another. What I found most reprehensible was the officer’s evident sense of justification, apparently empowered by the system he serves to carry out such an act with the world as his audience. It was the casual way in which he took someone’s life that broke me and the millions of others who watched the video. That officer would have felt George’s struggle to cling to life end, but he remained unmoved and undeterred.

George’s life was so easily snuffed out because the parts of society where power and privilege reside didn’t see him as a whole human being. It saw him as a threat. A mindless, uncivilised thug who needed to be brought under control at any cost. Unfortunately for George and too many others that look like him, the cost was his life.

Platitudes and kind words are not enough to right this ship, it needs to be razed to the ground. It needs the voices of the silent tens of millions demanding change. It needs their sweat, blood and tears invested in the hard work of holding the men and women in power to account.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

It needs them to be part of the solution.

If that’s you, then you can start here: George Floyd: How can I help? and here: For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies

Image by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

We recorded this episode a couple weeks into the lockdown as a somewhat unplanned and off-the-cuff conversation. The intention was to talk about a different subject entirely but I wasn’t feeling particularly great and I knew a few of the guys felt similarly. 

Daniel Doyley, one of the guests on this episode and the voice you hear in the intro had recently lost his grandmother to what was suspected to be COVID-19. They were extremely close and she had a significant impact on his life. The loss of a loved one, the physical separation between himself and his family and financial concerns weighed heavily on him.

Isaac Fletcher is an extremely social guy but made the decision to be extra disciplined about committing to the lockdown and social distancing as he lives with his mother who has several pre-existing health conditions. As a result of these conditions, she is categorised as being at the highest risk and he didn’t want to take any chances with her health. 

Raymond and Daniel Raeburn, the other contributors on this episode, were coping well for the most part but still found some aspects of the lockdown challenging.

And myself? Well, I have no issues saying I was struggling. I was struggling with trying to remain productive in my role despite working from home, being a full-time parent to a toddler and being acutely aware of the slowdown at work. As someone who in the past struggled with low mood, I felt some of that creeping back in, so instead of carrying on with our planned topic we just talked to each other instead. 

Sometimes that’s all you need, to talk to someone. 

It’s Mental Health Week here in the UK and as well as the obvious global health concerns we face, we also need to recognise the emotional difficulties each of us are tackling as a result. So if you’re feeling low, reach out to someone. If you’re concerned about your mental health or are struggling to cope emotionally, please contact your GP.

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.

Hosted by Jamie McLaren and Isaac Fletcher, Man Ting Uncut is a raw, unfiltered and live discussion about relationships, socially relevant issues, masculinity and friendships. No topic is too sensitive, we share our honest opinions and invite you to share yours too.

Isaac is a professional dancer and teacher, he’s a massive football fan and a regular at the gym. And if you haven’t listened to his story from season 1 of the podcast, check it out here now. In Broken, But Not Destroyed, Isaac shares his deeply moving journey of love and loss.

Watch live on YouTube every Monday at 8:30pm GMT, and be sure to subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss a thing.

Click to view the playlist on YouTube

Can men and women have close friendships and it remain strictly platonic?

In this bonus feature, Daniel, Andre, Maurice and I talk about being friends with the opposite sex and the impact those friendships have on our romantic relationships.

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.

My wife and I are in a cross-cultural relationship. We’re both black, but she’s of Ghanaian heritage and I was born in Jamaica. If you listened to the first episode of Marriages Behind Closed Doors, then you will have heard about some of the specific cultural challenges we faced during the engagement and leading up to the wedding.

For black men, dating outside of your race can bring its own difficulties, particularly from within the black community. There is a deeply held stereotype that many successful black men will choose to date and marry women of other races. There are countless forums on the internet criticising TV starts, sports personalities and other successful black men who have chosen to date or marry women of other races, and there is a lot of pain and anger from some black women about this.

There is another deeply held stereotype which offers a small part of the explanation as to why that may be the case. Black women are sometimes seen as problematic, angry and confrontational. In the desirability stakes, black women feature very low on the totem pole. Lighter skin, longer hair and more demure features have long been upheld as the standard of femininity and beauty.

Additionally, the history of racism and social privilege does not automatically lend itself to making black women the natural inhabitants of the upper echelons of society. The gender disparity in the figures of interracial marriage within the United States are significant and show that black men are choosing to marry outside of their race at substantially higher rates than black women do.

As a result, many black women feel cast aside and unloved by the black men they raised. 

This is obviously a very complex subject to dissect, and one that requires extreme care and sensitivity. In this episode, Daniel, Andre, Maurice and I all try to keep the conversation fairly light and humorous however, you will hear undertones of many of these issues as we talk about our own experiences.

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.

My wife and I have been in a relationship together for 10 years and married for almost six of those. Comparatively speaking, that’s still a very short period of time and I still have a lot to learn as a husband. We’ve had our ups and our downs, times when we’ve felt less connected and times we’ve felt inseparable. We make each other angry sometimes, but mostly, we honour our vows to love and cherish each other.

These aren’t unique experiences, every married couple goes through similar journeys and that’s part of the point of this new show. Sometimes in our marriages, it’s easy to feel as though we’re the only one going through a particular situation.

On Marriages Behind Closed Doors, I’ll be joined by other men talking about our experiences as husbands and fathers, coping with the difficulties and celebrating our families’ successes.

Watch live on Instagram once per month on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 8:30pm British Summer Time (BST), and be sure to follow so you don’t miss a thing.

You can catch-up on previous episodes below:

Click to go to Instagram

Isaac returns for this episode which also features Maurice and Chukwudi as we talk about our experiences and ideas of sex, relationships and marriage.

It’s no secret that men think and talk about sex a LOT! But for most of us, we value real connections too. Love, commitment and building something greater with our partners. Our conversation offers an insight into our differing perspectives and our journeys towards achieving that.

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.

Isaac is one of 7 children and the youngest boy. He grew up in a house full of love and was extremely close with his dad. He’s also a dad himself. In this episode, we talked about the influences that shaped his journey into manhood, the lessons he’s taken from his upbringing and some of the struggles which challenged his very will to live.

There’s a text in the bible I think appropriately describes Isaac’s Story. It reads:

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8 & 9.

Parts of this conversation features topics which some may find difficult to listen to. Isaac and I talk about his spiral into depression, but as you’ll hear, we also talk about his journey out of it. I think that message of hope is an important one to share.

If you are listening to this and are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please reach out to someone. You can contact the Samaritans any time, day or night for free on 116 123 or book an appointment with your GP who can signpost you to other organisations which can provide help.

The struggle may be difficult, but the struggle itself is a sign of life and where there is life, a new story can still be written. A better story.

Jonathan Gardner grew up as a devout Christian. His upbringing at times put him at odds with the desire to fit in with his friends, sharing in their experiences and figuring out adolescence without much of a guidebook to follow.

In this episode, Jonathan recounts some of his experiences growing up, being raised by a single mother and also how the devastating news of a sudden diagnosis changed the course of his life.

As we face a global health crisis, more so now than ever, we reflect on having taken relationships for granted but also the importance of being intentional about remaining connected with the people in our lives.

Jonathan is married and has a young daughter who celebrated her first birthday just this last weekend. We discussed how fatherhood has changed us and the beauty of seeing our daughters come into the world. My conversation with Jonathan lasted well over two hours, and there was much I wasn’t able to include in this episode. One of these was our recognition of the incredible roles the women in our lives have played. This was something Jonathan was keen to express, and I think it’s necessary to mention it here especially as we celebrated Mother’s Day in the UK on yesterday (Sunday 22nd March).

So, to all the mothers out there from those who do it alone to those who share the role of parent with their children’s fathers, a partner or other family members, we see you, we applaud you, and we honour you.

In this episode, Jonathan mentions a video that was sent to him by a couple and which inspired him and his family to move to Scotland. If this is something that interests you or you want to learn more about their story, you can view it on his YouTube channel here.

If you haven’t already listened to the previous episode, Sex in the Church: Part I, then I strongly recommend you do. This episode is a continuation of the conversation I had with Andrew Williams, about how his live changed when he found out at 17 years old that his girlfriend at the time was pregnant with his child.

Andrew and I are both black men, and in addition to his experiences as a co-parent and dating again, we also talk about how our similar cultures have shaped our attitudes towards sex.

Generally speaking, religion (Christianity, in our case) is a significant cultural factor within many Afro-Caribbean communities. Conversations within church about sex, sexuality and sexual conduct are almost always deeply conservative, and often not very open. This, to some extent, influences how open (or not) conversations between parent and child within our communities about sex can be.

As black men, often we learn about sex through our peers, porn and our own experiences, which can be both damaging and unhealthy. And while not explicitly discussed in this episode, there are numerous studies available which show that young black men are disproportionately at high risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections. Equally, issues such as violence, abuse and a diminished view of the meaningfulness of sex or relationships are outcomes of poor sex education within our homes and the church.

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 button above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.