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.

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.