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THIS IS PART 1 OF A TWO-PART SERIES… (click here for part 2)

I recently took a DNA test.

While I have always been extremely proud of my Jamaican heritage, there is a whole other part of my history that was stolen from me and erased. I am in diaspora; part of a scattered population whose origin lies in a separate geographic locale. While I have always been aware of the fact my ancestors were trafficked from Africa and forced to labour under brutal conditions entirely for the benefit of the British Empire, who they were and where they came from has always been completely unknown to me. I, like so many other individuals of African descent, suffer from a disconnected sense of identity.

The DNA test was as much about finding out where my ancestors came from as it was an attempt to reclaim a connection to the hidden parts of my identity that were stolen away long before I was ever born.

Lewis Persaud recently penned an article titled, “Griots: The importance of documentation” (click here), where he writes about the crucial role they played in preserving the history of many West African societies. He argues that it was this very connection to their rich history which helped to maintain these ancient cultures, and as people of African descent, it is through “retaining a sense of self in a world designed to strip you of it…” that we begin the process of building a strong and stable community.

Lewis and I recorded this episode at the end of last summer in the wake of the global outrage which erupted following the death of George Floyd. Several other extrajudicial killings of black people and racially charged incidents prior had stoked the flames of discontent for many and kickstarted a wave of Black Lives Matter protests all over the world. One of those incidents was the slaying of Ahmaud Marquez Arbery who was hunted down and executed in the street of a suburban Georgia neighbourhood by three white men. It took 74 days for his killers’ arrest, and only after the video of his killing went viral.

It is now exactly one week shy of a year since Ahmaud was killed, and his family continue their wait for justice.

It also currently happens to be Black History Month in the United States. And with the recent news of one Utah school originally agreeing to parents’ demand to exempt their children from taking part in Black History Month learning before backtracking after a backlash on social media, the question I ask is, what happens now that the protests have ended? What do we need to do as a people to move this fight forward?

I think the beginnings of an answer lies in first grounding ourselves in a strong sense of identity, because as Marcus Garvey once exclaimed and as illustrated so beautifully by Lewis in his article, a “people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”.

On this episode, Lewis and I talk about reclaiming our identities, the true nature of racism and what is required in dismantling the structures it has built.

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.

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Comparatively speaking, sporting careers are short and somewhat fleeting. It is not uncommon for professional athletes to feel a sense of loss of identity when retiring from a career in sport. Identity helps us to connect with others as well as to our sense of self. For may of us, our identities are rooted in our relationships as well as the activities we take part in.

On this episode, I interview Mark Richardson, a former world class 400m runner and Olympic silver medalist. During his athletics career, Mark experienced some amazing highs but also some incredible lows. And while his exploits on the track remain firmly affixed to the pinnacle of Great Britain’s track and field Olympics history, athletics is just one part of his story.

Mark’s specialism, the relay, is an appropriate metaphor for life itself. Most of us are in a state of constant growth and development, our sense of self undergoing several metamorphoses throughout our lives.

Change isn’t inherently bad, but it can be destabilising, especially when you’re not prepared for it. While Mark’s transition out of professional sport was a challenging one, it wasn’t debilitating.

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.

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.

Kenneth Barish Ph.D, author of Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems, wrote that “As parents, we are, unwittingly, too critical of our children.”

Courtney Hoilett and Maurice Reid return to the podcast in this episode to share their experiences on how their their family context and their parental relationships impacted on them. We also talk about the power of encouragement and affirmation from other men who have had a positive influence on our lives, the importance of role models, and figuring out how we want to be viewed by the world around us.

Joining the conversation in addition to Courtney and Maurice, you will also hear from Lee White-Samuels.

Lee has been married for 9 months, and works as a teaching assistant in a school and as a freelance graphic designer. He talks about some of the key ‘coming-of-age’ experiences which helped him develop his confidence as a young black man.

Fundamentally, this episode is about identity and trying to reconcile who we are becoming on our journey through manhood with the stereotypes and labels the world has placed upon us.

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.