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For the last year, we’ve been gripped by a global pandemic. Figures in the UK currently stand at more than 2 and half million confirmed cases and 75,000 deaths. Despite having endured two previous national lockdowns and the shifting goalposts of localised restrictions updated almost weekly, we’re now entering a third national lockdown with no end in sight. Some of us have been held hostage to fear of the virus, many have lost friends and loved ones, but all of us have suffered severe disruption to our lives and plans.

On this episode I interview Chukwudi Ugbomah and we talk about what it was like trying to plan a wedding during a lockdown and crossing the threshold into marriage.

Chukwudi and his then fiancé did not live together prior to getting married, and so had to practice social distancing for much of the first half of 2020 and the period leading up to their wedding. The transition from bachelor to husband was a particularly profound, and so we discuss what that journey has been like for him.

Chukwudi was one of the very first men I interviewed back in season 1 of the podcast where we talked about his preparations for marriage. You can listen to it here: Ep. #2 – Legacy, Money and Managing Conflict. Back then, reports of the Coronavirus had only just begun to emerge out of Wuhan, China and we couldn’t have imagined just how much our lives would have been affected by it in just a few short weeks afterwards.

While for many of us, it may seem as though our lives remain in a state of perpetual limbo, Chukwudi’s story encourages me to believe we can still hope for new beginnings and I hope it does the same for you too.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.