Sign in

LEVEL
Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

Masculinity

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

If you believe Kid Cudi’s ‘SNL’ attire threatens Black masculinity, it’s time to do some soul searching

Photo: Will Heath/Getty Images

It’s spring again, and with the opening of businesses after a year of Covid-19, it’s apparently become necessary to once more consider one’s personal fashion before stepping outside. You’d think that after a year of pandemic couch-surfing this would be a low priority, but as it turns out, if you’re a Black man, you still can’t wear just any old thing. Somehow, in light of all of the problems we face in the most racist country in the world, it is still ungenteel to wear dresses.

Last week, Kid Cudi appeared on Saturday Night Live in a dress. The decision…


Every father hopes to see his son surpass him. But did it have to happen so soon?

Photo: Nick David/Getty Images

My 12-year-old son keeps challenging me to hand-to-hand combat. First, we move the coffee table and place a few pillows so that no one loses an eye or needs stitches; then we wrestle in the living room.

It wasn’t that long ago that our wrestling would have been a balancing act between me showing him the few moves I know and letting him get the occasional win so that he doesn’t lose heart. But ever since I turned 50 and he played the junior league football Super Bowl — not to mention going through puberty — things have gotten difficult.


After a life of struggling with my weight and self-esteem, I was on track. Then Covid came.

Photo: John M Lund Photography Inc/Getty Images

“You know you look skinny, right?” The words felt like a too-tight hug that was starting to hurt.

At the time, I was in the middle of a weight-loss journey, having lost about 40 pounds from my adult high of 250 or so. (The “or so” is because I had no idea. I’d stopped weighing myself and stupidly refused to go to the doctor until I lost weight.) I’d gone from XXXL shirts and a 38-inch waist to larges and a 34-inch waist. But I was complaining about still feeling fat. …


We’ll get through these problems just like billions have before us — together

Photo: kupicoo/Getty Images

2020 was supposed to be my year.

I feel that way every year, but this one is my 50th. And I was sure, at the start, that if good things didn’t happen for me, that I could at least find good things to do. I could make my own happiness. On New Year’s Day, I even made a list of the things that I would no longer let bother me.

And because I’m easily bothered, it was a long list.

While one of my friends vowed to start a business and another to get in terrific physical shape, most of…


Don’t believe the hype that ignoring your mental health and keeping your problems inside is manly

Photo: shapecharge/Getty Images

The year 2020, in many ways, feels like Tetris on repeat. I’ve attempted to masterfully maneuver the blocks of my mental health, faith, job performance, and physical safety into alignment. Even when I lack the insight to do so alone, the blocks continue to collide, and the “Game Over” jingle continues to play as this year throws more obstacles at me than I could ever attempt to manage.

When I run through the list of tragedies — losing Kobe and Gianna Bryant along with seven others on that overcast January morning, the Covid-19 pandemic, the altercation in Kenosha, Wisconsin that…


Chubby baby thighs: 1. Me: 0

Photo: DorianGray/Getty Images

Before I get into one of my funniest fatherhood moments, I have to set the unfunny scene.

Two years after we got married, my wife and I had our only son. I was 36 years old. As the oldest of a half-dozen children, I had little doubt that I could handle fatherhood. I had already changed hundreds of diapers, warmed bottles, potty-trained toddlers, and rocked babies to sleep. I was as confident of my ability to take care of my son as I was of anything. …


Are we raising boys who are free to be themselves?

A still from “#blackAF.” Photo courtesy of Netflix

A young Black boy comes into the house crying. When his parents ask what’s wrong, he explains: His classmates forgot his birthday. He cries harder, beginning to hyperventilate. The mother comforts the boy, tells him to breathe. It’s the picture of loving parenthood. The father, though, stands back with a look of disgust, shaking his head. On the screen, a mock scouting report appears distilling the 10-year-old’s disposition: He is the “sweet, sensitive, moist towelette of the family.”

This is a scene from Netflix’s #BlackAF, the latest comedy from Blackish creator Kenya Barris. Though the show portrays an entire family…


I’m strong enough to say that my wife protects me from all enemies, foreign and domestic — and those with more than four legs

Photo: Cheikh Mballo/EyeEm/Getty Images

Let’s start with the (flattering) facts. I am just over six feet tall, I can sprint a mile in under six minutes, and I can bench 225 pounds for six reps before an ambulance needs to be present. I cook, and I cook damn well. I make my wife laugh — real laughter, not humoring-me laughter. I cry during Pixar films. I possess just the right amount of masculine aloofness that makes my wife wonder if I’m getting dumber or if I just pretended to be smart while we were dating.

But when I see a bug? It all disappears…


Most men don’t abuse women. The problem that we need to talk about, though, is the men who know abusers — and never confront them.

Let’s talk about fatigue for a second. Not tiredness. Not even exhaustion. Fatigue is less physical than it is emotional. It’s Sisyphus back at the beginning with his ball, staring up that ramp, knowing he was this fucking close and that’s exactly as close as he’s ever gonna be. Fatigue hasn’t snuffed out his ability, but it’s damn close to bodying his resolve.

It’s also the word that best describes what we’ve been feeling recently.

Three times this week already, with who knows how many more to come, we’ve seen women come forward to share their experiences — no, call…


It takes consistent effort to remind other Black men that we are more than our gender

Photo: Olu Famule/Unsplash

I came out to my family in 2015. At the time, the Supreme Court was about to make the historic vote that would legalize gay marriage for millions of queer people in America.

Coming out for me was not painful or challenging. I had history on my side: My family already had several members who identified as gay. So it came as no real shock when they welcomed me with open arms. I thought the hardest part of coming out would be stating my truth—but as I learned, the real challenge would be living that truth.

He accepted my gayness…

LEVEL

Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store