In 2017, the #MeToo Movement surfaced into public discourse after a viral tweet engaged mainstream media. Although Tyana Burke started the Me Too Movement years prior to help victims of sexual harassment and assault, #MeToo has recently become a revolving headline as women boldly join in solidarity as victims and survivors.
Noticeably absent from the public discourse are Black men. Black male culture seems to actively encourage ideas, actions, and stereotypes that perpetuate mistreatment toward women. Many men were publicly accused of harassment and assault, including prominent Men of Color. We as black men have yet to publicly mobilize and tell the world that WE TOO believe the mistreatment, disrespect, and sexual exploitation of women is wrong and dangerous to the progression of our society. That is why the Black Men’s Engagement Network was founded.
(B)MEN is a movement bringing black men together to actively discuss and work through issues surrounding masculinity, identity, sexuality, sexual harassment, sexual assault, youth mentorship, and Black culture in a way that strengthens the Community. (B)MEN believe that the failure of Black men to mobilize and explore our fragilities causes harm to Black families, Black communities, and ourselves. We operate under a distorted masculinity wrapped in heteronormative thinking that prevents us from exploring and developing all the parts of the Black male identity. (B)MEN seeks to engage in this needed dialogue that will allow us to love ourselves wholly, fortify Black families, and revive Black communities.
(B)MEN envisions a world where black men have safe spaces to develop healthy inclusive identities that free us from toxic masculinity. We will hold ourselves accountable to acknowledging the climate of sexual harassment and sexual assault and our role in ending it.
(B)MEN is an inclusive group of Black men working to mobilize all Black men regardless of class, national origin, immigration status, age, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or gender expression. Our network provides culturally responsible discussion groups, conferences, and community action for black men seeking to build a community free of assault and harassment, male patriarchy, toxic masculinity, homophobia, transphobia, and, other social constructs that halts our progression.
Addressing Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault
We take the position of responsibility towards black men to build a culture of working through issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault. (B)MEN approaches sexual harassment and sexual assault with the idea that it is far more likely than unlikely that one has engaged in some level of sexual harm and/or inappropriate behavior towards another and it is our responsibility to lead conversations addressing education, accountability, and healing. In addition to contributing to a culture of sexual violence we have to acknowledge that many of us are victims as well.
Inclusive & Healthy Masculinity
We believe that our understanding of black masculinity is underdeveloped and dangerous. It does not acknowledge the multitude of ways that masculinity can exist outside of black cisgender heterosexual individuals. It is also practiced in violent ways that contribute to rape culture. The narrative of black male masculinity is often perpetuated by mainstream media as well as our community, and we believe it is our duty to reclaim for ourselves a masculinity that is healthy and reflective of the positive aspects of the black male community. We believe that it is imperative to expand our understanding of how men exist within the black community in ways that are positive and not rooted in physical and sexual power over another individual
(B)MEN seeks to help create black communities that are capable of addressing the issues of sexual assault that we very often experience. We are interested in working with all black men regardless of his history of incarceration, as we believe it is our duty to build a healthy community that does not rely on notions of criminality to determine who is worth building a relationship with. We will work and talk with black men about ways to resolve conflict and address issues in a way that is restorative to the community and the relationships we are working to maintain.
Mentorship and Development/Community and Networking
(B)MEN seeks to strengthen mentorship within the black community by building relationships among individuals that are not centered in heteronormative mentorship relationships. Our connections with each other have been underdeveloped by homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia. (B)MEN seeks to build mentorship connections that reach into different communities where people, particularly youth can witness successful black men who exist beyond the heteronormative sphere.
Strengthening Black Community
At (B)MEN we believe that it is our duty to work to build the black community. The difficulty that black men have had integrating members of our queer community has disrupted our ability to build strong connections. It is our duty to create a healthy framework of masculinity that can produce a more capable black community in the future. We work to understand issues that affect every part of our community, not just those affecting black men. We believe that by addressing the issues that black men face within themselves we can be better and more productive to our community as a whole.
(B)MEN affirms all Black men. Many organizations that work to build Black men often suffer from homophobia and transphobia. We welcome and embrace all of our Black brothers as we navigate a world that is often designed for our demise.