A Framework for Black Masculine Caring
Edited By Lisa Bass
VANESSA SIDDLE WALKER
I probably should have been paying attention to the elliptical machine on which I was struggling to complete my assigned number of minutes. Instead, my gaze shifted to the muscular Black man a few feet away, who was walking threateningly toward a teenage Black male.
“Boy, I will bust you! Now get those rotations done!” The man’s eyes showed no sympathy as he glared. Without resentment, the young man took a deep breath and complied.
Had I been of another cultural or age group, I might have understood the man’s behavior to be verbal abuse. Instead, I smiled as I recognized a traditional form of interaction between Black men and youth, one in which Black men work up close in body and language as they encourage them to be the best they can be and refuse to accept anything less. His approach was direct, no-nonsense, and intolerant of noncompliance. He also gave the young man a warm, encouraging pat when he finished what had previously seemed impossible to him.
“He seems to enjoy working with you,” I said later to the Black male trainer. Intrigued by the episode, I had watched the entire interaction while I peddled slower and slower on my own equipment.
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