JUNE 2021 ISSUE

Page 1

TAKE A

WALK IN THE CLEVELAND

TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF MEN

solon

Maple heights beachwood

avon

Lakewood

shaker

aurora

hudson

parma

cleveland mentor

berea

North olmsted

euclid mentor

strongsville

METROPARKS

(BLACK SUBURBS)

RATING THE BLURBS! We rate where people of color should live in NE Ohio based on diversity, equity, and inclusion!

OBESITY IS A DISEASE

CELEBRATING PRIDE AND THE END OF ISOLATION

BLACK MATTERS OF LOVE JUNE 2021 ISSUE



INSIDE

35

REIMAGING THE NARRATIVE OF THE MODERN BLACK FATHER

Re-introducing the Black father to society will take a hands-on approach by everyone to begin to shift the mindset that men of color deserve respect when it comes to parenting.

ON THE COVER

26

RATING THE BLURBS (BLACK SUBURBS) Not since the great migration have people of color had to consider where living will provide them the

11 OBESITY IS A DISEASE Being overweight is literally killing people of color one meal at a time.

38 CELEBRATING PRIDE AND THE END OF ISOLATION

14 LET’S TALK ABOUT THE PROSTATE

Men of color face serious challenges by coming out in the LGBTQ community and celebrating life postCOVID-19.

Protecting your prostate as you age is one of the most important things you can do. Learn how to detect, test, and reduce your risk of getting prostate cancer.

best opportunity to not be hunted, profiled, and harassed for simply being 18 BLACK MATTERS OF LOVE Black. We rated the suburbs of Northeast Black Love Matters: Authentic Men’s Ohio for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Voices on Marriages and Romantic Relationships does a deep dive into understanding how Black men 8 MOVERS AND SHAKERS approach life, women, and their own Get to know people who are making a emotions when it comes to finding difference in their careers and changing love. the world! .

42 REBUILDING TRUST WITH BLACK STUDENTS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES POST-COVID-19

Black students today face the challenge of school, protesting, and becoming leaders of the next generation.

CODE M / JUNE 2021 3


46

FINDING LOVE AFTER 40 It literally feels like a part-time job to use a dating app to find love today. Your success will depend on your ability to know exactly what you want.


[ INSIDE ] 45 LONDON ROYCE CRICKET: BROTHERLY LOVE “At first glance now, no one would ever guess how my life started that I’d end up the man I am today. I’m like a transformer. There’s more than meets the eye.” Marcelle Love 50 MAN CODES Quotes by men of distinction. 52 THE GOOD FATHER In the absence of my father, I became someone I hate. In the absence of my father, I steered ‘way from positive fate.

ADVERTISE WITH CODE M Men of color influence the latest trends of popular culture, fashion, and music more than any demographic. Reach this audience when you advertise with CODE M Magazine. Call 216-273-9400 to request a rate kit.

22

TAKE A WALK IN THE CLEVELAND METROPARKS

The Cleveland Metroparks system surrounds Northeast Ohio in a fashion by connecting all the parks

CODE M / MARCH 2021 3


[ INSIDE ]

50


TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF MEN

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ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Teri Martin David Williams CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Chris Bryant Anthony Kirby Brad J. Bowling Dr. Johnny R Tice Armon R. Perry, PhD Dr. Kenneth Braswell Ken Williams Jr. Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackon Lena Fields-Arnold D'Juan Hopewelnifer Corley Lawre nce Burnley CODE MEDIA GROUP LLC

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CODE M Magazine was created to be a guiding force in creating a dialogue for black men everywhere. Code M focuses on the conversations of advancement, mental health, career choices, the political landscape and relationships that define and shape the lives of black men everywhere.

Code M Magazine is published by CODE MEDIA GROUP, LLC © 2020 All Rights Reserved

CODE M / FEBRUARY 2021 7


MOVERS &

SHAKERS

D O N A L D 8 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

Get to know people who are making a difference in their careers and changing the world!

J O L L y


[ MOVERS & SHAKERS ]

DONALD JOLLY II

Andrea Neely

As the Superintent of the Warrensville Heights School District, Jolly has taken the district on an incredible rise in state school rankings and stature.

As the Regional Development Director of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Neely is leading the way to make sure that any student who wants a college scholarship has access to one.

The district is currently being reborn with all of its infrastructure in the process of being rebuilt. The $150 million high school rebuild project is expected to be completed in 2023.

During its 75-year existence, UNCF has raised $4.7 billion to provide operating funds for the 37-member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and to administer over 400 scholarships.

KID CUDI Cleveland born Kid Cudi has sold 22 million certified records in the United States and has won two Grammy Awards. He has worked with numerous prominent artists in the music industry, including Kanye West, Jay Z, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, David Guetta, MGMT, Shakira, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Michael Bolton. Cudi is continuing to expand his brand with a clothing line and new music on its way.

VALENCIA SCOTT Valencia Scott has changed the way women shop for cosmetics. Scott founded Perfect Pucker, Inc., which specializes in women’s and men’s cosmetics. All products are paraben-free, dye-free, and absolutely no animal testing! Even better, every product is handcrafted by Valencia in Kalamazoo, MI and backed by a 100% money back guarantee. Visit www.theperfectpucker.com and use the discount offer CODEM for 20% off your first order. CODE M / JUNE 2021 9



HEALTH

OBESITY IS A DISEASE Being overweight is literally killing people of color one meal at a time.

Written by Chris Bryant, DNP, MSN-PH, RN Rameck Hunt, MD, FACP

If you were asked to take ten seconds to name someone you know with high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, you probably wouldn’t need a second. Unfortunately, the African American community is at high risk for a variety of illnesses and conditions that we’re all too familiar with, and the situation is getting worse. But most people don’t know that one disease is a major risk factor for a wide array of other diseases prevCODE M / JUNE 2021 11


PEOPLE

[ HEALTH ]

alent in the Black community. That disease is obesity — yes, obesity is a disease.

causing earlier onset of chronic conditions and sometimes premature death.

Obesity underpins a variety of serious health conditions affecting almost 1 in 2 African Americans. Adding to its extensive damaging effects, obesity has been shown to be a strong predictor for COVID-19 complications and increased severity of the disease. Recently on “Life Hacks with Darrell & Grace: Obesity 04,” we shared our insights on how obesity is medically defined, addressed bias and stigma associated with the disease, and explored interventions people can seek along a full continuum of obesity care. Below are some of the highlights.

Our goal in obesity care is to improve proper diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, it isn’t broadly recognized as a disease with wide-ranging treatment options and many physicians aren’t well versed in its diagnosis. Furthermore, patients and physicians don’t often feel comfortable enough having the conversation about the disease for the physician to offer help and for the patient to accept it.

DEFINING AND DIAGNOSING OBESITY All told, obesity is a chronic disease with correlations to over 60 comorbidities — additional conditions that develop or are exacerbated by obesity. But medically speaking, how do we define obesity, especially for Black people? Obesity is commonly estimated through your body mass index or BMI. A healthcare professional can help you calculate your BMI comparing your height and weight to understand your body’s mass. In general, overweight and obesity are defined in four classes:

Overweight – BMI is 25.0 to 29.9

Class 1 obesity – BMI is 30.0 to 34.9

Class 2 obesity – BMI is 35.0 to 39.9

Class 3 obesity – BMI is equal to or greater than 40.0

Other factors may play a role in the diagnosis of obesity, for example, waist circumference, and more sophisticated diagnostic tools like an MRI may also be used. Evidence has shown that people with higher BMIs have a higher likelihood of experiencing comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, respiratory problems, sleep apnea, numerous cancers, and more. Obesity is a multifactorial disease and needs to be addressed as such. When diagnosing and treating the disease, we must consider a variety of inputs from a person’s diet, genetics, and exercise regimen to their environment and access to health care and medications. It’s also important to note that obesity differs in men and women and there’s further variation across races and ethnicities. For example, African American women have the highest rates of obesity on the BMI scale at 56.9 percent and this has been directly linked to a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Black men have higher rates of obesity than white men,

12 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

OBESITY, BIAS AND STIGMA Most people who want to get to a healthier weight are working hard at it, but they’re judged by society as lacking willpower to reach their goals. What’s poorly understood is the metabolic challenges obesity presents that cannot be willed away. If a patient’s willpower were the central issue impacting progress toward better health, then we would be asking patients with high blood pressure to will their blood pressure down as well. Chronic diseases don’t operate in that fashion and in many ways a person’s body may be working against the achievement of their health goals. Therefore, it can be exhausting to repeatedly alter diet, increase exercise, and still yo-yo up and down gaining and losing weight. Our brains have a set point for our body’s weight and will try to help our bodies get back to that weight while we’re trying to lose it or keep it off. Accordingly, multiple factors work to counteract your best efforts to lose weight, including some of the hormones in your body such as ghrelin, which is produced in the stomach and increases appetite. That is partly why, of the many patients who have bariatric surgery, over 50 percent of them regain their pre-operative weight. Regaining weight after bariatric surgery or lifestyle adjustments is not a personal failing of willpower alone. Obesity must be treated like the chronic disease that it is. What’s required is a comprehensive approach to patient needs across a continuum of care. A full continuum of obesity care might include: meeting with patients regularly to monitor weight and discuss goals, teaching new personal training and nutritional approaches, scheduling sessions with a psychologist to break down eating disorders, prescribing medications where applicable, and recommending surgery where necessary. All of these supports together or in various combinations are the key to helping patients reach their goals and maintain that achieve-

Working out can reduce your stress, blood levels, and help you sleep better.


[ HEALTH ]

ment over the long term. Until recently, we’ve been accustomed to addressing obesity as a state of being or an adjective to describe a person, but now we know better. The language we use can be stigmatizing to people with obesity. It’s important that we broadly recognize obesity as a condition a person lives with and use patient-centered language such as “living with obesity” — the same way we call someone a cancer survivor and not “cancerous.” We should take care to put the person first, and the disease they live with second. WHAT YOU CAN DO

okay to admit that you need help from a medical professional, nutritionist, personal trainer or psychologist, or others to support you. There are so many personal benefits to a healthier, more active, longer life when you’re committed to managing obesity. There’s no solution that’s right for every patient, and each person needs a combination of supports to maintain progress. Obesity is at the center of so many health, economic, and mental health issues that we must get a handle on it individually, and as a community. We can get there if we manage obesity together. ●

Talk to your health care provider – If you are concerned about your weight or BMI, have an honest conversation with your doctor and ask about getting support if you’re battling obesity. Request a referral to an obesity care physician to start a treatment program tailored to your goals and needs. Your program should include nutritional education, physical activity options, psychological support, prescribed antiobesity medications (AOMs) as appropriate, and surgery when necessary. The right combination of these factors can help you reach and maintain your BMI goal. Don’t give up – Treating any chronic disease, like obesity, requires a commitment to meeting your health goals and an open mind to accept the support your body needs. There are several parts of the puzzle when managing obesity and it can be tough to manage them all. But you can do it. Focus on breaking old habits, beliefs, and addictions in favor of new personal health care regimens. Consistently make your weight management part of your daily routine while accepting that it’s

CODE M / MAY 2021 15


[ HEALTH ]

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE PROSTATE Protecting your prostate, as you age is one of the most important things you can do. Learn how to detect, test, and reduce your risk of getting prostate cancer.

Written by Dr. Johnny R Tice

and screening is so important.

Dr. Johnny R. Tice is a Clinical Assistant Professor at The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa)-Capstone College of Nursing and serves as the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Concentration Coordinator.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men of all racial and ethnic groups with African American men 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with — and 2.2 times more likely to die from — prostate cancer than white men. This translates to about 200,000 new cases and 70,000 + deaths among African American men each year.

As a man, at some point or another you have heard about the infamous prostate gland and the associated “Finger Test,” formally known as the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE), that’s done to evaluate it. Men get squeamish about this test, but there’s a reason why prostate health Prostatitis (Acute Infection/Inflammation) Pain urinating or ejaculating Fever and chills Pelvic pain Needing to urinate more often Cloudy urine

14 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

So, what exactly is the prostate? It’s a small, walnut-shaped gland found only in men located in front of the recBPH (Chronic Enlargement) Urinating frequently, especially at night Difficulty getting a urine stream going Feeling as if you are unable to get all the urine out

tum and under the bladder that produces a fluid partially responsible for semen production. The prostate is expected to grow as we age; however, this growth can be more amplified and uncontrolled for some men than others leading to conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and cancer. Additionally, there can be an acute, short-lived, inflammation state known as “prostatitis,” often caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia tra-

Prostate Cancer Often has no symptoms Can occasionally cause obstruction of urine flow, like BPH. This symptom usually suggests more advanced prostate cancer.


[ HEALTH ]

chomatis, or HIV. Symptoms associated with prostate problems can vary widely. The following table provides the symptoms for the three most common types of prostate problems. If you notice any of the symptoms below, schedule an appointment with a medical provider for further evaluation. While age is one of the most prominent risk factors associated with prostate problems, there are others including nonmodifiable ones such as race and family history and modifiable ones such as diet, weight, lack of medical care access, and geographical location. While we have no control over non-modifiable risk factors, we do have some level of control over those that are modifiable.

be between 18.5–24.9, which indicates a normal/healthy body weight. Prostate Cancer Screening and Test

of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.

Prostate screening is done to identify prostate cancer as early as possible to allow men to make the appropriate treatment decision for living a longer, healthier life. The American Cancer Society recommends the follow guidelines for prostate cancer screening:

Age 45 – for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).

Age 50 – for men who are at average risk

Age 40 – for men at even higher

Tips for managing modifiable risk factors You’re probably already aware of this, but choose a diet with foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Shoot for at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains and products. Limit red meats, processed meat and high-fat dairy products, which are all associated with a higher prostate cancer risk. While diet usually directly effects weight, be intentional in making efforts to achieve a healthy body weight. The body mass index (BMI), which is a calculated formula using individual height and weight, should

Get the facts on good prostate health from the Bens Nature Health Prostate Chart.

CODE M / JUNE 2021 15


[ HEALTH ] risk (those with more than one firstdegree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age). It’s important to note that due to the prevalence of prostate cancer in African American men, screening starts five years earlier, at age 45 versus age 50, which is for the general male population. Importantly, it is recommended that those who have more than one first -degree relative start screening at the age of 40. There are two screening tests that are done to identify prostate gland abnormalities, which could indicate prostate cancer: The Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. If prostate cancer is confirmed, a complete treatment plan will be initiated usually in collaboration with a urologic oncologist. Hopefully, this article provides insight

22 MAY 2021 / CODE M

into one of the most common killers of African American men. We not only have to keep a watchful eye for common prostate problems such as prostatitis and BPH, but also prostate cancer, which has a high prevalence and death rate amongst African Americans versus all others. Don’t shy away from talking about and dealing with your prostate health. Make an

informed decision about your wellbeing, prevention, and early detection of prostate problems. Your family, friends, co-workers, and community will thank you, as well as get to enjoy many years of your presence in their lives and vice versa. ●


[ [HEALTH PEOPLE]]

CODE CODEMM//APRIL MAY 2021 15 23


LIFE BLACK

MATTERS

OF LOVE

Black Love Matters: Authentic Men’s Voices on Marriages and Romantic Relationships does a deep dive into understanding how Black men approach life, women, and their own emotions when it comes to finding love. 18 JUNE 2021 / CODE M


[ LIFE ]

Written by Armon R. Perry, PhD Armon R. Perry, Ph.D., is professor in the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville. He can be reached at arperr01@louisville.edu or 502-852-3234. To order a copy of Black Love Matters, click here. https://rowman.com/ ISBN/9781793622044/Black-Love-Matters-Authentic-Men'sVoices-on-Marriages-and-Romantic-Relationships

In both historical and contemporary terms, research on Black men has disproportionately examined the lives of low-income men and the struggles they confronted in maintaining stable unions in the face of economic disadvantage. The near exclusive focus on low-income Black men in research related to the family has skewed our perception of these men and limited our knowledge of them and the meanings they ascribe to their marriages, romantic relationships, and families. Similarly, until relatively recently, media portrayals of Black men have been mostly monolithic only featuring them in discussions about what ails their families and communities. In response, I set out to bring balance to these deficit-framed conversations by uplifting the perspectives and experiences of authentic Black men. The result is my recently published book, Black Love Matters: Authentic Men’s Voices on Marriages and Romantic Relationships.

To move these conversations forward, I am planning a series of articles in CODE M covering topics including Black men’s role in teaching and modeling love for Black boys, addressing the impact of mental illness on Black romantic relationships, and exploring interracial dating. To set the stage for these articles, I first cover the importance of creating environments in which Black men feel safe to be open, honest, and vulnerable. In both Black Love Matters and the early response it has received, it is clear that above all else, Black men want to feel safe and secure in their relationships. In a world where Black men are under constant scrutiny and surveillance, they seek refuge in their romantic relationships. This means being free from judgement, condemnation, and persecution for expressing their feelings. Unfortunately, several of the men I interviewed shared how their relationships were damaged when they felt criticized for being emotionally expressive. As a result, many of them became cautious and guarded while others shut down completely. In some cases, this led to the relationship ending. In other cases, although it was not the primary or only reason for the break up, the men’s

The book is based on a study that followed a group of socioeconomically diverse Black men for four years, chronicling their attitudes, experiences, and behaviors within their marriages and romantic relationships. As the men’s stories unfold, readers get firsthand accounts from Black men about how they love and want to be loved. Highlights include the men’s discussions of: •

the roles that sex and infidelity play in their relationships,

their desire to achieve intimacy with their partners,

the impact of traumatic events and experiences, as well as

the extent to which being romantically involved shapes their masculine identities.

In the few months since Black Love Matters was published, I have conducted several in-person and virtual engagements to discuss the book and its findings. These events have sparked numerous follow up conversations in which participants have offered feedback on additional issues that they have encountered in their relationships.

Black men have always struggled with emotions and love.

CODE M / JUNE 2021 19


[ LIFE ] “I’m learning to get in touch with my more emotional side and breaking down that barrier for me. I needed that. You’ll never know, if you’re not close to me in my circle, you’ll never see the inside of me. I never allow people to do it. I laugh and joke with my peers at work, but they’ll never get to see that real me… Being married to my wife, it’s allowed me to bring that out and let me know it’s okay to let people in.” Moreover, he also shared how the bond he built with his wife also served as a stabilizing factor that insulated their marriage from the inevitable ups and downs that challenge any relationship.

subsequent unwillingness to be open contributed to mutual feelings of mistrust and the relationship’s eventual dissolution. However, men who did have partners that made them comfortable being their authentic selves talked about how secure this made them feel. For example, a 27-year-old married father shared that the peace of mind that came from his connection with his wife is what separated her from other women he had dated. In describing the benefits of being married, he stated,

26 MAY 2021 / CODE M

So, there are several significant lessons found in Black Love Matters: that Black men want close connections and relationships with their partners; and they want to be their authentic selves and will be completely free with those they trust. Under these circumstances, not only can healthy romantic relationships develop, but that they can grow and thrive.

As stated by one of the study participants, “We want to be with someone, too.” Given that declaration, for those who desire romantic relationships with Black men, we need to be willing and able to create an atmosphere that fosters openness, expressivity, and vulnerability. Are you that someone? ●


[ LIFE ]

CODEM M//APRIL MAY 2021 CODE 2021 27 19


[ LIFE ]

TAKE A

WALK IN THE CLEVELAND METROPARKS 22 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

The Cleveland Metroparks system surrounds Northeast Ohio in a fashion by connecting all the parks with its Emerald Necklace.

Written by BRAD BOWLING Brad Bowling is the President of Code Media Group, LLC. Bowling has his BA in mass media communication and a MBA in marketing. He contributes articles to the magazine continuing his love for writing.


[ LIFE ] The bike trail is a remarkable recreational amenity; but it is not useful for commuting because of its remoteness from most neighborhoods. If you do not bring your own bike, there are no rental facilities along the Emerald Necklace, and bicycling is only permitted on roadways, not the all-purpose trails. On its southern edge, the Emerald Necklace is bisected by Ohio’s Towpath Trail, which runs 80+ miles from Lake Erie south along the Cuyahoga River and the former Ohio & Erie Canal, and through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Fortunately, rental bikes are available in the national park. On our bikes, Ann Marie and I pedaled past the rushing river, little 19thcentury towns, crumbling rocks, and forest glades. Like the Necklace, the Towpath Trail is a terrific recreational resource, but would not be considered an everyday transportation route. MORE ABOUT CLEVELAND METROPARKS

C

leveland is famous for many things, but one of its best kept secrets is the connecting ring of parks that make up the Cleveland Metroparks. The name, Emerald Necklace, due to its shape, was borrowed from the Boston parks system that bears the same name. The Cleveland Metroparks, established in 1917, began to extend its smaller number of central city parks and has grown to what it is today. The parks system also has several lakes and beaches around Northeast Ohio as well. The Metroparks encircle the outskirts of the city in a circumference eight to 12 miles

With free admission and almost unlimited access during daylight hours, the Metroparks’ 23,000+ acres are a widely popular destination for runners, hikers, cyclists, boaters, fishermen, and nature enthusiasts. A major source of outdoor recreation in the region — and offering more than 19,000 diverse recreation and nature from downtown. education programs — official attendance Cleveland’s Emerald Necklace includes a figures recorded 18.5 million recreational long, lean, 56-mile greenway path that visitors to the system’s 18 reservations follows the Rocky River and Chagrin River and the zoo in 2018, making the attracValleys. In some places, the Emerald tion one of the most visited in the state of Necklace is simply a quarter mile-wide Ohio. green space with a two-lane parkway and The Metroparks golf courses, amenities parallel paved, shared-use trail. At several that do exact a fee, attract over 400,000 points, the path connects into much larggolfers annually. With varying resources, er parks with picnic groves and hiking terrains and geographical features, each paths. park is unique. Some features, such as the The parkways maintain a verdant impres- toboggan chutes at Mill Stream Run Ression because they run along the bottom ervation’s Chalet, are found nowhere else of river valleys and are separated from in the entire State of Ohio. residential and commercial development. CODE M / JUNE 2021 23


[ LIFE ] THE CLEVELAND METROPARKS ZOO The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is divided into several bio-thematic areas that house animals from different regions of the world. Each area is themed for the region of the world they represent, although the older areas (such as the Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building) are less thematic than those that were constructed more recently. Upon entering, visitors arrive in the Welcome Plaza, which features administrative buildings, an amphitheater, food court, and the zoo’s largest souvenir shop. Numerous smaller concession/ souvenir stands are located throughout the park.

30 MAY 2021 / CODE M


[ LIFE ] partment is a full-service law enforcement agency. Metroparks officers patrol the reservations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, enforcing both traffic and criminal laws including wildlife violations. The department was founded in 1917. Today the SAFETY Cleveland Metroparks Police DeThe Metroparks are patrolled by the Cleve- partment utilizes several specialized police units including K-9 land Metroparks Police Department, whose name was changed from “Rangers” Unit, Mounted Unit, Dive Team, Detective Bureau, Bicycle Unit, to its original 1921 name in 2019 so that Traffic Unit, Special Operations, the public would understand the police function the department provides. Officers and a Subject Control team. in the department are fully certified police So, explore the parks and enjoy officers. your time outdoors. There is

Aside from walking, zoo patrons may opt to ride the two “Zoo Tram” lines that shuttle visitors between the Welcome Plaza (near African Elephant Crossing) and the Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building; and between the Welcome Plaza (near the food court) and the Northern Trek.

pretty much something for everyone to The department’s primary goal is to provide a safe environment for the millions of do at the Cleveland Metroparks. ● visitors to the park system. The Police De-

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COVER

(BLACK SUBURBS)

RATING THE BLURBS! We rate where people of color should live in NE Ohio based on diversity, equity, and inclusion!

Not since the great migration have people of color had to consider where living will provide them the best opportunity to not be hunted, profiled, and harassed for simply being Black. We rated the suburbs of Northeast Ohio for diversity, equity, and inclusion. By Brad Bowling 26 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

If you spend any time on social media, you are all too familiar with the videos of Black people being harassed for doing the most basic things in life. There are videos of Blacks being profiled by police for simply standing in front of their own home, cutting the grass, walking down the street, and taking out the trash. Then you see the videos of Blacks being harassed by their neighbors for renovating their own homes, jogging down the street, staying in an Airbnb, trying to view a home for sale, waiting to meet a client, trying to deliver a package, trying to deliver food, and having too nice a car.


[ COVER ]

Lastly, there are the situations where Black students have had to cut their hair to participate in a sport, not allowed to attend a graduation over hair or clothing choices, treated differently on a sports team, or subjected to racist remarks made by a teacher. These are all examples in 2021 of how Blacks have had to endure the ridiculous situations they find themselves in by choosing neighborhoods where they are seemingly not accepted. The questions going forward: Should Blacks rate the suburbs that they are attempting to live in for diversity, equity, and inclusion? Should Blacks continue to suffer the silent random episodes of racism, or should they seek communities where these things simply do not happen or are rare? No one can expect an environment to be totally event free. But we can all agree that in 2021, why do Blacks subject themselves to racist behavior? CODE M Magazine is here to transform the lives of our readers. We decided that we would do the work and rate the suburbs of Northeast Ohio and report on the communities that offer advanced opportunities to live in peace, without prejudice. What we found is that not all suburbs operate equally and not

all are designated good places for Blacks to live. Our ratings are based on public information on each community. We asked Black residents living in these communities for their honest and candid opinions about their experiences and if they would recommend other Blacks live in these communities. Here are the results of those findings.

STRONGSVILLE The 5 largest ethnic groups in Strongsville are: White (Non-Hispanic)

87.8 %

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

3.91%

White (Hispanic)

2.71%

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) 2.62% Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

1.88%

Zero percent of the households in Strongsville speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and 97.3% of the residents are US citizens. CODE M / JUNE 2021 27


[ COVER ] With the nickname “Crossroad of The Nation,” Strongsville is one of the best places to shop in Northeast Ohio. Those of color who have commented on Strongsville often give it mixed remarks on racism and social bias towards people of color. Complaints about experiencing prejudice while living and working in Strongsville are in line with the nation and the expectation is that if Blacks choose to live in Strongsville, do not expect to see people who are of the same background.

In 2018, Hudson had a median household income of $128,638. This statistic means that if you can afford to live in Hudson, you clearly choose to live there. With excellent schools and highly educated neighbors, Blacks who are of the same affluence might not find as much overt racism, but still might experience pockets of isolationism. This means that your child can play on a team, they just cannot date anyone at the same school.

With Blacks representing 2.6 percent of the population, do not expect to see many teachers, first responders or city councilmembers with the same background. If you do decide to live in Strongsville, you will be considered the first in some respects and the only in others. In 2021 you might have to continue to blaze the trail for African Americans in Strongsville. Overall Rating: 2.5.

Those who reported on their living or working experience in Hudson found it was decent overall. No alarming situations involving first responders and their general experience was good when living or traveling through Hudson. Overall Rating: 3.9.

NORTH OLMSTED The 5 largest ethnic groups in North Olmsted are: White (Non-Hispanic)

89

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

2.94%

%

White (Hispanic)

2.59%

Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

2.49%

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic)

2.1 %

Zero percent of the households in North Olmsted speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and 96.9% of the residents are US citizens. North Olmsted is a quiet community with amazing things happening all around it. A gem among Northeast Ohio suburbs, North Olmsted is almost never in the news for negative activity. The Blacks living and working in North Olmsted have reported either no comment or had praise for the city. There were no reports of any negative interaction with first responders and Blacks who had children in the school district reported no problems out of the ordinary singular incident that can happen to anyone on an isolated basis.

HUDSON The 5 largest ethnic groups in Hudson are: White (Non-Hispanic)

89.4 %

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

4.29%

White (Hispanic)

2.8 %

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

1.41%

1.33%

Zero percent of the households in Hudson speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and 97.7% of the residents in Hudson, OH are U.S. citizens. Out of the 23,000 people living in Hudson, only 287 are Black. When it comes to living in Hudson, there is another factor to consider: Hudson is considered one of the most affluent communities to live in so classism will be a factor as well.

28 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

For those that choose to live and work in North Olmsted, you can expect a quiet and decent existence living among the population. Overall Rating: 4.3.


[ COVER ] Zero percent of the households in Parma speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and 97.1% of the residents in are US citizens.

MENTOR The 5 largest ethnic groups in Mentor are: White (Non-Hispanic)

95

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

1.58 %

%

White (Hispanic)

1.12 %

Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

1.1 %

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic)

0.773%

Zero percent of the households in Mentor speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and 98.6% of the residents are US citizens. Mentor is one of the larger suburbs of Northeast Ohio with a population of over 48,000. It also has one of the largest business sectors in the area with many businesses calling Mentor home. For Blacks who live and work in Mentor, life can feel isolated with only .773 percent being represented. Those who reported on living and working in Mentor felt like the community, while being accepting, could work on its diversity and inclusion. Those who have children in the school district would like to see more teachers with a diverse background. The Blacks who have experienced racism while living in Mentor mentioned that the incidents could have happened anywhere.

Parma is by far one of the largest suburbs in Northeast Ohio with over 80,000 residents. It covers so much of the area that Blacks reported a variety of different experiences living there. The majority did report a slightly higher incidence of racist encounters while living and working there, and they reported a feeling of not being accepted while out shopping or visiting the city. Reports of negative experiences by first responders were not outside the norm and Parma has done a decent job in being transparent when engaging the press about things that have happened in the city involving people of color. The problem with Parma is that for such a large population and so little Blacks living there, how can one ever truly feel like they belong. A city of this size can be overwhelming to a family moving in when there are no familiar faces to see. Overall Rating: 2.5.

Mentor rests outside of the RTA (Regional Transit Authority) bus line, so some felt like finding employment in Mentor was difficult. Those who work in the Mentor area complained that they were often the only minority working at the facility or business. With such a high population and such a low percentage of Blacks, anyone looking to live in Mentor will have to deal with almost never feeling included mentally. Overall Rating: 3.1.

MACEDONIA The 5 largest ethnic groups in Macedonia are: White (Non-Hispanic)

83.1 %

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic)

PARMA 87.5 %

White (Hispanic)

3.31%

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

2.17%

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

1.89%

3.67%

Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

2.17%

White (Hispanic)

2.07%

8.64%

Zero percent of the households in Macedonia speak a nonEnglish language at home as their primary language, and 99.3% of the residents are US citizens.

The 5 largest ethnic groups in Parma are: White (Non-Hispanic)

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

2.91%

Macedonia has done an excellent job of accepting and having people of color move into the city. It offers a richly diverse CODE M / JUNE 2021 29


[ COVER ] living and employment culture. With over 8.6 percent of the population being Black, the city feels diverse enough to be considered culturally acceptable. Those living and working in Macedonia reported incidents of racism but felt like it could be a little bit better in terms of a person feeling accepted while shopping in Macedonia.

There were a few who did have negative comments when it came to Black students playing sports for Solon. On several occasions, Blacks have felt like their children did experience bias when playing sports for the school. The same parents who complained about sports, did not have the same impression when it came to academics. Overall rating: 3.7.

Reports on first responders was typical for a city of this size and there were no critical incidents of bias coming from the police department. Overall rating: 3.5

AVON The 5 largest ethnic groups in Avon are:

SOLON

White (Non-Hispanic)

87.1 %

The 5 largest ethnic groups in Solon are:

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

2.64%

White (Non-Hispanic)

72.1 %

White (Hispanic)

1.85%

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

12.1 %

Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

1.02%

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic)

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

2.72%

White (Hispanic)

1.32%

11.1 %

Zero percent of the households in Solon speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and 94.4% of the residents are US citizens. Solon, by far, has done the most to appeal to those with different backgrounds. In fact, it seems like the city is a melting pot for diversity among all the suburbs rated. Though this report is a rating system for Blacks to consider, it must be noted that Asians and Blacks are well represented in Solon. Incidents with first responders were nonexistent and those who reported living and working in Solon noted a positive experience when dealing with school administrators and first responders. There was a natural feeling of acceptance and a noticeable positive mentality when describing living in Solon.

30 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

6.76%

Zero percent of the households in Avon speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and 98.6% of the residents are US citizens. Avon is one of the fastest growing outer-ring suburbs in Northeast Ohio. When the pandemic hit, places like Avon were seemingly protected from the virus. The open spaces and limited number of residents make Avon a likely place to move to when considering life post-COVID. For those who reported living and working in Avon, life seemed to become better because of moving there. This could be due to the added benefit of being able to afford your lifestyle and being offered space where you live. Incidents with first responders was low and Blacks who live in Avon did not feel like their children were isolated while attending schools. Overall Rating: 4.1.


[ COVER ]


[ COVER ] percent. For those living and working in the city, the response was little to nothing at all. Considering that, it could be a good thing or bad thing. It is difficult to tell if Aurora is a good place for Blacks to live. The report on first responders is low due to the lack of data collected and the schools seem to show no bias towards Blacks. But remember, there are so few Blacks living in Aurora that the reporting was non-existent.

If you consider Aurora a place to live, you will have to consider the fact that your family will experience all things Aurora alone. Bonding with other Blacks in the community will feel empty of anything of color. But this could also serve as an opportunity to be pioneers for others to move there. It will depend on you and your family. Overall Rating: 3.5.

AURORA The 5 largest ethnic groups in Aurora are: White (Non-Hispanic)

90.7 %

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

3.34%

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) White (Hispanic)

1.79%

Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

1.23%

2.75%

Zero percent of the households in Aurora speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and 97.2% of the residents are US citizens. Aurora is one of the smaller communities in Northeast Ohio with a population of just over 15,000. That number means that everything else is small, too. The percent of Blacks living in the community are 2.75 percent, with Asians making up 3.4

Harriet Tubman

38 MAY 2021 / CODE M


[ LIFE]] [ COVER

LAKEWOOD

administration and with teachers. Overall rating: 3.9.

The 5 largest ethnic groups in Lakewood are: White (Non-Hispanic)

83.4 %

Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) White (Hispanic)

4.19%

Two+ (Non-Hispanic)

3.34%

Asian (Non-Hispanic)

1.63%

5.86%

Zero percent of the households in Lakewood speak a nonEnglish language at home as their primary language, and 97.2% of the residents are US citizens.

Lakewood offers a decent place for Blacks to live. The community is diverse with people of color. Blacks and Hispanics make up the largest portions of minorities with Asians slightly represented. The community still feels like a walking community with stores and shops in proximity. Those living and working in Lakewood found the area offers a vibrant lifestyle if you are Black. Incidents with first responders was low and police profiling was reported to be either low or non-reported.

For the school system, Blacks reported that they felt like they were represented well, and they saw diversity in the

Northeast Ohio did well when comparing communities and places to live. Overall, the response on any community was judged to be a decent place to live depending on where you live. For the sake of this report, there was one community that stood out. We chose communities that had less than 15 percent Blacks in the community. Euclid has over 57 percent of the population being Black, but also reported to have the highest incident of biased policing in the community. This is a problem for Blacks. In 2021, you do not have to choose to live in a community where your safety is a concern, especially as concerns the police. ●

If you would like to submit feedback on the community you live in based on your experience, we would love to hear from you. Please submit your feedback to brad.bowling@codemediagroupllc.com, or you can comment on this article.

Black women are the backbone of American society.

CODE M / MAY 2021 39



[ LIFE ]

REIMAGING THE NARRATIVE

OF THE MODERN BLACK FATHER

Re-introducing the Black Father to society will take a hands-on approach by everyone to begin to shift the mindset that Men of Color deserve respect when it comes to parenting.

I

t has long been known that father presence in the household is important for the positive well-being of families, neighborhoods, and youth. Dads who actively participate in the lives of their families provide a steady source of stability and support. The consequences of such support impact a whole host of child developmental outcomes, including behavior, academics, and health. Involved fathers are also more likely to engage in positive parenting behaviors like academic intervention and constructive discipline. Promoting responsible fatherhood, then, should be the focus of institutions, as well as grassroots efforts in society. Involved fathers help create well-adjusted youth. What happens, though,

Written by Dr. Kenneth Braswell Kenneth Braswell is a husband and father of five, and the founder and CEO of Fathers Incorporated (FI). He is the author of When The Tear Won’t Fall: One Man’s Journey Through The Intimate Struggles of Manhood and Fatherhood.

when there are impediments to both the presence and participation of fathers in the lives of children, particularly Black fathers? Conservatives often address this question by contending that Black fathers are not adequately present and involved with their families. They push to create policies that encourage marriage among families as a way to foster child well-being and success, particularly with Black families. The success sequence, for example, suggests that individuals are most likely to avoid poverty and be successful if they finish their education, obtain full-time employment, marry, and then have children — in that order. The idea itself seems intuitive and positive. After CODE M / JUNE 2021 35


[ LIFE ] all, proponents contend, this ordering would create more stable and successful Black families. Critics, however, point out that the success sequence disregards the impediments that individual effort cannot always overcome. As Brian Alexander wrote in The Atlantic dated July 31, 2018, it “conveniently frames structural inequalities (i.e., high unemployment, lack of education, racial discrimination, etc.) as matters of individual choice.” This is why removing barriers to structural equality is equally important to the success of families — especially Black families.

Black fathers are more involved than Hispanic dads and share more responsibilities and generally co-parent better than white or Hispanic nonresidential fathers. Still, nonresidential Black fathers face myriad barriers toward being stable, consistent support for their children because of other systemic challenges conservatives often overlook. In our report, “The Blueprint—Reimagining the Narrative of the Black Father,” we outline those factors that are necessary for understanding the Black father, such as:

The economic challenges stemming from having lower rates of upward mobility and higher rates of downward mobility than whites, has led to large income disparities that persist across generations. These economic factors can substantially and negatively impact Black families in real time. When examining the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, many Black families found themselves vulnerable and unable to maintain their households with little-to-no liquid assets.

Differential educational outcomes are also a barrier to success for Black families. Black males, for example, still experience greater impediments to graduating from college and when they do, they are more likely to graduate from for-profit institutions with larger amounts of college debt.

Physical and mental health disparities are another factor rarely addressed as significant to the well-being of fathers (and therefore, families) of color. For example, Black men experience the worst health outcomes of any other demographic group, and at age 45, Black men have a life expectancy that is three years less than non-Hispanic white men.

Poor health is often symptomatic of poverty. Health, in turn, has an impact on sustained poverty. This cyclical relationship must be unpacked when identifying why poverty is predominantly the plight of certain marginalized people.

The share of Black children born to single mothers has more than tripled from about 24 percent in 1960 to nearly 70 percent in 2018, indicating that Black fathers are less likely to live in households with their children than fathers of other races. But it’s important to note the share of children in single-mother families among all races has risen dramatically since the 1960s. Moreover, we now know that among nonresidential fathers,

Finally, the media plays a large role in how Black fathers are viewed in society. There are many media myths that should be addressed and dispelled related to Blacks in general and Black dads in particular. For example, media reports or depictions often misrepresent Black fathers as “absentee” Black fathers have always had a major impact on the upbringing of their children.

56 JUN 2021 / CODE M


[ LIFE ] dads who abandon their children by connecting non-marital births with parental involvement. Research tells us, however, that many Black fathers are deeply engaged with their children, and physical separation is not always synonymous with lack of father involvement. According to sociologist Patricia Hill Collins, these “controlling images” shape people’s thinking about certain groups after being repeatedly exposed to negative representations. Left unchecked, they can make policy and lawmakers unsympathetic to the plight of Black dads. It is clear that Black children need their fathers. Although the protests in response to the killing of unarmed Black people have been peaceful, the looting and violence perpetuated by a few must be addressed. It was painful watching young people — Black and white — breaking into buildings and stealing merchandise. Those images remind us that for many of these youth, dads are likely not in the picture. Perhaps if more fathers were residential, they could speak to their children about how to appropriately channel anger and frustration at the same time they have “the talk” with them. “The Talk” is an important conversation Black parents

often have with their Black sons about how to deal with police when they are stopped so they can make it home safely after a night out with friends. Perhaps an increase in residential fathers would mean more dads are home to comfort their children at night when they are fearful that their older brothers or cousins might not make it home after a routine traffic stop. That is why promoting responsible fatherhood is more important now than ever. The world is demanding positive change, and Black fathers need to be at the helm. If Black fathers are lifted up, Black families will be stronger. But this necessary change will not happen if promoting “responsible fatherhood” is used to place blame on a group of people who are often “marked” by the time they are school-aged. Rather, it must mean that as America looks inwardly at how we can be a better nation, we seek to understand the full picture of what it means to be a Black father in America. It means to take into consideration what changes need to be made in society even as we work to build the character and resolve of Black men. It means affirming Black fathers and Black lives, in general. It means declaring that Black dads matter. ● Ellerbe, C. Z., Jones, J. B., & Carlson, M. J. (2018). “Race/Ethnic Differences in Nonresident Fathers' Involvement after a Non-Marital Birth.” Social Science Quarterly, 99(3), 1158–1182. https://doi.org/10.1111/ ssqu.12482 https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/02/18/racial-health-outcomes


[[ LIFE LIFE ]]

CELEBRATING PRIDE AND THE END OF ISOLATION Men of color face serious challenges by coming out in the LGTBQ community and celebrating life post COVID 19. Written by Ken Williams Jr. Ken Williams, Jr. has been an activist speaking out forcefully on Civil, LGBTQ, Women's and Human Rights for nearly his entire adult life. He's a Microsoft Education Specialist, as well as freelance marketing and graphic design consultant.

out of isolation. Gays frequently refer to their gay friends as “family.” This is how important sharing the company of their gay brothers and sisters is to them. For gay and bisexual Black men, the need to socialize within the gay community is often even more profound because of the broader cultural, economic, and societal pressures associated with being both a gay AND Black man in America. Now take into account the arrival of COVID-19. According to the latest CDC data, African Americans are nearly three times more likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die from contracting COVID-19 as white Americans. These health risks are magnified for both LGBTQ and African American populations individually and collectively. Knowing this, one can readily conclude the devastating effects the pandemic has had on men who are both Black and LGBTQ. Gay and bisexual Black men were already one of the nation’s most marginalized and disaffected groups before COVID-19 struck. After more than a year of global pandemic-induced social isolation, many of these men are experiencing an ongoing sense of loss, foreboding, depression, and even suicidal ideation. •

Coronavirus robbed them of the ability to socialize at the LGBTQ bars, clubs, restaurants and other venues where they felt welcome, safe, and could be their own true gay selves. Many spent over a year interacting only with their traditional straight families.

COVID even stole love and intimacy from the LGBTQ com-

M

ost humans tend to be social creatures who don’t do well in prolonged isolation. This is especially true for many of those who identify as LGBTQ. Even gay vernacular manifests this truth — coming “out of the closet” is coming

40 38 MAY JUNE2021 2021//CODE CODEM M


[ LIFE ] munity. Gay dating, or even just hooking up, is difficult enough for men of color. The pandemic shuttered venues where they could safely approach men like themselves. •

Younger gay and bisexual men of color, many of whom still live with their families, were cut off from the gay club scene, and LGBTQ friends, co-workers, and community. For many young Black men, COVID effectively wiped away their entire gay support structure.

For LGBTQ men of color who still find themselves experiencing debilitating anxiety, depression or considering suicide post-COVID, it is imperative they seek some form of mental healthcare. Whatever their financial circumstances, there are multiple subsidized, low-cost, even free, psychological support services available in many cities. •

Contact the local LGBTQ center for referrals. These centers can often point someone to therapists and support groups targeted specifically to LGBTQ persons or even those that cater directly to gay and bisexual men of color.

Those living outside a metropolitan area can take advantage of web-based therapy or on-line support groups.

Another active step is to rejoin the LGBTQ community by returning to gay bars and nightclubs, attending LGBTQ-themed theater performances and art exhibitions, or joining gay sports teams and social clubs. Go out with LGBTQ friends; ask someone on a date or find a fully vaccinated hook-up.

Older gay Black men, especially those living alone without a partner, sadly fared no better psychologically than their younger counterparts.

For over a year, COVID-19 essentially cheated many LGBTQ men of nearly everything that defines them as gay and bisexual Black men. Many of the LGBTQ venues that survived the economic devastation of the COVID crisis are beginning to reopen. Regrettably however, the usual Pride Parades and massive gay parties still won’t happen. Such events are often the only two or three days out of the year gay Black men risk being their true, complete, unvarnished, gay selves. COVID-19 continues to rob them of that release, even as the pandemic draws to a close.

There’s one other thing gay Black men can do for them-

For gay and bisexual Black men, the need to socialize within the gay community is often even more profound because of the broader cultural, economic, and societal pressures associated with being both a gay AND Black man in America.

The chance to feel liberated and proud of who they truly are isn’t taken for granted by African Americans in general. And — it certainly isn’t taken for granted by gay and bisexual Black men — PRIDE is EVERYTHING! It’s simultaneously Mardi Gras, bacchanal, “family” reunion, protest, and Black LGBTQ bar mitzvah where they declare and celebrate their kind of manhood. Pride Month is the time many revel in themselves as Strong “GAY” Black Men.

However, the most important question remains, “How do gay and bisexual Black men emerge from over a year of forced isolation and return to their own new normal?” The answer may actually depend not only on themselves, but also on their would-be allies, especially straight Black male allies with whom they have so much else in common other than their sexuality.

selves, post-COVID, that may help psychologically more than anything else — COME OUT. The decision is a personal one and there are always risks. So, it’s essential they examine all the family, employment, and other potential impacts of doing so. However, LGBTQ Black men who remain closeted, are effectively dealing with two sets of COVID-19 stressors: 1) a year of social isolation, and 2) the inability to fully cast off the trauma of that isolation by wholly embracing the community most likely to support them. LGBTQ Black men, however, cannot fully heal from the impact of the COVID crisis on their own. They need heterosexual allies. Specifically, they need straight Black men to actively support them. It is long past time that the straight Black community, espeCODE M / JUNE 2021 39


[ LIFE ] cially Black men, actively support their gay brothers (and sisters) the same way LGBTQ people have been an integral part of the Black Civil Rights Movement since its inception. True allyship is about ACTIVELY trying to understand, support, and defend people who are different than you. It requires a heartfelt realization by African American men that an LGBTQ person’s right to live freely and openly as a gay, bisexual, or trans person is EQUALLY as essential as their own right to live freely and openly as a heterosexual Black man. TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF MEN

As a practical matter, real allyship means, casting off your own homophobia and preconceptions about gay men being sexually aggressive. Introduce yourself, talk to, and befriend LGBTQ people the same way you would anyone else. If you’re aware of associates, co-workers or family members who are or might be gay, make it known that you are

Gay Pride Month celebrates the experience of being LGBTQ.

42 MAY 2021 / CODE M

there as an ally if they need your support. The impact of COVID-19 isolation has been devastating for many LGBTQ African American men. Heterosexual Black male allies can do much to help their gay and bisexual Black brethren post-COVID. And, of course, there is much LGBTQ Black men can do to help themselves. As Pride month launches, that is something of which we can ALL be proud — HAPPY PRIDE MONTH! ●


[ LIFE ]

SUBSCRIBE AD

CODE M / MAY 2021 43


EDUCATION

REBUILDING TRUST WITH BLACK STUDENTS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES POST COVID-19 Black students today face the challenge of school, protesting, and becoming leaders of the next generation. Written by Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackon Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson is a globally recognized organizational scientist, leadership strategist, entrepreneur, university professor, award-winning author, and a higher education executive.

The disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the public murders of Black citizens at the hands of law enforcement that have transpired over the last 18 months have put the treatment of Blacks in

42 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

America center stage across the globe. Not to suggest that the US was winning awards for its treatment of Blacks prior to that, but rather it seemed the last breath of George Floyd helped some understand for the first time the depth of racial inequality in our country and its impact. This increased awareness has been accompanied by a heightened understanding and increased expectations that the organizational treatment of Blacks must be improved moving forward as a country. The corporate sector has taken some steps to assume a different posture, establishing new relationships with the Black community and recommitting to

those previously held. It is now time for higher education (e.g., colleges and universities) to step up to the batter’s box and enact meaningful change for the Black community. Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics show that prior to the pandemic, the proportion of Black students nationwide who graduated on time from high school had risen to 79 percent in 2017-18 from 66 percent in 2009-10. In contrast, the enrollment of Blacks in higher education peaked in 2010 to 15.1 percent and has slowly declined since. Problematically, the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated this decline.


[ EDUCATION ]

Consider findings from a recent study using data from the National Survey of Student Engagement that shows Black undergraduates consistently stated they trusted campus leadership and societal leaders overall less than their White counterparts — a finding the researchers have named the racial trust gap. Campus leadership — presidents, provosts, and deans — were the least trusted by Black students, with the level of distrust nearly three times greater than their White peers.

Black enrollment has been declining significantly since the onset of COVID19. Two-year institutions, one of two subsets of higher education institutions that typically enroll the largest number of Black students, have experienced huge declines in enrollment of between 15 and 19 percent. Overall, undergraduate enrollment of Black men decreased 14 percent in Spring 2021 and ten percent for Black women. Problematically, Black enrollment at for-profit institutions experienced a 4 percent increase during the pandemic. While for-profit institutions typically enroll a large number of Black

students, they have a welldocumented history of predatory practices and mistreatment towards Black students. These declines in enrollment are a direct result of the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Black community, but also reflect a further deterioration of Black trust in organizations. The troubling, warped universe we currently live in has posed questions of who and what we can trust as Blacks in America. The level of trust in leaders of institutions of higher education has significantly declined, especially so for Black students.

As campus leadership prepares to welcome back faculty, staff and students to campus, it is clear there is much work to do to gain the trust of the Black community. Campus leaders would be wise to follow proven steps to build trust and remedy the significantly fractured relationship with the Black community: Be True to Your Word – Truly honor the espoused commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion often captured in a strategic diversity plan. Words devoid of actions have led to the current racial climate. Communicate Effectively – If the recognition of Black excellence is an institutional priority, it should be effectively shared as an institutional priority across all communication channels by campus leadership. Build Trust Gradually – Establish an acCODE M / JUNE 2021 43


[ EDUCATION ]

tion plan with three, six, and twelvemonth benchmarks detailing step-bystep how campus leadership will earn the trust of the Black community.

Do What You Believe is Right – If you truly value diversity as a central tenet of excellence, then a vocal donor base or political affiliations should not disturb the integrity in your decision making.

Make Decisions Carefully – Campus leadership must carefully consider the impact their decisions, or lack thereof, have on Blacks on campus.

Admit Mistakes – Even the most highly skilled will make mistakes, so the expectation is to own them, not hide them.

Be Consistent – Show consistency in valuing Black excellence — from considering student applications to hiring senior campus leadership. Be Honest – Honesty is a core tenet of trust. Dishonesty only takes you back to square one.

44 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

If our country is truly committed to racial equality, it starts with reforming our educational institutions and earning the trust of our Black students. As college leaders takes steps to understand and establish what the new normal will be as we prepare for Fall 2021, it is an opportune moment to fully integrate the

recognition of Black excellence in those plans. Classrooms, research laboratories, student council, and campus life would be greatly enriched by the increased presence of Black students, faculty, and staff.

www.nscresearchcenter.org

www.brookings.edu


[ LIFE ]

CODE M / MAY 2021 47


FASHION LONDON ROYCE CRICKET: BROTHERLY LOVE “At first glance now, no one would ever guess with how my life started that I’d end up the man I am today. I’m like a transformer. There’s more than meets the eye.” Marcelle Love

Written by ANTHONY KIRBY Anthony Kirby is the Fashion Editor for CODE M Magazine and has spent over 30 years in the fashion industry. Kirby lives in Philadelphia where he owns a clothier in the city.

D

id you ever hear the backstory of the cricket collection designer Marcelle Love? No, he’s a Black triplet born in Brooklyn, NY. He has an identical twin brother and the third is fraternal. Marcelle was the first born, so technically that makes him the oldest. He was considered the “big brother” and wanted to set an example for his brothers. It was during his growing years in Brooklyn in the late ‘70s early ‘80s that he faced those life challenges we so often hear about with our young Black men. He was pre-school aged; Marcelle and his brothers were abandoned by their mother — literally dropped off at daycare and she never came back for her sons. They ended up in the NYC foster care system with an abusive foster parent. They were brought to the Leake and Watts

46 JUNE 2021 / CODE M

Children’s Home in Yonkers, NY. At the age of five, Marcelle was given his life narrative, which was, “By the age of 30, you’ll be in jail or dead.” Marcelle didn’t accept his life sentence. He instead decided early on to do anything and everything to not be defined by “Black male statistics.” It was his late Aunt Alberta Love-George and Uncle Tim who took the triplets in and raised them alongside their three cousins in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. They were known in the neighborhood as the “Love Brothers.” We fast forward to the time Marcelle was 30-years old. He had built a successful career as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer,


[ FASHION ]

a rewarding job that took him around the world to six continents. This was just the beginning of his journey. That journey started back in middle school where Marcelle and his twin brother Marlon were sent to DC to live with another relative. In school, Marcelle had to decide on an elective in Home Economics of either cooking or sewing. The cooking class was full. So, reluctantly, he enrolled in the sewing class. He discovered a hidden talent. His first-class project was a denim bag with drawstrings and monogrammed with his initials. His teacher took note of his talent and entered his work in a contest. He took first place. At the advisement of his teacher, he enrolled at Bell Multi-Cultural High School in NW Washington, DC to take up fashion design and clothing construction. Here, he excelled in his newfound talent to become a National Honor Society student and the president of Home Makers of America, Class Vice President and a varsity football player. Marcelle, working as a federal law enforcement officer, was on the road to having a successful career in which he could retire comfortably after 25 years of service. But not so fast! It was his Aunt Alberta who gave him the inspiration of establishing a business. His aunt was a serial entrepreneur owning a beauty salon, car wash, and funeral home. She began his education of building generational wealth through ownership by setting the example. His passion for fashion has never been lost. His first foray into men’s fashion was designing a handmade neckwear produced in

Italy. This was short-lived due to the dress-down culture in menswear, so he turned to his Brooklyn roots for inspiration. It was the food and music of the West Indian culture in his community that inspired his next fashion idea. What captured his attention in that culture was their primary sport: Cricket, an international sport that’s been in existence since 1844. Marcelle had a fascination for the sport through a dedicated cable channel that ignited his passion in the game. Cricket is ranked #2 in the world of team sports. Marcelle saw an untapped market opportunity. He shared his vision with his wife and business partner, Tara, who thought he was insane. She’s quoted as saying, “Cricket? Doesn’t it take like 5 days to play a game?” But once she realized how popular the game was, she was on board. Shortly thereafter, London Royce Cricket brand was established in 2017 and launched online in February of 2020. “It became my COVID-19 passion project. The brand name London Royce was chosen first because Cricket originated in England and secondly because London is the epicenter of fashion history. The name Royce came from the renowned British luxury automaker Rolls-Royce; one of the most iconic brands in the world,” Marcelle explained. Like Polo Ralph Lauren, who took an international sport and created a lifestyle brand, Cricket is a bit of an unknown game to the average American. It has a certain CODE M / JUNE 2021 47


[ FASHION ] mystique that makes it an attractive conduit for fashion trends. The Cricket collection consists of styles for both men and women. The catch phrase for London Royce is, “We’re In. They’re out”, which originates from cricket parlance. The brand is fun, exciting, and colorful. It’s accessible because cricket is more than a sport. It’s a lifestyle. Marcelle states, “The signature pieces making up the brand are our graphic, crewneck t-shirts with a classic baseball-style font. It was our first and most popular design. Tee’s, tank-tops, and hoodies round out the collection. Our

trademark batsman logo caps that include cricket scoring numbers are a must have when viewing or attending a cricket match.” Marcelle is currently expanding London Royce Cricket into other classifications like classic cricket sweaters and polo sweaters. Shoes, leather goods, and fragrances are not too far off in the future. The brand has already been pursued by cricket enthusiasts to become brand ambassadors. Marcelle is also looking at licensing the London Royce Cricket brand name and becoming an official outfitter for the ICC World Cup or Olympics. So, this is the story of Marcelle Love. Over the years, he’s learned to never let the difficulties of his past define his future. “Through God’s grace, I never let the challenges of my youth extinguish the promise of greatness within me. Never let life’s detours be a deterrence — embrace them, learn from them, and there’s no limit to what you can achieve if you put your mind to it and work hard.”

Marcelle Love, the owner of London Royce.

London Royce offers clothes for men and women.

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HEALTH

CODE M / MAY 2021 61


[ LIFE ]

MAN CODES: “

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”- Umberto Eco “A father’s tears and fears are unseen, his love is unexpressed, but his care and protection remains as a pillar of strength throughout our lives.” – Unknown

“A daughter needs a dad to be the standard against which she will judge all men.’ — Unknown. “The nature of impending fatherhood is that you are doing something that you’re unqualified to do, and then you become qualified while doing it.” –John Green

“There is no better teacher than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.” — Malcolm X “‘Father’ is the noblest title a man can be given. It is more than a biological role. It signifies a patriarch, a leader, an exemplar, a confidant, a teacher, a hero, a friend.” – Robert L. Backman

“Until you have a son of your own . . . you will never know the joy beyond joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and

“A boy needs a father to show him how to be in the world. He needs to be given swagger, taught how to read a map so that he can recognize the roads that lead to life and the paths that lead to death, how to know what love requires, and where to find steel in the heart when life makes demands on us that are greater than we think we can endure.” – Ian Morgan Cron “The reason why daughters love their dad the most is that there is at least one man in the world who will never hurt her.” — Unknown

Author of The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

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QUOTES BY MEN OF DISTINCTION Compiled by Bilal S. Akram

hopeful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be.” –Kent Nerburn “5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6: 5-7 KJV)


[ EDUCATION ]

CODE M / FEBRUARY 2021 33


OPINION THE GOOD FATHER In the absence of my father, I became someone I hate. In the absence of my father, I steered ‘way from positive fate. by Lena Fields-Arnold

I

’ll never forget that moment …

I was nine years old and running for what felt like my life. He was after me. He, being the boy who I’d be destined to fight over and over again for the next several years. I ran to my front door excited because my father was looking at me from the other side. He would protect me. I grabbed for the handle fully expecting it to swing open only to find it was locked! My father looked at me from the other side and said, “Get back out there and fight!” So that’s what I did.

For years afterwards I would tell the story, spinning it into a positive light. “My dad was teaching me to fend for myself,” I’d say. “He was teaching me to stand up to bullies and take care of myself.” It wasn’t until I had my own daughter that I realized my dad got it wrong. And it was only the beginning of the things he’d get wrong when raising his children. You see, now that my daughter was being raised by a good dad, I finally understood that what my dad had really taught me and also that boy was that I couldn’t depend on my own father to protect me. So that boy kept on bullying me for years. Sure, I fought back, and sometimes I’d win, and sometimes he’d win, but the constant battles made me fearful, angry, and insecure. A father is supposed to protect his child from hostile people intent on hurting them. My husband would never have watched from the other side of the screen while some boy beat up his little girl. Despite what current culture would have us to believe, there

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are distinct differences between men and women, and these differences should be celebrated, not denigrated. One of those differences is masculinity brought on by the presence of testosterone. God designed men to be bigger, faster, and stronger than women for a reason. One of the most basic, fundamental reasons for this is protection. James B. Stenson, author of the book Father, the Family Protector, put it this way “How does a man act to protect his wife and children? Let’s approach this question by first examining a man’s masculinity, the distinctive character of any normal adult male. Men are different from women. They are wired differently, think differently. They have instincts and attitudes and physical strengths that empower them for tough-minded, sacrificial service to those people who count most in their lives, starting with their families.” In short, fathers protect. They protect their families by supervision; by provision of food, shelter, clothing; by keeping his family safe from people and forces that threaten. His very presence provides a sense of security and serves as a deterrent to potential evildoers and ne’er do wells. In the absence of my father, I listened to deceitful voices. In the absence of my father, I made all the wrong choices.


[ OPINION ] What is a man to do when he is constantly told he isn’t needed? They do what this one did In 2009, I was watching an episode of a popular daytime talk show. It was about men who didn’t take care of their children. Yet another “male bashing show” but it was insightful, and it led to me writing the book In the Absence of My Father. In the final half hour of the show, four more guests took the stage. A son, his mom, his ex-girlfriend, and one of his children. The purpose — shame him into taking care of his parental duties. The women were crying and begging him to be a father to his children, to be present in their lives, and to meet his financial obligations. Nothing the host or the women said was working. The son finally turned and looked at his teary-eyed mom and said, “I don’t know what you are crying for. It’s your fault I’m this way. You are the one who taught me that I wasn’t needed or important. You are the one who always said, ‘I don’t need a man for nothing! I can take care of my own kids. A man can’t do nothing for me. I don’t even need a man for sex, I got tools for that!’” Then he turned to the host and said, “My kids don’t need me. I turned out fine and they will, too.” Why many men think they don’t matter. Muhammed Nasser Bey, writing for the book In Search of Fatherhood–Transcending Boundaries: International Conversations on Fatherhood, talks about some of the reasons why men think they don’t matter, especially in the Black community. According to Bey, men have been bombarded with mainstream messaging that they are “no good” and useless. “We live in a throw-away society,” Bey writes. “It is little wonder that one day people would begin to suggest that fathers are not needed.” So, men doubt themselves and they doubt their value and their significance. “We have begun to believe the lies about ourselves to the point where we as fathers are not certain we can make a difference sometimes,” said Bey. “We have been told by women, by instant experts on television, in magazines, on the Internet, that women don’t need men and that children should be allowed to express themselves instead of disciplined.” In the absence of that guided hand, in the absence of his words of praise: I wandered through foreign lands and fell ill to myriad malaise.

In the absence of my father, I lost my way, though hard my mother prayed. In the absence of my father my maturity was delayed. I wrote the book In the Absence of My Father for this very reason. I wanted to dispel this horrible propaganda and remind fathers of how necessary and important they are. When they are around for good, wonderful things happen in their families and in the lives of their children, but when they aren’t around, or if they’re bad, what a devastating impact that neglect and absenteeism have in the lives of their children. Why Fathers Matter. So, my father, the man who up to that point had been my hero, in that pivotal moment had failed to protect me. Over the years he would also fail his entire family. He would fail to supervise us, to provide for us, to shelter us, to clothe us, and by his ultimate absenteeism would fail to keep us safe from people and forces and that would harm us. We lost our sense of safety and security and the results, were devastating. In the absence of my father, I became a stagnant player. In the absence of his calming voice, I evolved into a depressing naysayer. CODE M / JUNE 2021 53


[ OPINION ] Blogger Julie Baumgardner, writing for the non-profit organization First Things First, cites Dr. Warren Farrell in her piece titled “Why Fathers Matter.” Farrell is the author of Father and Child Reunion and he spent over ten years analyzing worldwide research on fatherhood. Some of Farrells findings include:

ing herself, because instead of him holding the bottle she was holding it. I said, “Why is she holding that bottle? She’s too little for that!” His response was, “She doesn’t know that.” It would be like this many times as he encouraged their independence while I cringed in the shadows thinking, “They are not ready for that!” In the absence of my father, life was difficult because: In the absence of my father, I never learned to truly love.

A father’s impact starts at birth.

Fathers teach children to have empathy … because teaching children to take boundaries seriously teaches them to respect the needs and rights of others.

Fathers teach the value of hard work.

Children with fathers present in the home do better academically, especially in math and science and living without a dad doubled a child’s chance of dropping out of school.

When fathers are present, children have better mental health, are more likely to get along well with other children, sleep well at night, be trusting of others, and are less likely to be aggressive or participate in risky behavior.

In the absence of someone to believe in, evil works seeped into my brain.

Whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, when men meet their obligations to the family there are great rewards, not only for the family, but for communities, and for the world. Contrary to what messages the world may have sent; men are necessary, they are important, they are valuable, and they matter! When a good dad is loving, protective and self-sacrificing, he teaches his kids how to love. When he surrounds them with care and provides for their basic needs, he makes his kids feel secure. When he respects their mom and treats her with dignity and respect, he teaches them how to treat their future partner. When a man lovingly and tenderly cares for his children, he teaches his sons that it’s okay to be loving and tender and that being loving and tender in no way diminishes his masculinity. When he is present, his kids are not afraid to give and receive love. Good fathers make their communities better and we all know that strong communities make the world a better place. The good father loves perfectly as God casting out fear… ●

In the absence of my father, I could not erase their malevolent stain. The facts of Farrell’s findings are corroborated by The National Center for Health Statistics:

• •

A child living with his/her divorced mother, compared to a child living with both parents, is 375 percent more likely to need professional treatment for emotional or behavioral problems,

So, for every father within the sound of my voice To every father who made the elective choice To man up and accept responsibility Who anted up, operating unselfishly

Ninety percent of homeless or runaway children are from fatherless homes, and

I salute you today and forevermore

Most gang members come from mother-only households.

A noble, braver than any rank at roundtable

Divorce and/or a single parent household may be unavoidable, but experts agree that unless there are serious safety concerns, children should be able to spend equal amounts of time with both parents. “Children clearly pay a price when their fathers walk away or mothers keep dads away,” said Farrell. In the absence of my father’s optimistic words of affirmation: I lived in a constant state of self-hate and degradation. Fathers also encourage independence and self-sufficiency, but in positive ways. In a Focus on the Family article titled “The Significance of a Father’s Influence,” the author discusses how dads encourage risk taking, competition, and independence. When our first born was three months old, I remember walking in on my husband feeding her. Well, to my shock and dismay she was f eed-

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Knight you as you have never been before

Unwavering in commitment, steady, secure, and stable You true trench heroes paternal Partakers of this ceremony informal Who viewing words written on impersonal parchment Deserve more than cursory acknowledgement For you serve for far more nobler reasons than patriotism, revenge, or righteousness You simply serve because you love What could ever be more splendid than that? Excerpted from The Good Father by Lena Fields-Arnold



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