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A SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT TO THE HARTFORD NEWS

The Hartford Urban Man Demystified You see them getting off the bus, on skateboards, walking their dogs, jogging, cycling driving their sleek cars about town; single men 21-40 yrs old living and working in the City of Hartford. A demographic that has not been given proper credit for adding to the vibrancy and life of a city. I was wondering what was going on, as I myself had a personal concern as the mother of one of them. So I decided to find out more about them…simply by asking 100 of them what were their likes, their goals their dreams and off course what they wanted for the Holidays. I mean these urban men are working and doing their thing, but I was sure that during the Holidays they were givers. They gave gifts to their significant others, families and friends and I was almost sure; and it was just a hunch that many had never been asked what they actually wanted in life, mind you what they wanted for the Holidays. The next couple of months really changed my perception and actually gave me hope in the future of these young adults that were trying to find their way in life. They gave me honest answers, they laughed, some were even embarrassed, and some were deep in thought. So here it is, the answers to The Hartford Urban Man Survey of 100 single men ages 21-40 living and working in the City of Hartford! Joyce Bolanos, Editor

Ask and You Will Receive My experience conducting the Urban Man Survey was a fantastic one. I’ve had prior experience conducting surveys however; the dynamic of these interviews were different, many shared more than the survey was required. As I talked and interviewed the urban man, they shared that this survey provoked their thinking about themselves and their lifestyle. Having a female not connected to them to ask these questions allowed them to be more open about their answers. The survey also provided them an opportunity to reflect about what they really like and wanted for their future. The men shared that being honest about their life was refreshing because they were not being judged and did not have to filter their answers. The men shared that the questions were provocative and actually took their life into account and it made them think more about the direction in life that they wanted to go to. Many also shared that there should be more avenues of these type because it is needed in order for others to learn more about them. These men have dreams and aspirations that they want to achieve. Several stated “there are many good, educated, honest and interesting Urban men that live work in the City of Hartford, and just have to ask more questions when you meet them.” Carmen Claudio, Associate Editor


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Special Section: The Urban Man

The Hartford News

December 6 – 13, 2012

THE URBAN MAN: EDUCATION

What Is Your Legacy By Felix Manuel Rodriguez

Growing up in the city of Waterbury, Connecticut I really didn’t have any positive male role models in my life. I grew up with seven siblings and a mother who barely spoke English. We were products of the welfare environment and we lived in a tough neighborhood where drugs, gangs and violence were rampant. At 13 years of age we moved to the public housing projects where selling drugs was the norm and getting into trouble became too common. I was a knucklehead. The negative influences were everywhere. On February 28, 1995 my life forever changed. I was 19 yearsold when my son, Felix Joeza “JoJo” was born. I barely knew how to shave let alone be a dad. However, I knew one thing I didn’t want to be like my dad. I wanted to be a part of my child’s life. As I nervously held my newborn son for the first time, I made a promise to him that I was going to be an engaged dad. Seventeen years and another child later, I am proud to share that I have kept my promise. I have two wonderful teenagers. JoJo is now 17 years-old and my daughter, Jalissa is 13. They both enjoy sports and each have their own special attributes. I am married to my high school sweetheart and while many people doubted our relationship when we were young, we proved them wrong. This past September we celebrated eleven years of marriage. Being an involved dad means a lot to me. In 2009, I published an award-winning children’s book entitled “DAD, ME, and MUHAMMAD ALI: A Father and Son Story.” The book is based on an incredible experience me and my son shared while meeting the Greatest of All Time,

Muhammad Ali in Harlem, New York. The book was featured at the Muhammad Ali Center in the boxer’s hometown of Louisville, KY. I dedicated the book to the nearly 25 million children growing up in father-absent homes. Too many of our inner-city kids are growing up without fathers in the home. They lack positive role-models. I am often invited to visit schools to speak with students, parents, staff and adults about the importance of education, fatherhood and Muhammad Ali. I enjoy meeting new friends and sharing my experiences both negative and positive. These experiences have made me the man I am today. When the book was first published I was invited to speak to an elementary school as part of their Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. During my conversation with over 200 young students it was quite loud and I believed there was no way that any of these kids really received the message. At the time, I was an appointed city Police Commissioner so immediately after the speech I handed the students Junior Police Badge stickers. The kids loved them because they would run around and act like little cops. It was cute and funny. As I continued to hand them out I felt a slight tug on my jacket. I thought maybe I forgot to give someone a sticker. As I turned around it was a 10year-old boy. He wanted to tell me that we have something in common. He told me that his last name was Rodriguez, too. I gave him a high-five and said, “Cool.” Unbeknownst to me the boy kept following me and he tugged on my jacket. When I again turned to him, the young boy said, “We have something else in common. I miss my dad, too. My dad was locked in prison when I was three.”  I placed my hand on his shoulder and told him to don’t let that be a reason or an excuse for failure. I told him to go after his dreams and don’t let anyone stop him from believing in himself. He had a wide smile and with glowing eyes he said, “I know.” I probably passed out two or three more stickers before I decided to leave. I was filled with emotions and I am not ashamed to admit I had tears in my eyes. Here is a young boy who doesn’t know me from a

hole in the wall and he felt comfortable enough to share that he misses his dad, too. Furthermore, while many of the kids were loud and speaking during my speech he quietly listened to my every word. He knew that I was a Rodriguez and he knew I missed my dad. Whenever I speak to incarcerated men, I share that story. I tell these men about this young boy, these big guys, these hardcore criminals, they are always in tears. I believe they are thinking about their sons outside. I could very well be talking about them. Unfortunately, there are too many young children like him who are growing up without a father in the home or even involved in their lives. As adults we need to better understand that we have a responsibility to help these young children become positive contributing members of society. I had the pleasure of interviewing Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz and when I asked him about education this is what he said, “…make education more important than looks or wealth in our community’s value system.” I couldn’t agree more with Díaz. We need to stress the importance of education to our children and youth. This past August I was appointed to the city of Waterbury Board of Education by Mayor Neil M. O’Leary. I was so honored and humbled by his belief and confidence in my abilities. This is an honor I take great pride in because I deeply

care about the future of our children…all children regardless of race, color, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Lastly, it is my hope that as the holiday’s approach we take the time to reflect and be grateful for all of the wonderful things we have in our life versus chasing the things we don’t have. Let us urban men and men everywhere stand up for our young boys and girls’ education. I know I want to leave a positive legacy for my children. I want my kids to do better than me and succeed further than I could have ever imagined. What is your legacy?

Felix Manuel Rodriguez is the author of the award-winning book DAD, ME, and MUHAMMAD ALI: A Father and Son Story. He currently works for the state of Connecticut Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division. Rodriguez also serves as a professional boxing inspector. Previously, he worked for the state Department of Children and Families as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner. He was recently appointed to serve on the Waterbury Board of Education. Rodriguez lives in Waterbury with his wife and two teenagers. He can be reached at dadmeandali @yahoo.com .


December 6 – 13, 2012

Special Section: The Urban Man

The Hartford News

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THE URBAN MAN: TO BE OR NOT TO BE MONOGAMOUS BOOK REVIEW

“This is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz By Lucila J. Santana, lucilajsantana@gmail.com

We’ll never understand a man until we get a detailed glimpse of his past. A man might cheat. Even if he is engaged, he could be sleeping with someone else. He may be a real sucio (dirty) and perhaps was trained to be a sucio before he even hits full puberty. There is a chance that he has justifiable reasons for acting the way he does continuously and being unable to get his act together. If we only knew everything he has gone through we might begin to understand him. Dominican born author, Junot Díaz, confirms these statements through a collection of shorts stories depicting Yunior, the main character in “This Is How You Lose Her.” Díaz transports us through a flavorful Spanglish journey into the life of Yunior and his numerous relationships. The novel illustrates the struggles of Yunior’s youth facing a mother who has obvious preferences over his dying brother, the cold machista father who left them and the many women he datedor just took to bed. His extensive array of women includes Magda who he cheats on with Cassandra. Just like the Spanish novelas, Cassandra sends Magda a letter with full, juicy details about the affair. Then there is Veronica, as well as Alma, who had a ‘big

Dominican’ derrière. He also sleeps with his neighbor Miss Lora, who is a teacher while he is in high school and they are together even though Yunior is in a relationship with Paloma. Eventually we learn about his perfect fiancé, who of course he also cheats on, with over 50 women. He had them of all types: younger, older, big hips, skinny, large breasts, you name it. Yunior cheats, breaks some hearts but also has his heart broken. As we read “This Is How You Lose Her,” we are stuck between disliking Yunior for being such a stereotypical Latino, yet laughing and sympathizing with him, especially when Díaz switches to first person transporting us into living Yunior’s life as if it was our own. Yunior migrated from the Dominican Republic with his family, as we learn in the story ‘Invierno.’ His father, a cheating man who eventually abandons

about Rafa, ‘Dude was figureando hard. Had always been a papi chulo so of course he dove right back into the grip of his old sucias, snuck them down into the basement whether my mother was home or not.’ Rafa dies of cancer at a very young age. The Pulitzer Prize recognized author of ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,’ writes in an appalling blunt manner. Although to some it may seem vulgar, it is refreshing to see him breaking down the walls of taboos. Yunior went from being a hopeless romantic as a teen to an accomplished cheating sucio as an adult. He tries to gets his act together but karma seemed to get a piece of him. Yunior confesses in his first story, ‘I’m not a bad guy. I’m like everybody else: weak, full of mistakes, but basically good.’ After growing up with a lunatic brother who slept with who he pleased and died, an absentee father, and a mother who favored Rafa no matter how bad he was, Yunior endure the circumstances and become a better man. He made poor choices, his inability to remain in a monogamous relationship made him lose what could have been the love of his life, but in the end leaves us with hope.

About the author:

them, came to New Jersey to work and then sent for Yunior, his mom and older brother Rafa. Rafa, a handsome young boxer, was a complete jerk until the day he died. He slept with more than half of the barrio, was rude to everyone, yet women (even the married ones) seemed to like it. As he writes

Junot Díaz is a professor of creative writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In real life, his nick name is Yunior, just like the character. He was born in Dominican Republic, grew up in New Jersey, moved to Boston and had a brother who died of cancer, among other similarities to the book’s main character. To learn more about him visit junotdiaz.com

What the Urban Man Likes Best about Hartford Nightlife

Science Center, Riverfront, Convention Center

The small locations in the downtown area

The urban landscaped diversity

Could be better but this is my home

Trinity College

It’s a cool city

Lots of West Indian culture

I like it to work only

The Diversity

The community churches

The different events

I love that it is my home

It is close to the airport

Green spaces

It is a powerful city

Something is always going on, it is exciting

Culture

Constitution Plaza

It is missing it’s heart

Always something to do

It’s people

The women

Family is here

Historic architecture, walkable

Bushnell Park It made me who I am Everything The people, its made me who I am

Bars and restaurants It is my home

I don’t know The different businesses

Hartford Hospital, made me a priority when I broke my arm City with a small town feel Hartford is alive NOTE: We compressed the list as many mentioned the same

The Urban Man: Survey Results 100% believe in Chivalry but with a 2012 twist... Prefers to be Monogamous..................................................67.5% Prefers to Play the Field.........................................................17.5% Torn between Monogamy and Playing the Field ...............15% Use of Prophylactics Say they use Condoms..........................................................62.5% Say sometimes they use Condoms........................................13% Do not use Condoms .............................................................24.5% What are they looking for in a partner? Sexy/Physical Attributes ...........................................................30% Personality....................................................................................15% Confidence...............................................................................12.5% Intelligence..................................................................................15% Ambitious .....................................................................................15% Loyalty/Honesty..........................................................................15% Outgoing/Funny.......................................................................17.5% Beauty/Elegance .....................................................................12.5% Don’t Know ..................................................................................10% Best Friend .....................................................................................5% Stability ......................................................................................17.5% Educated........................................................................................5% *Most men chose more than one attribute

The Urban Man and Technology Some things they can’t leave home without and we found out that it is their cell phones! 100% say they have cell phones 80% do not like to talk and prefer to text on the phone 20% like to talk on the phone

Favorite piece of Technology Cell phone .............................................48% Computer/Laptop ................................35% I Pad ........................................................5% TV/IPod/Stereo sytem .........................12%


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Special Section: The Urban Man

The Hartford News

December 6 – 13, 2012

THE URBAN MAN The Urban Man: Survey Results

Meet Hartford’s Urban Men 2012

Life, Goals And Barriers We described the “American Dream” as having a family, good job and a house with a white picket fence. We had a notion that this concept was outdated but we put it out there to see how outdated it was or if it had changed so here it is: 50% want the American Dream with the white picket fence 23% want the American Dream with no white picket fence 27% do not want the “American Dream” at all We asked them if they were positive or skeptic about their future. We found that 83% had a positive attitude towards the future and only 17% were cautiously skeptic. These Urban Men mentioned more than one challenge and/or barrier that they have to overcome to achieve their goals: Time..........................................43% Education ................................17% Finance ....................................40% Being an ex-offender............5%

Alexis

Colin

Randall

Mario

Michael

Daniel

Derrick

Chazz

Tempo

MAO

Tito

Anthony

Own attitude ...........................20% Immigration status ................2% Family Issues/Dysfunction ..5%

The Hartford Urban Man’s Wish List for 2012! • Tropical Island Vacation • 93”TV, BMW C Class and a Dog • A Day Off • Dodge Charge SRT 8 • A nice Holiday • Rosetta Stone Software • Samsung Note 2 • Be with Family and eat a ton of food! • Go home to Virginia • Stress free life • Good Health • Help others • Money & Loyalty • Shoes • Someone to love me for who I am • A Pardon for my background • A watch Diesel or Movado • Rims for my car • Pimped-out camera gear

• For my family to be in good health and prosperity • More World Peace seriously • That all servicemen in the military be taken care of • To see everyone happy and see family together • Nothing • To have my arm in good health • Spend more time with loved ones and create more memories to last me another year • A laptop for school • I want happiness, joy and peace • A new car • New I Pad • See my family • Clothes or electronics • To have one more day with my godmother that passed away

CONCLUSION Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask a person what they are all about so you can get to know them; and that is what we did through this survey. Perceptions are changed through understanding. We found that these men had specific consumer needs; goals, feelings and most had positive outlooks towards their future despite the barriers they mentioned they have to overcome. So next time you come across an “Urban Man”, greet him with respect and a smile because kindness can go along way to bring peace and understanding among our fellow men. Happy Holidays 2012! May your wishes come true Urban Men of Hartford! I want to thank all 100 of you

that took the survey. Hartford is a vibrant city because of you. Many thanks to our wonderful writers, Felix Manuel Rodriguez, and Lucila Santana. We know that through your writing you have inspired and changed many lives. To my dear friend Carmen Claudio, who helped with the surveys, get me organized and

stay focused! ¡Mil gracias! And to our awesome sponsors: we could not have done this without you!

THANK YOU! For the complete survey go to www.facebook.com/VivaHartfor dMedia


The Hartford Urban Man Holiday Edition 2012  

The Hartford Urban Man demystified and survey results. Hartford Urban Man demystified. What is your Legacy? article by Felix Manuel Rodrigu...

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