02/06/2019 16:30 EST | Updated 02/06/2019 18:53 EST

What Does Black Masculinity Look Like? There Are Many Answers.

We need to talk about Black men in a meaningful, fulsome way.

Listen: David Lewis-Peart reflects on the need for a conversation about Black men. Music: Driftnote. Audio editing: Omar Rivero. Audiograms: Al Donato.

In process. Ever-changing. Vulnerable. Sensitive. Confusing. Loaded. Beautiful. Evasive.


Fragile. Diverse. Dynamic. Persecuted. Constrained. And, misunderstood.

These are just some of the responses I received when I asked the not-so-simple question: What is Black masculinity?

My name is David Lewis-Peart, and nearly a year ago, I was invited to write a short article for HuffPost Canada about this very topic.

The plan was, I would speak to a small group of men in the Black community from across a spectrum of experience, and write up a tidy summation. Well, a couple interviews gradually became 12, and what began as an assumedly easy dive became a rather deep one fairly quickly. A year later, here we are.

We need to talk about masculinity, and how it's experienced by Black men, in a fulsome way. For me, this exploration is not an impersonal one. As a queer Black man, I too have been sitting with these same questions recently, and how my own notions of Blackness and manhood, both conscious and unconscious, find life in myself, my work and my world — in both helpful and not-so helpful ways.

Courtesy David Lewis-Peart
David Lewis-Peart, third from right, at a screening of the documentary, "Black Men Loving," which he co-produced with Omar Rivero and Jahsai Ashley.

I also see how this fuller conversation requires room for nuance and complexity, candour and care, and of course, work — more work than sensational headlines and siloed and reactive commentary on social media can provide.

So, to continue the conversation, in this four-part series for HuffPost Canada, we'll hear from a number of Black men on what masculinity means to them, what they have learned or are in the process of unlearning, and how Black manhood reimagined has presented itself in their lives and work.

Part I:

Provided/HuffPost Canada
From left: Brandon Hay, Travoy Deer and Jah Grey.

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