Imagine you find yourself inside the main hall of an enormous convention center. As you give a full 360 degree scan of the room, you see a sea of beaming Black and Brown faces smiling in unified joy, Black and Brown hands clapping in celebration and Black and Brown voices shouting in euphoria.
What I have come to learn as a man is that there never has been a prototype for manhood or masculinity, contrary to popular belief, a belief rooted in heteronormativity. As a straight Black man in today’s world, I have even more of a responsibility to disrupt the dangerous limitations of toxic masculinity because of the privileges bestowed upon me. If we truly care about Black Boy Joy, straight Black men must do the necessary work to ensure future generations of our boys don’t get stuffed into that same box we were told as children was the only way we could exist. Sadly, too many of us eventually became men failing to live in our full authenticity. This helps to explain in part the fragility of the male ego because when you are denied the opportunity to be your full self, you become jealous when witnessing someone like a Billy Porter who lives boldly in his whole truth.
While data only tell one part of the story and we know that many BYMOC do have caring, committed adults in their lives, it is worthwhile to note that many do not have access to a vibrant web of intentional guidance and support at an age when their adult identities, experiences, and skills are developing. Thus, many BYMOC face an uncertain transition to adulthood. Mentoring can be one of their pathways to success, helping them successfully navigate the transition from school to work and from childhood to adulthood.