September 24 The Mask You Live In

“We’ve begun to raise our daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”

This is a thought-provoking, conversation-provoking film that attempts to tackle the messages that our boys and men receive about being men. “Man up” is a common enough phrase that I don’t have to explain what it means here. I watched this movie having no idea that the setting would be my old neighborhood in Oakland, California and the high school that I was slated to attend, Fremont High School, but didn’t – because my brother was nearly shot there.

I watched this film with my youngest son and there was some very lengthy and thoughtful discussion afterward. This is such an enormous topic that we will need to revisit this again and again to really get to the meat of the issue. I thought the movie was great in the sense that it gave me points for discussion with the goal of one day understanding the men in my life. My son thought it fell short. He didn’t think the film moved in the direction of a solution, just an illumination of the issue. I would argue that the work being done by the teacher at Fremont High School, Ashanti Branch, was definitely one solution. Dr. Marshall, from Street Soldiers, was also in the film but his work with Street Soldiers was not highlighted. I am familiar with his work and recognized his voice (from the radio). He has been working with young men and women in the Bay Area since the 90’s. I disagree with my son that there were no solutions. I think what he may have been feeling is that there has been no solution that has impacted him as a young man. This was my food for thought.

My son is getting mixed messages of what it means to be a man. His guidance is limited, his experience is nil. I have taken to heart that my son needs more guidance than what has been previously provided to him and more understanding of the issues that he faces and will face as he continues to grow. He needs to talk and listen. Offer up his own solutions and be willing to take some that are new to him.

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