This past Wednesday March 25th, The Root and Prudential presented ManCODE in New York City. The Root, a site with over 6 million readers, is the top Black news site in the country. Held at the 404, this was a panel discussion about the challenges that Black men face in their communities, on issues of fatherhood and family, and navigating education and careers after college. Prudential, the co-sponsor of this event has affirmed its support of issues affecting Black men by committing 13 million dollars to President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.
Moderated by Kweli Washington, this discussion represented Black men of noted accomplishment in technology, social media, financial services, as well as the clergy. The panel was comprised of Navarrow Wright, the co-founder of Global Grind, Emery Snipes, the son of Eric Garner, Reverend Anthony L. Trufant, Rotimi, an actor from the TV show Power , and Benjamin E. Robinson III of Prudential.
This event started off discussing issues of fatherhood and family. Kweli addressed the panelist with the opening question of whether or not the narrative of the absentee Black father was fair or unfair. While noting that absentee Black fathers are highlighted in mainstream media, the panel gave a balanced assessment of some of the issues surrounding the matter. Navarrow spoke of environmental constraints on some Black men, while Rev. Trufant gave his view referencing the anger he sees in churches on Father’s Day.
The issue of accountability was ever present in the evenings discussion. Some people believe that positive images in of themselves can play a role in turning things around in the community. Speaking of the impetus for change, Navarrow Wright maintained that the media cannot do it. He also said that change has to be incremental, adding that we must start with our circles. “We destroy our help mate,” said Navarrow in reference to the damage that Black men can have on Black women.
Towards the end of the event, the panelists were asked about the issue of legacy, and what that meant to them. Rev. Trufant chimed in with a holistic approach, opining that the goal is to become a person who contributes to the common good.
Between the panelists giving their views on the state of Black men, and the Q&A commentary, there was a lot to take away from this event. From navigating the realities of the job market, to motivating young Black men to become tech entrepreneurs, the approaches toward success are varied. This discussion dealt with topics that need to be hashed out. The manCODE events are scheduled to hit other cities in the near future.