A Great Day in Harlem

A Great Day in Harlem contributor Slim Jackson describes his experience at our MANIFEST inaugural event

by Slim Jackson, July 23, 2012

A Great Day in Harlem

cleaners knowing it'd be the last time I'd see him wear it. I think about the welling tears, the stutters in my heart, and the rumbling in my stomach. They're as real now as they were then. I understood the situation, but I couldn't grasp the meaning. The circle of life had come full circle, but I just couldn't close the loop. And at the time, it wasn't my place. Not then. It wasn't my time to think. It was my time to provide support.

It took me years to realize the significance. But when I did, the potency of his passing landed on me like an anvil. I had become a man. I realized what separated boys from men. Men take care of their families. I took care of mine.

The discussion at B. Braxton went on to tackle a wide range of topics that we typically save for our therapists and closest friends. It was tough for me at times. Not because I was scared to share my voice, but because I had so many thoughts running through my head. I found myself wanting to speak, but felt so privileged to just listen. To hear the stories of men, heterosexual, homosexual, with kids and without, married and single, talk about how their upbringings influenced their lives.

I grew in my barbershop chair. I became more of a man than I ever could've expected. I found myself cherishing my experiences and accepting the things I'd denied for so many years. And I reflect on this experience feeling thankful, not only for my circumstances, but for the chance to talk with brothers who didn't know they were teaching me about myself.

As I sit here writing this article, all I can think about are my kids to be and my future family. I'm thinking about the message I'll share with them, and the hope I'll have that they live life on their own terms while internalizing my words. One day I'll be a father. And if I have one, one day my son will be a man.

Thank you  for helping me grow.

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