The Black Man's Guide to Life

The Black Man's Guide to Life

Righteous Black manhood’s a tough act with incredible dialogue. There are rules to this 'ish. We wrote you a manual...

by Keith Reed, October 21, 2013

The Black Man's Guide to Life

A righteous Black man ain't perfect, but he does his best.

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There ain’t nothing like being a righteous Black man. Not just Black by accident of birth, pigmentation and gender-assigning chromosomes. A righteous Black man—unapologetically confident about defining Blackness for himself and never ashamed to claim it in mixed company. He’s OK with knowing that Black maleness is both hard work and a dangerous occupation in America. Black manhood knows struggle from birth to the campaign trail, public school to the Ivy League, from ashy to classy. It is also knows the triumph in getting’ over, bustin’ loose, and in becoming. It means that even as the rest of the world steals our flow, we can and will always just create the next new thing, because by the time the larger culture sees fit to co-opt our trend, we were already done with it anyway. On to the next.

Righteous Black manhood’s a tough act with incredible dialogue. There are rules to this 'ish. We wrote you a manual. Below is excerpted from “The Black Man’s Guide to Life,”  a comprehensive reference guide which appears in the November issue of EBONY—on newsstands now. Want more? Check each week for our new weekly column of the same name.

While there are many rules and lessons on the journey that is Black manhood,  we've identified 10 of the most important ones every brother must master. Peep game. 

1) Hit The Road, Jack

There’s only one way to become a man of the world. Listen, man: your lack of a passport is not the business. Neither is having an empty one. In fact, for the ultimate lesson in code switching, don’t just get out of your neighborhood; leave the country.  Nothing gets your grown-man card punched like venturing so far from home that you need a new language just to ask for toilet paper. It also informs you about the larger world in ways that staying close to home never can. The perspective you’ll gain from say, spending J’ouvert morning dancing through the streets of Port of Spain or a few nights in surprisingly modern Tripoli or touring museums in Paris just can’t be rivaled in familiar environs. Kiratiana Freelon, author of Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Black Paris, says travel brings other advantages: “If you look at any travel group, anywhere, it’s always 70 to 80 percent Black women and 20 percent Black men. I don’t know what the reason is for that, but I know it’d be different if you saw how the women react when they do see Black men traveling in their circles.”

For a distinctly Black male perspective on being a world traveler, follow these guys on Twitter: Intl Swagger (@intlswagger), Brian E. Peters (@brianepeters) and Mario Travels (@mariotravels). 

2) Cash Rules

Every man needs to keep his money on his mind. There won’t be any weekend jaunts to St. Tropez if the money’s funny. Staying on top of your finances is what makes everything else around you tick; after all, what’s the point of working every day with nothing to show for it? Although a Pew Research study stated that as many as 40 percent of mothers are now the breadwinners in their households, that doesn’t mean men or women have let go of the idea that we need to be able to hold our own at the bank to be worth our salt. Put another way: A fringe benefit of making sure your financial house is in order is that it gives you a leg up with ladies who are interested in working with a brother to build something for the future. But whether you’re single or partnered, you need to know how to budget, save and invest. Tips on how to get your financial house in order can be found in the November issue of EBONY.

3) Stay Down With Your Boys

Keeping the posse together can deceptively feel easier than ever in the social media age. But status updates can never substitute for seeing your homeys in the flesh. You often need eye contact over a frosty brew to tell what’s really going on with the old crew. Everybody’s schedule gets hectic once job promotions take place, girlfriends become wives and kids start running around. But take the time once a month to regroup with at least one of your closest homeboys who knows you like family. You’re more than just Daddy or a husband, and your social life shouldn’t have an age expiration date. Remember, these guys knew you when.

4) Handle Workplace Racism

You’re not crazy: That off-color quip about Black folks at the morning meeting really was insensitive, even if everyone else laughed at it. And the isolation you feel from your co-workers isn’t imagined; it really is a slog to grind it out daily where you’re in the social and cultural minority. Your Spidey

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