Not too long ago, SBM’s Mr. Spradley and I had the opportunity to attend EBONY’s MANIFEST event at Harlem’s BBraxton Grooming Salon. For those unfamiliar, MANIFEST is a multi-media series focused on Black men. Topics discussed include fatherhood, health, relationships, sexuality, spirituality and a few other heavy-hitters. It’s the epitome of urban male perspective.

In the room with us were educators, writers, activists, musicians and other thought leaders from the Black community. Each with a unique set of distinguishable talents. Each at a different check point in his walk of life. Each committed to the development of Black men and boys. All ready to provide candid answers to the questions that would be asked. It was dope.

Given that I spend five out of seven days with different shades, of which very few match my own, it was refreshing to be in such a positive atmosphere with my people. MANIFEST was also the most unique event geared toward men that I’ve been invited to. It’s not very often that I get to sit in a relaxed environment and carry on a serious discussion with my accomplished brethren — particularly on a Sunday morning.

EBONY captured our discussion on camera and released the first segment of it on Monday. You can view it here. They also published a reflective piece I wrote on my experience at the event. It was the easiest article I’ve written in some time. It’s like that when you feel moved.

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Anyway, you can check out the intro below and then head over to EBONY to read the rest. I promise you won’t be disappointed. And once you’ve done that and watched the video, I’d love to hear your thoughts — whatever they may be — in the comment section. Let’s make it a great day. –Slim

It’s a funny thing to be raised by both parents, go to a good school, get a few good jobs, then look back at the journey I’ve made over the years. And with all that I’ve accomplished, I can’t help but feel a little bit guilty. A little bit confused. A little bit like I haven’t maximized the opportunity that’s been given to me.

EBONY.com gave me the opportunity to attend the launch event for MANIFEST, a discussion amongst men about men and, in particular, fatherhood. There I was, the introverted guy I can be at times, sitting with a room full of extroverts clawing to express their lives, their ideals, and the philosophies that have guided them through time. And there I was, reflecting on everything I’ve been through and looking for the right words to express myself in front of cameras and a group of strangers.

I found myself sitting there and thinking about the last time I had such an intense conversation with Black men, and I couldn’t find anything to compare it to. I couldn’t find one example of where I felt so inspired, so introspective, so enlightened by the sound bytes of men that have existed in a timeline so different from my own. Every demographic of the Black man was represented at B Braxton’s. Every demographic of the Black man had given up his Sunday to engage in not only a real discussion, but an important one. To my left was Jermaine Spradley from Single Black Male, and to my right was David Lemieux, father of EBONY.com’s News and Lifestyle Editor Jamilah Lemieux (who I came to know in her “Sister Toldja” days). I remember making the connection to who he was and immediately thinking of how proud a man he must be to attend an event moderated by his daughter. I asked him about it and his response was simple:

Click here to read the rest of the article over at EBONY, and make sure you check out the video!