The Uncommon Man

October 14, 2008

Barack & Curtis: Manhood Power and Respect

A short documentary by Byron Hurt examining the contrasting styles of manhood exhibited by Barack Obama and Rapper/Mogul Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent.

Director's Statement from Byron Hurt

September 16, 2008

I am proud to be a part of the Black Masculinity Project, a project of the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). Like many other filmmakers who applied for this, I was required to submit to them three ideas for a short documentary (10 minutes or less) that examined various aspects of black masculinity. Of the three ideas I had, NBPC chose the one that was actually a last minute idea.

The idea for Barack & Curtis came to me the night before NBPC's deadline. I conceived the short doc just as Barack Obama was emerging as a presidential front-runner. I thought, "Why not create a short doc that discussed Barack Obama's masculinity in a way I had not yet seen." I wanted to make something that was topical, clever, fresh, unique, and off the beaten path. A political junkie, I was intrigued by Obama's rise to political rock stardom. The more I watched Obama stumping on the campaign trail, the more I found his cool presentation of manhood interesting and refreshing. On the surface, Obama's manhood appeared to be the polar opposite of the stereotypical images of black masculinity we've come to expect from hip-hop and popular culture.

When I tell people about Barack & Curtis, most people's first reaction is laughter. Or, they'll say, "I know who Barack is, but who's Curtis?" After I explain who "Curtis" is and what the piece is about, people generally say, "Wow, now that sounds interesting. I can't wait to see it!"

"Curtis" is rapper/mogul Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Why would I compare/contrast the masculinity of Barack Obama, an "upstanding" statesman-like presidential candidate, with 50 Cent, a "lowly" gangsta rapper, right? Well, because Barack Obama is THE MAN right now, who is shattering so many myths about black masculinity, and because 50 Cent, who was just named Forbes Magazine's top-earning rapper, currently embodies gangsta hip-hop masculinity like no other. Both are successful Black men. Both are rock stars. Both are admired and feared. I thought that juxtaposing the two in a short doc would make for historic level conversations.

I'm very happy with the final product, but I have to admit, I wish I could have made a much longer piece. I interviewed a lot of heavyweights who really know politics, gender, and hip-hop. Unfortunately, because the online piece had to be limited to 9 minutes and 58 seconds, I couldn't include them all. The piece you will see in October merely scratches the surface, and is a subject worthy of more time and attention.

The Black Masculinity Project and Barack & Curtis are scheduled to premiere online the first week of October. I want you to see some of the material that hit the cutting room floor, so I will release some of my favorite interviews and clips leading up to its launch. The first one starts this week.

I hope you'll watch Barack & Curtis online and then forward everywhere. Help spread the word by posting it to your blogs, social networking sites, websites, and listservs. Talk about it with your friends, co-workers, and family.

One final note: Barack & Curtis is in no way intended to create a negative association between Barack Obama and 50 Cent. Anyone who would suggest that mis-understands what my piece is all about. Furthermore, anyone who uses Barack & Curtis to smear Barack Obama in any way, is either ignorant, or morally bankrupt. In no way do I want to damage Barack Obama's historic presidential campaign. In no way am I suggesting that Barack Obama is down with G-Unit or is a gangsta rapper cleverly disguised as a presidential candidate. Neither is Barack & Curtis intended to glorify 50 Cent. Instead, the piece is my attempt to humanize 50 Cent, examine two very different Black men who express their masculinity in two very different ways, and who took two very different paths to achieve manhood, power, and respect.

In the end, I hope Barack & Curtis spreads all over the world over the Internet, igniting a powerful online conversation about Barack Obama, 50 Cent, and the range of black masculinity in between.

God bless,

B. Hurt

Posted by Daniel at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2006

White Men Wilding?

Rachel at Alas, A Blog has a great post about the Duke Lacrosse team rape case. She makes a great point that when a group of Black men commit a rape like this, it is viewed much differently than when a group of White men (especially young men at a private college) commit a similar crime:

Unfortunately, most people(especially White folks) in American culture don’t see these behaviors as similar. They think that one Black person's bad behavior is somehow representative of all Black people, not the individual Black person or people involved. They think subconsciously or consciously that Black men are dangerous and White men are the innocent boys next door.

It reminds of a point I bring up in some classes I teach - that when Timothy McVeigh was captured for blowing up the FBI building in Oklahoma City, White males weren't the target of police and government scrutiny, nor targets of public hatred. But after September 11th, anyone who appeared to be Middle-Eastern - men and women - became targets.

via Alas, A Blog - White Guys Gone Wilding

Posted by Russell at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2006

Plight Deepens For Black Men

The problems for black men are worse than previously thought a series of studies show. While the economy shifted upward in the 90's and welfare was overhauled, black men have only seen an increase in incarceration and unemployment.

"There's something very different happening with young black men, and it's something we can no longer ignore," said Ronald B. Mincy, professor of social work at Columbia University and editor of "Black Males Left Behind"

via New York Times - Plight Deepens For Black Men, Studies Warn

Posted by Russell at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2006

White Privilege Shapes The US

...the ultimate white privilege: the privilege to acknowledge you have unearned privilege but ignore what it means.
This is why it is often difficult to talk about white privilege with some white people. Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the Univeristy of Texas - Austin. His article below demonstrates how he changed his teaching style - he decided to stop focusing on how white privilege affects white people in general, and focus on how it affected - helped - him, specifically. White Privilege Shapes The US

Posted by Russell at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2005

Sundown Towns

A new book has been released called Sundown Towns - A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, by James W. Loewen. It looks at the controversial claim that after Reconstruction some towns in the U.S. set themselves up as "white-only" communities. The title comes from signs that were often posted on the roads entering these towns as one did in Hawthorne, Calif., in the 1930s: "N*****, Don't Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne."

Apparently the book focuses on those communities that made a conscious effort to be "white-only". It does make me think about those communities that have on overt, but not clearly enforced "white-only" policy. I grew up in such a community: suburb of Boston, 1980's, all-white. I recall a black family moving into town when I was in junior-high school and moving out six-months later. No one said anything to me, but it was clear to me even then that they were made to feel uncomfortable. No signs at the city-limits, but same effect.

via Washington Post - Darkness on the Edge of Town

Posted by Russell at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2005

The Color of Love

An essay on ethnicity and the men's movement to end violence against women:

The Color of Love
César Alvarado

You are in the Deep South; the year is 1913. While walking into an old public building in search of water you see two water fountains. Above one, the cleaner one, a bold sign states, “Whites Only.” Above the other, a sign stating, “Colored Only”. Which one can you use? Which one do you use?

The Jim Crow Era fountain picture came to mind when I first heard the term “people of color” at a Family Violence conference. Moreover, it pops up again and again every time I hear the term.

I have worked in the progressive Movement to End Men’s Violence Against Women and Children in several parts of the country. For instance, I have been and continue to be a piece of grassroots organizations and institutions in the forefront of the Movement. My work has blessed me with deep conversations in the midst of all kinds of people. Various aspects of accomplishing the work like the dynamics and foundations of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the Intersectionality of Oppressions have been discussed. These profound conversations have been with women, men, teens, Christians, atheists, Muslims, gays, transgenders, heterosexuals – people from various ethnicities, and an assortment of others.

I believe the last named identifier, ethnicity, is the key when speaking about the term people of color. Personally, I identify as a young Chicano on a spiritual path. I also identify as a poet, partner, son, brother, Tejano, friend, and the list could go on. If you challenge yourself to think about your identity you can more than likely come up with at least 14 adjectives. Sadly, the term people of color only focuses on one part of me, the color of my skin.

During the deep conversations mentioned earlier, I have spoken with others in the Movement about the term. Many of them are as uncomfortable with it as I am. They told me they hesitate when they hear it and stutter so slightly when they use it.

The term is easy and lazy. An Anglo American who chooses to use the term can lump all “others” into this category. How convenient for them. Not only are we being oppressed time after time by an Anglo American controlled world but we are also placed in the ‘non-Anglo American’ category so effortlessly. This term and others are vital tools of oppression. Furthermore, using the term people of color is stepping backwards into the Jim Crow Era of “colored people”. Does anybody know the difference between colored people and people of color? If you sincerely want to get in touch with me and other Latinos, Africans, Asians, Natives, Jews, and so forth, you have to know who we are, not only who we have been. More importantly, please do not categorize us as who we are not. For instance, not Anglo American or, in other words, not white.

All of us have color. White is a color just like brown, black, and the other colors. Surprise, my Anglo American colleague! You are a person of color. Besides, what about my sisters and brothers in the movement who are light-skinned? Where do they belong? I have heard them talking about struggling with being a light-skinned person of color in a people of color group. Should they be ostracized because they are not dark enough? More importantly, are they accepted into better positions because of their light skin?

Some of you may be saying, “What about the People of Color Institute, the Women of Color Network, and similar groups”? Others may be thinking, “What are we supposed to be called then or what do we call you”? Great! Let us ask and converse. However, please think about whom you really are and who you want to be. Do you want to be a color (some-thing) or do you want to be celebrated as some-one?

I truly believe that we in the Movement to end Men’s Violence Against Women and Children want and need to do better. We can gently demand that we be portrayed as the wonderful, complex beings that we are and resist being defined only by our color, whatever that color may be.

Ultimately, I am hoping this article will spark discussion about the use of the term people of color in and around the Movement. Will the women who lead us please chime in? The grassroots are growing and sending you a message. Do you want to have this discussion with us? I am confident the Movement will reach out welcoming arms to those of us who know they are more than a “colored person” drinking from one water fountain or the other. Let us drink from one … the color of love.

César Javier Alvarado was raised in San Juan, Tejas, within el Valle del Rio Grande, and weaned in Central Tejas. Inspirational guides have helped and continue to assist César in learning about the intersections of Family Violence and Sexual Assault. His experience has gifted him with working at grassroots organizations and institutions in the forefront of the Movement to End Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and others. Currently, César is providing Consulting for organizations in and around the Movement and readying himself for his next occupational journey. He loves to write poetry, enjoy time with his partner, and play/listen to music which will help him remain grounded and committed to the Movement for the remainder of his life.

Posted by Russell at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2005

Boston Anti-Racism Media Watch

The website linked to below is not focused on gender or masculinity. But, I post it because it is an example of how I can see this website being used (with an international focus, though). This website is a developing project - adaptable to fit unmet needs. If you have any comments or suggestions, please e-mail me at: rbcarlin[at]

Greater Boston Anti-Racism Media Watch

Posted by Russell at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2005

Blog Against Racism

I have just learned that today is Blog Against Racism Day. I had another entry written, but decided that I needed to honor this day. And, since this blog is more about linking to what others are saying (whether that be bloggers, scientists, journalists, etc), I will link to some interesting posts: Hugo Schwyzer and Pandagon

Posted by Russell at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

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