Man the F**k Up

I write this a 23 year-old black man. I, like everyone else, am shaped by my personal background and experiences.


Every day I wake up, dress, and make my way to work with one thing on my mind: to provide for myself, family, and to create opportunities for the future. Because I’m a man. I take care of mine. I handle my business. I do what I have to do to survive. Because I’m a man….

I've been out of college for over a year and a half now. Graduated in 2015 and thought life was waiting for me. I remember standing in line with my classmates waiting for my name to be called, signaling the moment I was to become a man. With the announcement of each name ahead of me my heart skipped a beat.

“Don't trip. Please don't trip.” Was all I kept thinking to myself as I crossed that stage to receive that pseudo diploma from a man I don't remember. My family was going to be there, encouraging me the way they always did, have, and will continue to.

Just. Don't. Trip. Please, God.

The days leading up to that moment I couldn't help but remember the various statistics of black males raised in single parent households that were presented to me. I didn't know them exactly but I knew I wasn't supposed to be there. In that moment. On that stage. According to statistics. Yet there I was.

Next I was going to be a man and take care of my family the way they took care of me. At 21 years old I became a man. Or so I thought. Because see, I never asked myself the question, “what is a man?”

“What defines manhood?”

The question seems to be answered all too commonly by, “it depends.”

It depends on who's asking.

It depends on who's answering.

It depends on the situation.

...personal background…



So when you tell me that “you're not man enough,” or to “man the f**k up,” your words cut deeper than you know. Because while you stand there deconstructing the level of masculinity I possess using whatever asinine, antiquated set of characteristics concocted in your simple, feeble, mind I'm out here trying to figure this shit out.

I don't worry about my “swag.” And no I don't care if my sweater isn't on “fleek.” And no, I don't listen to to mumble rap. I like my brain cells. The new school clearly isn't for me.

A year and a half after graduating college and I don't think I've figured out the answer to that question just yet. As a matter of fact, I may never figure it out. Because, well, no one seems to have the answers to this test.