“Why are you here? Who are you?”
These were the two questions posed to attendees at the “A Moment of Brotherhood” event that was held by the CSUF Male Success Initiative Tuesday, allowing men of color to voice their opinions and experiences.
“Whatever they had in mind, whatever frustrations or whatever worries that they are facing through these difficult times, this was a space for them to let everything out and for us to build a community and to make everyone feel included and like they are being listened to,” said Alexis Alegria, a graduate assistant in the Male Success Initiative.
Many attendees shared that they wanted to make their parents proud by accomplishing the goals their parents were unable to accomplish themselves.
One student shared that despite his siblings’ inability to go to college due to financial difficulty, he was still able to attend CSUF. He said that this pushes him to do well so that he can give back to his siblings.
Confident, trustworthy, loving and caring are just some of the words that the men used to describe themselves when asked who they are.
Recreating the “I Am a Man” poster from the Memphis strike in 1958, the students made posters to remind themselves who they are. The posters said things like, “I Am a Warrior,” or, “I Am a Friend.”
In the beginning, the event’s atmosphere was very calm because attendees were initially unwilling to share their experiences and participate in activities. However, eventually the room got louder and they got more comfortable and friendly with one another.
“We feel like our males of color really need to have that space to bond and to interact and to speak their minds,” Alegria said.
Among the activities was a game of charades, where the men acted out the words love, affection, friendship, beauty, sensitivity, empathy and happiness. The organizers said that the activity was meant to dismantle stereotypes as men of color are often stereotyped as hateful or not caring.
“I did like the activities that we did and how each individual was able to participate and get to know each other in a different way,” said Nicholas Harrison, a senior majoring in civil engineering.
The night ended with the men holding hands in a circle chanting “I am my brother” and “We are brothers.”
Men who did not know each other when they walked into the room left the event hugging.
“I thought it was wonderful and a great opportunity for young males to network amongst one another; to learn more about themselves and other cultures,” said senior civil engineering major Sola Akanji. “I also thought it was great how they provided resources and they genuinely cared about you as an individual: where you’re coming from, why you are here and helping you get toward where you want to be in life.”