This picture is what all fathers should look like next to their sons when they take a picture together. Even if it is not a picture being taken, this is just how you should stand by your son as a man and as a father supporting everything he does in life. Toxic masculinity has always been prevalent within minority communities, but recently there has been a surge in the acts of violence and ways men act towards each other and their children.
Men have started to feel less and less comfortable in their own skin around other men and for what, I'm not sure of, but it needs to stop. Some men lack the power to be themselves around other men without saying or doing certain things that may deem them as being "gay." Being gay has to do with someone's sexuality and who they choose to engage in sexual activities with, not by a saying, or a compliment or even giving a hug. Why do men feel like showing emotions makes them less of a man? Showing your vulnerable side will make someone see you as weak? This has been passed down from generation to generation and it needs to end sooner rather than later.
Emotions. It is okay to cry. Toxic masculinity makes it harder for men to show their emotions because it may make them look weak to their counterparts. It is why women are deemed more emotional but that is not the case. Women may express themselves more or even less because they too have to uphold the "strong Black woman" narrative. So when does it become okay for emotions to be shown? Black men, you need to stop thinking that weed and liquor will mask your emotions and cure your problems. Change your group of friends and the people you confide in. Go to therapy and come to terms with the people who have hurt you and done you wrong. If you cannot confide in your "bros" then why are they your friends? Because y'all can go out and get lit together? Spare me. It is okay to tell your friends you love them.
Accountability. Y'all need to start holding your friends accountable when they start to display emotions/feelings/actions that are inappropriate and wrong. Your ego should never be too big to stand up to someone you hang around all the time and say "that isn't cool." If you're too scared that the relationship will fail because of it, then that isn't the friendship for you. A lot of you sit around and let your friends abuse their partners, cheat on them and become serial impregnators and say nothing. That is your business because you often become who you hang around. People will see the company you keep and want nothing to do with you. It is okay to tell your friends that they are wrong. Your ego and theirs should never be too big to speak up when they are wrong and vice versa.
Parental guidelines. As fathers, it is imperative to teach yourself and then your children, especially your son(s), that it is okay to be emotional and it is okay to not be okay. You do not have to act like you have it all together when in reality, you don't. Too often I see parents telling their sons to stop crying and "man up" but the daughters can cry over spilled milk. This has been going on for decades and it needs to stop. This creates cold, emotionally unavailable children in the future which causes many failed relationships. You have to give/show love and emotions to your children from when they are young and allow them to do the same without it being labeled as "being a sissy." It is okay to tell your son you love them as a father, a friend, and a provider.
The male ego can definitely be too big, too wide and too strong. It can be described as toxic masculinity and this is definitely a major issue that needs to be spoken on more so it can be dismantled. Let's start a challenge where the men take pictures with their fathers like the one above, or even their friends, showing love to each other and use the hashtag #DismantleTheMasc to try and change the narrative behind toxic masculinity. When using this hashtag make sure to tag @_soundsofjoi on Instagram as well!