WUOMFM

masculinity

User: geishabot / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

For this story, I have two hats. One is my reporter hat. The other is my dad hat.

I like the daddy hat.  

But I do still have this reporter hat over here. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately with my reporter hat about my beautiful, perfect little boy. Because, the truth is, he is at risk.

And I’ve been thinking about this risk because of what’s been in the news lately – about how men talk and act toward women. And what’s considered normal for those things.

It’s been a long, hot summer for uncomfortable questions about masculinity---at least in my news and pop culture consumption it has.

The George Zimmerman trial and its outcome have author James Baldwin’s words pinging around my brain: “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” 

Dustin Dwyer

Chapter 1 

"That’s when you need somebody."

Fourteen-year-old Mario lives … somewhere in Grand Rapids. He doesn’t want to be identified on the air.

He sits, dressed in a plain white t-shirt, khaki colored pants and white, low-top Chuck Taylor All-Stars. We’re in a sunny hallway at the downtown Grand Rapids campus of Grand Valley State University. Mario is here, attending a summer program from the Hispanic Center of West Michigan – a program meant to help keep kids on track academically while school is out. 

Next year, Mario will be in the eighth grade, at a middle school in Grand Rapids.

I ask him if it's a pretty good school. "Kind of," he says. I ask him what isn't good about it. "There's too much gangs, stuff like that."