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Host Jason Rosario Walks Us Through The Minds Of Men

A long-term accountability mentor to his fellow brothas also has a message for the ladies.

#xoMan

Tall, dark, handsome, and passionate about his community, Jason Rosario of The Lives of Men advocates for taking accountability into his own hands, even when it goes against the popular opinion. Jason is well known for his men's empowerment movement and the use of his platform where he creates safe spaces for men of color to address manhood and wellness.

Jason's impact is so powerful that it landed him a position hosting his own original series on Yahoo News called Dear Men. Dear Men serves as a more intimate extension of his larger support for helping black and Latino men navigate masculinity in today's world. As a man of distinction, a father, and a partner, he is in the most ideal position to share insight on how shaping the lives of men also helps to empower women.

In the most comfortable setting, outdoors on a warm summer evening, it was a joy to interview Jason and get his perspective on some key points that directly impact the opposite population from which he normally services. This was a challenge of versatile guidance and he caught every curveball effortlessly like the professional he carries himself to be.

As a Black man, minority man, in today’s society, how have you made it to the point where you ignored the status quo and decided to uplift other men?

"Something real happened. [In 2016], I was just coming out of business school, the police shootings were occurring, so like every week it felt like black men were under siege for a while. And then where I was in my life, I was going through some stuff--just went through a break up, started a new job, and [was] just fed up… I was like, what do I want to do with my life? Like how do I want to move forward? So I started to conceive this idea for The Lives of Men which was the second iteration of something I had done before--years before. [It was] a platform that served as a resource for men as we go through different things in our lives.

"Since 2017, I've just been doing this, dedicating my life's work to helping men identify and embrace healthy frameworks of what manhood looks like, all the while being inclusive not just of the female voice but the female voices in our lives."

"I recently connected with Yahoo to executive produce and host the Dear Men show which is just an extension of and an offshoot of the conversations we've been having. The show was an effort to sit down with men from different backgrounds… The goal was to have a conversation and show that regardless of where you are in life, whether you're a celebrity or not, we all struggle with the same things."

Courtesy of Jason Rosario

How has your upbringing molded you to be prepared for one day becoming a good father and partner?

"For me, I think it's my values. Though I was raised by a single mom, I do see the value of having and building a partnership and building a family. Watching my mom struggle, and her instilling certain values in me in terms of respecting women, respecting relationships. I think all of that has helped prepare me."

What are your thoughts on balancing career and relationships? Do you believe that people have to choose between the two?

"I don't believe that you have to choose between the two. Part of [the reason] why I left my job is because it was getting to that point where I was having to choose between the two. There were times within that last year that I was in the office on a Friday until 9:30pm… I couldn't commit to dinners because I didn't know what my job scenario would be like or what situations I had to react to last minute, so that started to happen and I was like this is not the life I want to choose. I believe in integration, I believe everything should harmoniously be working together to help you get to where you want to be. As far as relationships, yes we still have to make time to build relationships. I'm a dad, I have a partner, I have my family, I have my friends and I think all of those require a certain level of dedication and attention."

Courtesy of Jason Rosario

"I believe in integration, I believe everything should harmoniously be working together to help you get to where you want to be. As far as relationships, yes we still have to make time to build relationships. I'm a dad, I have a partner, I have my family, I have my friends and I think all of those require a certain level of dedication and attention."

How can men be more open to utilizing the five love languages?

"I think it goes way deeper than that. I'm going to take you back to a young man's childhood and adolescence and the way that we're taught to emote, and the way that we're taught not to emote. If you're telling a young boy from as early as he can remember that boys don't cry, 'you need to man up', 'you need to be strong' -- what you're doing is you're essentially preventing him from developing the capacity to articulate his emotions and his feelings. So if you're doing that from an early age, and as he grows into adolescence and young adulthood and then adulthood, you're getting a man that's emotionally repressed. So when you're asking someone to identify love languages and be able to articulate them, by the time he's a grown man, he hasn't had that practice… he doesn't have a language to be able to articulate that."

What is the barrier between some millennial men and commitment?

"First, in a city like New York or LA or these major metropolitan, cosmopolitan cities, there are a lot more you's than there are us… There are a lot more quality women that are educated, career-focused and -oriented, and doing positive things, [and that are] more progressive than there are men of color in the same age group that have as much going on for them. Then you have mass incarceration, you have drugs, you have crime, you have all these things, and I think…women have always been ahead in terms of getting advanced degrees, so there's slim pickings. So you're competing not just against each other for that same crop, but then you're competing with the other part of it which is the men that know the numbers are in their favor and don't want to commit. So you have that group of men that might be the perfect guy but he knows that if you're not down for it, then the next woman will."

What are your thoughts on the “me ethic” that exists in this generation?

"We have been fed through the media that the traditional nuclear family -- you don't need that to succeed. I can speak from my personal experience. I'm a product of a single-parent home. I've seen my mom do it on her own… and I know that's flawed thinking but men think with better education, I can do it all myself, I don't necessarily need to be married. I think it's just what we've been taught and how generations have shifted."

Courtesy of Jason Rosario

"We have been fed through the media that the traditional nuclear family -- you don't need that to succeed. And I know that's flawed thinking but men think with better education, I can do it all myself, I don't necessarily need to be married. I think it's just what we've been taught and how generations have shifted."

What’s your opinion on WYD texts?

"So this is a thing? Wow... See you're talking to someone that speaks in full paragraphs in texts so it's hard for me to grasp why that's a thing. I think it just speaks to two things, laziness [and] it speaks to the lower barrier that there is in terms of men communicating with women and the lack of value that they place in the traditional building of a relationship. The tradition of dating and courting, all of that has gone away. Swipe left and right culture, social media, instant gratification, all of these things contribute to that. Yet, ladies you have to be willing and open to receiving a man who's going to come and be expressive and be all of the things that you're asking for. Too many women unfortunately when they receive that, they don't know what to do with it. By the way, I hate all the acronyms. Don't text me for my birthday 'HBD'."

How do you feel about timelines?

"You're talking to someone who in the last two years has made most of his decisions based on creating the freedom for myself, so I don't believe in timelines. At one point of my life, I did. My mom used to tell me that by age 35 you should be like whatever it is you're going to be. First of all, I would encourage people that feel the pressure of a timeline, whether it's to be married by a certain time [or] have kids by a certain time, to analyze where that comes from, almost 100% of it is not coming from you. It's external."

What kind of guidance do you give your daughter on navigating her life and relationships in today’s society?

"The approach that I've taken is just one of openness and vulnerability. She knows everything there is to know about me. I don't want her to grow up with this false sense of dad was this superhuman that did no wrong. And as far as relationships and boys, again just being open with her. Hormones are a thing your hormones are raging, their hormones are raging so understand that you are going to fall in and out of love with the next guy, but more often than not, they just want to do one thing. I try to let her know that. But I'm not here to tell her what to do and what not to do. I try to give her as much information as I can so that she can make as many informed decisions that she can."

How would you encourage more men to find interest in marriage and commitment?

"I think a lot of us, especially in communities of color, and I'm going to count myself, we don't have a lot of examples and models of what a healthy marriage looks like so we grow up with this fear of the unknown. I think for men who have all of these options, marriage sounds like a death sentence… Marriage isn't placed in the holiest of lights in our community. It's actually the exception, whereas in other communities, it's the norm. I would say that the conversation with men has to be what is the definition of marriage? How do you define marriage and what values do you attribute to it?"

"A lot of people confuse love for marriage…so this is for both men and women: if we focus more of our time building and cultivating and nurturing love, and less time focused on 'I need to be married by a certain age'. If we focus less on that then we will successfully take the fear of the unknown out of the institution of marriage."

For more information, follow Jason on Instagram @jason_rosario and @thelivesofmen.

*Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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