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."
*Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Danisha L. Baughan (Dani) is a long term educator, community activist, and philanthropist. Dani is a mother of two who enjoys writing on her spare time, hosting an event she created called Chat N Chew Battle of the Sexes, and has also directed and produced a cultural/gender based documentary on dating in today's society, It's Not You, It's THEM!. Follow her on Instagram @dani_beaux_.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Food is the star of the show for Thanksgiving, but let’s be honest: dinner wouldn’t be anything special without a good tablescape. Decor is a significant part of the holiday season! Garlands, pumpkins, candles, and other decor can take your Thanksgiving spread from bland to brilliant! However, we understand the stress of making a whole feast for family and friends.
We sat down with Beth Smith of Beth Diana Smith Interior Designs to learn how to create the perfect tablescape for any dinner party.
Set the Tone With Dinnerware
Carolyn Ann Ryan/Getty Images
“Focus on the meal you’re serving and make your dinnerware set the tone and be the highlight of the table,” says Smith. The dinner is why your community is coming together and is arguably the most crucial centerpiece. Decorative pieces are nice, but food and what we use to eat can make it much more special. Smith suggests, “I recommend the Nguka dinnerware set from 54kibo, which is stunning, unique, and beautifully made.”
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, The Stoke Collection by ceramic artists Althea’s Meade-Hajduk is intentionally created to visually enhance any meal experience.
Have Fun With Your Color Palette
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In the world of nude palette overload, it’s nice to see color occasionally. Color is a natural mood booster that can bring excitement to the room - or table! “Create a thoughtful color palette that is not the standard Thanksgiving palette of fall colors,” says Smith. Having fun with colors and moving away from a traditional setting can bring uniqueness to your tablescape.
There’s also no chance of your tablescape having the same color palette as everyone else on social media. Smith adds, “If pink has grabbed your attention, this dusty pink set from Our Place has different plate and bowl size options.”
Incorporate Florals Through Bud Vases or Bouquets
Who doesn’t love florals? This look is accepted year-round, not just when romance is involved. “You can’t go wrong with florals for a tablescape if you’re setting it for your family, friends, or a group of singles,” says Smith. Florals are an easy way to make any event look elevated without having to try as hard. If you’re worried about hypoallergenic guests, you can purchase artificial flowers from Amazon. Here, you can find various floral options and even create your own bouquet.
“A floral tablescape can be budget-friendly or as extravagant as you may like. You can select a few bud vases and strategically place them around the table using a bouquet you bought locally,” says Smith.
Unsure of who is your local florist? Black Girl Florist is a site that helps you source local florists in your area. Click here to find a florist in your neighborhood! And if your budget is a little tighter than usual due to the holidays, Smith has a solution that will save you money altogether. Smith suggests, “You can also use dried-up branches and leaves from your backyard, which would be free.”
Elevate Your Tablescape With a Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie boards have become all the rage on TikTok, and for good reason. Mixing your favorite meats, cheese, and grapes has made snacking visually tasteful. Smith says they can also create a fabulous tablescape - killing two birds with one stone. Smith says, “You can never go wrong with creating one large charcuterie board. This makes food the decoration interesting, colorful, and delicious!” This could be especially great for Friendsgiving, and you want to avoid cooking a turkey twice.
The beauty of charcuterie boards is creating a food palette unique to you or your guest's needs. On the flip side, we also understand how overwhelming it can be to decide precisely what to put on your board. Smith has a few recommendations that can be helpful, “You can include cheeses, crackers, and meats, but you can also add specialty items like deserts, chocolate, and truffle mustard.”
Smith refers to the Truffle Mustard by Truffiest, an award-deserving mustard infused with summer truffles from northern Italy. This mustard can be paired with crackers, cheeses, meats, and shredded turkey if you want to stay on the theme.
Build on an Artsy Vibe and Add Layers
There’s no shame in bringing it back to basics. Bring out the old tablecloth your family member gave you a few years ago; it’s vintage! “The goal is to make the table look and feel like you have everything you need and more,” Smith says. Everything you need and more can consist of four main ingredients: tablecloth, napkins, cups, and, most importantly - wine glasses. “Make the tablescape feel artistic with funky dinner napkins and tablecloths. Then, layer with oversized plates, long-stemmed wine glasses, and after-dinner cups.”
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