When I speak to black men my age (and older), I get this general consensus that they feel invisible; like no one believes them about the things with which they struggle.
Of course this wasn’t explicitly articulated to me in these words,
But as I went through this week’s conversation, I started thinking about other conversations I have with men and found that it usually starts with this bravado I think they’ve learned to talk cultivate over the years.
And I think that’s because they have become conditioned to understand that people will listen when they are speaking from that space.
But if you talk long enough …
as the conversation progresses …
the varnish will start to fade …
revealing the slightest hint of vulnerability.
Sometimes it’s mentioned briefly … other times it turns into a bona fide soliloquy.
But regardless how the struggle manifests itself into his conversation, it’s there.
It reminds me of a 90s hip hop album.
The artist would draw you in with a high energy club banger, a gravelly voice talking about girls, and various hood shenanigans on the first few tracks.
Then buried on track 5 would be a song talking about pain, regrets, love, abandonment, being a father.
Maybe it’s because no one will listen if that’s what they lead with.
Maybe, as it relates to this conversation, there was the safety of speaking anonymously to a stranger.
Either way, I present to you, Mr. Mal.
Mr. Mall, 47, Brooklyn, Medical Marijuana care giver and entertainer
Children: 5 — Relationship Status: Divorced
|How do you spend your free time?
Oh boy! Go to the water a lot and make music … create a lot
|When you think back on it, can you think of anything you learned this week?
Wow! These are interesting questions. Well, I’ve learned that putting mad faith and trust in people will let you down.
I find myself learning this and relearning this, over and over again. You can’t put your trust in man. Put our trust in God. Man will let you down every time. Human beings have been consistent with letting me down.
Does that make it hard to have relationships with people?
Ha! When I try to avoid relationships, they throw them on me.
Do you trust them?
That’s usually how it starts.
Well … I’d say pleasure, bliss, the ideal situation, the ideal place … happy … peace … joy … love … balance …
|Are you happy?
Yeah. Heck yeah!
|What makes you happy?
Life, music, creation of music, cannabis sativa, caregiving, helping people with this natural medicine.
My children; healthy interaction with my children makes me happy. Women in our society, once you’re not with them anymore, they use children as a weapon.
|What was the best moment of your life and why?
Aww man, I probably couldn’t say just one honestly.
Ok, give me your top 3.
Wow, there are so many. My top one would be witnessing 3 of 5 of my children being born. The second one would be graduating from college. I’ve accomplished so many things. Other than that, I would probably say my lifestyle at a very young age. I’ve lived in Cali and London. I did a lot of things at a very young age.
|What is one thing you regret? (And you can’t say “nothing”.)
Oh wow! Ummm … it’s kind of a long story, but to make it short:
I had my first grow house. Me and my original staff were leaving my home and going up North to the drop off location. As soon as we got on the highway, one of the wheels flew off of the truck and I wondered if that was a sign that I shouldn’t go through with this business. So I regret not listening to that sign that God gave me. That was one of the reasons that lead to my divorce. The sign was on the wall. As soon as I got on the highway the damn wheel came off and I didn’t listen.
|If you could go back in time in your entire life (it can be other people, circumstances, things) and change just one thing about your life, what would it be?
As a youth during the crack era, I got caught with something that wasn’t mine. It wasn’t my work. I wasn’t selling. And police ran down. And I wasn’t running because I wasn’t doing anything. Everyone else ran and I was the only one left standing there, so they put a charge on me. So I got charged and I had to plead guilty at 17 to a crime I didn’t commit.
Because of that, became a felon and I wasn’t able to take some of the jobs I wanted like transit, post office, Con Ed, federal jobs … you know. I wasn’t able to take advantage of any of those opportunities.
Sometimes I think “what if I would have taken that plea deal?” or “what if I would have ran?”
Every outcome and decision I’ve made since then has been affected because of that.
|When was the first time you were in love?
Oh wow! <laughs>
My dumb ass … I married my first love and I was with her for 25 years. We have 4 children and I divorced her 5 summers ago.
But in hindsight, I wouldn’t advise that to anyone. You need to experience life and see what’s out there. Use your youth to learn and then see what’s out there. But when you lock into the first thing you stumble on, you’re cheating yourself.
When I was 17, she was 19. A few months after we met, we started living like adults. It was the crack era, we grew up too quick … too fast. What you like when you’re 17/18 may not be your forte 20 years later.
|When was the last time you were in love?
Right now! It’s super interesting because I’m in love with two women; in a relationship with two woman and that’s the thing (love) that got me in trouble with two women.
|What do you think people think of you? Do you care?
I own a room when I walk into it.
My reputation usually precedes me. From a young age I’ve been in a successful lane. I’ve made my lane. I made it and it works. In America … in a black man’s world, success is measured by material things.
But that’s not the truth.
So you have to have those things or they won’t attribute success to you.
|What you want to be when you grew up? Did it happen? Why or why not?
A pilot. My dad he flies twin engines. When we were young we used to go with him. I went to a program to be a pilot. The need for more robbed me of it; the streets, the money, the opportunity for more. Those were some of the only lanes that were open for men at that time. I was still able to finish college though and fulfill the promise to my parents.
|What’s your favorite song? How does it make you feel?
Forever Loving Jah by Marley
|Who is your favorite person?
Haile Selassie I … my good father
|What is your favorite thing?
Women, cannabis, the love of my children … those three things.
That’s my universe, that’s my motivation. And cars <laughs>
The Father … The Creator … even though I said all of those things first, The Creator, The Force, once you’re in tune with it, things can and will expand everything else in your life.
|What’s your biggest dream? What do you want to do with your future?
I want my children to be successful. That’s what’s most important to me. That’s been the goal for so long and it really hasn’t changed. I have personal goals, but they aren’t as important as my children being successful
Mr. Mall then made sure to not that he wanted to scope of his interview to include black fatherhood. “That’s what I really want this interview to focus on,” he said. “I travel a lot and I’m hearing from fathers that women aren’t letting the men see their children. It could all be so easily adjusted. Make sure you put that in there.”
Until next time, folks,
Love and Light,
What did you say?
You miss me when I’m gone?
Well, you know you can keep up with my antics every other day of the week:
You can also find all of my books The Becoming of Us, Vol. I, The Becoming of Us, Vol. II, What’s Hiding in the Dark: 10 Tales of Urban Lore, and They Eat on Amazon: