This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the historic Million Man March in Washington, DC. About two million brothers showed up, despite media reports of 400,000. We came for a day of atonement, an opportunity for brothers to unify in peace, responsibility & spirit. I was there. Black. Male. Proud. I will attend this year as well, though w/ a different twist. This year I will come w/ the Black Men's Xchange (BMX), whose founder, Cleo Manago, has been slated by Minister Louis Farrakhan to speak at the rally.
The Millions More Movement organizers were under controversy from the start when women shared their displeasure at being left out a decade ago. Since then, there have been similar marches for women, the youth & the family. Julianne Malveaux, a noted Black female economist & integral part of this year's efforts, stated, "how can you expect to fight a war when half of your army is at home with the children?"
The theme of the movement is: "Black is Back." In the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina to poor people in Alabama, Louisiana & Mississippi, organizers are calling upon the best & brightest of Black minds to engineer plans for the liberation, mobilization, transformation & unification of Black people. It is clear George Bush doesn't care for us, a sentiment recently echoed by Grammy-award winning hip hop artist Kanye West.
Cleo Manago is CEO & founder of AMASSI, Inc., a cultural, health & wellness center in Inglewood, California. He is a social architect, deeply invested in Black people affirming themselves. He is widely known for stating, "loving ourselves in our image is its own reward." Many folks are unaware Manago was scheduled to speak at the first March, however due to possible over-booking & time constraints, he didn't make it to the podium. He will make history this weekend, becoming the first Black "sexual minority" representative at a national Black event.
BMX is a Black men's empowement organization, based in Harlem & led by same gender-loving men (SGL) of African descent. Though west coast in origin, BMX has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Oakland/Bay Area, and Johannesburg, South Africa. An important component of the work at BMX includes critical thinking, which involves acknowledging & unlearning anti-Black & anti-homosexual thinking, two primary symptoms of poor self-concept.
The popular weekly gatherings in Harlem draw up to 50 participants. We dialogue, not just w/ SGL men, but also w/ SGL women, our heterosexual brothers & our heterosexual sisters. BMX believes in "putting Black love into practice." Each week we discuss issues relevant to the group, review community concerns & seek solutions to problems which compromise our emotional, physical & spiritual well-being.
This past, Friday, for example, our guest facilitator was Bob Law, New York State Chair of the Millions More Movement (MMM) Planning Committee. Mr. Law, a former radio talk show host ("Night Talk") & longtime community activist, was pleased to announce Manago as the choice of Farrakhan for the historic event. Noting BMX's consistent involvement w/ the MMM, Law captivated our members w/ his passionate dicourse around the need for a "sustained, conscious movement among progressive Black people." He further acknowledged the MMM organizers were "comfortable" w/ our organization.
In addition to Mr. Law, present that evening were a handful of heterosexual male allies who shared their concerns around unity in the Black community. One gentlemen in particular mentioned he was less concerned about whether folks are SGL, then whether they were willing to make a commitment to make the world a better place for Black people. Law, a devout Christian, admitted he personally doesn't approve of homosexuality, but stressed - as did the other heterosexual male - it was more important for Black people to unite in a common fight: white supremacy.
Let us be clear: at BMX we are well aware of the impressions w/ in the Black community suggesting homosexuality is an aberration, an abomination & a scourge. Yet, we know intimately there are diverse ways of being, living & loving: a prime reason we choose to be self-determining. BMX is making history this weekend. We will represent NYC strong at this event & encourage all members of the Black family to join us. Get on the bus!
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.