“The Idea of Manhood” Podcast Returns, Tackling and Redefining Masculinity and Fatherhood Within the Black Community

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Photo credit: Carletta Girma

With Black men facing a huge degree of discrimination and prejudice, there is also a huge shortage of resources that help them navigate a society that stereotypes them as criminals or deadbeat fathers.

In light of this situation, Mike “Fivemikes” Andrews, educator, writer, podcaster, and MC, has recently restarted his thought-provoking The Idea of Manhood podcast, which addresses various aspects of being a Black man through discussions enriched by Mike’s personal experiences, cultural insights, and academic research.

Mike first launched The Idea of Manhood in 2017, and it was named after a poem he wrote and performed that depicted the struggles of being a Black man in the US. The poem, which gained attention in the local Washington, DC community, inspired Mike to lend his voice to have more nuanced conversations about topics such as masculinity, being a Black man, and being a father, during a time when there were few people talking about those topics.

A father of two, Mike was raised by a single mother until she married a military man assigned to Germany. For several years, Mike was a military brat, and this led to him developing a unique worldview, enriched by his experiences in Europe. Upon returning to the US, he studied Psychology and Sociology at James Madison University, while working in a mentoring program for Black male youth. Mike later earned a Master of Education degree, focusing on college student personnel education, from the same university. He also co-founded the Coaction Collective, an initiative that focuses on fostering collaboration for systemic change in education.

According to Mike, when he first started podcasting, he would create episodes every week, and these would be around two hours long. Recording the podcasts was therapeutic for him, and he would also receive positive feedback from listeners, mostly Black fathers, who felt supported by or learned something new from him.

Aside from podcasting, Mike also reaches out to the Black male community through other venues. During the COVID pandemic, he stumbled across a Facebook page for Black parents, and he started some conversations there, supporting fellow parents during that tough time. However, some members noticed this and said that the space was for mothers only and that men were not welcome. Following this, Mike started his own group, where they had a weekly Zoom call, with more than 20 Black men and fathers attending for the next 18 months.

“Each week, we had a range of around 10 to over 25 guys on the call for three to four hours, sharing our experiences and supporting each other,” he says. “It was therapeutic for all of us since the world was dealing with so much uncertainty in the midst of COVID. After 18 months, I began studying for my doctorate degree, so the podcast and the Zoom calls took a back seat.”

Despite this, Mike never strayed far from his calling. His dissertation, which he successfully defended in March, was on the underrepresented narratives of Black fathers in their children’s academic journeys. It employed qualitative research methods like photovoice and affinity-based focus groups, giving participants a voice and the opportunity to shape their own narratives.

Having completed all the requirements for his doctorate degree, Mike recently resumed The Idea of Manhood, with episodes that are shorter and easier to digest. The newer episodes are also more freeform, with Mike following his gut feeling when it comes to the topics being discussed. He also records episodes while doing things in his daily life, like waiting for his children at their soccer practice or walking the dog. In fact, Mike always carries a microphone in his bag, allowing him to record something as the idea comes to him. This brings a more genuine and impromptu quality to his podcasts, allowing more listeners to relate to him.

“I always try to record my episodes at the moment, allowing me to capture my feelings, whether it’s joy, anger, frustration, or confusion,” Mike says. “I try to share those, similar to how my research shows that Black men are complex. We’re also human, and the media doesn’t usually portray that, representing us as either just athletes, entertainers, or criminals. I want to capture the entire experience of being a Black man from a more asset-based perspective. I think that’s important when talking about the idea of manhood. We have to expand the conversation and show men, especially Black men, as complex and emotional beings.”

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