CHICAGO — Black men are nearly always depicted as criminals, affecting the way we think about ourselves as men, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, uncles and fathers.
We’re shown carrying guns not books. We’re followed in stores because workers there assume we have come to steal not to buy. Women tightly clutch their purses in fear because they believe our chief aim in life is to snatch their bags. Although we don’t engage in activities that hurt others, many people believe that we do or will.
Daily micro-aggressions like the ones mentioned and others cause black men to feel bad about ourselves.
But another picture of black men has emerged over the years with the help of Real Men Charities Inc.
Real Men Charities, which is based in Chicago, shows black men in a very different light to others and to ourselves as loving spouses and caring fathers.
At its annual Real Men Cook celebration, which is held every Father’s Day, June 18, black men wear chef’s hats and aprons and cook healthy meals for their families and friends.
“Real Men Cook highlights men who want to be involved and make a difference,” said Ayinde Cartman, executive director of Real Men Cook, the presenting nonprofit. “On this day, we lift them up and shine the light on them. By volunteering to serve as a cook, you join a movement that shatters stereotypes and presents black men as caring fathers, leaders who strive to do the best for their family and community.”
Real Men Cook, which is in its 28th year, will be held at multiple locations throughout Chicago, its suburbs and in Gary, Ind., from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Father’s Day.
Event sites include churches, homeless shelters, backyards, parks and neighborhood block parties. The organization is expanding from one location to multiple ones following a successful launch last year.
“The original concept of hosting the celebration at one site and expanding it in 2016 was a platform they [the hosts] were unsure the public would accept,” Cartman said . “However, the reception to hosting Real Men Cook at various sites in diverse neighborhoods was so overwhelmingly positive that every site will return in 2017.”
Previously, Real Men Cook has honored one father of the year and that was Barack Obama, the nation’s 44th and country’s first African-American president.
This year, there will be a slight change; each site will honor a father and son team who live up to the spirit of Real Men Cook. The recognition also will include a fatherhood pledge.
Fathers will cook healthy foods to promote the message that good food choices can prevent disease.
Real Men Cook is an event attended by many black-male celebrities, including Barack Obama, former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., Grammy award winner Che “Rhymefest” Smith and actor Anthony Anderson.
If you want to cook at one of the locations, registration and certification meetings will be held Wednesday, May 3, at Hales Franciscan High School, 4930 S. Cottage Grove; Mosque Maryam, 7351 S. Stony Island, on May 10 and May 20th at the Quarry, 2423 E. 75th Street.
For additional information about the time to be there, contact Cartman at AyindeCartman@gmail.com or Lafayette Ford at LafayetteFord@gmail.com or call him at 773 484 0624. For more information, visit online at www.realmencook.com.