Real Men Cook expands the menu to address other issues affecting black men

Ayinde Cartman



By Frederick H. Lowe


Real Men Cook, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary Father’s Day, has evolved from black men cooking and promoting healthy meals for their family, friends and guests, to a gateway for discussions about other pressing issues that affect African-American men, Ayinde Cartman, executive director of Real Men Charities Inc., parent organization of Real Men Cook, tells BlackmansStreet.Today

“That’s absolutely correct. We have expanded our mission,” said Cartman, a graduate of Morehouse College.

The expanded agenda focuses on the high suicide rate among black men, violence, prostate cancer, diabetes, and mental health, Cartman said.

Real Men Cook expanded its vision three years ago when Ayinde and his brother Obari Cartman, who has a Ph.D. in psychology, took over Real Man Charities to operate Real Men Cook, which was co-founded in 1990 by the then husband and wife team of Yvette and Kofi Moyo.

As a way of setting an example for healthier eating habits, black men cooked healthy meals, including salads, baked fish, baked chicken, roasted and grilled vegetables for their families, friends, and others. “Research and health databases support conclusions that African Americans are more susceptible to contracting diseases that can be avoided through healthier eating,” Cartman said. There also are traditional meals such as barbeque beef and chicken.

Real Men Cook attracted a wide variety of participants, some of them famous. Former President Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, wore a bandana while cooking meals.

This year, Real Men Cook will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m Father’s Day June 16 at Hales Franciscan High School, 4930 S. Cottage Grove, Chicago.  Tickets are $15 in advance and $30 at the door. Individuals can purchase tickets in advance by logging on to  

Scroll down to and log on to attend Real Men Cook. The event is sponsored by Commonwealth Edison, University of Chicago Medicine, Oak Street Health, Black Bloggers-Chicago, the Quarry Event Center, South Shore Current, and West of the Ryan Current Magazine.

From focusing on healthy eating, the organization expanded into other areas that needed attention.

Real Men hosts “Men’s Healing Circle” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday at the Quarry Event Center, 2423 E. 75th Street.  It’s a men’s only event, and men are invited to discuss issues of concern to them in an open forum.

Also, Real Men Charities has restored the “Peace & Possibilities Pavilion,” which is designed to listen to guests’ ideas concerning violence prevention.

The Pavilion, founded by in 2013 by Nate Pendleton, father of Hadiya Pendleton, features black fathers who have lost children to violence.  In the forum, men share their experiences with others.

Real  Men Charities also focuses on suicide,  a leading killer of black men. One of Real Men Charities’ most prominent members committed suicide, sparking the organization’s interest in the issue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that there has been an increase in suicide among young black men. The culprits are high unemployment and drug use. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among young black men.

Even in a booming economy, the jobless rate for black men 20 and older is consistently much higher compared to other ethnic and racial groups.

“We are excited to be addressing the epidemic of violence, much of which has to do with social injustice, poverty, and high unemployment,” Cartman said. “We hope that creating a space where we can dialogue about this issue will yield answers and resolution. Ultimately,  this is an extension of our resolve to have Real Men address “Real Issues.”


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