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Conversations About Masculinity: How Mentors Can Support Young Men of Color - “We Need to Prove How Strong We Are All of the Time”

by Dudney Sylla

Jan 1, 2019

This guide provides practical tips to support the development of relationships that encourage young men to explore expressions of masculinity to serve healthy decision making, self-development, and care for others. 

  • Besides upbringing, environmental factors such as cultural, social, and systemic determine how a person views gender and gender identity.
  • Young men who identify with and conform to masculinity in a strict and rigid way are at risk of a variety of health effects including depression, sexual risk, and other health-risk behavior.
  • Suppression of one’s authentic gender and sexual identity and a false separation between femininity and masculinity create the impression, and in some cases the reality, that boys are limited in their options for expressing their gender. Young men of color may choose to disregard healthy behaviors not typically associated with masculinity such as empathy, compassion, the ability to ask for help from others and vigilance in monitoring one’s own health care. Without interventions, hypermasculinity in adolescence becomes hyper-masculinity in adulthood.
  • One of the most useful and productive ways to help young men of color think about masculinity is through the mentor-mentee relationship. Young people understand the importance of modeling and advocate for receiving feedback about their choices.