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Black Men Unlearning

English, Social, 1 season, 58 episodes, 2 days, 14 hours, 54 minutes
About
Kyle Brooks and Edwin Lee invite you on a journey to unlearn the ideologies, thought patterns and habits that get in the way of peace, freedom and joy! Follow the podcast on IG (@BlackMenUnlearning) and Twitter (@BlackMenUnlearn) and contact the hosts at [email protected].
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We Are Each Other's Business

***CONTENT WARNING*** This episode includes discussion of self-harm. Please feel free to not engage with the episode if this subject matter is not in alignment with where you are in your journey right now. It’s ok to take care of yourself. On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss the mental health crisis we’re facing in the United States and the particular challenges Black men face in dealing with mental health crises. Their discussion evaluates the limits of our strength and intelligence in dealing with our most difficult issues, when we learn we’re not allowed to cry or emote, and the challenges associated with determining how much and when we can lean on each other. “It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness.” – Chuck Palahniuk “we are each other’s harvest:we are each other’s business:we are each other’smagnitude and bond.” – Gwendolyn Brooks, an excerpt from “Paul Robeson”   Mental Health Resources: If you are considering suicide or are in emotional distress, consider using the National Suicide Lifeline: Dial 988 or 1-800-784-2433 talkspace.com: Talkspace users have access to licensed therapists through the website or mobile app on iOS and Android. betterhelp.com: BetterHelp is a mental health platform that provides direct online counseling and therapy services via web or phone text communication.
5/23/20241 hour, 8 minutes, 4 seconds
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Friendship between Men and Women (with Kyra Jones and Jonee Perry) (3rd Anniversary Show)

On this episode of BMU, the guys celebrate the 3rd year of BMU with the first women to join the podcast, their friends Kyra Jones and Jonee Perry. The group discusses the nuances of platonic friendships between straight men and women, the foundations of their beliefs about who gets to be friends, and their models for friendship between men and women. The episode includes stories about their parents' responses to their early interest in relationships, the pitfalls of their socialization around college being a place to meet a life partner, and Tom Thumb weddings (LOL).
5/9/20241 hour, 11 minutes, 47 seconds
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Are *You* That Somebody?

On this episode of BMU, the guys explore our romanticization of relationships and how those narratives fail us in practice. They revisit the foundations of what they learned about seeking relationships from elders as young men, consider how media shaped their expectations of how relationships would play out in their lives, and detail the internal work we all need to do to show up well in relationship.
4/25/20241 hour, 9 minutes, 53 seconds
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Baldwin and Black Rage

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss Black rage in the context of James Baldwin’s famous quote, “to be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost all of the time…” Their discussion probes the value of rage, our desire to dispel rage without offering it legitimacy, and what it means to accept that folks have a right to be angry. They explore the distance between American culture’s response to Black and white rage, the need for joy amidst the rage, and share their favorite Baldwin quotes. The show takes a hilarious turn with the surprise return of “Really, Bruh?” “Billy Porter on race, recognition, and the Middle East” (The Guardian) “The Negro in American Culture” Radio Interview (1961) Black Rage by William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs Edwin references the killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta Police (Wikipedia)
3/21/20241 hour, 10 minutes, 13 seconds
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Stakes is High

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss the dangers of disconnecting ourselves from our emotions. They consider the ways we learn that our emotions aren’t worthy of time and attention and how much of our orientation to our emotional responses is connected to generational grief. The conversation includes reflections on the cost of abandoning empathy, the need for us to bear each other’s burdens, and the critical need for Black men to grasp and practice these more fully human ways of being.
3/7/20241 hour, 5 minutes, 16 seconds
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Friendship Between Queer and Straight Men (with Dr. Derrick Tillman-Kelly)

On this episode of BMU, Dr. Derrick Tillman-Kelly joins the podcast to talk about how his identity as a queer Black man has shaped his relationships with straight Black men. The guys discuss the importance of the language used to discuss queer identities and its capacity to create division and undermine queer folks' safety. They also discuss the fallacies of anti-LGBTQ sentiments in the Black community, the foundations of the friendships the three of them share, and revisit the seminal article "Seven Gay Texts: Biblical Passages Used to Condemn Homosexuality" by Robert K. Gnuse to discuss the acceptance (or lack thereof) and experiences of queer people in the church.
2/22/20241 hour, 23 minutes, 26 seconds
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Knowing When It's Time to Go

On this episode of BMU, the guys contend with the consequences of putting your head down to push through hard things at the expense of trusting how we feel. How do we know when pushing through isn't the answer? How do we know when it’s time to make a change? During the conversation, the guys contend with what moves us to escapism, the coping trap, and the challenge of hearing ourselves.
2/8/20241 hour, 8 minutes, 44 seconds
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Storytellin'

On this, the 50th episode of BMU, the guys return from their holiday hiatus with a story to tell… well, stories to talk about. Their discussion considers the significance of the narratives we share about ourselves, the narrative structures we value and accept, whose narratives we regard as true, and the trouble of choosing sides when we have limited information. Jonathan Majors’ repeated invocation of Coretta Scott King, Katt Williams’ viral interview, and the protest at Emmanuel AME Church set the backdrop for the conversation. The discussion references the following podcast episodes: Pablo Torre Finds Out – “The Whistleblower: Smush Parker Tells His Truth” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWFEMq7prXc Club Shay Shay – “Katt Williams Unleashed” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oRRZiRQxTs Zooming With The Homies - "January 4, 2024" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFxyBVjCmfU
1/18/20241 hour, 9 minutes, 50 seconds
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Keep Ya Heart

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss the release of André 3000’s new album, New Blue Sun. They discuss 3000’s anxieties around dropping new raps and their uneasiness about the mixed reactions to the news that NBS would be a flute album. Their conversation considers the implications of our expectations of art and the artists of whom we call ourselves fans, evaluates our entitlement to critique of their work and choices, and explores our relationship with other folks’ freedom as an extension of our conceptions of our own. Andre 3000’s interview with Rick Rubin on the Broken Record Podcast: https://youtu.be/LjHcHTJ8D5k?si=vlS0AvkQKDp3WKa_
11/30/20231 hour, 8 minutes, 1 second
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Inheritance

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss the contradictions they live into when going through seasons of transition. Seasons of focus require discipline that can challenge our ability to balance striving and staying connected. Their discussion explores the challenges with viewing themselves as more than the sum of their accomplishments, and our attempt to balance the truth of the solitude that sometimes comes with working toward our goals with our need for community. This episode references "Family" by The RH Factor: https://open.spotify.com/track/6Pi2hod3YtmRgeyhWJkcGK?si=2163611046dd4b12
11/9/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 3 seconds
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Tender Headed (with Olatunde Osinaike)

On this episode of BMU, the guys are joined by Olatunde Osinaike, and preview his forthcoming book Tender Headed. Kyle and Edwin offer their impressions of the poetry as Olatunde shares how his experiences brought him to this work. The discussion centers the nuances of masculinity and manhood, being in process, and the overlap of their STEM educations and identities as creatives. Olatunde Osinaike is a Nigerian-American poet, essayist, and software developer. He is the author of Tender Headed (Akashic Books, 2023), selected by Camille Rankine as winner of the 2022 National Poetry Series. Tender Headed is available for pre-order prior to its December 5th release date at https://www.akashicbooks.com/catalog/tender-headed/, and can be purchased everywhere thereafter.
10/26/20231 hour, 17 minutes, 32 seconds
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Adult Friendship (with Dr. Christopher Travers)

On this episode of BMU, the guys welcome the podcast's first guest, Dr. Chris Travers, to discuss the work and nuance of establishing and maintaining friendship as Black men. Using examples from the friendship the three of them share, Kyle, Edwin, and Chris highlight the need to practice vulnerability, deal with our insecurities with honesty, and risk rejection, tension, and conflict to grow the platonic relationships we participate in with other men. Check out Chris’s company, The Communion Collective on IG: @the_communioncollective Xavier Dagba’s post on the dangers of trying to design a life without disappointment: https://x.com/Xavierdagba/status/1709999904846704901?s=20 Tricia Hersey’s book, Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto: https://thenapministry.com/
10/12/20231 hour, 34 minutes, 35 seconds
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Deion Slander?

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss the rise of Coach Prime and his program at the University of Colorado, asserting that we can both enjoy the entertainment and be critical of his methods. The discussion includes assessments of his time at Jackson State and the rhetoric he used to characterize his experience as he departed, thoughts about the Primetime/Coach Prime persona, and more. An impromptu "Really, Bruh?" considers Mel Tucker's folly. Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/141584/forty-million-dollar-slaves-by-william-c-rhoden/ Secretaries of Education, Agriculture Call on Governors to Equitably Fund Land-Grant HBCUs: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretaries-education-agriculture-call-governors-equitably-fund-land-grant-hbcus#:~:text=U.S.%20Secretary%20of%20Education%20Miguel,grant%20peers%20in%20their%20states. Mel Tucker Fired for Cause: https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/38504840/sources-michigan-state-expected-fire-mel-tucker-wed
9/28/20231 hour, 7 minutes, 31 seconds
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Love & Money

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss the curious connections between romantic relationships and capitalism. Acknowledging that they are no one's relationship experts, they discuss the ways we've woven capitalism into our dating choices and wonder if swiping left and right, dating for marriage, and prioritizing entertainment in relationships are best practices for getting what we say we want. Then, our co-hosts make a special announcement.
7/27/20231 hour, 12 minutes, 14 seconds
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Good Guys

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss their reasons for moving away from defining themselves as good guys. Their conversation unpacks their past motivations for identifying this way, the fallacies built into the good guy motif, and the ways they ultimately learned to leave that role behind. "Really, Bruh?" considers the value of our reactions to the recent Keke Palmer/Darius Daulton fiasco.
7/13/20231 hour, 20 minutes, 24 seconds
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It's in the Game

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss their beliefs about having game and its value. The discussion considers their earliest experiences with attraction, where and how they learned to get romantic attention from women, and whether game is inherently deceptive. "Really, Bruh?!" returns because the Supreme Court is wildin'.
7/3/20231 hour, 19 minutes, 26 seconds
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Black Don't Crack

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss their perspectives of aging as Black men in their late thirties. Their discussion includes questions about how our society really feels about getting older, the motivations for our routines and healthy habits, and their thoughts about their own mortality.
6/8/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 31 seconds
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You mad?

***TRIGGER WARNING: Minute 62:00 contains a retelling of a scene from the movie Crash and describes a depiction of sexual assault. On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss the difficulties we experience moving through and dealing with anger. Their discussion considers how they first learned to engage with their anger, how poorly we're equipped to process it, its usefulness, and share thoughts about learning to handle our anger in community.
5/26/20231 hour, 10 minutes, 26 seconds
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Father Figuring

On this episode of BMU, the guys share their thoughts about not yet having biological children. Their discussion reviews their socialization to the role of fatherhood in their conceptions of their manhood, pervasive discussions about the importance of time and money in being able to family plan, and how their lives are different than the ones they would have imagined for themselves in their 20s.
5/11/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 40 seconds
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BMU Turns Two!

On this episode of BMU, the guys celebrate the podcast's second anniversary by going back to the beginning and reflecting on the lessons learned along the way. Kyle and Edwin talk about how the podcast's slow start, their favorite moments, and the things they're yet in the process of unlearning.
4/27/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 7 seconds
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Jonathan Majors

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss their reactions to the domestic violence allegations against Jonathan Majors. They work through the cultural context of the allegations, the importance of our reactions, our juxtaposition to celebrity, and the difficulties encountered when attempting to respond in a way that builds the kind of world we all want to live in.
4/13/20231 hour, 12 minutes, 22 seconds
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Maybe I'm Selfish

On this episode of BMU, the guys discuss the value of selfishness. Their conversation considers how they learned that selfishness was unacceptable, how those lessons grew into "good guy" behavior and its attendant expectations, and they wonder whether selflessness is an ideal we should even aspire to. "Really, Bruh?" is back with a play-by-play of the reactions to a "punch" thrown in the Women's NIT.
3/30/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 51 seconds
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Forgiveness

On this episode of BMU, the guys answer an email from a listener about forgiveness. Their answer flows into a larger discussion about how we learn the process of forgiveness, navigating conflict in non-avoidant ways, and understanding what motivates us to forgive. 
3/16/20231 hour, 1 minute, 5 seconds
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Hard Conversations

On this episode of BMU, the guys explore the challenges of having hard conversations. They unpack their early experience discussing difficult topics with family and the ways people pleasing can tempt us to embrace false peace and put off healthy conflict. Michael B. Jordan headlines our "Really, Bruh?" segment.
3/2/20231 hour, 8 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Grapes Ain't Sour

The guys are back with a pre-Valentine's Day discussion about attraction and arousal. This episode considers the difference between the two, whether we should be pursuing one or both, and how our society is designed to bias us toward quick fixes.
2/10/20231 hour, 15 minutes, 9 seconds
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Self-Love

In this episode, the guys discuss self-love. Their conversation touches on what self-love looks like in practice and how we can plug into good sources rather than always pouring out. They also answer the popular question of whether we have to learn to love ourselves before we can love others or be loved by others. 
1/12/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 15 seconds
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Logic vs. Feelings

The guys close out 2022 with an evaluation of the false dichotomy between logic and feelings. Their discussion includes a breakdown of the societal implications of establishing a binary relationship between logic and feelings, the importance of balancing the two, and a dope real-world example of logic without feeling involving John Coltrane and a robot (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjONQNUU8Fg). This week's really bruh focuses on recent hot-takery surrounding Megan Thee Stallion and Brittney Griner. 
12/23/20221 hour, 10 minutes, 35 seconds
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Sex & Shame

In this 30th episode (!) of BMU, the guys discuss the shame their upbringings associated with sex and how it shaped their journeys learning about themselves and their desires. The discussion unpacks the problems with Christian instruction around sex, identifies the issues with an "all red flags" approach to sex and sexuality, and highlights some of the real consequences of our commitment to doing things the way we've always done them. Kyle and Edwin share some vulnerable stories about the effects of shame on their own journeys of self-discovery, and open up about the work they're doing to unlearn the belief that their bodies, sex, and sexuality are problems. 
12/1/20221 hour, 7 minutes, 54 seconds
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Aquemini

In this episode of Black Men Unlearning, the guys sit with the concept of building and leaving legacies. The conversation considers how our egos, the past, present, and future all factor in to how we pursue establishing legacies for ourselves. This week's "Really, Bruh?" addresses the #RecastTChalla trending topic, referencing a conversation between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ryan Coogler from the first episode of Wakanda Forever: The Official Black Panther Podcast. We highly recommend you check it out. The discussion also references a previous BMU conversation about the multitudes we contain in EP23: "We Wear the Mask." 
11/17/20221 hour, 7 minutes, 52 seconds
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Grief and Spectacle

The guys discuss Takeoff's untimely death and the sometimes uncomfortable feeling of grieving people we don't know personally. The episode criticizes TMZ's "reporting" and highlights the challenge of making space for grief while pictures and videos of the deaths of Black folks are treated as clickbait and viral content. This week's "Really, bruh?" is dedicated to the Brooklyn Nets.
11/3/20221 hour, 53 seconds
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Adulting

The guys discuss adulting, particularly as it pertains to the pursuit of lives that bring us joy. The conversation leads to them figuring out when the concept of adulting entered our collective consciousness, and evaluate our beliefs about who is deserving of leisure. This week's "Really, bruh?" wonders where all the crabs have gone.
10/21/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 9 seconds
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Dragging Billionaires and Ime Udoka

It's a "Really. bruh?" takeover! Kyle and Edwin extend the segment into an entire episode, taking Kanye (Comrade West) to task, contending with the announcement of the Super Bowl Halftime show and the billionaire status of Rihanna and Jay-Z, taking LeBron to task for his support of Tory Lanez, and discussing Ime Udoka's foolishness.  The show references Bassey Ikpi's "I'm Telling the Truth But I'm Lying," a memoir in which she explores her experiences with bipolar II and anxiety.
10/6/20221 hour, 6 minutes, 57 seconds
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Health is Wealth

The guys talk about the challenges Black men face in maintaining our good health mentally, emotionally, and physically. The conversation includes vulnerable discussions about their own fears around healthcare, battles with loss, challenges with battling COVID, and the importance of rejecting individuality by managing our wellness in community. The episode also includes the debut of BMU's new segment, "Really, bruh?" 
9/1/202259 minutes, 22 seconds
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What does accountability look like?

In this episode, the guys discuss the fallout from Deshaun Watson's sexual assault cases, and the poor job we do of practicing accountability in our society. The discussion touches on our takeaways from the Me Too movement, our reactions to other assault cases by prominent Black male celebrities, and the lengths to which we'll go to protect our feel-good.  This episode cites reporting by Jenny Vrentas in the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/07/sports/football/deshaun-watson.html) and an opinion piece on the reactions of Deshaun Watson's teammates by David Dennis Jr. (https://andscape.com/features/why-arent-nfl-players-speaking-out-on-deshaun-watson/).
7/22/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 6 seconds
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We Wear the Mask

*Warning: This episode of Black Men Unlearning contains adult language.* On this episode of BMU, the guys consider what it means to be authentic and if it is possible to embody multiple authentic expressions of self.  The discussion ranges from our use of code switching, social media habits and how we come to understand the multitudes we all contain. Today's episode references a conversation between Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin, an excerpt of which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdR0PVznL4o. 
6/9/202255 minutes, 20 seconds
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You ain't from Russia...

The guys are back and wondering why we spend so much of our lives being in a rush. The episode includes discussion about the where we learn to be in a hurry, the capitalism of it all and what we stand to lose by rushing through our lives.
5/26/202249 minutes, 43 seconds
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What did we learn?

The guys discuss the Will Smith/Chris Rock altercation and how our perspectives and biases shape our responses. Their discussion considers the importance of the rhetoric used to characterize the conflict, how men's roles as protectors factor in to navigating major boundary violations, and what we can take away from how the situation unfolded in the public sphere.
3/31/202257 minutes, 13 seconds
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Long Hair, Don't Care

On episode #20 of BMU, the guys explore their hair journeys, taking it all the way back to barbershops in the 90s. They discuss their first experiences growing their hair out, their families' response to their long hair, society's perception of Black hair and the link between standards of professionalism and white supremacy.
3/3/202257 minutes, 10 seconds
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The Good Life

Kyle and Edwin explore what it means to live the good life or at least *a* good life. The discussion starts with their past perceptions of what pursuits make our lives good, and transitions to evaluating the barriers that stand between us and living/obtaining the good life.  
2/17/20221 hour, 37 seconds
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We tired.

Kyle and Edwin are back with the first new BMU episode of 2022, and they're tired. The episode includes discussions about the forces that conspire to keep us exhausted, making good choices about showing up in for ourselves and others and focusing on what we can control.
2/3/202259 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Responsibilities of Men

Kyle and Edwin switch gears from "Are men on trash?" to discussing the the constructive responsibilities of men to in moving communities from the world that is to the world that ought to be. The conversation references the following literature: Roots for Radiicals: Organizing for Power, Action and Justice by Edward T. Chambers; Love as The Practice of Freedom by bell hooks; Notes of Native Son by James Baldwin.
6/10/20211 hour, 4 minutes, 46 seconds