This post was originally published on Seattle Medium

By Aaron Allen

Last Saturday, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic held its latest town hall meeting entitled, “Boys to Men: Art, Creativity, Masculinity and Mental Health.” The event, which featured Chukundi Salisbury as MC,  and Max “Diego” Hunter, Dr. Jeffery Greene, Drissa Sangare, and Moses Sun as panelists, touched on how outside influences like art, music, and upbringing can have a tremendous impact on the mental health and wellness of Black boys and men.

According to Sun, an artist and activist, art and music are important to the development of Black male masculinity and emotional wholeness, because the connectivity between the humanities and science can be used to influences the minds of young black people as a whole.

“This particular event is what I hope will be the first of many,” says Sun. “To talk about intersectionality between academia, the arts, spirituality, the sciences. Which is what I feel has been falsely separated and I want to see more of these things and the conversations happen so that we can truly collaborate to find solutions that work for our community.”

This segment of the town hall series drew on Max Hunter’s book, “Speech Is My Hammer: Black Male Literacy Narratives in the Age of Hip-Hop, to Black Masculinity.” His book draws on “personal anecdote, memoir, and literacy theory to unveil deep-seated ambivalence among black males.”

According to Hunter, he hopes this conversation will dispel literacy myths while discussing how artists, entertainers, professors, writers and every day, salt-of-the-earth Black males face their own struggles with literacy and manhood in self-conscious and ambivalent terms.”

Our goal is to have these townhalls to connect with the community so that we can have these ongoing conversations about things that are happening and that are important to the community, so that when there is crisis we have established relationships.

Max “Diego’ hunter, bioethicist, cultural theorist, and community healthcare activist at OBCC

Odessa Brown Clinic (OBCC) Throughout the year will be holding events for the community and OBCC families to connect in a more proactive ways that strengthens the community as a whole.

“Our townhalls where always reactive, to some crisis or something that happened in the community,” says Hunter, a bioethicist, cultural theorist, and community healthcare activist at OBCC. “Our goal is to have these townhalls to connect with the community so that we can have these ongoing conversations about things that are happening and that are important to the community, so that when there is crisis we have established relationships.”

One of the main accomplishments the series is proud of is the collaboration between community and practitioners, as there are primary caregivers who are looking to become more involved on “ground zero.”

“What I learned from being here is that there is more I can do for the community,” says Dr. Jeffery Greene, Adolescent Medicine at OBCC. “Being here at OBCC my goal is prevention. So, I’m hoping to partner up with community leaders and talk about strategy to mitigate those social issues that are creating problems for our community’s young people and future leaders.”

During the event, Maah Mootzadeh, who is a parent of a young man, shared her experiences raising a young man of color and his experiences dealing with achieving in a predominately white school and some of the struggles that come with it. Mootzadeh said that she found inspiration by attending this very timely forum.

“My experience here was just to being able bear witness,” says Mootzadeh  “To bear witness to just the incredible nobility of Black men and the Black men on that stage and it was a pleasure being here.”

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