Hear Our Voices: We're More than the Hyper-Masculine Label: Reasonings of Black Men Participating in a Faith-Based Programme

Geraldine Brown, Paul Grant

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    Black masculinity is governed by a narrow set of negative stereotypes with little opportunity for Black men to construct their own identity. However, a theme in the literature is that Black masculinity designates an epitome of masculinity that is both feared and revered in equal measure (Clennon, 2013). Drawing on interview and observational data from a study examining the views and experiences of Black male prisoners participating in a faith-based prison intervention, this chapter shows how factors such as ‘race’, ethnicity, gender and religious beliefs intersect and are implicated in how Black men constructed their masculine identities. It highlights the importance of creating a humanising space within prison for Black men identified as ‘high risk’ to engage in critical reflection, self-healing, spiritual, emotional and physical well-being and self- awareness and to consider the valuable contributions they could make to others (family, friends, community). This process of reasoning within this humanising space allowed the men to discuss and perform 'what it means to be men' informed by their roles as father, sons and brothers, carers, workers and partners. They spoke openly spoke about their failures, aspirations, hopes and emotions. The programme facilitated a representation of Black masculinity that is either ignored or rendered invisible by the dominant discourses. The space for 'real talk' allowed the men to move beyond the stereotypes that imprison them and freedom to construct their own identities individually and communally.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNew Perspectives on Prison Masculinities
    EditorsMatthew Maycock, Kate Hunt
    Place of PublicationCham
    Number of pages24
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-65654-0
    ISBN (Print)9783319656533
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

    Publication series

    NamePalgrave Studies in Prison and Penology


    • Black men
    • Masculinity
    • Prison
    • Identity
    • Faith based prison intervention


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