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Opened Up: Black Masculinity and Friendship

An illustration of three masculine-presenting Black people in a canoe, paddling through a swamp. The person in the front is wearing a green baseball cap, a purple T-shirt, green shorts and a yellow life vest. The person in the middle is wearing a light green beanie, sunglasses, a blue T-shirt, khaki shorts and a yellow life vest. That person has facial hair on their chin. The person in the back of the canoe is larger-bodied, wearing glasses, an orange T-shirt, blue shorts and a yellow life vest. There are swamp trees in the background and the words "Embodied Opened Up" in the lower left hand corner of the illustration.
Charnel Hunter

Building intimate friendships can be difficult, especially for men and masculine-of-center people. Guest host Omisade Burney-Scott talks to four Black men about how they navigate masculinity, friendship and vulnerability.

Friendship and connection are more important than ever, but can often be out of reach for men. And once you add up the challenges presented by patriarchy, racism, and sexism … it’s even tougher for Black men.

Guest host Omisade Burney-Scott, creator of the multimedia project The Black Girl’s Guide To Surviving Menopause, examines the barriers many Black men face when forming close relationships and meets four men who are breaking down these walls in their own lives.

Artist and community organizer Derrick Beasley tells Omi about his latest medium-spanning exhibition, “Surviving the Burn: Black Water Vernacular,” and how his work seeks to reshape views on masculine intimacy and care. Tiq Milan, a trans activist and thought leader, also joins the conversation to discuss how he queers masculinity and how this mindset has positively impacted his personal friendships.

Omi rounds out the conversation by speaking with her teenage son Taj and his best friend and cousin Zachary. Taj and Zach open up about the difficulties Black Gen Z men face in opening up to other men and share how they are able to express their vulnerability through theater and friendship.

Special thanks to Jesse Huddleston, William Buster and an anonymous listener for sharing their experiences.

Read the transcript

Paige Miranda is a producer for "Embodied". Previously, she served as WUNC’s 2023 AAAS Mass Media Fellow.
Omisade Burney-Scott (she / her) is a Black southern 7th-generation native North Carolinian feminist, social justice advocate and creative with decades of experience in nonprofit leadership, philanthropy and social justice.
Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.