Recently, I had an opportunity to appear on the Dr. Oz show in a fitness segment.
The segment featured all men, different shapes, sizes and ethnicities. To appear on the show meant spending a good chunk of the day in a room with all these men. And appearing on national t.v. without a shirt. Doing that was certainly leaning into discomfort, but I hope that my willingness to something so bold will prove to be inspirational to my daughter. My wife asked me if the overall experience was a good one. Yes, it is fun to appear on t.v. I won't lie. But, I was reminded of why it has often been difficult for me to have male friends. I had to endure posturing, assumptions about my sexual orientation, and embracing of other male stereotypes. For instance, the need to ignore the fact that we were there for a show taping. I thought it was a good opportunity to sit and reflect. One of the segments featured processing hair, something that many black women do, but is not at all exclusive to them. As a parent of a girl, and a multiracial one at that, I watched the filming of that segment hoping to gain some knowledge and understanding that I might be able to use with my daughter in the future. But, many of the men were talking loudly during segments, sometimes even objectifying women. There was also a segment featuring a woman who was having trouble communicating with her children and only used yelling to do so. It was having an awful effect on her heart's health. She opened up and revealed how she was never listened to as a child, clearly a new revelation for this brave woman to share with a national audience. (I actually later thanked her for this bravery and honesty.) Unfortunately, this was lost on most of my fellow men in the green room.
A woman observed my parenting on the train recently and told me I should be commended. I was resentful at first. I do want to rise above stereotypes. And my parenting and time invested in my daughter's development is unfortunately still perceived as something few fathers do. But after my experience in the green room, I'm starting to appreciate her comment.