Award-winning poets Ranieka Johnson and Aneisha Wright had such a successful run with an event called “Black Chick Monologue” that they decided to take another step forward with “MENace to Society.”
“(We) discussed the day-to-day issues that black women faced,” said Johnson of “Black Chick Monologue.”
“We discussed … several topics from rape to dealing with issues single mom’s faced and it was a hit,” Wright said. “So we wanted to make a male version of that.”
“MENace to Society” was held at the Renaissance on Madison last Sunday night (April 22). Through poetry, the two-hour show focused on several issues affecting the mental state of many black men today.
The “Angry Professional Menace” zeroed in on the behaviors of black men in the workplace while the “Thug Menace” explored the pressures of dealing with street life and gang-related issues.
And then there was the “Pretty Boy Playa Menace” brought into view by seven-time poetry slam champion Larry Cashmere.
“They say tonight’s show is ‘MENace to Society’, but it’s actually what men is to society,” said Cashmere. “A lot of people have misconceptions of what men go through. So we just wanted to emotionally show our side, give our perspective and break down the typical stereotypical demographic.”
Cashmere’s piece “Holes” dealt with how his upbringing and teachings from his father led him into problematic – and eventually failed – relationships with women. Art Unplugged creator Justin Coleman followed up with a spoken word performance of the “People Pleaser Menace.”
“When people think of someone as a people pleaser, they’re like, ‘oh, why is he so nice’ and etc. … and sometimes that can leave the door open to be mistreated or taken advantage of,” said Coleman.
“That alone can create a mental imbalance. When you’re so hung up on trying to please people and it doesn’t go right, it hurts, especially if you’re involved in some sort of a relationship. And as black men we’re told to sweep it under the rug.”
Perhaps the topic that moved the crowd the most surfaced with “Deadbeat Dad Menace” presented by Grant “Sir” Butler, who delved into how the child support system affected his pursuit of his right to be a decent father.
“A lot of people see this situation as one sided, not realizing there are men willing to die to see their children,” Butler said. “However, there are women who take their power within the system and use it as leverage against the man not realizing that it’s not only hurting them, but the child as well.”
“You can’t expect to be Superman everyday,” said Mental Health Therapist Brandy J. Flynn, who concluded “MENace to Society” with advice to those in need of professional help.
“As men, you’re taught to hold in your feelings, and that’s not OK. Be expressive, and know its OK to strip yourselves of that ‘S’ on your chest from time to time.”
(For more information, check out MENace to Society on Facebook.)