“What’s a real man?”
Alberto Garcia writes that question and two others on a whiteboard in a social room on the second floor of the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs’ Barreto Club in Humboldt Park. Facing him are a dozen boys — eight 8 to 11 years old; the other four are teenage mentors.
“I want you guys to think really deep,” says Garcia, 27. “Three questions. No. 1, male stereotypes. No. 2 is, ‘What is a real man?’ Then a mural idea. If you had a blank wall, or could put up anything. That breakout session starts now.”
They divide into two tables to discuss the topic. At one, Shacole, 13, and takes the lead. He quizzes each younger boy in turn.
“What is your definition of a man?” he asks the kid next to him.
“Somebody who pays the rent,” answers Malachi, 11. “Who has a good living and a job. Takes care of himself.”
They bump fists. Shacole turns to the next boy.
“What is your definition of a man?”
“Working hard,” says Tawan, 11. “Helping others.”
“What is your definition of a man, Avian?”
“Someone who cares, first of all, about yourself,” says the boy, also 11. “Respect everyone. Caring. Not just a man’s job to make all the money.”
Shacole adds his own perspective.
“Caring, self-respect,” he says, ticking qualities off on his fingers. “They don’t beat on people. It’s not the man’s job to make ALL the money.”
To continue reading, click here.