We, graduates of the Live well Jamaica programme embarked on a six-week campaign entitled Man Up JA, in an attempt to uplift Jamaican young men, into a mental place of determination and self-appreciation. Campaign managers Julisa Sterling who is a medical technician, nurse, creative digital entrepreneur, and aspiring doctor, with experience working with various persons from different social, racial, religious, and economic backgrounds; and Daneil Creary final year Media and Communications student, an aspiring author with a passion for youth upliftment. We saw the need for male youth upliftment among our peers, we recognized the important role men played in our society, and how detrimental it would be if these said men did not play these important roles correctly. In doing so our campaign was aimed to reestablish the meaning of ‘The man’, and to all in all help eradicate the issue of identity crisis among young men. To start, we identified a specific target audience for accuracy.
Also, to better understand them we conducted interviews with young men from our target audience who we believe life’s story would be of a great impact on our research and audience. Our interviewees led us down the journey of their life, and how they had made decisions they believed could have been avoided, but mostly how they overcame those said issues. We hoped these stories would be relatable to our audience as well as motivational for them, a story they could learn from. One of the main truths that came out of these interviews that could not be ignored was the lack of fathers and fathering. Interviewees tended to not have a father, or had one but did not receive enough parental support from their fathers. In terms of guidance, teaching, upliftment, and support in the emotional aspect which led us to divulge in this area, and find out the connection between the lack of fathers, fathering, and identity crisis.
Identity crisis provided by the online Oxford Language dictionary specifies a time in one’s life when they suffer through a period of uncertainty, and confusion pertaining to oneself, and the role he/she should play in society, which sometimes leads to insecurity. In accordance with the present social distance law, we held a virtual discussion panel on zoom to properly identify these issues. Where the issues of fathers or the lack thereof, fathering, and the different issues affecting young men were discussed. The discussion panel was open to a wide audience, for anyone who wished to join. This event as well as any Man Up promotions were promoted through an Instagram page with open room for others to express their opinion, share stories, and find solutions to any problem they may face. Regular motivation pieces were uploaded to keep the target audience motivated, with the campaign tagline ‘Mindset is the key to success, your only limitation is yourself’.
In continuing with our research and to ensure we were handling all issues correctly I consulted the book ‘The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Struggling And What We Can Do About It’, by Warren Farrell, Ph.D. Educator, activist, and author, who spent fourteen years doing research to complete this book. Dr. Warren Farrell makes many important highlights about young men and the responsibility that parents, teachers, and policymakers have to ensure the right upbringing of young men. These issues range from dad-deprivation to boys being taught from the days of the war that they are more useful on the front line than showing emotions. Farrell also points out that these issues are less prevalent in women for in most single-parent homes there are mothers and hence girls would have someone of similar gender to sympathise with and learn from, whereas boys would have no male figurehead. He states that dads are more likely to set boundaries that breed a type of discipline boys need to succeed in life, without this discipline they fail and feel useless. Farrell also points out the dangers that dad-deprived young men face, he states that they are more susceptible to suicide, mental illness, and academic failure. Also, they are more likely to participate in criminal activity, which we also identified during our interviews. One interviewee who had found himself participating in criminal activity at a younger age, when asked if he believed it would have been different if he had a strong father figure, had this to say; “I don’t know if it made much difference, it probably did, and truth be told maybe if I had that person at home to look up to and get the proper guidance it would have been different…” Michael Morgan.
Farrell goes on to say that these said dad-deprived young men experience a thing he calls ‘purpose-void’, where they don’t feel like they have a purpose, or serve any purpose; which brings us back around to the identity crisis; a period of one’s uncertainty of the role they play in society. Farrell’s advice and I quote “Since boys are willing to die if they are told they are needed—as in each generation’s war—we must let boys and men know how much they are needed not as warriors to kill and be killed overseas, but as ‘father warriors’ to love and be loved at home. We must, therefore, help boys know about the positive contributions of dad-style parenting and how to communicate with a mom to lovingly create ‘checks-and-balance parenting’”.
In conclusion, the issues affecting young men are vast and wide and can come from many aspects of their life. Whether it be the lack of fathers, fathering, or rules men were taught to live by one of which shunned the showing of any emotions. We recognize more clearly now the dangers to young men faced with an identity crisis and furthermore continue to embark on this campaign more determinedly, taking keynotes from what we have learned from our research, in order to carry out an effective campaign. ManUp JA thanks you for your interest that led you to read this article and hope you can share in our campaign to more uplift young men. You can follow us on Instagram.
Remember, mindset is the key to success. Your only limitation is yourself.