In this series on Black masculinity, we speak to a number of Black men on what masculinity means to them, what they have learned or are in the process of unlearning, and how Black manhood reimagined has presented itself in their lives and work.
Mic. Carter is a Toronto-based creative that through experimental design and stylization, has developed an interest in fusing social justice, futurity, abjection, and community with fashion. The founding designer of L’Uomo Strano, a clothing brand invested in creating responsive beauty for the femme-identified, gender non-conformist’s wardrobe Mic has continued to push boundaries.
Outside of their work as a noted designer and place-maker, Mic teaches middle school in Toronto.
What is Black masculinity?
“Black masculinity is something that I find and this is so cliché, but something that I find really beautiful, really evasive, really policed, and really amorphous.”
I think, especially after the beauty that was “Black Panther,” I feel that my conception of Black masculinity, particularly outside of the gender non-conforming community has really been challenged and has really led to a lot of great dialogue both within myself and with other people, so I think I am still learning about what Black masculinity is.
Listen: What did you first learn about Black manhood?
What are you presently learning or unlearning about Black masculinity?
In terms of what I am trying to unlearn about being a Black man, or Black masculinity rather, I think it is always informed by what is currently happening or what is really forefront in my mind. For instance, the high school student who was assaulted by the TTC fare inspectors and by the police officers. That was really disgusting and resonated with me viscerally.
I am also engaging in a number of conversations with my students at school about, what does it mean to be a Black man now? What does it mean to be Black in Canada now?
Black masculinity at times, particularly in the spaces that I move through, have to carry the burden of educating other populations and I think what I am learning is that, though at times it feels like a really important responsibility, sometimes you just don’t need to do it on your own.
“I think that one thing that I am learning about Black masculinity is that that narrative of being of being a lone wolf is something that doesn’t have to continue being forefront.”
Listen: Mic. Carter: Why I Named My Style Collection ’Strange Man’
I know that when many people think of Toronto and when I thought of Toronto, I thought of it as a very open space that allowed for diversity; particularly in artistic settings to flourish and flow.
And I think that in the spaces that rejected L’uomo Strano in such odd and public ways, it really forced me to really reflect about what it meant to be a Black man with an alternative vision of the future, of Black masculinity.
That’s why I often opt to use models of colour who are on the spectrum of the gender and why I not just ask for them to model, but ask for them to participate within the design process, so that we can co-create a new language and a new platform for these bodies deemed alternative to feel self-actualized, to feel connected, and to feel beautiful.
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