MANifest: A manhood development experience

curated by Dr. Obari Adéye Cartman/co-facilitated by Ayinde Cartman

"They teach them how to tie a tie. We teach them how to untie a noose."

            MANifest is workshop series that guides young men through a rite of passage towards their highest potential and power. Through MANifest participants will engage in a variety of interactive multimedia discussions and activities that help them discover their purpose, cultivate communication skills, and define success for themselves within holistic cultural, historical and sociopolitical contexts.   The curriculum incorporates hip-hop and literacy as a vehicle to explore the values, roles, expectations, struggles and opportunities of manhood.

 from a mental health and African-centered perspective. We will watch, listen to and read popular hip-hop songs and interrogate the messages they promote about masculinity, identity and success. Workshop participants will be asked to engage with the music as critical consumers, instead passive recipients, to increase their ability to comprehend concepts embedded in the images and lyrics. Particular attention will be given to issues of sexism, Black culture, economic sustainability, fatherhood, power, and mass incarceration in ways that they impact our concepts of masculinity. We will examine the themes typically included in corporate produced hip-hip compared to some of the themes in the music produced by more grassroots artists who make deliberate efforts to use the power of words to uplift and inspire. 


Overall Goals:

  • Create opportunities for critical thinking/feeling (to improve social, political, and inner analysis)

  • Self awareness (character & purpose)

  • Honor women (prevent violence/add value to women’s experiences)

  • Value learning (literacy and education)


Specific Takeaways:

  • understand the influence of popular and mainstream infrastructure on our daily lives and decisions

  • improve the value of literacy

  • understand consensual intimacy and be able to identify how to create safe space

  • connect purpose to individual goals/plans to a larger community vision. Learn to consider money and careers from this perspective.

  • understand capitalism’s influence on how we conceptualize race and gender

  • be able to identify and critically evaluate the personal, media and institutional sources of your ideas about manhood

  • improve their ability to understand and articulate emotions and how they interact with their thoughts and plans

  • enhance skill set and will to be able to challenge peers with problematic behavior and ideas

  • value self-care: hygiene, health, spirit. In order to be able to care for others: children, elders, less fortunate

  • understand the impact of historical trauma on current social and political circumstances

  • enhance skills (i.e. communication, conflict resolution, discipline) to develop and maintain healthy relationships

  • know the power of African people in the past, present and future


5 Core workshops:

  1. Understanding my world- overview of the importance of considering race, class, culture, history and environmental contexts

  2. Decoding hip-hop: what do the messages in the music have to do with me

  3. Maintaining good mental health

  4. Developing healthy relationships

  5. Vision and planning for success


Complete MANifest program:

[12 weeks. 2-3 hours per week, broken into two separate 1 or 1.5 hour sessions. Each week will cover a distinct topic]

Week 1> Introductions. What’s going on in the world now that makes these conversations urgent?

Week 2> History and culture. Where did we come from?

Week 3> Systems analysis and activism. What can I do to improve the community and world?

Week 4> Valuing women. Why are women so important to us?

Week 5> Relationships and communication. What are the ingredients of healthy relationships?

Week 6> Sexism and consent. How to develop intimacy with safety?

Week 7> Identity and purpose. Who am I?

Week 8> Emotional intelligence. Why are emotions important and how can I learn to use mine?

Week 9> Healing. How do I deal with the stress and traumas of life?

Week 10> Family. Who are my people, how did they influence me, and what kind of family do I want to create?

Week 11> Education and economics? What does school and money have to do with achieving excellence for me?

Week 12> Vision and Planning. What is success for me and what habits do I need to obtain that?


Materials needed- projector, screen, speakers. Paper and pen.



About the co-facilitator:


Ayinde Cartman is a multi-dimensional artist and organizer, whose work serves to heal and empower marginalized communities through visionary thinking and dynamic performance. Based in Chicago, he intends to combine ideas and strategies in the interest of establishing a community revitalization blueprint that makes use of people's skills and passions while adapting to flexible lifestyles.

Cartman, a graduate of Morehouse College, brings an impressive and diverse record of activism to his new role. He has almost a decade of experience organizing, mentoring youth and adults for a multitude of organizations and perfecting his talent as a performance artist.

After graduation, Cartman held poetry and theater sessions through After School Matters, and continues to uphold the importance of the arts with his teaching position with Alternatives Youth Services. As an organizer with Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100), he was involved in street-team campaigns to raise the minimum wage for workers across the city, and cultivated strategies to build membership and involvement in community initiatives. He has also worked with Lawndale AMACHI Mentoring Program, building relationships with Black boys in need of guidance. Cartman’s participation in the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) gave him a cultural and political foundation of the African diaspora. His wide array of experiences and his proven accomplishments have gained him valuable national networks and resources that will help him in his new role.

Currently, Ayinde serves as the Executive Director of Real Men Charities Inc. and is a school counselor for the Becoming a Man initiative of Youth Guidance. Ultimately, through imagining alternative ways of living, he seeks to expose the human capacity for self and collective love.

About the curator:

Dr. Cartman is a father, son, brother, uncle, thinker, writer, therapist, photographer, and drummer. He is a Chicago native, where his cultural and educational foundations were firmly planted by several African-centered institutions and communities. He received his undergraduate degree from Hampton University and a Ph.D in clinical & community psychology from Georgia State University. He has worked as a therapist is a variety of settings ranging from a family center to a women’s prison. He has worked as a professor of psychology at Georgia State University and the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern University.  Currently Dr. Cartman works as a trauma focused clinician and restorative justice coach with H.E.LP., LLC (Healing Empowering and Learning Professions) in Chicago Public Schools. He is the President of the Chicago chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists and the program director for Real Men Charities, Inc. He also conducts trainings for adults and workshops with youth about maintaining good mental health, critical analysis of hip-hop and media, racial and cultural identity, developing authentic manhood, and healthy relationships.


Dr.Cartman’s new book is called “Lady’s Man: Conversations for Young Black Men about Relationships and Manhood." It is a critical thinking guide that addresses historical trauma, hip hop, emotional intelligence, intimacy, communication, power, purpose and a variety of other topics. Its conversational tone makes it an easy and enjoyable read for young men.  It has been received with great critical acclaim:  ".Cornel West referred to him as of the wise and visionary writers of his generation". The book is called "...penetrating, poignant and personal..." by Na'im Akbar, and an "instant classic" by Jessica Care Mooore. Jawanza Kunjufu says is does a "brilliant job in empowering Black males to reach their full potential". The book is a tool for families, teachers, mentors, and coaches to help young men think critically, and build character, discover their purpose, love themselves and each other, communicate with clarity and intention, understand the need for proper education, relate to women with integrity, express their emotions, understand their place in history, develop healthy coping strategies, and learn how to build a world where all people are truly free.