Men’s Health US is out with a 22-page special report: Race, Racism, and Black Men’s Health inside its September 2020 issue (out on Aug 18th), headlined by cover star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, captured by Dana Scruggs.
The actor, best known for his roles in Aquaman and Watchmen, and this fall’s upcoming Candyman and The Trial Of the Chicago 7, has spent the last few years redefining who gets to be a hero in movies and on TV. He recounts his first experience of racism, the importance of educating oneself, and the roles we all have to play in the social-justice revolution.
On experiencing feelings of rage during the pandemic and on the heels of George Floyd’s death:
“Being a black man in America means one has to learn to hoard as many resources as possible for survival. In the story of that one afternoon in Culver City, I experienced feeling loneliness, depression, frustration with system oppression, anxiety about expressing anger in a Black body, helplessness.”
On one of his first times experiencing racism:
“One of the first times I remember experiencing any kind of victimization centered on my Blackness was during my freshman year at Berkeley. I studied architecture, and for architecture students, it was common to spend the whole night working in the studio. One night, I left the studio around 1:00 a.m. to go to my dorm and get something to eat, and then I headed back to the studio to keep working. As I approached the building, there was a woman going inside, just a couple steps ahead of me, and I thought, Okay, I’m just going to have her let me in. She must have felt me walking behind her, because she began to hurry. She made it to the door, and as she was going to close it behind her, I tried to go in after her. She turned around and pulled on the door and wouldn’t let me in. She said, “Stop, you don’t belong here.”
As we stood on either side of the door, still slightly open, I went to pull out my ID—to say, Look, I’m a student, too. She said, “I’m gonna call the police and tell them that you’re trying to rape me.” I pulled the door open, and she began running and screaming at the top of her lungs, “Help! Help! He’s trying to rape me!” It’s 1:00 a.m., and I’m trying to get her to be quiet, but she’s still screaming, so I just stopped and let her walk. I knew there was no rationalizing with this person. Two minutes later, I walked up to the studio and sat down at a computer. I saw her across the room, but she wouldn’t make eye contact.
The campus police came in, because she called them. They asked her to step out to talk, and then they called me out to ask what happened. They apologized and left. What more could they do? I went back to my computer to work, and I remember being so angry that I cried. It was frustrating. I deserved to be there. Period. That was my reminder that even if I did everything right—played the game by the book—some things in life would be unavoidable. Because I was Black.
I was 18 years old. I did the only thing I knew to do. I cried, and I swallowed that shit.” (source)