African-American men suit up to fight stereotypes

Dominque Hill, assistant director for intramural sports and faculty adviser to MISTER, prays before 63 African-American Baylor students at Pat Neff Hall for the #100blackmeninsuits challenge on Tuesday. The group gathered in front of Pat Neff Hall wearing suits to represent their resilience against the negative labels that African-American men often face. Photo credit: Dayday Wynn

By Joy Moton | Reporter

Young men from various fraternities, leadership positions and communities united Tuesday evening wearing suits to demonstrate their status as more than a stereotype. A group of 63 African-American men gathered in front of Pat Neff Hall, accepting a challenge to unite and capture a photo of themselves in suits to represent their resilience against the negative labels that are often stamped on African-American men.

“I want Baylor to know that we’re actually on campus and not just a denomination or a minority or a statistic to help Baylor’s campus out,” Stafford junior Charlz Bisong Jr. said. “We’re not all athletes. We actually have real majors. We’re actually trying to become real people.”

The #100blackmeninsuits challenge was designed to promote awareness that African-American young men can unite to create a positive impact. African-American men from Stephen F. Austin, Prairie View A&M, University of Houston and Lamar University have also posted photos of themselves in suits, united against the violent generalizations about them.

Amid all of the controversy surrounding the negative footage of black men in the media, this challenge serves to show the side of African-Americans that isn’t typically documented, according to Houston junior Reginald Singletary, president of Baylor NAACP.

“The point of this challenge is not only just to take a picture and not only just to be something for one day but to really break stereotypes and show the unity amongst black men,” Singletary said.

The event was coordinated by MISTER, which stands for Males Inspiring Success Through Education and Relationships. It is a support group on campus that creates a safe space for African-American men to discuss minority issues as well as solutions.

“Its primary function is to give students an opportunity to talk about different issues that affect them and give them a space to feel supported in the things they might be dealing with,” said Dominque Hill, assistant director for intramural sports and faculty adviser for MISTER.

Geoffrey Griggs, assistant director of multicultural affairs, was inspired to start this group out of his own experiences from a similar support group at University of Kentucky.

“I realized that as African-American males, there are things on a college campus that we need that may not be readily available to us, and I wanted us to be able to provide a culture where there are other successful African-American men on campus, and we can put that example in front of students while also giving them a time to talk about issues that affect them,” Griggs said.

MISTER meets on the third Thursday of each month, and advisers hope it will continue to grow.

“Hopefully, we continue to grow and show that there are good things going on with African-American men at Baylor University,” Griggs said.

The men hope that when the picture is displayed across social media, it will represent them for who they are and who they have the potential become.

“This shows that we’re here to stay, we are who we are and we’re unapologetic about who we are,” Singletary said.