I believe I’m a totally different person from how America see’s a black man. I believe I’m a gentleman. In all respects — I’m a gentleman.
— Benjamin Oluwanifemi, College Student and Model
I believe I defy every stereotype of a “typical” black man. I seek knowledge, I am motivated, I am loving, and caring. I hope to really change the world and change the image or representation of a black man in America. And, I will do this by motivating young black men and teaching them that their life is as important as their counterparts. No matter what race, creed, or religion.
— Reginald Fils, Entrepreneur, High School Student
I’ve always fought hard to not be portrayed in America’s stereotypical view of a Black man. I’ve always fought to not be put in a bucket. As a Black-Latino I am so many things so guess what, I don’t fit in your bucket. My family is from the Dominican Republic. I was born in Puerto Rico. I love Hip-Hop. I love Bachata. I love John Mayer. I have a Degree in Engineering and a minor in Math. You can never know these things about me if you don’t endeavor to see beyond my Blackness.
— Bolivar Geraldo Jr., Computer Engineer
I am the stone that the builder refused. Being multi-ethnic in all communities including the black community can be a challenge. Being wrapped together with so many ethnicities like Mayan, Filipino, and African American can leave people confused and leave you left out. The way a stone becomes a precious gem is by tumbling and reshaping itself over and over again. I have spent years refining myself to become the Cure. I am the cure for what holds us all down. I am prana. I am Qi...
— Mike Massey, Yogi
I believe the image painted by mass media on Black men is mostly based on assumptions which are in itself a form a mental laziness. The truth of the matter is black men, just like any other race, run a gamut personality types and experiences. We are individuals who have a story to tell. I see myself as the antithesis to what mass media tells black men they are supposed to be. I seek to break down assumptions and make people question their ideas of what a black man is and what a black man could be.
— Mohamed Vandi, Accountant
I am of the African diaspora. A Pan African global thinker and lover. I chose to be born when European colonies in Africa were being overthrown, liberation activities in the U.S. were succeeding and all manner of beleaguered people were awakening to take control of their stories and destinies.

Because of those formative experiences, I’ve learned to view my experiences with financial struggle, court systems and potentially deadly encounters as chapters in my story rather than the whole narrative.
As an African-American man with a physiology that could be many things and a name that is unusual in the U.S. (The name comes from my experience with Rastafari. Most people think it is Arabic, but the etymolog y is I and JAH. It means, we are all one within God or Truth. It is a personal statement of Kujichagulia, self-determination); people are sometimes unsure if I come out of the U.S. capitalist tradition of people as property, better known as slavery. I do.

My people have been in the U.S. a long time. I’ve got generations of freedom fighters in my family and the fact we’re able to do this interview is testament that they did some things right. Like all families, they left me work to do on my own. That’s the image of a black man that I hold for myself. One who desires to manifest greatness even more than my ancestors did.

The greatest generation has yet to be born.

In our museum that just opened in DC, there is an exhibit about the hospitality business my great grandfather started on Martha’s Vineyard in 1900 – after he escaped from slavery. At that time, it was the only place guests of color could stay on the Vineyard. I’m sure he and I both want my exhibit to be even bigger than his, as I want my children’s to be even bigger than mine.
— Haji Shearer