Dior Clarke: Being a black boy for me meant being a bad boy, being masculine, being on road, having the most swag, and having the best-looking girls. You had to be a certain type of way to fit in, because it was what you saw your olders doing.
This hasn't changed much being a grown-up – I feel like my narrative as a black man is who I am meant to be rather than who I actually am. People expect black men to be a set type of way. They expect you to follow negative stereotypes.
Seun Omobitan: It was pretty much the same for me growing up. Being a black boy meant you were getting girls, you were funny or you were good at sport or music. The guys that used to MC in my area were the guys that were respected. These were the guys that could spit back-to-back on the playground.
Marvin Abbey: When I was growing up, you had to be the cool guy, and the cool guy meant having and doing certain things. You had to have Reebok Workout trainers, you had to have an Avirex jacket and a Nike tracksuit. You also had to be popular or be around the popular guy. It also meant being a little troublesome – we weren’t trying to be killers or anything, we were just having fun. And fun meant getting into trouble sometimes. We would hang around in groups, chat up girls, and look up to our olders – we were just finding ourselves.
But now, being a black man, I feel like being black is linked to so many stereotypes and incorrect narratives. The stereotypes that we are strong and fast don’t bother me – the problem I have is the fear factor that comes with being a black man. I get on the train, people move out the way. I can see white people feeling uneasy when I’m around, and that is because of how black men are seen and spoken about.