Submit a Pitch: Black Manhood & Inclusive Masculinity

Illustration by Megan Rizzo

We invite scholars who interrogate the concepts of masculinity to submit a pitch by March 11, 2024. Invited contributors will submit an essay (800–1,200 words) and will be assigned a reviewer. Essays will be published within six months.

The Spark Magazine is published by the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan and offers timely and scholarly-informed essays on historical and current social issues. The Spark editorial values center a social justice approach to the review and publication process.

The discourse surrounding masculinity, particularly Black masculinity, has undergone significant reevaluation and repositioning with the help of social media. TikTok user @MrMarley18 ignited the viral galloping sensation of “Oh we frolicking frolicking” in what seems to be a brief visualization of their joy and masculinity through freedom in fields. I perceive this as akin to many instances when Black men utilized social media, music, and literature to perform masculinity. These attempts add to the liberating experiences for Black men to perform manhood beyond the rigid concepts of masculinity. In their own expressions of masculinity, Black men, and men from other marginalized groups, eloquently testify to the complexity, rewards and challenges, and even joy, of their lived experiences. This series will delve into the multifaceted performances of masculinity, with a specific focus on the experiences and perspectives of Black men and other male socialized identities.

We invite scholars who have interrogated the concepts of masculinity, its intersectionality with race, class, and other axes of identity, and its connection to the active quest for freedom of expression. We look to amplify how Black men and other socialized identities challenge dominant narratives by offering nuanced revisioning that accounts for the diverse range of experiences and expressions of masculinity.

For instance, rapper Kid Cudi utilized #YouGoodMan on X (formerly Twitter) to explore the intricate conversations regarding mental health struggles, a conversation that is often stigmatized in African American and adjacent communities in response to how men supress and or act out their emotions. Similarly, the movement BlackMenSmile prompted millions of Black men to share their smiles rejecting conventional and stereotyped ideas about Black masculinity. Or through the podcast space wherein Jermey Herte with Let’s Talk Bruh challenges Black men and male socialized individuals to seek space to be more expansive and complete versions of themselves.

At the same time, it is imperative to recognize how patriarchal masculinity has contributed to widespread misogynoir, transphobia, queerphobia, and homophobia. Patriarchal masculinity in ideology and the cultural role reveals pernicious and longstanding negative effects on everyone regardless of age, ability, and gender. We must consider how the revolving patriarchal practices we all participate in creates systemic harm to others in our proximity. We must seek the joy, love, and action through fields of community that leads us towards inclusive performances of masculinity and manhood.

For this Spark series, we welcome pitch submissions to consider the performances that invite men and male socialized to move away from traditional ideas of masculinity by thinking critically and taking action. As explained by hooks (1999), this shift requires us to redefine love in a way that goes against the prevailing beliefs. This new Love Ethic by hooks centers all dimensions of care, community, respect and knowledge. We seek work that is accessible in ability, age, language, and multidisciplinary approach. Potential essays in this series may consider the following questions, but are not limited to:

  • How do we warrant Black men and male socialized individuals to express their masculine self?
  • What action steps should Black men and male socialized individuals take in their everyday lives to adopt new performances of masculinity?
  • How can they unlearn socialization that perpetuates harm?
  • What stories and experiences from womxn could assist in identifying, unlearning and re-learning performances that could liberate Black men and male socialized individuals?
  • How should we implement a love ethic in progressive masculinity approaches?
  • How can we amplify the work by scholar-activists that is currently being done to challenge dominant narratives?

Please keep in mind that the audience for Spark is not specific to any discipline or education level. Envision the reader as someone with a broad understanding of research and scholarship, but without specific knowledge of your field. Pitches will be reviewed by considering public accessibility, grounding in diversity scholarship, and clear writing organization and style.

Authors must have previously produced scholarship or creative work directly related to the topic to ground the proposed essay. Priority selection will be given to members of the Diversity Scholars Network and those who co-author with graduate students. Invited contributors will receive writing guidelines to submit a first draft within 4–6 weeks of being accepted and will be assigned an editor.

The series will be curated by Michael R. Williams, assistant professor at Frostburg State University.

If you have any questions about the pitch submission process, please contact managing editor, Laura Sanchez-Parkinson at