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Brothers and Briefcases Is The Panel Society Knows It Needed

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Jul. 26 2019, Updated 8:21 p.m. ET

In an effort to dispel stereotypes surrounding black men, Brothers and Briefcases platform came into fruition. Brothers and Briefcases “is a national professional development initiative, connecting ambitious men of color.” Its impact dove deeper than your average networking event created for professional men of color. It has grown on to become a true testament of the humanity that is often stripped from the men of color in mainstream media.

Even more compelling, Brothers and Briefcases was created by a black woman.

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We sat down to talk to founder of Brothers and BriefcasesGuildia Lopez, and learned that the path towards making a difference is not as straightforward as it might seem. She was set in movements for women empowerment but,

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“I felt like women empowerment, we have so much of it. When we go to a women empowerment events, and when we start talking about families we want our partners to be as equal as us but don’t pour into our potential partner. Back in 2016, we knew that black and brown men were being killed often but we were seeing it more with social media, so I caught slight anxiety because I have brothers who are older than me and nephews who are now in their 20’s and I was like I can’t live like this. I want to be able to do something about it.”

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“I felt like women empowerment, we have so much of it. When we go to a women empowerment events, and when we start talking about families we want our partners to be as equal as us but don’t pour into our potential partner. Back in 2016, we knew that black and brown men were being killed often but we were seeing it more with social media, so I caught slight anxiety because I have brothers who are older than me and nephews who are now in their 20’s and I was like I can’t live like this. I want to be able to do something about it.”

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Lopez father has always been active in her life and her she has brothers who are entrepreneurs, so she wanted to show the world that black men are, in fact, active in their children’s lives and hardworking respectable men. The name first came to her in a dream, as she recounted, “I kind of started writing down what Brothers and Briefcases means and how can I pay it forward. So, one day at three in the morning; I texted my friend and told her I was having an event in a form of a panel discussion where we will be celebrating black and brown men, showcasing that they are businessmen, that they go to therapy and are capable of being vulnerable”.

In 2016, the media was in a frenzy surrounding the killings of black and brown men. Lopez became slightly anxious. In an effort to no longer live this way, she tapped into a segment of society that isn’t properly nurtured. She said,

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“I created a safe space where we can talk about mental health where we can talk about fatherhood because again there is another bad notion that black men don’t father, love and show up for their children, where men are comfortable to talk about trauma they’ve experienced and how valuable they are”.

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“I created a safe space where we can talk about mental health where we can talk about fatherhood because again there is another bad notion that black men don’t father, love and show up for their children, where men are comfortable to talk about trauma they’ve experienced and how valuable they are”.

She makes it a point to break down toxic masculinity to get to the root of their conversations. They get deep and on occasion, the audience has cried. For this reason, she wants anyone considering joining the panel to be prepared.

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“I want you to experience the event first because we do ask panelist questions that some men might be uncomfortable answering, you know? So, I want you to experience it. I want you to come to an event because I don’t want you to be up there and then feel like ‘Oh she’s asking me a question that I’m not ready to answer.’ Because we do talk about mental health. We do talk about abuse, we talk about relationships and things that are going on right now like the Netflix series When They See Us.”

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“I want you to experience the event first because we do ask panelist questions that some men might be uncomfortable answering, you know? So, I want you to experience it. I want you to come to an event because I don’t want you to be up there and then feel like ‘Oh she’s asking me a question that I’m not ready to answer.’ Because we do talk about mental health. We do talk about abuse, we talk about relationships and things that are going on right now like the Netflix series When They See Us.”

The Brothers and Briefcases panel is a continuous gathering of individuals setting up a community of mentorship. While the “briefcases” symbolize success, they’re also symbolic of the hurt men carry. This “baggage” is unpacked in the panel. She describes what can be expected at these events:

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“Expect for your mind to be shifted to a new understanding of what black and brown communities looks like, of what brotherhood looks like. Again, we have so much women empowerment, events, or platforms that it can become too watered down, but there’s an urge for brotherhood amount black men, that you can feel that when you attend a to a Brothers and Briefcases event: the yearn to be better, the yearn to be more. You can feel it.”

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“Expect for your mind to be shifted to a new understanding of what black and brown communities looks like, of what brotherhood looks like. Again, we have so much women empowerment, events, or platforms that it can become too watered down, but there’s an urge for brotherhood amount black men, that you can feel that when you attend a to a Brothers and Briefcases event: the yearn to be better, the yearn to be more. You can feel it.”

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