The Amherst College Black Student Union held its annual Kwanzaa celebration last Friday night. The other members of the BSU executive board and I hosted an empowering night of community reflection and togetherness in the Octagon. We began by acknowledging the transformative work of members of our community through an award ceremony followed by a catered dinner. 

What does it mean to be a man? It’s one of those questions that has comparable philosophical depth to questions about the meaning of life or true happiness. I have always found it unsettling when someone is told to “be a man” or to “man up.” The presumption is that manhood is an impermanent state, one that can be denied or undermined at any time. I believe the status of being a man is one of gender identity, a social construct, how one perceives themselves. One can be born male, but society makes judgments about how much of a man one truly is.