Eat to Live, Don’t Live to Eat: Black Men, Masculinity, Faith and Food
Brown, Letisha Engracia Cardoso
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Men often have poorer health outcomes than women. In the United States, Black men in particular tend to have worse health than not only Black women but other racial/ethnic groups of men. One factor that contributes to health is the role of masculinity. Previous research notes that men who cling to hegemonic notions of masculine identity tend to engage in negative health behaviors. However, hegemonic masculinity is not the realm in which Black men exist. Criminalized, surveilled, and subject to structural racism and racial discrimination, Black masculinities exist on their own spectrum separate from that of White men. One characteristic associated with Black masculinity is that of faith, and faith is a growing field of study with respect to health. This paper examines the relationship between Black masculinity as framed by faith in shaping the food and eating habits of Black men. Food and eating are central to health and well-being yet remain understudied with respect to Black masculinity through the lens of faith. This study offers a qualitative account of Black men’s experiences through the use of in-depth interview data. The key finding of this study is that fasting operates as a mechanism of health promotion for Black men. This paper utilizes the term Black men as an all-encompassing term of members of the African diaspora as opposed to African American in order to recognize the diversity of the participants in this study.