In the midst of COVID lockdowns and closures, a beautiful online space for men of color has flourished.
It’s called "Chop It Up," a weekly session of sharing and brotherhood building. It's a virtual roundtable for men of color to come together and just talk.
Marcus Stallworth is the founder of "Welcome 2 Reality," a Waterbury-based digital media literacy company. While hosting trainings about the Black male experience, he saw a need for a space for men of color to gather in an informal, non-clinical way for a free-flowing conversation.
From money to career, marriage advice and conflict resolution, Stallworth said they talk about it all in "Chop It Up." The sessions are held off-the-record on Zoom every Wednesday night.
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“It’s not connected to cuisine or food. 'Chop It Up' can be to have a conversation just to literally have discussions of the day,” said Stallworth.
The sessions have become a weekly appointment for David Taft and Rafael Lozano, two men who each said the fellowship and support from other men without pretense has been lifechanging.
“You have so many men from different backgrounds and we all have a voice to finally talk about some things and get some things out there” said Taft.
“It’s kind of like having the family you never had, but you always wanted because you have a large group of men with different backgrounds, it answers a lot of questions that you can have,” said Lozano.
Taft said men of color carry a lot: the ability to share with those who understand their unique experience – without judgement – is irreplaceable.
“You have that weight of day to day I have to be very strong for my family, for me, the people around me. Its deeper than what a lot of people think, and you definitely want to be able to talk to people and let those things out,” said Taft.
After more than 60 weekly sessions, Marcus Stallworth said "Chop It Up" is something that’s here to stay. They hope to recruit more men every week to share a special togetherness, born when we all had to be apart.
“I learn something every single week about myself, about brothers, about resources and information. I just think it’s a wonderful opportunity," said Stallworth.
"Chop It Up" is open to the public. Meetings are held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. here.