A man smiles from his chair in a barbershop
Mo Bro Darren BrownImage by: Keiron Berndt
A man smiles from his chair in a barbershop
13 July 2022

Darren’s Story: Using My Mo to Start Conversations in the Black Community

Mo Bro
Darren Brown
3 minutes read time

I’ll admit it. I got tricked into doing Movember. Way back in 2010, when Rick Ross was banging out hits, I thought that I should try to grow a beard like The Boss. It wasn’t going so well and my girlfriend at the time didn’t have the heart to tell me.Instead asked me, “Hey, have you heard about this thing called Movember?” So, after going as Rick Ross for Halloween (obviously), I cut the beard, grew a moustache and began my Mo journey.

After 12 years Mo’ing and fundraising for Movember, I’ve stuck around because I’m inspired by how the movement has evolved. With every initiative added over the years, Movember has kept the same core belief in sight – helping men’s health. Adding mental health to the conversation got me even more interested in the cause and the inclusion of different communities in the discussion, specifically the African American, is what has kept me here.

The old adage that men don’t go to the doctor, and they won’t talk about their feelings is definitely true. I would say it’s even more prevalent in the Black community. Years of mistrust from doctors and stories passed down from generations of misdiagnoses of family members has caused Black men to be more than a little hesitant about going to the doctor for check-ups. Furthermore, one of the stereotypes that Black men have is being ultra-masculine, and while it is a stereotype, we ourselves sometimes help feed that. In a lot of circles of Black men, it’s hard to be “tough” talking about anxiety and depression.

During the pandemic, it was reported that Black Americans showing clinically significant signs of anxiety or depressive disorders jumped from 36 to 41 percent. Even with this spike, it was also reported that Black Americans were significantly less likely to report symptoms of anxiety, depression, or both during the pandemic.

Another wake-up call is that health issues seem to target Black males earlier. At 50 it’s recommended to talk to your doctor about prostate cancer and whether it’s right for you to have a PSA test. But, if you are African American, you should be having this conversation at 45 or even as early as 40.

" There is no time like now to have conversations around health to break stigmas in the Black community. "

How have I been using my Mo to start these conversations? One place is at work. I’m a consultant at Accenture, where we have a workplace Movember team. We raise funds for Movember and our firm matches the donations. I take every chance I can to brag about all the things our firm is doing to help support the cause. I’m appreciative that Movember discusses the different ways that different communities are affected by men’s health. In 2020 I sat down with Mark Hedstrom, US Executive Director of Movember, to produce a podcast where we had a candid conversation about what Movember is, what it does, and how it helps. We published this to Accenture’s African American Employee Resource Group. Broadcasting to this community helped to raise awareness and potentially save lives.

The other way I’ve been starting conversations is in my day-to-day life. I go to a predominantly Black barbershop, so it’s always great when I go to shave off my beard and have a Mo for Movember. It gives me an excuse to tell everyone in the shop why I am doing it and create awareness.

I try to keep my message pretty simple when it comes to the conversations I start with my Mo:

  1. Go get an annual check up
  2. Donate to Movember – an organization that’s doing great work in the area of testicular and prostate cancer research, as well as breaking down the stigma of men talking about their feelings
  3. Talk to a friend and ask them how they are really feeling

One year I went for a Freddie Mercury Mo. Another year it was Lionel Richie, then former-Yankee, Reggie Jackson. Who knows what this year will be, but I am sure it will spark conversation for a good cause.

Support Darren’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for men’s health.