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Heavy Circle: Uplifting Black Masculinity

POSTED: 02 July 2021


Watch an open conversation between Black men of multiple generations and backgrounds, discussing their experiences of education and mental health, their hopes and ambitions






"There's wealth and greatness in your feelings ... that you're not accounting for because you're busy dismissing them." — Dr Kumar Birch



In this time of increased loneliness, uncertainty and isolation, statistically, young Black and mixed raced boys have been the worst hit by the pandemic. It’s not enough to be anti-racist; it’s time to open up spaces to celebrate Black and mixed race voices and their stories, in order to normalise conversations around male vulnerability, strength, creativity and mindfulness. This event sought to nurture growth and facilitate a safe space for male vulnerability, cultural expression and the passing on of gained wisdom. You can watch this event back below, featuring guest speakers Dr Kumar Birch, Kio Briggs, Alain ‘Fusion’ Clapham, Cordell Johnson and Michael Lawson-Falomo.

This event was programmed as part of Autograph's Open Call 2021. It was produced and curated by Gifted, by Nature and co-produced by Renaissance Studios.



watch back the event




about the speakers

Dr Kumar Birch

is a Clinical Psychologist in association for Black Minds Matter UK - an organisation that connects Black individuals and families with free mental health services, seeking to normalise its relevance and accessibility. With 10 years of experience, Dr Kumar’s work involves supporting young people/adults/couples/families to increase their mental well-being through talking therapies. He is passionate about working with men and racially minoritised groups, where he strives to support people in addressing the challenges posed by different aspects of their identity (e.g gender, culture, faith, etc). Dr Kumar's aim is to help the Black community move beyond the difficulties that have repeatedly caused pain from generation to generation towards rich fulfilling lives.

Kio Briggs

is an entrepreneur, writer and artist: he is the founder and CEO of Gifted, by Nature, an arts and entertainment production house that invests, amplifies and supports artists in literature, music, sustainable fashion, fine art, screen and performance entertainment, centralising narratives around personal growth, mindfulness, sustainability, social activism and self expression. Born in Lagos Nigeria, and raised between Port Harcourt, London and the USA, Kio has had a multicultural upbringing that greatly influences his perspective and work. He released his self-published title Living Free: The High Philosophy in 2017, followed by Meditations: on Freedom in 2020.

Alain 'Fusion' Clapham

is an educator, creative producer and a lead facilitator for YouTube. He empowers thousands of young people to better navigate the digital landscape while also helping award-winning CEOs discover their own stories of transformation. Alain is founder of @BMTstories – an immersive live and online experience celebrating the “awesome everyday” stories of black men and women.

Cordell Johnson

is a Director, Editor and Videographer, producing content for Grammy Award winning artist Burna Boy, for his official content across world tours, music/press releases, and television appearances. Cordell has also co-directed for award-winning rapper Stormzy, on the production of Scary, and he has filmed every #MerkyFest to date. Cordell has also directed social campaigns for the likes of: Ugg, Estée Lauder, Glam Glow, ASOS, Crepe City, Boiler Room, Converse and more.

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Michael Lawson-Falomo

is an A-level student, a current recipient of the Amos Bursary and participant of the Sutton Trust US Programme. He has published essays for Thinking Black (Oxford) and NCH London on geopolitics and the liberation of Black people. Michael has a deep-rooted interest in sustainability and land development and was awarded The Property Prize in 2021 for designing a new city in the UK. He hopes to become a Corporate Litigator, inciting change in the continent of Africa.

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PART OF AUTOGRAPH's 2021 OPEN CALL

Each year, Autograph has an Open Call for event proposals from emerging cultural producers who are working on a new or early stage project. For successful applicants, Autograph provides a budget, curatorial fee, and support to help make the event happen. This event was a result of our 2021 Open Call.

supported by

Banner image: Team HEAVY, courtesy of Gifted, by Nature.

HEAVY CIRCLE illustration by Benedetta Manfredi @be.moody

Other images on page: 1) Courtesy of Kumar Birch. 2) Kio Briggs photographed by Emily Almodovar. 3) Alain 'Fusion' Clapham photographed by Christopher Beschi. 4) Courtesy of Cordell Johnson. 5) Courtesy of Michael Lawson-Falomo.