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Iyanla Vanzant A Conversation With Men

Updated on October 5, 2014

Iyanla has a candid in-studio discussion with a group of men about love, infidelity and the responsibilities of being a father.

Never was there a greater need for therapy and life coaching than the need in the African American Community. Something happened over the past 30 years that transformed how we interact with one another at an alarming rate. This show placed that hurt and situation in your living room and on your heart.

Watching Iyanla Vanzant discuss the issues of men with numerous children by multiple women – a discovery was made about those who are broken. Yes, those broken men may look handsome, dress nice, have careers/jobs, and hold it all together while promoting themselves to women, yet they are broken.

The audience was brought to tears in particular by one young man that attempted to commit suicide and had dealt with issues of being abandoned by his father and having a mother that failed him. To hear a mother ask for forgiveness and apologize for taking her anger out on him and not being there for him was so powerful. Ryan, a man with 4 children with 4 different women, and 1 on the way was able to display the person he was inside-hurt, damaged, and broken beyond belief. For him to forgive his mother and almost drop to his knees from hurt he hid/hides within was something to behold. This man needed the sympathy of other men and compassion (not judgment) for the situations that led him to make such choices. He thanked his mother for showing him how to care for his children and expressed his love for her. He forgave her for treating him badly due to anger and hurt his mother was experiencing. He admitted he was tired of being in this dark room, scared/alone with no one witnessing his cries for help to which his mother responded I see you and know you are in pain.

Another aha moment was when a man admitted he felt hopeless regarding the situation of all the children he created. Nathaniel father of 28 children with 16 women. He admitted that he didn't know how to deal with the reality he created. When Iyanla stood in front of him and spoke to him as a single mother and told her how she felt as a woman (representing a woman that was the mother of his child) left hurt and destroyed by promises of what was not true. She brought to him her hurt by giving him something so precious as her body and her womb only to be left behind. The reality of the fact that she “trusted him” and he was not in truth presenting the situation to be something that it was not. As a single mother she acknowledged that left her with her hurt, her confusion, abandonment, and she still has to figure out how to make things work with the children he left behind. She asked him to understand that she, representing the single mother, does not get the opportunity to leave or feel overwhelmed because she is left with the responsibility of raising children.

Iyanla brought to light, with discussions from men and women, the conversation that is not taking place amongst African-Americans. It's like a reality to the story line of The Color Purple where they explained between the fighting of Harpo and Sofia, the babies came.

Words can not express the deep inward search we need to conduct. Iyanla shared with the women that they were broken and had issues long before these men showed up. Their issues are their issues and were not solely created by a man entering their lives. So many women with father abandonment issues driven by a common thread “ I don't want to be alone.” There is a price to be paid, man or woman,when you can not be okay being one with yourself comfortable with who you are. No man or woman can substitute for the love you need to have for yourself.

One man even admitted he has used his charm and sexual behavior to get people to co-sign on property and vehicles. Perhaps this is the result of women who refuse to be alone so they settle and take whatever they can get so they aren't alone. How good can you feel about yourself when you are paying someone to sleep with you and lie to you about the possibility of a relationship? What does one tell one's soul or conscience when degraded by providing assistance with a man's finances? Oh how sad. What's happening to the African-American culture?

The conversation within the African-American community that is not taking place is how broken we are as a people. Men and women who engage in relationships like houses built on sand (without strong foundation) ,the superficial (spoken words and promises), and people broken seeking temporary release by casual-irresponsible sexual encounters leading to children. Broken people that seek broken interaction and create broken trails of hurt and devastating with every person they encounter. The love you seek is the love you need to have for yourself. There are devastating effects when you make decisions based on not being alone and based in placing band aids on gushing wounds. Rather than mastering the art of makeup and fashionable clothing, how about each person seek to tackle their demons and work towards becoming a whole and healthy person. When one is broken, they seek people that will continue to harm to ensure the self fulfilling prophecy takes place.

African-American people need to worry less about fashion, hair, and clothing and make it a priority (before creating children) to address any issues they might have. If you tried to commit suicide or in this case, continuing to have children by multiple women then feeling overwhelmed with the situation, then you need to ask for help. All these children are born in the cycle of fatherless children, damaged, and broken with no guidance. No one is having the conversation about good and bad choices, having these children meet their brothers and sisters, and no one is teaching and showing to make better choices. This program gave insight for women and was a mirror for men that encounter the feeling of being incomplete, isolated, and alone without a father. Despite this situation they (both parties) willfully put themselves in the same situations that led to such devastation and hurt created by having fatherless homes.

Collectively African-Americans need to have coaching to give guidance. For a man not to have any male role-model and be expected to know himself and have definition and example setting for being a man is a disadvantage. There should be more forums for men to stand up and state their hurt, need for help, and making the decision not to partake in creating the same bad situations.

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”
Lao Tzu

“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”
Ramana Maharshi

"When you see crazy coming, cross the street."
- Iyanla Vanzant

If you know yourself and love yourself, you can not live your life without purpose and decisions that reflect the love, dignity, and respect you have for yourself. Men and women collectively would not settle for the situation for such a headline as: 34 kids, 17 baby mothers.

For all men who witnessed this show and the ladies that partook into the minds of men, to quote Iyanla must do the work.

What are your thoughts on this situation?


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    • Reginald Boswell profile image

      Reginald Boswell 

      4 years ago from Alabama

      Healing is a wonderful way to continue a life with multiple errors. Thanks for writing a hub about this series presented on the O Network (realtalk247). Reality is hurtful and confrontations as these are the best way to become free. While growing up in the projects most of my friends had only one parent (mom). The reality of receiving guidance from a male may seem abnormal to the millions of latch key kids post Gen X. This is real, thank God for this venue that was created for males who normally only tell their deepest issues to God.

    • realtalk247 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thank you everyone for your comments.

      MsDora-Amen. We as a community are masters of dressing up and never addressing the beauty we should seek to be present on the inside as much as the focus is on the outside.

      Word55 and RonElfran - Thank you both for your comments. We have, as a people stopped recognizing and living with spiritual guidance and everything went haywire from there. Our men systematically have been broken and they need to help one another to become the men and leaders they need be in order to regain leadership in the world starting with their household. Taking responsibility and valuing themselves. When you value yourself you carry pride in who you choose to carry your seed-setting a foundation.

      Janshares. Thank you for your comment. Iyanla is amazing and watching her shows I always find a way to challenge myself and gain insight about the behaviors of others in terms of why people do what they do even when it produces undesired traits.

      I will have to check out the work of: Black psychologist A.J. Franklin.

      EyesStraightAhead, you are right that we need to understand the concept of all men/all women to be responsible for healing and helping others.

      Thank you everyone for your comments. This special was so moving, I'm sure we all shed tears. It created a sense of understanding that Iyanla brought to the surface.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 

      4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This post was eye opening. The statistics you shared are unreal in this day and did we get here? In one of your comments you said, "My AHA moment was realizing that so many people walk around aspiring to careers, dressed nicely, and inside are full of so much turmoil." This is true of all races and ethnicities. If we all talked about our hurt more and helped one another perhaps we could finally get to see Dr. King's dream come to fruition. Thank you for sharing. Voted up.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      4 years ago from Washington, DC

      AMEN!! This should have been your Part II hub. You've said it all with your assessment of the African-American male experience. There is so much to be expounded upon. Iyanla Vanzant is brilliant in her approach to bringing forth truth and eliciting compassion. Regarding your list, are you familiar with the Black psychologist A.J. Franklin? He did a lot of work in the 1990s about the stereotypes you mentioned. He called it the "Invisibility Syndrome of the Black Male." It's fascinating and full of truth. Look it up.

    • realtalk247 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thank you Janshares. I hope you continue to work with these men so they have some way of putting down the mask and expressing what is really bothering them.

      I too was moved and shed a few tears to see Jay so broken and then for the women to be broken as well(accepting anything). I was heart broken to see Jay so hurt even in his 40's, never leaving the pain of that little boy behind. The ladies manifesting the effects of not being taught by a caring male role model (father figure) to expect and accept better for their lives.

      My AHA moment was realizing that so many people walk around aspiring to careers, dressed nicely, and inside are full of so much turmoil. Men who are broken who don't know how to get help to heal but continue in self-destructive actions that continue to stress and hurt them. In the African-American community there is no acknowledgement of the baby-momma generations, lack of fathers in the home and how that effects both men and women. No one discusses the women that allow any man to entire their lives often resulting in their children being molested or sexually violated. There are so many secrets that are killing us that it's overwhelming. The Walking Wounded are the masses.

      Iyanla Vanzant opened a can of worms and brought to light the secrets of the community that the entire world can clearly diagnose as mental/emotional problems with actions that make no sense what-so-ever. Thank God for this conversation.

      I have encouraged so many men and women to watch the show because it is a way to begin the road to help, therapy, and understanding regarding the negative pattern and behaviors within our community. Therapy/Conversation is not a bad thing especially when one continues to make poor decisions to their demise.


      Let me get deep for a minute. So often African-American men are seen as good for only one thing (sex) and/or looking good as defined by the world. The media continues to show negative images of the African American male. I have encouraged so many men and women to watch the show because it is a way to begin the road to therapy and understanding regarding the negative pattern and behaviors within our community. Therapy/Conversation is not a bad thing especially when one continues to make poor decisions to their demise.

      If you ask anyone what comes to mind, based off media images, when it comes to black men you might here:

      sexual stallions,


      dead-beat dads,


      men who live off their women,

      intellectually inferior (aka stupid),

      never respecting their women in marriage/fidelity, uneducated/unskilled,

      low wages,

      ignorant speech,

      lacking class

      and men who dress like they are crazy/lost.

      African Americans need to think and expect better for themselves. Generations ago we were taught what sacrifices were made for African-Americans to achieve, we were taught you were supposed to be married with a family, you had to go to church to incorporate morals and a sense of what was right/wrong according to God's word. You understood that you start off small and work together for a better future.

      Now this new generation of "we don't need church/religion", I'm going to rap my way to money overnight, how many women can I sleep with at one time while lying about fidelity, and women who are like an oven with no brain.

      Hosea 7:4

      They are all adulterers, always aflame with lust. They are like an oven that is kept hot while the baker is kneading the dough.

      The community has to do better. Shaming and failing the ancestors this way can not continue. They did not shed blood for this "mess" in our community that individuals refuse to address.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Excellent critique and summary, realtalk247, of a ground-breaking series that took us all by surprise. I watched it and was mesmerized by each moment. I was moved to tears and intense emotion as I watched. I found the pain expressed by the men very real. I have counseled men for years and have witnessed men express emotional pain but this was different. It was the public acknowledgement of well-kept secrets in the African-american community that made the show so powerful and validating. Thanks for sharing your spot-on insights. Thank you, MsDora for sharing. Voted up and useful.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      The facts about fatherless is just too much to take in. I admire Iyanla she has brought out another painful moment in many people. To fix the problem is a problem itself.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      4 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      "African-Americans need to have coaching to give guidance." Very true. And the one institution that is charged with the responsibility and is in position to provide that necessary coaching is the church. In my opinion, it's the only institution that can. It exists in, and in fact pervades, every African American community, and can, at its best, speak with recognized authority on the issues of life. The church must recognize its responsibility to mentor young women and especially young men about the realities of life. Providing such mentoring should be a high priority focus of every church's ministry.

    • word55 profile image

      Al Wordlaw 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      This is an amazing reality in the African-American society. I applaud you realtalk247 for writing, putting this together and furthering the purpose of what Oprah's network is producing for our awareness. Yes MsDora, I agree with what you say here also. I've written articles about our neglects. We men need to fix what is broken. Our hearts need serious overhauling to fix the current or before endeavoring into the next relationship. It is time to stop abandoning and neglecting our responsibilities to our women and children especially if we desire to be real in society.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      It is hard to believe there are no comments here, but I hope there are readers. This is a very important issue and you gave very wise counsel on how we can begin to help ourselves. "African-American people need to worry less about fashion, hair, and clothing and make it a priority (before creating children) to address any issues they might have." I'm voting up and sharing!


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