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Aaron Dread is a square peg in a round hole

Breaking Free: How to Survive Being a Square Peg in a Round Hole

Looking for a holiday gift that addresses the hard, cold reality of the times we live in, but also offers an inspiring message of hope? Look no further than the book Movement is Medicine, Vol. III: Men Determined to Break Free.

The volume is written by 12 black male authors, with each contributing a chapter about their experiences confronting barriers that most people face at one point or another in their lives, except that they have had the added challenge of confronting these barriers while also being judged based on their race.

Chapter 3 of the book is written by Aaron Dread, a personal friend of Dr. Bill Booker. Aaron grew up in Lancaster, County, Pa., a mixed-race child raised by his single white mother. He describes how he felt like a square peg in a round hole in his mostly white community. Aaron writes that he didn’t address many of the issues he experienced until he was in his late 20s, and is still discovering how to deal with them in his 40s.

Aaron’s is just one of 12 stories from men who describe struggles with weight, cancer, military deployments, parenting, career choices, and other issues that affect Americans across the spectrum. But these universal challenges are layered on top of largely uncontrollable and external pressures and conflicts.

“The current state of the union for black men is clearly a scary time. We are being gunned down in the streets and when we raise our hands to protest our thoughts and fears are being minimized. We are looked at as less than human. Our culture is looked at as being monolithic. America does not recognize that our lives are no different than theirs yet we are constantly dehumanized,” he said.

Unlike Festivus, however, this volume is not an airing of grievances. Editor Ramona Gaines, who started the series, said the project came to her when she was chronicling her weight loss journey. She realized that many of the women she was communicating with online had stories to tell about their struggles and dreams. So she sent out an invitation to 25 women to tell their stories. Sixteen ended up contributing to the first volume of Movement is Medicine.

The response was so overwhelming that she created a second volume. Later, she expanded the series to include the male perspective.

“Amazingly, a common thread that is visible throughout different volumes and within each writer’s story is the fact that each victory claimed resulted from our decisions to MOVE toward our God-given paths and sources of light rather than to wallow in self-destruction, misery, and self-sabotage and ultimate defeat. MOVEMENT, is, in fact, the medicine, the secret ‘cure all’ and the miraculous panacea, which each of us must take in order to walk into our destinies and to abandon the problems and issues which crippled us,” she writes in Volume III’s introduction.

Movement is Medicine book jacket

Aaron notes that the anthology “was created to present us as intelligent men with life challenges similar to every other man. You don’t hear about black men that suffer from PTSD, mental health challenges, career obstacles. The stories that we have shared put a human face on the black male. These stories can help others that may have experienced similar obstacles, and have others develop a more personal look at the human side of being a black man. We are sharing these thoughts because our stories have true value and need to be heard.”

Movement is Medicine, Vol. III, Men Determined to Break Free is on sale now for $16.99. You can buy it here.

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