After decades of incarceration, personal study and self-exploration, Harry Goodall Jr. decided it was time to own up to the part he played in his undoing, and become a man.
Self-destruction wasn’t the answer—that much Goodall did know. But once he discovered what a productive alternative looked like, he decided to share it with juveniles who may be headed down the same path that led him to prison.
How to Become a Man (2021) is Goodall’s answer, drawn from many resources and people who inspired him to not only change, but to give back to society.
“I used to go to a writing workshop called The Beat Within,” said Goodall. “Its founder, David Inocencio, has been going inside juvenile facilities for the past couple of decades. What [Inocencio] did in adult facilities was have us write from prompts, to be shared with the juveniles. He always made mention of how the teens loved the OG’s [Original Gangsters in prison vernacular] perspective, and that they valued our stories.”
Some men in prison talk about starting self-help programs, but Goodall did it from prison. How to Become a Man: A Self-Help Guide is but one tool that comes with Goodall’s workbook Maturity Isn’t a Right, It’s a Passage.
Goodall tackles the struggles of growing up as a Black male in America with the invisible yet inherent obstacles that stunt growth and maturity. The key, he writes, is to look within yourself, not outside. He offers advice based on his own life experiences, and what he sees impacting youth in contemporary times.
“I knew that I’m not the only one who went through the things I did in life,” said Goodall. “I realized admittance was the first part of healing, and that if I shared what I learned [in groups], it would give everyone a fighting chance to not grow up in the system.”
Goodall said there’s a dual part of reconditioning that needs to take place. “I can’t solely concentrate on restorative justice or rehabilitative techniques for at-risk teens alone, and not include the parents,” acknowledging what he said is “turmoil in the household.”
Goodall said he’s optimistic about his program’s reach. “The curriculum, along with the self-help book, will be distributed in every juvenile justice detention center, every probation department, and every junior high school in the state of California.”
The course is a 12-week program “that will make students more consciously aware of dilemmas that may appear in life,” said Goodall.
Lesson 1, for example, teaches at-risk youth about “Warning Signs,” and helps them to identify many of the false beliefs of what it is, or takes, to be a man. Lesson 2 delves into the young male’s notion of “Money, Power, Respect and Love,” leading to “The Saboteur Cycle” of self.
The final Lesson 12, “Be the Ambassador of the Change You Want to See,” teaches students to believe in themselves and to define their goals.
To accompany his writing, Goodall is also working to produce the training video, Innovative Rehabilitation, “A 12-step self-help course to curb juvenile incarceration.” Its purpose is to help facilitators teach the curriculum. Goodall is a member of Awareness Into Domestic Abuse (AIDA) and has written for San Quentin News, The Beat Within, Prison Journalism Project, and San Francisco Bay View.