“Black men ain’t supposed to cry”. This is what’s branded into our DNA growing up as a Black boy. We have to be strong, tough, brave, and show no emotion to the world or be considered weak.
As a Black man I constantly feel uncared for in every aspect of life, but especially emotionally. The streets raise warriors who aren’t allowed to feel. You show the smallest hint of weakness and quickly be placed at the bottom of the concrete jungle’s food-chain. Harboring pain from everyday life, systemic oppression, lack of opportunity, and overall life restriction creates undiagnosed mental health issues that we must walk around through this Hell of a life while carrying this on our shoulders. This creates a weight of the world like feeling we are forced to hold inside with no opportunity to heal.
There is a huge misconception that Black people do not commit suicide, but that is completely false. I myself have battled depression and the thought of taking my own life. Sometimes the pressure becomes entirely too much and we think we just want it to be over. I found myself holding on to my own gun fighting myself not to pull the trigger. A lifetime of unhealed wounds bleeding and hurting all at once made the thought of dying that much more appealing. So imagine carrying all this pain into war. Imagine knowing the true conditions of our people and wanting to make a change. Imagine going out night after night to fight a militarized police force who want a reason to shoot a black man today. Imagine being told by the world you live in that you don’t matter. Imagine watching your entire life crumble around you as you fight day in and day out for the liberation of your people. Imagine losing your house, car, friends, family, career, life savings, etc. all because you decided to stand up to oppression. Even after all your efforts you see no real changes. You see everything you’ve sacrificed your life for start to become co-opted and the narrative switched from the answers your community truly needs.
Can you imagine that? Carrying your life’s pain around along with the pain of hoping to awaken and liberate your people all while having post-traumatic stress from being chased by tanks can weigh heavily on a person with no outlet for toxic energy. My healing comes from my music. I am able to release all my pain into my songs. Everything I’ve experienced and battled goes into my art. For someone who doesn’t have an outlet a simple ear will probably save their lives. I can only speak from a Black man’s point of view, but I’ve never truly felt that how I feel mattered to anyone. Even in a relationship, me being a man I am going to eventually sacrifice how I feel in order to make my woman happy. This also causes buildup of frustration and pain. Some Black men may deal are suicidal and don’t even know. They turn to numbing agents like alcohol, weed, pain pills, lean, or other drugs. Sometimes money can even numb the pain. So we turn to anything we can that will keep a substantial amount of money coming in no matter what it may be.
This all stems from PTSD which causes untreated mental illness. It makes us have uncontrollable tempers, makes us violent, makes us hopeless, and we stop believing in ourselves and anything else. Black men are warriors at heart. We are loyal and will die for love if need be. Healing is what we need. To truly matter is what we need. We teach our boys to show no pain and no weakness from the start of life. If we see our sons crying, we tell them to stop crying and wipe off those tears. We see our daughters crying and we pick her up and hold her. We do this because the world we live in is hard on a black man and we must make our sons tough from birth, but how we are doing it is all wrong. We must let our sons know it’s ok to feel pain. It’s ok to hurt. We must support and console them when they hurt. Yes, we must also teach them to be strong Black men, but they have to be allowed to heal. When a wound never heals you either bleed to death or it becomes infected. Healing is the key.
Dedicated to MarShawn McCarrel.