As we turn on the tv, pick up newspapers, and watch the continuous unfolding of race relations in America, it seems to be a distinctive constant. Blacks are in a perpetual state of unrest when it comes to security in America. America has historically placed itself in direct opposition to the collective peace of Black Americans. Specifically focusing on the word collective. It is not enough, nor a fair representation, to view the few well off blacks as a direct result of the “changed times” in American history. So before we explore the state, and root, of mental distress in the black male psyche let’s keep a couple things in mind:
- Blacks, males specifically, face various forms of stress/trauma triggers
- The experience of blacks are not meant for debate, it’s meant for education.
- Trauma is real and has deep lasting effects.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder –
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. (Mayo Clinic)
According to the definition and studied cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the continuous reminders of trauma serve as triggers to fragile minds not giving them adequate conditions to develop a healing. As black men and women are forced to watch blacks gunned down by public servants, neighborhood watchmen, and terrorist with no justice served their perspective of life becomes less optimistic. Without giving a deep history lesson, we know that not too long ago it was the cultural norm to watch blacks lynched in public while being forced to look the other way.
In today’s time, we have various accounts of unarmed black individuals losing their life for trivial encounters that did not warrant the use of deadly force. Not to mention, the direct & personal ability of the majority of blacks to be able to recall their own unwarranted/highly intense run-ins with police officials that felt like the potential end of their world. Then to witness countless black deaths to no avail counts as trauma.
These experiences consciously & subconsciously tell blacks that there is no room for their safety, life, and justice in America. It puts them in a position of high alert. It numbs them to the death of those who look like them. It triggers anxiety, depression, anger, dissension, and confusion to name a few. It also serves as an advertisement of the role and value of black males in America. If we do not believe the constant circumstances of black men dying in public and broadcast nationally does not affect the brains/thought process of blacks — then we can’t believe the billion dollar advertising industry is effective either.
To see repetitive images of black males stretched out in the streets soaked in their own blood and not be affected is the equivalent of not knowing the McDonald’s jingle when the music starts. Not to mention, with all this reasonable anger that is being provoked and evoked out of the Black Community, there is a constant narrative on whether or not it is plausible enough to even consider changing the rules of engagement. Which further tells blacks your life, value, and rights are negotiable. This is not the only slight to the plight.
As black males find it in themselves to step and speak up about the trauma and inequities they face, a vast majority including media outlets do their best to dispel it and convince them it’s either in their head or their own faults. Victim blaming is the new politically correct. When we see countless experiences of white suspects being treated with alternative means of defusing the situation, it says you’re (blacks) below the standard of deserving this treatment.
Yet, all of these experiences somehow are not enough to prove to America that black lives are under a systemic attack from the judicial systems sentencing inequities to the police deadly force. How can the black experience in America find itself comfortable and progressive with these experiences lingering over their lives? If this tale was equally flipped to reflect the experiences of whites or homosexuals, would the value of life still be up for debate?
To My Fellow Black Male,
It is time you rearrange your thinking and desires for inclusiveness. It is time you find value in your distinction above all other contrived images of your presences in this society, and expand your views beyond the borders of America. I understand that watching black bodies constantly dropping around you tends to make you numb to your own mortality, but do your best to find more worth living for. At times it feels as if we’re all standing in a line waiting…either waiting for life to get better, or life to be over.
We have to take the power back into our hands. We have to shape our view of the world with tangible experiences. Travel is a must. Not from state to state but internationally. Go see the world, and take some time away from the traumatic American experience. We have been conditioned to see America as the place where all things wonderful exist, if you know that is not true for you go hunting to find where is. I am not telling you to pack your bags and move I understand it is much more complicated, for many than that. I am encouraging you to explore the world that was given to you by your mere divine right to existence. See what other cultures feel about life, and your value in it.
Read this amazing article by Kent Johnson, co-founder of Black & Abroad. Click here. The world is not America. There are so many places and experiences that are awaiting your presences. Go.
We have tried every form of negotiations, and to no avail. I understand, for us, living in America often feels like standing in quicksand. You are no longer obligated to making others comfortable with your blackness. You’re no longer obligated to speaking in a way that best serves the false sense of dignity America imposes on you. Your pain is valid, but it is also fuel to grow. It is fuel to organize. It is fuel to energize. You’re more than a hashtag, headline, and R.I.P. T-shirt. You’re more powerful than the system would like you to believe. The wellbeing and productivity of our future is directly in proportion to the status of our mental health. Protect your mind, and stay aware. From this moment forward, I forgive us for misunderstandings and things we did when we didn’t understand. I give you patience and love to forgive yourself. It’s ok to need help and even more ok to ask.
As the days continue, we will grow stronger and every attempt by this system to destroy us will fail and backfire on them. Soon, very soon, you will find the liberation and peace we and all those before us seeked. You are loved, you are valued, and you are worthy.