Updated: Sep 17, 2021
A short story on WHY black men tears matter….
Why is the conversation surrounding mental health is never an easy one. This is especially true amongst black men. There seems to be some sort of unwritten rule that a black man that is vocal about their feelings is weak or less than. For as long as I can remember I have always had the mindset that I can handle anything thrown my way. Until Life kicked me in the A$$….
WHY as boys, particularly Black boys, we grow up with these images of morality and masculinity ground into our guts, we internalized that to be strong was to endure your suffering in silence..
It was the summer of 2018 June 12th; I had just finished hiking Runyon in the city of Los Angels.. As I head home to take a shower and post-workout power nap. I had a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach for no explainable reason…. I thought after the nap it’ll go away. But I was completely wrong. I was awakened from my nap by a call from my GREAT friend to tell me one of our bestfriends had committed suicide. The pain in my stomach was unbearable. I remember asking Denzel a million questions…… WHY??? For the last 3 years I’ve battled thoughts of WHY…. WHY would a person who seems so happy on the outside do something to hurt themselves and those around them. My initial thoughts were…
WHY didn’t I call him more? WHY didn’t he talk to me or Denzel about it? WHY did he feel alone? WHY wasn’t I there to stop it? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?
At 2:37 am PST June 13th, I drove my black Lexus from San Diego, California to Charlotte, North Carolina; in two days a total of 34 hours in a car filled with my thoughts and Red Bulls. A few days after I arrived in my home state the funeral was held. To my surprise, my GREAT friend decided to make me a pallbearer after knowing my dislikes for funerals but I was glad he did. Weirdly I didn’t cry at the funeral and I’m not sure WHY? Of course, I loved him and would miss him dearly but I just couldn’t cry. It wasn’t until a couple of months after his death; that I had an emotional release. A female friend of ours shared a letter he wrote for school with me. Throughout the entirety of this letter, I was shocked at the mountain of mental health red flags it had and the silent cry for help. I’m not sure why she decided to share this with me but I was glad she did. I was 27 at the time and very unaware of mental health or anything that pertained to anxiety or depression. I asked myself WHY didn’t I ever take the time toeducate myself earlier in life on these topics….maybe just maybe I could’ve prevented this…Maybe!
To you reading this, I want you to know that it OK to be vulnerable. You will find the greatest strength during the times when you feel like the load of the world is on your back. Surround yourself with people that you can talk to. Cry when you need to, that is why you have tears, use them. Identify your demons and face them as soon as you catch them. The longer you wait, the bigger the threat they become. Your mind is your engine, take care of it.