Friday, November 14, 2014

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Black Men and Depression Pt 1

Black men and depression pt.1 | Yes, We Rise

Editor's Note:  Jamesgirl wrote an informative series on Black Men and Depression. Be sure to read her other posts on this topic and explore her insights on this important mental health issue within the black communityBlack Men & Depression, pt. 2: PTSD and Black Men & Depression, pt. 3: Suicide

Depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and the Black Male

This week I'm starting an installment on Depression, PTSD and the Black Male. I will explore some ideas around how our men are the forgotten, misunderstood population in our society especially concerning mental health issues.

Many would rather that you fear them than to pull back some layers and look inside and behind their facade of hardness. This week I saw an interview in which Kendrick Lamar did what I am trying to do through my writing here. Admittedly, it often seems like a feeble attempt to destigmatize depression in the face of the scope of this epidemic. I hope it is helping somebody. Anyway, I digress. 

He shared in a radio interview that he has lived with depression for a long time. In his lyrics for " i " he says he's been “dealing with depression since adolescence”. The song " i " is a rally cry against all of the life circumstances that impede so many.

The reason why the song and interview resonates deeply with me is because Kendrick becomes a town crier of sorts for all of us who have suffered from depression; specifically the young, black urban men who contend with poverty, violence, mis-education, racism, unemployment, underemployment, etc.

He asks the question, “ What do you want from me and my scars? And because there is really no answer, not a sufficient one, he declares, “I love myself”. When he declares this, in my mind this shatters the thick, slightly opaque glass that separates many black men from their reality of desire of self love and making their way through this world. But the reality is as Kendrick says, "duckin' every other lesson, I can never see the message, I can never take the lead, I can never bob and weave".

His words are important because they give a voice to many young and not-so-young black men; the most maligned group of people on the planet. The way that America “handles” our young, black men, our Trayvons, our Michaels and the others... leaves with them with a deficit, a lack of protection as though they are not valued.

I'm not victimizing them here just stating some facts.

They are the most feared, misunderstood, and possibly the most marginalized in many instances. Although you may observe them in a pack culture; deep squads of them, wall-to-wall testosterone lining street corners and back alleys, or on sports teams or in a hip hop entourage... their understanding and perception of their mental health and subsequent inclusion in discussion around depression, PTSD and anxiety could not be more isolated or exclusive of them. They often stand alone in this space, angry and seething, dying inside not allowed to speak of their pain.

I will be exploring this more in depth. Since I am not a man and only have a perspective that's informed by research, observation and the personal experiences of a male friend, I would love to hear personal stories from any brothers reading this. I write these post to turn the light on for somebody. I hope you can see.


** Jamesgirl **


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