As a black man, there are certain things I am supposed to know and not need.
As a gay man, there are certain things I should crave.
As an artist, my psychosis (according to popular legend) is what makes me create and is the excuse for anything dangerous, self hating or odd that I exhibit.
Every black boy who then becomes a black male in society is traumatized to some degree.
We are herded into institutions that fear and shame us that are run by people who don’t understand us nor make attempts to address our particular sets of needs.
Many times I have heard educated, black folks who are raising our beautiful black boys refer to them in ways that indicate they (black male youths) are violent beasts who need constant watching over, correction by adults and can’t be trusted to make great decisions.
I have rarely heard anybody say that young black males need the same thing everyone needs: Love, a sense of belonging, and guidance based on the belief in their inherent goodness.
What I have heard offered for young black males is that they need “structure”(translation : domination and an obsessive approach to their subjugation early and often so that they will not be problems or a bother to anyone).
Having survived childhood and now thriving in adulthood despite all of the obstacles and dumb ways that people tried to “make me into a man”, I know from a lived experience that a whole lot of shit goes down when people are around men.
Men, listen up! There are a gazillion ways we can fight back, reclaim our humanity and make the world a better place all at the same time.
I am a firm believer in therapy and that it works.
We must build our love army with folks that have nothing vested in our not being ” right in the head”.
It is imperative that we marry, partner and befriend people who want and expect the best for us.
While it is not sexy or socially acceptable to crave and fight for mental health, it is needed.
We, as men, must demand that our pain be heard and addressed.
As men who want to change the world and ourselves, it is our duty to seek out and adamantly commit to our mental health and emotional maturation.
We can’t be wonderful partners in world change when we haven’t changed ourselves.
It is time for men and those that love them, not lust after them or need to manipulate them but deeply love them to demand that we make mental health a priority.
When men decide to be healthy in all incarnations the world will change.
It is not ok that men are left to figure things out.
This is an arena that we have been conditioned is not our right and it should be organized and maintained by someone else.
Every male I know, myself included, has childhood wounds that cause problems when there are attempts to establish relationships that demand closeness, vulnerability and trust.
So much of what prevents men from fully showing up is our shame.
Professor Brene Brown states that shame in men shows up in a distinct way: don’t be perceived as weak.
Many men feel the need to control others perceptions of them by: having all the answers for everything all the time.
I would love to challenge this frightening and limited stereotype by simply showing up and saying : I don’t know.
As men, it is imperative that we refuse to suck it up, pretend things don’t hurt when they do and demand that our emotional needs are met without having to bargain away parts of our soul to do it.
Seeking the help of a professional counselor allows us to reevaluate our childhoods and determine the best course of action for addressing our needs.
Gentlemen, it is ok to cry. We have to change ourselves first and then the world.