Black men are stuck between a rock and a hard place in America. Some see us as "thugs": people who will rob, kill steal just for the hell of it. Within our own community, we have to be tough alpha males because there is no room for "soft" males in the inner city. Even if that isn't who we really are we have to create this illusion that we are tough guys that don't cry and can handle anything. With pressure from both sides we lose ourselves our mental health suffers in the process.
I don't want to make excuses for back males, but it's tough for us out here. It is well documented that we are incarcerated and over sentenced more than other demographics in the country. For some reason, we are feared by people outside of our neighborhoods. I can be called a pussy by black men in the inner city, then drive 40 minutes into the suburbs and have white men and women be terrified when they see me walking on the sidewalk. While this is happening, we are putting on masks to fit in all of these places.
If we are lucky enough to make it into a good paying job in corporate America we have to be someone else. There aren't many African Americans holding C suite positions. If we are lucky enough to get there how likely is it that there will be other African Americans there? Have you ever seen an executive with dreadlocks? How about one with tattoos? Can you imagine how it feels to not get a position or a promotion because you don'r fit the mold of what a supervisor/manager/executive is supposed to look like?
It can drive a man crazy. One summer I went job hunting and was severely depressed during the process. I'm a Purple Heart veteran, I have a Master's Degree, and experience in both the Federal Government and Corporate America. I was underemployed and suicidal. I did all the right things: I served my country, I got my education, and I had job experience. Seems like I had everything right except the color of my skin.
Who do black men go to about these issues? Those who make it out of their neighborhood usually can't go back to complain about their issues. We can go to our mothers/grandmothers, but they are likely to tell us to go to church and pray about it. What do we do? Who do we talk to? Even selecting a therapist can be tough.
It is easier for black males to talk to black therapist about their issues. As a black man it is easier for me to open up to black female. It is easier to talk to because it is a motherly feeling that I get when I speak to them. Now, i'm lucky to live in Atlanta a.k.a Black Hollywood. There are tons of black people here including black female therapist. Much easier for me to talk to about my mental health issues.
We as black men need to open up about our mental health issues. There isn't going to be anyone who walks up to us to ask about our mental health. The country is conditioned to incarcerate, not educate us. Instead of meditation we face incarceration, discrimination, and systematic elimination. Black men: if you are suffering from any type of mental health issue, please seek help. Your life is important.