Leap Day 2020: An Extra Day to Talk Black History
Today is a day we only experience once every 4 years. It is February 29th. We are in a leap year. For me it is a special day to make a blog to celebrate the extra day of black history we get this year. I thought long and hard for what to blog about. Then it hit me. I want to write about the mental health of black America. I want to celebrate how far we have come, as well as celebrate how far we will go.
It is well known what African Americans have been through in this country. I respect all the other demographics that are fighting for rights in their respective communities, but black people have been fighting for equal rights since we were bought to this country decades ago. Mentally, some black people are still enslaved. Let’s start with our relationship with law enforcement.
According to the NAACP, African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times than whites. I’ve been arrested before and the mental impact it has stays with you for life. When a cop pulls up behind me I start to sweat and I think the worst is going to happen. It an involuntary response to seeing the police: I start to sweat, and I get nervous and I cannot speak. I know I didn’t do anything, but mentally it feels like I’m going to either be shot and killed or go to jail every time I get pulled over by the police.
The movie "When They See US" tells the true story of the Central Park 5. The story of 5 black men who were arrested and illegally questioned by police. This boys fell victim to the oldest excuse in American history "a black man did it". In 2020, we are seeing more black men who were given life sentences being released from prison. Thanks to the advancements in DNA technology the truth is coming out in many of the flase accusations made against them.
Let’s talk about fitting in while working in corporate America. In this category I blogged about the CROWN Act which made it unlawful to discriminate based on hair styles. Fitting into a corporate culture can be detrimental to black mental health. We see it all the time: The “Token Black Guy”. The one black guy in the office that the company magically invites to all the sales meetings when the buyers are African American. I've been him before, and mentally I done...I wanted to leave to bad. Trying to get into corporate America is a mental strain.
“Do I have what it takes, Is my college good enough, Do I look too ethnic”? All thoughts that African Americans go through when applying for a good job in corporate America. Then when we do get our foot in the door we have to deal with other races asking us all the questions they want to ask black people. “Why do black people do this, Where did you grow up, Can I touch your hair”? In corporate America I felt like a science experiment.
There are historic African Americans who went out started their own businesses. Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madam C.J. Walker started an empire of her own hair products. Can you imagine the hate and racism she experienced when she started her business? Her mental fortitude had to be stuck in overdrive as she started her business. Soon, there will be a movie to show how she rose to power and grew her empire. Hopefully seeing this black history will inspire our generation today to be great and have the same mental fortitude Madam C.J. Walker had.
Our mental state in America is in flux. We don’t know what politicians to trust, and everyone is trying to gain the black vote. Promises are made that aren’t kept, our neighborhoods are being gentrified, and our people are getting arrested in record numbers. The outside factors of our society have had horrible effects on our communities. However, we are also to blame for our own mental health struggles.
There are drug dealers and gang members in our neighborhoods that we refuse to get rid of. Once I watched a first 48 episode, I think they were in Louisville. There was a shooting and someone was killed and the people in the projects came and picked up the shell casings so the police had nothing to work with. We are killing ourselves with rules like “no snitching”, and street justice. Kids are afraid to walk home from school in their own neighborhoods as we protect the killers and drug dealers in our neighborhood.
On all the documentaries like “Gangland”, and others that document crime in the inner violence all the black men say the same thing. “I sell drugs or commit crime because there are no other options for us”. Our black men who we call “Kings” have been mentally institutionalized to believe that they can’t be great. Thinking that they don’t have the skills to get jobs, and thinking that no one wants to hire someone with a criminal record. Our black men don’t think they are good enough, do they don’t try to make anything out of themselves. We must do better as a community, for the people who live in our community.
This blog post is history. There won’t be another blog post on this date for quite a while. I hope you all enjoyed the content in this section of my blog. This may be Black History Month, but Black History is made EVERY DAY. God Bless…