by guest contributor Philip Arthur Moore, originally published at Finding My Legend
It is human to hurt, and one of the most beautiful truths in pain and suffering is that it knows no color. We are all born with tear ducts, the capacity to feel insecure, and the fear of abandonment. At one point or another, we have all experienced loneliness, and we have all experienced grief.
For the last nine months of my life I have felt a great deal of unsatisfactoriness. My post-collegiate life has at times seemed more aimless than it has ever been, I’m coming away from a brutal three year relationship, and I work from home, in a void of social interaction or human touch. Most of the worst daily hurt has gone away, but sometimes it visits me at the wrong moments.
I bring this up not with a despondent tone or an attitude of self-pity, but from a genuine curiosity towards the nature of black male hurt. Where do black males go to cry? To whom do we go for respite from our daily worries? How do black males love, and will we ever be able to show another man that we care for him without having our sexuality drawn into question by the notion of black masculinity?
So much of black male pain is directed outward. We suffer through states of social oppression, receive poor educational opportunities vis-a-vis our white counterparts, and stay both honored and vilified through popular culture. We’ve gained an acumen for handling the outside world with our voices and actions.
But what of the inside us?
Who teaches black males how to handle heartbreak, insecurities, loneliness, or depression? Surely not our fathers – I have seen mine cry twice in my entire life, once at his mother’s funeral; once after his divorce with my mother. My father never taught me how to handle weakness, and if he did, it only involved ‘sucking it up’ and pushing forward. Crying out the pain and moving on was never involved.
Do black mothers teach black males how to hurt? I don’t know; my mother is not black. And what of black males in fraternities or other extended black social networks? Do they take time to teach one another self-reflection or self-therapy? I cannot say; I’ve never had that circle of comrades.
I ask about black male pain because we have it, but I don’t know what we are allowed to do with it within the illusion of black masculinity.
Black men are supposed to be strong, outspoken, never weak, and if all else fails, simply dismissive of our inner children. But we can’t ignore our feelings, and we cannot alleviate our demons with avoidance.
So how do we hurt? How do we learn how to cry or how to feel weak or how to fall down or how to seek intimacy or guidance from other black men without having to say “no homo” every time we want to express our love for one another?
It would be nice to know the answers to these questions, if only to know how to equip my unborn black children with the capacity to self-heal when life’s pains become nearly unbearable.