I want to start by saying I’ve always been a sensitive man.
Growing up I was always considered “a crybaby” I cried a lot going up. I was very in tune with my emotions and I wasn’t afraid to let them out. I recall getting kicked out of class in sixth grade because I couldn’t sing pokemon songs. I cried like someone died, it was embarrassing, but my emotions couldn’t control themselves.
As a black man showing this type of emotion is shunned upon, crying is not something that black men do. It’s often considered to be a “little girls” way of emoting. But for me, I’ve always been into my emotions. Quiet as it’s kept, at about fifteen I stopped crying.
For roughly nine years my tear ducts were clogged by the blockage in my emotions denying me the ability to cry. This may have been due to the fact that I was growing into my “manhood”’ and crying was something I got rid of, or could have been the trauma.
The trauma of growing up as a black man in America, with all of the paraphernalia that surrounds that type of trauma.The pressure of growing up the “ golden child” of your family and friends and working towards that upper mobility and making it out of the hood. So many more elements that distorted my emotional release in that capacity. The pain was still there, but I couldn’t cry.
For so long I was emotionally distraught, unable to shed tears, unable to understand my emotions. I was depressed and confused, trying to navigate through my life that I didn’t love. The confusion and self hate consumed me and blocked my emotional channels. However, something changed recently that allowed the flood gates to reopen.
It wasn’t until about roughly early 2019 that I was able to start crying again.I’ve been crying ever since. And in these two years, I’ve cried the most I’ve ever cried in my life. It’s an insane flurry of emotional release that has allowed me to explore the hurricane of emotions inside of me. It’s a beautiful disaster that has allowed me to explore who I am and who I want to be in life. Through my crying, I’ve faced my demons, my anxiety, and depression, and it has allowed me to be me wholistically
I want to have a conversation about why I’ve been crying for so much, especially in these times.
And why is it important for black men to cry.
I’ll start by explaining why I started crying back in 2019.
I remember that it started when Nipsey Hussle died. March 31st, 2019 I got the news that one of the greatest people of my generation, unfortunately, passed away due to gun violence in his own neighborhood. The irony that the very thing he tried to diminish in his neighborhood, self-destruction, and hate was the catalyst to his passing. The sheer fact that we lost someone whose greatness couldn’t be unmatched in this time frame tore me apart as a black man.
There’s a black man assisting his people and helping his people grow, and in his moment to shine, someone took his life. someone he knew, it was devastating, and it tore me apart. For someone with an empathetic heart to watch the video of this black man being gunned down in the plaza that he built his entire Empire off of. The entire scene broke my heart. Then to see the outpouring of fans and people that became fans (including myself) show their love and affection for a man that they never knew or that they’ll miss forever. This type of pain shook me to my core.
I preface the rest of my sentiments with this, I’m also an empathetic man. I feel everything, even if it’s not attached to me, for some reason I feel it. When a black man dies especially by gun violence I feel it the most. Because I have brothers because I have friends, who are subjugated to the causes of gun violence. Poverty, lack of education, lack of resources, no pipelines to successful careers outside of the paraphernalia that comes from drugs guns in self-destruction.
So when I see another black man fall to the self-destruction that is gun violence, it breaks my heart. On top of the fact that I’m an empathetic person, you can see why the floodgates came out when I found out that Nipsey passed. His death forced me to reassess everything that I’ve been doing in my life up until then. I cried for hours for the first time in years. It was the most painful and relieving feeling I felt in a long time.
Up until that point my tear ducts were clogged up, by the sheer amount of anxiety and depression that has filled my body for the past several years.
Black male depression is a real thing, black mental health is a real thing, and it’s been something that has been avoided in our communities for so long.
So the piling up of depression and anxiety in my own body finally combusted into tears that I could not stop.
Tears that represented the centuries of the destruction of my people, the decades of hopelessness. The self-destruction, the hate, and hopelessness that the black community all came out in that one night. It hurt like someone I loved all my life died in front of my eyes, and I never knew this man. It seemed like a revelation or an opening for me to look deeper into loving myself finally.
The second time I cried after that was when Kobe Bryant had passed.
Kobe Bryant’s passing also rattled my core. As a child who grew up watching Kobe Bryant even though he wasn’t my favorite player, he was inspirational beyond any account I can think of. His entire story of the 17-year-old kid with so much ambition, a Virgo going into the big city lights believing himself every day. The air balls, the three championships, the rape trial, losing Shack, getting back to the championship to the torn ACL to the final game where he scored 60. Every time Kobe Bryant stepped on the court you were about to see something spectacular, but Michael Jordan of Our Generation. One of the most influential black men of my time passed unexpectedly on January 26th, 2020. Along with several and a helicopter crash in California. One of those happened to be his daughter Gianna Bryant who he was very close with.
That array of emotions, I don’t think I ever even want to revisit that type of pain. To watch a black man have to pass with the person that he loves more than anything in the world, to contemplate what were his final moments. Trying to comfort his daughter and everyone else on that helicopter.
And then the impact he had made on so many people after his death. The entire world was devastated, much like Nipsey Hussle’s death. Kobe Bryant made the world cry. It was these two men who passed that made me see so many grown men shed tears.
Let me rephrase that, so many black men shed tears, including myself.
The first time I saw a black man crying on TV and it was acceptable, there was not a person I know that would sit there and say “you shouldn’t be crying at this moment” to any black man.
There was an acceptance of the fact that we had lost people that were great beyond measure. People that at the ages that they passed Nipsey at 33, Kobe at 41 had conquered everything they set out to become without regret in their lives
It was almost as if you could feel proud to cry for their deaths. And for me I let it out, I let it out privately because it is still hard to be able to cry in front of people especially as a black man. But I couldn’t stop crying, and to this day I still can’t stop crying.
The tears have become natural to me now as if every day I’m crying. These recent tears are a consequence of the recent unjust killings of Breona Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more black folk that has perished to police brutality. The amount of anxiety, fear, and depression mounting in my soul was crushing my spirit and forcing the floodgates to open wide. The hopelessness I feel for my people in this seemingly never-ending fight for equity, freedom and just to not be killed for being black ruptures the atoms in my body every day. The pain I feel won’t stop, and for some odd reason, I’m crying again, and I’m not ashamed to do so. I’m embracing them and allowing myself to feel the emotions. And for the first time in almost a decade, I feel accepted in doing so.
For black men at this moment, if you feel hurt, confused, or feeling any type of negative emotion, please it is okay to cry. This is the time to shed a tear, to feel emotions, to let it out. The uncertainty is all over the place, the pain is ever-present. Let’s allow black men to feel these emotions, it may help them in the long run.