In my life, I have seen, done and lived through things that everyone should know about, but no one should have to experience firsthand. The topics discussed here will be considerably bleaker than usual, and at times I may speak with reckless abandon, because I am trying to convey a snapshot of the underbelly of a Black Man’s experience on this Earth, in the most violent country to ever emerge in human history. This is my experience; this is the young Brotha on the corner’s experience; this is your boyfriends/husband’s experience. So the next time you see a Brotha with an air of supreme confidence, remember the following.
Our pain is not like your pain. Our pain is like being handcuffed, having someone slap you and challenging you to do something about it. It’s like shaking a can of soda next to your face: by the time the pressure gets released, it’s a lose-lose for everyone involved, and the perp ultimately becomes the victim.
Initially, our pain comes from the words that we hear. There is nothing more powerful, more impactful or more harmful to a man’s spirit than unhealthy words absorbed over years. When we are boys we are told by our Mommas that we are just like our daddies. When we are teenagers we are told by girls that we are just like the rest of them. When we are adults we are called dog-ass, trifling, aint-shit NIGGAS. How many times must a human being hear those things before they begin to accept it and BECOME what they despise? How many times during that cycle are we called Princes, Brothers, Men, Kings?
A man can heal from physical violence, but words penetrate the very core of his being. Some things just become a part of you, like that scar you still have from that double-dare when you were little. They fade, they may blend in, but it will always be there. In other words, we are SOCIALIZED to believe that we aint shit, never were shit, and never will be shit. And to me, that is the most important factor that creates broken men.
A man has to feel that he matters, that his existence is necessary to someone or something. We take our work very seriously, it is part of our identity. Its not just a job, it is the responsibility that God has assigned us to tend to. It is not solely about money, it is also about validation as human beings. In this country, where cash is king, the man who doesn’t have it faces serious self-worth issues.
Most men will never admit to you that they were sexually abused as children. I’m talking about Black Men, the poster children (no pun intended) for heterosexuality, taken advantage of by older men and women, and left confused with no one to talk to about it. Some men overcompensate by becoming hypersexual beings, hoping to cover up the confusion of assault by drowning themselves in as much nookie as they can. Some men turn gay; some men even become sexual predators themselves.
But we’re supposed to suck it up and take all of that in stride because we’re men right? Bullshit. This is perhaps the one distinguishing characteristic between Man Pain and Woman Pain: it is not socially acceptable to cry out when we are wounded. A woman can share her problems, hurts and insecurities with other women and even some men, and she will heal through the empathy and mutual support of those around her. A man tries to share his pain and is called a sucka, a faggot, bitch nigga.
And then we come home and do battle with the angels who are supposed to be our guardians. Black Women are the most beautiful beings on Earth, the most generous, loving and divine creatures ever created since the beginning of time. But when they want to be, they are the most hurtful , spiteful, dangerous threats to a Black Man’s mental and emotional well-being. The woman who would keep a man’s child away from him because things didn’t work out between them. The woman who would provoke a peaceful man by assaulting him first, then call the police once she gets knocked the fuck out. The woman who would get pregnant by the aint-shit nigga and deceive the good nigga into thinking it’s his baby. A woman who comes from a family of scorned women, who has the prettiest face and the sweetest taste.
Add to all of this the fact that we are born with the spirit of pharaohs and the DNA of Black royalty, made to love Black Queens, and you create a pressure cooker of frustration and hurt that causes a man to go out and put a gun in someone’s face and squeeze. Or narcoticize himself to the point where he can’t function if he doesn’t have coke in his nose, a pill in his system, trees in his lungs or Hennessey in his liver. Or pluck as many chickens as he can in order to make himself feel better about his existence, to the point that he wakes up one morning coughing with a low T-Cell count. I’m not saying that its right, but it does help numb the feeling of traveling through this life so utterly, helplessly alone.
You may not have sympathy for some of the things that I have said in this article. But that wasn’t the point or the goal of this message. I was simply trying to explain how it is. These aren’t isolated examples either; I can guarantee you that every black man you know has experienced one or more of these issues. I have no slick closing statement, no smooth conclusion. So when you look at a man, and think he’s all about games and sex, think about what that man had to overcome in order to stand in front of you and ask for the number.
This piece was written to Nas, “You’re DA Man.”
Click here to download this article to your phone, tablet or PC!