Series I: The Man, The Black, & The Mental

Left, right. Front, side. I look around to make sure the coast is clear. A ritual many young black men are accustomed to. Clear. It’s ok for me to make my way to my destination. Call it paranoia, call it fear, but survival is our number one priority. The dread of being attacked, robbed, or even worse, the panic that your mother will hear about your death from a 10 second clip on the BBC news is not amiss amongst young black men.

Coming from a working-class background where my environment was painted in blood-red somber situations, each day felt like a constant battle for your life. A disproportionate number of young black working-class men have internalised this constant fear. They no longer acknowledge that there is something wrong with instinctively looking over their shoulder at each corner they turn, or averting locking eyes with black boys in an area you are not familiar with.

Briefly touching on the topic in a previous piece, I begin my mental health series looking at the black man. What does it mean to be a black man… More specifically, what does it mean to be a working-class black man growing up in a troubled environment? This is a loaded topic and cannot be covered in a simple blog post. Still, I hope to depict and shed light on some of the causes of poor mental health amongst black men.  Continue reading

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Six Degrees of Why

25 years of age, young, self-made, attractive, and persuasively confident. A naturally-gifted public speaker, with the thoughts of a highly-educated philosopher and the tongue of an orator who has perfected his craft; he was success personified. He had everything going for him. An abundance of wealth, beautiful women, all that good stuff and more all by his side, and yet he was alone. Whilst others saw perfection, he saw an incomplete being. They failed to hear his eyes screaming for love. They failed to see the child within him crying out for help. They failed to see the man within crumbling under the pressure of upholding the image they had created of him.

“I’m scared about opening up and letting the world know my weakness … I can’t have people think I’m weak. I can’t have people see me differently…” he told me as we spoke in a small classroom, sat on desks with our backs against the wall. Silent but solemn, the atmosphere in the air was one of uncomfortable reverence and confusing awe. My perception of him was slowly changing in the minutes that passed by. Vulnerable, but still yet strong, I wondered why he was afraid to expose himself like this to others. But I guess that is the issue. “Expose”. It seems as though we live our lives constantly in fear, constantly in hiding, and once our inner-self emerges in front of those unfamiliar with that side of us, we feel exposed. Continue reading

And After Death…

I had a glimpse of heaven today. Or at least I thought it was heaven. The bright, blinding lights left me perplexed. The warmth I felt enticed me. It was a wondrous feeling… Until I woke up. And then all the memories came flooding back. 

I don’t know what to think of death. I mean, I’ve had interactions with death, but we’ve never spoken, we’ve never had a conversation, only fleeting moments. It seems as though death has favoured others over me and sometimes I wish she wouldn’t. 

My grandma died. Sometime in May. Life had never felt so surreal. I recall arriving home and seeing my mother sat on her bed, with the white and black duvet and pillow laid out in an odd way, as if someone had spent hours trying to make the bed but unsure as to how to do so. As my mother gave me a strained smile, her light-brown eyes telling a different story, I sat next to her and waited for her to open up to me. I had messaged my brother asking him how things at home were the day before. That was when I heard. Instead of asking her how she felt and all the following patronising questions people often ask, I waited for her to feel comfortable enough to talk to me. It was heartbreaking to see her struggle between trying keep an air of happiness in front of her children but also accept the fact that her mother, my grandmother, had passed.   Continue reading

The Blacker the Berry…

Blinded by the flashing lights,

another blood-soaked salient night.

The darkest skin suffers severely,

still the blacker the berry

the sweeter the juice

drips crimson red, regularly 

leaving trails on the floor, Continue reading

Labour’s Lost

Crumbling sand castles, shells by the sea side, 

cascades flooding fears away,

slow and steady does the trick

as you swiftly sweep yourself away

from the slow disembowelment of your heart.

Holy is she who hopes her hurt hurts no more,

her love lingers in the air,

the scent of disapproval, 

disappointment, and hours spent wasted,

an odour once so sweet now stale.

Shame. 

I digress. Digest.

L.O.V.E

Love is nothing but a 4 letter word.
 
Silent anger, veraciousness now not a healer;

Will you ever forgive? 

Most days it rains,

often it pours, 

still I remember 

the suns beautiful rays.

I started believing in God the other day,

hoping to find something in the unknown,

something deeper than what we had, Continue reading

Thoughts

Tomorrow’s holy sun has yet to bear its fruits for us to devour,

for as humans we do not understand restrain; 

Greed is in our blood, and forgiveness is merely an afterthought.

Innocence and ignorance are the only gifts I seek

since searching for meaning means merely to exist.

This crown of thorns is befitting; Continue reading