From police brutality, to false allegations, injustice, lack of employment, self-doubt, self-hatred, lack of guidance and lack of empathy and help, Black men, although they have an immeasurable amount of potential, face many deliberate hurdles and hostile circumstances that hinder their progress, their health and their sanity. Such a gruesome, disheartening reality has done something to Black men that we may find it very difficult to talk about.
According to a site called fathers.com, 57% of Black children are suffering from fatherless households. How many young Black men do you know who have grown up without a father, whether they didn’t know their father, their father was murdered or has passed away, their father is imprisoned, or that their father just doesn’t or has not given them the time of day?
In an article from The Final Call newspaper, titled, “Family From the Perspective of Children,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan says,
“Children desire validation from their parents. ‘How do I look, mommy?’ ‘How did I do, daddy?’ No matter what the child does, it desires to be approved by those who mean the most to it: (1) Mother (2) Father (3) Siblings (4) Friends and Playmates.
“Children need encouragement when they falter that they may do better. The misuse of language and/or the harshness of language in rebuke can hurt the emotional and psychological development of the child. Remember, the need to be made secure is with us throughout our lives. So, as we grow, what it takes to secure us mentally, spiritually, morally, economically, and politically is always at work, even in the home. The child wants to know that we are aware of its presence. Even though consciously the child may not be aware, subconsciously, it wants to know that its rights even as a child are respected and protected in the family environment when dealing with parents, guardians and when disputes arise among the siblings.”
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that we as Black people have suffered the worst treatment ever known to mankind. We have been totally broken physically, mentally, spiritually, psychologically, socially, and economically. We have been so broken that the concept of family, and how to be there for one another is contrary to the necessities needed to thrive as a people. So, when you live in a society that spreads the foolish rule, “Men don’t cry,” “Men can’t show emotion,” a society that refuses to hire Black men and a society that demonizes Black men as nothing but thugs, criminals and a nuisance, then that creates an inability for Black men to be fathers, and it causes Black boys deal with insecurity, abandonment issues, false pride and ego, and numbness.
Because of an absence of Black fathers, you see an absence of compassion and empathy amongst Black males. There is a long line of pain amongst generations of us as men that we have unintentionally passed on to our children time after time, and our bitterness towards our fathers begin to reflect in the resistance shown towards trying to love and embrace other Black men.
Due to having fathers who have abused us, neglected and abandoned us, or even verbally abused and manipulated us, teaching us not to show emotion and teaching us how not to express ourselves but only by means of aggression and violence, this impedes our ability to be compassionate, transparent, and close with other Black men in our family, or friendships because of those experiences deeply ingrained within our consciousness. Whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, we have accepted these things to be right. So, when we are told to speak our mind, or when we feel the urge to cry, or when we try to say to our brother, “I love you,” and we hug and embrace them, there’s a bit of disgust and embarrassment. That comes from not being used to being loved and embraced by our fathers and by our brothers and male friends.
This toxic, societal stigma, which ignores expressing and balancing the compassionate side of Black men, causes division. It causes numbness and causes Black men to act on the basis of selfishness or vanity. It causes an inconsideration of other people’s feelings, morals, boundaries, and even who they are or what they need. We may also have a tendency to walk over people and use and take advantage of them, because we’re growing up to be selfish, due to not being shown what compassion, love and kindness is.
This improper image and concept of what masculinity is has caused Black men to partake in self-sabotaging patters, such as pushing away a woman who may be good for him, and she may be sincere. We may avoid taking days to rest, to pray, or to meditate, because we don’t want to show weakness, or we feel as though a form of torment and suffering defines who we are, or it validates our masculinity. We may be content with settling with a very limited amount of progress and pretend we’re happy because we feel as though we were not made for success.
But, is this picture of what we think to be a man truly beneficial to our progress, our wellbeing, and our example to those Black boys coming after us?
How many Black men do you know have died from cancer, from a stroke, from stress, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, heart attacks?
For too long, we have seen us as men being negligent of our health. Whether we know it or not, if we hold on to the things that negatively affect us mentally, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically, then physically we are experiencing a deterioration of health.
Bit by bit, we as Black men must work on changing the narrative; not to make us borderline feminine, but to understand how we can exercise compassion, love, self-care, and rest, to remove unnecessary baggage from our lives, that we can be able to pick up the important burden in unity; being the men that Allah (God) wants us to be.