Brothers Remove Your Masks

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2009 at 2:03 am

I am at a very interesting point in my adult life, where after some difficult relationships, I find myself becoming a bit embittered.  My bitterness is not directed towards the specific Black men that I have been involved with, or Black men as a collective actually, but more so at the conditions that are sabotaging Black men’s potential to lead healthy, normal, lives.

I mean we all watch them fall apart; the Stephen Marbury’s, the Michael Beasley’s. They appear to us broken, fragmented, and reaching for our hands. Our brothers, our beloved brothers, are dying; both figuratively and literally, physically and emotionally, from mental illnesses that we as a community, out of the fear of stigmatization, will not allow them to diagnose and treat.

Statistically speaking, Black and White men are believed to suffer from depression at a similar rate of 12%.  Of course this represented percentage includes diagnosed cases only, and as we acknowledge our community’s lagging acceptance of mental health issues, we recognize that the percentage is probably much higher.

Actually, I don’t know very many brothers who would not benefit immensely from psychological evaluations and subsequent therapy sessions (or sisters for that matter, but that is another blog for another day) .  I am a proponent of mental health screenings and counseling, and through all of my efforts, I have yet to convince any of the brothers I have tried to assist to admit their needs or seek the appropriate help.  So our men continue to mask, which according to Dubois we are exceptionally gifted at, trading their pain for fake gansterisms and unnecessary hardships or submerging themselves in drugs, alcohol and women to sedate or escape the pain.  Sitting by, idly watching them self destruct in our faces, must be akin to Africans watching their kinsmen being loaded onto slave ships. Somehow we know that we are witnessing tragedy, but in that moment we know not how to stop it.

I say this to you brothers… your pain does not escape my heart. I understand the complexity of trying to compete in a world that proclaims you should not even be allowed in the game.  I sympathize with your frustrations in being looked upon as some type of perfect example of masculinity, yet being emasculated every day of your life by your oppressor, and sometimes the woman that claims to love you.  I acknowledge your humanity and all of the bitter-sweetness that accompanies it.  You do not have to be “the man” for us; you can simply be “a man” for us- with flaws and heartaches and disappointments like everyone else.  And as I free you to be beautifully human, I only ask that you put your machismo aside to also acknowledge my need for tenderness and kindness, and free me in return.  Our captors say that we don’t know how to love ourselves or each other. Let us work to prove them wrong.

And as always I leave you with a beautiful quote from a beautiful Black man who also fought to have his humanity acknowledged…

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. ~ James Baldwin

  1. If the man you love does not know the power of professional help, You will either need a new man, or professional help yourself.

    • Well said Muse. I so feel for the our delicious nubian brothers where ever they are on the mental health scale. But when they feel the need to drive me to beyond their brink of madness, then I must become a physician and heal myself. I’ve gotten the professional help, now a new man would be lovely.


  2. good points…

  3. Peace,

    Your words and love do not go in vain. We hear you, yet sometimes we feel like you don’t hear us. What derails words of love like this is simply based in the ways we communicate.

    My last situation was potentially crazy-making and I did recognize my folly. However, feeling and knowing support is there reinforces that bond in which a woman COULD tell me to get my shit together — and I’d actually do it.

    I could say a lot here but I’ll simply say thank you for this. It will be taken to heart.


  4. I am a 75 year old Black man that formerly blogged under “One Old Man’s Opinion.” My domain name was hijacked and I am between Creating my new page. I agree with your writing; We,as older Black mewn have to be more involved with Black children and their education. It’s the only way out. I applaude you and look forward to subscribing to your site. My son introduced me.

  5. Peace,

    I will try this comment thing again. I would agree that a lot of my brothers (and self included) are under pressures and the like we will never, ever be able to articulate.

    There exists a stagnation within me that has been slow to lift, and I’m not ashamed to admit that my folly is not working on mask removal. I’m just now doing it.

    But as emotionally dishonest it may appear to you all, IT IS NOT EASY for Warriors to be bare with this side of themselves. I am not opposed to therapy, or counseling, or whatever. I am, however, opposed to the assumption we live to exist this way.

    We, the warriors, seek a way out. Sometimes we need our mates to be light guides; I drained my main resource until she was spent. But in the light of her resentment/distance, I was already emerging as the King she saw — and somewhat sadly, she won’t benefit from. I owe her a great debt, but I’m glad I’m being led by myself for once.

    It’s not cowardice that lends us to mask ourselves. It’s flat-out village spliiting that has us this way. Thank you for the reminder and support. I cherish you so much for this and I’ve never even met you.

    Yours Truly,


    • So beautifully said Wise. I was almost to the point of drained to the point of spent. I gave love to my man like I was on a mission from God himself, which I do believe I was. But the bitterness that came back was soul stripping. I thought I was patiently waiting for the King I saw in him, yet all that emerged it seems, was a demon sent to torment me.Glory to God that you are emerging to see the beauty of who you are.


  6. I’d like you to know, that I truly appreciate this post. Firstly, because of late I have read many blogs from Black women who express a certain disgust for Black men. It’s as though (from what I’v3e read) sisters are/have given up. In my book, when hope is lost, we’re beyond repair. Thank you for pointing out at least what I think to be the main contributing factor of out dysfunction: mental health. As a Black man who is not ashamed to say that 10yrs ago while leading a very destructive life, it took the intervention of clinical psychologists and therapists for me to accept, and become the man that I am now. The human mind (brain) is just like any other organ and it too can be damaged and needs healing. Sadly, this is something within our collective that is taboo and often the subject of ridicule.

    Thanks again.

  7. So eloquent, sis! I totally agree with what you’ve stated….I can’t and won’t give up on my brothers, they need our support just like anyone else.

  8. I was moved to near tears when I read this piece, a realisation that I am all human who can cry, laugh, love…You`ve helped me to be me. Thanks sister.

  9. Poignant and heartfelt as usual. You spoke some real truths in such a palatable fashion. I share your sentiments in more ways than one. Our black men need healing on so many levels…we need healing on so many levels…

    Thank you for this.


  10. My sister thank you for this amazing post. A black man is a beautiful creature to behold indeed. I love my Nubian brothers, no doubt. I really appreciate your sharing this post. You are right on time with your assessment.


  11. this is it, the breakthrough. eloquently written.

  12. JoNubian, this was a beautiful post about the hidden struggles of Black men.

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