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Big Sean Reminded Us That Black Men Suffer From Depression Too

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"Boys don't cry" is an African American proverb that serves as law in a black household.


Black men are taught that their emotions are something to be ashamed of at a very young age, leading to a deadly epidemic among African American men.

It's understandable that this theology could lead to two very different outcomes: toxic masculinity or the loss of masculinity all together. This mindset is harmful to not only their demographic, but to the African-American community as a whole. The pressure to "just be a man about it" leaves a number of black men to suffer in silence while we blissfully ignore their cries for help.

When we fail to address the need for mental wellness and stability amongst black men, we deny them the opportunity to live life at its fullest potential. Although black women suffer from depression more than any other demographic, the emotional health of black men is also important part of the conversation. Big Sean is among the men breaking the stigma around mental illness, and recently announced that he would cut his tour short to focus on gaining emotional stability.

"[I] had some things to work out in my head," he said. "I never really took the time out to nurture myself, to take care of myself. It took me a lot of depression having a lot of anxiety to realize something was off."

It's been proven that social injustices and poverty have a direct correlation to the level of substance abuse and violence that is prevalent among black communities. This fact leads me to wonder if we've neglected black men as they relate to the discussion about depression and anxiety.

These mood disorders are taboo in the black community due to the fact that hey are often a sign of weakness or vulnerability. In all actuality, they are exactly the opposite. When a man is brave enough to confront his emotional trauma, he can then find the tools to heal and operate at his maximum potential. The Finally Famous rapper ending his tour so abruptly was his way of utilizing his own tools for self-care.

Big Sean says that although he regrets disappointing his fans, he realized that he could no longer attempt to pour from an empty cup. Regardless of the backlash he would receive because of the announcement, the rapper understood that his recovery was most important.

"I've been getting myself together, getting my mind right. So I have been taking better care of myself and...not only am I bringing my best self to the music but I'm bringing my best self to the table, to my city, to my fans, to the people who are about me."

Big Sean's admission is not the first time a rapper has been open about his issues with depression and anxiety. Even icons like Tupac and Biggie talked about suicide in their raps, so why is it that black men are still not apart of the conversation about mental illness?

Addiction and substance abuse have run rampant among men in my family in the past and I've wondered if this fact would remain if help or therapy was easily accessible to them at a younger age. Depression and anxiety are major issues that affect men and women of all walks of life, and does not discriminate. It's time that we get hip to the idea that black men experience depression, too.

Featured image via Big Sean / Instagram

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That's right, the first pandemic I lived through was not Covid, but the pandemic of the Black male relationship expert. I was young – thirteen to be exact – when Steve Harvey published his best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Though he was still just a stand-up comedian, oversized suit hoarder, and man on his third marriage at the time, his relationship advice was taken as the gospel truth.

The 2000s were a particularly bleak time to be a single Black woman. Much of the messaging –created by men – that surrounded Black women at the time blamed their desire for a successful career and for a partner that matched their drive and ambition for the lack of romance in their life. Statistics about Black women’s marriageability were always wielded against Black women as evidence of our lack of desirability.

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Now that I’ve reached my late twenties, many things about how Black women approach dating and relationships have changed and many things have remained the same. For many Black women, the idea of chronic singleness is not the threat that it used to be. Wanting romance doesn’t exist in a way that threatens to undermine the other relationships we have with our friends, family, and ourselves as it once did, or at least once was presented to us. There is a version of life many of us are embracing where a man not wanting us, is not the end of what could still be fruitful and vibrant life.

There are still Black women out there however who have yet to unlearn the toxic ideals that have been projected onto us about our worthiness in relation to our intimate lives. I see it all the time online. The absolute humiliation and disrespect some Black women are willing to stomach in the name of being partnered. The hoops that some Black women are willing to jump through just to receive whatever lies beneath the bare minimum.

It's worth remembering that there are different forces at play that gather to make Black women feast off the scraps we are given. A world saturated by colorism, fatphobia, anti-Blackness, ableism, and classism will always punish Black women who demand more for themselves. Dismantling these systems also means divesting from any and everything that makes us question our worth.

Because truth be told, Black women are more than worthy of having a love that is built on mutual respect and admiration. A love that is honey sweet and radiates a light that rivals the sun. A love that is a steadying calming force that doesn’t bring confusion or anxiety. Black women deserve a love that is worthy of the prize that we are.

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Featured image: Getty Images

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