life beyond the well…

Being a black man is stressful…

6 Comments

…as it was reported in this article on MSNBC.com. Finding articles such as these often makes me nervous, because I’m always curious to see how the ideas/perceptions that the authors/interviewers have about their subject are expressed in their writing. After reading the article; however, it made me think a lot about how I perceive black men and the stresses that they endure in today’s society. As a black woman, it’s very interesting to actually hear and/or read about some of what black men endure. Yes, we know about some of it through our own personal experiences and exposure to black men, but I really liked the way the article expressed the ideas. Following the reading, I thought of two quotes from two very eloquent Black writers/thinkers/scholars: W.E.B. DuBois and Ralph Ellison.

In his classic literary work, Invisible Man , initially published in 1947, Ralph Ellison describes the invisibility that he felt; something that I feel that all African Americans can identify with, and something that might currently be very poignant with black men:

“I am an invisible man…I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard distorting glass. When they approach me they only see my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed everything and anything except me.”

Simultaneously, I feel that the noted African American scholar, W.E.B. DuBois sufficiently describes the experience African Americans and their history in America, but also now more than ever, the experience of black men in his prominent work The Souls of Black Folk, saying,

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always having to look at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,–an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,–this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the other selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.”

That said, it could be that the primary issue that black men face is one of perception. How others perceive them (invisibility) and how they perceive themselves (double-consciousness). So…let’s sound off. From the black men, does the article hit home with some of the stresses that you face? Do you feel that black women are understanding of the stresses and struggles that you face? What do you wish the article had included/excluded?

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Author: erin.almond

God-chaser. NC native, now planted in Jacksonville, FL. Happily married to a handsome church-planting pastor. I am easily excited by Jesus, education, cupcakes, Moleskine notebooks, and Pepsi. Overwhelmed by God's amazing grace, undeserving of His love and mercy.

6 thoughts on “Being a black man is stressful…

  1. I haven’t read the article yet, and will likely comment after doing so, but in the mean time, please go to washingtonpost.com and check out the Being A Black Man series.

  2. I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I am and will continue to be misunderstood and now choose to focus on other things. I usually don’t read these types of articles anymore – I swear I am just about sociologied out – but one thing that would be interesting to explore is the diversity of blackness, and how many black men don’t understand each other because our experiences are so broad. That has been the biggest culture shock/issue for me – other bros not getting me.

  3. Gene, you know sociology is my area…i think i could study the sociology of apples and oranges…

    but, i do feel you on the diversity of blackness. i’m always amazed at how TJ’s sister and my sister are SO different even though they are the same age, and i’m sure that geography and other factors play a large role in that. also, it would be good to see the common themes of blackness that exist despite our experiences…

    maybe you should think about that if this whole journalism thing doesnt’t work out. maybe we can write a book together…

  4. I feel you. We had to have concentrations in the J school and mine was sociology. I would have minored in it, had UNC had a minor. I was seriously considering going to grad school for it until about 3 months ago. I guess I’m just a little frustrated with how very new research is produced.

    I feel you on the peer studies. I am very different from my brother, but nothing like Jarrod and his brother or my LB Carmund and Emeka and the list goes on and on. That type of thing is interesting to me. Diversity within a demographic.

  5. LOL. It’s late. That should read

    “I guess I’m just a little frustrated with how little very new, groundbreaking research is produced.”

    and

    “I am very different from my brother, but nothing like the difference that is Jarrod and his brother or my LB Carmund and Emeka and the list goes on and on.

  6. wow you said “poignant” — mad props.

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