As a Black man there seems to be little space for emotions or vulnerability. We even legitimize certain figures in Hip-Hop and the way they emote. For instance, DMX can stop mid performance and breakdown crying and we don’t view him as any less masculine or as a “pussy.” If Drake expresses how he feels about love or life he automatically deemed by some as “soft.” The word “soft” implies that there is a fragility in his emotions that eclipses his right to be human. Ironically Drake then goes in on Kid Cudi and transfers this toxic mentality of “weak” from himself onto Cudi. I feel it is truly weak of us; especially Black folks, and more specifically, Black men overcompensate for their weakness by the utter denial and estrangement of anything that can cast them in that light. We do it to the point where mere sadness can become full blown depression. We try to be “strong” in appearance even if it kills us. We will “cool pose” ourselves into oblivion if it means not appearing “soft.”
I think Cudi was brave for not only outright stating that he is suffering from depression, because anyone who has heard a modicum of Mr. Solo Dolo’s music can pick up on prominent themes of depression and struggle. I felt personally more comfortable about my own therapy for the issues I’m dealing with knowing that Kid Cudi who I admittedly did not really listen too, but was peripherally familiar with, was also in therapy! I think the silent suffering we face is made tenfold do to incomprehensible shame and the stigmatization behind mental health! I remember when my Professor/Mentor/Big Brother/Father Figure, Prof. Lewis-McCoy/Baba Dumi first suggested I seek therapy. I shunned the idea completely because in my mind things were not that bad. I had been dealing with my issues for so long that they became normal, but in hindsight my attitude towards my issues and the disposition I took towards them was abnormal. Abnormality is the house in which depression lives.
Next door to “I’m fine” and up the block from “its not that bad.” This perpetual illusion we tell ourselves, I told myself, sometimes still tell myself, is inviting depression and a slow death. I cannot be alright if all of these external factors are having a toll on my psyche and my spirit! I should not normalize secondary or tertiary trauma as not worthy of needing treatment. We ultimately should not normalize or fight to liberate ourselves from shaming people for having feelings. We tote around words like “savage” as a badge of emotional detachment that is celebrated amongst the very population who could benefit form the healthy purging of feelings, young Black folks and people of color. I bet Rihanna became a “savage” in an attempt to cover up the fact that she is trying to shield herself from hurt and heartbreak. The “I don’t care attitude we espouse when it comes to dealing with our emotions and feelings is what keeps us in a perpetual state of mental strain and depression. I guess when its all said and done in the words of the brave soul Kid Cudi “I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that’s shine ain’t always gonna be gold, I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good.” All to take a chance to find my “black boy joy!” (see what I did there?)