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Black Boys Don’t Cry

We’re forced to bury our emotions as we face off against racism.

Black boys have to bury their emotions as they face off against racism and chase machismo.

I didn’t cry when Trayvon Martin was killed. I wrote about his slaying a lot, sure—spent hours chronicling who he was and how he died and why his killer would get away with it. But I never wept. I didn’t cry for Eric Garner, or Philando Castile, or Alton Sterling, either, even though I watched footage of their extrajudicial deaths more times than I can count in order to do my job. And honestly, I’ve never come close to shedding a tear for the people who look like me and are locked up as many as five times more often than whites, nor the roughly two out of five black children who live in poverty.

I understand these injustices, and try in my own way to fight against them, but I do my damndest not to feel them.

Crying feels foreign, even in the face of these horrors, because it’s something I just didn’t see growing up. Never in my life have I witnessed a man in my family cry—not my grandfathers, not my father, and not my older brothers. I wouldn’t say weeping is outright forbidden in my house. But it’s certainly looked down upon, especially for boys.

I’m not alone. I see it in the guys I run with, brothers I’ve known since tall tees were in style. To this day, these dudes can be as open as a book when recounting who they’ve fucked or who they’ve fought, but when it comes to the way they feel, the depth of their emotional pain, they have nothing to say. Recently, a woman dating one of my close friends complained about the way these kinds of emotional blocks hold back their relationship. She said she never knew what her man was feeling. “He gets mad, because that is acceptable for a man,” she told me. “But then I realize he’s not actually mad, it’s something else that he just can’t get out.”

I’ve caught myself pushing this shit onto my own nephews, getting at them when they break out into tears and start wailing at the world. Phrases like “men can’t cry” and “don’t be no punk” have come rolling off my tongue so fast they’ve felt rehearsed.

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Category : Living It.
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