As most of the United States approaches a full year of quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus, there’s been various degrees of impact that has happened with many of us still at home. Time in isolation has allowed some of us to thrive, yet so many people have struggled with solitude. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. adults reported considerable elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Many people, across demographics, have reported increased substance abuse, disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, and elevated suicide ideation. The numbers are concerning for me as black youth have seen an increase over the last few years of suicide related deaths. The third leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 10 to 34 in 2019 was suicide. The data seems to progressively get better as black males age. Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death of black men between the ages of 34 to 44 and the tenth leading cause of death for ages between 45 and 54. Now more than ever, black men must make our mental health a priority.
I’ve had my own bouts with mental health issues over the years. Nothing nearly to the extreme of suicide, yet I’ve struggled with stress, depression, and anxiety. For a while, I tried to manage it on my own and even self-medicated with alcohol, which only exacerbated the problems. Realizing my own process wasn’t working, I became alcohol free (still to this day), then eventually found a therapist due to earnest pleading by my wife. Both decisions were paramount in my overall well-being. My therapist is a black man, the reasoning there was reflective of my need for an expert that has shared lived experiences with me. A black man as a therapist has helped me in becoming even more vulnerable and finding the root to my problems while providing me applicable homework that helped avoid certain situations. I’m excited to see the stigma of mental health slowly evaporating amongst black men, as even barbers are taking up the call to receive mental health training. I started therapy as a biweekly ritual last summer and have since decreased my sessions to monthly check-ins. As much as I recommend therapy to all of my family and friends, it only takes you as far as you’re willing to work.
When we write things down, we tend to commit to them. Writing goals down, whether analog or digital, have been great for me seeing them accomplished. Routine wellness checks with my friends are one of those goals I committed to this year. I have a group chat with my podcasting team where we have an abundance of discussions. Every Tuesday I check-in with the crew to get status updates on our individual entrepreneurial endeavors. This week has been no different than the ones in the past aside from the fact that I asked everyone how they’re doing mentally. It wasn’t a question completely out of the blue, because we all share our lows and highs when it comes to mental health. What was different this time, is I scheduled it. I specifically created a reminder on my calendar to check-in on how my brothers were doing mentally. Not just when I saw signs of depression or anxiety, nor when I’ve observed how they reacted to certain triggers. I just checked in because I generally care about their well-being. As black men, we need to be vulnerable enough to have these discussions with each other. We’re living in a time of economic uncertainty with a disease that’s ravaging our communities more than others and on top of all of that, we’re black men. No matter where we reside on this planet, we’re perpetually viewed from a lens that assumes the worst about us. This is amplified outside of our community and echoed within it. Certain times we have no refuge, but the ones we seek with ourselves and even then there’s no certainty of safe harbor. I challenge black men to listen with nonjudgemental ears and speak with vulnerable mouths. Let’s make it our mission to not only provide for ourselves and families while exemplifying excellence, but making sure we’re talking to each other about matters that aren’t so easily visible. I’ll start us off, you good bruh?
Doing The Work
Florida man uses stimulus check to create community garden
According to the Atlanta Black Star, Michael “Spirit Mike” Chaney used his federal stimulus to start his own garden. Chaney has 0.3 acres of land which he uses to grow fruits, vegetables, and chicken. “Spirit Mike” intends for his garden to initially support him for all of his nourishment then eventually open it to his community.
Justice or Just Us
Grand jury in Ohio indicts the officer who killed Andre Hill
The police officer who fatally shot Andre Hill, an unarmed black man, was indicted by a grand jury in Ohio. Adam Coy, the former police officer, has been charged with murder in the commission of a felony, two counts of dereliction of duty, and felonious assault.
Ryan Coogler inks long-term deal with Disney
Critically acclaimed director and writer, Ryan Coogler, has inked a long-term exclusive television deal with the Walt Disney Company through his company Proximity Media. Coogler partnered with Disney on a five-year overall exclusive television deal that will see Proximity develop television for all divisions of Disney, including Marvel Studios. Coogler and team are currently developing the sequel to Black Panther and will be developing a show on Disney+ based on the fictional country Wakanda.
Congratulations to the coordinators of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This past Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their second Super Bowl in franchise history. The biggest story of the win has been their starting quarterback, Tom Brady, winning his seventh title. Something of equal importance that’s getting overlooked in sports media is Tampa Bay’s coordinator staff. Coordinators in the National Football league are crucial to any team and the Buccaneers have an entire black coordinator staff. This is an amazing feat that should be applauded more in sports journalism. Now can we get more black head coaches in the NFL?
“The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart.” ― Kwame Nkrumah