Hey SimplyMei family! I know. I know. Don’t fuss me out. Some of you probably want to really square up with me. I admit, it has been awhile since I wrote a post. My apologies, Life!
If you follow me on social media, you know that I chose to add graduate school to my already full plate (almost a year in woot woot!) and I am still very much being a full time mommy. In fact, it was actually a mommy moment that actually inspired me to take a break from chaos, get back to the pen, and type up this good ol’ blog post.
So, thank my son Santana! Here we go..
LET ME TAKE YOU BACK IN TIME...
It’s finals week in grad school. Game time, baby! I’m sitting outside on the steps in front of my apartment trying to draft an “A – worthy” final paper for a class while simultaneously watching my son play horseplay around with the other 8-year-old boys in the neighborhood. Oh Santana - - my son is truly all boy. Naturally, I began to focus my attention more on my laptop to knock out my paper rather than intensely watching the kids play tag and be boys. They were not far from me and as long as I could hear their laughter and chatter, I knew they were fine. Parents you know what I am talking about. It is NOT the noise that we worry about… It is when kids all of sudden get quiet that indicates, “Houston, we have a problem!” They were fine, until…
Then came the loud cry…
Next thing I know my son was standing in front of me with two scraped knees, feelings full of hurt, and a face plastered with tears. Now the scrapes were not atypical of any injury that boys may incur from falling down or just playing around. In fact, I personally did not think they were bad at all - - not bad enough for the water works anyway. He was being dramatic. On top of that, one of his friends he had been playing with had scraped his knee too and he was just fine.
“Just shake it off son - - It’s only scraped knees. You will be okay. It happens sometimes. You don’t want to be outside crying in front of your friends, do you?”
Thought I was going to sugarcoat it and tell you that I allowed him to express his hurt, bandaged him up, and accepted that he was not okay, huh? Here’s the part of the story where I become sensitive to the fact that he’s only a kid and just because he’s a boy doesn’t mean that those two scraped knees didn’t hurt him any less, right? Well, if I told you that I’d be lying. That was not my initial reaction.
What my son told me following my comment is what really triggered me.
It jolted me.
“You always tell me not to cry but this time it really hurts mom. I can’t help it. I'm trying to hold it in, but...I can't”
This was more than my son saying to me that he was hurt over two scraped knees. You see, kids can’t always verbalize the bigger message. The bigger message behind what he was saying was: “Mom you don’t allow me to be vulnerable and express myself even when I really need to because the situation is hard for me to deal with”. Is this how I was raising my black son?
I ashamed to admit but before this “aha” moment, I’m not sure how many times I told him not to cry and toughen up. Of course, my intentions were harmless. I love my son. I just wanted him to be a boy. I didn’t want the other boys to laugh at him for being perceived as weak-- it was protection in a way. Beyond all of that, as a single mom I felt a pressure to be tough on him during situations like this in attempt makeup for the lesson he lacked from his biological father: how to be a man, especially a black man in today’s society.
But what does that mean? - - be a man. Where did I get this belief that black boys are supposed to be tough at all times? Where did I get this idea that my son’s reason for crying wasn’t valid? Why was it wrong for him to be expressive?
Why don’t black boys cry?
I’M NOT A BLACK MALE…WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT THIS POST?
This blog post is not just for the black boy or black man. In fact, this post is for anyone seeking to understand the black boy or man, how to raise a black boy, how to communicate with a black boy or man, how to be patient with a black boy or man, and so much more. Black men live in a society that literally fears them just because of their very being. Don’t believe me? Turn on the news and see how many black BOYS and MEN have been unarmed and shot by police who reacted in pure fear instead of valid suspicion.
... but like it or not, black men exist and will continue to exist which means we should ALL learn how to co-exist which starts with understanding why some black men are the way they are - - starting with exploration of their childhood.
Let me be clear, I think we need all men regardless of race or ethnicity. Men are like the rock and foundation of household. They are leaders. (I know some independent woman just read that and choked. “I don’t need nobody telling me what to do”. Listen, I am a boss too sis. Calling men leaders does not mean that you have no voice. When I refer to leader, I mean that in a sense of protection. A man that loves his family will protect and lead his family.)
So, why am I focusing on the black man? - - because often they are misunderstood. I know many black men that excel at being a leader and provider but when it comes to being expressive and vulnerable, it can be a challenge.
Their challenges with emotional expression can be perceived as being cold and disengaged when really some of these men are just a reflection of their upbringing - - taught to never cry. Black men, I know a lot you have been limited to only being able to express certain acceptable emotions be it in front of family or friends. When was the last time you cried in front of your homie or told your mom your feeling were hurt, black man?
So today (and over the next couple of weeks), I’m focusing on black boys because black men we need you - - all of you - - even the hard to reach, vulnerable places too. If I can help it, I’m going to do my best be an advocate for black men. If I’m missing anything, talk to Mei. This is a discussion and hopefully the beginning of something great.
Welcome to my blog post series on Why Black Boys Don’t Cry
PART I – REASONS WHY THEY DON’T CRY
I can hear it now…
“SimplyMei, how can you possibly speak to something you are not?”
Fact: You got it. I’m not a man - - let alone a black man.
I’m raising a young black King.
I have a very black father.
My brother is… *drum roll please* You guessed it. He’s a black man.
I have black males friends.
I have very much dated black men.
You catch my drift.
So no, I cannot say that I have truly walked in the shoes of a young black man but I can tell you that I have had enou