Culture Hack

When it All Falls Down: A commentary on the allowance for Black men’s mental health

We have all been witness to the very public canceling of Kanye “Ye” West over the past month. He’s made disparaging comments about Black people, George Floyd, and received the most outrage over his anti-Semitic statements. His behavior is obviously that of someone suffering through a very public mental health crisis, but his treatment and the public backlash is that of a truly horrible person operating under sound mind. 

It all begs the question: Why is there so little support, concern, or even commentary, around the mental health of Black men? In this instance society has been quick to crucify Ye for his behavior, strip him of his success, and celebrate his downfall. Similar to more common instances the public seems much less interested in unpacking the implications of Black boy trauma or reflecting on the societal norms that lay the foundation for sustained mental illness. 

The fact that only 26% of Black men seek mental support services when they feel anxiety or depression, compared to 45% of non-Hispanic Whites could seem like a motivation problem for Black men to solve on their own. But, when coupled with deep-seeded trauma around masculinity, the historical failures in the healthcare system for Black people, and the stigma around asking for help, the cultural and systematic barriers form a network of oppression and doubt keep Black men locked in their own mental health prisons. 

The groundswell of mental health advocacy seems to have willfully disregarded Black men; neglecting to meet them where they stand with culturally nuanced treatment, representative physicians, or accessible programs. Instead they are content to let it “all fall down” and assume the weight of the Black man’s mental health is not an issue and certainly not one for everyone to care about.

-Myia Thompkins