Black Men Should Cry More
The majority of Black men I have spoken to have given me virtually the same reasons why they would not attend counseling: â€œItâ€™s nobodyâ€™s business,â€ â€œitâ€™s a private issue that should be kept in the family,â€ â€œcounseling is a White manâ€™s pass time,â€ â€œcounseling is designed for white women,â€ and â€œcounseling is for nutcases--we are men.â€
[London Bridge Is Falling Down]
Traditionally men are raised to show strength in character and in dealing with problems; consequently talking out issues and crying is seen as a sign of weakness.
Most men internalize their thoughts until they reach breaking point and then what comes out as a result of this internalization is anger, aggression and sarcasm.
Expressing feelings of sadness, hurt or grief invokes shame in most male adults if you consider that growing up, they are told, “big boys don’t cry” or “be a man about it.” Having these feelings makes them feel weak, inferior and inadequate, so rather than display these emotions, both Caucasian and Black men will internalize these feelings, thus having a negative impact on their self esteem, confidence and the ability to form close trusting bonds.
The difference however is that most Caucasian men will voluntarily seek counseling in order to address these issues whereas most Black man will resort to temporary defensive measures like distance, control, blame and anger.
Being emotionally characterless is part of a man’s genetic make up. It is mysterious as it is exasperating. I thereby coin a new theory: “emotional retardation.” (Doris Allimadi, 2009).
There are several factors which encroach on the elaboration and maturation of the Black man. They encounter racism within the criminal justice and employment system which in turn leads to poverty and the inability to fulfill the role of provider.
They also have to contend with negative portrayal in the media. A man has to constantly prove himself and measure up to societal expectation and when they cannot, the Black man simply internalizes these feelings of failure.
Such feelings impact on every aspect of life, including family life, especially when the Black man stops to communicate and little issues snowball into bigger ones, leading ultimately to family breakdown. Lack of communication and conflict resolution skills and the unwillingness of most Black men to attend couple counseling can be seen as a contributory factor of the high rate of family breakdown in the Black community.
Additionally, in recent times, studies have shown a link between family breakdown, in particular, single mother families and the increase in crimes by adolescents.
The majority of Black men I have spoken to have given me virtually the same reasons why they would not attend counseling. These range from, “it’s nobody’s business,” “it’s a private issue that should be kept in the family,” “counseling is a White man’s pass time,” “counseling is designed for white women,” and “counseling is for nutcases--we are men.”
It is a misconception to state that one needs to be a nutcase or have deep rooted psychological issues in order to seek counseling. Counseling is sought for different reasons. It could be as simple as fear of flying, problems with work or a colleague or marital guidance.
A solution will be devised suited to individual problems and the Counselor will help you work through this, keeping a track of progress. Where a more serious problem is discovered a referral may be necessary.
There is commonly held myth that people should be able to solve their own problems and that counseling is for those who cannot cope but a lot of people see counselors so that “things don’t get on top of them.” Having someone objective and who is removed from the situation can be beneficial. A counselor offers a facility where there is no judgment or shame, confidentiality, a candid and unbiased way of looking at a problem and a solution to working through those problems.
Seeking the services of a counselor when it is needed should therefore be viewed by Black men as admirable and courageous. There should be no shame or stigma attached to it. Instead it should be embraced.
A patient can benefit from communication skills and how to express feelings in a calm, reasonable and non violent way as opposed to being dominant, distant, aggressive, yelling and walking away when they cannot impose their will on others.
Counseling can be both preventative and curative.
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“Speaking Truth To Empower.”
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