This poem is not to criminalize those who were told it was a crime to not be both strong and Black so they’ve chosen to be silent.
This poem is not to shame those who are intentionally silent because the Black community does not permit noise that sounds like mental illness.
This poem is meant to rock the very solid foundation the Black community has built to ensure that mental illnesses are not a normalcy.
So if you have a problem with “crazy” Black folk, I unapologetically refuse to apologize to you for what I am about to say next.
And if you don’t believe we as a community suffer from mental illnesses, I am not going to try to prove to you that we do but help you realize your denial comes from a place that you have silenced because Black folk have silenced you too.
This is for the seventh grader dealing with manic depression whose mom interprets it as an attitude problem.
This is for the ninth grader who has been suspended over three times for behavioral issues and is on the verge of being expelled because he is dealing with schizophrenia without any medication.
This is for the new mother who is dealing with postpartum depression whose husband has self- diagnosed her as angry and crazy.
This is for the PhD candidate who has been cutting herself for the past two years because of her struggle to deal with her mood disorder.
This is for the single parent of three that is dealing with a divorce and doesn’t feel comfortable talking about her issue with a white psychologist.
This is for the eighth grade girl that was misdiagnosed by a psychologist who chose to not thoroughly listening and instead generalized our issues as a community.
This is for the transsexual whose family has ostracized him and is now contemplating suicide.
This is for the 13-year-old girl that was raped by her uncle and still has to hug him at family gatherings and has attempted suicide several times.
This is for the activist who is burnt out from educating, protesting, and protecting the Blackness of himself and his brothers and sisters and is withdrawing from his family and friends.
This is for anyone who identifies as Black and has forsaken their mental and emotional well-being because the Black community intentionally chooses to avoid that conversation.
When being strong means you abandon your needs in their entirety to serve the ego, it is time for you to be something else.
When being silent means you intentionally avoid acknowledging your needs due to fear and community ridicule, it’s time to make some noise.
And I will make noise with you.
This Voice is brought to you by
The Steve Fund is the nation’s only non-profit organization focused on promoting the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color. It works with colleges and universities, students, non-profits, researchers, practitioners, and with groups serving diverse populations. Learn more at http://www.stevefund.org.