The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Concerning black men, and emotions

In answer to a question following my review of "Get Rich or Die Tryin'"...
Question: Since Black men mainly come froma place of strength(or try to anyway)passing by feelings of fear, hopes, dreams, and weaknesses, how can this be made to overcome the lack of these other things?

No faltering, no weakness, no doubts,
just missles locked on target. I found it very appealing and have been wondering the "what if" of a real person like this.
I believe that such a person would be a sociopathic psychopath.  No human feelings, no connection to anything real outside his own fantasy life.  Nothing human or animal can really be this way with even a prayer of sanity and wholeness.  We all have dreams, hopes, needs, and fears.  A strong person can lock them away for a while, as they move toward their dreams.  A strong and evolved person has integrated their personality to the point that those negative voices are clearly understood to be merely voices calling in the woods.  You needn't pay attention to them.
 Mark my words, I DO think that black men face special challenges, and that one of those has to do with an explosive amount of fear and anger that few whites let themselves understand at all.  This isn't surprising: if the historical position were reversed, most of us would be in denial, wanting to believe that whatever we've accomplished in life is purely due to our own righteous effort, and not due to harm done to innocent others.  Fine.  That's human nature...but we still have the responsibility to be good, and moral, and role models for those who are looking for answers.
The answer is not to be found in disowning our emotions.  The answer is to be found in loving ourselves, really diving in and embracing our own humanity, accepting our failings while doing our best to rise above them.  Along the way, we must forgive others as a way of ridding ourselves of emotional poison.  To accept your humanity fully is to walk the road of enlightenment.  If you have ever mastered a single skill--and you have--then it is possible to transfer those same skills over to the domain of self-realization.  Just be honest with yourself about your successes and failures in the three main arenas
(body, mind, spirit/emotion) and begin to take responsiblity for both.  Strive to learn a little something new every day.  Self-doubt is a part of life, but you don't have to let it stop you.  While as a man of color you have special challenges, every person, and every group, whether defined by race, culture, sexual orientation, politics, gender, age, physical condition, or whatever, has "special" challenges.  What you are dealing with is the countless subliminal messages you have received your whole life that you aren't as good, as important, as sexual, as smart, as worthy of life.  This is frightening, believe me, I know. And that fear creates anger.  Go to the root of it.  There is energy and power there, but you have to dive deeply.  James Bond-style villains (and heros) are definitely popular because of their single-minded, fearless style.  They don't exist, nor should they be aspired to once we reach adulthood, and want the powers, responsibilities and freedoms of adults.  But that doesn't mean we can't be heros.  That is something we can, and should, aspire to.  A hero can be tough, and ruthless, and smart, and sexual...but they also fear, and hope, and dream, and cry.  That's just us, as human beings.  Try to lose that, and you create a monster. 

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