Feb 02, 2012 @ 8:21 am | By TheFeministGriote | 4 Comments
What is it about having melanin that makes people feel invincible? Does melanin have a component in it that makes you impervious to destruction or common human frailty? As people of color being strong has not always been an attribute that has worked in our favor. The chief reason we as Blacks were shipped off to the “new world,” was because we seemed to be the only group, that could withstand coming into close contact with the settlers, and not die soon after, from their European diseases. Our poor Native American brothers and sisters were not so fortunate. So since we as Blacks have managed to survive the most egregious human trafficking tragedy of human kinds history, we have somehow taken this to mean that as Black people we have steel running through our DNA.
Black men and women have appropriated the “strong black man/woman” trope and it is literally killing us softly. The first day of Black History has started on a somber note. The embodiment of cool, the man who put beautiful and ultra fly Black folks on television to share and bare their funky souls to the world, has died from what is reported to be from a self-inflicted gun wound, i.e. suicide! I remember watching Soul Train as kid and being mesmerized by the souls of Black folk. It wasn’t lost on me that before there was a YO MTV raps, The Basement with Big Tiger, or TRL there was Soul Train. The first place where music, fashion, dancing, and Black artist came together seamlessly.
Don Cornelius had swagger, long before Jay-Z claimed to have invented it. For a man who defined cool and who was the authority on what was cool, I have to wonder what happened to Don Cornelius that made him feel like it was better to end his life, then continue to show up to his life? I wonder if Don Cornelius reached out to a loved one or a mental health professional? I wonder if Don Cornelius got the proper love and attention we humans desire and need? After all we human beings are wired to connect.
I think as Black folks we need to remember we are homo sapiens first and as resilient as the human spirit is, it does need love, validation, self-care, therapy, and sometimes psychotropic drugs. There is nothing wrong in saying “no” if your plate is full, and nor is there any weakness in asking for help! Contrary to popular belief, Black folks can break under the daily pressures of life, like people of other races do. There is no honor in suffering alone and in silence.
I hope Don Cornelius’s death impresses upon us all an important lesson about life, life can sometimes be hard and your seeming problems can isolate you from others when companionship is what you need the most. Please seek help if you feel your self slipping into a shell of darkness. If your friend/family member/lover comes to you seeking comfort let them vent, cry, and be as human as possible. If your loved one seems to have prolonged sadness that doesn’t show any signs of going away, or getting better, encourage your friend/lover to seek professional help. If applicable offer to tag along. Don’t ignore the signs and let people suffer alone. Sometimes putting on a brave face and facing life is the only energy a person may have, and asking for help may in fact be too emotionally taxing. There are some issues that Pastor, prayer, shopping, drinking or any other coping mechanism can’t cure. Intervention may be needed. Look up and speak up!
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