There was a post that came across my Facebook timeline that said the following:
When I saw this, my heart sank. All I could think about was my own childhood, and when I was telling people as a 10-year-old girl that I was depressed, no one believed me. I thought about the increased number of little Black children that are ending their lives. Yet, everything on this post was something that I had either heard or heard second hand be said when it relates to the feelings and emotions of Black children.
Black children are consistently told their pain, their trauma, their emotional well being doesn’t matter. That is is trivial. Ergo, they are trivial. They are not taken seriously even in the face of evidence to the contrary!
Look, I get it. I had parents that worked all the time to take care me and my siblings. I had a grandmother, whom was sometimes less than warm, and aunts that worked because they had families too. Everyone is so busy trying to make it and survive you don’t have time to see what may be going on around you! Previous generations didn’t have the luxury of calling their anxiety ‘depression’. They didn’t have the luxury of admitting their minds were playing tricks on them, and the world had gotten so dark that suicide became an option.
Live. Work. Take care of kids.
“If they ain’t dying, starving, dirty or bleeding to death, they’ll be alright.”
With the rate of suicide among African-American children on the rise, posts like this–even in jest–make me wince. They make me uncomfortable because it peels back layers of Black culture we don’t discuss–and use humor to cover up. I remember hearing things like, “Only white people get depression!”
No. We get depression too, but we don’t get the luxury of a diagnosis. The goal of a diagnosis is to point a clinician in the right direction in order to help their patients. That means medication if need be or the most blasphemous term to Black folks: therapy. We don’t get the justice a diagnosis grants. We, especially Black women, are told to keep going. We get told little Black boys only get to be tough or happy.
Black people are not allowed to be totally human. If we are allowed to embrace all of ourselves, even the broken parts, perhaps these generational traumas can heal. Instead of being things to laugh about on social media, and whispered about at funeral repasses.
[image from comicartfans.com–Lucy is a creation of Charles M. Schultz, creator of Peanuts]