Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Black Man: Complex, Conflicted, and Angry

The Grief that has caused the Anger

Anger is a dangerous emotion. It is the reason why many of our brothers are in prison. They just snapped one day and could not settle back down to a calm state, so now they are in prison having to serve out a prison sentence that could have been prevented if only they learned how to channel that negativity. A negativity that often times leads to the murder of another black person. We commonly call this black on black crime when in fact the most accurate description should be The Detrimental Inability to Handle Stress.

I have mentioned numerous times that for some people handling stress can be complicated. Too many of us find ourselves in predicaments that require restraint all the time. Like when our children challenge us. A teenager can make you wanna go up side their head! All of you with teenagers or who have raised a teenager understands what I am talking about. I, myself, have not had the unfortunate opportunity to go up side the head of a rebellious and know it all teen. I don’t look forward to the act either. The act is the action that takes place: the physical violence. The impetus of the act stems from our inability at times to handle that dangerous emotion we are all capable of expressing and/or displaying.

Recently, a young lady asked me, “Why is it that men only show one emotion?” Not knowing the purpose of the question. I asked, “What emotion is that?” She immediately said, “Anger.” As I thought about her question briefly I began to remember the sport highlights from this past weekend: T.O. spit in DeAngelo Hall’s face and the Knicks and Nuggets fight. In both incidents black men where unsuccessful at maintaining composure. They lost it. T.O. even admitted he was frustrated and it was obvious by the way the so called professional basketball players responded to each other that frustration was the culprit. No matter how stressed and frustrated we get there is no reason to sucker punch or spit saliva in the face of another human being.

So, what do we do as men with this emotion? How do we release it without physical brutality? Well, ride with me as I attempt to breakdown this down by using my sophomore year of Psychology 101.

I am of the belief that black men are grieving. We are in or were in the stages of grief at different times. This grief could stem from neglect from our fathers, rejection from a woman, embarrassment as a result of sharing our feelings, constant discredit from “the man” at work, and/or our failures. This grief can last all of our lives and some times go undetected until we finally take stock of our lives. All the time we spend avoiding that moment to assess our lives we are literally living in denial. We deny that there is a problem by tossing our issues up as life situations. As life situations continue to haunt us we eventually become angry with life which leads to displays of anger that’s usually directed at the people who are truly in our corner: our girlfriends and wives. For years we can demean our partners without ever getting to the point of bargaining. Bargaining is the place we need to be in because the bargaining phase typically helps us understand that we have a problem. The problem is the inability to deal with the grief. After the bargaining is over we are moving toward our freedom, but the freedom is at a cost. The cost is depression. We have to go through it to come out on top. The depression can be deadly, however. Many of us men address depression via the bottle, with unlimited sex partners, and by participating in other reckless behavior. If we make it through the depression without crashing a car while intoxicated or without contracting HIV we are home free. Crossing the threshold of freedom means we are in the acceptance mode now. We have accepted whatever caused the grief. The neglect, rejection, embarrassment, and discredit are no longer barriers.

This is my lengthy response to the young lady who asked me the question. It is a question I will always think about because many of us (men) are plagued by this emotion. Even myself. As anger consumed me over the years I disrespected women, alienated myself, and dabbled in dangerous behavior. One day I woke up and discovered I was alone. There was no one to share my good life with. Yes, it was still good because I was successful and at the time acquired all the things I wanted out of life. However, like numerous men I was still alone. Confined to myself. Consumed by rage, and full of self hatred.

Those fellas on the basketball court where in a rage. All ten of them. Stress and frustration from the game consumed them. Terrell Owens is a prisoner. He is in jail with a mirror to face every single day. He does not see what all these women see. They see his dark skin, athletic framed body, shiny white teeth, and dimples. Unfortunately, Terrell sees what he hates: The Grief that has caused the Anger.

Written by Muata. Inspired by Carmelo Anthony’s sucker punch (did you notice that Carmelo ran after he threw the punch? What a Punk!). Inspired by that reflection in the mirror.

6 comments:

Muata said...

Reader Response:

This is the BEST piece you have ever written. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this very real issue with our men.

BTW-Carmelo really is a punk. However, I think that most guys from his generation are punks. It would be okay if we could say, with some certainty that he will eventually grow out of it, the way we glance upon a caterpillar knowing its fate. Unfortunately, I don't think these young men have the guidance, direction or support needed to induce their metamorphosis.

Your next piece should be on the qualities every real man embodies. I'm sure that running after throwing a sucker punch will not be on your list.

–Anonymous

Muata said...

Reader and Muata Discussion:

Muata-

I found this commentary to be very interesting. I never made the connections between the ways men act with them being angry. I just thought they were being a jack—s. The one thing that we have remember is that no matter what we have been through in life when we become an adult, we have to work on becoming a better person and stop making excuses for our nasty actions.

–AG

AG-

I agree with you. It is all about personal responsibility! Too many of us are running away from taking up this responsibility. We would rather blame someone or something else. It all starts with us. We are responsible for our actions. PERIOD!!

–Muata

Muata-

Yes Sir!!!!! Once people start taking responsibility for their own actions - then they will be better off. Not only will they (men) be better off, but the world will be better off especially for women. Men really need to man-up and be the man that God has call them to be.

-AG

AG-

Yes, We (men) do need to step up. We are slowly, but surely destroying things for the black family. Black women must hang in there with us. They must also continue to be there for us. I must say that I have had several black women who were good to me. I just ruined the relationship with my vices and demons! It is my prayer I will not end up alone as an old man. That scares the hell out of me.

–Muata

Muata said...

Reader and Muata Discussion:

Muata-

Would you really call T.O's or Carmello's responses frustration or just plain old ego? What did T.O. have to be frustrated about...he was burning DeAngelo all night. He had the upper hand yet he still let his ego throw him into another realm in which he felt like disrespecting another grown man was justified. I feel that African American men struggle more with ego and pride which in turn causes frustration and
ANGER.

-SW

SW-

You may have a point. I did not think of the ego factor. However, why would TO's ego play a part in demeaning a man like that? Did he say, 'I am better than you so I am going to spit in your face.' I don't understand his logic if this was all his ego. Ego is a struggle for us. We want it catered to most of the time. We need that because what some of us face daily. We are MEN, and we are treated like boys by this white system.

Pride is a big one. We for some reason will not let it go when we should. Nonetheless, pride and ego are essential characteristics that play a part in our development. Black men are bruised! We are hurting! We are carrying too much of that grief I mentioned! We want to be respected and heard! And, we want our women to build us up on all accounts that are righteous.

-Muata

Muata-

T.O. made comments before the game that he was going to humiliate DeAngelo because of course DeAngelo was stating that he was going to shut T.O. down on the field. My opinion is that once it was obvious to T.O. that DeAngelo was not able to stop him on the field why not take it a step further by disrespecting him personally hence spitting in his face (which some would consider the most disrespectful act possible). At the time this may have been driven by anger but was yet another attempt for T.O. to stroke his ego. T.O. has some serious issues but I think that most black men struggle with ego and at times it prevents them from furthering themselves in all aspects of life. It amazes me that men are still hung up on ego and pride when women in general, especially black women, face some of the most blatant disrespectful situations in their careers and personal lives. I will agree that black men have faced a great deal of adversity and are bruised but is lashing out at our brothers, disrespecting our sisters, and mentally or physically abusing their wives and children really the answer or is it all an excuse to make others feel their pain?

-SW

SW-

No, lashing out is not the answer.

It needs to be understood that the black man has had his manhood taken from him. He is battling a system that hates him. He looks at the white man, and wonders why I can't I live like that. Yes, many can and numerous of us are living that good life they desire.

It also needs to be kept in the forefront that the black man has been defeated. He is broken. He is like a kid searching for his place. Unfortunately, many black men believe the black woman is not with him. Of course black women are devoted to us, but why? To get married and have a family? Or is it to truly have his back when the times get tough? I am not making any excuses for disrespectful behavior at all. I am just speaking as a brother who actually detests this system. I hate what they did to my people. I dislike how we have responded.

In the end the black man is still the animal that's lost. He is a creature that's wounded. No culture can sustain itself without the man. Why? Because men are by nature supposed to be the leader. THE MAN.

One last thing: Black men need to stop making excuses for trifling behavior. What I just mentioned above is not and excuse. It is reality, and most know the reality. The question: When will all of us step up and stop being PUNKS!

-Muata

Muata said...

Reader Response:

We (men) show three emotions:

one is anger, the other is sexual, and the third is a form of happiness.

-RW

Tyas said...

You hit the nail on the head. Anger, in woman and men for that matter, stems from our pasts. The real revelation is when we recognize the instances and experiences that were the catalysts for the anger and determine how best to deal with them.

Do we ignore it- act as if they never existed? Do we pretend to deal with them- go through the steps but involve no real emotion? Or do we face them... head on? Do we use our past experiences as excuses? I did. Through therapy, I realized that I was holding my husband accountable for pain someone else caused. Could it be that the love I felt for my husband so closely resembled that of a previous love that I pushed him away for fear he would hurt me as the past love did? I should have been thankful that I was fortunate enough to experience love again. How could I be pushing it away at the same time?

All in all, each of us holds the key to release that anger and live "happily ever after". Do I think that means we will never be angry, discouraged or otherwise unhealthy again? Um.... no. But it will give us and our present lives/relationships the best opportunity to succeed.

It's a whole lot easier to do nothing than something. The weak will ignore and the strong stand tall.

Muata said...

Reader Response and Muata Responds:

Muata-

“The Grief that has caused the anger”—quite powerful! I so enjoy your honesty as well as the male perspective. Besides, I agree most of our brothers are in a depressed, hollow state which leads to self destruction, and if they don’t recognize it they won’t heal or ever love themselves and others fully. Do you also think your belief in God has helped you? Its has me & because of it, I still believe in black love and refuse to defect just yet—LOL!!!

Moreover, I’m happy to hear you have recognized yourself—keep at it because I truly believe in life there’s always room for self improvement which only leads to self love & love for others.

-KM

KM-

I want to believe my belief in God has helped me. I am not totally sure. I do know that I need to continue to work on strengthening my faith. Faith in “it can get better” or in a change is possible.

Many of us brothers are searching. Searching for peace within. Peace with ourselves. Too many of us are defeated and/or destroyed by our grief.

I for one am getting too old to be in the same ole situation. I need to relinquish some things that have caused me pain. I am like a lot of people: say all the right things but have problems making that change for the better at times.

In time, black men will get over the hump! But, only if we want to die in peace. I sure do!

I believe in black love too. We (black folk) just have too much to contend with. I believe our condition has handicapped us. We bring our condition into every relationship we enter not realizing that whatever the pain we are carrying hinders relationship and personal growth. And, then we expect for the relationship to work. It will not work until we address the grief/pain that slavery, colonization, discrimination, racism, and hatred has caused. We hate ourselves to some degree, but expect to love someone else. No, that will not work. We need to start over with the understanding of our condition and how we can navigate through it with Corinthians Love.

-Muata