Set my Brothers Free: Young Black Men & Depression

By The Invisible Dragon

Young Black males, as suicide victims, were unheard of growing up in 1970’s.  However, presently, according to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide rates for African-American males ages (15-24) increased 83% in the early 80’s and 90’s.  More importantly, most suicide victims suffered from depression at their end.  Suicide has become a statistical reality for many young brothers.   The sad fact that young males are killing themselves is startling, but the communities’ silence is worse, even tragic. As a result, Black communities face stinging charges of being callous, insensitive, and more importantly, mis-educated. It is my belief; the silent epidemic on Black men and depression must be shattered.

Black men rarely speak about their mistrust of organized healthcare.  One reason for the silence is the mistrust they possess toward the health care profession.  The Tuskegee Experiment is just one example of gross malpractice levied against Black males throughout American history.  I, personally, refused to use White male doctors in the past and frankly all male physicians.  Often, they gave me a sense that my health issues were not as serious and that intestinal fortitude was in order.  In the hood, reputation and the cool pose is everything Black males risk isolation and marginalization if they have a mental illness label.  Despite, whys and wherefores, we must face ourselves and shed the current fear to face depression.  Young Black males suffer from mental illness; we better admit this and speak up.

Unfortunately and fortunately, Black males do not attend church in large numbers.  One reality they face is Black Churches dis-empower them by suggesting only the blood of Christ heals.  Young Black males are inundated constantly with this message from female relatives, girlfriends, and wives.  Usually those loaded theme suggestions fall on deaf ears. Nevertheless, I sympathize with anyone who attempts to sound the bell about males and mental illness. However, in contrast, depression is not a headache that’s erased through pray and aspirin.  It is important Black Christians not marginalize depression anymore; it’s real, get over it.  In addition, we must refuse to endorse the religious-based mythology, “Only the blood of Jesus heals”.  We need the Black church to become a responsible partner in healing our young men.    

If one would solve a problem, the study of the problem is a prerequisite.  In urban communities, often, Black males lead a life of isolation and sequestration.  My own view, education on mental illness is a valid step to our miscarriage concerning mental illnesses.  More directly, to break the silence we must seek education as the only solution.  Although, a controversial issue has been whether depression is real, this by the way is crazy.  The collective illiteracy about affective disorders is the result of such careless thinking.  The mis-education of mental health is important because half-truths may disable the men and communities, rendering them impotent in life endeavors.  Thus only, data driven information will pardon communities and free young brothers.

It is no secret, in urban communities; countless Black males inflicted with mental illness, live in virtual darkness. Sad and disheartened, they routinely live emotionally disengaged existences.   And, we do know, if depression deepens without medical intervention hopelessness may become a reality.  Haeffel, Abramson, Brazy, & Shah (2007) define hopelessness as being convinced the future holds bad results and all efforts are futile.  Our refusal to seriously engage men about their mental health ultimately hurts Black families, children, and communities.  As well, to continue endorsing cultural mental illness mythologies are an even more egregious assault.  We have a responsibility, and duty, to educate ourselves and communities on mental illness:

Shall we not set ourselves free?

Experts Call for Early Focus on Black Boys’ Nonacademic Skills

Education Week: Experts Call for Early Focus on Black Boys’ Nonacademic Skills

From the article…“Stanley Howard, the founder of the Chicago-based Law and Civics Literacy Institute for Urban Males, wondered how educators can best boost educational outcomes for African-American males in a political context in which many Americans seem to be thinking: “Now you have a black president. What are you still crying about, bellyaching about?” He added, “What if black boys are economically obsolete?”

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Black boys who become men (If homicide or suicide doesn’t fall upon them) are economically viable in our society: They feed the prison industrial complex, Black men are incarcerated at an alarming rate in America.  We know that there more than likely to be locked up six times more than their white counterpart.  The rate among Black men is 3,119 per 100,000.  (Heather West, William J. Sabol, and Sarah J. Greenman, “Prisoners in 2009,” Bureau of  Justice Statistics Bulletin, December 2010.) 

 

The Rise of Prison-Industrial Complex

  • In the last 3 decades – prison industrial complex had been developed in the US– confluence of special interests that has given prison construction in the United States a seemingly unstoppable momentum.
  • Since 1991 the rate of violent crime in the United States has fallen by about 20 percent, while the number of people in prison or jail has risen by 50 percent. Increase because of imprisonment of people who have committed nonviolent offenses. Instead of community service, fines, or drug treatment – to a prison term, by far the most expensive form of punishment.
  • politicians, both liberal and conservative, who have used the fear of crime to gain votes;
  • impoverished rural areas where prisons have become a cornerstone of economic development;
  • private companies tap into $35 billion a year spending on prisons
  • Spending on corrections since 1980s increased 5 times; there are more than 1000 vendors that sell corrections paraphernalia;
  • The growth projected 5-10% annually;
  • Private prisons keep 90,000 prisoners from 27 states
  • “Bed brokers,” rent a cell facilities ($20 to $60 a day with $2.50-5.50 commission per man-day); trucking prisoners hundreds of miles through the country – threat to public order; escapes;
  • Wackenhut Corrections, second largest private-prison company has ravenous $1 billion a year;
  • U.S. Corrections Corporation – the largest private-prison company wants to buy and run all state of Taxes’ prisons;
  • globalization of the private-prison business: British private-prison company, Securicor, operates two facilities in Florida; Wackenhut Corrections is now under contract to operate prison in England; three prisons in Australia; and a prison in Scotland. It is actively seeking prison contracts in South Africa.
  • 1 pay phone in prison generates $15,000 a year; MCI installs phones for free;
  • Government officials whose fiefdoms have expanded along with the inmate population.

 

The Invisible Dragon

Book Review: Greatest Salesman in the World

Note:  I have more Christian friends than a mega church could shake a stick at.  My friends and I share and read books.  We share books not as an attempt of conversion to either faith or philosophy but spiritual growth. Hence some books receive a succinct written appraisal because of their indelible impression on the Dragon.  Such a book is below.

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Overview

Og Mandino, (1968) “The Greatest Salesman on Earth.” Overview: Jay Redmond dutifully sworn to inform me of Christian genres did so with best-selling author Og Mandino’s book “Greatest Salesman in the World”. Why, the forewarning? Because we do not trade books so heavily slanted that any message of worth is drowned out by ideology or mythology.  This is not to say religious books make me scurry but some attempt to covert by text. I’m not a big fan of these books and pleasingly Jay takes this heed.

In fact, before Jay dropped it on my desk, I could honestly say, never heard of it. Jay’s an avid reader as well as philological gent, a light-skinned African-American fellow drenched in thought. He informed me of the mission, “read this book, I think you’ll enjoy it”.  This tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds, damn that Jay.  Spoiler Alert!!!   Greatest Salesman on Earth (1968) is not about last month’s quarterly reports.

Hafld:  Teach Me

The date did not bother me (1968) concerning contextual relevance. The Tao and Bible are much older; the Buddha, a tired elder, long should have retired. What the book has in common with these books and philosophical thinking patterns is the art of the parable. The story sets in Jerusalem in about the time before Christ’s birth, when the young man Hafld wishes and learns the secrets of success.

The educational tutelage came from one of the wealthiest men at that time. The well-off elder was repeating the gesture he himself requested and received long ago, “the secret of success”. The story reveals ten scrolls handed down to Hafld, these lessons of principles necessary to build one to self-actualization.  Without giving much if anything away, the scrolls provide lessons to change one’s circumstances through a change of consciousness.

The story inside the story is a powerful plug for Christians; as such reading the book in its entirety will be a great revelation. Greatest Salesman on Earth is a nice story of self-identity building and remaining faithful to one’s beliefs.

My Take:

Og Mandino’s “Greatest Salesman in the World” has sold over 14 million copies. There are some helpful, empowering tools in the classic. However, my reaction to the book was lukewarm mainly because the anecdotes were familiar to my schema. This book would be more advantageous to a person just beginning their journey, such as the main character Hifld.

In addition, the book offers great insights and then produces thoughts that baffled me, as such, “Experience is comparable to fashion; an action that provoked successful today will be unworkable and impractical tomorrow, only principles endure (pp42).”

Principles become experience when applied in real life situations. It is similar to hope, it only becomes hope when actions are secured, or “when the rubber hits the road”.
This book favors individuals who desire external guidance in the beginning of their journey.

Three Dragons… Recommended for purchase…
dragon book reviewdragon book reviewdragon book review

Next Book Review
Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success

purple dragon

The Invisible Dragon

Ruby Wore Heels In Church

Her shapely stature cracked the air with each step from her southern cooked body. She was gorgeously tall and spoke with girlish shyness. Since young times Negroes and White men say something fine under her clothes. In Sutton, Mississippi most Negro women share physical similarities, but not with Ruby Granberry. Her nice physical collectibles caused Negro men to thirst and their women to drown in anger. However, when she came to church, women stared evil thinking toward her mightily. For when Ruby worshipped; she wore heels.

Many Negro residents of Sutton refused the move north when the getting was good for work. Believing their white God would send them good riches, they remained south defiantly; waiting. However their God kept quiet about helping them through the years. That’s when outside folks saw traces of religious craziness after help never came.

The Negro church folks would ‘shake and bake’ their bodies to obedience every Sunday. Good old Baptist gospel folks referred to it as. Luckily for Ruby she left long ago, albeit not to escape holy conversion by gospel crazies; no…she left in a hurry because her scent was being closed in upon.
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On Fridays, 20 miles out at Bessie Milton’s junk joint, men thirsted for Ruby more than the cheap liquor. She was fine as can be to any man who can see with good eyes no less. Never minding however this was marriage country amongst black folks. Women like Ruby need ought to be married or receive the evil eye and run off by married women.

Notwithstanding Negro men were rascals in the small town of 2,000. Oft chasing young girls helping them find their bodies all the time. Sutton churchmen were no different. Their hands search young women’s bodies more than the collection plates, if you could figure that. Being smart however, hitched women knew, nothing raised a Negro churchman’s excitement more than a fine single young churchwoman; who’s figuring out her working parts.

Neverminding, one thing Mississippi folks get in a stir about is an insider who becomes an outsider. Negroes are just the same as White folks in this matter. The single, 20-years old, fair-skinned vixen was surely an outsider now being caught red-handed helping the pastor lose his sanctification. She must go — the good Negro folks of Sutton, Mississippi figured; more so the women than men obviously. Some gals even wishing her better dead than just gone up north. However the men were always blinded by her beauty, they did not want her to go.
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That’s a main reason why the churchmen never paid attention to Ruby’s bad voice in the choir. Her perfectly carved figure clogged their already waxed ears anyhow. The only sounds they cared about was her physical one and she was loud no less. Desired like fine chocolate and fleeting as like cheap bubblegum to most men; she done always had a thing for pastors no less.

The new Negro minister done only had been there a few days already and his body burned like a pot belly stove with grits atop it. His thinking thoughts about Ruby are unable to be spoken to good folks. Let’s just say they were private and adult like.  It is no secret around Sutton, a young single attractive church gal like Ruby drives Negro men wild.

The young pastor of God was crazy feeling about her. In fact, he done tasted her every Friday in the barn on the Wilson’s old plantation land since two months ago starting. When those Sutton Negro women done found out about her playfulness, they sought to get rid of her. Never minding however… Ruby long figured her young body makes men playful…
Just ask the deacons at that old Negro church in Sutton, Mississippi…in 1955.

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Robert A. Williams

Does this make sense?

021

Sequestered in a small space (The Free Mind), a megalomania examination of “Inner-Being” provoked an epochal deliberation of critical inner reflection. In the past, however, the descent into (The Suffering Mind) normally involved ameliorating negative thoughts or regrets…however; this expedition was as aforementioned in (The Free Mind).  As such, the often-adrenalized ego remained aloof and docile.  Hence, the latent absence permitted an excursion intended on freedom from within; to travel unmolested…make sense?

In addition, to remain congruent to the new (Free Mind) this inspection considered the practice of pontificating theories of intra-forgiveness. Although, popular maxims consider ‘one should forgive and forget others’ (Inter-forgiveness), this by the way; deserve an ambitious moratorium on the phraseology of ‘speech forgiveness.’

In fact, (Imitation verbal conviction aside), to exile pain caused by other’s mischief or unintentional consequences deserves lengthy praise…albeit, whenever truly accomplished…I am sorry, I digress.

To the point at hand…How does the pardon of self-inflicted injury heal?

***Book Recommendation Alert***

There’s No Such Place As Far Away” by Richard Bach

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The Invisible Dragon

Miles Davis