However, “black youth may experience disproportionate exposure to violence or traumatic stressors, both of which have been associated with suicidal behavior. Also, research has shown that black youth are less likely to receive services for depression, suicidal ideation, and other mental health problems compared with non-black youth,” the researchers wrote.
-Jacqueline Howard, CNN (September 20, 2016)
There is this notion that black children are as resilient as concrete. Unphased and unmoved by the world around them. This is beyond untrue. Black children are often the last children to be granted the entirety of their own personhood. The onslaught of the world around them does not make the immune, the deepest wounds are often the easiest to conceal.
There is this mythic nature those of us of African decent have, the ability to endure without flinch or tear. This ability to continue in the face to adversity and strive towards the ever present triumph. This legacy of us as a people to get over and overcome unscathed by any means necessary.
This is not true.
What is true is those of us who are the descendants of the enslaved African peoples have not be able to detail or show our suffering outwardly. We are told how and when to break, in doing so having those breaks where no one can see us. We are taught to be vulnerable is unnecessary! We are told to come less human in order to live among horrors, cope in times of personal extremism and escape to freedom. Pain, mental health and suicidal attempts and ideations are seen as things which are available to white people. To yield to what the need to be an entire person, to acknowledge that pain, is seen as unuseful! It is sometimes seen as unuseful because there is no or are no resources to be of benefit.
Our children are dying behind a lie. Our children are giving up because they don’t see another way to cope or call attention to the pain in their lives. In the haze of trying to provide and protect them from a world that wishes to devour them, we cannot ignore the pain they may harbor when my consume them where we cannot see. We have to be attentive, give space and their personhood.
If you believe your child is suffering, and if there are resources available, take advantage of them! We must become their best advocates and staunch supporters! Black children are so ignored on psychosocial areas, medical avenues and accessibilities, especially in realms of academia. Their tears are often overlooked because of those screams of need sound so foreign. Black children need the same freedom other children are given in order to be granted the same freedom to heal and be heard!
That healing, this process of being heard, begins when we don’t believe the kids when they keep telling us, “I’m aight. I’m just fine.”