Depression is becoming a pandemic within the African-American community. We as a people must begin to admit this. Ignoring this, minimizing this, is costing the lives of our children.
Little known fact about me is I have dealt with depression since I was about 10. I thought about killing myself, not really knowing what ‘being dead’ meant. I just knew that I was in a lot of emotional pain, I didn’t feel loved or wanted. I just wanted the pain to end. And in middle school, I was bullied. I hated going to school because I wasn’t cool. I was soft-spoken. In the ultimate completion of this trifecta, I was smart.
I didn’t want to be on the planet anymore. I was tired of being different. I was tired of feeling like I had no place in the world, even my own family. I was tired of being an afterthought.
In the wake of 13 Reason Why and the #ItGetsBetter movement, it is imperative we realize the face of depression is not only White. There has been a significant uptick in the number of Black children whom have decided the world no longer needs them–and they cannot be needed by the world.
Again I say:
Black children matter.
BLACK. CHILDREN. MATTER.
Being Black is often synonymous with pain and suffering. We are taught as Black girls that we are to swallow pain. Deal with it, because that’s just what we do. We are offered Jesus before therapy options. We teach Black boys that manhood is defined by lack of emotion, and vehement protection of what it means to be masculine.
And God forbid the child be queer!
Consider this your wake up call. Consider this your reminder that Black children need the same protection, understanding and support as any other child! They need to be afforded the space to be angry, to be depressed, to be heard and seen. The world too easily erases Black children, as if they were trending. Like they will only be rinds of strange fruit.
No child, no Black child needs to leave the world because they believe they don’t belong. No Black child needs to want to leave the world because their sexuality is an affront to someone’s toxic masculinity! No Black child needs to feel so unloved and so unheard that death is the only escape!
No Black child should fear speaking up about what they are feeling: their business may be part of the family party line, not to be taken seriously. Or being called White due to social constructs surrounding mental health and Black children!
Our kids needs us.
We need to be there for them.
Founder and Lead Administrator for The Ideal Firestarter