I’m Jamal Myrick and I’m going to be a frequent contributor for YBA. My hope is to give you all insight into mental health (especially for Black men), working and loving while Black, and topics of the day. For my first article, I felt that it was important to write you a letter of sorts. To the person who might be silently struggling in life now. You know the person who wears a smile on the outside, but their smile left a long time ago on the inside. That friend who is giving you all kinds of life through their IG pictures and deep quotes, but can barely sleep at night due to an issue that they’re having. This letter is just a little labor of love.
You see fam, I received a pretty heavy phone call recently that involved someone I care about and never thought that things would be as bad as they are for them. You look on their social media and they’re living life, chilling with friends, yet all the while they’re struggling with some serious stuff. In an era where text messaging and short 10-second videos are the main forms of communication for many, we can’t forget how vital it is for real-time, face-to-face connection. I can think about my responses in a text message where you wouldn’t be able to hear my pain or see the nonverbal signals that actually say, “Hey, I’m hurting.” Snapchat is fun, but again, I can put a filter on and pretend that all is well. Maybe you’ve been knocked down and don’t feel like getting up; but fam, I must implore you to get on your feet. Each day in that beautiful black skin is both a gift and a curse. People hate you because you’re black and people love you because you’re black. Mentally and physically, being black can hurt. Between the various systems of oppression, high costs of living, and low wages, life can be hard ASF. We’re in a time where wypipo can get the highest leadership position in this country even if they are hella unqualified. No matter what struggle you’re going through, I ask that you get up.
I’ve had that same feeling multiple times this year due to a couple of papers for my program, in addition to moments in which I’ve reflected on relationships that I have with my family members; it’s hard to see the bright side at times, yet there’s always a bright side despite what lies ahead of us. I’ll be honest, I don’t know your specific situation; however, I ask that you get up. If not for you, then for those who look up to you. You may never know who’s watching you, but someone definitely is (I ain’t just talking about Big Brother, lol) and they pay attention. I recall during one of my down moments this year someone came to me just to tell me that they appreciated me. I was taken aback because I never spoke to this person, but after they explained that they see me when I wave at them every day and the impact that has on them, I can only be humble.
I’m not trying to invalidate any of your experiences (past or present) because sometimes the best thing to do is to just sit in the mess for a bit. In our fast-paced society, we always want everything to happen quickly, when really we aren’t ready for certain things to end. Reflect on the situation and gain a better understanding of what you’re going through if you can. But, do not give up. Don’t throw in the towel. I care about you even if I don’t know you because I know you have a purpose at this time. You visited this site for a reason and the universe conspired to bring your eyes to this specific screen. I love your blackness and your energy. You got this. I’ll leave you with a nice quote from Harriett Beecher Stowe:
“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ―Harriet Beecher Stowe