June 1, 2017, In a recent article published on the Huffington Post’s website entitled, “Broken Dreams and Financial Illusions: The Secret Depression of Black Men,” Dr. Marcus Bright brilliantly exposed readers to a hidden emotional state felt by many African American men living within the confines of a “members only” society. The United States of America is a nation that was built on the free labor of African Americans, forged in the model of a more independent Europe, and regulated in the shadows of capitalism.
America is a country that most often praises those that are uniquely equipped with the ability to generate their own streams of wealth, prosperity, and improvement. Names like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs have become synonymous with the perception of upward mobility in a nation of haves and have nots. Many would agree that the American dream centers on the belief that every individual can acquire their own wealth, and contentment through hard work and dedication, although others may find this dream to be difficult to obtain if met with certain socio-economic variables. In his article Dr. Bright argues that many African American males suffer from an unspoken depression which stems from a false sense of upward mobility. These unattainable “Dreams” and “Illusions” mentioned by Dr. Bright are argued to be a result of blacks having to contend with years of systematic racism and inequality, while also being economically disadvantaged. Dr. Bright makes his argument by saying:
“The psychological impact on men who haven’t been able to overcome the reality of the labor market is a story that is seldom told. Many are suffering from broken dreams and delusions of grandeur that have not been fulfilled. An argument can be made that many Black men have been suffering from a secret depression for years as a result of this financial crunch. A great deal of it probably has its roots in an economic struggle.”
Speaking from personal experience, I can relate to much of the information presented in Dr. Bright’s article, but I believe we must not plant a seed of depression in the minds of the black male. I do believe depression is a very serious and challenging mental disorder which negatively affects its host, but considering the gains made by African Americans from 1863 until now, it would seem as though black men are looking for sympathy from a system that has never been sympathetic to our plight. If we want to thoroughly analyze the mental state of African American men we must go back in history and examine such men as Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois, and Booker T. Washington. Aside from living during a time of extreme racial prejudice and inequality; these men were able to earn the respect, admiration, and education necessary to make an impact on American culture that may stand the test of time. How can these three individuals, two of which were born into slavery, obtain what many black men today cannot. Although these individuals only represent a miniscule comparison to the number of black men that were in the county during that time, yet it is important to note that people with considerably less managed to reach a level of success that is comparable to many African Americans in the present day.
The early 20th century saw its share of African American educators, entrepreneurs, and even politicians. Many blacks were even land owners and businessmen until the creation of unjust laws, violence, and dishonest dealings forced blacks to part ways with the prosperity they had obtained from the blood, sweat, and tears of their labor. One example of this can be seen with the destruction of “Black Wall Street” in 1921 in the Greenwood community of Tulsa Oklahoma. The question remains, how can those who faced so much adversity, and having been equipped with so little, acquire so much influence and prosperity?
With the vast evolution of technology that ushered us into the digital age, many men and women are generating prosperity from non-traditional means. It is up to us as African Americans to take advantage of the non-traditional means which may allow for easier entry into a field of commerce that will allow for our overall satisfaction, prosperity and economic growth. We live in a time where many of the individuals we see in movies and on T.V. were discovered doing online videos for comical relief. It is time out for excuses, and African Americans must not allow ourselves to be diagnosed with anything that Western medicine has to offer. Let us assume for the sake of the argument that we as African American men do in fact suffer from depression, what might be the cure? Do we open ourselves up for exploitation by Big Pharma or might we claim to be depressed for further government assistance?
I believe Dr. Bright may failed to mention the fact that monetary wealth doesn’t equate to happiness or mental stability, and that depression is found in some of the wealthiest and privileged individuals. The untimely death of actor and comedian Robin Williams is an ironic yet tragic example acquisition of wealth and opulence failed to reduce the effects of depression. A man that made millions bringing laughter to many ultimately succumbs to his own internal sorrow. To believe that masses of black men suffer from depression caused by a history of prejudice, inequality, and economic disadvantages should be considered an insult to those that came before us that were able to obtain unmeasurable wealth and prosperity through hard work, determination, and perseverance. I refuse to accept that African Americans, a people rooted in overcoming some of life’s greatest obstacles, have given up their fight for equality, justice, and economic stability for a medical diagnosis. Instead of using one another as a means of gauging wealth we should instead measure our success by how many of our future generation may be sustained by the wealth that we will accumulate in our lifetime.
The opinion is soly to Mr. Jerald J. Cheesborough and can be reach at email@example.com