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In many ways I’m very lucky. I live in one of the richest countries in the world. There is no war here, most people have what they need and news headlines are more often than not filled with information about the last COVID-19’s numbers, electricity prices and who won the last talent competition. I have enough to eat, have a steady job and am a woman. I’ve lived a sheltered life. Not everyone has done so, and I would like the share a post about a black male who has had a hard life, where stereotypes had a major impact on his self-esteem. The original post can be found here

Black Men and Mental Health – A Struggle with Self Confidence

Most Men are not given safe places to express their feelings and emotions. As in many cases, Men are raised to keep things inside, focus on providing/leading and are often called ‘soft’ when they express emotions. This is particularly true when growing up a strict Christian environment.
There stereotypes are even more aggressive when it comes to Black Men. Growing up, we are often subject to comments that allude to our athletic, sexual and entertainment prowess. These comments come from family, friends, co-workers and are all over the media.
However, what happens when you a Black male that you are not a great athlete? Or if you weren’t the guy everyone woman wanted, or you aren’t a great entertainer?
Growing up there stereotypes are extremely frustrating to deal with. At around 5 years old, I was exposed porn by my cousins boyfriends. They would force me to pleasure them while watching porn and/or after they finished having sex with my cousins. This went on for 4-5 years.
Also, I walked in on a two family members engaged in a sexual act and was bought into this. Which led to me normalizing sexual abuse as a kid. Not only as a victim but as the abuser . All before I was 13.
This created massive amounts of confusion as I entered my teens/20s. Am I bisexual, gay. Do I even like girls?
As I started to go out to parties/clubs – I was often overlooked for the athletic guys. I can clearly remember going out with a group of friends and we would run into a group of good looking ladies. My friends would all meet a lady except for me. This happened on 3 different occasions. It was embarrassing. To the point where I would make excuses to not go out with the guys because I felt so inadequate. Honestly, I felt like that 5 year old boy again.
On other occasions, I met women where we did actually speak and had great vibes. Again, there are distinct moments where I was pushed aside. In two cases, I was pushed literally pushed aside so she could speak to the Club Promoter. Yeah, the entertainment type. In another cases, she picked the DJ over me and the last case – I was literally pushed aside for the basketball player.
Why do I mention this? Because when 3 of the major stereotypes associated with Black Men don’t seem to apply you, it creates feelings of rejection. Not so much from these women because any woman has the right to choose partner(s) of their choice. It is more from family and friends. And most importantly, a rejection of myself. It was implied that I was less of a man because I didn’t meet what they thought a man should be.
So leveraged what I believed was my only good asset – my mind! While I was never an academic genius, I have always been smart and well versed on an array of political, social and economic topics. To the point where I won Public Speaking contests and demonstrated a grasp of socio-political issues better than most. As well, I began studying Black History in depth and was able to connect my history to present day racism.
However, again failure. From experiencing racism from educators who tried to get me to quit school. To jobs where I did everything they asked for, yet was labelled as the angry black man. To the point where I had to fight multi-dollar corporations in court for years. Racism also came from various interactions the police, where I had been pulled over numerous times. Racism plus a Divorce has wiped out my Net Financial Worth and Personal Worth.
All of this has created a crisis in self confidence. I didn’t meet the ‘stereotypes’ of Black Men. When I aimed to use my mind, intellect to move forward – I have experienced serious failure.
Where do I turn? How do I find a place of self worth? How do I endure that my failures do not lead to jealousy?
These are the areas I focus on with my therapist. Some days are good, some are bad.
I struggle with Self Confidence in almost every arena now.
Yes I am a Proud Black Man .. however at times… I am wondering how many more failures I can handle.