When I seen the homie Dara’s Facebook status:
I was taken aback by all the answers of we don’t. I can get the sentiment, trapped in the limbo that is being privileged and oppressed at the same time, feeling like no one loves you. And so they double down, go full Hotep lashing out at women, the LGBTQ and white people and in return its see, they trash or see, you’re the real racist. There’s a middle ground we need to get to but I won’t get into that today. Anyway doe, presently cishet black men approval ratings might only be slightly above “wyd” texts and their President*. Who can we run to? Where do we run to?
Then I thought about my answer. My initial thought was women. I’ve said before that a large chunk of my #selfofsteam comes from my relationships; the best version of me is in love. Being wanted, being appreciated it be the difference between waking up in a good mood and contemplating if you even need this job. I’ve also said how it can backfire… When you don’t have that person to laugh at your jokes, indulge your dramatics when you are dying from a common cold, lay up with during a snowy day… Then what? Where does that affirmation come from?
There’s family of course. When it all falls down, I know I can come home. My sisters are my rock. My little brothers, I’m theirs. All family dynamics are different but most black men I know? Mama’s boys. Hell, I was. Their best friend? Sibling or cousin. Blood is going to love you regardless.
There’s money. The most simplest of transactions, you do this I give you money. I definitely prided myself on being a provider (maybe I was a decade ahead of the curve but still). For people like my father and other black men of the same previous generation, the affirmation came in look at all I do for my family, I must be pretty great. It comes from I’m good at what I do and I know it. Especially people who get paid to do what they love, I’m great at my job I don’t love that heaux. (Also, working 40 hours and being able to afford food and rent for multiple must’ve been lit, we millennials don’t know this life) Coming home to a hot meal and honor roll students was all they asked for. But were they happy really? (The second family across town says maybe not). Maybe they needed more than a “job well done” and just didn’t know how to express it. Hell, some still don’t. I would say I still have some traditional values (take yo ass to work tho… This economy is trash) but I know that wouldn’t just cut it for me.
There’s friendships. There’s a reason we turn to gangs, BGLOs, church, hell even hotepery… There’s a need to belong and be around like minded folks. Or just being accepted period. When the news telling you you ain’t shit and a “Dr” is calling you a King, I see how one may just see what the “Dr” talking bout. It’s not something I ascribe to but I at least get the appeal. Then there’s the homies and something we and I could work on being better at… checking up on each other. “Likes” and Facebook comments aren’t the same as linking up. I run into old friends we exchange numbers and neither of us use it. Bonds that are beyond surface level like we hoop together or where the wave at guy. Healthy friendships may be a little harder to come by but well worth having in the end. They’ll be there giving the toast at your 3rd wedding ready to ride on a Dwayne Wayne. Because friends don’t let friends get Dwayne Wayned.
An affirmation of mine personally, music. Awkward ugly phase, breakups, unrequited love, lost a loved one, coworker CCd a boss on an email trying to be slick, Bursar office on my ass, this $4 gas may or may not get me home… No matter what I was going through there’s a song for it. Me and Man on the Moon 2 got through 2010 together. Kanye and Biggie gave me confidence I ain’t know I had. Even annoying ass Drake has given me perspective on things. Music lets you be vulnerable, be angry, be happy and emote in ways that black men generally do not. Hov did that so hopefully I ain’t have to go thru that.
Then there’s social media. Perhaps the lesser of affirmations but affirmations nonetheless. I write for free (this year) largely to express myself and to give others things to think about, laugh at and otherwise enjoy. There’s a certain satisfaction in seeing a tweet go viral, or getting an occasional thank you message from someone for making their day. We can pretend that Snapchat and Instagram aren’t narcissistic but I clearly posted this for attention. It’s why your uncle is in a a Facebook group taking care selfies trying to find his light. Run me my hearts.
So, TLDR…Black men get affirmation from love, family, money, friends, music & “likes”. A man with a solid balance of them all tends to be the happiest. The most secure. But when you’re single, estranged, broke, unpopular and got Spotify with ads… Well that’s how trolls are born.