Black in Medicine
To be black is to refrain from vulnerability—to present yourself as unflawed as possible.
To be black is to be resilient – to recover from unfortunate circumstances effortlessly and to strive for total control of one’s life. The independence and tenacity expected as a natural part of blackness has shown to be regressive.
While black people do suffer from mental illnesses, they are often deemed weak and attention-seeking. In order for the black community to progress, it is important that stigmas regarding mental health illnesses are addressed and subsequently eradicated.
One’s mental health status impacts coping mechanisms, social interactions and psychological well-being. It is important that we acknowledge the pride that prevents us from seeking help, the naivete that stops us from putting our health at the forefront of life and the fierce independence that makes us believe we can conquer every problem on our own.
The stigmas regarding mental health are belittling, invalidating and condescending. We have the power to re-frame the perspective on mental health illnesses. We have the right to recognize illnesses as real and the responsibility to be educated enough to point ourselves in the direction of intervention. To be black is to be strong – to muster the courage to be forthcoming about shortcomings.
To be black is to refrain from vulnerability – until you have arrived at the safe space that encourages openness.
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