A common underrepresented topic within the African American and Latinx communities is mental health. Stigmas such as being weak when showing emotions are present within our community, and they prevent us from having open conversations about mental health.
These stigmas were explored and discussed at an event called “Real Men Cry” on Wednesday, Oct. 25 in the University Union, sponsored by MALIK fraternity and the Men of Color Scholastic Society. There was a panel composed of Josué Quiñones, an Educational Opportunity Program academic counselor; Joshua Gonzalez, Student Association vice president for multicultural affairs and a senior majoring in geography; Khaleel James, president of Old Digman Hall of Dickinson Community and an undeclared freshman; Natalie Munoz, a sophomore majoring in political science; and John Jones, a counselor in the University Counseling Center (UCC). Along with the host, Ray Sukhu, vice president of MALIK and a senior majoring in biology, they created a conversation about the social norms of masculinity that impact our mental health.
A popular topic discussed was how our friends and family play key roles in our mental health. “Sometimes there are things that you can’t talk about to your family due to the culture of the household,” Munoz said. Within minority households, there’s usually not an open space for discussing your problems, and parents usually don’t sit down and try understand their children’s problems.
People try to turn to their friends for guidance, but are often met with the same reaction, including sentiments like, “Bro, get over it,” or “Man up!” But these are not the things a person wants to hear. They need an outlet to let out their emotional overload. This goes for black and Latino men as well. We cry, too, and that’s okay. Crying or going to counseling doesn’t emasculate you.
Beyond gender, being black or Latinx or from the hood doesn’t mean you have to be “hard” all the time. Our community battles with life’s conflicts every day, and crying or needing a helping hand doesn’t strip anyone of their blackness or pigmentation of their skin. We already face forces that try to tear us down, so why are we tearing each other down? We need to start listening and reaching out to the people around us.
The major takeaway point from “Real Men Cry” was that we need to continue conversations about mental health. We need to take time for ourselves and find stress-reducing activities that we enjoy, such as exercising, playing sports, watching Netflix or making art.
Also, don’t hesitate to go to the UCC on campus in Old O’Connor Hall of Dickinson Community; panelist Jones is a counselor of color, and according to the UCC website, his professional interests include multicultural counseling, counseling needs of African American students, racial identity development and men’s issues.
Within group spaces, minority organizations on campus need to talk about mental health and have open conversations about how everyone in the room is doing; organizations like Men of Color Scholastic Society, MALIK fraternity, Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate (PULSE) and Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program (JUMP Nation) have demonstrated this on campus, and we need more to follow their path. By creating these spaces and increasing awareness within our community, we can move toward a healthy mindset for everyone.
Daquan Taylor is an undeclared freshman