By Aaliyah Moore
Someone I love dearly has been dealing with heartbreak for quite some time. I’m sure when you initially read that line, you maybe assumed I was talking about a woman. But no, I’m speaking about a man. All too often, we (myself included) think that women are the only ones who have trouble navigating breakups and heartbreak. Still, men battle with hard emotions from ended relationships as well.
Musiq Soulchild once said that he was told the true definition of a man was never to cry, and according to society’s standard of what a man is supposed to be, Musiq’s assertion was spot on. From early on, men are taught that it is socially unacceptable to express their emotions outwardly. And when they do, this causes them to be viewed as “weak” or not “manly.” Because of a term known as toxic masculinity, men often hide their emotions to resist being judged for displaying them. And I’ll be the first to say that this mindset is harmful and particularly toxic for our Black brothers in society.
So one day, in particular, myself and this individual happened to be in the same space. Out of nowhere, he burst into uncontrollable tears that would not stop. I was shaken to my core. He had previously vented to me about how hard it was to get over the breakup, but I never thought he’d let me see him cry the way he did that day. Initially, I didn’t know how to respond because it’s not common to see a man display his feelings like this. I quickly put my uneasiness aside, rubbed his back, and just sat with him. At this moment, I was reminded that:
Sometimes, people don’t even need us to say anything; they just need to be able to feel we are there beside them.
I let him continue to pour out his feelings until he felt like he’d ultimately released everything.
This was the first time I recognized the importance of holding space for our Black men. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Black men are singled out as being dangerous threats to society. And everywhere you look, Black men are experiencing extreme levels of dehumanization and violence because of their maleness.
Had I dismissed his feelings or shunned him for crying that day, he would’ve continued bottling it all in, and eventually exploded one day. From that day forward, I vowed to always be a safe space where Black men feel comfortable sharing their emotions. I think the more we make space for them as sistas, the more vulnerable they’ll become with us.
Black brothers, it’s okay to cry. You don’t have to be strong all the time.
I see you. We see you. Let it out.
Aaliyah Moore is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC.