Black Men in Pain: America Needs to Pay Attention

Black male pain is rarely accurately portrayed by the media, but a spate of recent shootings highlights the importance of learning to listen to their cries for help in and outside the community, Michaela Angela Davis writes at CNN.

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Aaron Alexis, suspect in Washington Navy Yard mass shooting (courtesy of FBI)

Michaela Angela Davis, in a piece at CNN, says that black male pain is rarely accurately portrayed in the media, but a spate of recent shootings highlights the importance of learning to listen to their cries for help in and outside the community.

"I was suicidal in college," a Harry Potter-looking hipster recently told me. The young man's words stunned me. It wasn't his age or gender or style that took me by surprise. It was because he's black.

Even though suicide is the third leading cause of death for black males ages 10 to 24, I had no immediate image, no ready reference for a young black man hurting so bad he wanted to die or for a black man so sick he was driven to kill.

The recent mass shooting by Aaron Alexis at the Washington Navy Yard was horrific and tragic. It made me think about the interior lives of black men -- about how little anyone knows how black men feel when they're in agony or depression.

Black man in pain is a story rarely told.

Hip-hop is considered a safe and powerful space to tell black men's stories. Yet Eminem is the rapper best known for narratives about suicide, addiction and emotional pain. 

It's easy to imagine someone who looks like Eminem, Kurt Cobain or Alexander McQueen as suffering from depression. But Lee Thompson Young? Not so much.

Read Michaela Angela Davis' entire piece at CNN.

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