Sunday, August 26, 2012

All I did was ask a question

You know as one who has worked in mental health in various capacities since 1996, I am always questioning our mental health as a people. I am always seemingly asking “the wrong questions” about society, race, and the black community, which in turn has caused people (many in my race) to react in aggressive and sadly, in unforgiving ways. My intent has never and will never be to cause harm or pain. My intent has always been to seek clarity for the sake of my own mental health stability as well as to get an understanding to what mental state our people are in even in 2012. I remember asking a question of one of my teachers back in high school who was also the coordinator of our year book staff. I went to Frayser High School from 1986 to 1988 which was becoming a racially mixed high school at the time because before then, the school was mainly white. I asked Miss Savare who was a very light-skinned sista with very dark hair and dark eyes. She was cute and had this sexy southern accent. I thought she was Creole or something. Anyway, one day in the 10 th or 11th grade after having gone through one of the completed year books, I asked Miss Savare, “How come even though our high school is evenly mixed, (45 percent Black, 50 percent white, and 5 percent others) the pages in the yearbook have over 90 percent pictures of white students in them?’ She looked at me (with her face having turned a little red) and responded, “Marico, if you don’t like how the year book looks, then join the year book staff!”

Of course, I was like, “Dang, she did not have to get all snappy.” However she did make a good suggestion. Her suggestion now reminds me of what so many people have said and still say today, “You have to become a part of “the system” to make changes from within.” So, I joined the yearbook staff with the intent to make a difference. I got my camera, my roll of film, and I was on my way to make a change in the way the yearbook looked. Well, I took a lot of pictures of black students and some whites, but mainly Black students. I turned in my roll to be developed and to be added to the next year book. Well, when I got the new year book only three of my pictures of Black students made the yearbook and the book was again 90 percent white. This is when I learned that the philosophy becoming a part of the system to make changes was a load of crap. Hell, we have had Black politicians (elected and appointed) and things still have remained the same for Black people in this country. Justice is still fleeting and economic equality still eludes us. Yes, a small few have squeezed through a crack but that’s it.

Anyway, back to me seemingly asking the wrong questions. When I got college, I seemed to ask the wrong questions a lot. I could not help it. There were a lot of things that I was curious about. Me asking questions about people, groups and people’s beliefs back in college caused a lot of anger in a lot of people back then. I was often curious about what would cause such a reaction. Whenever I questioned the validity of religion in our community, I would really get it. LOL!! Today, I try not to ask so many specific questions in our community because I have learned that there is much work to be done. I still have these curiosities about what makes us tick the way we do, but I have learned to keep certain questions to myself or only share them with my very small group of friends who are just as curious as I am about the mental health state of Black people. Believe or not. I have never asked these certain questions to create controversy or to create enemies out of people I never really knew in the first place.

In my mind, I always thought that I was sharing what I had learned from reading and getting a true understanding about how things work in this reality. Well, I have been told and shown loudly and clearly that my brand of sharing does not help in the movement for progress and independence. So, this is why for the past four years I have been mainly just doing the work that is needed and not asking so many questions. I guess I don’t have any more questions really. I have asked so many questions that I all need to be doing now is just taking the answers that I have been given and accepting them as the peoples’ truth and move on. It has been hard just moving on, but it does make life a little easier when you are able to focus more on yourself and just let others “do them.” I no longer have to question the mental health of Black people today, I got it. I now understand.

My job now is to get more involved and become even more a part of the solution. My contribution to the stabilization of the mental health of Black people is to continue doing my part as a counselor and social worker in the healing of hurt feelings, trauma, anger, depression, low-self esteem, and disappointment in our men. Ladies, I am saying our men because I don’t want to see another woman being hurt from unknowingly connecting with a hurt man.

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