Masculinity (noun) is defined as the possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men, the idea of which drives the male species. However, masculinity is such an abstract concept that often leaves men, especially black men, left with little to no guide of just how to be a man, leaving them out of touch with their emotions and clinging to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Fortunately, we are seeing an influx of black men and boys sharing their joys with the world through the venue of social media. Icons such as Victor Pope Jr., Demetrious Harmon (commonly known as Meech On Mars) and Nick and Dan are showing the world just what exactly black boy joy is, and it is contagious, spreading throughout the world, even touching artists like Chance the Rapper.
The idea of masculinity is incredibly prevalent within the black community and for a lot black men there are certain things that are out of the question or taboo. For example, crying. Men are told that they’re a boy and “boys don’t cry”. It is the repression of these natural coping mechanisms which make it increasingly difficult for black men to even begin to show emotion, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, and in some cases their platonic counterparts. Most times boys are prohibited from crying because crying is associated with femininity, and homosexuality, and isn’t recognized as a healthy way of processing traumas, due to projected self-hatred, socioeconomic discrepancies and ultimately slavery. Fortunately, people like Demetrious Harmon, Chance the Rapper, Victor Pope Jr., etc. are making great strides by addressing and discussing things like depression, bipolar disorder, and suicidal tendencies through song, and comedy, and ultimately by just being open and honest with themselves and the public.
So how does one foster black boy joy? Simple. Take a second to step back and tell a black boy that you are proud of them. It is tough to be young, let alone factoring in the current state of the union, we must remind each other that we are proud, and that we care about each other. Take into consideration the love language of each individual. If someone thrives off verbal affirmation, then something as simple as “I’m proud of you” will suffice. If they are someone who prefers quality time, then spend time with them; the options are limitless. We must stop pretending that we must be tough all the time, because it’s impossible and unhealthy. Cry if you need to, since birth, crying has been a sign that you are alive. So, live your life, with wild, uncontrollable, and contagious black boy joy.
Dominique is currently studying Psychology at Bridgewater State University with a double minor in Middle East Studies and Music. In her spare time, she is a poet and artist. She hopes to use her voice as both a journalist and artist to empower the unheard.