T he discovery of individuality and humanity is a journey seldom untangled. There are no proven strategies to ease navigating the voyage, nor perfect techniques to enduring or escaping unscathed. One must endure the plateaus of necessary isolation, rivers of uncertainty, and islands of desperation.
Individuals, young and old alike, desire one thing above all in life; to be loved. An appreciation not only of what is offered, but more importantly for the intrinsic being externally revealed. A true acceptance and reception of all one embodies. While definitions and descriptions of love vary, one thing remains the same; it is the greatest commodity desired. I am left to ponder upon this thought, “loved, yet misunderstood.”
As a millennial, the thought often circulates my mind and as a black man, it often frequents my everyday dealings. A millennial is not limited to the numerous published articles, panel discussions, or public critiques analyzing our worldview; we are people. We are individuals trying to uncover our individuality, embrace our humanity, and identify our purpose. And to do that while a black male, today, leads to a journey filled with endless possibilities wrapped in unintentional uncertainty.
What is “unintentional uncertainty?” It is to be intentional in the journey of self, yet uncertain of the support which will follow. Consider the individual who wrestles between the goals set for him at his birth, raised throughout his adolescence, and stressed by his family, while the purpose he desires to embrace and encounter fully resides untapped and ignored within.
There must be an intentional effort to erase the uncertainty.
Here the greatest example I can render now is myself. A black man, 23 years old, old soul, preacher, advocate, and mentor adequately describe me. Yet, to many I’m just Tiffany and Jamar’s son, the oldest Boyd grandson, eldest great-grandson, or a quiet and poised young man. While these observations may be accurate based upon perspective, out of what or whose reality are they derived? There is not an intentional need or desire to embrace the unknown, just a continued picture of who I am to them; or an idea of who I was going to be in their opinion. But, within me lies that which has seemingly been ignored or neglected because it is not understood. And in this I do not exist alone.
I often read articles on black masculinity, hyper-masculinity, and misogyny. However, I rarely encounter an article uncovering or even knocking on the door of “loved, yet misunderstood” black men. To be a loved, yet misunderstood black man in America is nothing new. We’re admired for our varying skin tones, physical features, unique style, and desirable attributes which pleases the eyes and an individual’s’ desired concept of a “black man.”
Yet, we’re misunderstood in the areas of utmost importance. While the exterior is celebrated and edified, it is the intrinsic portions of our being which are often misunderstood, therefore neglected. Whether it be our minds, the desire for acceptance, hope of approval, longing for sincere relations, encountering intentional help, establishing consistent love, and accepting our own individuality and humanity there is misunderstanding. Reluctantly, I don’t have the answer to untangling such a web.
Before us lies a delicate web full of questions, uncertainties, and unknowns; a web that leaves many shaken and unsure of how to confront the reality facing black men, young and old, beyond that which social media hides and public media promotes.
My question is this, “In a world of loved and misunderstood people, will black men ever be loved to an extent that misunderstanding is decreased?” Maybe I’ve been clear in this piece, maybe I’ve laid some rhetorical groundwork, maybe I’ve left you uncertain. If I did I leave you with this, “When was the last time you talked to the black man nearest you? Not about sports, politics, or music, but about his spiritual, emotional, and mental state and needs. His humanity.”