We live in a society that teaches black men that in order to prove their masculinity they must not show signs of weakness and refrain from any display of any depth of emotion.
We also live in a society that for centuries has endorsed the lynching of black folks without just cause. In recent years, the affirmation of such murder has become more public with the advent of technology.
My question is this: how does a black man hold up the rules of masculinity of a society while that same society subjects him to continued racial trauma by committing violence of people that look like him?
Prior to the COVID-19 moment and the murders of Ahmaud Arberry, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, I had embarked on a personal healing journey supported by my counselor and intentional community. Many of the wounds of my story were connected to my own inability to live up to the rigid standards of masculinity that practically deemed that I needed to be emotionally constipated and perform in a way inauthentic to myself.
After I saw George Floyd’s life taken by the knee of white supremacy on social media, I went numb. Just as I was healing from the necessary parts of my life story, the realities of what it meant to be a black man in America overwhelmed me. As part of this thought process though, I couldn’t help but to think about how other black men were coping. I had at least been in counseling for a year by that point, so I had some tools to cope. However, I didn’t know very many other black men who had even been liberated enough to think that counseling was an option.
Out of that thought process came breathe: a guided healing journal for black men
. I am a proponent of all people going to counseling at some point in their lives, but I knew that societal expectations would likely prevent many black men from taking that leap. breathe serves as a resource for black men to start to chart their own personal path to healing and wholeness despite living in a society that was not made for them through writing. Along a 45-day guided journal journey, black men are encouraged to reclaim the narrative of their own story, process the impact of their identity on their existence, and more fully understand the range of emotions that they feel.
Breathing, as a black man, is an act of resistance. breathe works to give fuel to the resistance movement.
Brothas -- Let’s heal so we can breathe more freely. “breathe: a guided healing journal for black men” can be found on Amazon here. It also can be found on Barnes & Noble online. Brennan Steele is a believer, educator, and author currently residing in Memphis, TN. Throughout his own healing journey, he has become passionate about mental and emotional health, particularly that of black boys and men. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the movement on Instagram @breathebrotha.