Loneliness, Black men, and Friendships: Part I
Superspade family, I am starting a 12-part series dealing with Loneliness, Black men, and Friendships. I think this issue is a silent crisis that is crippling Black men and our ability to forge meaningful relationships with each other while also seriously undermining our coping skills as life presents constant challenges. To be sure, I bounced around the ideas I had for this series with a handful of folks and based off the spirited exchanges, I knew God placed this issue on my heart for a reason.
And while this series will deal exclusively with Black men, it is applicable to a wide range of people. So I encourage men and women to add their thoughts as I am sure the issues discussed will broaden as deep and wide as the glaciers that span the polar ice caps. So to break the ice as it were, I thought I should kick things off with an introduction.
So imagine this, a young Black man in his late twenties to early thirties is preparing to get married. Everything is going fine; he and his fiancée are going through pre-marriage counseling and they joke about how silly it is to compare and contrast the prices for seat covers. So one night, the bride-to-be gives her fiancée the list she compiled for all the bridesmaids she wants to have in the wedding. She asks him what he thinks and her man looks over the list of five bridesmaids and says, (like Eddie Murphy in Raw) “OK.” The bride-to-be then informs her fiancée that he needs to find five groomsmen.
That scenario inspired this whole series because the fact is, most men do not have five best friends they can count on to be groomsmen in their wedding. I know most guys will recruit some family members to fill in the empty spots but for our purposes, let’s assume there will be no family fill-ins even though family can be your friends as well.
Do you have five close male friends you can call on? Really ponder that for a moment.
I surely don’t have five close male friends I could call on and I am sure many other Black men fit this same profile. And let’s not get caught up in semantics here, if you have three Black male friends, I am not saying you need to pick up two more. However, it is imperative that we take a bird’s eye view and understand what is happening to the quantity and quality of our Black male friendships as many of us suffer in silence, no matter the socioeconomic status.
Additionally, the machismo culture we live in has done a number on lessening the quality of Black male friendships as materialism and the quest for women has occupied far too much of our time and resources. You may ask why I keep harping on friendships between Black men, and here’s why. I believe that that when a man can share his hopes, heart, and fears with another man, that avenue empowers the entire community, period.
Moreover, I believe many Black men have learned to depend too much on female friendships to the point where we only feel comfortable sharing our emotions (if we even do that) with women. And as many of you can attest, the plethora of male-female friendships presents a whole range of issues that I will delve into later in the series. So regardless of your personal ratio of male friends to female friends, our community will prove to be so much stronger if we can better negotiate same gender friendships. This is particularly poignant when we can create spaces for Black men that facilitate friendships that are long-lasting, meaningful, and uplifting.
And so we are on the same page, I am coming to grips with my own issues concerning Black male friendships, so this series is less concerned with me coming up with answers rather than asking the right questions. My experiences and observations and conversations throughout my lifetime largely inform this series which means that if you disagree with I am trying to make, please make your presence felt. We all come from different walks from life so I will ask you the reader to help make this mosaic of understanding deeper levels of Black Thought as it concerns, Loneliness, Black Men, and Friendships.
There will be new posts once a week, so watch out for the second part in this series as we explore how Black men can come to grips with the fact that we don’t have many friends without sounding sappy.
Stay up fam,