The Mind Has To Be Right For Love
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Politics and Activism

The Mind Has To Be Right For Love

The Link between Mental Health and Maternal Relationships in the Black Community

The Mind Has To Be Right For Love

Recently, during movie night with my friends we stumbled across the movie, "Mississippi Damned," a riveting movie exposing the toxic cycles and realities of sexual abuse, domestic abuse, homosexuality, alcoholism, poverty, and mental health in the black community. The drama incited deep reflection on the underlying factors of these cycles, and ultimately, it boiled down to the inadvertent emotional neglect and unhealthy lines of communication between black parents (especially mothers) and their children. African American women, out of necessity, are expected to bend over backwards to provide for their family in a physical capacity. As a result, emotional/psychological well being of the family often falls by the wayside. Granted, the moral support of the black family dynamic has been imperative to the survival of the community. However, it is no secret that mental health and wellbeing is an epidemic in our community that has consistently been swept under the rug.

Historically, the struggle of the black family has far exceeded mental health, and was centered on physical survival and safety. Beginning with slavery, African American women were so consumed with fighting to keep their family together and safe that they weren't able to form traditional relationships due to environmental stressors. Following slavery, the grips of Jim Crow hindered the fostering of healthy maternal relationships. With the disenfranchisement of our people, the black mother's primary focus was providing opportunities and safety for their children under the system of white supremacy. These centuries of a social environment that wasn't conducive to a healthy family dynamic has led to inadvertent emotional neglect. Out of necessity, we've had more "pressing matters" to deal with than mental health. However, as of late we've seen generational emotional neglect rear its ugly faces in today's black community in the form of mental, emotional, sexual abuse, domestic violence, social disorders, and more.

In the black community, from a young age we were taught that "what happens in this house, stays in this house!" Meaning any issues the family was facing were not to leave the confides of the home. But what happens when there's no healthy lines of communication? When the home doesn't allow you to have open dialogue about what's going on personally? Many times emotional needs are swept under the rug, and important issues (like sexual abuse) are not addressed to be sensitive to the family's needs and struggles. These emotions and traumatic experiences are, in turn, harbored in unhealthy ways such as lashing out, beauty complexes, and social disorders. As these children grow older and start families of their own they, once again, inadvertently project their emotional insecurities and needs onto their children. Because their emotional needs weren't met, they don't know healthy ways to deal with their families.

Now don't get me wrong, black women have been the paradigm of the black community; and I am in no way saying that all black mothers don't attend the emotional needs of the children. However, to deny that there are toxic cycles in the community stemming from maternal relationships would be a travesty. Due to the emphasis on black mothers providing physically for their children, the black community has equated caring for a family with only tangible needs. I say this not to bash our mothers, but, in fact, to break the cycles! To call attention to the issues of mental health and wellness for the sake of black children!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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