I know it's lame to explain a piece, but still I will: There aren't many avenues for black people to express negative emotions other than anger.
Black sadness is fairly easy to find: we had blues, we have afropessimism, and even Cornell West talks a bit about black sadness. But when Chester Bennington, I saw many tributes that positioned him and Linkin Park as a necessary outlet for kids of color who didn't have similar outlets in their cultures.
This is why Kid Cudi, who helped my brothers cope with depression, had to go to rock. This is why Kanye, who helped usher a confessional form of backpack rap into the mainstream, had to come from elsewhere than the streets. #niceguy #sadboy canuck Drake is half-Jewish, so of course he's got a lot of non-black influences to draw upon when he's not borrowing slang from Toronto's Somali community or borrowing beats from the islands.
Odd Future is full of sadness, and it's been affirming for me. From Earl Sweatshirt on Burgundy to Frank Ocean's existential despair over California's consumerism. Now Tyler is on some #selfhatinggayshit and I've been listening to it on repeat.
I'm the loneliest man alive But I keep on dancing to throw 'em off
He might be gay or bi or pan or queer, who knows? I'm not super into speculating about people's labels. He'll either identify as something, or he won't, or he's just clowning, or he can do what he wants so long as it hurts nobody. Who knows?
I could go on and on about queerness and loneliness in the OFWGKTA family (I haven't mentioned Syd yet) or other sad rappers who have sustained me (like Bino. Or even Jaden's pop-philosopher androgynous-ass, who's been featured by Bino, Cudi, Tyler, and remixed Alessia Cara's introvert anthem. And then Logic goes and makes a suicide hotline song with Alessia Cara & Khalid...)
I do love that hiphop, and therefore blackness, is having this open and public conversation about LGBT identity and mental health struggles. I was watching as Cudi went to rehab and low-key hoping it would have an effect on my dad's view of psychiatry. I've been praying for Cudi since Just What I Am, and those prayers are mixed up in my prayers for my own fam because God can multitask like that.
I don't have depression. I've struggled with it before, yes, but I would say that the underlying issue is trauma, which black culture still doesn't even know how to address in the mainstream.
My main symptom, main illness is social anxiety, which still seems to cast as a White People Thing. Quick, think of an anxious black girl? Came up with nothing, right? Because we're supposed to be Strong or whatever. Black girls, I feel, are not allowed the delicacy to be afraid of people, so I have to turn to other cultures for understanding and comfort. I'll never be able to knock my love for manga as long as they make so many stories about having bad social skills that I can't find in American media.
I wish there were a place to connect all the anxious black girls so we'd know we weren't alone. Do we even exist in great enough numbers? Do we need to build that place?
On that note, I just remembered that I intended to subscribe to Doll Hospital.