Usher Shows Black Men It's OK to Cry in New Single
In Usher’s new song, “I Cry,” the singer lets (Black) men know it is OK to cry and openly show their hurt and pain through a form of expression that is often seen as not masculine. In an Instagram post he shared last week, the singer explained how crying has been an outlet as he witnesses the social and racial turmoil gripping the U.S. fueled by the murders of George Floyd and others.
All proceeds from his new album will be donated to Local Initiatives Support Corp in support of Black-owned small businesses and Black-led community organizations
“While I was shut in during the pandemic and watching the death of George Floyd, the ongoing slaughtering of Black men and women, the protests and the events that unfolded, I became very connected to the wider universal feeling of hopelessness,” he wrote.
In the opening two lines, Usher sings, “I can’t keep it together, I can’t control my emotions.” A sentiment that many men may instantly relate to.
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This song was inspired by wanting to teach my sons that it is ok for a man to feel emotions deeply and to cry. Like many men, I was raised to believe that we have to be “tough” and not show our vulnerability, which I don’t want to teach them. While I was shut in during the pandemic and watching the death of George Floyd, the ongoing slaughter of Black men and women, the protests and the events that unfolded, I became very connected to the wider universal feeling of hopelessness. Like many, I grew increasingly frustrated by how slow things have been to change. I became very depressed thinking about all the sons who have lost their fathers to police brutality, social injustice and violence; the daughters and mothers too. So I returned to this song and realized it was intended for this time, so I finished it and here it is. Link in bio. I will be performing “I Cry” for the first time Saturday June 27 during @glblctzn’s #GlobalGoalUnite Concert, at 11am PT / 2pm ET on @youtube and 8pm on @nbc. My proceeds from the record will be donated to @lisc_hq in support of Black-owned small businesses and Black-led community organizations. ????Artwork by: My son Naviyd #icry #blm #blacklivesmatter
Men in general may struggle with showing emotion and vulnerability, largely because we are often raised to believe that displaying these feelings is weak and a form of expression reserved for children and women. The strong, “masculine” man does not show pain, he grins and bears whatever he is going through.
As Black men this may especially apply to us. We are often prized for our supposed physical and sexual prowess — but rarely the full breadth of our intellect and mental and emotional range. And with constant stressors, including living in an American carceral and police state that imprisons, maims and murders Black men at rates higher than any other group, there is much reason for us to begin fully owning and expressing our mental health.
Societal pressure for Black men to just “be cool” and remain guarded may prevent us from exploring how to openly be vulnerable, but this practice is to the detriment of our health. According to a study by the National Institute of Health, roughly 5% to 10% of black men experience depression. Yet we may still be less likely than other groups to seek help due partially to the erroneous idea of what many of us are taught and understand of what it means to be tough.
Finding healthy outlets to work through sadness, depression or anxiety such as therapy or through supportive friends and family is an important part of healing. Not venting in a healthy manner may contribute to expressing frustration in other less productive or even harmful ways. One of the reasons men are far more likely to be verbally and physically aggressive than women is because of a lack or refusal of healthier ways to release emotional distress.
As Usher expresses in his post, the concept of masculinity needs to be challenged by us immediately. Not only for our own benefits, but for following generations.
“This song was inspired by wanting to teach my sons that it is OK for a man to feel emotions deeply and to cry. Like many men, I was raised to believe that we have to be ‘tough’ and not show our vulnerability, which I don’t want to teach them.”
To all men, for the sake of our own mental health and healing, let’s put our guard down and move on from antiquated, harmful ideas of masculinity. Let’s begin to embrace communicating, vulnerability and understanding it is OK to not be OK. And as Usher displays in his latest single, it is OK to cry.
Lead image via Usher’s Youtube