Blacks must confront our troubles with mental illness

Miami Times staff report | 9/26/2013, 9 a.m.

We often make comical remarks — stereotypes if you will — when describing the characteristics associated with different ethnic groups. For example, as the movie title suggests, we might say rather flippantly, ‘white men can’t jump.’ We refer to the mathematical prowess of Asians, the musical ingenuity of Blacks and the business acumen of whites. Of course we all know Blacks that can’t dance or keep a tune, whites who couldn’t successfully manage a corner grocery store if they tried and Asians who see mathematical equations and shudder with fear. And yes, there are a few white men that can really jump.

On a more serious note, when we consider those who suffer from mental illness, Blacks are more inclined to act as if our race has some kind of natural immunity. But that is just another invalid belief.

The recent shooting spree in Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard by Aaron Alexis, Rudy Eugene who here in Miami in 2012 ate the face off his victim, or John Allen Muhammad and his teen cohort, Lee Boyd Malvo, who in 2002 murdered people on the D.C. Beltway were all Black. While more national attention may go to the irrational and destructive actions of whites, we all know someone in our family or community that is suffering from mental illness. Our stories just get less attention. We must end the cultural biases that dissuade Blacks from getting the help we need. We must turn to our faith, our families, and our friends when we feel like something is amiss. We may need to find a doctor and may even need to take medication. But there is hope. The first step is admitting that we need help.