ART THINK & LEARN

The pressure on the mind and black art

Almost 2 weeks ago, Kanye West entered a psychiatric facility due to an episode of psychosis fueled by severe exhaustion and overworking. This eventually led him to cancel the remainder of his massive Saint Pablo Tour and be treated in a Los Angeles facility. This is coming only months after Kanye’s influential protege Kid Cudi entered a rehabilitation facility due to severe depression and substance dependency. Such recent stories have been met with extreme social media coverage and support which shows a pivotal change in how mental health is addressed in the public, specifically mental health within the black community. Not only is the mentality of  POC being exemplified in increased media coverage, it also being shown through mass art. Solange’s critally acclaimed album A Seat at the Table was a masterful manifesto on black life which highlighted mental illness amongst other trials of being black in society today. Through beautifully poetic serenades such as “Cranes In The Sky” and “Mad”(in which Lil Wayne offers insight into his own internal struggle) she displays a look into the realm of clinical heartache and how it constantly looked at as a shameful part of our reality.

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Such showcases of the vulnerability of black minds is truly a sign of an evolved view both on and within black culture. However, mental illness is still without a doubt one of the most stigmatized aspects of our society in general, not just in the black community. The evolution of media coverage on this topic has been often static due to the public’s monumental fear of addressing uncontrollable mentality, like those dealing with any form of disorder that lies on the spectrum of mental disease. Why is this? The problem with our culture is that it’s miseducated in what mental illness means.

With that being said, what the American public fears most about mental health is not what they don’t know but rather being placed in the uncomfortable position of a bystander. Despite what some might see on their social media feed, the taboos of mental health are still present and while most will still not admit, the rejection towards the mentally unstable reinforces the generational outcasting of this community. This constant degrading often  leads to people who are possibly suffering from severe mental illnesses such as manic depression or schizophrenia to seek hiding and remain untreated, thus allowing them to live a life trapped in an internal prison of their own mind.

As a black girl diagnosed with mental disorder years ago, the isolation from my peers led to many days of silently carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. So, we must make sure to after our own and those we idolize. Sending nothing but positivity and support to Kanye and anyone suffering right now.

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Photo: Petra Collins
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