I Never Cried Until My Son Was Born (Because Patriarchy), But Now I Cry At Every Damn Thing » VSB

Featured, Lists, Parenting, Theory & Essay

I Never Cried Until My Son Was Born (Because Patriarchy), But Now I Cry At Every Damn Thing

iStock

 

Before my son was born, I did not cry much. For instance, I was able to successfully navigate the untimely demise of both Rickey and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas without so much as shedding a tear.

This was partly because I was raised by single mother, so my uncles, afraid I might turn out to be a ‘momma’s boy,’ drilled into me their understanding of the emotional life of a Black man. That is, I was to be quiet, strong and angry about the inequality of Black life. This anger, however, could be channeled constructively with sports or drowned with alcohol, but it was to be never, ever be expressed with tears.

Therefore, for the first 25 years of my life, I seldom cried. When I graduated from undergrad and grad school, I barely smiled. When Bambi’s mom caught an L, I didn’t feel a thing. I even made through Will asking uncle Phil, “How come he don’t want me” without feeling much.

I was, for all intents and purposes, the opposite of a sensitive thug—then something strange happened. On April 17, 2008, my son was born…and the floodgates opened. Now, I rarely get through a day without something messing with my allergies.

To wit, these are the last 10 times I cried in the past month.

1. When Mufasa holds up Simba at the beginning of the Lion King.

In fact, now any time I hear the some “Circle of Life” I have to hold back tears.

2. The moment I discovered that Moonlight won the award for Best Picture…

…and now, having seen the film, anything that reminds me of Moonlight — including the moon — makes me cry.

3. Hearing the song “City of Lights” from La La Land.

I know, I know. The movie is very, very white, but that score goes hard in the paint and, for some reason, makes any room I’m in very dusty.

4. Watching a Viagra commercial

I legit shed tears over a commercial about a blue pill. These seasoned Black folks looked so in love.

5. Learning that a black person lived to be 93.

When I hear of black folks who lived to see their 90s, I reflect upon the unmitigated levels of racism they must have endured. I am awed and humbled by their sacrifice. When I hear of a white person who lived that long, I automatically assume they are racist until they prove otherwise. So no tears.

6. Listening to “Lately” by Jodeci.

I have no idea why, but that song wrecked me, and I lost it when K-Ci (the ultimate nonsinging, singing-ass nigga of all time) starts to yell.

7. Watching the Unsung Episode about Montell Jordan

…and learning that he no longer owns the rights to the song “The Is How We Do It.” Prince was right when he said: “If you don’t own your masters, your masters own you.”

8. Listening Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”

She was amazing in that song. Damn I miss her.

9. Witnessing Black Excellence

I cried when one of my dearest friends (and frat brother) Elon Dancy became a full professor at the University of Oklahoma. I cried again when he was named Associate Dean for Community Engagement and Academic Inclusion. Also, when my other friend and frat brother, Eric Gill, finished his D.Min at Virginia Union University, I got mad misty eyed.

I’ve learned the importance of celebrating black brilliance. We are taught in this white supremacist world to be jealous of one another’s successes—that there are only so many crumbs that fall from the tables of whiteness and we must, therefore, fight over each one. I reject that notion. If we don’t celebrate us, then no one else will.

10. Experiencing Injustice

When I saw the video of Terrence Crutcher being killed I cried. It happened again when Betty Shelby was found not guilty. Both were tears of anger. Not because I was surprised, but because I had allowed myself to feel hope that justice would be done. I should have known better.

Filed Under: , ,
Law W.

Lawrence Ware is a philosopher of race at his day job and writes if the kids go to bed on time. He is a contributing editor of NewBlackMan (in Exile) and a frequent contributor to The Root and other publications. He has been featured in the New York Times and you can sometimes find him discussing race and politics on HuffPost Live and Public Radio International. He is the kind of Steelers fan that enjoys watching the Cowboys lose.

  • Gibbous

    You’ll probably live longer for crying.

    Studies suggest that when you cry from emotional experiences, your tears contain high levels of Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which, while in your body, triggers cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. When you cry, you secrete ACTH and you physically and mentally feel better and your cortisol levels go down.

    Chronically high cortisol levels can lead to
    Suppressed immunity
    Hypertension
    High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
    Insulin resistance
    Carbohydrate cravings
    Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
    Fat deposits on the face, neck, and belly
    Reduced libido
    Bone loss

    • Sweet Potato Kai ?

      So theoretically I could check out at any time? Damn.

      • Gibbous

        My friend when to a therapist who encouraged her to watch sad movies so that she would cry more. Cinematherapy. Catharsis is real!

        • Michelle

          Any time I want to feel a good sad, I’ll watch a stream of sad movies. My “go-to” favorite is a ‘made for TV’ one that starred Delta Burke.

      • Gibbous

        You can also go for a walk in the woods, which reduces cortisol as well.

        “In a study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, researchers took 420 subjects and distributed them across 35 different forests throughout Japan. A control group sat in an urban area. Those sitting in the natural surroundings were found to experience the following:

        12.4% decrease in cortisol
        7.0% decrease in sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous activity
        1.4% decrease in systolic blood pressure
        5.8% decrease in heart rate

        It was also noted that parasympathetic nervous activity was enhanced by 55% and immune function as measured by the natural killer cell activity increased by 56% and maintained a 23% boost even after a month back in the city. So, a once-a-month trip to the forest is the minimum dose necessary to keep your nervous system healthy, your cortisol levels normalized, and your immune system strong.”

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24858508

        • Val

          I hate the woods. Lol I prefer urban walks. Same effect?

          • Gibbous

            Nope. We evolved in green space, and when we remove ourselves from it, we suffer.

          • kingpinenut

            No…you need stuff that humans don’t make to get better…

            Sometimes we make shid worse

        • Sweet Potato Kai ?

          I live in the city, but next to a forest, and I take regular bike rides through it. So I might be good afterall! Whew

          • Gibbous

            Exercise is good, exercise in the woods is better!

            • Sweet Potato Kai ?

              I bike in the woods. I could live to be 100!

        • MsSula

          I absolutely love walking in the woods or going in the wild. It’s really good therapy.

    • AzucarNegra

      So with all the crying I have done, I probably clocked a century of life already

    • I don’t cry. Maybe that’s why my blood pressure was 160 over 120.

      • Gibbous

        Walk in the woods instead.

        • Regina

          There are ticks in the woods, y’all be careful out there! After a camping up North over the Memorial Day weekend I am on bullseye alert. That sucka got me in the 2″ between where my socks stopped and my pants ended.

      • siante

        gotta cry more or cut out the pork.

        • kingpinenut

          go with cry more

          bacon tastes good

          • Cheech

            I was gonna say. When you put it that way ….

          • siante

            agreed!

      • i thought that was due to lack of exercise

      • Same here. I might get misty eyed at a moment in a movie, but real life situations? My eyes just stay dry.

        • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

          same here. In real life I stop myself to continue to function..except with the most serious of situations (dead in the family).

    • Regina

      Wow, science!

    • Erin

      I’ll never let anyone make me feel bad about being so sensitive anymore! They’re gonna get all these tears lol

    • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

      +1 for facts.

  • I cry pretty easily. I’m a sensitive lad.

    • MsSula

      And we love you for it!

  • KeciB

    My kids laugh at me because I cry at sappy TV/movie moments.

    • Quirlygirly

      My mom is like that too..When me and my sisters were younger we would call her tissue box.

      • KeciB

        That’s funny. Thankfully they haven’t given me a nickname. They just think it’s the funniest thing ever probably because I act like I’m such a bada$$.

        • Quirlygirly

          The funny thing is now I am her. I am a sympathetic crier. Someone cries, I am crying with them in sympathetic support.

          I refused to watch “This Is US” because I heard it was a tearfest every episode. I cant be cryng every week. I am still a G

          • Kas

            Probably that kale you insist on eating.

            • Quirlygirly

              LOL..Forget you Kas..

              Im just a semi sensitive G

              • Kas

                We know if nothing else, you’re regular

          • KeciB

            I surprised myself with This Is Us. I almost made it through the entire season without crying and then the last few episodes I was a hot bawling mess.

          • NonyaB?

            Me too! To my great detriment, I’m a sympathetic crier. Ugh! I also just commented above that I’ll never watch that show on account of the ocean of tears around it! Who needs that much emotion? Sheesh.

          • Michelle

            I advise you to never watch “Cold Case” the series.

    • 44isnojoke

      My allergies acted up in Hidden Figures. It wasn’t the restroom scene…it was when Mary won her court case. The exact moment was when she shouted while walking down the steps. I wanted to shout too! Not a tissue in sight..wiped my tears with my t-shirt.

      • KeciB

        Awww man. Both of those scenes in Hidden Figures had the tears flowing for me. Just thinking about it now, I’m getting teary-eyed.

  • Hadassah

    I don’t like crying men. I didn’t say you shouldn’t cry. Cry a river, cry a lake.

    • Val

      What are they supposed to do, AM?

      • Hadassah

        I don’t know Val. Cry in hiding?

      • Is toxic femininity a thing, Val or is that something MRA’s made up?

        • Hadassah

          Bye Wu! I said you can cry if you want to.

          • I know you were joking but I was wondering was that a thing on some level.

            • Hadassah

              I’m not joking, I’m being serious.

              Perhaps it is and I don’t recognize it as such.

            • Hadassah

              I’m not joking, I’m being serious.

              Perhaps it is and I don’t recognize it as such.

        • Val

          Not sure what their definition of it is. But knowing them I’m sure it’s over the top.

          In this case I think it’s more of a societal thing that men aren’t supposed to cry or be overly emotional. Must be hard living in that box though.

          • Hadassah

            Absolutely Val. For me it’s pretty much cultural. I just don’t understand men crying if it doesn’t deal with death of a loved one.

            • I can’t cry when my favorite food cart runs out of fish tacos?!

              • I see where you’re going with that, Malik.

                • naw I was legit sad when they didn’t have any shrimp grits though.

                  • I feel that way when they are out of dark roast coffee. The tears are for my coworkers though.

              • kingpinenut

                Or when some greedy a$$ punk eats the last slice of bacons

                • Quirlygirly

                  I said I’m sorry dayum

                  • kingpinenut

                    I keeps a long long memory

                    lol

          • “Must be hard living in that box though.”

            It can be.

        • miss t-lee

          SH*T

          • Just wondering. Not wanting a man to cry may not be it but are there harmful societal ideas spread by other women that bracket y’all?

            • miss t-lee

              Hmmmm. I’d have to really think on it.
              But, the crying thing is definitely one.

              • If toxic masculinity is a thing that exists I guess the inverse must be true.

                • I can’t say this is true b/c we all living in a patriarchal society that has defined roles of “masculine” and “feminine” behaviour. Any individual that does not conform gets ostracized i.e the raised nail gets the hammer. Enforcement of these “rules” usually falls to the identified same gender group when the behaviour is not typically related to “mate suitability & acquisition”. At least this has been my observation.

            • Me

              What do you mean by bracket? I always take umbrage with a man that refuses or cannot show genuine emotions (women too, tbh). I just feel like if you are incapable of expressing your own emotions, I have no faith that you’ll be able to understand how I feel when I need you to be there for me. And as with everything else in my life, if I have to go through difficulty by myself, what do I need you for? Life is too tough to fill my world with placeholders.

              • Bracket as in locked into a certain space.

                • Me

                  I don’t think there are any hard and fast ones for women, but I know there are times when some women try to push the whole “if you don’t know how to keep a home” trope as a way to defeminize other women. Most of the ones that pop into my head are remnants from the “how to be a lady because marrying a man so he can n ut freely in you until you die is what you were born to do” olden days ideology, but most of that kind of thinking is now on take it or leave it status for anyone under 40.

                • Me

                  Actually, I just thought of one I’ve been experiencing a lot lately. So… (shhh), I’m about 5 months pregnant right now, and it’s a breakup baby situation. So, as blessed as I feel to welcome this new person into my life, right out the gate, I haven’t been able to “celebrate” the occasion the way everyone else instantly does when you tell them you’re expecting. On top of that pregnancy s ucks a ss in a major way that folks never really drill into your head the way they do all that flowery talk about “falling in love the minute you hear a heartbeat,” and whatnot. But every. single. time. I try to express how much this process s ucks both because of the extra work I have to do to pick up slack for the father whose paternal instincts I have no faith in whatsoever, and because of how freaking painful every single day has been for me, I ALWAYS get shut down with some “you can’t think like that; you’re a woman; your body was made for this; just relish on the blessing and all those negative thoughts will go away” BS. For the past five months I legit have not been able to say how much I hate being pregnant without people straight up dismissing my very real symptoms and looking at me like I’m ungrateful. That’s the closest I can think of to men not being allowed to express their emotions.

                  • LMNOP

                    Aw, I’m sorry. That’s hard. People do push the pregnant happiness thing really hard, but with all the hormones and everything it’s a really emotional time, and in that situation it’s even harder, and then on top of that, you have people not allowing you to feel how you actually feel.

                    • Me

                      Thanks. I can’t wait to go into labor just for the sake of knowing it’s the end of being pregnant. However difficult motherhood is, at least it won’t be non-stop blows to my body.

        • Brooklyn_Bruin

          Ooh toxic femininity. I should bring this up in the Handmaid’s Tale discussions.

      • man up?

    • siante

      I dated a guy who cried all the time & as progressive as I would like to think I am——-it was a complete turn off.

      • Hadassah

        It is. You cannot be bohooing over everything. The phakk am I supposed to do?

        • siante

          lol, that’s how I felt- it was awkward.

      • Quirlygirly

        Yeah, him crying too much would be annoying. Shoot, I am annoyed when my girlfriends cry too much. Cut off the water works chick

        • NonyaB?

          I’m not a fan of excessive emotions either.

    • Why this African man ask me at the bus stop the other day if I was Ethiopian and if I had 5 wives?

      • Hadassah

        Maybe he was trying to be part of the harem??

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      The real truth comes out.

      • Hadassah

        I’m just being super honest.

      • MsSula

        She is the only one who said it so far. Brooklyn, you need to lay off of your “The other shoe will drop” mentality. Sometimes, take things at face value.

  • Gibbous

    Damn Sarah McLachlan and Willie Nelson teaming up with the SPCA make my eyes leak EVERY DAMN TIME!! Quick, change the channel!

    • Val

      I hate those commercials. They just make me mad.

      • AzucarNegra

        You and me.

    • Hadassah

      Omgggg!! Sara M!

      ‘Coz I’m a train wreck, waiting to happen. Waiting for someone to come pick me up from the tracks…
      A wildfire borne of frustration’

      My favoritest song of hers!!!!!

      • Gibbous

        I don’t even like those songs, it’s just the puppies and the sadness.

        • Hadassah

          Issokay.

      • Lea Thrace

        Mami. Sara M. is my go to when I need to feel. phew. That woman can write a dang SONG!

        • Hadassah

          Heeeeeeeeey girl!!!!! That song is ME! Can’t she?!

    • cyanic

      A standup made fun of those commercials. Can never take them seriously again.

      • Gibbous

        I need to see that and get cured!

      • Aintnuthinwrongwitcornbread
        • BrothasKeeper

          DAMMIT, he was funny! I just posted something from this same special in the other post about thecksual harassment.

        • cedriclathan

          “15 thousand kittens are stabbed in the head….”

          I’m dying!

  • IDontKnowAnyMore

    I cry at everything. I blame it on my sign. I’m just sensitive.

    • cyanic

      What’s your sign?

      • I’m going to guess a Cancer. They are three emotional.

        • tiggatae

          I’m just here to cosign on this!

        • miss t-lee

          That was my guess…lol

        • i would have said Scorpio

          • cyanic

            Are you a Scorpio?

            • nope, just wanna pick on the Scorpios

              • cyanic

                Due to your height are you afraid of dogs?

                • any dog taller than 3 feet high

      • IDontKnowAnyMore

        Pisces

    • Zil Nabu

      Girl so do I. I once cried at Dwayne Johnson movie. Sometimes secondhand embarrassment for others makes me cry.

      • Kas

        My wife cried during Roll Bounce with lil bow wow. I. will. never. let. her. live. it. down.

        • IDontKnowAnyMore

          When he freaked out on his dad?

          • Kas

            Not you too?

            • IDontKnowAnyMore

              Yea buddy. I felt his pain.

              • Kas

                But he can’t act.

                • IDontKnowAnyMore

                  I know! But it was a good scene.

                  • Kas

                    smdh

              • Michelle

                Don’t feel bad. I had literally sobbed while watching “Tales From The Hood”.

      • MsSula

        I am a crier. Shoot, I cry at badly made Nigerian movies. But funny enough, people around me would not define me as sensitive.

  • Kat

    When I cry I know my cycle about to come one. Just keeping it real.

    • MsCee

      This is so factual but HILARIOUS. If the lone tear does sneak down my eye I look at the calendar like “oh, ok…I knew it was something.”

      • Kat

        I cried at some random happy moment in a TV show I was watching, House Hunters or something and I’m like…what in the heck is going on??? Is this a sign that I need to move? Then a cramp came thru…I was like oh, time to go to Walmart. Tissue rag and all.

        • Zil Nabu

          Have you tried subscription services for pads and tampons? There’s a Black owned company, Femly. No need to run to Wally World again.

          • Kat

            I like to touch the box…weird. It’s like the one thing I won’t buy online. I think it’s some type of PTSD thingy.. Yes, every month is war around here.

            • Zil Nabu

              But the box includes snacks and teas!!!

              • Kat

                Okay…I’ll look!

              • LMNOP

                What a great idea!

        • MsCee

          So cliche…but those monthly’s definitely bring about a bad case of the feels.

    • Hadassah

      Bye Kat! Loool! Facts.

      • Kat

        Nothing but facts. That and a craving for doughnuts or finding myself in the baked good aisle of any store. Oh. It’s that time. Let me mosey on over to the Female section with the bright lights.

    • When I cry and feel depressed, I know it’s that time.

      • Kat

        My coworker says I’m no longer nice…that’s when I know too..lol

        • Quirlygirly

          I once cried when when a couldn’t use a specific copier at my job. That is when I knew my cycle was due.

          • Blue Skies Bring Tears

            Lol, that’s kind of adorable.

  • Looking4Treble

    The last scene in “Field of Dreams” does me in. No matter how many times I see it, I have to get a Zyrtec afterwards. Doggone allergies.

    • AzucarNegra

      Thank God for having allergies. A lot of my crying were blamed on allergies.

    • Cheech

      Guar-an-teed.

  • i dont cry. i did that when i was a child.

    • This sounds like something from one of those Ike Turner memes.

    • lol. I love these sentences paired together

      • kinda sounds like a song lyric

    • Val

      You Braveheart.

      • Hadassah

        Lol.

      • more noheart than braveheart

  • Gibbous

    The end of Glory. That movie was a one and done. I ugly-cried so much I had a headache for two days. Never again!

    • AzucarNegra

      The Vernon Johns story. I watched it the other day to see if it still had the same effect. Dang, it still did.

    • Sweet Potato Kai ?

      LMAO. Dam n

More Like This