When we speak about health, oftentimes physical health comes to mind first. Physical health is important for everyone to be attentive to. Just as equally, we need to be attentive to our mental and spiritual health as well.
As Black folks, we have been mentally, psychically and spiritually abused on multiple levels. However, we have found ways to keep pushing. We have found multiple ways of healing from the pain we have endured for generations. Many of those ways have not always been the best, but they got us by.
We cannot deny our pain and plight in today’s society. We are hurting on multiple fronts. This is why it is essential for each and every one of us to be healthy individually to support each other.
March is Women’s History Month. It is often said that Black women are (and have been) the backbone of the Black community. This may or may not be true. Regardless of your stance on this question, Black women are certainly important to the development and maintenance of a healthy Black community.
Black men are just as important. We need to support one another equally to navigate through the pain and trauma we have suffered since landing on this continent.
We have not always treated each other well. Intimate partner violence (domestic violence) is the number-one killer of African American females ages 16-34 years old. This is an unfortunate fact, but true.
Due to March being Women’s History Month, I would like to pay tribute to a Black woman who took a position to ensure that equality happened for Black people, especially Black males. This woman is Fannie Lou Hamer.
On October 6, 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi, Hamer was born to sharecroppers. She spent most of her childhood working in the fields of the hot South.
Fannie Lou Hamer later worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNNC). During her time with SNNC, Hamer fought racial injustice and segregation in the South. She married Perry “Pap” Hamer in 1944.
Hamer was instrumental in getting Black people registered and active in voting. One incident that happened to Hamer was in 1963, when she was jailed for organizing Black voters. At the jail, racist White police officers forced two Black male prisoners to hold down and beat Hamer. They beat her as the overseeing police officers gave orders to victimize her further.
Hamer never blamed the Black males for this incident. She understood their impotent position. She recalled and shared this tragic experience during her speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1964.
Throughout her life, Hamer worked to help families in need in Mississippi. She also set up organizations to increase business opportunities, provide child care, and other family services for Black people. Hamer died of cancer on March 14, 1977 in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.
I am often asked by many Black women, “Brandon, where are all the good Black men?” I often tell them, “Black men are right where we have always been.” I also reply, “Are you a good Black woman? Are you in a position to receive what you deserve to receive?”
If you are, then that good Black man will come in time. Oftentimes, both men and women want things that we are not ready for. It reminds me of the saying, “A gift out of season is a curse.”
In order to receive that person you deserve, you need to be in a healthy state. We (Black people) already know how to get together. However, the staying together through the struggle is the part that is difficult for us in general.
There are “good” Black men out there, just as there are “good” Black women. We need to understand that we are in a battle for justice. In an unjust society, which we are in, we will produce males and females we perceive as no good. However, the potential for something better is there.
Like Fannie Lou Hamer’s famous words — “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!” — it has long been time to get our relationships in a healthy state. We must build healthier relationships to have a healthy community.
In order to have healthy relationships, we must be healthy individuals. In order to be healthy individuals, we must have courage like Fannie Lou Hamer’s. In order to be healthy individuals, we must be as bold as Fannie Lou Hamer. In order to be healthy individuals, we must be honest about our current state, like Fannie Lou Hamer.
Both males and females can learn from a woman like Fannie Lou Hamer. She is an unsung hero of the Civil Rights Movement. This month, appreciate our sisters, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, nieces and wives. We need each other to be healthy as a community. It starts with you.
BeMore today to BeMore tomorrow.
Brandon Jones, M.A., a BeMore coordinator, welcomes reader responses to [email protected].