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“Two Birds, One Stone”: The Stigmatization of Mental Illness In The Black Community

During this past weekend, as if the week did not contain enough tomfoolery and fuckery, the weekend gave way more.

Not only did Amy “I Am Racist and Untalented as Fuck” Schumer decide to once again be offensive to all five of our collective senses by releasing a “parody’ of “Formation”, but Drake went full headass and full fuckboi when he released the song “Two Birds, One Stone”.

While I know how serious it is, I’m not gonna talk about the former, especially since Wicked Womanist and I previously dragged Amy and I am not one to retread old territory.

But as for the latter?.

Hooooo boy.

But before we begin, you should probably listen to Drake’s weak sauce ass song here.

Black Jesus, be my guide.

Black Jesus, be my guide.

Now that that’s over with, let’s talk about how this light-skinned, fake Dominican ass, Dancehall-gentrifying, Supreme Softboy Fuckboi™ has me and all other sufferers of mental illness fucked up.

As the title hints at, this issue is actually quite bigger than “the diss” that Drake issued at Kid Cudi. But if I were to actually nitpick at his #1 on the Richter Scale ass diss, I’d probably mention the following:

Things Drake could have dissed Kid Cudi for:

– His musical talent
– His lyrical prowess
– That suspect ass Need for Speed movie he was in back in 2014 with Jesse Pinkman Aaron Paul and Tony Stark’s ambiguous younger father—also known as Dominic Cooper.

Things Drake dissed Kid Cudi for:

– His mental illness

Drake...wyd. WYD!

Drake…wyd. WYD!

I mean, I could even go a bit further. I could mention how boring and uninspiring said diss was. I could talk about how the beat almost but me to sleep and made “Charged Up” sound like the diss of a century. I could mention how it was ill-advised to attack both Kid Cudi (especially after he apologized) AND Pusha T (like, why even court these types of problems?) in one song. I could talk about how the point of a diss track should be to out-rap and outclass the other rapper and/or point out how their skills can’t even match up to yours.

By that logic, how does it make sense, Mr. Softboy Fuckboi™, to diss Kid about his mental illness INSTEAD of his musical abilities?

How does that make sense? HOW?

This is the face of a Softboy Fuckboi™. Look at it. I WANT YOU ALL TO LIKE AT IT.

But, you know, it makes a little sense if you were to put yourself in the shoes of a fuckboi. I mean, Drake has been feeling himself for a minute after—allegedly—finally getting the go-ahead from Rihanna to date her and winning that weak ass beef with Meek Mill…even though I’m pretty sure I could have won a rap beef with Meek Mill even though a heaux can’t even rap.

That said, this is bigger than Drake, Kid Cudi, and even designated L eater Meek Mill and here’s why:

This issue is about mental illness. And it especially pertains to how mental illness is dealt with and regarded in the Black community.

Now, before you jump down my throat talmbout “WELL, YOU BITTER BLACK BITCH, WHITE FOLX DON’T TAKE MENTAL ILLNESS SERIOUSLY EITHER! THEY STIGMATIZE IT TOO!” lemme just spell out a couple of things for your simple as.

We should not ever want to imitate or emulate the oppressive people in power. Just because Chet [Reagan]™ is fine with de-funding psychiatric hospitals and kicking mentally ill students of his college campuses to protect his “elite” image doesn’t make it okay for us to turn around and gaslight and mistreat folx who live with mental illness.

These “White people do that too, so–” arguments are the same arguments that people were using to justify rapists like Bill Cosby and Nate Parker when their evil deeds were discovered. Is Chet your baseline for justice? Is he your baseline for liberation? Because if you wanna be like him and do what he does, you need to keep it 100 and say that you’re not after liberation for all, but just liberation for you. You need to own up to the fact that you are 100% okay with being a Black Chet™ and then say that shit with your chest.

Furthermore, it also does not make sense for us, Black folx to be maligning those with mental illness. In fact, us doing it is so much worse than anyone else doing it because for us to be living in this traumatizing country but not take the effects of this trauma (Newsflash: Trauma often manifest itself in symptoms of mental illness) on us seriously? How we doin’ that? How does this compute?

And in that same vein, I’ma need us to stop acting like it’s not hard as fuck to discuss mental illness with each other as a community (this has gotten better by generation, but we still have so much work to do).

Just stop. Stop being fake about this. 

Because you know damn well what happens when we even try to broach the topic. We’re dismissed. We are told it could be worse. We are told to pray on it or about it. We are told by our “loving” parents that we are ungrateful for having a mental illness (like anyone would willingly choose to have one, but okay) because we have a roof over our heads and can’t possibly have any other problems with that having been taken care of.

In short: We are silenced.

So, of course, when a high profile person like Kid Cudi, a Black person, comes out about his mental illness, it’s a big fucking deal. On top of dealing with the standard responses to mental illness in the Black community, his experience is compounded upon because of his fame and hyper-exposure. Like, do you realize how many people are routinely ready to invalidate his life as a human being based on the fact that he exists in a higher tax bracket?

Despite this, Black Twitter nearly spent a whole ass week talking mental illness after he confessed that he would be checking himself into rehab for it.

We were honest. We talked about our own experiences. We talked about failed discussions with our parents. We talked about the unfairness of our families dismissing mental illness as “White people problems”. We talked about how fucked up it was that Black folx were expected to be strong enough to overcome any and all mental illnesses and how that cripples the masculinity of Black men, saddles Black women with the unnecessary Strong Black woman trope, and erases the pain and suffering that Black queer folx, Black trans folx, and Black non-binary folx experience at their various intersections.

All of that.

I was honestly one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen on Twitter. The amount of vulnerability and rawness I saw us sharing with each other was unmatched. Unparalleled.

So, imagine how shitty and hypocritical it looks when the same folx who were lobbying for us to be more open about mental illness turn around and defend Drake when he releases his wack ass diss and one of his chief “jabs” in the song include making light of folx who have mental illness and how they deal with it.

Really, y’all? REALLY?

I could go on all day about how ireful that makes me. But in the interest of time, here are two specific reasons:

1. No matter how you spin this, Drake punched down at mentally ill folx for the sake of cheap “bars”. Unintended or not.

Even if you vehemently deny that Drake was swinging at Kid Cudi on this track, you can’t deny that he uses mental illness as a way to take shots at his haters and people who have doubted him in the past or come at his neck in anyway that he deemed disrespectful.

Via his lyrics “You stay xan and perked up, so when reality set in you don’t gotta face it”, besides the ramifications of his jabs at medicine like Xanax and Percocet (which I will get to very soon), he positions these presumably mentally ill folx as weak (and perhaps even more weak for daring to medicate) in his song. Per this implication, these haters are supposed to be feeble, outclassed, and not even on the same level or plane as Drake. He implies that their attempts to come at him are unrealistic and delusional (“Is you crazy?”) and that is further compounded upon by the fact that he also implies that folx taking medication for mental illness can’t at all be firmly planted in reality.

Obviously.

.......K

…….K

Because of the various implications of these statements, it wouldn’t matter if Drake was trying to mollywhop The Orange One™or drag Igloo Australia back into the Obscurity of the Outback™. He still heavily relies on maligning the mentally ill when he finally gets to the “diss part” in his song.

As a result, the two cannot be separated. No matter how hard anyone wants them to be.

In addition to this, it also wouldn’t have mattered if Drake had been attacking someone who was unlikable. Even in the case of The Orange One™, Bernie Sanders himself made this mistake by dismissing said Orange Dude’s bigotry (and the bigotry of the GOP) by implying that he was mentally ill. Like that was the litmus test for determining ultimate evil.

Bernie eventually caught due hell for it and lemme explain why:

Just because someone is hateful, bigoted, or unpleasant does not mean they are automatically mentally ill. By dismissing these folx as such, you are making it so that mental illness and the folx living with mental illness will always be looked at with hate or disdain.

This is not right. Nor is it okay.

This is not to say that mentally ill folx can’t be any of these things I mentioned. The difference here is that they are not any of these things because of their mental illness. These attributes aren’t part of some weird “Buy Three, Get One Free!” deal with mental illness.

That’s not how that works. That’s not how any of this works.

2. With “Two Birds, One Stone”, Drake punches down at mentally ill folx by shaming how we choose to seek treatment or if we choose to medicate.

I don’t care what anyone says.

Drake’s line about Xanax and Percocet was not only foul, but it was full of contempt for those of us who have taken these medications in the past or are currently taking these medications in the present.

As I previously mentioned, it does not matter if he was addressing Kid Cudi or his “haters” because newsflash:

They’re not the only ones taking Xanax and Percocet to relieve the pain and complications that come with mental illness.

More of us take it than we’d care to admit and the assumption that we take it to merely escape reality is not only false and dangerous, but it is insulting. It is completely and utterly insulting.

We don’t take Xanax and Percocet to escape reality.

We take Xanax and Percocet to cope with reality.

That’s the thing here. Being “xan-ed and perc-ed out” is not fun. We aren’t doing this for recreational shits and giggles. We’re not doing this to look cool. And we’re not doing this for some weird high.

We take Xanax and Percocet to keep our asses here. On this planet. Firmly planted in reality. Whether we want to our not.

Case in point: half of my readers are aware of my struggle with mental illness since they know me personally. But the other half of you aren’t, so in the spirit of keeping it 100, let me clue you in on why this culture of maligning mental illness has to go:

In my third year of college, I tried to kill myself.

I was in an incredibly dark place. I was barely hanging onto school, I had to deal with complications with physical therapy due to a knee injury, and my depression had kicked into overdrive recently. And wouldn’t you know, I was on Xanax. Trying to stick around. Trying to keep my Black ass firmly planted on this planet.

Which, you know, is interesting because per Drake’s fuckboi beliefs about Xanax, I should have been a-okay. Maybe high as a kite and all, but I should have been golden. My problems should have just magic melted away.

But they didn’t. In fact, they persisted. Physical therapy became unhelpful, my grades became unrecognizable, and I started to waste away because of it all.

Sleep alluded me. And so did any ounce of peace of mind.

As a result, the most logical solution to me—at the time—was to just…end it.

But, as you can see, I am clearly still here and kicking it.

Part of it is because a friend of mine unknowingly intervened (she had felt the urge to call me) that day. Part of it is because there’s a lot of shit that needs to be done on this planet and I obviously can’t do any of it if I’m dead. And part of it has to do with the fact that as someone who has silently suffered from mental illness for a majority of my life (even when I didn’t know what it was) and who has made a deal with Death and ended up reneging, I’m obliged to say something when folx think it is valid to use mental illness as a “diss”.

I’m compelled to drag folx when they think that somehow taking medicine to treat mental illness is a character flaw.

And I’m driven to be transparent about my struggle with mental illness (like so many others out there) so that one day we can get to a point where mental illness is not perceived as a weakness. So that it is no longer whispered about. And so that it is no longer seen as taboo and untouchable.

And as a people who have experienced so much trauma in this regard, we deserve that much.

We deserve to be free.

Images From: Imgur, Giphy, GQ, Blackawarenessfoundation.com, Popkey.co, The Fader
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2 thoughts on ““Two Birds, One Stone”: The Stigmatization of Mental Illness In The Black Community

  1. Well, I’m so glad you’re still here and kicking it! We need you to break things like this down like a fraction.

    However, if this is the same Need for Speed movie that had my baby daddy, Rami Malek in it, I’ma give Cudi a pass for that too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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