Hip-hop has always been a big part of black culture since its creation. At its purest form, it is a reflection of the realities of black people.
Given this aspect, songs have covered a range of black-centric topics. However, one issue in the black community that has not often been discussed is mental health. There are countless songs about racism, getting out of the hood, and spreading love throughout the neighborhood. However, there are very few songs about struggling with things such as depression and anxiety.
Often, in various black communities, mental illness is thought to be a white experience. Since black people are forced to deal with systematic and social racism on a consistent basis, our mental health is forgotten as we try to survive. However, mental illness is not something that black people are immune too. In fact, that idea itself is a concept that contributes to racism. By thinking black people are too strong to have mental health issues dehumanizes us. For black people to be thought of as human like everyone else, our mental health must be a topic of discussion. Hip Hop can help with that.
Hip-hop is a large influence in the black community. So, it can be an outlet to begin an advocacy for mental illness in the black community. Throughout high school, I suffered from depression and constant anxiousness. It was extremely difficult to manage and talk about because of the stigmas against these issues. Then, I heard suicidal thoughts by Biggie For so long. I had heard that mental illness was only something white people with through. Consistently being taught that, made me feel ashamed to go through what I was going through. It meant so much for me to hear someone who was black like me express similar feelings that I was going through. The song made me feel better about the things that I was going through. It let me know that I was not going through this alone and that other black people were going through the same thing.
Somewhere, there is another black teenager or child who feels alone in their sadness and worry. They have likely been told that what they feel makes them weak and that’s dissuaded then from opening up about their emotions. Hip-hop could be a way to reach them and let them know that their issues are not something that they need to bottle up. Artists like Amine have started a phenomenon to feature mental health in their songs. But, there needs to be more. Hip Hop can show the black community that it is okay to talk about things like depression. Hip-hop can be a beacon of hope for black people with mental illness. All it takes is a few rappers who are willing to help.
What do you think?