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Our space comes in the forms of melodies

No matter how much the times change, struggles won’t. 

During this Corona Virus epidemic, there is a heightened awareness around mental health. Things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder may be hard to manage right now for the people suffering with them. Especially for the black people suffering with them. 

Contrary to what the media shows

These mental health issues affect people regardless of race. For such a long time, black people, as a collective, have seen mental illness as a “white people thing” due to the lack of representation of black people struggling with these issues.

 Due to this ideology that being anything other than “grateful and happy” is considered a “white people thing”, it has unknowingly made members of the black community feel as if they don’t have space within their own families to talk about their issues.

When your outlet to channel your feelings and emotions is taken away, or just plain out doesn’t exist, there are only so many things you can do to express yourself. 

Some people decide to take out their hurt on other people through forms of abuse, some people hold onto their feelings for dear life and never let go. Others make art from their feelings, something black people have been doing for hundreds of years. 

The history of black people conveying their pain and sorrows through art forms, specifically music, goes back to the days of slavery, where slaves were comforted by songs with themes of freedom and faith in God. These songs passed down vital information about moving during the Underground Railroad and the importance of God in one’s life. As much as songs are passed down from generation to generation, so is trauma. 

During the Civil Rights Movement, we heard songs more related to the overcoming of the ongoing struggle of oppression and discrimination. The same stories of oppression and discrimination that were passed down years later. During the golden age of hip-hop, we heard the political cries to stop violence and to love one another. This music was made from the children of those who lived through the Civil Rights Movement. 

This never-ending cycle of fear and oppression, can take a serious toll on one’s mental health. 

Not to mention the trauma of growing up in the hood

Going to a school where you’re the only black student, growing up without two parents in a household, growing up being black period can make someone lose their mind. 

But through it all, music has always been a way to let these emotions flow out without having to sit down and talk about them. 

“Mind Playing Tricks on Me” by Geto Boys spoke about the depression, paranoia and PTSD developed from growing up in the hood. This song is still played and relevant 30 years later due to this never-ending cycle. 

The 1994 Mary J. Blige album, “My Life”, has more of a different tone. The album talks more about the sad reality of getting over a relationship, seeing more to life, and trying to find happiness. Something that both black women and men go through. 

Kendrick Lamar’s, “To Pimp a Butterfly”, spoke about depression, suicide, gang violence, racism in America and so many other things black people can relate to. Things that are hard to talk about. Things that make it hard to go to sleep at night. 

The fact that music is such a universal agent of communication, it makes it much easier for people to relate to the meanings of the lyrics. So easily, these songs can be played by a group of marginalized people and they can relate to them.

Mental health issues and music will always be around and will always have an affect on people, whether it be indirectly or directly. No matter the struggle or battle, music, among different art forms, can and will be used to make life feel a little bit easier. 

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