Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting
Terrie M. Williams, Scribner, 2008, Self-help
Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting thoroughly chronicles the multigenerational pain of Black Americans by using stories and statistics to make the case, for anyone experiencing depression, that you’re not alone.
Williams does a good job of including a balance of stories. From Mariah Carey to Deborah from Flatbush, Williams illuminates the similarities of our struggles with stigmas about mental health and other people’s insistence that we just “shake it off.”
The downside of the book is how long the reader must wait for signs of hope. Black pain is real, and so is black resilience, which, unfortunately, doesn’t come until 3/4 of the way through the book.
Unapologetically black in her framework, Williams strikes a balance between healing through spiritual practices and managing depression via prescription drugs. Bernice McFadden’s story is a great example of this.
Williams also addresses “emotionality masquerading as spirituality” in black churches, a critique that proves the church is ill-equipped to help depressed people.
The book also fails to draw a clear line between experiencing sadness versus depression, that is, until close to the end of the book. That case should have been made earlier, rather than in the last paragraph of the last chapter where Williams’ acknowledges the importance of “fighting to feel, to have fear and sadness rather than anxiety, and to become reacquainted with calm, vibrancy, and joy.”
The readers of Black Pain will encounter raw stories, but the healing strategies are easy and timeless.
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