Do you have feelings?
If you do (hint: you definitely do) then a new book edited by Jeana Lindo and Richard Bryan is for you.
Entitled Black Boy Feelings, the book is a collection of artfully expressed ruminations from black men on growing up as a black man. Something for everyone is contained in the book’s 200 pages — in speaking with Blavity, Lindo said, “I was very excited about the variety of ways that people could express themselves.”
Photo: Richard Bryan and Jeana Lindo, Black Boy Feelings
The editors told us that their submissions ranged from a five piece orchestral movement to poetry to collages to innovative fashion photography.
Photo: Keith Jones in Black Boy Feelings
And how were the duo so fortunate as to find such diversity of expression? Lindo said that prior to this project, many of their contributors felt that they lacked a forum for their work. “One of my favorite things was when someone said, ‘Thank you for making a space for us,’ like, considering their feelings, and saying that black boys art and expression was important, because they felt like people hadn’t been doing that enough.”
Part of the problem, Lindo suggested, is the weight of cultural expectation. “When we talk about what black men have to say, it’s usually this big thing, it’s either aggressive or just flashy, it’s very shallow, and they don’t think about poetry written by black boys, so we wanted to make sure that could come through.”
Bryan agreed, saying that black men are “sort of portrayed as victims and perpetrators of crime, and we’re a lot more than that.” That in fact, black men, like all men, like all people, experience a rich range of feelings. Despite that, he said, “We don’t really talk about it; black males don’t really talk about how they’re feeling.”
The hesitation to discuss the feelings of black males is so ingrained, Bryan noted with some frustration, that in discussing the book, he’s found that he and Lindo have “had to come up with so many different ways to try to justify why it is we should be talking about black male emotions, and I think that’s only indicative of how shied away from that topic is in the discussions that we have.”
Still, there is hope. Despite the stigma black men face with respect to expressing their feelings, Lindo said, “We received an overwhelming amount of support from young people when we told them about this book. They were very excited about simply the idea of it, before we even made the book.” Which would suggest that you and I, lovely young Blavity reader, are perhaps more comfortable with our emotions, more able to be open about what we’re feeling than generations past.
Lindo and Bryan hope Black Boy Feelings will encourage more of this sort of openness. “What I would like people to take from this book is that they should not hold onto the feelings that they have; they should definitely feel comfortable to share them with their notebook or with their friends — especially with their friends,” Lindo said, “Because, the thing about this book is that we’re not alone in these experiences. The point of people reading this book is to know that someone else has felt the same way they have at one point.”
Photo: Justin Miller in Black Boy Feelings
And in sharing your feelings, Bryan would like to remind you that “there are a lot of ways to express yourself. Not just black people, but people as a whole … pigeonhole themselves into certain methods of expression because they’re more comfortable or they’re more easy to understand. So express yourself however it is you feel, without harming anyone obviously.”
Doing so may not be easy; you may not be immediately understood, you may feel uncomfortable. Despite that, though, Bryan says, “Don’t give up on your shit. Stay steadfast.”
If you’d like to take your first step towards a more connected world through a dope book, Black Boy Feelings is available now: you can find out where to get your copy on the project’s website.