Blog – Silence Is Killing Us Softly (Inspired By Chris Lighty & Others)

This is probably going to be one of my most personal blogs to date. In the wake of Record Exec Chris Lighty’s death it really got me to thinking. His death isn’t what prompted this blog however, it was actually some of the speculation by Chris Lighty’s brother, Russell Simmons and a few others that it is impossible that Chris killed himself. 

David Lighty, Chris’ brother told FOX News 

“I’m surprised, shocked, and lost at this moment. I want the truth to come out. This isn’t my brother. My brother was a strong person, is a strong person. Nothing is adding up. I can’t get a direct answer from anybody…I understand there’s a process to be followed. I can’t even get clear answers from people I think I should be getting clear answers from… I just want to know what really happened to my brother. If he did take his own life, all right, I just wish he could have reached out and spoken to us. We were all here for him. I just want the truth. The truth.”

Russell Simmons tweeted that he is in agreement with David & would like further investigation. It was speculated that Lighty’s divorce & financial problems may have led to this untimely event. Lighty’s partner at Violator, Blue Williams, tells MTV News he thought otherwise.

“Chris’ debt is probably less important than the pressure that he was under,” Williams told MTV News. “What people are missing and what people don’t see and what Chris is an example of is how much, as Black men, we carry around and don’t always communicate.”

And Blue, I totally agree with you. Let me begin by saying that until an autopsy is completed, we will never really know if Chris committed suicide or if foul play is involved. Im not in the position to weigh in either way where that subject is concerned. Where I would like to weigh in is the growing pattern that I have noticed. Black people think suicide and depression doesn’t happen to us.

Do we feel Chris didn’t commit suicide because there is evidence out there that is telling us otherwise or do we feel that it’s not like Chris to do such a thing? If you feel the latter, that is exactly the point I’m trying to make. As African American men and women we are literally taught to internalize our emotions. As infants if you cried momma would say “Shut up before I give you a reason to cry”, so we shut up. We hold it in. We keep the outsiders out of our business and deal with things ourselves. We’re taught that if we have problems to pray them away. Black people don’t see therapists. That’s taboo. The non-communication and internalization of our feelings and problems is exactly why no one sees our cries for help and ultimately, no one believes that we suffer too.

Black men are taught that they have to be strong. Black women have to hold so much weight on our shoulders. We cry in the dark where no one can see us, then we wipe our eyes and go on about our day like nothing happened. Deep down we are hurting and longing for someone to talk us off the ledge. Imagine how many times you have been in a dark place. I remember many times that I’ve cried in a dark empty room. I remember being in the lowest part of my life financially and not telling anyone about it. As far as the world knew, I was doing absolutely great. I smiled on the outside but on the inside I was in the darkest point of my life and had no idea if I was ever going to make it out. I remember gaining a lot of weight, not having money to feed myself, my family and keep the lights on, bouncing checks to cheat my way through, getting my car repo’d, everything. It got extremely tough. Sad thing is, I blocked so much of it out mentally that to this day, I can’t recall any of this in detail. I just remember bits and pieces of depression. If I was to end it all that day, everyone would have said “That doesn’t seem like something she would do, she was so happy!” When I was out in public, I was the happiest person ever. No one knew how bad things got because I kept it in and never told. It wasn’t something that I could just pray away. It wasn’t that easy.

Fortunately, I snapped out of it. The problem is, so many of us don’t. Chris Lighty didn’t. Shakir Stewart didn’t. Don Cornelius didn’t. Even Michael Jackson didn’t (Yes, I believe MJ’s death was a form of suicide). Our people are in so much emotional and physical pain that sometimes the only way to cope is to let go. But they never talk to anyone so from the outside it looks like everything is great. Behind closed doors we’re self medicating on hard drugs just to get through the day. We hold the guns to our head, weigh the good and the bad and when the bad list is longer, take matters into our own hands. Often close friends and family see the signs but ignore them. Not because they’re bad people but because like we’re told not to tell our business, we’re also taught not to get in other people’s business. We figure “He’s a strong person, whatever it is he’ll get over it like he always does.” But what if he doesn’t? Chris Lighty didn’t. Shakir Stewart didn’t. Don Cornelius didn’t. Even Michael Jackson didn’t.

What if they just had someone to talk to? Someone to take their hand and guide them off the ledge. Someone to confide in and cry to? Could you imagine if we didn’t have to fight that internal war alone? What if we as the African American community recognized mental health issues and stopped brushing them under the rug. Many so many of our soldiers would still be with us today. I want us as a people to realize that Depression and Suicide happens to us too and it shouldn’t be taboo for us to feel like we can’t handle it. God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle, true, but walking with 100 pound load on my back for 2 miles is surely a test that even I don’t know if I could pass. Until you truly know what someone has been going through, and at this rate you never will, you can never say “He would never do something like that” because you just don’t know. 

Until next time…

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