The African American Christian male has to leverage within his own psyche vigilance, compassion, and outrage. He must be vigilant for his own safety, compassionate towards all those who bear the image of the Creator, and outraged at the many faces, modes, and mechanisms of injustice and brutality. His mental and emotional state has to skillfully balance the full range of these emotions because it is the Cross he has been given to unfortunately bear.
If he leans too much to vigilance, he can easily become hypervigilant, isolatory, fearful, anxious, apathetic, depressed, insecure, and filled with self-hatred. If he becomes too compassionate, he can become lost in a false utopian hope filled with respectability politics and a litany of “…if they would of, should of, could ofs…”, only recognizing love as unidirectional, not reciprocal, and failing to accept the accountability, responsibility, and the gift of choice innate in compassion. If he becomes too outrage, he becomes the angry black man; the criminalized, pathologized, animalized mad man the market place has labeled him to be.
He cannot simply be seen as a son. He cannot simply be seen as a brother. He cannot simply be seen as a husband. He cannot simply be seen as a father. He cannot simply be seen as a person. He cannot simply be seen as an image bearer. He is only reduced to the shackles of entertaining the masses as gladiators in stadiums, canaries on stages, black bodies for desire and pleasure, or targets of rage filled imaginations. He can only be seen as something to be consumed and not someone to be known.