Broken Dreams And Financial Illusions: The Secret Depression Of Black Men


By Marcus Bright

There is a secret depression that is rooted in economics that many Black men battle. It is hidden underneath an assortment of layers including an exaggerated bravado, drug and alcohol abuse, misdirected anger, and other forms of destructive behavior. Fantastical illlusions are also a tool that is deployed to cope with the humbling realities of an often marginalized existence.

The “Bow Wow Challenge” that took over social media earlier in the month was a reflection of a daily pattern of illusions for many. Some aspect of Bow Wow fronting like he was traveling on a private plane instead of his actual reality of flying coach on a commercial airline is frequently in operation for Black people in this country.

For all of the trips, fancy purses, and Jordan-brand shoes the truth is that the vast majority of us are barely scraping by. Credit, celebrities, and trinkets have given many of us the illusion that we are doing much better economically than we actually are. We have been bamboozled by Facebook likes, hoodwinked by Instagram comments, and led astray by Twitter retweets. Social media has a tendency to tell you a lot of things that aren’t true.

The data suggest that the majority of African Americans are not in a great place financially. A prime example of this is a finding from the “The Color of Wealth in Boston” report that found that the median net worth of White households in Boston is $247,500 while the median net worth of Black households is $8.

The average net worth of a single Black woman with a bachelor’s degree is $-11,000 and the median wealth of a single Black woman without a bachelor’s degree is $0 according to a research brief entitled “Women, Race, and Wealth” by Khaing Zaw, Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Anne Price, Darrick Hamilton, and William Darity, Jr. This underscores the sad reality that getting a college degree may actually be a hindrance in some cases to a person’s wealth position because of the frequent need to go into large amounts of debt in order to obtain higher education.

Most of the racial wealth gaps that exist are a result of the lack of intergenerational wealth transfers available for Black families based on a host of different reasons ranging from Federal Housing Administration policy, slavery, Jim Crowe laws, employment discrimination, denial of access to capital, and the list goes on and on.

The larger point in citing these figures is that we are economically struggling because we began a figurative 100 meter dash 50 meters behind. There is an economic disadvantage for Blacks that is built into the fabric of American society. We don’t need to beat ourselves up in a desire to keep with “the Joneses”. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for excellence in every realm, but it does mean that killing yourself to try to keep up with images that may or may not be real will only lead to a life of frustration.

Black men are particularly susceptible to this kind of unhealthy pressure and stress. As they have grown into adulthood, they have seen many of their childhood dreams deferred. Jay Z articulated this in his song Izzo (H.O.V.A.) when he said “I’ve seen hoop dreams deflate like a true fiend’s weight.” You will frequently see people holding onto their dreams of being rap stars or NBA players well into their 30s or even 40s. It is a good thing in one sense to hold on to your dream, but the limited number of slots in those areas suggests that many of these dreams will eventually be shattered.

The lack of a viable “Plan B” in the form of education, job training, or entrepreneurial expertise stymies some from progression. Others have gone and acquired credentials, but still seem to be locked out of gainful economic opportunity. When viable economic options are taken off of the table, then people are more apt to turn to criminal endeavors to meet immediate survival needs for them and their families.

Black men are the most unemployed and incarcerated group in the country per capita. The jobless rate for Black men between ages of 20 and 34 in many cities including Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Baltimore is above 45% according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The psychological impact on men who haven’t been able to overcome the reality of the labor market is a story that is seldom told. Many are suffering from broken dreams and delusions of grandeur that have not been fulfilled. An argument can be made that many Black men have been suffering from a secret depression for years as a result of this financial crunch. A great deal of it probably has its roots in an economic struggle.

I am not licensed to give a diagnosis of depression, but I can give some reasons that Black men may feel bad about themselves. The first is the sense of inadequacy that comes with being unable to fulfill the traditional role of being the provider for their family. This may lead to a loss in admiration and respect from their spouse or partner that can chip away at one’s self esteem.

In some cases, women have been openly disrespectful towards a man who is unable to fulfill core financial needs. This is undoubtedly a contributor to high divorce rates. A lack of financial stability can furthermore cause single men to not even want to engage in the dating process. The dating scene often involves the man having to pick up the tab for expensive meals and entertainment activities.

There is a mask of false bravado that many men wear. Underneath the mask, they are hurting because they haven’t figured out a way to live up to an ever illusive standard set by a hyper-materialistic American society. The standard is not one set amount of financial accumulation, but an ever changing goal line that seems to always be just out of reach.

There is also the specter of social media that often causes people to act like they are in a financial position that is not in alignment with their reality. The point when the reality sets in that they are not the “baller” that they portray on social media can potentially create an impostor syndrome that can lead to deeper levels of depression.

The realities of the labor market cannot be ignored. Black men have almost been rendered as obsolete in some areas of employment. Many of the traditional factory jobs that Black men once occupied have disappeared due to a myriad of factors, including globalization, automation, and competition from immigrant groups. A significant number of people have taken to self-medicating themselves with drugs and alcohol to cope with their frustration and disappointment.

Rural areas that are predominately White are now being hit with the consequences of economic deterioration that has impacted inner cities for decades. The stress of being unable to adequately meet financial obligations has the capacity to press almost anyone into destructive behaviors. There has been a good deal written about the heroin and opioid crisis in various regions of the country. It has been hypothesized that a sizable portion of the crisis can be attributed to undiagnosed depression.

The framing of the heroin and opioid crisis as a medical issue is drastically different from the crack epidemic that was characterized by criminality. It is also problematic that the Trump administration, through the directives of Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to pump the gas on locking more people up for longer periods of time for drug offenses. There seems to be an effort to expend additional resources on incarceration while simultaneously cutting funding for public institutions and resources like public schools that produce economically viable citizens.

Unfortunately, it looks like it may get worse before it gets better. The proposed Trump budget features draconian cuts for working class and poor people. An article from The Hill cited figures from the Washington Post that estimate that “Trump’s budget will include $800 billion in Medicaid cuts over the next 10 years, which would cause 10 million low-income people to lose health benefits.”

Trump’s budget would also cut $193 billion from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (Food Stamps). The impact of these cuts will be very significant for the African-American community. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that “one in three food stamp households is headed by an African American. More than a third of food stamps benefits – over $10 billion per year – are issued to African Americans.

Though the challenges are enormous, it is crucial for people to not be defeated by defeat at this time. We can’t afford to ignore the reality of what is going on, but we also can’t be overtaken by despair. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that “only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

We as a people have seen and conquered bigger obstacles. We must rise up and be more strategic with our actions, more targeted with our demands, and more steadfast in our resolve. We must simultaneously engage in an inside fight against hopelessness and an outside battle against forces that consistently block access and opportunity. Recognize the greatness that is within you and use it to help turn your broken dreams into a greater tomorrow for our communities.

Trump’s Budget Cuts Billions From Medicaid, Food Stamps

By Kathryn Schroeder

President Donald Trump’s budget, will reportedly include hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid.

A senior administration official confirmed to CNN that Medicaid funding will be reduced by $800 billion in Trump’s budget. The decrease in funding assumes the GOP health care bill, which the House of Representatives passed earlier in May, will become law, the official said.

The GOP health care bill states that in 2020, states that expanded Medicaid would no longer receive enhanced federal funding to cover low-income adults. Any states that do not currently receive the enhanced funding would not be able to do so. Around 11 million more adults have health care coverage because of the Medicaid expansion. This funding would be cut if the GOP health care plan takes effect.

The Medicaid program in general, which covers more than 70 million low-income children, adults, disabled Americans and the elderly, would also get less federal funding under the proposed budget. States will either receive a set amount per enrollee or fixed funding with a block grant.

It turns out President Trump’s budget has $2 trillion error in it:

Trump’s budget will also include cuts to the child tax credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to CNN.

The budget would cut $193 million from SNAP, a document circulated on Capitol Hill from the White House said. The SNAP program currently helps 42 million citizens.

At the 10-year mark, Trump’s budget is supposed to have balanced the federal ledger, without cutting Social Security or Medicare retirement benefits. It relies on positive estimates of economic growth and the revenues that will accompany it, while avoiding tax cuts.

Not all Republicans support Trump’s Medicaid cuts.

“It’s a problem — it’s a big problem,” Republican Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky, the chairman of a House appropriations subcommittee, said, according to The Washington Post. “I’ve got one of the poorest districts in the country, with lots of Medicaid recipients as well as other programs … The cuts are draconian.”

Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a senior member of the budget and appropriations committees, said that the budget is a “useful debating document” that is full of proposals that would not pass in Congress. He added that large cuts to Meals on Wheels and the National Institutes of Health would upset both Republicans and Democrats

“We have to avoid the temptation of giving the president everything he wants, because if we gave him everything he wanted into writing we couldn’t enact it,” Cole said.

Trump’s budget will also reportedly include a proposal for paid leave for parents after the birth or adoption of a child, a $200 billion infrastructure plan that, along with private investment, could result in up to $1 trillion in construction projects, and funding for the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, CNN reports.

The funding for the wall will be $1.6 billion for construction and $300 million for additional border patrol and immigration agents.

Black-Owned Business To Help Replace 18,000 Contaminated Water Pipes In Flint

W T Stevens Construction Vice President Rhonda Grayer at her offices in Flint, MI.

A black-owned construction firm has been put in charge of replacing the lead-contaminated water pipes in Flint, Michigan. W.T. Stevens Construction has been awarded a multi-million dollar service contract to replace more than 18,000 lead corroded pipes across the city of Flint.

W.T. Stevens Construction has been awarded a multi-million dollar service contract to replace more than 18,000 lead corroded pipes across the city of Flint. The company, which is made up of 25 employees, is one of four companies that have been contracted under a court order to complete the task.

Created by black entrepreneur W.T. Stevens in the 1990s, the construction firm is now led by Stevens’ daughter Rhonda Grayer and her husband Jeff Grayer (Jeff is also a former NBA player, having played for the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks). Rhonda serves as the company’s vice president while Jeff serves as its project manager.

“This is home for me and my family and I wasn’t going to sit back and do nothing as a person or as a businessman,” Jeff said in an interview with “This is the biggest project our company has ever done and as a result of the water line contract our gross revenues have increased by about 70 percent.” Jeff expects to have 6,000 water lines replaced in the city by the end of 2017, with all 18,000 lead pipes replaced by December 2019.

Recently, the Flint City Council agreed to stop issuing tax liens on homes with unpaid water bills, following outrage from residents about the city’s handling of its water crisis.

The council voted on and passed a resolution that puts a year-long suspension on the city’s policy of imposing tax liens on homes throughout the city that have outstanding water bills.

Graduating HBCU Student Killed By Member Of Hate Group

UPDATE: A moment of silence was held during the Class of 2017 commencement ceremony at Bowie State University in Maryland on Tuesday, in remembrance of Richard Collins III, who was killed on May 20. The school also honored his memory by draping what would have been his graduation gown over a front row seat that was left empty, as well as conferred a posthumous degree to Collins’ father, Richard Collins Jr.


The part of the commencement ceremony honoring Collins is around the 2:14:25 mark. The video is below.

An incident involving a white student at the University of Maryland who stabbed a black student visiting the campus only days before graduating from Bowie State University is now being investigated as a hate crime.

The Incident reportedly occurred on May 20, when Richard Collins III was visiting friends attending the University of Maryland. Collins and his friends were waiting for an Uber around 3 a.m. when they were approached by student Sean Urbanski, 22, who allegedly yelled “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you,” at the group. Collins responded to Urbanski by saying “No,” which resulted in an altercation between the two where Urbanski stabbed Collins in the chest.

Collins was taken to the hospital where he died at the age of 23.

Urbanski was initially charged with first-degree murder in the attack, but it is now being investigated as a hate crime. Following the incident, police discovered that Urbanski was a part of a racist Facebook group called “Alt-Reich Nation,” which contained racist posts.

“When I look at the information that’s contained on that website, suffice it to say that it’s despicable, it shows extreme bias against women, Latinos, persons of Jewish faith and especially African-Americans,” University Police Chief David Mitchell said.

An FBI official said the federal agency will assist with the investigation as well.

Collins was set to graduate from Bowie State on Tuesday with a degree in business administration. He was to serve in Army intelligence as a second lieutenant, having completed ROTC in college.

Grand Jury Rules No Charges To Be Brought Up In Tyre King Shooting

Officer Bryan Mason, the Columbus, Ohio police officer who shot and killed 13-year-old Tyre King, will not be indicted on any charges for taking the life of a young child. The grand jury made its decision on (May 19) after two days of deliberation and appearances from 15 to 17 witnesses.

To be frank, this is absolutely sickening and with white people making more and more overt claims to how they do not like people of color being in America, seeing the system still support giving the boys in blue a pass should be enough to make one revolt and go ham. Alas, that is not the case, as the King family is understandably shocked, while the People’s Justice Project is organizing a civil disobedience march. “This is just one step in a long road,” she said speaking to a group assembled at a local church on Friday following the announcement. “It stings. We’re human beings and it hurts, and it stings and it’s wrong. I’m tired. I’m tired, but we must fight on.”

For those too busy looking at YouTube videos to understand what happened, back in September 2016, Bryan Mason responded to a report of an armed robbery of $10. Police on the scene said they approached three people who fit the description. Two of those suspects—including King—ran, and according to the officer, King allegedly pulled out what officers say they later discovered to be a BB gun.

King was shot several times and died at a local hospital.

Family attorneys for Tyre King issued a statement following the decision. Please see the message below:

On May 15, 2017, Prosecutor Ron O’Brien and Assistant Prosecutors Sheryl Pritchard and James Lowe met with Tyre’s parents and grandparents along with attorneys Sean Walton and Chanda Brown, as requested by the family. In that meeting, Prosecutor O’Brien explained that the prosecution’s approach in Tyre King’s case was to rely on the evidence it was presented from the Columbus Division of Police. The family found that information to be extremely disheartening.

Attorney Brown notes, “I asked Mr. O’Brien, Mr. Lowe, and Ms. Pritchard what other evidence they would be using for the grand jury besides what was handed to them by the Columbus Division of Police. I explained that using evidence from the Columbus Division of Police was akin to taking fruit from the ‘poisonous tree.’ They could not produce any evidence that was not obtained by the Columbus Police. I find that troubling, to say the least.”

There was no attempt to seek an interview with Officer Mason and there was no independent agency used to evaluate the credibility of the evidence and witness statements obtained or to secure additional evidence. After hearing the prosecution’s approach, the family, once again, requested Prosecutor O’Brien to step aside and allow a special prosecutor to properly investigate and present this case to a grand jury. Prosecutor O’Brien explained he did not feel there was a conflict of interest or a need for a third-party investigation. The request for a special prosecutor was flatly declined.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that this was Officer Mason’s fourth shooting, and he has now been moved over to narcotics duty

Ice Cube Announces the Reissue of his 1991 Masterpiece ‘Death Certificate’

Ice Cube announced that he signed a record deal with Interscope records. The first project to come from this new relationship is a special 25th-year-anniversary edition of his classic second album, Death Certificate.

This album, which drops on June 9th, will be a double LP album that will feature three new songs. Those songs are “Only One Me,” which will be available on June 2nd, “Dominate the Weak,” and “Good Cop, Bad Cop.” On June 2nd the album becomes available for pre-order.

Released in 1991, Death Certificate is still considered by many to be one of the greatest rap albums of all time. It was also one of the most ruthless, an album that gave an unflinchingly accurate portrayal of the tension in LA prior to the Rodney King riots.

Speaking about the album and its legacy, Cube put out a statement speaking:

“Sadly, our community is dealing with many of the same issues. I only hope that young millennials feeling powerless in the ‘hood can channel their own anger and frustration by listening to this record.”

Here is the official tracklist of the album:

The Death Side
1. “Only One Me”
2. “Good Cop, Bad Cop”
3. “Dominate The Weak”
4. “The Funeral”
5. “The Wrong Nigga To Fuck Wit”
6. “My Summer Vacation”
7. “Steady Mobbin’”
8. “Robin Lench”
9. “Givin’ Up The Nappy Dug Out”
10. “Look Who’s Burnin’”
11. “A Bird In The Hand”
12. “Man’s Best Friend”
13. “Alive On Arrival”
14. “Death”

The Life Side
15. “The Birth”
16. “I Wanna Kill Sam”
17. “Horny Lil’ Devil”
18. “Black Korea”
19. “True To The Game ”
20. “Color Blind”
21. “Doing Dumb Shit”
22. “Us”
23. “No Vaseline”

ALABAMA: Removing Confederate Monuments Illegal Under New Law, SPLC Blasts It As White Supremacy

By The Associated Press

It is called the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017. Signed this week by Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, it clamps down how whether people can move or change monuments in the state. No mention of the Confederacy is made in the law, but critics say it is meant to help glorify the South’s problematic past.

This comes amidst tense standoffs over the removal of Civil War-era monuments. Louisiana recently moved four, but protesters, including one guy screaming the N-word at a black counter-protest, came out against the move. A Mississippi lawmaker recently said Louisiana leaders “should be lynched” if they came after his state’s monuments. Similar controversies have sprouted up in Kentucky and Virginia.

As for Alabama’s new bill, it specifically protects monuments at least 40 years old. No moving, removing, alteration, name changing, or “other disturbance of any architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument located on public property.”

The SPLC reacts:

The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 is not about preserving our state’s history, but about protecting Confederate monuments that celebrate white supremacy and a time in which an entire race was enslaved and oppressed. That is evidenced by its origin, as it was first introduced after the former governor ordered removal of Confederate flags from the State Capitol.

These racist symbols have no place on government property, where they counter our nation’s core principle to ensure liberty and justice for all. Other states and municipalities are removing these monuments from public property and placing them in museums, where people can learn the full history of slavery, the Civil War and the Confederacy. That’s where they belong. By signing this bill, Gov. Kay Ivey indicates that lauding white supremacy is more important than demonstrating equality for all Alabamians.

New York Woman Running For Office Defends Use Of N-Word


A woman running for the Village Board in Southampton, Long Island, recently defended her use of a racial slur against black people when she made a police call last summer.

In August of last year, Valerie Smith called the police and told them “a bunch of ni**ers” were standing outside of her home “drinking Hennessy.” A recording of that call was obtained by local news outlet the Southampton Press after they were tipped off by a source that knew about the call.

Upon getting contacted by a reporter from the Press, Smith not only confirmed her use of the n-word but said it multiple times during the conversation with the reporter, justifying her use of the word by referencing Eddie Murphy and how she grew up hearing it in the 1970s show All In The Family.

“Now, all of a sudden, I can’t use it,” Smith said during the interview. “Sorry—I live in a black neighborhood. I came here and didn’t see color.”

Smith, who moved into the predominantly black Hillcrest neighborhood nearly six years ago, also described herself as a “pioneer” during the interview because she is “the only white person who owns and lives on this street.” Since living there Smith has reportedly called the cops between 100 to 200 times, with most of her complaints about litter, noise, illegal parking, and public drinking.

Following reports of Smith’s use of the n-word, she has stated that she still plans on running for the Village Board.

A&E To Premiere 3-Hour Biggie Documentary, 6-Part Tupac Limited Series This Summer

A&E is prepping the release of a documentary on the Notorious B.I.G., as well as a limited series on Tupac Shakur.

Described as the definitive documentary on Biggie, Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. will be a three-hour special that not only includes never before seen archival and footage and audio recordings, but Biggie narrating. The documentary will also have new interviews by those closest to the late rapper including widow Faith Evans, mother Voletta Wallace, and friend Lil Cease, as well as Puff Daddy, Jay Z, and Nas.

Accompanying the Biggie documentary will be a six-part limited series on 2Pac titled Who Killed Tupac? The series will focus on famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump as he embarks on an investigation 20 years after the death of the iconic rapper.

“The late Christopher Wallace and Tupac Shakur continue to impact the world two decades after their tragic, unsolved murders and there is still a public longing to connect with these figures and to celebrate their legacies,” Elaine Frontain Bryant, Executive Vice President and Head of Programming, A&E Network, said in a statement. “We pride ourselves in delivering projects under the ‘Biography’ banner that unearth a side of the story that the public has never seen before. In the case of Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G., the foundation of this biography is exclusive archival footage and audio recordings of Biggie himself, packaged in a way that allows him to tell his own life story as if its present day and we are truly excited to be able to bring that kind of intimacy and connection to his fans.”

The first two hours of Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. will debut on Wednesday, June 28, with the final hour being shown on Thursday, June 29. Following that will be the debut of the first part of Who Killed Tupac?

DJ Premier Worked On Songs For Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” But They Didn’t Make The Cut

by D.L. Chandler


Kendrick Lamar‘s latest studio album DAMN. didn’t disappoint many fans despite its change in direction from the previous releases, and like before, there exist tracks left off the final product. DJ Premier confirmed in a tweet that he and Kung Fu Kenny worked on songs for the album that wound up not making it to the official release.

A fan on Twitter posted a question to their timeline asking if the legendary Gang Starr producer and beatsmith would ever collaborate with the Compton MC. The fan’s question was answered, which could open up possibilities for future tunes.

“I’m sure one day it’ll happen…We worked on a couple joints but they didn’t make the album…that’s family so it’s all good,” tweeted Primo on Friday (May 13).