I've been thinking about the black men in my life lately; my father, my brother, and my friends, and how there's always been a level of emotional detachment between us. It feels as if they were taught to be strong, but to never show their nuances. I've seen the suppression of intimacy and mental health issues for fear of being less of a man. IGGYLDN is a spoken word artist from London who addresses these themes in his work, including his latest project "Black Boys Don’t Cry." It's part poetry performance, part art film. IGGYLDN's coursing words dissect the making of the modern black man, accompanied by stripped back visuals of young men with varied skin tones against a blue background.
"The narrow narrative of masculinity must be questioned to leave space for black men to show emotion without being considered less black or less of a man," IGGYLDN writes on his website. "Black Boys Don’t Cry" speaks this vulnerability into existence: They said I'd inherit the Earth one day so no one could know I was weak, the poem opens. Did you know I choke on words like strong and power? I trip on phrases like "Man up" and "big man tings. IGGYLDN takes the listener through structures and institutions that teach young black boys that they must be heavy, angry, and intimidating. It's a reminder that for many men, but black men in particular, to be perceived as emotional means you are weak and to be weak is to be a failed man.