Lost Imaginations

Read. Write. Rest.

Dear Susan: Mr. Moral

Hey Susan,
I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but these classes have been pretty draining. I drive by your office (at least where your office used to be) on Mondays and Tuesdays on my way to class. Each time I think about how I made the trek across the city once a week to sit in your office and try to feel better. To not hate myself. I still need some support and this seems like the best way to keep in contact with you, whether you’re here or not.
A lot has been going through my mind these last few months. Things I’ve wanted to talk about with you, but kept pushing it to the back burner. Hopefully, we get a chance to discuss all of them before the end of the year.
First, I’ve wanted to talk to you about Kendrick’s latest album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. I know you’re probably wondering who Kendrick is (with yo old ass). Kendrick Lamar is a West Coast rapper. He’s probably not your style of music. You definitely seem to be more of a Fleetwood Mac sort of girl. Lol. Just messing with you.
Anyway, in this album, Kendrick talks about sexual abuse of males, breaking the cycle of abuse, and being viewed as a savior. He begins to address the sexual abuse of males and breaking the cycle of abuse in his song, “Mr. Morale.” He raps in the chorus:
Shit on my mind and it’s heavy
Tell you in pieces ‘cause it’s way too heavy
My diamonds, the choker it’s way too heavy
More life to give on demand, are you ready?
Who keep ‘em honest like us?
Who gotta heal ‘em all? Us (Us)
When there’s no one to call
I’ve often felt this sense of grandiosity that Kendrick is describing here. It seems he is saying, he’s begun the healing process and has gathered a lot of information about what is needed to break the cycle, but feels the pressure of feeling as though he has to save those around him; his loved ones, his culture, his race. It’s a heavy burden, but it’s one I can relate to. It’s the definition of man vs. society. It’s a heavy lift that can drive any person crazy, but he attempts to heal himself and give information to others the only way he knows how; through his music. I’m sure it still does not feel like enough for him, because as a teacher and other it doesn’t feel like enough for me. It’s like yelling at a mountain to move while the ocean continues to rise, drowning you one millimeter at a time. It can be maddening.
He goes on to state, “Tyler Perry, the face of a thousand rappers, using violence to cover what really happened, I know somebody’s listening.” Tyler Perry was sexually abuse and assaulted as a kid and he has often talked about it, but what’s interesting is that Kendrick is saying the music industry is filled with male survivors who don’t / can’t / won’t talk about their abuse. All of them covering up their trauma in culturally acceptable ways of what it means to be a “real” black man. This means hurt those who hurt you, have a lot of sex, and embody what it means to be a purely sexual object rather than an individual who has the ability to be an intellectual, father, and so much more than the box they have been forced into.
These stereotypes are what kept me from getting the help I needed for so long. I didn’t need therapy or medication because I was stronger than that. I didn’t need to talk about my depression because who would listen anyway? And why talk about the sexual abuse when I spent the majority of my time telling myself it didn’t happen. All the while I questioned when did I lose my virginity and whether or not I was going to hell for having my virginity taken. Other black male survivors have been made to believe that having their virginity taken by an older woman is what makes you man and good at it later on. All of it makes me see how impossible it is to change the idea of male sexual abuse, assault, and rape.
Anyway, there was more I wanted to say about another song, but we’ll have to save that for next time. I have to plan this lesson for my students. We’ll talk more later.