“I could have easily been a hashtag.”
Listen to Real Men Feel, #202, “Moving Beyond Being Your Own Worst Enemy” here:
Author of My Own Worst Enemy: A Black Man’s American Story, Ismael Brown, joins us to discuss emotions, pandemics, race, seeking help, and much more.
“I could have easily been a hashtag. I could have been on the back of a t-shirt. It could’ve been me. There’s this innate fear and anxiety when I see police officers.” ~ Ismael Brown
Author and motivational speaker, Ismael Brown, has packed a lot into his young life. He grew up with many stereotypes of what it means to be a black man. At age 18, he was assaulted by police officers at his home. He shares many ways he was his own worst enemy: trying to be emotionless and stoic, having no respect for women, and his later experiences with therapy and healing.
TRIGGER WARNING: There is open talk about suicidal thoughts and attempts in this episode.
If you are contemplating suicide, please reach out for help. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to 741741. Outside of the US, get more numbers here.
Ismael also opens up about a suicide attempt with an AR-15 and how his mother was encouraged to abort him. He’s been tested from the very beginning and developed an intense self-hatred from a young age.
Men, especially black men, get told not to feel, that showing emotions makes you weak, that you should suffer in silence and go it alone. These are all lies. They keep you being your own worst enemy.
Ismael and Andy discuss what it means to be a man, the value in expressing emotions, the power in loving yourself, forgiveness, and Ismael’s vow to always be his true and complete self.
Grab the Real Men Feel Guide to Friendship for a list of places you can meet more male friends and get on the Real Men Feel weekly newsletter.
Topics and Questions Include:
- (1:21) Unfortunately, this summer of violence continues as Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. How are you feeling through all of this?
- (5:24) Andy says even if he ignored a police officer and walked away, he has no fear of being shot in the back seven times.
- (5:48) Ismael shares that the police assaulted him.
- (7:24) Was that your first interaction with the police?
- (7:59) Did that alter your view of the police?
- (9:08) Do you continue to feel that PTSD?
- (9:43) What are some stereotypes of black males in America that you grew up with?
- (11:26) Are those stereotypes you experienced while growing up still in place?
- (12:12) Is there an even stricter version of “what a man is supposed to be” for black men?
- (13:06) Where do you think those more stringent limitations come from?
- (16:47) Was that taught to you to keep you safe?
- (17:28) Your book is called My Own Worst Enemy: A Black Man’s American Story. In what ways were you your own worst enemy?
- (18:36) You say you hated yourself from a young age. Were you aware that at the time, or is this in hindsight?
- (20:29) How did you come to realize you were your worst enemy?
- (23:04) Seeing the world as an unsafe place from a young age, what got you to consider therapy?
- (26:05) Deciding you need help.
- (28:23) Single mom’s trying to teach masculinity.
- (29:58) A man is expected to suffer in silence in this society.
- (32:15) Ismael shares about a suicide attempt.
- (35:45) What prompted you to write your book?
- (38:20) Is it true you’ve never read your book?
- (40:17) How old were you when you wrote your memoir?
- (41:33) Tell me about T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.
- (43:47) In your book, you said, “I cheated on every girlfriend or woman I ever cared about. Why? Because I didn’t have any respect for a woman’s worth.” When did you realize that wasn’t helping you?
- (47:00) What do you think being a man means?
- (48:12) What is one thing you wish more men knew?
- (48:52) What are you looking forward to?
- (50:21) What’s the best way to connect with you?
Watch Real Men Feel, #202, Moving Beyond Being Your Own Worst Enemy, September 8, 2020
“What I’m feeling is beyond frustration. There’s a tiredness, but there’s still the willingness to fight, to speak out, and to be an advocate for men, women, and children who look like me.” ~ Ismael Brown
Check out Ismael’s book: My Own Worst Enemy: A Black Man’s American Story
Need to talk about getting out of your own way? Visit TheAndyGrant.com/talk.
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A version of this post was previously published on RealMenFeel.org and is republished here with permission from the author.
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