African American men often keep their feelings inside, missing out on getting crucial help or communicating their needs to their partner, as found in investigations by The Man Up Man Down Research Program. This research showed that for African American men, being a ‘real man’ involves providing for family, achieving financial success and earning the respect of others. ‘Manning up’ can have serious consequences, however, including experiencing severe effects of depression at work and in relationships. It is important to express your thoughts and emotions honestly and openly with your partner, so you can work together to build a strong relationship — one in which both of you work as a team to achieve goals like happiness, commitment, and togetherness.
Some of the most difficult issues for African American men to discuss with their partners include talking about fear, anxiety, and depression. Aubrey Harrison of the American Psychological Association reports that during his time working in an intervention program, African American youths would occasionally “open up and talk to me about this ‘anger,’ representing pain and hurt, but they did their best to hold back the tears and ‘man up’... the words ‘I’m good,’ and ‘I’ll be alright’ seemed all too familiar to my ears.” In order to encourage better communication, major work must be done by educators, communities, intellectuals, and health providers to exercise full commitment to listening and asking the right questions that will elicit honest and helpful responses.
Communication on Sexual Issues