Crying Like A Tough Guy

Back in 4th grade, my teacher got so fed up with all the bullshit we had been doing all day in class that she went the fuck off on the entire classroom of students. She yelled. Screamed. Told us to shut the fuck up in about four different languages. She called us “Little Whiny Shits.” She even kicked over a desk and knocked a shit load of Elmer’s Glue and glitter all over the damn place. She was pissed as all hell.

And I cried.

I couldn’t even tell you what we did to her. All I know is that she spotted my ass from across the classroom with my head down, whimpering like a newborn poodle having its balls yanked with tweezers. That’s when she began talking all kinds of shit that could be basically summed up as her calling me a bitchass bitch and that I was too old to be crying just because someone raised their voice at me. 

I cried anyway.

The other kids laughed at me. They even resorted to calling me names. They called me shit like: Cry baby. Whiny baby. Sissy. Pussy. Bitch. Bitchass punk ass motherfucka. Little bitchass punk ass motherfucka. Pretty much every soft ass name combination you could think of.

And to be totally honest, to this day I still wear the shit out of my emotions on my sleeve. But the point is if the teacher would have paid closer attention to the signs I had been bat-signaling her mean ass all year, she would have known that my sissy-pussy-bitchass-bitch crying was literally a cry for fucking help. But she failed me.

You see back then, my father was a verbally and physically abusive motherfucker that didn’t tolerate when we so much as breathed too loud. After all, we lived in his house and in his house, we basically had to ask for permission to fart and even more permission to let our farts stink. Essentially, my dad’s constant yelling and bitching and ass-kickings for every little thing I did made me so fucking socially fragile that on the day my punk ass teacher decided to chastise us, I released all the energy that I had been forced to hold in for nine years in the form of tears that puddled on my 4th grade desk into a mixture of snot and spit and Elmer’s Glue and other unidentified nine-year-old bodily fluids.

Long story short: I needed to cry.

Nowadays, I have two sons. And I love them. I hug them. I kiss them. I show affection to them. And doing so isn’t making them Gay (as if that mattered). It isn’t making them weak. It isn’t coddling them either. Nor does it make them weak ass, punk ass, bitch ass bitches.

My endearment is medicine for them. They need it. I am making them stronger and wiser and better prepared for this fucked up world we live in by helping them understand that they don’t always have to be threatened by another man.

The lack of this kind of endearment among men, especially Black men, is partially what I attribute to the astronomical violence happening in my home city of Chicago and, really, any hood across the country. Young black and brown men are beaten down mentally and physically at every turn. And the weight of the negative energy that seeps from such transgressions just sags. Sags like a diaper full of the world’s shit. Until eventually we turn violent among ourselves and put bullets into our own asses.

Sure, the murders are for reasons such as drugs and gangbanging. But really that kind of hate — the hate required to take another life — is fueled by an energy from somewhere else. A place where you pack all of your negative experiences that you don’t know how to process. So at the wrong place and time, those packages of hurt and guilt and frustration come tumbling out like knocked over trash that many don’t even know how to pick up.

We have a whole generation of young people that are simply numb. They don’t know how to deal with adversity. They don’t know how to be independent. They don’t even know how to make gawd damn syrup sandwiches anymore (WTF is the world coming to?). They only know how to take a lifetime of built up frustrations out on young men that look exactly like themselves because they have basically been farmed to have no feelings.

I could go into this long ass annoying rant about the biological, psychological, and sociological importance of crying and its proofs...but you MFers don’t give a damn about that. You want to finish reading this in time to catch Judge Mathis because you care about shit that you can relate to and don’t need a dictionary to decipher. You care about real situations. So friends, it doesn’t get any realer than what I’m about to tell you.

You see, a few short months, my nephew was shot to death on the Southside of Chicago. It was a terrible situation for my family and still is. And that morning when I learned that my 17-year-old nephew lost his life to inner city violence, it stung me to the mothafucking core. For an entire day, I roamed the house in a state of wonderfuck and finally, later that afternoon...I sat down on the couch...and let the tears flow because there was really nothing left for me to do.

Moments later, my young son comes walking into the room and I immediately changed face and half-assed wiped the salty tears from my lips and cheeks and out of the wells of my eyes. He, smart as shit, wasn’t fooled a second and said, “Dad, why are you crying?” I replied with a bassy, but still trembling voice, “I’m just a little sad. That’s all. I’m sorry.” Then I picked him up onto my lap, changing to a more cheerful tone and said, “Everything will be fine! Right?” Ignoring my question he replied, “Don’t be sorry, dad...tough guys cry, too.” Then he hopped off my lap and walked away singing his favorite cartoon’s theme song.

The moral of the story is simply this: Black men are fucking human beings. Black men are people with genuine emotions and a genuine need to express those emotions in the form of tears and sadness. Teach your young Black boys that crying is okay, so that when they become grown Black men, they don’t have packages of hurt and guilt and frustration festering inside them waiting to explode and hurt the next Black man. Crying is for tough guys, too.


Zay Boyed is an afro-latinx from Chicago. He's the creator of and is a fluent speaker in Sarcasm and Brilliant Shit. When he's not joyously kicking down a kid's pillow fort, he is online trying to do the write thing.

More Zay: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Zay Ilarraza-Boyed

Zay is an afro-latinx from Chicago. He's the creator of and is a fluent speaker in Sarcasm and Brilliant Shit. When he's not joyously kicking down a kid's pillow fort, he is online trying to do the write thing. More Zay: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook