I deliberated on responding to the recent events surrounding R&B artist/actor, Tyrese Gibson, but his behavior and a large portion of society’s reaction to it has weighed on me to the extent that I felt compelled to express my thoughts on the matter.
I will do my best.
Anyone who knows anything about Tyrese knows that he’s never shied away from the camera. Many of us were introduced to him during his appearance on one of Coca-Cola’s commercials in the mid ‘90s when he wooed us with the beautiful interpretation of their signature jingle. He captivated us with his infectious smile and the purity in his vocals. Hell, he made us want to drink Coke even if we were sworn against flavored, carbonated sugar water. Others were introduced to him in one the installments of the ‘Fast and Furious’ series through the character of Roman Pearce.
True to form, Tyrese has seemingly played himself in all of his roles. He likes attention. He likes to talk. He likes to boast. He likes to emote, even, and sometimes to a fault.
I used to follow Tyrese on Facebook because I liked some of the things he had to say, but approximately a year ago I decided to move on due to some of his reckless comments.
Looking back, I realize that he has exhibited the behavior of a man on the fringes of an emotional and mental crisis for quite some time.
The past few years of his life have been rather tumultuous to say the least. To my knowledge, he’s developed estranged relationships with his fellow members and surrogate brothers of R&B trio, TGT (Tank, Ginuwine, Tyrese), he’s verbally lambasted black women, his loyal fan base, for reasons that I don’t understand, and recently he’s been faced with a child custody battle with the mother of his 10-year-old daughter that is so emotionally, mentally, and financially contentious that he’s unraveled to an extent that he says has left him unemployable. On his Instagram page, he said “I’m almost broke swimming in legal fees CAA tried but couldn’t book me anything cause my ex-wife killed my reputation so no one wants to hire me.”
As such, in a desperate attempt for help, he decided to record a short video of himself sobbing and pleading to, who I presume to be his ex-wife, “Please don’t take my baby”.
At first take I thought it was some sort of selfish ploy to arrest the attention of his followers or whomever would listen, but after watching it a second time, I realized I was wrong.
As someone who has had to negotiate his own share of seemingly insurmountable mental and emotional obstacles---major depression and anxiety--- I empathize. It takes a lot for men to cry or more accurately, weep unashamedly. I can count on both of my hands the number of times I have seen grown-ass men, including myself, crying and the majority of those times were at funerals.
Society just doesn’t create the space for men to freely express themselves emotionally outside of being violent, aggressive, and hypersexual.
So when I saw Tyrese crying openly, I knew he was experiencing what some would call his breaking point.
Oddly, but not surprisingly enough, some commenters on social media showed no remorse at all when they stated:
“Tyrese Gibson is not my responsibility”.
“Tyrese wouldn’t want the average black woman praying over him. Save your prayers for deserving brothers.”
“They should have left his ass on the bus in that Coca-Cola commercial”.
And while I can understand the immediate reaction to disparage him and abandon him during his time of need due to his messy, disrespectful and manic behavior, shouldn’t we create the space for a person to make mistakes knowing that they aren’t perfect and neither are we? Are we capable of loving someone from a distance or do we have to disown them altogether? Am I or you any better or worse than Tyrese?
Now, before you think that I’m turning him in some sort of martyr, make no mistake, Tyrese is not a victim. Nor is his wife. If anyone is a victim, it’s their daughter as she is a minor.
I learned lessons from this as I try to do in every situation:
1. Take 100 percent responsibility for your actions. No one forces us to do anything. We all are presented with choices to make and those choices have consequences.
2. Be mindful of what you decide to share online. Everything isn’t for general consumption. It’s healthy to be vulnerable, however, be aware that the information you post online opens you up to being critiqued, discredited, clowned, memed, and more. You have to be prepared to handle that onslaught of attack.
3. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Don’t disrespect your base of support e.g. your fans. You might not ever recover from it.
4. Men cry and it’s okay. Many women in society ask for emotionally available men, but are unavailable to accept those men when they do cry. In the same vein, men, toxic masculinity is a problem. If you see another man crying, embrace him because he’s obviously processing some sort of trauma or pain. Oftentimes, we joke or make fun of something or someone because it makes us uncomfortable. That’s selfish, though, and far too many men people suffer in silence because they are more concerned with how they will be perceived rather than actually being free from what afflicts them.
5. Disconnect from negativity. We are not wired to be constantly inundated with the external stimuli of this world. Take breaks in order to give your mind, body, and soul rest. Give yourself the opportunity to listen to your internal voice. Also, if you or someone you know is experiencing an extended period of emotional or mental trauma, seek professional help. It's okay to ask for help.
To close this out, I want to stress this: Most, if not all, of us are good at esteeming others when they’re on top, but we're often critical and cruel when they’re at their worst and simply in need of a supporting hand. And that needs to change.