Depression is Political

by Bobby London

I am here sitting in my bed fighting my depression, trying not to bask in somberness for too long, pondering how I’m going to shatter ceilings with three generations on my back. I’ve always been nervous and scared about writing so personally about myself in such a non-intimate way, but I find myself in a writer’s block that only raw honesty can chip away. There’s a feeling of liberation that comes with being vulnerable, and of course there is also tons of anxiety that comes with that as well. I also wonder about the security culture aspect of this personal disclosure and how wise is it for me to discuss such things in a time when all keystrokes are being analyzed and stored for the State to use later. Maybe in the future I’ll regret revealing so much, but for now I will choose self-empowerment over strategic resistance.

Or maybe the act is both.
I think it’s interesting that when I talk about my depression in a public manner people usually feel the need to prescribe things to help the situation. As if I have a cold and I just need to drink some lemon tea or something, not understanding that depression is, at least for me, something that is structurally created. I am depressed because I live in a white-supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist world. I am depressed because people that look like me are constantly being murdered. I am depressed because the State has purposely made it difficult for black families like mine to survive. I am depressed because I have suffered traumas from white supremacy and the police state. I am depressed because the only way this will end is if we have continual revolutions. I am depressed because I don’t know if I’m going to know how it feels to be free.

I do not understand how more people aren’t depressed in this world. I find that people are quick to blame depression on the person who has it. I’ve been told often, “well you just got to focus on the positive”. Like, oh wow, why haven’t I thought of that? I’ll just simply ignore my circumstances and just find the good things in life, like peanut butter with chocolate or pool parties. Yeah, there you go, that’s it.

When someone declares that they are depressed there is this fear and uncomfortability that happens to those that are listening. People are uncomfortable with the honesty and self-awareness, they see the sadness as a weakness, as something to be addressed.

But, I am not weak, and my depression is not weakness.

The awareness is isolating. Which makes sense that social anxiety is such a common thing for black people and non-blacks in intentional resistance spaces. It feels as though this country and its cohabitants are constantly gaslighting you. When people ask me “how are you doing?” or “why are you depressed?” I wonder if this is someone’s extreme privilege and distance from my struggle that allows for them to be so naive, or are they just willfully ignorant?

My depression is not a mental health problem, it is not fixable by seeing a therapist, or popping any pills. My depression is the direct result of anti-blackness and all of the cruelty that this country has shown to black people. My depression is political and should be treated as such.

I think of Sandra Bland often, the picture of her mugshot still haunts me. It shows the capability of the state, the level of fascism, and organized badge wearing white supremacists. When I watch the video of her arrest, the whole time I thought that could have been me. It reminded me of a recent event where I was encircled by heavily armed police officers and threatened to be arrested for cop watching and asking the police officers why they were using excessive force on a man that you could hear his waling from down the street. Even though I had my press badge on me they told me that they would gladly arrest me. I told them that if they arrested me that I would take them and the LAPD to court. More police officers arrived in riot gear, with shotguns ready in hand. I was intimidated, and successfully bullied away from the scene.
I think about what if I would have stayed and was arrested, would they have murdered me, and if so, would they try to cover it up as a suicide? I wonder if they would use my depression to aid in their cover up.

I know that we live in a surveillance state, but I refuse to be silenced about the violence that is consistently being inflicted onto me and others. My resistance is strategic and I’m allowed to be vulnerable. So if the State ever wanted to kill me and tried to rule it as a suicide, here it all is – your “Exhibit A”.

Photo: Shutterstock

Bobby London is co-host of On Resistance Radio on 90.7 FM KPFK and a Los Angeles based writer and journalist. You can find her writing on,, and her last article "When White Men Rape", on For Harriet.

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