Atlanta club wants Black men to ‘kill their pride’ to save their mental health

Kill Pride Club is a media platform for Black men to explore vulnerability and healing
Terrence Smith greets a Kill Pride Club member at a meeting at Constellations Atlanta.

Credit: Joshua McCarty

Credit: Joshua McCarty

Terrence Smith greets a Kill Pride Club member at a meeting at Constellations Atlanta.

Terrence Smith was angry during happy occasions – birthdays, Christmastime, parties.

“Typically, I’m a very even-keeled person. I don’t really get too high or low,” says Smith, 40. “But I started getting mad. It felt very random, and I couldn’t understand it.”

The anger affected him so deeply that he began Googling his symptoms, reading psychology books and tracking the moments that zapped his joy.

He learned the source of his anger was grief. Smith’s father died from complications of diabetes eight years prior to the moments of agitation but he’d never processed the loss.

“I realized the anger wasn’t as random as I thought,” Smith says. “I was triggered during holidays and major milestones, because I was angry that he was no longer here, like, ’Dude, you should have been here.’”

Terrence Smith launched Kill Pride Club, a community dedicated to encouraging Black men to talk about their mental health, in July 2023.

Credit: Joshua McCarty

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Credit: Joshua McCarty

Smith, an Atlanta-based real estate broker and pastor, challenged himself to share his feelings with his loved ones, particularly other Black men in his community.

The more he expressed himself, the easier it got, and he eventually signed up for therapy. He found that his newfound vulnerability encouraged others to talk about their troubles.

“As they began to do that, I began to recognize the value of having a space to process things. And not just process them but actually have a good time and enjoy the people that you’re around as well,” says Smith, a husband and father of two.

He turned his casual conversations into Kill Pride Club, a community dedicated to creating safe spaces for Black men to discuss their mental health.

“I feel like your ego is the thing that gets in the way quite often,” Smith says. “If you don’t kill pride, it’s going to end up costing you.”

Every quarter, the group gathers at different locations throughout Atlanta to talk about what’s on their minds usually over a good meal. A smaller team also meets a few times monthly to record a podcast and YouTube videos branded with the group’s name.

From fatherhood and marriage to harbored resentment and isolation, the men chat about problems they usually keep to themselves.

Members of Kill Pride Club gather at Constellations Atlanta.

Credit: Joshua McCarty

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Credit: Joshua McCarty

It’s not uncommon for Black men to remain silent about their issues. Black men are less likely than white men to report daily feelings of anxiety or depression, according to a 2015 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are also about half as likely as their white peers to seek counseling.

“How many Black men have ever opened up to someone? Were we given permission to do that? We’re taught to be tough and to suck it up. You have to be strong,” says Alduan Tartt, a faith-based psychologist in metro Atlanta.

“Many men wonder how they’re supposed to trust a total stranger in a medical setting with their emotions. That’s a big leap,” Tartt added.

Toxic masculinity is one of many factors deterring Black men from seeking healthy outlets, according to researchers. A long history of racial discrimination, bias and mistrust of health care providers also plays a role.

Community settings, including churches, retreats, exercise groups and clubs like Smith’s, can be entry points. Studies have shown Black men are more likely to rely on informal help to address their mental health. Smith said Kill Pride Club members are encouraged to try individual therapy.

Kill Pride Club isn’t the first of its kind in Atlanta. The Confess Project, which enlists barbershops to double as mental health centers, and Silence the Shame, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health, are other groups working to redefine manhood and healing.

“It’s important to create the bridge experience of allowing men to bond, connect [and] see a safe space but also witness other men open up,” said Tartt, who’s facilitated numerous men’s support gatherings. “Groups like [Kill Pride Club] are actually going to become the norm, and I would not be surprised if mental health funds are open to doing this intentionally as treatment.”

Since the club launched last July, more than 50 men, ages 16-65, have joined. Some actively participate in the conversations, while others just listen.

Members of Kill Pride Club meet at Constellations Atlanta.

Credit: Joshua McCarty

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Credit: Joshua McCarty

Gabriel Wright, who’s been a member since the first meeting, has shared personal stories about how stress and anxiety have impacted his life. He’d dealt with panic attacks during law school until he sought professional help. The Charlotte-based lawyer, 38, admitted being vulnerable wasn’t easy but worth it.

“It was actually refreshing to be able to just talk and not have to worry about folks clowning you, like, ‘Man, don’t nobody want to hear that. Man up,’” says Wright, a husband and father of three. “Folks either empathize or they can help you to reframe your perspective.”

For Patrick Eugene, 39, painting had been one of his only outlets. The Atlanta-based artist didn’t know what to expect when he attended his first meeting a few months ago.

“I was surprised by how vulnerable everybody was able to be,” says Eugene, a husband and father of three with a fourth child on the way. “That attracted me to the group. I decided I would keep coming and bring my friends along. It’s been transformative. It’s been something I didn’t realize I was missing.”

The mission for Kill Pride Club isn’t exclusively for its members. Smith also hopes to create Kill Pride Clubs in cities throughout the country, including middle and high schools. He’s written a 52-week curriculum designed to help preteens and teens address topics like finance, self-identity and empathy.

“It’s all the stuff I wish somebody would have told me as a teenager,” Smith says. “This is what you need in order to be the best version of yourself.”

Kill Pride Club is an Atlanta-based community dedicated to creating safe spaces for Black men to discuss their mental health.

Credit: Joshua McCarty

icon to expand image

Credit: Joshua McCarty

Smith says testimonies about the club’s impact have been mind-blowing.

“We believe that what we’re creating is not just for men,” Smith says, “because the benefits far outweigh the individuals that are part of the club. And that’s the part that excites me.”