Many are silent about their struggles — especially Black men. Daryl Shackelford wanted to not only be open and honest about his over 20-year battle with alcohol addiction, but he wanted to break the stigma of Black men suffering in silence. Shackelford had his last drink on December 27, 2013. Now, his goal is to show and encourage other men that it’s okay to not be okay. “When I was taken out of that, it just gave me a desire to want to help others with the addiction piece; because I know everybody isn’t fortunate enough to get out of it,” said Shackelford. “I was driving one day, and I just said to myself, ‘what else can I do?’”
Six years ago, Shackelford started a support group for men dealing with a variety of issues from alcoholism, to divorce and loss. “It was birthed out of me wanting to do something for other people,” said Shackelford, who decided to get on the journey to stop drinking when two of his fraternity brothers expressed concern of his addiction. “I felt like, ‘hey, people were concerned about me, so I need to be concerned about other people.”
Over the last six years, Shackelford is glad to see other Black men break out of the “male-prescribed comfort zone” of not talking about their problems. As he reflects on his present, Shackelford also references his past, to his first time getting a DUI in 2003, and having to attend seminars about alcohol. He was embarrassed to go. “You think you’re the only person with this problem. Then, I walked in the room and saw like 50 other people in there for DUI’s too. That’s when I knew I wasn’t alone, and that’s when I wanted guys to know you’re not struggling alone,” said Shackelford, who says the support group has now loaned itself to be a safe place where men can say how they feel. “You don’t have to worry about getting clowned, or you don’t have to worry about somebody saying something to you, or being made to feel that you’re not being manly.”
Aside from his support group, Shackelford is active in the community through his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and in the Detroit Public School System, where he’s been a teacher since 1994. “Teaching has really given me a better view of who’s in the community, and what the community really needs,” said Shackelford.
When Shackelford graduated from Hampton University in 1994, he came home shortly after. This is something that sets him apart from many of his peers. “I’m from a generation that was taught to go to college and move out of the city to kind of get away from some of the dangers; but working in the city all of these years has really shown me that aspect of giving back to the community instead of leaving,” said Shackelford, who feels that being back home has given him a desire to want to do more in and for the community. And now, he is glad to have found his niche. Shackelford has not only become vulnerable through his works with men in the community, but he’s seen others now do the same, and this was his initial goal.