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Finding joy

Hot Girls Need Therapy Too

Morgan Brittani

Last night, Nicki Minaj was on live and then Megan Thee Stallion joined in. In that moment I realized it really is a “Hot Girl Summer.” Megan has given us the motivation to get out of the house, live in our truths, and do us without any worries of what anyone else may think or do about it.

I love it. I think I love the fact that I have learned more about myself this summer than any summer in my life. I have grown closer to my friends and reached a new levels of transparency/emotional honesty with everyone in my life.

On some Real Hot Girl Sh**. I realized I was asking myself the whys and answering those difficult questions. I guess this is what your early twenties are for?

I’ve even found myself at parties more than usual. I went to my first day party, club, rooftop party and more. Moral of that story, I did a lot of partying.

But while I partied I looked around me and saw broken people. Drinking, smoking and more to get rid of the pains of their day to day life. I was sitting at a kickback and had a conversation with a girl about this “Hot Girl Summer” and how I noticed some people are posting stuff with that caption to hide from the things they don’t want to face. Or to get the attention of a man. She agreed with me and shared a personal experience. And in that moment I realized “Hot Girls Need Therapy Too.”

As women [and men too], we carry so much. I love how Megan has gotten her message that we need to let go of the load and get right within. Word to both Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. This is a message they have been trying to get across for years.

BUT you can’t heal what you don’t reveal and you can’t truly understand generational traumas without therapy. So hot girls. Don’t use this summer to hide from the things that have hurt you in life. Instead, I am here to remind you. Hot girls need therapy too.


Happy Mind Starts with Mental Health

dakotah carter

So, lets just start with the fact that my name is Kody and I’m not always okay. No matter how much I self reflect, how many times I meditate, and journal (on an inconsistent basis) somethings are just deeper, and I'm up to the top of my head with emotions that some times I just cant understand. 

And then I realized, I need to see a therapist. 

Therapy has such a negative connotation and in the black community it might as well be a sin to speak on therapy. When in reality we have been conditioned to believe that we are always supposed to be okay, and to keep it to ourselves. 

I believe the biggest problem of all is a lack of knowledge. Mental health isn’t being sick, or being mentally ill, but it is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. Meaning, to make sure that a person is literally okay and not just saying it. 

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Mental health issues in the black community range from slavery and socioeconomic status to distrust and misdiagnosis from the post traumatic slavery disorder to the inadequate treatment and lack of cultural competence by health care professionals. In turn, all of these factors makes us believe that we cannot go to anyone about these concerns or challenges and the issue with this is that it conditions you to believe that you are okay and you don’t know when you are not okay. 

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Often times, people turn to God and fail to realize that people are heaven sent, so speaking with a therapist may actually be extremely beneficial. 

Another reason people often stray from Therapy is because of simple denial. Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves”? Well yea, it’s right there. If you are not ready to understand, you wont understand.

Fear also has a way of really getting in the way of accomplishing anything. Fear kills more than doubt. If you are afraid to commit to the healing process because of what you may have to uncover, you just simply won’t uncover. A lot of people fear being judged by their peers as well, due to the fact that the black community doesn't know how to address, or deal with mental health. 

via Insecure HBO

via Insecure HBO

Just Remember: Therapy is the process of healing. It's meeting with a professional to resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues and/or somatic responses or sensations in the body. 

5 Times I Chose Joy To Help Get Me Through My Depression

Morgan Daniels

"If you are looking for joy, I am that joy [even if I have depression]." This is a phrase that I learned while I was in Cuba.

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1. When I found out that I had depression.

That whole day was weird. It was spring break of my ninth grade year and my parents told me that we were going somewhere “fun.” Our definitions of fun must have been completely different because next thing I knew I was at my first session with a psychologist.

I remember being so confused and ashamed to even be there. Then, to make matters worse, she said, “You has depression,” at the end of the session. I felt like my life was over. I felt ashamed, confused and even more alone than before.

As she began to share with my parents all of the medicines I could be put on I just wanted to cry. I mean it all made sense but apart of me wanted it to be anything but this. That night I wrote. I wrote twenty-four reasons why I should choose joy and not allow my diagnosis to be who I am entirely. I wrote to remind myself I am more than depression.

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2. When I was bullied.

I was bullied a lot in grade school. It was always something: pulling my hair, my acne (calling me polka-dot), he said she said, etc. However, there was one specific time in grade school where the wordstruly hurt me.

It was in my eleventh grade year and I ran varsity track. We did not have any female coaches but the girls I ran with wanted to have a meeting. During the meeting, they asked me not to smile anymore because just because I was happy doesn’t mean that they were happy as well.

I remember thinking, “how come when I am myself I am always asked to change.” I know this may be small but for me it was one of the final straws. I remember going home that evening my uncle said, “Morgan, you are special don’t let people change you.” Those words not only brought me joy, they saved me from myself.

Graphic by Imani Anderson

Graphic by Imani Anderson

3. When I did not want to do “this” anymore.

I have been suicidal before, however, told myself that i’d never do it because of my little brother. He has always been my light and my life. When I look at him I see a reason to keep living. However, one night I felt the need to leave this world as I was in a really dark place.

So I google searched, “how to end your life.” What came up after changed my life. It was a message saying, “You are worth living, do not do this.” I thought that I was dreaming when I first saw this but it wasn’t a dream it was a reminder.

In that moment, I realized I can do this. A few years later I looked on google to see if I could see the same message but instead it gives you resources to call to help you through. Thank you google for being a serious tool.

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4. When I didn’t get the job.

Circa Summer 2015, I was going through it. Everything that I felt could go wrong, did. My grandfather had just past away, my best friend and I were not on speaking terms; it was awful. However, I found this huge ambassador job that would have shifted my college experience.

There were several rounds to go through before being selected and I had thankfully made it to the last one. I had an interview that Friday and prepared all week. Then, the day of the interview no one showed up on the skype. I was devastated. I remember thinking, “How can I make the impact I want to make without this job?” I never heard back from them. I was disappointed.

Then, I began to see my own organization, JOYDAY, begin to grow. I was able to make the impact that I wanted to make with that company but with something that I created. Not only did I make lemonade out of lemons, I began to bring mental health awareness and joy to others as well as myself. I think not getting the job or a hear back eventually allowed me to see a lot of joy. It is funny how things come full circle.

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5. When I got my heartbroken, for the second time.

I’ve only had two ex-boyfriends in my entire twenty-two years life. Both broke my heart into a thousand pieces that took forever to place back together. The first guy broke my heart which hurt but not like the second one. The second one I could actually see sharing my life with so when I found out that he did not love me anymore it really hurt.

I did not eat, I did not sleep, and I did not want to do anything anymore. The things that used to bring me joy just didn’t work anymore. Then, I could not even talk to my best friend about it because he was my best friend. I had it bad. I remember one day being at his house and us arguing. He said, “You are one of the smartest girls that I know. You always talk about self-care and protecting your peace. Do it.” For some reason, that stuck with me.

That night I wrote down twenty-four reasons why I should choose joy like I did when I first found out that I had depression. Soon after, I started going to the parks/trails. Then, through my heartbreak, I was able to find my healing. The pain I once felt had subsided and once again I was joy.

Small Joys? Yes, They Still Count.

Heather J

I'm beginning to choose JOY more and more on a daily basis, regardless of how big or small. 

I'm often asked if I'm an early bird or a night owl, needless to say, I'm both! I pride myself on being a very courageous and spontaneous person with high energy but I also find myself in self-doubt or pointing out what went wrong instead of what went right. Choosing optimism and gratitude were two incredibly goals I set for myself within the past couple of months and let's just say I often forget to practice gratitude and I sometimes do cry over spilled milk. 

This past week I've indulged in my fair share of podcasts, books and I caught up on Being Mary Jane & Insecure, that's where I sought peace and refuge during a challenging week. I enjoy Mondays, but oddly enough it was a bit rockier than most Mondays. Following Monday, I had been hit with challenge after challenge; a walking nightmare. There were multiple opportunities for me to break, but I can thank this thing called "growth" and say that I fought the battle and made it through without breaking. 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Do you ever turn around and ask yourself whether your're doing everything wrong? Or maybe even absolutely right? I do. Self-doubt is a killer, I'll tell you.

About 2 weeks about I submitted a writing piece, a piece in which I was truly proud of but for some reason I kept thinking: "This isn't going to get accepted, this isn't what readers want, this is my personal story no one else is interested." I went ahead and submitted my writing piece to the organization and sat at my desk and I wasn't proud, I was just in the moment. Immediately following, I came across a submission opportunity for conference proposals for young professionals; not only did my short-term goal list pop into my head but the thought: "You can't present to New Professionals, what do you know?" came into my mind.  5 minutes later, I submitted a proposal on self-care, mindfulness and the quality of life, a subject matter I am truly passionate about but would others be?

Last week when I was hit with challenge after challenge, battling fatigue and trying to stay afloat I had been reminded of the small joys, the small victories. Anxiety visits me quit frequently and as I've been preparing for the tail end of a hurricane, I could only think about the small steps I had taken two week prior. Thursday afternoon I had received two e-mails within an hour of one another in regards to my writing being accepted and published & my conference proposal being accepted. In the midst of angry tears and a deep breath, something whispered: "Hold on, your joy is coming." 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

By Friday, my perspective had changed. I could celebrate small joys and accomplishments in the midst of big challenges. I smiled. 

When we choose to focus on joy, regardless of how big or small we flourish. When we choose to celebrate ourselves and allow ourselves grace to accomplish small things we can manifest positive things in our mind. 

I choose JOY because I realize that sometimes others can see you better than you see yourself and accomplishments and opportunities will remind you of that. 

Choose JOY. 

Second Hand

Martine Beauvais

Photo by Tenor

Photo by Tenor

He came to her in the night;

& while faithful in his familiarity,

he never quite kept her warm.

With him she was well acquainted;

as acquainted as her lungs with air or her veins to live blood.

He slept next to her every night and although he was her familiar;

She could never become acquainted with his emptiness.

The elusive promise of his companionship never failed to disappoint her.

And in some dysfunctional way, this disappointment became the familiar thing

in which she scavenged for shelter.

But how long until it became too little and no longer enough?

How long until their familiarity with one another became an excuse for barbed words and venomous glances?

How much longer would their infatuation breathe before it came to its inevitable end?

 It was an intimate battle with which she was familiar.

The time to spar came like the setting sun;

Just when she thought she was safe from her past and could find rest.

The only familiar thing she knew during these hours was a lie relived;

a love, secondhand.

The Choice Is Yours

Sydney Wingate

"You're like 9 to 5, I'm the weekend."

This.

This is the line that shook my nerves, sent my heart to the pit of my stomach and caused me to, once again, experience emotions I am constantly trying to wash away.

Why you ask? Because.. I've been the 9 to 5, not knowing there was "The Weekend" to even worry about. Choosing people who choose you is one of the hardest, gut-wrenching and eye-opening things we can experience. It's raw. It's rough. And rarely done without losing someone who once meant something to you.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

However,

Never forget that you're an option to select when choosing.

Often times, we can get lost in seeing all of someone else and none of ourselves. Before we know it, there's a world consumed and surrounded by them and you don't even exist in it. 

Whether it's a relationship, friendship, obligations or simple commitments, it is best to remember that you are one person, deserving of love, support, care and respect on a 50/50 level. 

Nothing more, nothing less. 

As scary as it seems, reevaluating the individuals in your life is a must. Everyone isn't for you and that is okay. Realizing this is the hard part. But, once the light-bulb flicks on, there's no turning it off. 

Photo by Sza

Photo by Sza

You begin to realize your worth, see people for who they are rather than what you want them to be and prioritize those that  truly matter and contribute to your well-being. 

Yes, you'll lose essential connections.

Yes, you'll have to find comfort in distance.

But, yes you will be choosing you and that's what matters. 

Relationships, friendships and commitments should not be draining, poisonous or questionably unwavering. If you find yourself in a one-sided connection, stop choosing someone who isn't choosing you. Remember that it is okay to put yourself first and the right people will gravitate towards you in time.

If you have to force it, it isn't real and if the feelings are mutual, the effort will be equal.

At the end of the day, you always have a choice and never let anyone or anything have you think differently. Choosing you is essential to establishing a solid foundation for the state of your mental health, so don't fight It when the opportunity presents itself.

Photo by Tenor

Photo by Tenor

As Alex Elle simply puts it:

Read books that fill you.

Listen to music that moves you.

Keep company that uplifts you.

Engage in positive self-talk.

Be your best self.

Female

Martine Beauvais

Photo by Tumblr

Photo by Tumblr

Hips swaying in the distance,

she walks into the metro.

Her stride is armored with purpose and

her grace is like perfume.

She is a woman, 

yet they call her Female.

The word bursts forth from their lips like a curse.

It lurches up from the bitter valleys of their gnashed teeth,

like a venomous spider coming up from it's Trap door.

Female, they say accusingly..

They are caught between their wonder and amazement of her,

while also trapped by their fear and disdain for her strength.

Female, they hiss!

As if she is to blame for their uncouth desires and base instincts.

They know what it truly means when they call her 'Female'.

It is the code of fragmented egos;

easy to grasp and hurl.

They labor ceaselessly to belittle her and cheapen her radiance with their curses, 

yet they do not know her worth is protected and can never be compromised.

"These Females", they say in reference to her...

It is a weapon used in attempt to strip her of her right to respect.

Boys, like these

may call her female;

But real men know that her true name is Woman.


** This is inspired by my disdain for the term 'Female' when used by black men and women to refer to other women. Although it is not blatantly and insult, the use of the term when referring to women carries a subtle and sexist allusion that roots the worth and role of a woman solely on her gender. This term is often used in an accusatory and condescending manner as to belittle, dismiss or criticize the thoughts and ideas of black women.

Without a Doubt

Manila Coleman

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

There are many times when I feel, not up to par, with the rest of my generation. 

without a doubt, you are more than just ordinary. 

without a doubt, you are deserving.

without a doubt, you are more than capable.

without a doubt, you have power. 

Growing Pains

Martine Beauvais

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

You have outgrown it,

it no longer fits you.

Old ideologies wither up, like too small shoes.

No one's there to hold your hand,

because you know better now.

Got the blues because those growing pains are starting to become too powerful to ignore.

Some truly do take longer, but you've been lying to yourself all week, all month, all year..

The procrastination you used to slide on doesn't fit anymore.  

The self-doubt that you once tried pulling on over your head, now causes friction against your skin.

The blanket of these familiar things no longer keep you warm; for you have evolved above and outgrown them all.

Your fire now burns too bright. You can not douse the flames in mediocrity.

It is time to grow up.

 

-Martine Beauvais

SILENCE

Iyalua Pope

Photo by Saint Heron

Photo by Saint Heron

What is love at first sight?

.. It's all in my head.


I'm so sorry I misunderstood your intentions. I was busy planning our wedding in my head. I don't even know you but I think we're supposed to stay together forever and ever. I think so.. right? But I can't ask you that. I have to act like I know all of these things, like how a relationship progresses, what I'm supposed to be looking for, my own intentions. I don't have a clue, but I'm too afraid to admit that I don't know. 

Seriously, what am I supposed to say when I don't like something? When I think about it, something tells me to let you know what's on my mind. And I have those exact intentions, I swear. But every moment between the plan and the execution is swaddled in fear. drowning in it. Script forgotten. Soul snatched. And I've made myself look like a fool. In love? hardly. I just look like Medusa and I made eye contact at the worst possible moment. 

Another suppressed memory. More surprised emotions, smothered in a gravy of fearfulness and guilt. I don't even know who I am anymore. God help me.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

I thought that it was just you. Maybe I wasn't comfortable enough with you to let you know the matters that make me think, that don't sit well with me, the things that make me happy. Maybe it was just a romance thing and maybe I should just chill of that tip for a while. But, every time I tried to speak my mind, the same thing happened. I couldn't relay the message to my friends, my family or even strangers.  I couldn't fix my mouth to formulate the questions I needed answers to It was me.

It was me. I lost something and I couldn't figure out what I lost and where to go to look for it. The person who the outside world knew was too numb. The superficial feelings she did feel didn't penetrate deep enough to make an impact. So what was is it? Every corner of my memory turns up no answers. The outside world is no place to seek validation or answers.


After suffering and heartache (because when sh*t weighs too heavy on your heart for too long, it aches sis), I found what I was looking for. I found her. I found my inner child under a trap door in my memory. 

She was exactly like I left her all those years ago. I had forgotten what she looked like. She was frantic. She said she hasn’t been at peace in years. She’s been lonely. Disconnected. 

I asked her what she had been doing there for all those years and who put her there to suffer? The answer was astounding. 

She told me that it was me, in fact, who had put her there. When I decided to neglect her and all that she had been through. She said I grew up too fast and forgot all about her. I left one day and I told her I would come back, but I got too caught up in the world and instead of nurturing her, I neglected her, the most fundamental part of me. 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

 And after she told me all of this, I was speechless. I was silent. Stunned. I realized that she was the missing piece to my puzzle. For the first time in years, I felt something. I saw tears come from her eyes and I knew that she held all the essential parts of me. All of this emotions I couldn't feel before, were all bestowed in her. There was nothing left to do but embrace her. And when the tears pour out of my eyes like the Mississippi current, that was confirmation. She is what is missing. I was hidden from my own self. 

She went on to tell me that had I come back, I would not have had to experience all of the tragedy I imposed upon myself. And that after all of this she forgives me and urged me to do the same. Because in order to be forgiving to others, we must first forgive ourselves. 

At the end of our encounter, she said this: 

Three rules to live by: 

1. Don't carry any burdens, especially if they don't belong to you.

2. Question everything. Make sure you can distinguish the blessings from the lessons. 

3. Always speak up for yourself. Don't let anyone make you feel small for relaying the message on your heart.

 

I'm so sorry I misunderstood her intentions. I don't know why I thought I could ever.

With Joyful Photos, Myles Loftin Shared a Powerful Message

Morgan Daniels

Myles Loftin is a 19 year old freshman at Parsons School of Design pursuing a BFA in photography. Loftin believes that "art is an important part of life and as a minority artist he wants to work to create opportunities for other minority artists to gain recognition and access in the art world through social activism and community outreach." He did just that with his project called "HOODED."

Myles Loftin, HOODED, 2017.

Myles Loftin, HOODED, 2017.

"HOODED" is showing the "black male" in a bright light. Loftin begins to use bright colors such as yellow, pink, blue and green; we are able to see a compelling narrative showing our black teens in a positive light.

Myles on this powerful project:

"HOODED is a multimedia project that humanizes and decriminalizes the societal image of black boys and black men dressed in hoodies. The media has always put a negative light onblack men in hoodies and even when you google “black boy hoodie” you get images of criminals while the search “white boy hoodie” produces cookie cutter stock photos of white teenagers smiling. I photographed four black teens/men and portrayed them in a positive light that is in direct contrast of the media representation that has oppressed us. The final product is a series of photographs,screenshots and a film that attempts to shift perception.
Society’s standards placed against black males need to be erased because they are extremely harmful and divisive. It contributes to the reason black males are targeted more by police, why we receive longer jail sentences than our white counterparts and the discrimination that we receive. This project seeks to understand where these negative portrayals come from, and how we can change them for a better future. Also, by reversing the portrayals of black and white males this project seeks to understand how the perception of both will change depending on how they are depicted."

HOODED: a film by Myles Loftin shows us how the media oftentimes categorizes the "black male." Loftin begins to fight the stereotypes for showing black males for how they truly are not how the world perceives them.

Have Faith, Your Breakthrough is Coming

Talore McBride

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Written by Talore McBride

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you have felt some sort of rejection recently. Your ideas for an upcoming project were shot down, you didn’t get the job you interviewed for, your paper you wrote for school wasn’t as good as you thought it was, the guy or girl you like likes someone else…basically you’ve heard “no” at some point and feel like you are losing control and lacking direction in your life.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Feeling like you are stuck in one place and not moving forward can make you anxious, angry and stressed but don’t you worry your pretty little heart because this is not the end of the road for you. A lot of times, we get so caught up in the rejection meaning that we did something wrong, that whatever happened was our fault, but believe that whatever God intended for you, you will receive. Sometimes that “no”, that rejection you encounter is because that is not where God wanted you to be, what he wanted you to have or experience. Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps”.

We stay up at night wishing for things that we weren’t even meant to have and then wonder why we are missing our breakthrough. We let our wants get in the way of God’s own desires for us when he is the one who knows exactly what we need. Do not give up because you’ve been rejected but pray fervently that God guides your steps and puts you right where you need to be.

Sometimes the things you need the most are right in front of you but you miss them because you are so blinded by your wants. Don’t let the disappointment of rejection make you miss out on your blessings. Have faith your breakthrough is coming.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Stop Letting Failed Relationships Affect Your Mental Health

Talore McBride

Photo by Nicki Minaj

Photo by Nicki Minaj

Written by Talore McBride

I can remember the first time someone broke my heart. I felt unwanted, inferior…just not good enough. I cried and cried and begged for him to take me back. This happened a few more times, with different guys. Eventually, I realized that I was not sad because of the breakups, I didn’t need any of these guys to keep moving forward. I was sad because of how the breakup made me feel about myself.

Sometimes we place all of our happiness into one person and then once something goes wrong, we feel like our world is ending. We get caught up in the way they make us feel, how attractive they think we are, or how smart, or creative or whatever else they may find us to be, without even feeling that way about ourselves. We latch onto people and make them our lives instead of finding our way on our own apart from the relationship. These things are what cause that downward spiral after it all ends.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Self-love is so important and this may be cliché but the saying, “before you can love someone else, you have to completely love yourself,” is nothing but the truth. We often times ignore that our neediness, clinginess or insecurities can be flaws within ourselves, issues with our mental health, clues that we are lacking love, confidence and esteem for who we are. We often think it’s cute to feel like we can’t live without someone or need them so badly to the point it drives us crazy once they leave. We feel pain that we think will never go away and fall into a state of complete unhappiness over thinking that we are the reason that they left and that we are not good enough to be loved.

I’m here to tell you that you are good enough, but you have to believe it yourself before anyone else can. You have to be able to stand alone before you can confidently stand beside someone else and you have to keep being okay with standing alone even when they are a part of your life. You have to feel your magic, and believe that you are everything they tell you that you are. Believe it so much that you don’t even need their approval.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Its human nature to desire love from one another but don’t let your wants interfere with your needs. Look in your own heart, be in a relationship with God first and then yourself, and once you feel secure with those two, the person intended for you will probably already be right in front of you. Let’s stop wasting our tears and completely destroying ourselves for things that weren’t even intended for us.

“You are worth the wait. You are worth the sacrifice. You are worth being treasured. You are worth being loved.” —Pink Lips & Empty Hearts by Heather Lindsey
Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

The Secret Road to Sunshine

Morgan Daniels

They always ask me, "Why did you start the JOYday Movement?" So many reasons run through my head but I just answer with one simple answer, "because I don't want anyone to ever feel as though their mental health is something that they can't talk about and so they know that it will get better." I breathe. I think to myself, I could have given a better answer,... a better response. I could have shared more I could have gotten deeper — then I begin to think.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Flashback: I was fourteen years old, a freshman high school student.

I never thought I'd see the day. I was excited but more nervous than anything. They had just built a new high school in my town and we were redistricted. I had no friends on the first day of high school — well just one. But then my old friends had lost touch with me as the weeks went by. So I decided to become a cheerleader, with the nickname "Smiley", I figured I was perfect for the job. I started to make friends and I was happy but at the same time I was sad. I did not understand it so I compressed it. 

Art always brought me joy. On days I was down, I always look forward on going to art class. I also looked forward to passing this girl from my science class named Kristyna. She really made me happy on a sad day. Her smile was honestly contagious. She was beautiful, something I wished I was being called, but I was referred to as polka-dot by some boys in high school brought me down. Kids can sometimes just be so mean.

Anyway, I remember, after thanksgiving break I was on the way to art class and I didn't see Kristyna on the way to class that day; it was strange. Then on the loudspeaker they said something about her death. I was so confused. We weren't close but I couldn't grasp the fact that she had passed away. Later that day, grief counselors came into my biology class. Have you ever felt gloomy inside because of how people looked around you? That's the only way I could describe the way everyone at school felt that day. We later found out she commited suicide.

How could someone look so happy on the outside but feel so alone on the inside? That was something that began to weigh on me at night; I'd lose sleep.

Now it's April, I remember because April is the month that we have our spring break. I know because that whole week I was with my first psychologist. How'd I get here? Well, I never tried to commit suicide solely because I didn't know how. But I had those thoughts. My parents I felt just did not understand me. My psychologist claimed that I was depressed. I personally didn't know what I was. I was alone —

I had no friends outside of school and I just always felt like a disappointment. Why wasn't I ever good enough?

Now: I was always good enough they just didn't understand my joy.

Something I am realizing is that joy is internal. "Our heart aches but we always have joy." 2 Corinthians 6:10 NLT.

Fast-forward: I was a junior in high school, running track.

Well, remember how I told you guys I was a cheerleader? Cheerleading was not for me so I began to run track in my sophomore year. I still would smile all the time and felt much better about myself. I didn't feel depressed or alone anymore. I remember one day at track practice all the girls had a meeting... in this meeting it was said, "Morgan, stop smiling during practice it makes the coaches feel as though we are all happy and we aren't." I was confused, why can't I ever be myself?

That night I googled, "how can I kill myself?" I felt as though that's what they wanted, me to just "go away." The search engine answered, "don't do this, you'll be alright." I guess that was a sign from God. I guess that is why I am still here.

Fast-Forward: My senior year of high school.

I will never forget going into the girls bathroom and my friend showing me all the scars from when she was cutting herself. I wanted to understand what she meant when she said, "it takes the pain away," but I didn't. I remember thinking I wish we talked more about what to do in these situations in health class. I remember promising myself if I ever get in a place where I could change the school system I would. So that I could help girls like Kristyna and my friend so that they could see there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. Something that God had shown me time and time again.

Now: A senior in college.

I guess ask and you shall receive. My JOY has always kept me alive and my JOY is why I am still here. Looking back I created JOYday because sometimes you can not wait for others to create what you want to see instead you have to create it on your own. I want to help people know that they are not alone so that we can heal together and be as mentally stable as possible.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

I want everyone to see their joyday.

Love Letter to Dwayne Wayne

Iyalua Pope

Photography by Pinterest

Photography by Pinterest

Zayy, Can you send me love letter Whitley Gilbert so I can write my response?
12/12/16, 2:33 PM

Love Letter to Whitley Gilbert

Season 3, Episode 5

Girl... you the flyest woman on campus
You've got a voice that vibrates like the steps of students that won't take no nonsense. 
I love it when you wear your hair to the side, like you're making room for your crown. 
The way the twang of your tongue puts men on their behinds.
Behind you, a world known only to you and the eyes of a god
That has watched a rose wait for its budding

The way spring
Shows a world waiting
For us to take steps toward eternity
As if our feet already knew what direction to walk in

The sparkle between your lips remind me of my favorite dream,
the one I have with you...
And me...
And an over sized Hillman sweatshirt
Living out our college love affair
With college loans, a pair of flip sunglasses, me rambling, 
my chest feeling like a yard show.
and my eyes somehow falling in love with the idea of this lasting forever

I could try to help you with your math homework. 
Make the best out of solving the worlds problems

And, you could help me find stability when my hands are as homesick
As your hips
Like they have not seen movement like this from black skin
Since those four boys in Greensboro
Were telling white waiters
That they weren't going move

We dance, 
Like us having this feeling in our hearts
Will never be a crime
A fairytale that has no ending. 
a happily ever after
Underneath a moonlit night 

See,
Who cares about the stars in the sky
When you have stars in your eyes
My heart
My muse
My sweet inspiration

Tell me that this ain't love
That this isn't the feeling that our families fought for
Having something to call your own
That no one can snatch away from you
Tell me that when you look at me
You don't see the fires of change 

Tell me how we became activists
How me holding you became a demonstration
And our passion a political protest 

Let me show you how even our smiles
Are picket signs 

This heart fears no one
For it will never be moved unless by you 

Tell me that being this
Young black and in loves
isn't a revolutionary act

Like our souls ain't been fighting for this moment all our lives
That our love matters and so do we

And I'll look at you with every intention of telling the truth
And show you, these things won't change... 
Unless we make it a different world one episode at a time

By: Quintin Paschall, Morehouse College 2019


Love Letter to Dwayne Wayne
Season 3, Episode 7

Photography from Pinterest

Photography from Pinterest

I had a stranger visit me some time ago. Told me that something good was coming my way.. And when you showed up all fine in your crisp Hugo Boss pants that you got from my favorite store, Saks, I had a feeling that you were that good thing that he was talking about. When my eyes catch yours I get stuck in my favorite daydream of an intimate afternoon with just me and you and our homework.. And I could try to help you with yours, too. 

Being as though we are in college and we dance wildly in debt from these loans like at that house party on Friday nights, we establish solace in knowing that our intellect, just like out interest in each other is not in vain.

Excuse me, but  I’m the flyest woman on campus you say? Well, you know just what to say to put a divine smile on my face. Do you know how hard it is to drag myself out of bed everyday, to remain fly? The sick perfectionism that makes me feel less than some days. The anxiety that makes me judge myself and hate the vision that I so meticulously put together before I even set foot out the door? 

You say you love my voice but will you still love me when I'm rendered wordless and I find myself overthinking about the million things that could tamper with this black love..

What if I tell you all of my objections with current state that we are living in? Will you still think I'm fly? Or will you force me in exile me from yo' mind like Assata? And confine me to a prison behind which walls I’ll be shackled to your internet defined version of black love?

Provided by GIPHY

Provided by GIPHY

Do you read? Baldwin and Hurston and Earnest Gaines, too? Do their messages resonate with you?

Because, if they do, then you’ll understand that our bond is essential to the preservation off the few pure things this world has left to offer.
What we have is rarer than Black Wall Street execs in 1921. Not in Tulsa, but in New York City… We’re vicious wolves alright, but not for money. Preservation and survival of our endangered species.. 

Provided by GIPHY

Provided by GIPHY

We are trapped in this jungle and through our bond, he have created a regality in this polluted jungle where we, you and I, are Kings and Queens of the Pride. Our pride. Bound to protecting our identities because it may just very well be the only thing that we own. And we pay for it every time another Trayvon gets gunned down and the media manipulate our feelings like those falsely depicted voodoo dolls we see on our TV screens...

You may admire my looks and you may enjoy our metaphoric attraction, but do you have what it takes to understand my mind, black man? Do you have what it takes to fight, like our ancestors did to preserve our love and our blackness?

If only we could see, how beautiful we really are.. we can begin to change this world. One episode at a time. 

Provided by Giphy

Provided by Giphy

That Damn Table

Iyalua Pope

Photo by Solange's A Seat At the Table Interactive Booklet

Photo by Solange's A Seat At the Table Interactive Booklet

My table sits alone in a black vortex, suspended on a weak axis between my land of origin and the existence of that damn table. And through that axis transcends the radio message that tells me that if I want to be successful in life that I've got to go up there and get a seat at that damn table.

All around me, I see people. They look just like me. They, too are suspended in this black vortex with me. Clearly we have a connection. It looks as though this connection has been severed and we have to hold our places ever so meticulously so that that damn table doesn't crumble to ruins. And I watch these people hopelessly climb up to knock on this door which they think is called opportunity to wait for 'Them' to deliberate.. and qualify- using 'Their' standards- my people to see how close they want them to 'Their' table.

Provided by GIPHY

Provided by GIPHY

When they climb, my people don't even realize all of the things they give up to get there. Or that these things fall below them in shallow pools, which those who securely have a seat at the table swoop in like scavengers to steal the carcass of. The carcasses of their joy, their pride, their security, et cetera. They feed their egos at the expense of my people starving their intellect and your self-worth. So essentially, asking for 'Their' acceptance is like the blind leading the blind because even after 'They've' built this empire, 'They' still cannot seem to accept themselves. But my people are just trying to reach this proverbial table to find happiness in their piece of the pie. How ironic. 

My people struggle to arduously balance the delicate position of the axis upon which they sit and upward mobility. And so I'm expected, in the same manner, to somehow maneuver myself, my seat and my own table up there.. and pray that I don't suffer a concussion from head-butting a glass ceiling or two, or twelve or twenty-four. To me, the journey seems to be more than what it's worth, being as though the costs outweigh the benefits because even though I may do all of that work, climbing to a get a spot as close as possible, I'll never be wanted or invited to have a seat at that damn table. 

Photo by Solange's A Seat At the Table Interactive Booklet

Photo by Solange's A Seat At the Table Interactive Booklet

Why leave my comfort to struggle in efforts to be treated like a stepchild at a table that has never had a place set for me or any of my people?  I can just connect my table with yours, friend at another table,  and we can be so happy in our blackness that we attract other tables to connect. And our magnetic force is so powerful that we disrupt the stability of that damn house of cards-- I mean, that damn table. We can fortify our own table with our own sense of pride and dignity so much so that it will reveal the truth of the matter that has been so poorly disguised all along. But this can only happen if we know why there is a necessity for our tables to connect.

Once we know, we will no longer be fooled by the illusions of terror 'They've' etched in our minds long ago. We have to go beyond those smoking mirrors 'They've' hidden all the history of us before slavery behind. I mean, honestly, while 'They' were 'inventing' democracy in Greece and stabbing each other in the back in Rome, what did you think your people were doing, friend? Sitting, watching and waiting for them to press play so our ancestors could assume their position and 'play their part' in the construction of that damn table? NO. Reach back really, really far and learn your history. Unadulterated. You'll thank me later. 

Provided by GIPHY

Provided by GIPHY

We have to understand how we got here so we can understand why we need to repatriate from the egotistical paradigm we operate in. (Yes, it's patriarchal, too. That's another story for another day.) How these illnesses of the mind aren't even ours to begin with. How they superimposed their mental sicknesses on us by virtue of imperialism and greed. And every time we show them that, they go: "told you [insert one of 'Their' names], they're savages."

So, friend at another table, If you have any doubts at all about your place in this crooked world or if you even belong here in the first place, understand this one truth. At the core of it all, it's not really the gold, the rubber, oil or diamonds that 'They're' after. It's our mojo. Our black mojo. That essence that even so far apart, so far damaged and traumatized, we still have the ability to radiate. And please, friend, for the love of whatever God you praise, DO NOT hate your radiance. Because at that point, they win. And you have no right to be angry when they counterfeit your radiance for a profit. It is yours and it has not abandoned you after all of these years because the truth is the light and the light is you, baby. Love it from the follicles of your 4C curls to the blood that flows through your veins to your toes that wiggle when you laugh to keep from crying.

My friend at another table, I'm not trying to convince you that you are wrong for wanting what you may want. I just want you to understand that that damn table is not your only choice. You can make your own with what you have and not have to sacrifice your mental well-being, your dignity or your values or your love for what makes you, you.  And my, will you see how the damn tables will turn.. 

Provided by GIPHY

Provided by GIPHY

I'm So Bipolar

Bria Herndon

Photo by Morgan Daniels

Photo by Morgan Daniels

“I’m depressed; I broke my phone today,” I hear the associate casually say to our coworker.

“This is so depressing! You don’t have the color I need,” the customer tells me as I just spent ten minutes looking for the matching item.

“The weather’s been so bipolar lately; it’s been cold one day and hot the next."

“She’s so bipolar; she can never make her mind up.”

 

Was that really depressing, or was it just saddening? Was the weather really bipolar, or is it just climate change? I’m not quite accepting of the fact that my diagnosis is a term that is thrown around so loosely. What I deal with is an illness; a very private mental illness with very public effects. The glorification of it by referencing other things that aren’t remotely close to bipolar disorder is sickening. As someone who deals with this illness, I find beauty in the darkness within the stigma that popular culture has shared about bipolar disorder.

My name is Bria and I’m bipolar. In my case, it’s a hereditary chemical imbalance in my brain triggered by life events. I take medication to level everything out, but medication simply extends the time between episodes and doesn’t fully stop episodes from occurring. It’s a blessing in disguise with highs and lows, as you can probably imagine. When I’m manic, my room is covered with half finished art projects and empty hair dye boxes and stains on my carpet from spontaneously deciding to dye my hair 30 minutes from completion. When I’m depressed, my body aches immensely, I spend most of the hours in the day in bed, and I curate the best poems when I’m in the mood to pick up a pen (I also have a unibrow so I’m pretty much Frida Kahlo’s reincarnation). Some people think it’s unnecessary to mention the fact that I openly express this fact about myself. I personally do this with an explanation of sudden switches in my personality.

The stigma related to mental illness, whether it be specifically related to a certain gender or race or socioeconomic class, is evident. To stop these stigmas, we have to shed public awareness to mental illnesses. We cannot continue to closet these issues when we are losing loved ones due to the horrifying negatives to the illness.

It, admittedly, takes a lot for me to recognize the light in the darkness. I perpetuate and ruminate on the abyss in my mind that’s filled with guilt, worry, and doubt. But when I pull myself out of these times, I thrive. I constantly outshine myself and continue to proceed in every aspect of my life. I remind myself to reminisce on the great times during the bad times.

Things that bring me joy are journaling, painting, organizing, meditating, and learning, but not all at the same time. See, the weather isn't bipolar but I am. My name is Bria and I'm bipolar.