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Current Mental

Ms. America, the Bag Lady

Bryan Patterson

“Bag lady, you gon’ hurt your back draggin’ all them bags like that…”

I haven’t been watching football this season. Part of it has to do with my frustration regarding the fact that Colin Kaepernick has yet to be employed by the NFL. But mostly, I’m just tired. My Sundays have been replaced by good food, minimal company, and a continuous playlist of Erykah Badu (‘Bag Lady’ stays in rotation).

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

I haven’t been watching the news. Every day since the beginning of 2016, each news outlet has made a daily routine of showcasing the circus that this nation has now become. America is a Mary-go-round that I am no longer excited by. I’m tired. I haven’t posted on Instagram or Facebook in months. Whenever I would log in to scroll through my timeline, all I see is friends, family and strangers screaming to be heard.. The crazy part is that we’re all arguing over the same things.

“One day all them bags gon’ get in your way…”

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

Have you ever woken up one morning, rushing to make the most out of each minute of your day, and JUST as you're about to leave you can’t find your keys? Have you ever turned over every piece of your furniture and suddenly realized how much of a mess you’ve made to find them? It’s a random analogy, but I truly believe this country has lost it’s house keys and is currently flipping over the furniture.

In the case of Colin Kaepernick, he made news by calling attention to an issue that has been swept under the rug for quite some time. In the Declaration of Independence, it was written that all men are created equal. It is also written that each human has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those who oppose the former 49er quarterback argue that kneeling during the anthem disregards the blood of the fallen soldiers who stood on the frontline for this country. Supporters of Kaepernick are saying that the red on flag we salute represents the blood of fallen soldiers from the likes of Tamir Rice and Mike Brown also. The main difference between them and army veterans is that they were kids who didn’t sign up to defend the country that repossessed their lives. Kaepernick has decided that he won’t stand for it any longer.

“Pack light…”

With that being said,  I don’t think this country is a bad house to live in. All I believe is that we’ve acquired too much furniture and lost sight of our values. How are police officers legally murdering civilians and receiving paid leave with no indictment? How has the most divisive presidential candidate of the 21st century been chosen to lead the United States of America? How does Steve Bisciotti, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens, make the decision to not hire Colin Kaepernick, but he releases a statement saying that he supports the current demonstrations of the Ravens that choose to kneel during the anthem?

“I bet you love could make it better...”

Photo by ESPN

Photo by ESPN

The decision I’ve made in the midst of all the noise has been to spend more time listening than talking. I’m working to understand people with different views while not compromising my own. Even though I’ve listened to the new Eminem freestyle at least ten times today, that language and aggressive energy will only make us tired. I need to sit and understand how scary it can be for my cousin to risk his life as a police officer, just like I currently understand the frustration of my friend who's the son of Keith Lamont Scott.

That’s what I believe this country needs. Understanding. There are a lot of people screaming over one another right now. Listening is the only way unpack all of this baggage and get back to the keys we came in the house with. We need love.

Banner Photo by Gerry Melendez for ESPN

Using Your Emotions To Move Forward In Life

Gabeal Davis

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Moving forward is hard to do when it comes to dealing with certain things in life. Whether it is a bad breakup, losing a job, or just dealing with the day to day struggles of life, finding the motivation to move on can feel almost impossible at times.

As creatives, we must find a way to channel that negative energy into something positive instead of allowing ourselves to drown in our sorrows. I am guilty of falling into this state, but somehow I find a way to move on and use the negative energy to my advantage and you can too. Here’s how I manage to move forward and create.

Use Your Emotions To Spark Creativity While You’re Moving Forward

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

When I was starting out blogging back in 2006 there was no real direction in what exactly to write. So I focused more on writing about the events that were going on in my life on the daily. Whether it was me sharing about something amazing that happened, random thoughts that came to mind, or a disappointment, I used my emotions to spark the creativity in topics for my personal blog.

Some of my best work came more from the negatives in my life than the positives because of the raw emotions I shared.

Think of it this way. Most people love artists like Mary J. Blige and Keyshia Cole at the time when they were singing more about their heart breaks.

For them, it was a release and a way to move on from the situation, for others, it was good music and something that helped others move on from a similar predicament. As creatives also have the same power to move on and help others to move forward through our gifts by moving forward ourselves.

Photo by GIPHY  

Photo by GIPHY  

Creatives are some of the most influential people out there. Even though we struggle in our lives we must move forward because through our work we can inspire generations.

GIANTS: A Millennial Web-Series Discussing Mental Health + Social Issues

Jalyn Harden

Photo by Giants

Photo by Giants

Earlier this year, Jussie Smollet and Issa Rae teamed up to give us a new web series on YouTube titled, Giants. Directed by James Bland, who also stars as Malachi, is joined by the talented Vanessa Baden and William Catlett in this authentic + thrilling drama. The series follows the three Black millennials in Los Angeles as they start out the first season face to face with their “giants,” which show up as the show’s main themes of mental health, sexuality, as well as systemic racism.

The show aims to discuss issues that affect the African-American community, while adding distinct voices + characters to challenge and face those issues head-on. Malachi and Journee are best friends of the opposite sex, dealing with real life economic struggles and mental health issues. Journee fights to “win the day” with her diagnosis of manic depression, while Malachi finds himself through trying different paths of work. Small talk of Ade’s sexuality, played by Catlett, leaves him feeling unempowered and trying to "prove" himself. 

Photo by Giants

Photo by Giants

"Its' different! It's not the same thing as wanting to do something or not wanting to do something. Some days, I physically cannot get out -  I'm a manic depressive! Candace, you know this. It's an illness."

"Its an excuse," she replies.

The entire first season, I watched while I was getting ready for work one morning. Each episode is about 5-20 minutes; powerfully created to spark conversation on how communities of color can express ourselves across the sexuality spectrum and support mental health diagnoses without stigmatization. I admire the way our new + seasoned Black writers, producers, directors - also including everyone behind the scenes, have made it their mission to put people on the screen who look like us. We're finally bringing new messages about people of color and culturally disregarded topics. Shout out to the thinkers behind the new messages we’re sending to viewers all over the world about Black culture and our people.

Photo by Giants

Photo by Giants

I fully support the cast and the series to its’ entirety. If you haven’t already watched it online, you can find it here. There is a also donation set up to fund season 2, as Season 1 was fully funded by the crew. If you have watched it, what are your thoughts? Comment them below!

Until next time, 

Jalyn 

4:44, I Apologize

Morgan Daniels

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

When I first heard that Jay-Z had released 4:44, I was excited. However, last night when I saw Lemonade trending on twitter, I got confused. "Lemonade? Why is lemonade trending isn't it Jay-Z that came out with a new album?" Those were just some of the many thoughts going through my head.

See, Lemonade was healing for a girl that had gotten her heart broken by the man she thought she loved. Lemonade for some is a refreshing drink on a hot summers day. For me, Lemonade had a deeper meaning. When Beyonce dropped that album, Lemonade became soul food. See I heard Lemonade and knew I'd be alright. I knew it wasn't my fault.

I knew one day, "I'd heal and it would be glorious."

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

But, I digress this isn't about Lemonade this is about 4:44. The apology. The apology so many black women needed but never got. The words that turned a healing into a full recovery. The words that reminded us once more, "We are love."

Jay-Z said, "I apologize to all the women who's emotions I toyed with because I was emotionless. I apologize 'cause at your best you are love."

I was emotionless. These words take me back. I remember I wanted to see the one that hurt me feel the same pain that I was feeling.

Photo by Tidal

Photo by Tidal

I did not know if it was right or wrong of me to feel that way. That's just how I felt. 4:44 made three words pop in my head: Accountability, Healing, and Vulnerability.

1. Accountability. After listening to 4:44, I realize like Jay-Z we must hold ourselves accountable. It's more than saying I am sorry. It is showing you are sorry. It is getting to the root of why you did what you did. It is understanding that cheating is deeper than cheating. Cheating happens because of something within.

Jay-Z said, "I was emotionless." A part of me wants to ask him, why?

2. Healing. The moral of the story is simple. People hurt people. People cheat on other people. People lie to people they love. But we must remember that our situation does not have to be our destination. We must sort through our emotions, seek counseling, figure it out. We have the power to change if we really want to.

3. But overall, 4:44, was vulnerability. Sometimes we have to be vulnerable for our loved ones to truly understand us.

Sometimes we have to be vulnerable so that we too can recover, even if it's from ourselves.

1800273TALK

Jalyn Harden

IMG_5371.JPG

 

 

I feel like I’m out of my mind

It feel like my life ain’t mine

Who can relate?

Under New Releases, a song titled a 1-800-273-8355 caught my attention in the midst of my morning commute. I was intrigued, yet confused. So of course, I had to listen. I cranked up the volume + listened the lyrics as Logic poetically spoke about the thoughts + feelings of suicide. I immediately took heed, as he bluntly revealed in the chorus:

I don’t wanna be alive

I just wanna die today

I just wanna die

The artists in the song take the challenge of expressing emotions through music. I believe the lyrics were as real as it gets. It’s not always this easy to articulate the mental states of suicide into words + that’s exactly what the songwriter did. Job well done - for making us feel the reality of those suffering in silence. 

I've been praying for somebody to save me, no one's heroic

And my life don’t even matter

I know it I know it I know I'm hurting deep down but can’t show it

This first verse presents Logic as someone seeking help. It attempts to bring awareness to mental health from a different avenue. Often times, individuals display warning signs, actions + statements, that aren’t always as revealing as the true nature of their underlying issues. I believe this song is an outlet, or inspiration, for individuals to use their voices. 

It’s holding on, though the road’s long

And seeing light in the darkest things

 

Alessia Cara’s voice charismatically uplifts the spirit of the individual. Her verse acknowledges that there’s good + bad, or yin + yang, for everything in life. In the darkest of moments, when you’re alone with your thoughts, be your own light + use your words (through whatever form you choose) to foster your healing process. If it’s not you, but it’s someone you know who may be going through suicidality or thoughts of harming others, you are just as important. 

Suicide is taboo. It’s feared + quietly talked about in our society. It’s not uncommon for people to think that if someone brings up the topic of suicide, that they might just “push” someone to the edge. In most cases, this is not true. We can use allies + support to change the conversation around mental health. The worst thing to do is be silent and invalidate someone’s feelings of hurting themselves. By developing the courage to have a conversation + ask an individual, “Are you well?” just may be the question to spark their internal dialogue to speak up + out regarding their well-being.

I know where you been, where you are, where you goin’

I know you’re the reason I believe in life

What’s the day without a little night?

It can be so hard

But you gotta live right now

You got everything to give right now

By the third verse, I knew I was going to have to press Repeat. Thank you, Logic, for defying pop culture + using your platform in a different light. Remember - it is okay to seek help! It’s important also to stay grateful in the process for all that you do have, especially the experiences + people that bring you JOY!

Additional Info:

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free + confidential hotline for those experiencing emotional distress. You may also call the hotline or check out the website for information on suicide prevention + resources for you or your loved ones.

Until next time,

Jalyn Tai 

King Bey and Black Womanhood

Simone Reynolds

As I sit in my small antique dorm in Charleston, Illinois, I reflect on my Blackness. I find myself doing this everyday in the same spot. Even when Taylor Swift is blasting across the hall, I still hear my analytical thoughts about Blackness and being a Black woman.

A couple of weeks ago, I felt extremely out of place. I needed to go into a space of belonging. I went to the campus library and analyzed a few sections of  the film, Lemonade. During my analysis, I noticed that the main focus was not on Jay Z’s infidelity but on the power of Black Womanhood. Beyoncé has influenced Black Womanhood in 2016 with her latest project. She creates a platform for Black female artist, promotes self-healing, and displays some of the issues Black women face with Black men.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Beyoncé is an advocate and supporter of marginalized women of color's artistry, especially those who specialize in literature and visual art. The use of poetry has a great impact on the film. According to Amanda Hess of the New York Times, Warsan Shire, a  British-Somali poet's verses are the "backbone" of Beyoncé's album. Warsan Shire's poems are featured in each section  of  the film.

Hess also mentions how Lemonade has opened doors for Warsan in pop culture. There is also a lot of use of imagery. Miriam Bale of Hollywood Reporter refers to Lemonade as a "womanist" fairytale-featuring American Southern, Voodoo, and Afrofuturist utopian imagery. This is shown during the songs 'Daddy Lessons', 'Don't Hurt Yourself', and 'Sorry'. Of course getting exposure from one of the biggest pop stars is great, but let's be clear. Self-healing is the root of it all. It is extremely fundamental to Black womanhood. The imagery of certain scenes are a reflection of self-healing. According to the scenes ‘Intuition’ and 'Reformation', Beyoncé promotes this a lot.

Photo by Lemonade Film

Photo by Lemonade Film

Beyoncé, along with a group of nine Black women dressed in all white, wade in the water as the sun sets. Miriam Bale mentions one of Beyoncé's "secret weapons", Julie Dash, the director of  'Daughters of the Dust', a film where women preserve the traditions of African culture in southern America. This scene symbolizes resistance with the use of the slave revolt.

The women are on the journey to drown themselves to end their misery of being hurt. The imagery of certain scenes are a reflection of self-healing. The words spoken also mirror self-healing. In the scene of ‘Denial’, Beyoncé says, “I fasted for 60 days, wore white, abstained from mirrors, abstained from sex, slowly did not speak another word”.  She encourages self care and spirituality to be tools of understanding. During this scene, she is under water.

Water symbolizes cleansing and purity. This proves that some Black women have always found a way to "fix" themselves in order to fix a relationship. Black women face a great amount of issues when it comes to relationships with Black men. Whether if it's their father, husband, or son, Black women have difficulties with them in different ways. Based on the scene 'Anger' , we can understand the difficulties Black women face in relationships with their male spouses or partners.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

During this scene, Beyoncé says and does some powerful things. It begins with a visual of Black women connected through the sleeves of their dresses swaying in different directions and intertwining with one another. This shows the transformation of compliance to rebellion. The women are transforming into the stage of anger and being "fed up". 'Anger' is directed towards "the other halves" of Black women. Beyoncé uses a voice over of Malcolm X saying, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman.” She is putting emphasis on the disrespect Black women receive, and it is being said by a Black man. Tyler Goodridge of Georgetown's Communication, Culture, and Technology program, gives us "the tea". She talks about the repetitive pattern that is shown throughout history between Black women and men.

From the Civil Rights era to the Black Panther Party, and today's Black lives matter movement, Black women are always expected to love, honor, and protect Black men, but they do not receive that in return. In the scene 'Accountability', Beyoncé discusses her father teaching her how not to trust men through his own behavior. She says, “When trouble comes in town and men like me come around, my daddy said shoot”.  This means that Beyoncé's father warns her of men who will do her wrong, because he has done it before. Her father's actions of cheating on her mother are problematic yet helpful to her understanding of how Black women are treated by Black men. During the 'Resurrection' scene, we notice the familiar faces of the Black Lives Matter movement, the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

All three mothers are holding the photos of their deceased sons. The women's faces are very blank and stern. This shows us how Black women tend to be the ones who carry the burdens of Black death. Black women spend so much time building and nurturing their sons, and one day it all changes. Due to senseless police brutality, they are not able to continue to watch their sons grow.

All in all,  Lemonade has had a great impact on Black womanhood. Beyoncé has created a platform for Black women, promoted self-healing, and displayed the struggles of Black women's relationships with Black men. Towards the end, there is a little footage of Hattie White, Jay Z's grandmother's 90th birthday party. She says something very profound, which turns into a metaphor. Ms. Hattie says, "I was always served lemons, but I made lemonade." Black women have always been given the lemons of pain, but they always seem to make lemonade which is strength. Beyoncé has made such a great impact on Black womanhood. She continues to uplift and share the stories of Black women.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Mental Matters at Georgia State University

Morgan Daniels

The JOYday Movement was graced to have been able to speak with the students of Georgia State University this past Wednesday. Having these candid conversations about our mental health are necessary. We were able to heal together as we spoke about our "Mental Matters."

We had a lot of deep conversations about letting go, relationships, toxicity, and much more.

However, one thing that I kept with me was when someone said, "We can not burn bridges because we do not know if one day we should cross them once more." This is very true in life. Never let any situation get you out of character because you never know what the future may hold.

In closing, thank you HerCampus GSU and India Kelly for hosting us.

Attached are some photos from this fabulous event:

Mental Health Discussion at Emory University

Morgan Daniels

The JOYday Movement was able to speak to the students of Emory University yesterday. Being an African-American in a PWI (Predominately White Institution) can be tough, however, with the help of Jalyn Radziminski we were able to create a safe space for the students of color.

We called the event "healing the heart." During this time, we were able to share our mental health stories in a safe place. Something that we believe that we should do more often.

Someone said that they just wanted to, "reunite with [them]selves."

Attached are some photos from the event & thank you all coming out: