Heal Me

Guest writer: Dr. Phillip E. Graham, Doctor of Philosophy I in Counseling Psychology |WGC| Uprising

Mental Health (MH) has been a major buzz word as of late; it’s a term that has been in heavy rotation in the zeitgeist, on the tip of our tongues, burning our ears and on the pulse of this generation. However, as a culture we have become increasingly desensitized to MH issues, at least based on many of the comments on social media in regards to issues surrounding this topic. Black mental health is in a state of crisis and the collective conscious is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  However, the Black community has seemingly been left out of the conversation about MH. Black women have shown an increase in post-partum depression, Black children are being ushered in to special needs classes, which has inadvertently created a direct route to the preschool-to-prison pipeline, and suicide rates have increased significantly just to name a few.

Despite the fact that MH concerns have reached an all-time-high, there are very few celebrities, artist and people talking about it, with the exception of Charlemagne tha God, Taraji P. Henson, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Yussha Assad and Raheem Devaughn have decided to take on the challenge of discussing MH concerns among Black men with his latest track, Heal Me. This song is a breath of fresh air as he speaks to many of problems that are crippling Black men emotionally. Researchers suggest, of all the health concerns faced by Black men, mental health challenges may be among the most stigmatized (Holden, McGregor, Blanks, & Mahaffey, 2012; Watkins & Jefferson,2013). Raheem starts singing over staccato piano composition and Yusha begins to engage in a dialog that takes place between father and son on a conscious and subconscious level.

Yusha recalls stories of fatherhood that I’m sure many of us can relate to, of how often men prefer to swallow their pain without a healthy outlet. In many ways, we are our own worst enemies. As Black men, we have been taught to reject seeking and asking for help, challenge conventional wisdom, and many of us continue to perpetuate antiquated beliefs about masculinity. Far too often we internalize our feelings and project our insecurities on to our children, passing down trauma as a rite of passage. We have been conditioned to not show our vulnerabilities and many of us relish in the display of our most toxic traits to validate our perception of manhood. Yusha addresses all of these facets in his latest track and many of the lyrics of his song resonated with me in very profound ways.

As a psychotherapist, I couldn’t help but recall the litany of sessions with young Black men that have reiterated this troupe. Yusha provides an antidote about the deeply complited relationship we have as men opening up and expressing our needs. While he tells a very detailed story about a narrative that is very common, what I enjoyed most is that he also provided sound and rational interventions to help shift the social consciousness to a state of healing and awareness. He identifies healthy coping mechanisms such as exorcise, yoga, meditation, journaling and talk therapy to sublimate for anxiety, depression, fear, doubt and worries. As men, we all experience these things on some level but we are not often comfortable talking about it. Who are we going to talk to about our problems without sounding weak or needy? When is it acceptable to express our concerns and who can bear the burden of our problems?

I recently read a meme posted by @Cthagod which states: “You are not responsible for the programming you received in childhood. As an adult, you are absolutely responsible for fixing it.” Iyanla Vanzant said that “If trauma can be passed down, then so can healing.” Despite not having the tools to adequately address our issues, perhaps the approach to internal healing can be found in the lyrics of this song. To speak is to release, to release is to no longer internalize which has metaphysical, psychological, and emotional healing properties. There is a spiritual adage that states, “Life and death is in the power of the tongue” Proverbs 18:21. We can speak health, wealth, healing, and prosperity into our lives; unfortunately, the converse is just as true. Nonetheless, words alone cannot change ones’ circumstances. It’s the actions that we put behind our words that make the difference.

If you can take one thing away from this song, other than a dope beat, masterful lyrics and the soothing sound of Raheem Devaughn; remember this, expressing emotions does not compromise your masculinity; it’s okay to ask for help; you’re not alone; and “you can believe in God and see a therapist” (source unknown). If you are in need of help, there are plenty of Black Doctors seeking to support. For additional resources, check out my podcast 6 Degrees of Black Mental Health or visit https://www.abpsi.org/ for a directory of black psychologists near you. I encourage you to read and listen closely to the lyrics of this song by Yusha Assad, it may provide you with the strength to seek the help you need.

Listen now to HEAL ME,  HERE

With Love,

Dr. Phillip E. Graham

Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology

 

Our future leaders speak; Power. Purpose. Belief & Belonging.

Kristi Love | The Future Project 2019 | Washington, DC

 

When they speak, we must listen.

Pay attention to their words.

Hold them accountable to their goals.

Prepare them by showing them integrity, being intentional, and equipping them with the tools needed to reach their definition of success.

 

Yusha Assad is the director of The Future Project at Roosevelt SHS. This school year he has built upon student leaders and guided them to pursue their present & future purpose.

IMG_1672

This past week, Uprising talked to student leaders at Roosevelt about The Future Project, their career goals, Nipsey Hussle and more.

You have time, click here & listen up.

 

IMG_1688.jpg

Uprising’s Woman of the Month, Kristin Shymoniak: A woman currently making history

K. Love | Women’s History Month |HERstory

A true servant leader, Kristin Shymoniak, born and raised in Aliquippa, PA embodies leadership and purpose while walking in her destiny to (as cliché as it may sound) make the world a better place.

IMG_4604.JPG

There are so many women to highlight during Women’s History Month and we considered Kristen long before March. Uprising Experience has known Kris for over two or three years now and we’ve watched her manifest her greatness and share it with organizations and events throughout the DMV. She is connected to us through With Great Care, LLC (where she is behind the scenes making things happen), but before WGC she was already leaving her mark in the community.  

This young woman is a powerful leader, educator, and a social justice advocate.

Kristin Shymoniak humbly allowed Uprising Experience in her home to get to know her a little more. At one point she laid back on the couch pillow with her head tilted back, relaxed, looking carefree and comfortable while we were talking.

Kris was in her safe space – in her element, almost with her guard down sharing her life story with us. Her responses were effortless, passionate, and filled with integrity and energy. We discovered where her heart to serve was developed and what she hopes to see and leave for generations that will follow her.

Take a listen to our in depth conversation (taken place in Northeast, DC), but first, below are a few Q & A we had prior to our recorded conversation.

4E33F303-43EA-4724-A55D-D24F8462BBCC.jpeg

Uprising: As a Millennial (or X Millennial) what are the positive advancements (for women in particular) do you see happening in our society?

Kris: “I see so many more women, especially black women, excelling in leadership roles. Women are taking over the political areas, activism, STEAM fields, and businesses. It makes me extremely happy to be a part of the Movement.”

Uprising: Why is advocacy/social justice so important to you?

Kris: “Advocacy for me is not being a voice for the voiceless but returning the voices back to those while they’ve been stolen from. So with being in the social justice movement, I am able to transfer power to those in our communities so that it catches like wildfire and ignites freedom, justice, and prosperity.”

Uprising: What woman in history has made an impact on your life? How & why?

Kris: “WOW! There are so many! I would have to say two (I am not following the directions but I am going to name two lol). Angela Davis and Shirley Chisholm. These women were the epitome of boldness, intelligence, and an unrelenting fight. These women used their classroom or podium as a platform to empower and transfer power to those who had lost hope. Even though they fought injustices tooth and nail, they never lost their dignity and grace. They ignited a fire that counties to burn to this day!”

Uprising: What role did your parents play in your passion for social justice?

Kris: “Everything! Since I can remember, I was surrounded by advocacy. My parents are community leaders and pastors that have a heart for the people. They instilled in me the spirit of service, a drive to fight injustices no matter the cost, and work tooth and nail to raise up those around me. My parents exemplified how one person can conquer 1,000 but with two, they can conquer 10,000! They love hard and fight harder. My parents always allowed me to speak my mind and join the fights that I deemed important and for that, I am extremely grateful.”

Uprising: How are you currently making history?

Kris: “I am making history with each intentional step I take! I am making history through leading one of the most impactful organizations in the country, Thursday Network of the national Urban League. While serving as the community service programs chair, I started a food pantry that has consistently fed over 10 families each month since its inception in August 2017. In addition to activism, I am an educator. I make history everyday in my classroom, teaching students that their voice, energy, and actions mean more than anything in this world. I teach my students that they are world changers regardless of their age and that their possibles are endless.”

Uprising: Why Thursday Network? How did you first hear about the organization and what is your current role in Thursday Network?

Kris: “As one who has lived a life of service, it was only right for me to join the Urban League movement! When I moved to DC in 2011, I was looking for a place to serve and I was introduced to Thursday Network. I attended their MLK Blanket and Toiletries Drive during MLK Day and was immediately invested! During this event, volunteers from all over the Greater Washington area joined forces to assemble care packages for those experiencing homelessness. It was beautiful and I joined the movement that week! I am currently the President of Thursday Network. I serve with over 200 young professionals, lead by 13 strong and devoted committee chairs and officers- that create the most innovative programming dedicated to community empowerment, civic engagement, youth development, economic freedom, and enhancing the health of our communities.”

Uprising: For the next generation, what advice would you give them?

Kris: “I would tell the next generation to live and move unapologetically with a vision to change the world, be everlasting, be contagious, and conquer. I would tell them to always remember that they are Kings and Queens and that no voice is more powerful than their own and the only way to make a change is to act!”

Thank you Kristin for talking with us and allowing us in her home. You can support her and Thursday Network @shyshowbob_  @thursdaynetwork

IMG_5634.JPG

To listen to the full interview, click here.

Continue to support us on social media @wgcuprising to stay engaged by commenting on our blogs and IG posts.

Look out for our blogs every 2nd & 4th Saturday of the month.

 

2020 Presidential Candidate, Kamala Harris: Is she Black Enough or Naw?

K. Love | Race Matters | Women’s History & Social Work Month

Are we really (still) concerned if a Black person is “Black enough” to get our support? Do we hold non-Black individuals to this high standard when they run for office?

I’ll wait…

No, we do not. Once an individual becomes a public figure, we criticize them for showing up claiming to be “Black Black”.

I think we have it all wrong. Especially when it comes to scrutinizing a Presidential candidate who is a woman, a Black woman.

Kamala Harris, on MLK Day, Jan 21st, 2019 announced her bid to become the next President of the United States for the Democratic Party. She went back to “The Mecca”, her Alma mater, Howard University (surrounded by the Student Government) to make her announcement.

Kamala-Harris1

We (Black folks) immediately went into attack mode. Questioning her blackness, her intentions, her marriage to a White man. Really y’all? Do we have to tear each other down and when we do, do we have to do it publicity? We stay ready to provoke a person’s Black Card, no questions asked.

Please don’t get confused. I’m not saying, “Vote for Kamala because she is Black”.

I am simply questioning your motive behind this higher standard you place on Black people than we do for others. I understand that some of us were hurt by the seemingly disregard that former President, Barack Obama had specifically for the Black Community during his presidency.

Most of his policies did not directly affect us positively or negatively. He did more for other individual groups than for us (i.e. Prison reform, Immigration laws, LGBTQ). I understand that pain, however; what has any President done specifically for our community to directly strengthen us in terms of wealth, equality, education, or health care?

What is our agenda anyway?

What is it that we actually want from a Black politician? If we do not know we can’t expect them to fight for us. Even still- who cares how Black a person is. Kamala Harris is Black- born to a Jamaican father (Professor) and an Indian mother (a scientist and civil rights advocate). Born and raised in Oakland, CA. Spent her high school years in Montreal then attended Howard University (Washington, DC), a Historically Black College/University.

Who are we to take her Black Card away? What constitutes if a person is even Black enough anyway? Please show me the rule book of standards, because we are doing too much.

When your decide on a candidate try this formula:

  • Visit the candidates website and read their platform
  • Understand how they have voted for policies in the past
  • Know their slogan
  • Support them financially, volunteer, or share via social media

“Study to show thyself approved”

“We perish for lack of knowledge”

We will not agree with every issue (policy) candidates are concerned about. However, what matters are the issues you’re concerned about. How are candidates addressing issues important to you? Look at the present Presidency- seemingly, folks agreed with one or two policies he “promised” while IGNORING  his character, his antics, and his lack of experience. Yet he is in office.

Kamala does not have to prove herself or spend time on “how Black she is”. Blackness is too broad for us to sit here and debate about it. Lastly, who really cares that she is married to a White man. That does not dismiss her ‘blackness’.

Kam & Doug

Today on the first day of Women’s History & Social Work Month , consider what really matters to you. Critique yourself on these issues as you plan to support a candidate

  • Race Relations
  • Climate Change
  • Criminal Justice
  • Equality
  • Pro Life or Pro Choice
  • Religious Freedom
  • Immigration
  • Global Affairs
  • Military
  • Voting Rights
  • Taxes
  • Education

Here is a list of individuals who have announced their bid for the Democratic Candidacy so far

Do your own research this time around. Yes, race matters- but let’s not criticize and tear down our brother(s) or sister(s). Support, vote, show up to town halls, and hold them accountable. Visit her website https://kamalaharris.org/

*Set aside time this month and beyond to read a book written by a Black woman and buy from a Black owned business. Share your experience.

Peace

A Poetic Journey of Our (Black) Love

Uprising | Love | 2019

Our love is uncompromising-

we will not apologize for it.

Our love is uninhibited.

We are a community and we bring magical powers throughout the world.

Our love empowers; therefore our love is healing.

Some fear our love because our roots were planted (on solid ground) through strength and in truth.

Our love is Contagious. Bold. Courageous.

Our love brings life.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Black love is far-reaching.

Black love is creative.

Our Black love is restorative.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our Black Love is Universal

By: The With Great Care Team https://www.withgreatcare.com/

(@justdrena @yushaassadsmusic @shyshowbob_  @equanimous_soph @cameliajanelle & @iamkristilove)

Supporting Black Love

FUBU | Black Owned | 2019

Businesses created by Black and Brown people stem from the deep roots of our passions. It may have take years to be realized; years to take the leap; the next step to completion; yet we do it.

The service or the product established is because we see a need to be addressed. We conquer our fear(s) and ignore the naysayers. We look past the doubts of close family and friends. We go against the grain and take the road less traveled.

 

For most of us growing up, our path was already paved. College was the route we had to choose. Graduate and obtain the corporate job (or now days non-profits or schools functioning like corporate companies). The American Dream is our goal. Yet we knew the American Dream was not set up with ‘Us” in mind.

 

Now that we’re creating our own streams of income, it exposes our resilience. It exposes our purpose. We did it for the money, yes. However, more importantly we did it to share the gift God gave us with the world.

If you are for Us, Buy From Us.

If you believe in Us, promote Us.

There is a product or service out there created with you in mind. We challenge you to buy Black this month and beyond.

This Is What We Do

We provide access to capital through Black Girl Ventures (@blackgirlventures https://www.blackgirlventures.or)

We shower you with self-care products with Divine Purity (https://www.divinepuritynatural.com/ @divinepurity)

We Connect. Inspire. And Challenge you by doing things with great care, purpose, and intention (@withgreatcare https://www.withgreatcare.com/ )

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We wear the Revolution (@radicalrevolutionclothingco)

Our beauty is in our hair

It’s in our skin (@nu_natural_organics)

We design your vision (@digibeedesignstudio https://www.digibeedesignstudio.com/

We UpStart other Black entrepreneurs (@theblackupstart)

 

Our bodies become the canvas (@lauresepaintz https://lauresepaintz.as.me/schedule.php/

Our voice speaks for the younger generation (@lifewiththeprincess https://bit.ly/2WCy8o4)

We bake for your event (@shopsweetcakes & https://www.krissyspastryloungeandcakestudios.com) and cook up the cuisine for your party (@bigjerkwings https://bigjerkwings.com/ & @sluttyveganatl http://sluttyveganatl.com/)

 

We educate your children

We pump our Black fists (@davidbannerlikespictures https://davidbannershop.com)

And we create notes of LOVE (@klovenotes)

We are Uprising through our stories (@wgcuprising)

Our art becomes fashion (@abellecreations)

Our stories speak peace, power, light (@peacepowerlight)

We wear our own brands (@wgcapparel & @monadelanapparel)

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We speak God’s truth (@its_priscillab)

We support fathers (@thelinnerfoundation) through community initiatives

Our music challenges your consciousness (@yushaassadmusic)

We are the change we want to see- our actions are political (@salimadofo @blackunitedfront)

 

We assist you in finding your dream home (@jantricejohnson https://www.smothermanpros.com)

Our gift is in our hands- we create masterpieces (@jlamaajstudio)

We make natural products for our children (@playpits https://playpits.com)

And time is on our side (@bensonwatch)

 

We have only touched the surface of businesses founded by Black people. Black Love is supporting Black Businesses. Buy Black this month and beyond.

 

#lovejoypeace

-K. Love

 

Just throw all the “R. Kelly’s” away

Uprising | 2019 | With Great Care & Justice

…or not. Do we really need to mute him and throw him (them) away? How do we make sense of this and where do we go from here?

This is a difficult piece to write and difficult for you to read because our opinions may differ. And that’s ok. Difficult for some because of their life situations and for others, the mass media has told you what and how to think about various subjects.

Let’s start with this

Facts to consider about Robert Sylvester Kelly:

  • He has (allegedly) slept with women who were under the age of 18
  • He has gone to trial on several occasions for sexual misconduct with women under 18
  • He has settled out of court and paid unknown sums of money to individuals and families
  • He went to trial for child pornography
  • He was sexual abused from age 6 or 7 to the age of 14

Here are questions to consider when thinking about #muterkelly:

  • What should adults do in the moment when they know “wrong” is happening?
  • How many of us (or people we know) are victims of sexual misconduct/abuse?
  • Have we decided to mute Harvey Weinstein? Burn all Playboy magazines? WIll we mute Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley?
  • Women- when you were between the ages of 14-17, did you ever desire a man that was too old for you (men that that were 18-25)?
  • When will sexual misconduct end?
  • After the age of 21, “Age Aint Nothin But A Number” is received with open arms. Men and women usually see no probably with a 5-20 year difference when dating.

Again, these are statements and questions to consider. They are not here to imply or lead you to think a certain way. There is a problem in the minds and hearts of some (if not most) people and that has to change.

Lisa Van Allen

Lisa has been vocal since 2018 about her accounts with singe, R. Kelly. She too appeared in the Docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly”. Recently, she sat with Jada Pinkett Smith at the Red Table Talk Facebook TV series. Van Allen encourages young girls & woman to “Love yourself first”.

We must address the root of the problem and put an end to negative generational behaviors. Where do we begin to heal as a people?

There is a history of sexual predators way before R. Kelly. If we speak racially and historically, people of color are fairly new to this behavior. Whatever the case, the reality is, hurt people, hurt people. Individuals who were not protected as children, became adults who are hurt, abused, and need healing.

We cannot throw Robert Kelly away, nor can we throw all of the “R. Kelly’s” away. Why? Because they are our brothers and sisters. They are people who were and still misguided. Are we going to put the woman (who sexual abused him for years) under the jail cell? Should we have killed the man who tried to force R. Kelly to perform fellatio on him when he was a young boy?

r-kelly

We must start over with love and compassion. Healing and forgiveness. Justice and understanding.

We do NOT excuse his behavior. We do NOT condone his behavior. If he abused his power to do illegal sexual behaviors with teenage girls, take him to court.

Faith Rodgers

Faith Rodgers is suing R. Kelly for threats he (and his team) made after she testified to her experience(s) w/ Kelly on the lifetime Docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly”.

This information is not new. We’ve known for years about his behavior, yet we went to his concerts, bought his albums, and played his music. He was “sick” then and today, he’s still “sick”.

The people around him should stand and say, “No, not anymore”. #timesup True friends or family members must say, “Brother, you need help”.

We have to take responsibility for our own thoughts and behaviors. We should show compassion. NOT just for R. Kelly. Compassion for EVERYONE in his circle- from the girls (now women). His children and ex-wife. His brothers, family members. His managers, lawyers, everyone.

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL, 21: Portrait of Tracy Sampson in Chicago, IL, (Photo by Whitten Sabbatini/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Tracy Sampson, former intern at Epic Records, shares that she was sexual abused by Kelly. It started when she was 16 years old as an intern.

Let us take a different approach at how we handle “monsters”.

May justice be served. May healing for all begin. May we handle human beings with great care, purpose, and intention.

Don’t mute him, them, or us. There are billions of stories to tell when it comes to sexual misconduct. Unmute them all.

 

 

 

Disclaimer-We believe all women and their stories. Especially Black women, we believe you and justice should be served