Freelance writer and editor. Online and Print.

Features. Columns. Book Essays. Insightful author conversations. Commentaries.

#BlackMentalHealth. Issues at Intersection of ethnicity, culture, and faith. Motherhood/parenting. Race & family.

These Moms Won’t Miss the Pandemic. But Their Quarantine Habits Are Keepers.

“America’s Mothers Are in Crisis” blared a February New York Times headline for an article arguing that mothers are “breaking” nationwide. Expected to do it all—work, homeschool, keep house, care for their families—many women left the workforce or hit a mental breaking point during 2020. But within the chaos, many Christian mothers are figuring out how to lean on their faith in new ways. Some moms are praying in new ways for and with their children or discovering spiritual formation habits inspi

Perspective | We need more white parents to talk to their kids about race. Especially now.

First the nation’s president dubbed the coronavirus the “Wuhan virus” because the infection appears to have originated from that city in China. Soon came accounts from Asian Americans who were being harassed while on walks or jogs by people shouting racial epithets. Asian American doctors and nurses are reporting an increase in racial incidents, even as they care for patients. Now a recent report from the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action groups documen

How parents can mentally prepare themselves for a school year like no other

No one wants to take chances with the safety and health of our children, parents least of all. But uncertainty, misinformation and changing health guidelines have made it difficult for parents and school administrators to envision what this fall will, or should, look like. As of July 26, about half of school districts had chosen to conduct at least some instruction virtually; and even those schools that are doing a full reopen will have to do so under unprecedented restrictions and with the pos

Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Must Include Work on Mental Health to Offer Real Hope

Black girls are being pushed out, locked up, and shot down, thrown around or held down. Black women have been knocked out, knocked up, stepped out on and underpaid, undervalued, and flat out ignored for decades. They’ve cried at gravesites, knelt down in the middle of streets over dead bodies, worked 9 to 5, then 7 to midnight, bargained with landlords, burned the midnight oil, argued with doctors in hospital emergency rooms, pleaded with lovers to stay, prayed for lovers to go, ignored signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and heart disease. They've been, done, and seen it all. Now they want more people to not only listen to them but fight with them...

Introducing a New Series - Handle With Care: The Secret Inner Lives of Black Men and Boys

This series will examine mental and emotional health of black men and boys through several different lenses: media portrayal of their emotions and thought processes; relational effects of mental and emotional challenges; and a solutions-driven look at initiatives that seem to help black males heal. Our examination is in the spirit of other projects that have looked at the lives of black males by letting them speak for themselves.

Black Stress Needs Black Action

Every year the American Psychological Association (APA) releases its Stress in America™ report with results from an annual survey on how Americans experience and react to stress, including what participants identify as their most significant sources of stress. The results of the August 2016 survey showed the lowest levels of overall stress in the 10 years the APA has conducted the survey. Questions dealing with the upcoming election were added, and results showed that 52% of participants were ex

Our Conversation with Liza Jessie Peterson, Author of All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island

I recently spoke with Liza Jessie Peterson about her new book, All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island. Ms. Peterson is a poet, playwright, actress, and educator who loves our children and whose experiences have so much to teach all of us about what's broken in their lives, and how to bring healing and recovery to their lives, and to our community and institutions. This published interview is edited for clarity, length, and readability. OB

#BlackMentalHealth Conversations: Colorism

What is colorism? Is it just about preference? Is it about Black women being hypersensitive about appearance? Do we really think Gabby Sidibe, Viola Davis, Serena Williams, and Lupita Nyong’o are beautiful or do we just feel pressured to say we do? Are men subject to colorism and its effects? Is there a solution to colorism or do we just have to accept it and deal with it? Is colorism about black people’s self-hatred or white people’s racism? Why did Black women breathe a collective sigh of

Colorism: Let's Start Talking

This is the second article in our Colorism series as part of the #BlackMentalHealthConversations Project. The Introduction is here. Colorism is hard to talk about. It’s shameful to admit that people who have been systematically, historically, systemically, strategically, and forcefully oppressed based on having black skin would discriminate and hold prejudice against their own with blacker skin. But colorism is alive and not treating us so well. Research on colorism within the African-American

Ourselves Black Spotlight Profile: Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform

In 2014, Dr. Nzinga Harrison, Chief Medical Officer for Anka Behavioral Health and co-founder of PfCJR, became deeply disturbed about the senseless killings of black men by police officers. A mother of two sons, she felt the inner tension and emotion intensify and reach a boiling point when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot that November by Cleveland police. She needed an outlet by which to express her sadness and anger so she started writing social media posts and was surprised by the res

More Focus Needed on Black Mental Health at HBCUs

As researchers and mental health professionals in higher education grapple with how to best help black students identify, acknowledge, and manage stress and mental health conditions, more needs to be known about how the social and academic environments at HBCUs might contribute both protective and risk factors to the mental and emotional health of students there. In December 2016 Historically Black Colleges and Universities—Law Enforcement Executives and Administrators, and the National Center f

Yes, Black Teens and Young Adults Die by Suicide, Too

On March 31, Netflix released its series adaptation of Jay Asher’s young adult novel, 13 Reasons Why. Like it or not, the topic of suicide is moving into the mainstream. And it’s about time. The much-talked about show tells the story of high school student Hannah who dies by suicide and answers the question that haunts almost every family member, friend or coworker in the aftermath of real-life suicides: why? Viewers learn as the narrative unfolds that there are 13 people whom Hannah considers

What Black Millenials Need to Know Now About Mental Health

Educate yourself on your own experience and gain understanding of how it has affected your current situation. Many black Millennials had childhoods and adolescent periods characterized by intimate and community violence, food and housing insecurity, an incarcerated parent or significant other, and social isolation and loneliness. These are traumatic experiences. Don’t excuse or normalize them. Because something is common doesn’t make it acceptable or ‘normal’. Cousin Larry pressing a girl agains

Black Mental Health Means Standing Up for Moms and Babies

Sometimes affecting change in the black community feels like a real-life version of whack-a-mole in which it seems like one issue has been put to rest, only to have another, or the same issue, pop up again and again. For several years the rate of black infant mortality declined. From 2005 to 2012 the black infant mortality rate decreased from 14.3 to 11.6 per 1,000 births. But two years later in 2014, the rate started to inch up, going from 11.4 to 11.7 per 1,000 births in 2015. Additionally, a

Ain't I A Mother, Too?

Black womanhood as of late has received a much-needed and long-overdue boost. Increased conversations and initiatives among black and mainstream media alike have moved the needle on the gauge of black women’s images toward change and positivity. Now it’s time to expand the dialogue to include black motherhood. It stands to reason that the public image of black mothers is an extension of the opinions held about black women. The Jezebel stereotype of black women being sexually promiscuous yields

Money and Mental Health: Time to Make the Connection

The average urban center in America has what appears to be more than its share of convenience stores, liquor stores, smoke shops, hair salons, and fast food restaurants. A common explanation for this phenomenon is that corporations take advantage of the assumed short-term gratification mindset of low-income people by making it convenient for them to purchase lower-quality food and other products that provide momentary pleasure and comfort. If that's true, it raises several queestions worth exploring.

How Much do you Really Know About Depression? It’s More Than Sadness

Depression: What is it? Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities that continues for at least two weeks. Contrary to popular characterizations, depression is not a personality disorder, but a mood disorder. This distinction is important to understand to avoid confusion and mislabeling between depression and other conditions like borderline personality disorder.

Beyond 'Dear Diary': Journaling is a Proven Way to Improve Mental Health Conditions

Gratitude journaling – listing what one is thankful for as a way to keep a more positive, balanced perspective on life circumstances Dream/vision journaling – identifying goals and desired accomplishments to help foster a focus on the future and avoid feeling trapped and hopeless Communication journaling – a shared journal in which multiple people write their own messages and respond to another’s messages in a conversational back-and-forth way. Couples can use these to open up communicat
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