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Six Reflections on Black Mental Health and Self-Care

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April 4, 2022
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Here at the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, we support communities of color across the United States and Puerto Rico that are taking action to create systemic solutions to the most pressing issues facing boys and young men of color.

Mental health undergirds all six key life milestones that predict success for the boys and young men we serve, so we teamed up with the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and Discovery+ to bring together our MBK communities, artists, young people, and mental health experts for a virtual town hall conversation.

During the town hall, attendees watched clips from OWN’s four-part docuseries,  “Profiled: The Black Man Opens in a new tab.” They also had an opportunity to share their own mental health journeys with fellow event participants and MBK Community Leaders who provided best practices, resources, and lessons learned from their work in this space. 

Check out six moving highlights from speakers Tristan Mack Wilds, Papoose, Shani Saxon, and Shaka Senghor, then share this article with a young person in your life who might need a little extra support right now.

If you or someone you know needs immediate mental health support, please visit  https://www.apa.org/topics/crisis-hotlines Opens in a new tab. If you are struggling, we also encourage you to seek professional help from a licensed mental health practitioner near you.

To get things started, MBK Alliance interim executive director Niiobli Armah, IV set the stage for the conversation and laid out why we’re focusing on mental health:  

As the conversation got underway and attendees watched special clips from “Profiled: The Black Man,” actor, activist, and rapper Tristan Mack Wilds shared a reflection on why storytelling is such a powerful way to break the stereotypes Black men are saddled with through life. Take a look: 

In addition to the stereotypes that Black men are a monolith, another common assumption is that for Black men, and men in general, crying and expressing emotion are signs of weakness. Rapper and activist Papoose is making sure young men know that isn’t the case. Watch as he encourages young Black men to let it all out in a healthy way:

Building on Papoose’s wisdom, activist, author, entrepreneur, and investor Shaka Senghor explained how he teaches his son to express his sadness, and how empowering it is to be in touch with your emotions and mental health:

As a psychotherapist and the Director of Healing at One Love Global, Shani Saxon, LMSW, offered a closer look at the challenges Black boys and young men often face that can hinder their emotional wellbeing. By knowing these common struggles, we can all do our part to help the young people in our lives get the support they need. Watch Shani Saxon’s reflection:

To close the town hall, Papoose offered words that underscore the importance of finding, sharing, and expressing love as a way to find mental wellness and emotional healing:

We are grateful for our MBK Communities who are working tirelessly to create pathways to success for boys and young men of color, and this conversation was a shining example of the community-centered efforts we believe will make a brighter, more promising future, not just for our boys and young men of color, but for our country.

Two men with medium-deep skin tones wearing black hoodies stand on a white sheet on top of the grass as they paint on a large wall. The painting is of two men with medium-deep and deep skin tones with white everyday items floating around them such as a book and pencil. There is also a large yellow circle with red and white designs next to it.

Continue the Conversation

Here are some simple ways you can continue this important conversation:

  1. Connect with your local MBK leadership to engage in a discussion on Mental Health and Wellbeing
  2. Check in with your team members to see if they are doing well and ask if anyone needs any supports
  3. Review our resources list and share with people in your organization and/or community