diversitymatters

The Black Church – A Refuge For Congregants Suffering From Mental Illness

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Cultural competency training is critical for mental health professionals, especially those who are the treating physicians for African Americans. Research has shown that the absence of this area of training has been the cause for a plethora of misdiagnosis which has lead to years of long term health challenges for African Americans. Mental health professionals cannot dismiss the affects of slavery that remain vivid in the minds of millions Black people. There are generation of children studying the history of their ancestors who are also experiencing trauma as a result of knowing the truth about what the generations before them have gone through. This history of mistreatment of Black people has caused a domino effect, ultimately leading to high level mistrust and skepticism of White people who have given their opinion of a mental illness diagnosis and further prescribed medication for treatment.

From Grandma’s hand to the song “We’ve Come This Far By Faith”, one very prevalent and consistent presence in the lives of Black people is church and faith. Whether it’s every Sunday, every now and then Sunday or once a year on Mother’s Day, many Black people find comfort and mindful healing under the covering of the church. To church attendees, these faith leaders are physicians who treat in a way that is trusted. While there are still churches who have a challenge embracing those who have visible mental health challenges, the accepting of those who have both visible and non-visible mental illness is far greater than those churches who still have a long way to go in understanding the importance of equity across the isles in every area of life.

Is it possible that faith leaders can be the first line of care for Black people suffering from mental illness? If those who need treatment find more healing and comfort through their worship experience, then why not? This does not replace the need for licensed physician treatment, but the aforementioned cannot be glazed over, unrecognized or not addressed. A voluntary act, attending church service, is something that comes so very natural and the culminating feeling after the experience is often one of less stress, high hope and excitement. One of the exhilarating moments that happens during the one to two and every blue moon three to four hour church services, is in most Black congregations you will hear the faith leader says, "Touch your neighbor and tell them....". That single touch is sometimes the only touch a person receives during that entire week, and research has shown how the touch from another human being brings balance, clarity and a sense of acceptance to one who lacks that humanistic connection from family, friends or even strangers. This is always a mental healing moment during the church service for thousands of people.

Socio-economic factors plays a large part in the mental health challenges for many African Americans. Growing up in neighborhoods where there are health inequities, high unemployment, limited access to grocery stores that have fresh fruit and vegetables, heavy crime and inadequate education, is a direct pipeline to illnesses such as stress, anxiety, drug addiction/abuse, depression and more. The Black church, in many cases, are intentionally planted in these communities to be a refuge to this population of marginalized voices. They are the olive branch that is often not extended by health institutions and government entities who have been funded to serve these communities. The Black church has the capacity to have their doors daily for mental healing, without the individual needing an appointment, insurance coverage, or pre-screening, pipelines that are often barriers to those in need receiving mental health services.

From the Black Panthers, originators of the free breakfast program for children, to the churches’ year-round outreach feeding programs for individual and families that impact millions, Black people helping to heal Black people is a natural trajectory that requires no law enactment or medical prescription. "The church is a hospital for sick people who come every week for healing”, is a slogan very familiar to many and the church has operated in that capacity for thousands of years.

A collaboration between faith leaders and mental health professionals can be the first step in bridging the gap to ensure there is an intentional effort to ensure Black and Brown people receive the much needed mental health services they need and deserve.

And go!

Inauguration of London Breed | The First African American Female Mayor of San Francisco

Mayor London Breed

It was a “Oh Happy Day” about to happen when I arrived at City Hall in San Francisco in great anticipation of the historic inauguration services of the first African American woman to be elected as Mayor of San Francisco - LONDON BREED.  I had no idea that my arrival at 6:30 am, for a program that began at 11 am, would be noticed by the KRON4 news crew.  I was asked to do a live interview about the inauguration that would air in 15 minutes.  I was thrilled for the opportunity.  I shared in the KRON 4 interview that as a native of San Francisco, growing up in the Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhood, I’ve watched London’s trajectory since she was around 19 years old, and given the journey this historic new chapter in her life was destined.  It was a tremendous honor for me to start the day giving my thoughts and accolades to the first African American woman to be elected as Mayor of San Francisco.

As a millennial thinker and 21st-century innovator, Breed understood the value of the arts and how it impacts the lives of inner-city children as she chose to lead the African American Art & Culture Complex as the Executive Director.  The journey continued in 2012 when Breed was first elected to the Board of Supervisors and was re-elected in 2016. She was elected by supervisors in 2015 to serve as the board’s president.  This next monumental step in leading one of the finest cities in the nation, San Francisco,the city is fortunate to have her leadership.

Lynette McElhaney & Willie Mays

 

There were 3,000 chairs set up in preparation of Breed’s swearing-in by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and there was standing room only by the time the program began.  In her inauguration speech, Breed, 43, vowed to stand by immigrants during this very stressful and uncertain time in their lives.  She addressed the need to care for the mentally ill population, and she gave hope to the housing situation that the city has been facing for some time.  I am very excited about Breed’s leadership and I was very happy to hear her intentional attention to the mental illness community.  A much-forgotten population who need our attention and more importantly who deserved it.  For those who have served our country in the military and now they face this illness, they have earned our help.

London grew up in public housing in San Francisco and gives continued honor and respect to her grandmother who raised her.  We know the challenges ahead for Breed are monumental, but when the people of San Francisco voted for her as their new leader, there was assurance that she could get the job done.

San Francisco has embraced Breed’s innovative millennial thinking, and the supportive voters are standing by her side to help in any way they can.  We will begin to see a city in action like no other, and it’s going to be leadership at its best by far.

Breed is set to serve the remainder of former Mayor Ed Lee’s term, which ends in January 2020.

Uber Celebrates Bozoma Saint John

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Bozoma Saint John is one of the most sought after brand marketing influencers in the tech industry by far.  From Apple to now Uber's Chief Brands Officer, when Saint John speaks people are definitely all ears.  One will never miss Saint John's beauty and style because no matter where you see her, regardless of the occasion, she is giving a 'I'm in here' presence without words.

It was no surprise that Saint John was a part of the stellar line-up of speakers at the Black Enterprise Magazine Tech ConneXt 2017.  Her interview schooled many and for others they were drawn into her enchanting and engaging conversation.  Saint John shared a few comments about her new role at Uber, but of them all, this one statement was refreshing and at the same time a bit hard to swallow.  "It was the first time in my entire career when I walked in the door {Uber} where I was celebrated", said Saint John.  When we look back on Saint John's past endeavors including Apple, we are excited, proud and feel just a bit more powerful that while Saint John was in these various roles, she still thrived knowing the celebration of her being present was not where maybe it should have been. Still I Rise and that she did.  Black Girl Magic at its best!  #blackgirlmagic

Another profound moment during the interview was Saint John's around performance interviews - "I've never had a good review.  There was always something negative on my reviews".  What?  For many it's assumed that given Saint John's remarkable career as a music industry influencer, she ranked very high when it came to job performance reviews, hence her high demand in the tech industry.  Not the case at all.  This is inspiring news for thriving and aspiring career enthusiasts, don't get hung up on thinking because you're doing a great job at your company, that when it's review time that you will see nothing but 'exceeding expectations' marks through and through.  Let's just say, that if according to the powers that be you need improvement in some areas, embrace that opportunity to continue to refine your skills and talents.  Let perfection be a journey, not a destination.

And go!

THE MoAD Afropolitan BALL RAISES $1M to keep black culture in san francisco

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When the Hiplet Ballerinas of Chicago, IL get the party started at a gala, you know you're in for an absolute treat.  The MoAD Afropolitan 2017 Gala took place on October 28, 2017 at the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco and it was outstanding as expected.  Hundreds attended and more than $1M was raised towards MoAD's goal of keeping Black Art & Culture in the City of San Francisco.  It's no secret that the African American population in San Francisco has decreased tremendously over the last 20 years, so while the people, in many cases, have been forced to make an exodus from the city, keeping the black history and culture that made the city what it is today, is extremely important.

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It was very refreshing to see so many young professionals attending the MoAD Afropolitan Gala this year.  MoAD's commitment to advancing the message of the need to elevate the voice of black art in San Francisco is critical to this movement - a movement as I call it.  MoAD understands the value of embracing young professionals and millennials in the conversation as they will soon be, or they already are, those 'next in line' to bring the message full circle, not just in San Francisco, but nationally.  MoAD's Vanguard Leadership Council has the charge of outreach to young professionals throughout the Bay Area, many who don't know about the museum and others who have desired to find a place to share their artistic talent and other professional skills that the museum can use.

The honorees of the evening were Betye Saar – Lifetime Achievement in the Arts and Fred Blackwell – Visionary Leader in Philanthropy.  It would be great to see next year a young philanthropic professional honored as this would even further elevate the reach to a group of people who are open to being included and can bring money and talent to the table.

And go!

Y'Anad Burrell on Huff Post HERE

Melody Hobson @ Dreamforce 2017

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Melody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments

Each and every time I have an opportunity to hear Melody Hobson speak, I jump at the chance.  She never disappoints shares great insight on her career journey and she always gives very candid and 'real-time' thoughts on the state of America at the time of her presentation.

Many have wondered how at a very young age she was tapped as the president of a multi-billion dollar investment firm when it was her first job after graduating from Princeton University in 1991.  Well, let's just pause and take note that the aforementioned university is no small endeavor so I am sure that alone played a key role.  Hobson joined Ariel Investments as an intern and rose to become the firm's senior vice president and director of marketing.  In 2000, she ascended to become the president of Ariel, a Chicago investment firm that manages over $13 billion in assets. It is also one of the largest African American-owned money management and mutual fund companies in the United States.

During her interview by Tony Prophet, Salesforce's Equality Chief, Hobson shared that as a child she always had a curious nature and had a thirst for knowledge.  When landing her position at Ariel Investment, for two years she came into the office every Saturday and sort out the mail.  This was not Hobson's job, but she was very interested in the mail that came in for the president at that time.  Hobson would have the mail ready for him to review because he also came in on Saturdays.  That consistency and tenacious attitude caught the eye of the president and one day he introduced her to colleagues as the next president of the firm.  This was very much to her surprise, but she embraced it with open arms.

On the question of Hobson's thoughts with regard to the racism barometer today, she encourages us not to be 'color blind' but 'color brave', and she explained those terms in her 2006 TED Talk.  Being color blind is a way to ignore and avoid the hard and uncomfortable race conversation, a discussion we must have from our dinner tables to the lunchrooms in our workplaces.  We have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Hobson also makes the statement that 'everyone is Black now', as she explains how millions of people now, not just Black people, are experiencing that racial tension and disruption that Blacks have experienced for many years.  And no, the election of a Black president was not going to solve the hundreds of years of racism in America.

Here are just a few aaaahhhaaa moments that grabbed my attention during Hobson's interview at Dreamforce 2017.  While just a few, they give tremendous insight on who Hobson is to the core:

1.  While living at home, Hobson used the bathroom  toilet seat as a desk and she would run the water in the tub to drown out the noise in her house so she could study.

2.  Hobson lived in a 850 sq. ft. apartment for 14 years because she did not like moving.  Even though she could afford a larger place, the thought of moving was the hindrance.

3.  Hobson knew as a child that she had to get a good education if she wanted to be in control.

Hobson is brilliant, beautiful and bold.  She makes #blackgirlmagic everyday!

And go!

See coverage of other events HERE!

Marshawn Lynch - From Star NFL Athlete to Fashion Designer

From an NFL star athlete to now fashion designer, Marshawn Lynch showcased his Beast Mode collection for the first time on the runway at Fashion On The Square on November 13, 2016 in San Francisco.  Marshawn Lynch, who recently retired from the NFL, is a leading example of how to take a decorated athletic career to the next level and invest in an industry, fashion, that speaks to every ethnicity, age, culture, ethnicity both nationally and internationally.

 

During the Best Mode segment at Fashion On The Square, there were looks for men, women and even for the 'fluffy girl' as I affectionately call our 'plus size' models. When the 'fluffy girl' came down the runway, it was a standing moment for Marshawn as he was video recording the entire segment.  To see him raise to his feet in excitement about seeing this model rip the runway excited the crowd beyond measure. Also, one of several crowd favorite looks was a women's black sweatshirt with the words 'BLESSED' written in all white very large print on the back.  From the crowd applause it was certainly a show stopper.  Many of the women's wear pieces were worn with heels which gave the overall look something very sophisticated and beyond just athletic wear.

Marshawn opened his flagship store, Best Mode, in October 2015, at 811 Broadway St., in Oakland, CA.  He visits the store often and on any given day or time of day you will see traffic in the store because the collection is just that outstanding.  From the logo to the line, Marshawn Lynch's landing into the fashion industry has many paying close attention to his growth and from millennials to baby-boomers, they all want a piece of his collection in their wardrobe.

Marshawn doesn't just talk the talk when it comes to giving back to his hometown community, but he walks it and it's seen in the charitable activities he hosts where he is giving back to at-risk children and teens throughout Oakland through his Fam 1st Foundation.  It's been one of the best feelings ever to see a native of Oakland give back and do it continuously.

For more information about the Beast Mode Collection visit www.beastmodeonline.com.  To see photos from the fashion show visit www.fashiononthesquare.com.