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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!

United State of Women 2018 Summit

USOW 2018

On May 5th & 6th, 2018 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, more than 5,000 women gathered for the 2nd Annual 2018 United State of Women Summit.  The energy in the building was beyond excitement as GenXers to Baby Boomers and beyond, these ladies were 'lit' with anticipation of what was to come.  The line-up of speakers were impeccable and included Forever First Lady Michelle Obama, Tracee Ellis Ross, Senator Kamala Harris, #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke, Olympic Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, Activist and Actor Yara Shahidi, Comedian/Inscure AMANDA SEALES and many many more.

This is the first summit I've ever attended where I witnessed in true form a genuine love, passion, solidarity, interest and trust between women whose only agenda was to lift up the person to the right, left, in front or behind them.  The conversations were not just in passing, but rather women took time to look one another in their eyes and listen, respond and celebrate.  That's rare!

In 2016, the feminist organization United State of Women staged its first summit in Washington, D.C.  Held in partnership with the White House Council on Women and Girls and featuring Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.  Again at that time the summit brought together 5,000 women, girls and allies to discuss issues ranging from entrepreneurship to violence against women.  This summit happens every other year and I can hardly wait for #USOW2020.

Here are just a few takeaway statements that resonate with me to this day:

"If our vote wasn't important, people would not be trying to take it away from us. If our voices didn't matter, you would be trying to silence people like us.  The systems are not broken, but rather they were designed to do exactly what they are doing."  Brittany Packnett

"Be gentle with yourself and take care of yourself.  The work will always be here to be done." Tanara Burke, #MeToo

"Women know how to speak truth and they've had to do it for a long time." #ElectionsMatter.  Senator Kamala Harris

And go!

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

60th San Francisco Int'l. Film Festival | April 5 - 19 | My Picks

The 60th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival returns with yet another epic film line-up showing throughout San Francisco April 5 – 19, 2017.  I am particularly thrilled to see many screenings are scheduled at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.  While I enjoy the ‘taste of cinema’ in various venues throughout San Francisco, YBCA is an amazing space so it’s great to see SFIFF’s partnership with them this year.

Okay, here are my SFIFF 2017 film picks and I hope to see you there as well:

April 8th
11:00 am | State of Cinema, Edwin Catmull at Dolby Cinema
3:30 pm | Tribute to Ethan Hawke at YBCA
7:30 PM | 3-Day Pass at YBCA

April 10th @ 3:00 pm | Lady McBeth at Victoria Theater

April 12th @ 6:00 pm | Tribute to John Ridley - Guerilla at Alamo Drafthouse New Mission

April 15th @ 3:00 pm | Defender at Castro Theater

See a full schedule HERE.

 

Black Enterprise Tech ConneXt 2016 - The Business of Tech at its Best!

Samara Lynn

Now, how many people do you know own more than 3,000 comic books?  I was beyond thrilled to hear this when I interviewed Samara Lynn, Tech Editor for Black Enterprise Magazine.  Samara's adventure into collecting comic books started at the age of 13, while living in the suburbs of Long Island, New York.  The neighborhood kids, at that time, were into comic books and Samara took a liking right along with them growing up.  While she stopped collecting comic books around the age of 30, she is very clear that her favs were, at that time, The (Avengers), X-Men and Spider-Man.

This year BE's Tech ConneXt Summit takes place October 10 - 11, 2016 at the Marriott Hotel, Burlingame, CA (SF airport location).  Samara has had ample time to prepare for this year's summit, which is very different from last year when it was her third day on the job when she was given the assignment to travel to the West Coast to BE's first Tech ConneXt.  Diving right into the splash, while it was a surprise, it was certainly not unfamiliar territory for Samara.  She was able to hit the ground running and was pleased the conference went very well.  This year, Samara says, "There are a few things that will be different, one of them being that Black Enterprise wants to make the conference much more 'tech engagement' focused by way of expanding the exhibition space to more interactive technology opportunities.  Also, when it comes to the student engagement and their hackathon period, it will be around the clock, 24 hrs., which is far different from last year where there were stops and starts throughout the day with workshops, etc. for the students."  Samara also says that there will be a stronger relationship with partners where the students will have a connection year-round in addition to what they experience onsite during their tours.  The Toyota Research Institute is one major partner that will be further developed this year as will again have an opportunity to tour the facility during Tech ConneXtand Black Enterprise will build stronger bridges with Toyota to continue the student engagement for months beyond the conference.

I attended Tech ConneXt last year and was very impressed with the information shared by the panelists and the student presentations were very high level and engaging.  This conference is certainly the missing link that is hugely visible in the tech space in Silicon Valley, as it elevates the skills, talents and resources that people of color, particularly African Americans, have to contribute to the technology industry.  Also, and more importantly, this summit shows aspiring youth, first hand, who are interested in a STEM education and future, how they can make those dreams a reality.

Samara is excited about what the conference will bring this year and she is confident the outcomes will be favorable.  I would tend to agree that this year will be quiet the tech conference, especially when there is a line-up of confirmed speakers that include Ryan Leslie, CEO, MZRT; Tristan Walker, CEO Founder, Walker & Company; Ime Archibong, Director of Global Partnerships, Facebook and many others.

Samara Lynn has over 15 years experience in Information Technology and is the technology editor for Black Enterprise. She was a technology editor for the prestigious CRN Test Center and lead Networking and Business Analyst for PCMag.com (formerly PC Magazine).  Lynn has appeared as a technology commentator on Fox Business News, National Business Report (NBR), and Reuters TV. She is the author of "Windows Server 2012: Up and Running" and received the Small Business Influencer Top 100 Champion award in 2013 under the "Journalists" category.