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#TolerantTuesday – #WomenMentalHealthWeek with Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls”

So I’m starting a new segment this month called #TolerantTuesday to address May being Mental Health Month. It’s a delicate dance of being an advocate without sounding too preachy and I have thought a great deal about how I could deliver my awareness message.

As a news blogger, I’m usually re-posting timely news in the various realms of intelligent consumption at a moment’s notice – current events, politics, local/state/national government, cultural issues, education, “water cooler” topics, etc. But I’m also mindful for the KIND of information I want to put out there because it reflects the kind of writer, editor, feminist and ultimately, educator I am. I take that responsibility very seriously because I’m representing the best of American culture not just for my “country people” but internationally, with readers coming from Europe, Middle East, Australia, countries in Africa and more. Thank you, by the way, for your continued readership! XO

So yesterday, I was bombarded (I’m sure you were too) with the leaked elevator video of Solange Knowles allegedly attacking her brother-in-law Shawn “Jay Z” Carter as her sister, Beyoncé, appears to do nothing during the argument while in elevator. I am intentionally NOT posting the video for a reason.

I was a little horrified by the video, to be honest. There was a lot of rage in that attack. As the week goes on, I’m sure there will be many journalists studying the players’ social media accounts, painstakingly piecing together the timeline and tweets/status updates that may offer some explanation for the behavior. The only “positive” piece of the incident was that Jay Z never retaliated. It was the bodyguard who pulled her back. That takes some serious restraint as a man.

Unfortunately, as the day went on, my horror expanded with my firsthand viewing of the bevy of tasteless and disgusting memes created on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram that parodied/ridiculed/made light of the incident. I also REFUSE to post any of them here to give those users any added notoriety.

So instead of joining the Peanut Gallery, I looked at the incident in an alternative perspective – a mental health counselor and holistic life coach a-la Iyanla Vanzant.

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Now again, I am not a licensed counselor or life coach but I do have a heightened awareness and empathy that comes from my own experiences.

We as women can harbor a lot of bitterness of past hurts and disappointments. They hide behind our fake smiles, flawless makeup, expensive hairstyles and “I’m fine” responses. I know that because that’s what I have done. What’s worse is that the hurt manifests itself in places we aren’t even aware of only to explode into wrath. I know that because it happened to me.

Oprah's MasterClass

I didn’t hurt anyone or myself but I remember feeling such a wave of anger, frustration, pain, sadness that it couldn’t go anywhere but out of me in rage. I was angry that I couldn’t be understood by family. I was frustrated that I couldn’t effectively articulate the root of the hurt initially. I hurt because I reflected on my past toxic relationships and hated how I allowed myself to shrink inside my ex’s expectations for me. I was sad because I feared that no man would ever love me the way I desperately wanted to be loved.

Love In The City on OWN

So last night, I watched Tyler Perry’s film, For Colored Girls (2010) just to get some perspective about my own feelings and provide some insight into how to process the news I was reporting.

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Ntozake Shange, the original playwright of the Broadway show For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, sprinkled such lush and lyrical monologues that made the women’s narratives come to life in front of your eyes. Even if you’re not a poetry fan, the honest and vivid storytelling cannot be ignored or denied. I heard my story in the “Abortion Cycle #1” and in countless others. I heard my college roommate’s story in “Latent Rapists”.

As the credits rolled, I realized how much of pain we carry around with us that no one ever knows. No one KNOWS to ask about the painful experience of your life. We just endure, push forward, get a career, get married, have kids, buy a house, save for those kids’ college and retirement. But what if we could tap into the hurt in a sisterhood circle, not to belabor the issues but to heal ourselves from them?

OWN Network is a cable TV channel that is trying to do that, if we REALLY try to let it. What shows could help us ALL (women AND men) heal from our hurts?

Very Interesting.

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