GEORGIA - I am a single mother of 3 young Black men. I struggled for years, forming civil relationships with their fathers, which often resulted in them being absent. I cared a great deal about my sons having that father/son bond, but there was only so much that I could do. I prayed and worked hard to teach my sons how to be upstanding young men. I kept them in church while they sang in the choir. I had them in the band because they were musically talented, helped with homework, tried the sports they liked, allowed friends to visit, and even traveled.
I knew that I could only do so much as a mom, so I relied on my village. My village consisted of my grandfather, who passed while my sons were young, my dad, brother, uncles, and even cousins. Of course, my village also included men from the church ministries, educators, and coaches. I even had their friends’ fathers that volunteered to do things with their boys and mine. The old saying rings true, “it takes a village to raise a child”, but what happens to those that don’t have a village?
A lot of our youth don’t have fathers and grandfathers to rely on for growth. They don’t have a male figure to have intimate conversations with or follow around. They often look for admiration in TV shows and movie characters. They are looking up to music artists and reality stars as well.
My heart sank when I heard of the death of Chadwick Boseman. I went immediately to the day we went to see Black Panther with one of my besties and her young adult children. We were in awe of Wakanda and how our Black people were regal, united, and scientifically advanced. Chadwick Boseman has played many amazing roles, but the Black Panther was different. He was our superhero. He was one to truly look up to because he stood for what was right and honorable. He was a strong family man that fought hard for his village. I saw the adoration across the movie theater and heard it in the cheers and replies to each scene. We needed him and need even more Black Panthers for our sons and daughters to admire.
Chadwick Boseman was a phenomenal, hard-working actor and held that ethic in his personal life. He showed dedication and support to many children who were battling cancer. He carried himself with poise and delivered powerful messages. All of his peers had nothing but high regard for him. He showed us that he was worthy of our children to look up to the village. Boseman modeled how we all should carry ourselves.
We need to remember that someone is watching us and need us to show them the way. It is a clear message across the nation that we are amidst a struggle. During this time, we are losing a lot of people. Celebrate their lives by living yours even better. Become part of a village and set an even more excellent example. Be a person of strength, intellect, and carry yourselves with poise.
Be a “Black Panther”.
I am Stevie Michaels, and I want to thank all of the young people who received the Black Panther as a role model for having SOUL!
When Black America needed a superhero the most, we lost one during this season of COVID and social unrest. The loss of Marvel Comics’ first Black superhero, Chadwick Boseman a/k/a The Black Panther, left us shaken and stunned. Chadwick Boseman embodied Black excellence, Black enterprise, and Black innovation as well as the regalness of a Black King. His skillful artistry and master characterization of prolific, historical figures in Black history on the screen always left us wanting more. We were already grieving as a nation--pivoting to our new normal of work-from-home, homeschooling, and virtual Zoom meetings and grappling with our emotions and new social norms to protect and project normalcy. The Black Panther was the closest we had to a superhero.
Right now, Black America needs the hope of Barack Obama, the awareness of Colin Kapernick, as well as reassurance that we were not digressing to overt racial injustice. As a culture, we need to reconcile today with the fact that we will not continue to be victims of systemic racism or civil devaluation. Instead, Black America will take a page straight out of our Black history by engaging in non-violent protests: kneeling, peaceful protest marches, and exercising our right to vote and continue standing up for our civil rights. We must protect our civil liberties and orchestrate social change.
Due to social, health, and racial disparities, communities of color, have suffered an unimaginable loss in 2020. I surmise that most of the country, since March 2020, has experienced adverse emotions or exhibited multiple stages of grief. Did you know that there are five stages of grief? People who are grieving do not necessarily go through grief stages in the same order or experience all of them. Examples of grieving in the year 2020 are:
Denial and Isolation - It’s just a flu strain; it will be over soon. I miss my friends/family!
Anger — Defund the Police! Justice for Breonna! Say her Name!
Bargaining — I’ll wear a mask, but …
Depression — It’s a lot we are going through!
Acceptance — I am just adjusting to my new normal!
We also mourn the
• loss of employment;
• loss of leadership/governance;
• loss of life;
• loss of normalcy; and
• loss of personal liberties.
As a life coach, I have been trained in positive psychology — the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. Nonetheless, the mental anguish, social injustice, uncertainty, grief, and loss can seem unbearable. Research has shown that the increased incidence of psychological difficulties in the Black community is related to lack of access to appropriate and culturally responsive mental health care, prejudice and racism inherent in Black individuals’ daily environment, and historical trauma enacted on the Black community by the medical field.
We are our superheroes … deflecting, rising above, seeking justice, and displaying superhuman strength, resilience, and fortitude. When we get mentally tired, emotionally drained, and exhausted, we cannot quit! We must ask and seek help from mental health and human services professionals — it’s the only way to re-up our superpowers. Mental health is self-care, and self-care is self-preservation. Blacks in America are demanding to reside in a world where Black lives, Black excellence, Black enterprise, and Black innovation matters.
With my arms crisscrossed over my chest and my head held high, Rest in Power, King T’Challa. Thank you for showing Black and Brown communities how it can be.
I am Dr. Deirde L. Jones-Lowman, and I’d like to thank all of you who are taking charge and moving forward for having SOUL!
Deirdre L. Jones-Lowman, Ph.D. (Cand), M.B.A. is the Founder and Managing Director of the Pay It Forward Initiative, a Career, and Life Management Company. She is a self-care advocate, professional life coach, motivational speaker, and contributing writer on mental health and wellness for women.
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