Category Archives: mental health

Voices: Tragedy in Kansas City

Kasandra Perkins, 22, was killed by her boyfriend, football player Jovan Belcher, Saturday.

Of course Belcher is the headliner in this tragedy, because he apparently thanked the people trying to talk him out of killing himself for all they had done for him. Then he was gone, day before a game, outside Arrowhead Stadium, dead at 25.

But Jovan Belcher had a chance for it all to end differently, at least for him, no matter what brought him to this moment outside Arrowhead Stadium. That is why the real tragedy here — the real victim — is a young woman named Kasandra Michelle Perkins, whom Belcher shot and killed before he ever parked his car at the Chiefs’ practice facility and put that gun to his head.

She was 22 and the mother of Belcher’s child, a child who is 3 months old, a child who will grow up in a world without parents. At about 10 minutes to 8, according to Kansas City police, Jovan Belcher put a gun on the mother of his child in a house on the 5400 block of Chrysler Ave. in Kansas City and started shooting and kept shooting. You want to mourn somebody? Start with her.

“Welcome to our world,” a former New York City police detective I know said on Saturday about the shootings in Kansas City. “This time it just happened to be the National Football League.”
– Mike Lupica, New York Daily News


It should come as no surprise that Crennel, Chiefs players, Pioli, owner Clark Hunt and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell quickly agreed not to delay Sunday’s football congregation at Arrowhead Stadium.

Football is our God. Its exaggerated value in our society has never been more evident than Saturday morning in my adopted hometown. There’s just no way this game should be played.

Twenty-eight hours after witnessing one of his starting linebackers take his life, Crennel will stand on the sideline as young men play a violent game. Twenty-eight hours after one of their best friends killed the mother of his child and himself, Chiefs players will take the field and play a violent game.

Football is a game of emotion. Football is a game in which the coaches and players preach about treating each other as family.

How can they play Sunday? Why should they?
– Jason Whitlock, Fox News

“I definitely agree with the decision to play today,” wide receiver Dexter McCluster said. “This is the game we love. This is the game Jovan loved. This is the game fans love, so why not go out here and do something that we love to do?”

For others, the alternative was worse.

“The least-worst option was to play the game,” center Ryan Lilja said. “Suffering a tragedy like that, maybe the best thing was to be together and do what we do — and that’s what we do, we play football.”

In light of a 27-21 win and perhaps the Chiefs’ finest performance of the season, it’s hard to argue against going ahead with the game, which several players hoped might speed up the healing process.

– Tod Palmer, The Kansas City Star

According to medical studies, around 600 murder-suicide events take place each year in the United States, resulting in 1,000 to 1,500 deaths. Most of those don’t generate this much attention. As far as anyone can remember, this is the first such incident involving an athlete in America’s most popular sport.

Three months ago, a man shot a woman and then killed himself in the Kauffman Stadium parking lot a few hours before a Royals game. The victim in that shooting had two children, a school-aged son and a grown daughter. She spent weeks in a hospital; her spleen was removed, among other operations, but she has survived.

That story came and went faster than this one will, and if we’re smart we’ll gain some understanding about the problem. Maybe we’ll remember that domestic abuse is still a major problem in America.
– Sam Mellinger, The Kansas City Star

Meanwhile, On TumblR: Seriously Cute Kids, The Glamourbaby Diaries, And Taylor Townsend

By Andrea Plaid

I finally figured out that I change my hairstyle every decade or so. In my fourth decade, I decided to forego the bald and grow out my hair without going to locs, like I did in my 30s. This little child is my seriously cute inspiration:


Quite a few of you Tunblizens were feeling the little one’s cuteness, too.

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The End of July Is Only The Beginning Of Mental Health Awareness

by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Across the board among minority groups in the US, stigmas surrounding mental health and treatment are much greater than they are for whites. So, while July is almost over, I hope this is only the beginning of the Asian American community and other minority communities championing a shame-free discussion about our mental health.

To kick off this month, my friend, Nigerian American poet and mental health advocate Bassey Ikpi, who started The Siwe Project to raise awareness of mental health issues in the African diaspora, declared July 2 “No Shame Day.” No Shame Day was designed to encourage people to share their stories and struggles with mental illness openly via social media. I’ve talked about my depression in the past–though upon reflection, not nearly enough given how much I care about destigmatizing mental illness–so I, of course, had to participate. (Plus, I want to be more like Bassey when I grow up. You would too if you knew her.)

It occurred to me, though, as I was participating in No Shame Day, how much shame still colors my view and my experience of my own depression, much as I’ve tried to rid myself of it. Even after 15 years of treatment. Even after 15 years of being honest and open about it with my family, my friends, NPR listeners even, and, most importantly, myself. I’m a depressive? I live with depression? I suffer from depression? I struggle with depression? Sometimes the hardest part was simply finding the right shorthand with which to describe it when I brought it up, which was not infrequently. Continue reading

Young, Depressed, And Of Color: Why Schools and Doctors Get It Wrong

By Guest Contributor Jamilah King, cross-posted from Colorlines

Courtesy: istockphoto

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part series on people of color and mental health. Read the second part: “How to Do Right By Yourself While Saving the World”

Earlier this month, news surfaced of a Louisiana school psychologist who posted racially charged messages on Twitter. Mark Traina, who later resigned, worked as a psychologist at an alternative school in Jefferson Parish Public School System, a district that’s been under intense scrutiny in recent months. According to a court complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Jefferson County has been sending a disproportionate number of black and special-education kids to “languish for months” in the district’s alternative schools.

Traina had already taken to Twitter to post his support of George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch captain charged with murdering Trayvon Martin. But back in January, Traina went on a rant against “young black thugs.” Traina, a self-proclaimed “American Civil Rights Activist who unlike Jessie (sic) Jackson and Al Sharpton presents all Americas,” tweeted that “Young black thugs who won’t follow the law need to be put down not incarcerated. Put down like the Dogs they are!”

While black children aren’t often ceremoniously “put down like dogs”, they do face harsh school punishment at much higher rates than their white counterparts. Jefferson Parish’s problems are symptomatic of a disease that’s already been diagnosed nationally: the  tendency to dole out harsher than average treatment for people of color. From the classroom to the clinician’s office, there’s a long and troubling relationship between racism and the mental health field.

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The Friday MiniTape – 4.27.12 Edition

This week we’re going to turn the spotlight over to DJ Kuttin Kandi, a pioneer for women in hip-hop who’s currently in the fight of her life, as Colorlines’ Akiba Solomon recently revealed. If you’re new to her sound, here’s a quick video primer:

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From Risk to Harm and from Harm to Suicide

by Guest Contributor Louise Tam, originally published at Hyphen Magazine

In September, I wrote a piece describing my perspective as a disabled woman of color and psychiatric survivor. I explored how race-specific self-killings are differentially represented by the media to demonstrate how public perceptions of suicide depend on social and political contexts. My intention was to de-sensationalize model minority suicide in order to draw attention to how particular non-white bodies are often presumed to be volatile and violent.

This month, I look more closely at clinical explanations of ethnic minority suicide and respond by citing current non-clinical and community-based anti-racist reflections on the significance of emotional pain and anger.

Before I proceed, I would like to draw attention to how the term suicide is invoked by the viewer rather than the subject of suicide: the neighbor who calls 911 rather than the person exhibiting suspicious behavior. This can have negative repercussions on the “allegedly suicidal” that we don’t often think about. In fact, daily we are surrounded by public campaigns that encourage us to report at-risk behavior with the intention of saving lives: we believe it is our civic duty to do so. This is especially true in communal living environments such as campus residences.

The “peril of help” arises in (1) how we, as the public, determine what is suspicious or at-risk behavior and (2) how our social infrastructure then deals with the people we “call out.” Behavior can be “cut out” of context, of an individual’s life history, when it does not make sense to onlookers, including family, friends, and employers. Behavior might not make sense and alarm us because an individual’s actions are inconsistent with social rules and, furthermore, associated with narratives of harm we are taught to recognize daily by institutions around us. For example cutting is strongly associated with suicide. Seen in the absence of context, most of us would be compelled to stop this action and probably call on professional expertise to intervene and solve what we identify as a threat. Continue reading

The Siwe Project’s Global Black Mental Health Initiative

By Guest Contributor Rob Fields, cross-posted from Bold As Love

There’s still things black people don’t talk about in 2011 and, to our collective detriment, mental illness is one of them.  I mean, for a people who have survived colonialism, the Middle Passage, slavery, Jim Crow and institutional racism, it would be surprising if we perfectly fine mentally and emotionally after all of that.  And many of us are alright.  But there are just as many who aren’t.

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Dark Girls: A Review of a Preview [Culturelicious]

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid


I recognize the women in this preview: these women were me when I was growing up. The kids at my mostly black Catholic school called me just about every black-related perjorative ever since 3rd grade, letting me know and telling others within my earshot that I was physically inferior solely because I was dark-skinned. I even remember a boy in my 7th grade class drew a picture of me being nothing more than a solid black square. Even though the same kids voted me 8th grade class president…I was still considered in their estimation an ugly (vis-a-vis my skin tone) girl. Even had the only boy who was my boyfriend (we were in 8th grade) dump me for a lighter-skinned and younger girl, to the mocking laughter of the lighter-skinned students.

My mom—a dark-skinned African American herself—told me something that didn’t make any sense through my woundedness: “You know those light-skinned girls people think are pretty in school? Wait ‘til you’re grown and see where you’re at and where they’re at.” Added to this was my mom’s constant admonition to “get an education.” Well, sure enough, what my mom said came to pass. I’ve had photographers approach me and ask to photograph me. I had lovers of various hues—even had a husband. (He was white.) And women of various hues, races, and ethnicities have given me love on the streets, at the job, and at workshops.

I’m not sure how—or even if—some of the women in the clip worked through the pain some black people have inflicted on them. But, instead of the usual devolving, derailing, and erasing conversations of “that’s happened to me, too, though I’m a lighter-skinned black person!” (that’s a thread for another post) or “it wasn’t me! I’m a down black person!” (will be met with an exasperated eyeroll)…it would be a really good thing to simply listen to these women’s truths, as uncomfortable–sometimes, as implicating–as they may be.

Transcript after the jump.

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

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