EssayInspiratie

Let’s talk about mental health in the African Diaspora

Whitney Marcial1 comment

Forgive me for I have lived my life outside of the publics eye, and it was wonderfull. I normaly live my ife on social media and for the past six months I decided to take a step back for multiple reasons. But this essay is not going to be about my personal life; I want to talk about mental health in the black community. Not that other groups of races don’t deal with mental health issues, it’s more that I grew up in the West while being raised by an African mother with a completly different culture compared to my Dutch stepfather. He is still the only father figure I have ever known in my life and I love him very deeply. My mother also raised me with so much love and care but at the same time she was dealing with her culture shock, post traumatic stress syndrom because of the war in Angola on her own. Despite that I also love her very deeply and this essay is not to discourage them or condemn them in any way possible. With that being said lets talk about mental health in the African Diaspora.

Most of my peers grew up in the western part of Rotterdam. A predominantly poor neighborhood filled with young (single) parents who fled their country and where mostly from African descent. We  flocked together like birds and whenever one single mother was in need the other home or household would support them. Most family’s where torn apart and scattered across the globe. Your neighbors become your family and the only way to survive is by joining the collective. Being in a safe country but still having to deal with trauma from the past and a completely new culture can have its toll on the individual and most kids needed to find emotional solace someplace else.

I used to read a lot of books and the fantasy world I created made it easier for me to deal with the hars reality of living in a poor neighborhoud. I used to find needles in the park where we played as kids, the prostitutes and junkies where a comming sight walking to school and most of us did find it normal. But what happens when you grow up and every single day whenever you open your eyes the first thought that comes to mind is ‘how am I going to survive today?’. You can take the child out of the war filled country but how do you take the war out of the child?

We all grew up knowing a junkie, a prostitute, an inmate, someone who got stuck in a psychosis and so on. We all got tainted by our inverement in a way eventhough we love our friends, family, classmates and the life we grew up in. Whenever my stepdad entered our lives and my baby sister was born I saw a completly different side of the west. One day sippin cocktails poolside (I kid you not) and the next I was playing with refugees in a refugee center. Now that I’m nearing my thirties I am so gratefull to have seen diffrent worls growing up. It enriched me in an magnificent way and at the same time it does feel liek an entrapment. I want to be seen as a normal Dutch kid but I have seen to mutch to be ‘normal’.

The first time I had an anxiety attack I thought I was over reacting. I pushed everyone that loved me away and started praying because ‘only the devil could hurt me’ right? I think it is that type of mentality that does more harm than good in the African diaspora. Yes I also grew up in the catholic church and whenever I was going through grief, depression or anxiety it was always the devils fault. Now at twenty seven years old I can actually see why a lot of my peers or suffering in silence. And this needs to end now. Here are the three main reasons why a lot of us get stuck and what to do about it.

  1. Time’s Up so SPEAK UP

    We are thought early on to NOT AIR OUR DIRTY LAUNDRY
    You are going thorugh hell and open up to a family member. The next day you get a (mental/physical) beating because you told someone. Eventhough you’re not a child anymore, this believe is so engrained in our culture that it is hard for us to open up to anyone. What you could do is find a professional therapist where you can talk to. Someone who doesn’t know you or your family and could give semi obejctive advise. Try to find someone who understand different cultures or is from a different culture than the western one. Someone who can relate to the cultural differences instead of projecting the Western culture onto your childhood or traumatic experiences. Besides finding a professional find one or two close friends where you can open up to completly. Someone who will listen too you without judgement. We are lucky if we have one person we can call a friend. And for those who find it hard to be vulnerable (or not) write everything down on a daily basis. Try to find some time every single day and write all your thought and feelings down and remember; do NOT censor yourself.

  2. Move your body (just like Black Panter)

    Yes for everyone who saw Black Panter and is out of touch with their African heritage..movement is where we come from. We used to dance every single day, man and women. Why? Because it is the only way to deal with your emotions. In the west we are thought to rationalize everything and a lot of things are head based. But once you move your body, guess what? Your troubles will fade away and you will be present in your body. So whatever works for you, put on some music and dance like there is no tomorrow, whatever you do for the next three to six minutes, don’t stop moving. Shake, twerk, roll, pop and lock or moonwalk your way out of your head into your body. Try it for thirty days, I guarantee you you will not regret this.

  3. Stop the victim mentality – We are ALL BIAS

    Yes we had it rough but guess what, talking and or complaining about it won’t change a thing. It will only justify why you are being or feeling stuck/depressed/sad/victimized. So take back your power, you are not a victim. Yes they used to ridicule you, burn you, murder, rape or violate you, but guess what; the oppressor never worked alone and the real betrayal was done by our own people. Yes your ancestors where bought and sold or trated for mirrors and guns, but guess what white people are NOT your enemy. It is the colonial mentality, the so called souvenir that is still enslaving us to date. We are all biased and it is time to do the work and learn about our own subconscious bias that is still keeping us apart from each other. So love yourself. Take back your power. You are not a victim. Look for your own faults and blind spots; educate yourself. Bring out the best in you and thrive my brothers and sisters. The time is now. And yes time’s up; we can’t repeat our history. Stop abusing any substance t numb your discomfort. Listen to it

I want to end this essay with a lot of love. Trust your intuition, love the culture you where born in and the one you stem from. If you didn’t like the movie Black Panter of Get Out that’s fine but know one thing. Our story’s are being told by our perspective and if you find yourself in an environment where you constantly have to explain/defend yourself or where you don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason; MOVE you are not a tree. Remember that our ancestors would have loved to live today. So please heal for your children’s children and for our mothers mother, our parents parents are watching from afar and they are so proud… if you only knew. I love you, I honor you, I AM ANOTHER YOU.

Was this essay helpful in any way? Please like, share and leave a comment. let’s spread the message. Mind you, English is not my first language but it’s about the message right? Don’t shoot the messenger. Follow me on Instagram (@marcialsart) and let’s get the discussion poppin!

by Whitney Marcial

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ColumnsEssayInspiratie

ArtLife: How to get started as an online creative

Whitney Marcial

It is hard out there for a pimp. And I’m not going to lie; I hate the word ‘blogger’ it feels like its an acronym for someone who has somethign to hide. And maby it’s true, maby bloggers do have something to hide. For example the fact that they sometimes are promoting brands that they don’t even like. But I’m not going to spill the tea from the get go.

1 – Join an offline community

Back in 2008 I joined an organization that was aiming to target young girls from minority groups. We used to make video’s every single Saturday, write the idea’s ourselves and then go shoot. It made it possible for us to understand the business behind selling a story. I used to do summer school in the summertime and got the chance to really get to craft my work as an interviewer, host, editor and camerawoman. I started when I was 15 and I probably attended four or five of these offline community’s that are soly based on inspiring, educating and empowering young creatives. Even if you don’t live in the big city try and find a way to get good at your skill. We all need 100.000 hours before we master a skill and can call ourselves a professional. I am a professional at what I do because I put in the hours. I’m not into name dropping but the people I’ve met are priceless, I’ve been building my network from fifteen years on up.

2- The power of social media

We live in a time where Kim K became a multi-millionaire by the power of social media. Trust me when I say that she would not have been as wealthy if it wasn’t for social media. Why? Because Social Media cuts out the middle man.  There is no journalist, paparazzi or other money hungry company that you need in order for you to talk to your focusgroup. Make sure that when u started a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, WordPress, Printerest and/or Blogger account, you understand the language of the platform. For example, the way you communicate on Twitter is different than Facebook or Instagram. S0 one post with the same message sometimes needs to be re-written in order to appeal to the language and focus group of the social media platform. Cross-medial is also very important. So after you post your product or article online, now you need to make sure that you will generate traffic towards your content. Back in 2o12 Nulverbaal booked a lot of revenue in the area of Rotterdam? Two things helped; one is using hashtags and posting crossmedial en the second most important part is also the last tip of the day…

3 – Content is Key

Honesty can be one of your biggest powers while being an online creative. In a time where reality tv is everywhere, people are craving real authentic content. I do believe that this is why YouTube is so booming right now; there is a lot of honest life reports or product reviews on there. Whatever your skill is from drawing, graphic designing to modelling or photography. Whatever it is; make sure you give people an inside in your real life. Be honest about the behind the scenes, the public loves that because they can identify themselves with it. Identification is very important in this process so think before you work on your content and keep in mind that ones your core-values are set, it will be ease to build from there.

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Inspiratie

When your babysister turns 18

Whitney Marcial

Hands down the best things in life come in three’s. We grew up in the same home and had an creative household. Every single week I listened how my sister was playing the piano, the way she moves when she dances, talks or walks. I saw her grow into this amazing young woman. Both of them. I love you and I will always cherish our love for the arts, being of service to others and can’t wait to make more memory’s with this holy trinity.

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Essay

The Summer of 2017

Whitney Marcial

So yeah, I’m not going to lie but I haven’t been in the mood for sharing my life on social media lately. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s more of an necessary thing to do. Let’s start at the beginning.

I got dumped
Finally after four months of dating and fighting a lot he pulled the trigger. It was a crazy beautiful experience where I got to know bits and pieces about myself, the things that I was trying to suppress. I used to carry a lot of fear, pain and self doubt with me. I thought I was doing better until I started to manifest people, places and situations where I always ended up looking in the mirror. For example my hair grows up in the air, in circles but I choose to straighten it or put weave in? Why, you may ask? Because I don’t want to face the fact that it needs a lot of maintanains self care and love to grow and be healthy. Just like you won’t pour bleach into your plants, you also need to take proper care of your hair. The relationship and self talk I was having also became apparent in the interactions with others. No one treats you worse or better than you treat yourself. Being dumped actually made me realize I do need to change a lot in order for me to introduce loving thoughts and actions on a daily basis. I used to think that one day of self-care was enough, until I realized that self care is something you do every single minute of the day because you love yourself. Water instead of bleach my dear.

I failed
My thesis wasn’t good enough. So yes, I started of my summer feeling everything but accomplished. Realizing how many times I’ve got beating down in the past few years, just to finish my education. I decided to stop re-writing, let the entire thing go on a mental level and started  to live my life. Living my life equals spending time with family and friends, having fun on the job and outside. spotting for my very first documentary, reading a lot and writing. I had so much love surrounding me, especially when I realized the benefits of opening up to the people around me. Instead of me being like ‘i’m fine how are you?’ I started to open up about my ‘bagage’ and in return I got so much love, advice and respect back. The key is to be transparent as you can be in order for you to grow as an human being. Me locking myself up every single day, writing and reading isn’t the same as me going outside and realize how I’m feeling and doing by interacting with others.

I got up
This year I finally started working as an assistant manager. By learning how to manage my work, the customers and colleagues I also started to manage my own life a lot better. Instead of being surprised by the uncontrollable I started to anticipate a lot better and made adjustments accordingly.
I realized how much of my power, I’ve been giving away to other people, letting them control how I feel and think. From love relationships, co-workers to family members and documentary’s. Instead of me reaching withing on auto-pilot I started to become aware of my co-dependency and how I found a way to not do the work and still feel like I’m living my life. So I needed to break all of the patterns and learn how to live my life for me to serve the collective.
Wanting to become self employed as an artist can be hard especially in the age of social media. How to stay true to yourself and still work with cliënts is a challenge but not impossible. So after a friend of mine gave me a call for a potential job I immediately jumped on board and this is what came out of it.

My sister died
My father divorced my mother when I was two years old. He moved to the United Kingdom and had two other children. I always knew of their existence and always felt so connected to them. In 2012 our dad suddenly past away. It allowed my sister Elga and I to get into contact and we decided to look each other up. Life happened and after five years I finally was coming down to really get to know them. My flight was booked for the 22th of August, the very first day of my holiday. Two days prior to that I got a call from my mother. My sister died of an heart attack, she was only 23.

My. World. Stopped. I felt this excoriating pain from the inside of me stomach. It was preventing me from breathing normally and I cried, and I cried, and I cried. My best friends came to visit me and I left two days later.

Being there and getting to know her without her being there physically was hard. Her son is the love of my life. Getting to know my other sister, her child, her husband and all the family and friends that surrounded her made it easier for me to cope.

I lost a sister and I gained one; the irony of life. Her death was sudden and she lived her life like a Supernova. Ambitious, fiery, honest and ready to start her life anew. We all experience times in our live where we are rearranging and changing a lot behind the scene’s in order for us to grow to the new level. She was doing that and it wasn’t easy. I will always love you Elga until we meet again..

My summer ended bittersweet with the unexpected loss. I come from a huge family and normally I would spend more time with my mothers side. Now everything changed though. Meeting my uncle for the very fist time, my cousins, my sister; it made me see a more whole side of myself. And the realization finally sunk in; I am more than just my mothers daughter, I am also my fathers daughter. Even though I grew up with my stepdad and mum, It is nice to know where you come from.

What I’ve learned
To let go whenever something is not serving you or the collective. At the end of the summer I looked into a clear mirror and saw so much beauty. The way I deal with life might be extra-ordinary to a lot of ‘normal’ human beings. But it works for me, for now. No man is an island and we need each other more than this individualistic society talks about. The narrative of ‘making your dreams come true’ isn’t cutting it for me anymore. It is about being of service, living in health (wich equals wealth),  having experiences that make you grow as an indivudual. At the end of your life what will your legacy be? What will you have created that serves the world at its highest level? Is it a child, a job, medicine, an invention? How will you get inspired, comming from the Latin word īnspīrāre meaning in breath. What does it mean to breathe, I mean live for you? A wise one once said ‘the way you breath is the way you live’. So I’ve learned how to let it flow. My breath. Life.

 

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