Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Will End The Mental Illness Stigma

In light of recent events surrounding the tragic death of Sandra Bland, the focus on mental illness is stronger than ever. Despite the various types of mental health services many still don’t know where to turn for help leaving them to battle it alone. There are over 50 different mental illnesses and over an estimated 61 million people from at least one of these illnesses daily. Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) was established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to educate and increase awareness about mental illness. It takes place every year during the first full week of October. During this week, mental health advocates and organizations across the U.S. join together to sponsor a variety of events to promote community outreach and public education concerning mental illnesses such as major depressive order, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Different events during the week include art/music events, educational sessions provided by healthcare professionals, advertising campaigns, health fairs, movie nights, candlelight vigils, and benefit runs. I had the wonderful opportunity during Houston Pride celebration to meet and briefly chat with C Patrick McIlvain the founder and director of The Walk For Mental Awareness Houston. So of course when he so graciously obliged for a brief interview I jumped on it quick fast and in a hurry. Check out his interview below. 

#1: So tell me how the walk even came about?  
The Walk for Mental Health Awareness - Houston aka The Walk Houston came out of The Walk to Washington D.C. for Depression Awareness - October 7, 2010. We are a fundraising venue for Houston area non-profits that offer mental health services/support to their clients. It is the walkers who do the actual fundraising by asking their friends, family members, and network of associates to sponsor them to take part in the walk. Through our first four walks we have raised & returned to our "Walk With A Purpose" Teams $72,000.00. We do retain 10% for process/handling fees. And if you have a "friendly" dog - we are a all welcoming Dog friendly walk if on a leash & you pick-up after. We even have the "Pup Tent" just for doggies. Somehow I was guided to the website for this walk from St. Louis to Washington D.C. 
When I read some of the personal stories that folks posted - it felt like I had just discovered a large lost section of my family. I know then that I had to be a part of this walk somehow someway. I know that I could not be gone from Houston & my volunteer commitments for the entire duration of the 80 day walk but I could be part of the last four day. So I was able to get some of my very good friends to sponsor me (it was required if 1 wanted to be a part of the last 4 day needed to raise $1,500.00) that I did. When I got to Washington D.C., Steven Curran - the walk originator - asked me if I would be interested in starting a chapter in Houston of The Walk for Depression Awareness......after thinking about it for a couple of nanoseconds I said "YES". Just after the walk to Washington the Board of The Walk for Depression Awareness - St. Louis meet and wanted to be all inclusive of mental health/illness so the name was changed to The Walk for Mental Health Awareness.  The first walk in Houston was held Saturday, October 15, 2011. So our #PositivePublicDialog began as we walk and talk to #EndTheStigma and to #EndTheIndifference to talking about mental illness out in the bright sunlight of day, just where the conservation belongs. It is time that we started #TakingOurDignityBack. 

2: I love how there are 3 days of events can you let people know what they can expect attending each event?  
"3 Day, 1 City A Life Changing Weekend" is how we ID ourselves. It should be noted that we take place during World Mental Health Week, the first full week of October. And most years 1 of our 3 days falls on 10-10th. which is World Mental Health Day. Our first event (our kick-off even) is held on Thursday of WMHW and that is the start of our Positive Public Dialog by illuminating our City Hall lime green (the cause color for mental illness) for 3 nights.This event is free & open to the public. Just join us at City Hall - on the Reflection Pool side. at sunset. Our second event is our Pass It Forward / Positive Public Dialog Luncheon, it is held on Friday of WMHW. This year our guest speaker is Elizabeth McIngvale, PhD., LMSW founder of Peace of Mind Foundation - bring a positive pubic dialog to folks who are challenged with OCD. There is a $30.00 fee to attend the luncheon and tickets can be purchased by going to our website: Our third event is the main event our 5k fun walk with post Mental Health Expo. This year it is on Saturday, October 10, 2015 and held in Stude Park (sometimes called Studewood Park)1031 Stude Street @ Studemont and starts at 8AM. There is a $25.00 registration fee for folks age 12 and up - until day of registration when the fee goes up to $30.00. One can register by going to our website - 

#3: Why is mental health so important?  
Because of these top reasons: 
  1. 1 and 4 adults - approximately 61.5 million American's experiences mental illness in a given year   
  1. About 2.4 million American's live with schizophrenia  
  1. Approximately 6.1 million with bipolar disorder  
  1. 14.8 million with major depression 
  1.  42 million Americans live with social anxiety disorder 
  1. Serious mental illness cost America $193.2 BILLION in lost earnings per year 
  1. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of deaths in the United Stated & expected to become #1 by 2025 
  1. 90% of those who die by suicide had one or more mental disorders 
  1. Although military comprises less than 1% of our population, veterans represent 20% of suicides nationally, about 22 Veterans die each day from suicide. 

4: What advice for those who want to help in being part of our Positive Public Dialog on talking about mental illness but not sure just where to start? 
Start by educating yourself as much as you can about the true facts about living with a mental illness. It is time to stop the 5000 year old social stigma that is still so yoked to us. Look to groups like National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), Mental Health America, Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) - they all have Houston chapters. Join them - support them so their positive public message can be shared far and wide also join The Walk for Mental Health Awareness - Houston. 

This interview was not only delightful but educating. I agree that the stigma of mental illness must be broken. We as a community must stop just sweeping it under the rug or trying to come up with the easiest solution. As a person who suffers from at least 2 of the 50 something mental illness I can say nothing about it is easy. Nothing about the day to day life is ever an easy path. Some days are good but dealing with anxiety and depression such as I do you see more bad days than good. Although currently on a pretty good medicine regiment and I do go to therapy twice a month, that is still a progress versus my history of my battle. It took me so long to have the courage to go and reach out for help because I lived under the stigma of religion (pray it away) or the lack of education within my particular community (African-American) which is rarely discussed. Hence why although personal opinion something still seems strange within the Sandra Bland case, I can share within her mental battle, not exactly but similar. Which is why I am now forming my team for The Walk For Mental Awareness Houston and I am willing ready and able to do my part to end this stigma. Not just for me, not just for Sandra Bland, but those women who don’t get media coverage or young teenage girl that doesn’t know how to handle the pressure and trials that come with being a teenager in America today. For that veteran who can't forget what he saw and experience while going to battle for his or her country. For the first time mom who feels she is parenting all wrong and has little to no help around. For them I will #EndTheStigma don’t forget to visit

Peace And Blessings

"Buzzworthy Cravings, Creatively Satisfied!"

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Who Is There To Protect Us?

I'm so emotional right now. There is a feeling of anger, of fear, of sadness, because the body count for our black lives are growing at a rapid pace. Yet again here is footage of yet another arrest using unecssary force and improper detainment of a young African-American woman Sandra Bland, 28, a 2009 graduate of the HBCU PrairieView A&M University that was pulled over for failure to signal. No there were no drugs found, wasn't driving erratically nothing that should have cause her to be detained in the way that she was. Watch below (YouTube):

This young lady was there at her alma mater to interview for a position in Student Outreach which she was scheduled to start on Wednesday. Notice how the officer instructs the bystander recording that he needs to leave as her cries are ignored. You can hear her stating "You slammed my head into the ground" and asked "Do you even care about that?", yet nothing changed the officer continued to place his weight (if you notice this office has to be at least twice the young lady size). Saturday afternoon she contacted her sister Shante Needham to let her know that she had been arrested but was unaware of why. She then began to tell her sister how the officer placed his knee on her back and thought that her arm was broken. Her sister told her that she would everything she could to get her out, only to get the news that her sister committed suicide. The autopsy resulted in death by asphyxiation by using a plastic bag to hang herself from her cell. They have no video footage of what went on in her cell. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards clearly states that jailers should check on inmates once every hour, no one checked on Bland until a hour and a half later and that was by intercom. This same jail in Waller County was cited 3 years ago for improperly monitoring prisoners when a man hung himself with a bed sheet in 2012 My question is: when are those who are called law enforcers see consequences for their action. I do know that there is Internal Affairs but where are they? Where are they to look at this and say this was wrong? Can we now in America ESPECIALLY BLACK America can we really say that the law is on our side. The thing that angered me the most was no one seems to have certain answers and this young lady family as well as the world needs answers. When the coroner was interview every answer was "I believe" "I'm guessing" nothing certain. The media then quickly bring in her past with dealing with depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) of course to try to give you every reason why this young lady ended up dead but the truth, but when will the truth be reveled, better yet when are we as a community DEMAND the truth instead of sitting on our hands and waiting on it. When will we as a community wake up, and I say community because at the end of the day we are ALL a target. They don't just find different African Americans to kill, they flip a coin or set a quota on how many black lives can be taken by the end of the month. So n any given day at any given time that coin toss can be for you. When we will realize that this could happen to your family member or yourself? What will it take before we can all stop looking out for self and realize that we are in an unspoken war with the majority of the United States? We are quick to come up with a trendy hashtag but that's all. When are we going to learn to do the work...there is work to be done and voices to be heard and it starts as early as a young child at home. Take the time to not only learn history (because it always seems to repeat itself) but teach our kids not to sit back and let it happen because "they dont pay attention to us" STOP PLANTING DEFEAT in our kids and in ourselves. We as a black community must stop being defeated and start speaking out the majority cant stop us all. Make sure you sign and share this petition:

Let us no longer sit in silence please. To close this out I want to share this beautiful sister last 2 videos. I want you to listen and take the actions needed to pick up the fight where she left off.

April 8, 2015

Last video:

Peace and Blessings
Swagg P

"Buzzworthy Cravings, Creatively Satisfied!"

Thursday, July 9, 2015

*Insert Favorite Kind Here*

Every so often you get a craving for me
Even though some call me dangerous you find me to be oh so sweet
There is a certain tooth you have for me but your mouth enjoys blissfully as it touches my creamy texture
And Im good in any type of weather
I tend to melt by the touch of your hand
What you do to my body I just cant stand
And trust me my brand comes in millions of flavors.... I am

Who would have guessed the hottest month of the year is dedicate to the one thing we all look forward to during this season. Young and old enjoy it on a stick or in a cup and even a cone....yes ITS NATIONAL ICE CREAM MONTH. Although my favorite ice cream has not yet made it back to its rightful spot in every store freezer (Blue Bell), I will continue to celebrate. I admit since Blue Bell (which started in 1907) has been off of the shelves for personal reasons (there was a listeria outbreak) I have found a few other alternatives:

Magnum Bars- This picture just doesn't do it justice:

Now you cant really mess up snickers and ice cream, Snickers will always win however, I recommend these:

Again Snickers win....

Now there are those that enjoy something that's in the same section but not the same thing


Which are my favorite perfect for the 4th...

But my go to would be these:

Gives you your life....and your life with a splash vodka lol!

Finally some fun facts:

1. It takes about 50 licks to lick away a scoop of ice cream
2. 430 joined in Oklahoma to eat Blue Bell while ringing cow bells which set the world record
3. California produces the most ice cream in the United States
4. Sorbet has no milk at all
5. July 1984 was when National Ice Cream Month was declared

So hopefully towards the end of this blog you would made up your mind to be a willing participant of NATIONAL ICE CREAM MONTH. Drop you favorite in the comments below.

Peace And Blessings

"Buzzworthy Cravings, Creatively Satisfied!"

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Written In Black And White.....

Once again the media never fails to disappoint me. As I shake my head reading yet another article with a very unnecessary tasteless title and relentless bashing: 

Now after doing further research I was told that this particular site is equal to that of MediaTakeOut which does not hold the best reputation in media. So any one who knows or hears the name mediatakeout then you know there is a likely chance that its just not true.  However for those who may not take the time out to check their references and check to see if it is a valid site THIS SENDS ALL THE WRONG MESSAGES for the following reasons :

     1. The fact that this particular blog site couldn't congratulate her on making an ESPN cover.where only 8 African-Americans female has had the honor to get the cover spot.

    2. Every dominate centered female DOES NOT go by the pronouns of "he" "him" or "baby daddy" that burns me.

  3. Using the word "ALLEGED" does not make it ok to say what would be considered an opinion. 

  4. "But, if you want to see her butt naked in ESPN's Body Issue flip the page" *insert blank stare here* yet you somehow some way found away to sexually objectify her.

*my reaction the entire time*

How many of you have sat and read an unnecessary title whether in the newspaper, local news, website or wherever and thought "Do they purposely use their outlets to not only make black people look bad, but also the LBGT community?" I have heard a few people say that we often bring the attention to ourselves, which sometimes seems to be true however, in this case she should have been praised and congratulated on making such a cover as ESPN this particular media outlet decided to just completely slander her and insult her by addressing her with male pronouns and focusing on the negative setbacks of her personal life. Brittney Griner is only one of many who often get profiled negatively in the media, and it makes me wonder, will we as African Americans as well as LBGT African Americans ever get a fair post. I know there are many African Amercan blogs and reporters but pay close attention. The site is named blacksportsonline...key word BLACK. So then the question becomes at what cost do you then begin to tear down a fellow successful black woman, because keep in mind before all of this she was one of the top picks in the WNBA, she was the 1st WNBA player to ever score to 2000 points and block 500 shots. Also she won Best female Athlete ESPY Award and it was not mentioned in the article. She was as many of us will experience at least one time in our lives PROFILED, and the big blow is by another black blog/gossip site. Now by all means let us not forget what exactly got this young lady into her predicament, and abuse of any shape form of fashion IS NOT AT ALL exceptable. I believe this story could have been presented in a better way than this and why we as a community (black and LGBT) are so quick to highlight your negative before positive? Is this the "crab in the bucket" mentality that often spoken of and yet dissolved?

However I'm beginning to wonder does the media help place the target on our back along with society. Are they really the ones that place the horrible image upon us? I agree that at times we do cause attention by not always making the best decision but lets be honest anyone else of any race creed or sexual orientation would have gotten a way better title. Now being apart of a blog I understand that I am now considered media especially when my focus is about a celebrity however I am going to try my best to make the changes that I would like to see within the media. Some may say well that's a big task but, somehow someway this has to change.  

Peace and Blessings,

Swagg P

"Buzzworthy Cravings, Creatively Satisfied!"

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The T.R.U.T.H. Project at Houston Pride Festival: A Merging of Communities, Art and Pride

June is the celebratory month for a plethora of celebrations. The most celebrated aside from Father`s Day is Pride for all things LGBTQ. I've been compelled over the course of my very Queer lifetime to wonder why `pride' for anything requires a grand scale celebration. So I begin my quest for answers with dictionary definitions of Pride...Webster provided several definitions of pride, but for the sake of this article I`ve chosen two in particular. The first defines pride as a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing,conduct, etc. When considering this meaning...I begin to think, `hells yes who wouldn't want to celebrate their own importance, dignity and merit especially with or without the opinions of others?` But then thought, well shouldn't pride, if it is in fact to be celebrated be done so with close friends and family? I still hadn't found the answer as to why should pride, specifically LGBTQ pride be celebrated city wide across the nation. Ohhh but an epiphany hit me upon reading this next definition of pride. Webster also defines pride asa becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem. Now Im getting somewhere. To celebrate the freedom to be yourself, amongst your peers and allies in love when surrounded by a world of hate, makes total sense to celebrate Pride OUTLOUD.

This past weekend, June 25-28, 2015, Houston, TX celebrated pride. This like any other year during the last weekend in June many of Houston`s LGBTQ community came together to celebrate pride. Though this year was monumental. Here's why! On June 26, 2015 the United States of America became the 23rd country to legalize same sex marriage. Now I can get on my soap box about the separation of church and state as well as the disdaining notion that choosing to marry who I love was once considered illegal and subjective to beliefs that aren't mine in this alleged land of the free, but this isn't the time. Now what was I saying...Oh...this date fell right in line with Pride Houston`s yearly celebration. As if that isn't reason enough to celebrate, Houston`s Pride celebration relocated after 33 years from the historic and known LGBTQ hub of Montrose to downtown Houston. This bold and expansive move brought out over 700,000 attendees for one great umbrella of causes: Pride. Here I describe my experience.

Now everyone knows that Houston can be unbearingly hot and not just in terms of its fine women and cajun-latin cuisines. I had made plans to only attend the festivities after the sun begin to set, until I was made aware that not only was Houston Pride occurring during a historical time all while T.R.U.T.H. Project, was a part of history while making history too. The T.R.U.T.H. (Telling Real Unapologetic Truths thru Healing) Project targets the GLBT community and Allies, focusing on creating self awareness and healing through the use of performance arts and social engagement. Addressing issues important to our community and society, this project highlights national and local artist creating original works presented to the community in an Out Of the Box healing experience. Healing through the ARTS...I have a great love for this organization as I have shared many truths on its platform. This time was no different. I came together with talented artists in a vast variety. The T.R.U.T.H. Project for the first time in history was a part of Houston Pride Celebration as it was one of the 200 plus exhibitors that attracted more than 75,000 people. That day was a good day.

Standing in Tranquility Park lined with tent-booths ranging from mental health information to wine samples, I couldnt help but feel a bit of Nostalgia.It reminded me of a hot summer day with your family enjoying each other, nature, and any other gloriousness the park background had to offer. In addition to that, I felt totally comfortable and at ease, like I belonged much like I did when Sweet Tooth Media sponsored and attended Eden`s San Francisco Pride. The grandfather of Prides across the nation shuts the entire city down. News coverage is extensive and pride is celebrated by many of its natives, visitors and transplants. Though Houston, didn't mimic this in its entirety, because I was an active participant and artist for the T.R.U.T.H. Project, I felt right at home. The day was so full of energy and love. Yes, it was scorching hot, but the T.R.U.T.H. Project found its home on the Barefoot Wine Stage with plenty of seating and shade.  Shared with the likes of Big Freedia, the T.R.U.T.H. Project's artist brought an ascending healing energy with it. Spoken word artists such as Tiffany Wordmatician Scales, Jordan Sneed, James Just and MsNightLyfe gave voices to those without one, speaking life and sharing healing experience to every ear that heard. Vonetta of ABC BodyArt brought to life the Houston Pride`s HERO theme painting human bodies with armored paint. Damion and Nick afforded every eye that could see dance in its most purest and expressive form. Their performance attracted passer-bys with their high energy interaction with the audience. Concluding the T.R.U.T.H. Project's time for the evening included its founder, K. Dapree, thanking everyone, encouraging audience attendance, and inviting us all back to continue in the celebration of pride for Women of Color, the 2nd installment of the 3-part Black Lives Matter Series.

Prideful Intersectionality is a more appropriate term for what I experienced that day. I saw and interacted with people that looked like me and those that didn't. We all gathered for the greater good of each other to celebrate our journey, our independence, our victory, our stride in freedom, our selves, our Pride. The T.R.U.T.H. Project`s participation, inclusion in Houston Pride Celebrations, was the ultimate merging of the arts and communities.

"Buzzworthy Cravings, Creatively Satisfied!"