Okay, so here's what happened at #GetSomeJoy: A Blackstravaganza for Mental Health Awareness

As a follow up to last year's event at the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in Washington Heights, I hosted #GetSomeJoy: A Blackstravaganza for Mental Health Awareness at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. I wanted to do something cool to bring Black folks together to talk about how hard it is out here for a pimp, feelings and emotions, and all the beautiful and the powerfully wack stuff, in a comfortable, engaging, entertaining, non-clinical way. And laugh, cry, and maybe even learn something. You never know. Similar to my previous shindigs, it's part literary showcase, and part conversation series. This was a thoroughly Blackety Black affair.

Folks drank and were merry in the Langston Hughes Lobby beforehand.

 Photo by Willie Jackson (Abernathy Magazine)

Photo by Willie Jackson (Abernathy Magazine)

 Photo by James Jackson, Jr ( Instagram )

Photo by James Jackson, Jr (Instagram)

Photographer Anthony B. Rodriguez came out to capture the magic with his camera, while painter Ena Johnson depicted a scene from Solange's "Cranes In The Sky" video in the midst of the merriment.

 Artwork by Ena Johnson ( Instagram )

Artwork by Ena Johnson (Instagram)

Mario Starks, creator of the Soul Sense Box, a personal care package for good vibrations that encourages mindfulness and creativity, set up shop so folks could learn about tending to their minds, hearts, and elbows. 

Ayo Jackson was also in the building with her Harlem-made Don't B Ashy body butters. It's a mantra. 

During the event, Jayson P. Smith, writer, curator, and Emerge, Surface, Be Fellow with the Poetry Project;

and Alise Leslie, mental health advocate and blogger at InMyMentalMind.com

joined us to share some beautiful work about pain, beauty, healing, depression, suicide, and joy. 

Brooklyn-based psychotherapist Shani Graves (of Shani Graves Counseling), who specializes in providing psychotherapy to people of color who struggle with low self esteem, depression/anxiety and interpersonal relationships and offers counseling both online and in her Bed Stuy office, offered four 30-minute to attendees. One winner jumped up like she won a car or a lifetime supply of Talenti. It was a beautiful moment.

And Andrew Shade, Founder and Editorial Director of BroadwayBlack.com; Danielle Belton, mental health advocate and Managing Editor at TheRoot.com; and filmmaker, world traveler, and artist Darnell Lamont Walker joined me for a discussion on self-Care, therapy, and wellness for Black folks.

 Photo by James Jackson, Jr ( Instagram )

Photo by James Jackson, Jr (Instagram)

After that, Hari Ziyad, editor of RaceBaitr and contributing writer to AFROPUNK and the Black Youth Project, shared some new work as well.

I also raffled off a copy of Black Travel Anthologya massive collection of stories and artwork by and inspired by Black travelers, produced by Griots Republic, a digital urban travel magazine.

Afterwards, I shared some words on a tragedy and a source of horror and shame for all: wackness.

And I talked about the 2017-2018 #GetSomeJoy campaign I'm cooking up. I'm expanding the awareness work I've been doing, and rolling the workshops, teaching, speaking, and all that jazz into a year-long movement that I'm hoping to kick off on September 1. Stay tuned for more details.

And then...

 Photo by Onyi Nwosu ( Instagram )

Photo by Onyi Nwosu (Instagram)

 Photo by Inez Dawson ( Instagram )

Photo by Inez Dawson (Instagram)

View the rest of the photos in ze event's photo album. Thank you to everyone who made the night possible, who hugged me and reminded me to breathe or have a glass of wine like everybody else, who reminded me to eat or asked if I needed anything, who brought me banana pudding, who came all the way to Harlem from the depths of Brooklyn AND SOUTH AFRICA!!!!! to make this a beautiful night. I love you all.