* this post is in dedication to Karyn Washington, the owner and creator of For Brown Girls (FBG)
I couldn’t do this series without the mentions of you, Kay. I couldn’t do this without acknowledging both of your babies, For Brown Girls and the Dark Skin Red Lip project. You were for us black women before it was trendy and way before it became dire. You were for black women because it was your passion. It was your why when so many of us were still trying to figure out our own missions.
I wish you were here today to see what we’ve created and what you spearheaded.
Kay, I wish you had more time.
Your passing in 2014 shook us all. Not just your budding community. Not just us women you had befriended and highlighted throughout your work and organizations. But all of us. Essence, Ebony, The Huffington Post included. It felt like the reality check none of us wanted to acknowledge and bring to the light. It wasn’t sexy back then to talk about the black community, black women, and our mental health, but the world reluctantly journeyed there. The deep dive began.
“Why didn’t she say anything?”
“We didn’t know she was suffering.”
“Why would she go and do that?”
And my favorite.
“Suicide is selfish.”
I was among the folks that questioned how it got this far, but not out of disdain or nosiness, but because I really just didn’t know. A part of me held some guilt around this because I feel like I should have known. I knew you were hurting, I just didn’t know that suicide was an option. And after years of reflection, and years of battling with my own unsavory thoughts, I realized your untimely death shook me because well, you were my mirror.
You showed me directly what could happen if I didn’t tell my loved ones I was struggling. You showed me what was next if I didn’t take some time to work through my darkness. You showed me what happens if I didn’t take those damn meds. But outside of being a catalyst for me to get the help I was in denial of needing, you also showed me that it was okay to be passionate about something the world didn’t know they would need yet. In your case, an empowering community made for black girls, by a black girl. In my case, a fight against a stigma that has riddled the black community since before we born.
Thank you for helping me realize that it was okay to be this passionate. Thank you for letting me know that I know that my time was not over just yet.
My exploration of self-care, boundaries, and mental-wellness has always been deliberate, and as I continue to educate myself and practice what I preach, I know my budding community can do the same with my experiences to provide examples. Like you did.
For the Black girls who needed more time, we see you and honor you.
Kay, we honor you. And miss you. Like, really miss you.