Tag Archives: slider

From Sophia, With Love

Hey SuzyKnew! Readers:

It’s your girl, Sophia, and I have a few things to say to my sisters of the Diaspora. First of all, this is a message of uplift and love, and I hope it helps someone today. We, Black women of the Diaspora, have a unique bond that isn’t always celebrated, recognized or cherished the way it should be. One of the many reasons I love SuzyKnew! so much is that it endeavors to bring Black women of the world together to talk about issues that uniquely pertain to us. I love us, and I hope you do, too.

Let me begin by giving a shout out to all the Black women who feel invisible, unheard, and maligned. I see you, I hear you, and I love you. The world may only value your parts (your lips, your ass, your sass, your labor, etc.) and deem the “whole” you unworthy. But please remember that every single piece of you, in part and as a whole, is valuable and worthy. You are whole and holy, Sis, and don’t you ever forget it. You deserve to be loved out loud and unreservedly. You are enough just as you are, and you are worthy.

That said, everyone can improve upon themselves. So, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself and your circumstances. It’s important to dream big and have goals. It’s just as important to make sure you set attainable goals and come up with realistic ways to reach them. However you go about improving yourself, don’t let fear or other people’s opinions stop you from doing what you need to do.
Remember that it’s never too late for you to follow your dreams, no matter how old you are. So, go ahead and pursue your passions, apply for that dream job, and shoot your shot with your crush! Don’t be afraid to fall in love again, even though you’re scared of getting hurt. Go on and get that degree; get another degree; and get an even higher degree! You can do this, Sis.

It’s not too late to fix your credit, buy a home, learn a new language or even learn a brand new skill set. Go ahead and step up your shoe game, clean out your closets, and make room for the newer, smaller close sizes you plan to buy once you drop that extra weight. You got this!
You still have time to make your dreams come true, but you have to start now. What’s stopping you from going for it? Is it simply the fear of failing, or are you still holding onto the mistakes you made in the past?

If it’s the latter, you need to make peace with your past, and then let it go. There are no “do overs” in real life, and you can’t do anything to change what’s already happened. So stop beating yourself up over the mistakes you made. Everyone messes up sometimes. Instead, focus on learning from those mistakes and keep moving forward. You owe it to yourself to forgive yourself. And the best way to make that happen is to just do it.

I know that’s easier said than done, though. Before you can forgive yourself, you have to fully love yourself. After all, self-love is everything! Stop letting the opinions of others determine your self-worth. You’ll always be “too much” for some or “not enough” for others. So, stop twisting yourself in knots trying to please everyone.

Instead, focus on embracing who you are right now, and loving yourself unconditionally. That doesn’t mean you should stop trying to improve yourself and go for your dreams. It only means that you should love yourself As. You. Are. Right. Now.

Embracing and loving those qualities that mark you as “different from the rest” can be hard in a society that pushes us to conform to trends and fads where everyone looks and acts the same. But doing so is a necessary step on your journey to self-love and acceptance.
So you’d better learn to love those little quirks of yours. You’d better come to grips with your uniqueness. In fact, you really need to celebrate those things that make you stand out in a crowd. Without them, you’d be just like everyone else. And that would make this a very boring world.

Another barrier to self-love and acceptance is the memories and lasting effects of childhood trauma. So many of us suffered from unspeakable horrors as children which shape who we are and how we see ourselves today. Sometimes, to get over the horrors of the past, you have to comfort, forgive, and honor the little girl inside you who survived them.

It’s likely that when you went through the trauma, no one was really there to hug away your hurt or dry your tears. That may be one reason you’re so strong today. But the little girl who lives deep inside you still needs to be comforted. She still needs those hugs she never got when you were little. And that’s ok.

Because you, strong woman that you are, can take some time to love and honor that little girl now. You can comfort her in ways she never could have dreamed of. It’s called radical self-care, and you’re more than entitled to it. The little girl inside needs it, and the woman you are today deserves it.

Radically accepting yourself in a world that undervalues Black woman is an act of courage and survival. Once you’ve embraced who you are, even while you strive to improve, you’ll be less likely to accept abuse, misuse and any other bullshit that comes your way. You’ll come to demand and expect respect in all areas of your life, and you’ll get it, too.

And you’ll stop giving away your labor for free, which is something all Black woman need to stop doing. We give too much of ourselves for free, and it’s literally killing us. This includes, but is not limited to: our emotional labor in our romantic relationships; our intellectual and physical labor at home and on the job; and our action-oriented, “get shit done” labor in politics and activism.

We’re out here killing ourselves for others with very little to show for it. This has to stop. The more we love and respect ourselves, the better we’ll get at saying “No”, “Nah”, and “Hell nah”. We must get better at demanding our due in dollars, power, and recognition. And we must give up the role of “mule of the world”, once and for all.

After all, we are Black women! And these are our truths:
• The beauty of the Black woman is unmatched in this world, and probably the universe;
• The strength of the Black woman is undeniable, even when not just measured by her pain;
• The love of the Black woman is as enduring as the sun, and just as bright; and
• The hope of the Black woman is boundless.
Please share this with every Black woman you know and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
And invite your friends and family to subscribe to SuzyKnew! You won’t find any other space online quite like this one.

Love, Blessings, and Peace,

*Photos courtesy of Pixabay

This Labor Day Take Time For Self-Care: ASK JANICE

The U.S. celebrates Labor Day on Monday, September 3rd, which means that millions of Americans will have the day off work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works about 44 hours per week. What’s more, a report from the nonprofit Institute for Women’s Policy Research, funded by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, states Black women work longer and harder than any other demographic. This means we’re working way too many hours!

Ladies, unless you’re super rich, you’re probably working way too hard (and still not making enough money, but that’s a post for another day). And our labor doesn’t end at 5:00 – we’re also working just as hard in our private lives. Think about it: Black women are often the primary caregivers for both our parents and other older relatives, as well as for our children. Even in two-parent households, the bulk of child-rearing and housework falls on our shoulders.

And Black women, more than any other demographic, spend a lot of time caring for others. Whether it’s through our churches (where, let’s face it, we do the lion’s share of the hands-on work), our community organizations or our clubs, we’re out here doing thangs.

So, if anyone deserves a day free of labor, Black women do!

Why, then, is it so hard for us to take the time we need to care for ourselves? Why is self-care so difficult for us? Why do we feel guilty when we take some of our precious time for ourselves?

Because women in general, and Black women in particular, have been socialized to be caretakers! That’s why they call us the “mules of the world”, because too often, we’re carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. At the very least, we’re carrying the weight of our Black communities. And the moment we turn our attention inward and focus on ourselves, we feel guilty. The minute we start demanding more leisure time, we’re called lazy. When we want someone to take care of us for a change, we’re called gold-diggers.

But, as the late, great Audre Lorde once said “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” In other words, in order to be our best selves and thrive, we must care for ourselves, even when doing so seems at odds with our life missions and the needs of those who depend on us. After all, you can’t pour from an empty vessel.

We MUST do a better job of getting taking care of ourselves, Sisters! Mind you, self-care isn’t all mani/pedis, massages, and Caribbean vacations with our girlfriends. Self-care can also mean sticking to a reasonable and attainable health regimen; getting our mental health in order; engaging in more healthy relationships, and ridding our lives of toxic people and situations.

Because it’s so hard for us to come up with ways we can better serve ourselves, I’ve developed a short list for you. Hopefully, you’ll be able to spend at least part of this Labor Day engaging in some kind of self-care practice. You’ve certainly earned the right to radically take care of YOU

1. Sleep In or Better Yet, Stay in Bed All Day: When was the last time you slept past 10 AM? Or had a Pajama Day? Girl, sleep as long as you want, and then spend the day in your nightie watching bad daytime television, catching up on all your DVR’d shows, or binge watching something binge-worthy.

2. Take Some Time to Meal Plan for the Week Ahead: Let’s be honest. Despite your best intentions and your New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier, you’ve been too busy to actually meal plan. You’ve been eating out too often, grabbing the most convenient thing you can find. Which means you’re probably eating fast food or carryout. This Labor Day, take a few hours to actually plan your meals for the week. Stock your fridge with fresh fruits and veggies. Bake a chicken, make a pot of healthy soup, or cook something else that you can nibble on all week. Taking just one day to do this can make a huge difference in your health and your wallet.

3. Say “No” to Anything That Doesn’t Serve You: Sisters, we have got to get better at saying to “no” to things we don’t want to do and things that actually may be harmful to us. Tell that relative that always borrows money “No”. Tell that co-worker you’re always helping “No”. You don’t have to offer any explanations, either. “No” can be a complete sentence all by itself. Get better at saying “No”, and focus only on what serves YOU.

Young black beauty with afro hairstyle

4. Research Mental Health Care for Yourself: As it is a national holiday, most therapists’ and doctors’ offices will be closed. However, Google is always open! Take an hour or two to do some online research on the mental health care options available to you. No matter how happy you may be right now, your mental health requires the same diligent maintenance as your physical health. However, chances are, you already know you could use some help. One barrier to your getting the help you need (besides the stigma and cost) may have been that you just haven’t had time to look into it. Well, now you have an entire day to see what’s out there, see what your insurance will cover, etc. Don’t squander this chance to do what you know you need to do.

5. Exercise: If you’re anything like me, you haven’t exercised enough, lately. A day off of work is the perfect time to get back on track. Keep it simple, though. Don’t over plan or overdo it. That will only set you up for failure. Instead, maybe walk for 20 minutes in the morning, and then another 20 minutes in the evening. Starting on a day when you’re relaxed will help you realize how easy it can be to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule.

6. Catch Up On Your Reading: That book sitting on your nightstand? Take some time to at least start it! Those books pilling up on your E-reader? Go ahead and get started on them. Reading is relaxing and therapeutic, but we’re often too busy to indulge. Use this holiday to read and allow yourself to be transported to another world.

7. Start a Journal: Many women find journaling to be a great way to work through their problems. At the very least, journaling allows you a chance to vent. Keeping all those feelings inside just isn’t healthy, Sis. They need to come out. Starting and keeping a journal may be just the thing you need to help you get through whatever it is you’re going through. And if you’re worried about privacy, you can always buy one of those fancy diaries that lock. Or simply keep it password safe on your computer.

I hope this list helps! However you choose to spend Labor Day, I hope you have a fabulously, healthy good day!

Consider A Copper IUD The Next Time You Need The Morning After Pill


The night was wonderful but the contraception didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of a trip to Walgreens or CVS for the Morning After Pill, why not consider a trip to your doctor’s office or a clinic for an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device)? Few ladies – especially young women – think of getting a copper IUD instead of emergency contraceptive (EC) pills. (A copper IUD means not a hormonal IUD or Mirena…) This is what a recent study found published in Contraception Journal in April 2018.

The study looked at the awareness of women between 18 – 25 years  who didn’t want to get pregnant and who were getting contraceptive counseling at 40 Planned Parenthood health clinics during the years of 2011 – 2013.  Less than 8% of these women were aware of IUD inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex as a method of emergency contraception.

Your friendly doctor

Agreed: going to a Planned Parenthood Clinic isn’t exactly as convenient as a trip to the drugstore. And maybe you know an IUD isn’t right for you. But, now you know it’s an option for emergency contraception, if you didn’t know before…

Long Live The Queen – An ASK JANICE Tribute

In the coming days, much will be written and said about the indomitable Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who departed this earthly realm on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at age 76. Though not unexpected in the end because she’d been sick for a while, her passing still leaves an enormous void. Aretha Franklin was truly an American treasure and a musical icon.

I’m no way near qualified to comment on the Queen’s prolific, six decades, genre-crossing musical career. I mean, the woman released her first album in 1956 and her last one in 2017, releasing music during every decade in between. She amassed 112 Billboard hit singles, including 20 #1s, making her the most charted female recording artist in history.

I’m not worthy enough to even comment on all that.

Really, no one is.

But “Rere” was raised in my hometown of Detroit from the time she was little. That makes her my home girl, so I can’t let this moment pass without offering my own small tribute to the Queen in my own way. That’s all this is.

Everyone has their favorite “Aretha” music. Some prefer the gospel music from which she got her start, and to which she returned many times throughout her career. Others prefer her more pop-styled music, including her duets with various pop artists and other hits from the 80s and 90s.

For me personally, I appreciate how her mid-60s, Atlantic Records music gave voice to the heartache, angst and passion of a woman in and out of love. During this era, Aretha Franklin sang about grown folk’s shit in a way that didn’t hide from the ugly parts. This is my favorite “Aretha” music.

Yes, her iconic “RESPECT” is one of those songs from that time. But I’m also talking about songs like “Dr. Feel Good”, “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)”, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, “Natural Woman”, and “Ain’t No Way”.

Some of these songs were covers, but Aretha made them her own. I recently read a Tweet that said once Aretha Franklin covered your song, it was no longer your song. Truer words were never said. Just listen to her rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, in addition to “Respect” and “Natural Woman” for proof.

These songs reach deep down into your soul and pull out all of your feelings for you to experience over and over again. Each voice riff and octave change trembles with the emotion of every passionate love affair you’ve ever had, good or bad. Like the Blues greats who paved the way for her, Ms. Franklin’s raw delivery and candid expressions of love and hurt resonate in ways pop artists can never really replicate.
I’ll be honest. When I was a little girl growing up in Detroit in the 70s and 80s, I sang along to Aretha Franklin’s hits as they were released, quickly learning all the words like a pro. But I had absolutely no idea what I was singing. It’s like what elders say to young people when a jam comes on the radio “Y’all don’t know nothin’ ‘bout this”! I really didn’t “know nothin’”.


It wasn’t until the late 80s and early 90s when I re-visited her early music as an adult that I truly appreciated Aretha’s more bluesy songs. I had to become a grown ass woman myself, with a few passionate love affairs and heartbreaks under my belt, before could I really get the Queen’s heartfelt lyrics.

Take 1967’s “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”, for example. It opens with “You’re a no-good heartbreaker. You’re a liar. And you’re a cheat. And I don’t know why I let you do these things to me. My friends keep telling me that you ain’t no good. But, oh, they don’t know that I’d leave you if I could.”

Listen. If you’re a woman who’s made it to a certain age in life, you’ve probably said, or at least felt, some version of these words. You may not want to admit it, but we’ve all been there in some way, shape or form.  And that’s what I came to love about the Aretha Franklin songs from that period, in particular. That raw truth, belted out in that distinctive Aretha Franklin voice, clearly expressed the things I was going through. Singing along with her, at the top of my off-key lungs, was a cathartic experience, releasing all my pain and heartache in a glorious two or three minutes of bluesy bliss.

It wasn’t all heartache and bad love, though. One of my other favorite Aretha Franklin songs from that era is “Dr. Feelgood” from the 1967 “I Never Loved a Man” album. In this song, with its bluesy pacing and double-entendre lyrics, Rere gets real about the good lovin’ she gets from her man. My favorite part of this song is where she sings “Don’t send me no doctor filling me up with all those pills. I got me a man named Dr. Feelgood and oh yeah, that man takes care of all my pains and my ills.” She later ends with “Good God Almighty, that man sure makes me feel real good!”

If you’re lucky, you’ve experienced your own Dr. Feelgood, and you can relate to this song. If you’re lucky, you know exactly what it means to be loved so good you don’t want anyone hanging around you and your man. If you’re lucky, this song resonates with you in ways that make you blush.

And that’s the power of Aretha Franklin’s music. It makes you feel.

I know that Aretha Franklin was so much more than the Detroit preacher’s daughter whose songs gave voice to my every emotion. She was also a valiant fighter for justice, once offering to pay for Angela Davis’ legal fees. She was a high school drop-out with two kids by the time she was 14 years old who went on to receive 10 honorary degrees. She was a recovering alcoholic and domestic violence survivor who went on to command the kind of respect others only dream about, demanding and receiving cash payments UP FRONT for her many performances and appearances. She was a Diva with a capital “D” who was also a doting grandmother who proudly attended her grandchildren’s school programs.

She was my home girl from Detroit. And she was so much more.

Aretha Franklin truly was the Queen of Soul, and she left an indelible mark on this world. I myself feel blessed to have been alive during her earthly reign.

Long live the Queen!

Beyoncé’s Lovin’ Her FUPA. Are You Lovin’ Yours?


Ladies, if you haven’t read it already, take a look at Vogue’s rare, post-partum interview with Beyoncé. After a difficult delivery of of her twins Rumi and Sir, Beyoncé openned up about how she was feeling about her body, her life and motherhood. When she gave birth, Beyoncé weighed 217 pounds. She was swollen with toxemia and had to have an emergency C-Section. Wow. She was – and still is – experiencing a lot of changes – including down there.

Beyoncé confesses that after the birth of her first child, she felt pressured to conform to society’s expectations and lose weight quickly. This time around, she states she’s good with her FUPA.  FUPA? Yeah – I had to look it up.  It’s Fat Upper crotch Area. Right above your mons.

Your FUPA size can change with pregnancy as well as with weight gain and loss. So can your mons and labia. It’s all good – as long as you’re not experiencing anything out of the normal like pain or discomfort.

Having a fat pussy – or large mons – can be sexy, if you embrace it. Your mons provides the cushion for “the push in” and there are many different looks out there. During your lifetime, your look may change. So – start lovin’ it. For more on what causes a “fat vagina,” read Healthline.

To appreciate how diverse labia can be, click here to take a look at the labia gallery.

Photos courtesy of Vogue

SuzyKnew! Continues To Look For An Editor-In-Chief

Young girl in her bedroom

Fall is almost here and SuzyKnew! is still looking for an editor-in-chief.  Could this be you?

We want someone who is dynamic and is just as passionate about black and brown women’s sexual and reproductive health (and pleasure) as we are! Our forum needs to remain strong and informed  – especially in today’s world.  Excellent writing, blogging, organizational skills, and a social media presence are a must. The candidate will work from home and can live anywhere the world. Students and recent grads are welcome!

Is SuzyKnew!‘s new editor-in-chief you? Or someone you know? Send us an email to: SuzyKnew@SuzyKnew.com with a resume and brief statement of interest and experience.

We look forward to bringing you authentic, unique articles with the woman of color in mind.

Your Perfection Is Not Required: Lillian Ogbogoh

It’s funny how we think we need to be an expert at everything we do in our lives – that if we’re not absolutely perfect at everything we do, then we have somehow failed ourselves. I am not sure who to hold responsible for this insidious notion but this idea alone has kept many of us from showing up in our own lives, waiting for the illusionary perfect time, perfect weight, perfect skills before being and doing what we want. I recently was in a Pilates class and the instructor said something that made me smile, she said I do not expect you to be perfect, I expect you to be here and improving. I am not sure who told us that we have to work at expert level in our lives, life is meant to be a series of learning moments that we move up a level and learn something else even Tony Hawks had to wipe out multiple times before he became the legend that he is.

How many times have you said you were going to try something new before your gremlins piped up and reminded you that you will look foolish that you didn’t know the steps to be good enough to take the salsa class? Is that just me, I know there is more of us out there that take ourselves out of the running before the game even starts… Okay let’s get it out there, yes you will look foolish, you may crush a few toes and look like a baby hippo trying to pirouette and so flaming what! No one ever died of embarrassment last time I checked.

You are not meant to be at expert level and no one except you are expecting you to be perfect, so cut yourself some slack and show up because that is the only way to go from a newbie to Tony Hawk. Apply for that new role that stretches your abilities and forces you to learn new skills, take on new responsibilities that you will fail fast in and learn how not to do it and move forward. Dare yourself this summer to become a newbie again, go to that class be it Pilates or the French class be willing to fail, you may discover something really awesome about you.

The problem with perfection is that it an insidious little monster, it masquerades like it is your friend asking for the best of the best from you but what it is really doing is getting in the way of you showing up. People, have you ever done something, created something but never shared it with anyone? Because you feel it is not your best offering it has to be perfect, you have to be perfect before you do X, Y, and Z. Before you know it your sweet perfection friend has taken over and keeps you spinning your wheels waiting for that perfect time to do and try something new. Heck, it might not even be doing something new, it may be something as simple as telling someone in your life, what you think or feel. However, you are waiting for that one perfect moment and the situation continues to fester till it blows up like a small volcano.

It is time to know that, no one expects you to be perfect, what is expected is that you show up and learn and participate, life is waiting for you to show up and play. Experience a few wipe outs and get moving again, just remember whenever your perfection monster starts squealing, just remind it that your perfection is not required.


First published July 3, 2016

ASK JANICE: Why Didn’t My Boyfriend ‘Put A Ring On It?’

Dear Janice,
Six months ago – my boyfriend ended our relationship. And, I’m still not over him. The worst part is that he’s moved on. He’s now engaged to another woman! We had been together for three years and for me, the breakup came completely out of the blue. One minute, I was in a happy, committed relationship and the next minute, I’m alone.

He said he needed space and that he just wasn’t happy with me anymore. Then the next thing I know, our mutual friends are telling me that he’s engaged to someone else.

That should have been me wearing that ring. I should be planning my wedding with him, not her!

What’s wrong with me? Help me, please! I don’t know how I’ll ever get over him!

Sad and Alone
Dear Sad and Alone,
As you read my response, I want you to imagine Idina Menzel’s voice in your ear, singing “Let it Go” from Disney’s hit film “Frozen”. Because, and you already know this, you really need to let him go, Sis.

One of the first things we women tend to do after a breakup is go over everything we did wrong in the relationship. While post-relationship reflection is necessary and important, we have to be careful not to go on a self-blaming spree. Your breakup wasn’t necessarily about anything you did. It probably had nothing to do with you, at all! It could have been something as simple as: his feelings changed. It happens.
That’s not to minimize your pain, though. Your pain and disappointment are real and completely normal. I just don’t want you to blame yourself, anymore.

No one is perfect within a relationship; everyone makes mistakes. So no matter how often you replay every conversation in your head, and dissect every argument you had during your three years together, you may never know why it ended. Obviously, you weren’t the one for him and he wasn’t the one for you. Obsessing about it won’t change the fact that he’s moved on with his life.
Getting over a relationship isn’t easy, especially when it wasn’t your choice to end it. You were with him for three years, so six months mourning the end isn’t really all that long. But, the fact that you’re seeking help to get past it is a sign that finally, you’re ready to move on with your life. And that’s a good thing.

Some say the best way to get over one man is to get “under” another one. That is, get a new guy. I know, I know! That’s much easier said than done. I know how hard it is in these dating streets. And I’m certainly not going to advocate that you just start jumping into bed with any man that shows an interest in you! However, there is something to be said for getting “out there” and actively dating again.

You’ll want to start slowly, of course. And stick close to home. Put the word out to your close friends that you’re available and interested in dating. Allow yourself to be fixed up by people who know you well. Finally give that one guy you’ve kept in the “friend zone” a chance. Be open to blind dates (in safe, public locations, of course). Consider online dating, even.

Getting out there and dating again just may give your self-confidence the boost it needs. Not that you should seek validation from other men to feel good about yourself, of course. But it wouldn’t hurt. Just be sure to keep it casual, at first. Don’t go looking to give your heart to someone new right away. Play the field, a little.

But the MOST important thing you can do to get over your ex is FORGIVE. Forgiveness is essential to happiness. You can’t really move on until you’ve totally forgiven him. Forgive him for leaving. Forgive him for getting over you so quickly. Forgive him for finding someone new.
Forgiving your ex will bring you the freedom from heartbreak that you seek. Forgiving him will allow your heart to really heal. And it’s definitely time for you to heal, Sis. You’ve been hurting long enough.

And forgive yourself. Whatever you think you did wrong … let it go. Forgive yourself for any perceived mistakes you made. Forgive yourself for “losing” him. Forgive and allow yourself to fully love yourself, again. Because we all know that we can’t fully give or receive love until we love ourselves, first and foremost.

To be honest, I think you dodged a bullet with this one. If he got engaged so quickly, that other woman may have been in the picture before your relationship officially ended. And clearly, he just wasn’t the one for you. It’s a good thing he removed himself from your life before you wasted any more time on him. You should probably even thank him!

Your happiness is out there, Sis. You just have to get out there and grab it.

Good luck!

First published September 6, 2016

ASK JANICE Special: Michelle Williams Seeks Help For Mental Illness

Greetings, SuzyKnew! Readers!

Destiny’s Child singer Michelle Williams made news this week when she reportedly checked herself into a healthcare facility to seek help with her depression. The singer-songwriter, Broadway actor and pop star has spoken publicly about her struggles with depression before, and has also been a vocal advocate for mental health.

That is no small feat for a member of one of the best-selling female singing groups of all time.
The gorgeous Ms. Williams, who turns 38 on July 23rd, took to Twitter this week to explain, saying

“For years I have dedicated myself to increasing awareness of mental health and empowering people to recognize when it’s time to seek help, support and guidance from those that love and care for your wellbeing,” the singer wrote. She “sought help from a great team of healthcare professionals. … Today I proudly, happily and healthily stand here as someone who will continue to always lead by example as I tirelessly advocate for the betterment of those in need.”

Not only do I applaud Ms. Williams for her transparency, I’m in awe of her bravery. I know first-hand how hard it is to publicly talk about struggling with a mental illness. I’m not a celebrity, but I have written and published a few articles about my own battles, and believe me, it ain’t easy. So I can imagine how hard it must be for someone with Michelle Williams’ star power and recognition to be so vulnerable about such a sensitive topic. That’s why I have nothing but high praise and appreciation for her.

Mental illness is as prevalent in the Black community as anywhere else, yet it’s so stigmatized we barely talk about it. And that stigma is literally killing us! While suicide rates in the U.S. among Black people remains lower than our white counterparts, they have increased in recent years (according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). It’s heartbreaking to think about how many lives could’ve been saved had those people sought and received the help they needed. Studies show that one of the biggest barriers to getting help for Black people is the stigma associated with having mental illness or disease.

As I pointed out in an article published here on SuzyKnew a few years ago, many of us rely on platitudes like “Pray on it”, “Take it to Jesus” or “Talk to Pastor about it”, instead of confronting the issue and talking about it with one another, or getting professional help. We tend to sweep those symptoms we see in our loved ones under the rug or pass them off as quirks.

But silence is deadly when it comes to depression, as we’ve seen time and again. Substance abuse, domestic partner violence, rape/sexual assault and other violent crimes are often rooted in untreated mental illnesses. The only way to eliminate the stigma of mental illness in the Black community (and elsewhere) is to talk about it as candidly and as often as possible. We need to normalize the treatment of mental ailments the same way we view treating hypertension, heart disease or diabetes, all of which also plague African Americans in alarmingly high numbers. (You can read the entire piece here: https://suzyknew.com/5425-2/)

That’s why I’m so proud of Michelle Williams and can’t thank her enough for being so open with her struggles. I wish her wholeness and healing, and all good things going forward. I wish that for you as well, Sisters!

Waiting Is Sexy

Flirting young African American woman pursing her lips for a kiss and caressing the face of a handsome man in glasses as they enjoy a date together

Ladies, waiting until you get married is sexy. Here is a Sista’ from Nigeria who shares why she’s waiting, and a couple from around the way who tell you why they waited until they were married before they had sex.

If you’re waiting, these stories will let you know you’re not alone. If waiting isn’t for you, these stories may give you another perspective on sexual relationships and their purpose. For more personal confessions about waiting – the good and the bad – here are 16 confessions posted on Huffington Post.