Mental health is a crucial subject that is becoming the forefront of many discussions on social media. While some black women have been advocating for healing and putting their mental health first for years, celebrity athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles (who both took a stand in their profession to protect their mental well-being) helped pushed this important issue to the spotlight. And to continue building conversations around mental health and bringing awareness to healing, on November 15th Instagram, bestselling author Blair Imani, and a few other women of color from different generations will come together for a day of healing through a livestream conversation titled #ItsOktoNot to give into pressure to do more than you can. This conversation was inspired by Naomi who wrote in a emotional post that she could no longer burden herself with others’ expectations, and Simone who shared, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times”, and others who chose to put their mental health first and not do what was expected of them. #ItsOktoNot will open with actress Skai Jackson and close with LGBTQ+ activist Zaya Wade. It will feature a variety of 10-15 minute live-streamed, well-being sessions on @Creators from a moment of spoken word with activist Blair Imani to a session on laughter with Elsa Majimbo and how to take care of yourself with Tabitha Brown.
I chatted with Blair about the #ItsOktoNot conversation and how she uses her voice and talents to advocate for mental health. Blair believes this initiative with Instagram is crucial because social media plays a huge role in a lot of people’s everyday lives. “Mental health must be prioritized everywhere and that includes social media. Social media is an increasingly large part of our lives and as an educator and influencer I try to use my platform responsibly. As Instagram works to make the experience of people a safer and mentally healthier one, I am excited to be a part of the journey,” said Blair.
When it comes to mental health, a lot of black women have been taught to put self on the backburner, power through hard circumstances, and that being strong all the time is one of our better traits. Blair wishes to alleviate the myths that black women deal with through her art. She stated, “One thing that is incredibly important to dispel when it relates to Black women and mental health is the incorrect idea that we have a “different” physiology or brain chemistry. All of that is rooted in racist pseudoscience which I discuss in my new book Read This to Get Smarter. This false and racist idea still persists and it creates harmful barriers. One of the struggles that we face is not being believed when we discuss our pain and not having access to mental health care because of the wage gap and systemic racism.”
Blair is grateful that her work coupled with simply being herself allows her to both spread knowledge about mental health wellness and be an inspiration for those who are following her journey. Along with tailoring her social platform to be a walking testimony, she is currently co-creating a project that will aid in mental health awareness journey as well. “I find it to be an incredible honor that I am able to inspire others simply by being myself, reflecting on my experiences and trying to find a path forward in terms of growth. I actually have been working with Christina Basias and Alexis Androulakis, the lesbian cofounders of Fempower Beauty, to work on developing beauty practices that are rooted in uplifting, healing, and affirming. We created a series of self love mirror decals that you can put on your mirror or any reflective surface.” remarked Blair.
Tune into @Creators for #ItsOktoNot beginning at 9 am pt/12 pm et on Monday, November 15, 2021 to hear from Skai, Zaya, Chelsea, Blair, Elsa, Tabitha and more.