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About Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @dapperdrfel Dapper Dr. Feel is a burgeoning Southern gentleman looking for love in all the wrong places while applying to medical school. He volunteers with autism awareness projects and hopes to mentor other young Black men.

08Apr/19
Black Owned Healthcare Practice

Self Love Series | Black Owned Healthcare Practice Targets Sexual Health and Education

Black Owned Healthcare Practice

Vontrese at her practice.

“Everyone is doing it (sex) but nobody is talking about it.” I hear Vontrese Warren, nurse practitioner and fellow Louisville Central High school alum, explain. As a writer covering self-love and seeing sex as a part of that, I felt it important that Vontrese shares her story and the importance of sexual/reproductive health. Besides being a credible resource on the topic, Vontrese also co-owns her own healthcare practice (with Cynthia Parker) in west Louisville, KY. Their Black-owned healthcare practice focuses on reproductive health and education. West Louisville is not known to have many Black-owned healthcare businesses, especially not considering its population demographics.

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What made you become a nurse practitioner? 

Vontrese Warren (VW): I have always wanted to be in the health field since I was a child, I really wanted to be a neurosurgeon. I attended Moorhead State University as a pre-med/chemistry major but realized it wasn’t for me and changed my major. That’s when I decided I wanted to be an obstetrician and went to nursing school. Once I completed the nursing bachelor’s program, I got a job working at UK (University of Kentucky) hospital in the labor and delivery department. For the next ten years, I held jobs at UK hospital, Medical University of North Carolina, and Baptist Health Louisville.

“I early conceived a liking for and sought every opportunity to relieve the sufferings of others.” – Rebecca Lee Crumpler (The first African American Woman to earn a medical degree)

FYI: Crumpler, like Like Vontrese Warren, was a nurse for 10 years before she furthered her education and practice.  

DDF: What made you go into reproductive education? 

VW: After being on call on holidays during the summer and spring break when most families are on vacation and realized I’m missing out on family events like some of my sons’ events, I decided that I didn’t like the current lifestyle/schedule. I decided to go in another direction. It was at this point I decided to get my master’s in nursing at the University of Cincinnati. While studying nursing, I also studied sex counseling.

Black Owned Healthcare Practice

When you put yourself in a specialty, you put yourself in a bubble, like, a family nurse practitioner can get a job anywhere. However, I knew what I wanted to do and I didn’t want a job just anywhere.

It was difficult finding a job that fit me. Job after job, I searched and they were either already taken or not a good fit for me. I finally found a job at a doctors office where we performed aesthetic care which included weight loss management and reproductive care. This was right up my alley but it still didn’t work out.

After two years looking to find a job, I thought, if I can’t find a job I am going to make a job. So that’s what I did.

“…somewhere in your life, there has to be a passion. There has to be some desire to go forward. If not, why live?” –Alexa Canady (The first African American Neurosurgeon) 

DDF: What is the importance of sexual health education, outside of just grade school? 

VW: As I mentioned, everybody is doing it but nobody wants to talk about it. When people are talking about it, they are not discussing correct information. Like my son is in second grade, you have kids in third grade and up talking about sex but what are they saying?  

Even when it comes to the parents or grandparents sharing old wives tales about sex, these aren’t backed with education or studies. So, I like to inform people to give them the direction to go. If you are doing it the right way and have a good knowledge base, then you are better off in any relationship with your own sexual health and whomever your partner is.

“Talk to her about sex, and start early. It will probably be a bit awkward, but it is necessary.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

DDF: Do you have male patients as well? 

Both women and men are patients, but I have more women patients because I provide more for women. It just depends on the type of venue.

DDF: How important is sexual health and sex education to self-love? 

If you are unhealthy in any aspect, you have to take some accountability on why you are like that. Why aren’t you as healthy as you can be? You know what can be done and/or can seek the resources to help yourself.

DDF: What are your goals, both short term and long term? 

VW: My goal both short and long term is to educate the community on reproductive health and let people know that there are resources out there. Here in West Louisville, there are not too many businesses, let alone healthcare, but that’s why I have my services here.

If you are in the Kentucky area, visit Vontrese at her business:

Warren & Williams Health C.A.R.E., PLLC

2600 West Broadway, Suite 208, Louisville, Kentucky 40211, United States

Contact: [email protected]

Tel: (502) 653-9716 or (502) 309-4432

15Mar/19
Anthony Trucks

Former NFL Player Anthony Trucks Explains How Self-Love Affects Your Service

Anthony TrucksAnthony Trucks is currently one of the few football players to complete an American Ninja Warrior gauntlet. At 225lbs he really wasn’t expected to complete the gauntlet because the people that are normally able to complete these obstacles are around 160lbs. He approached the obstacles at the event like he approaches life, looking to only to do his best and nothing more. Taji Mag was able to talk to the competitor and former NFL athlete about the importance of self-love, life shifts, and overcoming obstacles as a current self-help coach, influencer, and inspirational speaker.

“Sometimes it takes years to really grasp what has happened to your life.” – Wilma Rudolph

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What is an Identity Shift?

Anthony Trucks (AT): “We have a lot of things that vastly change in life, things like relationships, income, family, and self-image. Along with that is what we desire to change and that change comes from not only our mindset and habits but our identity as well. When our identity becomes dialed into where you want it to be, the mindset and habits will fall into place smoothly. I believe that when you have identity anchors in place, life becomes easier and smooth.

We as individuals want more. More love, more freedom, more time, etc. But we want these things without changing our routines or schedule. Life doesn’t work that way. I think the desire for change came through the desire to want.

I’m always looking back at my life to evaluate my desire for that certain period and time. At that point I was thinking about why I wanted to close my gym, why I didn’t do anymore consulting or guest speaking. Well, about two years ago I decided that the last thing I want to be on my deathbed is the person I could’ve been.

DDF:  What gave you the strength you needed during your childhood?

AT: Being a kid, you know no other option. For me, I started to grow into my conscious mind as a young fostered child. I knew no better nor examined the difference between my self and other kids until I was exposed to more things. It is then I began to question “Why don’t I have new clothes or why are there holes in my shoes?” I was lucky enough to have a caring foster family to get me through difficult times in my life. The other thing that helped was that I had people outside of my family who helped facilitate me into programs and spoke positivity into me.

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.” -Muhammad Ali

DDF: What allowed you to move into your calling and current position after your career ending injury?

AT: The change from my NFL life was one of the big identity teachers for me, I think it’s a good teacher for anybody. I think what we do is what we become, much like if a person at a young age swings a bat every day, often times they become a baseball player. This happens to athletes and some people in the military. When you are an athlete, you base your sense of self-worth and guidance on this thing you do, but when the thing you do (career or activity)  is no more, you don’t know who you are.

I was smart enough to know that there may be an asterisk on the future of my football career, so I took care of my academics and made sure I graduated. When I came home, I started to figure out who I was because my life went from everyone wanting to talk to me and have me sign stuff to not even knowing my name because I didn’t play anymore due to my injury. That is definitely a difficult transition.

Anthony Trucks

I had to find a way to re-direct my energy into finding that new thing that made me feel as if I mattered. It helps me more when I find things that will help other people.

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou

DDF: Where did this re-directing of energy take you?

AT: I decided that I wanted to use my kinesiology degree to open a gym. There was a drawback, however. I became hyper-focused on the gym. At the same time, I had a family – wife and kids – but I neglected them all with my focus being to maintain and build this gym. Thinking that if I had this thriving business then it would be best for my kids but all they wanted was quality time with me, money or not.

DDF: How do you use self-love to be the best version of yourself?

AD: The reason that I am able to serve at a high level is that I love me. When you love someone, you not only tell them that you love them but you love them with action. You don’t want to let that person that you love down, no matter who it is. Yet, we don’t take this same perspective and reflect it internally.

We eat a crappy meal during a diet, we miss a workout, we don’t make phone calls to people to help ourselves, or we don’t chase a dream. It is during these times that you are not doing actions of love to the person you need to do it for the most and therefore you don’t show up. That makes you feel like you are not deserving and when you feel that way, you don’t put things out into the world. Self-love affects your service for sure.

DDF: You have a wonderful family and of course you are full of good advice. What advice do you give your children?

AT: It’s a daily conversation with my kids. As children get into their teens, they seek freedom, they seek autonomy. Freedom is like value. It’s like giving a kid $20 million dollars, if you don’t have experience then you will burn through it.

In regards to adults, freedom is you get to make the choices you want to make but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about responsible decisions.

I teach my kids how to be responsible and, with that, explain how this approach will allow them to attain any goal.

Anthony Trucks

Check Anthony Trucks via social media and follow up on his TV appearances on American Ninja Warrior and more here!

09Feb/19
Etymology of Self-Love

The Etymology of Self-Love

Etymology of Self-LoveLove. Throughout the ages, sages, philosophers, and religious teachers have proclaimed it as the greatest of virtues. In 1 Corinthians, we learn that faith, hope, and love are to be extolled, but love supersedes all. Surah 14 commands us to fill the hearts of man with love. In the Madhurashtakam, Lord Krishna urges us to do everything with “love, compassion, humility, and devotion” in our hearts. Countless axioms prompt us to love our fellow man; but what do they say of loving ourselves? Must we love and value ourselves to best be a servant and light to the world? Are we not called to love our neighbors, as we love ourselves? The wisdom of the ancient world tells us it is equally as important to be good to ourselves as it is to do well by others. Today, this philosophy has a name: self-love. The American Heritage Dictionary defines self-love as “the instinct or desire to promote one’s own well-being” or “regard for or one’s self.” This, of course, is simply a connotation. But what is the origin of “self-love”? Who was the first to espouse its tenants and give it a name? Has the quest for self-love always been a journey to securing our own happiness? Through etymology, one can dig deep to answer these questions and gain more insight into self-love.

One might be surprised to learn that “self-love” was originally synonymous with selfishness and vanity, as noted in the first Americanized edition of Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (1965). But this idea goes back much further. Greek philosopher Plato said to avoid the “excesses of self-love”, while Roman statesman Cicero considered self-love or sui amantes sine rivali to be a great sin and a sure path to doom and folly. Francis Bacon builds on Cicero’s 1 perspective in his essay “Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self” when he says “it is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set a house on fire, and it was but to roast their eggs.” With this notion, self-love could easily be viewed as a precursor to narcissism.

However, Aristotle, a student of Plato, rejected this notion. In Nicomachean Ethics, he notes that while self-love can represent selfishness, it can also be the love of ourselves in striving for “moral nobility”. That is, the best kind of self-love is that which comes from our ability to love others. This is akin to the message in Leviticus 9:17, where Moses wrote that we should “love thy neighbor as we love ourselves”. Key to this directive is loving and honoring ourselves — not in selfishness, but in seeking the greater good for man.

Today, most understand self-love to be an affirming of one’s own happiness, thanks in part to the works of German psychologist Erich Fromm. In The Art of Loving, Fromm reminds us that if an individual is able to love productively, he loves himself too; if he can love only others, he cannot love at all” (1956, 55-56). Not only does he reject the notion that self-love is selfishness, but then goes to say that they are opposites. This seems to jive with what the ancients taught — it seems as if Fromm is reminding us that it is both good and necessary to value ourselves. This is not vanity, but rather a tool of survival. Particularly in a world in which we are encouraged to meet standards of beauty and success that are far-removed from ourselves. True success is the love of self rivaling the love of others happiness; and happiness can only come from self-love. With this as our foundation, we can then go out and heal through the power of lovem — both others and ourselves.

Etymology of Self-Love

Author, Brittany Selah Lee-Bey

Follow EtymologyRules!

Instagram and Twitter: @etymologyrules
Facebook: www.thefacebook.com/etymologyrules
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/etymologyrules
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/etymologyrules

Works Cited
Aristotle (340 BC). Nicomachean Ethics (H.Rackham, Trans). Hertfordshire: Wordworths
Books Limited
Fromm, E. (1989). The art of loving. New York: Perennial Library.
Mayor, Joseph B. (2016). A Sketch of Ancient Philosophy: From Thales to Cicer. Cambridge
University Press.
Rogetm Peter Mark (1965) [1852], Dutch, Robert A. ed., The Original Roget’s Thesaurus of
English Words and Phrases (Americanized ed.), New York: St. Martin’s Press
Self-love. (n.d.) In American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Retrieved from
https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=self-love&submit.x=0&submit.y=0

07Feb/19
Santia Beck

Olympian Hopeful, Santia Deck, Says Self-Love is Self Care

It was Florence Griffith Joyner (U.S. track and field Olympian) who said, “When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening anymore.” These are the same words that echo in the mind of athlete, author, and fitness influencer, Santia Deck, as she leaves her opponents, both male and female, in the dust. She jukes them with Barry Sanders-like finesse during flag football and rugby games. As she runs past her opponents on the field and gives it her all during workouts, her vision is set on her biggest goal: the Olympics. Taji Mag was able to chat with Santia to discuss health, self-love, and her journey to Japan 2020.

Self-Love is How You Treat Yourself

Santia Deck

Santia Deck is a motivational speaker, author, trainer, and social media fitness influencer. She also appeared on shows like Steve Austin Broken Skull Ranch TV show.

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): How important is fitness to self-love?

Santia Deck (SA): I would put the two in the same category because how you treat yourself correlates to how you value yourself. If you are someone that doesn’t care about working out, eating healthy, and making sure that you are putting the proper nutrition in your body, it shows that there are some deep rooted issues within yourself. I personally think taking time for health and nutrition, is taking time out for self-care.

DDF: You are in great shape, what made you choose to be a vegan and what changes did you experience once you made the change?

SD:  Well, I was vegan about nine months ago and I just recently decided to go back. My life changed physically, emotionally, and mentally. My skin cleared up, my energy level skyrocketed (I felt like I was a kid again with unlimited energy), I slept better, I had a healthy bladder and intestines, and I felt like I was in tip-top shape. I was competing on a higher level than some of the pro athletes I was training with.

I would eat avocados and mangoes for breakfast before training, then after the workout, I would still feel pretty good but the NFL athletes would be on the ground dying. I realized then that what you put in your body does matter. People think that you have to have all this meat and carbs to gain muscle mass but there are a lot of vegan athletes who are doing well in their respective sports.

Santia Deck

Santia in action on the field.

DDF: What are men’s reactions when they see you on the field and/or guard you?

SA: I usually get questions like “Who are you?” “What are you?” “What kind of girl are you?” and “Why are you like this?” Of course, you have those people that are mad and/or those guys that claim they weren’t giving 100%. I get a lot of different reactions.

It’s funny, people think just because I am a girl that I am not supposed to be super athletic and compete on the same level as a man. Of course, I am not saying that I can go on the football field and be one of the guys, but I do think that my footwork and moves are pretty good for any athlete.

Santia Deck

The first African American woman to win a gold medal Alice Coachman.

“I always believed that I could do whatever I set my mind to do.” – Alice Coachman

DDF: Who taught you about sports and how did they encourage you?

SA: Definitely, my older brother because I grew up with boys. I have three brothers and one sister, one of my brothers is actually my twin. So when I was younger I was always competing with my twin and my older brother would make us compete in various activities. He created that competitive spirit and the reason I am able to do the things I can do now athletically. I was doing footwork drills and running routes when I was five years old. I was never the girl that played with dolls, I was always outside doing something athletic. I was a tomboy doing everything my brothers were doing.

Mind, Body, and Soul 

DDF: What made you practice celibacy?

SA: I was in an abusive relationship and had stayed in the relationship longer than I needed to. I think it’s because I had sex with this person, which created an attachment, and I am very spiritual, so I believe in soul ties. I felt like I had a major soul tie with this person that was created through sexual intimacy.

Then there was a point when I thought that I wasn’t going to be here anymore because of the abuse and I remember praying to God that if He were to get me out of this situation, then I would make a promise to be celibate. Never have sex with someone that doesn’t deserve me. After God got me through that situation, that is when I decided to commit to being celibate.

There are a lot of spiritual demons when you have sex with people and I felt that was something going on with me. Honestly, I just want to have a blessed marriage, I want my children to grow up in a two-parent home, and just do what I feel is the right way.

DDF: Are there some difficulties being celibate?  

Santia Deck

Santia Deck aka Track Baby. FYI: Santia wears mismatched socks in honor of Flo Jo.

SA: It’s been tough while I’ve been dating. I have only had one person that respected me enough not to explore dating with me because of my decision, but a lot of men have tried to act like they can hold out and eventually try their hand anyway.

It is tough trying to find someone when you decide to be celibate but I have avoided so much drama and people I didn’t need to date because they are scratched off my list once I tell them about my decision.

DDF: Have your followers given you a lot of praise for being such an inspiration?

SA: I get a lot of messages about how I have influenced people to workout, chase their dreams.

DF: How do you feel about all the support that you get from your followers?

SA: I am grateful and thankful to have a platform to give people daily motivation. To be an inspiration to the kids that they can do whatever they want to do. Reminding them that there is no limit except the limit you put on yourself. I’m just grateful to God.

Big Goals and Small Worries 

DDF: How do you react to some of the negative people and comments?

SA: I have thick skin and people are going to feel the way they feel and have negative things to say. To me, it’s just ignorance and I don’t care because I love myself the way that I am. I look the way I look because that is the way I am supposed to be… a professional athlete. It’s like the thing that Serena Williams goes through, you can talk about her but she’s a millionaire.

Santia Deck

Tennis player Serena Williams.

“Think of all the girls who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of having too many defined muscles and being made fun of or called unattractive.” – Serena Williams

DDF: What is your biggest goal right now?

SA: My biggest goal right now is the Olympics because it’s right around the corner. Of course, I want to have success in all aspects of my life but the biggest goal is definitely the Olympics, Japan 2020.

Santia Deck

Victoria Folay Team USA rugby athlete.

DDF: What are your next steps to get there?

SA: It’s a process to make it to the Olympics. I just need to be seen by a USA coach and that is accomplished by going to camps, games, etc. I’ve been doing those things now and just waiting to get a tryout but I will keep grinding until I do.

As many of us watch Santia make countless plays on the field via social media, we may see her alongside current players for the women’s USA rugby team like Victoria Folay. Better yet, we see her being like her biggest Olympic inspiration, Flo Jo, and standing with a gold medal around her neck, mismatched socks and all. Follow Santia on Instagram.

Santia Deck

Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo Jo), U.S. track and field Olympian.

All photos of Santia are taken by Enka Lawson and Jeffery Mustache.

04Feb/19
the safe place

I am Black, I Have Mental Health Issues, and This is How it Feels for Me | The Safe Place

the safe placeJasmin Pierre is an activist, author, mental health advocate and creator of The Safe Place app. It’s an app made for people in the African Community to learn more about mental health and serve as a resource for those who need help getting the information that they need. Taji Mag was able to catch up with Jasmin to hear about her creation that can help educate people and, in some cases, save lives.

Dapper Dr.Feel (DDF): What inspired you to develop this app?

Jasmin Pierre (JP): I deal with mental issues myself. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 20. So, I’ve been comfortable talking about mental health for a long time because of the stigma it got from the Black community when it comes to mental health. We often hear we are supposed to be strong, Black women are supposed to be strong and just pray about it.

After finally dealing with my mental health and coming out about it, I realized there are many other people out there like me. I want to see those people talk about their mental health and get treatment if they need it.

“We need to accept that mental illness is a disease — and like any other disease, it needs stronger research, early screening, and treatment, especially for young people,” – NFL Reciever Brandon Marshall

DDF:  What is your biggest hurdle dealing with mental health?

JP: Some of us in the Black community have been told: “What happens in this house stays in this house.” It was really hard opening up to a stranger about my mental health issues. To admit, yes this going on with me, yes I need to talk about it and can you help me. That was the biggest problem for me.

FYI: Stigma and judgment prevent Black/African Americans from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses. Research indicates that Black/African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles. Furthermore, many believe that discussions about mental illness would not be appropriate even among family. – Williams, M. T. (2011)

DDF: What are the key steps for getting help?

JP: My step wasn’t the best one because when I finally realized I needed help, it was because of a suicide attempt. I don’t want people to get to that point. That is the reason I made the app in the first place, I want people to get help before they even think about suicide.

the safe place

DDF: How important is mental health to self-love, in your opinion? Do you think people separate the two?

I think it is really important. I see it as self-care. If we don’t take care of ourselves and we are constantly pouring into people and we have an empty cup, its just going to hinder us in the future. So I feel like we should have our cup full first before we pour into others.

DDF: Explain more about your #HowBlackDoesItFeel hashtag?

JP: I am a person of faith and I pray but I’ve also been dealing with mental health for over a decade. I feel like I’m in recovery now so far as my mental health issues but recovery doesn’t mean you are cured.  If I can still go through depressed stages and now I know I can take something for it, I still pray through all of that. God gave us resources for a reason and the Bible even says work without faith is dead. So why are we only telling people to pray about mental health issues, when the bible says you have to take steps forward to getting what you asked for?

We don’t do that with any physical illness. I mean if you have cancer, of course, the church is going to pray for you but they still expect you to see the doctor.

DDF: Explain self-care during police brutality. What made you approach this perspective?

I think that racial trauma is linked to mental health issues. Every time we see an unarmed Black man gunned down by the police, that is affecting our mental health issues. I remember seeing Alton Sterling being gunned down in Baton Rogue, LA. I live in New Orleans, that’s not too far from me. I felt anxious, sad, depressed and worried, and a lot of people felt the same way. I can’t imagine the people who are victims that survived police brutality, just imagine what they are going through mentally. I felt it was important to put that in there because I want people to realize that when this happens that it affects our mental health and we have to think of ourselves when it happens.

On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot dead at close range by two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

JP: I wanted people in the Black community to express how Black does it feel to have mental health issues in America. Not only do we have to deal with racial trauma and all these other issues as Black people but also, within our own community, we are downplaying mental health.

We are saying mental issues are not serious and therapy is just for white people. I wanted to take time to say I am Black, I have mental health issues, and this is how it feels for me.

FYI: Per Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, while implementation of the Affordable Care Act has helped to close the gap in uninsured individuals, 15.9 percent of Black/African Americans, versus 11.1 percent of whites Americans were still uninsured in 2014.

DDF: You have free classes offered on your website, what should people expect from it?

JP: Readers should expect to be more informed about mental health, that specifically deals with the Black community and how to erase the stigma in the Black community. The classes are to also spread awareness in the psychology and therapy community. A lot of people don’t understand that those books are westernized, a lot of those issues don’t cover too much on Black culture. We need more minority-based resources out there and that’s is what I aim to teach in my classes.

FYI: Per the American Psychological Association, because less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black/African American, some may worry that mental health care practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat their specific issues.

Terry Crews the safe place

Actor Terry Crews shared a story about being sexually assaulted by a Hollywood Executive last year.

DDF: How do you feel about Terry Crews coming out about his sexual assault story, how difficult do think that was for him and his mental health? 

JP: I can relate the whole Terry Crews to the R. Kelly situation. These women aren’t being believed that they were sexually assaulted by R. Kelly.  I feel it was just as bad for Terry because his people believe that just because he is a Black man, that he is just supposed to take that and be strong about it. People think “Oh, why didn’t he just fight him?” I feel like more stigma was put on him because he was a man and he decides to speak about this.

DDF: Out of the many people that reach out to you, what majority reach out to you most, men or women?

JP: Women tend to reach out more to me but there is a good percentage of men too and I am happy that they feel like they can. I just wish there were more. I feel like women are ok with speaking about their issues and receiving feedback. As we mentioned before though, men are expected to be strong all the time and suppress their emotion. They are not even expected to cry. It may be a while before we see more Black men opening up, but it needs to happen.

DDF: What advice would you give to anyone afraid to reach out?

JP: Do not be ashamed that this is happening to you, it’s nothing you have to be embarrassed about. Even if someone in your family or friends tell you that you shouldn’t get the help and support that you need, don’t believe them. You do deserve the help, the support, and therapy if you need to.  

Jasmin Piere hopes to develop more partnerships and keep spreading the word about Black mental health awareness as a black mental health advocate. You can download her app here for android or apple.  Check out her personal page.

the safe place

the safe place

Jasmin’s book ” A Fight Worth Finishing”

Some of the facts and stats were provided by Mental Health of America.

31Jan/19
Ashley McDonough

Ashley McDonough, Howard Grad & Journalist Behind Articles of Self Love and Media | Self Love Series

Ashley McDonoughMartin Luther King once said “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.” Which is true, all of us can be great by giving back and being the best version of ourselves.

Ashley McDonough is one of many examples of this as a Howard University grad, producer, journalist, media professional, and modern-day renaissance woman.  She has utilized all of her talents to inform, celebrate and entertain. Taji Mag was able to talk to her about self-love in the many aspects of life.

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What is self-love to you and how can people better practice it?

Ashley McDonough (AM): Self-love is an appreciation of yourself, you have to know who you are and what you deserve. Self-love is appreciating the promise you made to yourself. Living your life accordingly to the promise that you made. 

DDF: How do you practice self-love?

AM: It is a day-to-day basis of being kind to yourself. I, myself, am a very busy person and I have a lot on my plate. I can be hard on myself with completing things in a timely manner. To me, it’s truly about being patient with yourself. Just take time out to talk to yourself in a positive, uplifting way.

Relationships & Self Love 

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.”- Nina Simone 

DDF: You have some great articles about dating. Advocates say you should love yourself first before entering a relationship but when do you know you are ready?

AM: It’s just a matter of self-healing. When you are healed enough and your mental health is in order, then I think that is the right time to date. A lot of times I think that relationships don’t work because everyone’s walking around with these traumas and insecurities that they haven’t healed from.

Once you have healed fully, know what you want out of a partner and you know what you deserve out of that partner and know what you are willing to give that partner in return, I think it’s a healthy ground to go out there and see what the dating world has to offer you.

DDF: Let’s say you are in a relationship, how do you maintain that self-love? 

Ashley McDonough

AM: I’ve definitely been in that situation before. You can really get caught up in the idea of love but you have to understand that you can’t love someone if don’t love yourself.

Understanding that you deserve a certain type of love, your partner should understand and be respectful of that. Also, you have to understand what you want out of life, its a beautiful gift from God. You are whole by yourself, I don’t believe in that whole “you complete me” thing. I really think you need to be complete before you get into relationships.

DDF: Can situation-ships be included in self-love?

AM: If that works for you then ok. I think every person is different, I’m not going to say that this is the ideal relationship because sometimes that freedom is a form of self-love. It depends on the person, some people are looking for long term commitment and other people just want to have fun, be free, have options. Society can put these ideas/beliefs on people and that can cause relationships not to work a lot of times.

Work to Live, Not Live to Work

“Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am.” – Janelle Monae

DDF: You have an article about the importance of setting boundaries, how important is that to self-love?

AM: You can get caught up in everyday life sometimes and you need to set boundaries in order to keep your sanity. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, sometimes we treat ourselves like superheroes… we are not. Setting boundaries in every aspect of your life is important for your sanity and overall mental health.

DDF: Pursuing your passion or desired career is also a version of self-love, agreed? Why do so many struggle with it and what did you do to keep moving forward?

AM Definitely because it’s safe. It’s scary to follow your dreams. It’s not something for everyone. Everyone can’t do it and everyone is not in that space to do it. You have to have a strong sense of faith, you have to believe in yourself.

I was born and raised in New York but I took a leap of faith and moved to L.A. because I felt it in my heart to do it.  You really have to believe in yourself, work hard and know that God is going to take care of you.

Articles of Self Love and Media

“You are your best thing.” – Toni Morrison

DDF: You have written some great pieces about people embracing the beauty in themselves, what inspires you to write pieces like these?

AM: What inspires my writing? Well, even before I went to college, I knew I wanted to produce and create content that I thought the world needed to hear. I really like doing the backstories of the people that are seen as the overnight successes because I feel like those stories are important and need to be heard by everyone.

Social media has changed the mind state of success and the hustle and the grind. To hear those stories change perspectives.

DDF: Out of the articles you have written, which is your favorite?

Ashley McDonoughAM: One of my favorite stories was about Jessie Woo, she is a comedian and singer. She’s amazing! Her story is so inspiring because of her journey to success. Everyone on social media was seeing her as an overnight success but in reality, it took her some time to get in her position.

She told the story about her start in New York, becoming unemployed within the first two months and not having enough funds to buy a plane ticket home but through it all she made it. Jessie’s story encourages people to follow their own dreams, whatever path may be for them.

DDF: How much of an influence do you think the media has on self-love?

Ashley McDonough

Ashley in her Howard grad cap and gown.

AM: Howard gives you a sense of self, I don’t think many of the students have. It’s the overall experience because you are surrounded by such Black excellence and you are being taught by the most amazing professors with extensive careers.

They are teaching you to love yourself and appreciate your history. A lot this stuff you don’t get see growing up. I grew up in Queens, NY so I grew up in a very diverse area and went to public school my whole life, we learned the basics of Black history.

That changed when I went to Howard University because we learned everything, the good and the bad. The experience taught me how amazing my people are!

See more from Ashley via her website!

01Jan/19
That Suits You

That Suits You has Suited 8000 Black Men For Success

That Suits YouFirst impressions can be vital in this life and have a major influence on our journey in the career world. We live during a time when individuals are judged on the basis of their outward appearance, especially young Black men, which is why it is important that we are given tools to break any stereotypes and show our talents. That Suits You does just that — provides information, training, and clothing to Black boys and men to increase their odds of success.

That Suits You is a Black-owned organization based in Brooklyn, NY that focuses on not only providing suits for Black men from high school students to the elderly but gives them the training and tools required to compete in the fields of their choosing. I had the opportunity to speak with Brooklyn native and brainchild of the That Suits You organization, PK Kearsy, to receive more insight about the program.

Dapper Dr. Feel: How did That Suits You originate?

PK Kearsy:  That Suits You formed while I worked as a manager for the Department of Motor Vehicles. It was there that I noticed that some of the young men that I interviewed were not dressed properly and they didn’t have the tools needed to give an impressionable job interview. After doing these interviews for so long and seeing so many men not get hired, I wanted to do something about it. I started working with my brother, Jamel Thompson.

With his 12 years of experience in banking and my experience working with the government, we decided to put our resources to good use. We started to get our old suits and prepared young men for their job interviews. As a result, they started getting hired and developing more self-confidence and positive changes started to occur.

DDF: What do young men have to look forward to when entering the program?

PKK: We have a workshop called Choices where we focus on change, habits, options, image, communication, and effort which all equal success. We talk about networking, relationships, interviewing, social media, building solid relationships and not just using people on their resources. We talk about anger issues and how to manage them because some of these young men have anger issues that hinder their overall growth so we help with that.

That Suits You

DDF: What impact has the organization had and how long has it been helping the community?

PKK: We started in 2013 and so far we have helped over 8,000 men. We have seen them get jobs, develop important/professional relationships. We have made many connections and relationships as we continue to meet our goals. We have great working relationships with HBO, New York City government, Verizon, Red Bull, Via Comm, Banana Republic and many more organizations that have community outreach.

We teach a lot about self-building in these classes that many of the young men thank us for. We teach about the 7/11 rule where within the first seven seconds of meeting a person, we develop 11 judgments about what we see and those judgments don’t even have to be true.

DDF: Have the men you’ve helped come back to be apart of the program or volunteer?

PKK: A good number of them come back to help out providing mentorship or to volunteer. We had a special event, Fundraising February, where a few guys came out and spoke about their progress. It’s really been a blessing to see the cycle, to see what men do after they receive help, to see them take the lessons and blessings they have received and to pass them on to someone else.  We love to work with the guys that have been through our program because they understand the process.

DDF: What are the goals for That Suits You?

PKK:  The short-term goal for That Suits You is to continue to get our book out, Suited For Success. The book has about 25 Black authors and what it took for them to succeed in whatever field they are in (Television, Doctor, Fireman, etc.). Some of these men have had terrible beginnings but have had much success. We want to get the book out and continue to have it within our program for the men in the program to read.

Our long-term goal is to continue to build and form relationships with other organizations. We just formed a relationship with an organization, Dress for Success: Worldwide. We want to learn from them and model them since they are doing so well for women. We want to do the same on the men side. Our goal is to grow and expand, taking our organization from New York to all over the country.

That Suits You

DDF: What is the age range of the men that you help?

PKK: Originally we started with men coming home from prison, that age range is 18 and up. Then we gained a partnership with AARP so we started working with men that were at least 60 years old. Then we wanted to be more proactive with youth so then we went on to help juniors and seniors in high school. Next, we decided to go even younger and help middle school boys. Teaching them to tie ties and providing them with information, even though we don’t have suits for them yet. Sometimes we participate in Career Day in grade schools.

We are also helping men in homeless shelters and provide our services there. They may be living in a homeless shelter but have job interviews coming up. We noticed there are a lot of men living in these homeless shelters. Some of these men may have children that may be around or even in the shelter with them, so it’s important that we help them. When you can empower a man and teach him, not just tell him, suit him up and give him something, it does wonders to his self-confidence. These are the things that can help push him to success.

That Suits You is continuing to grow but looking to connect and form partnerships with other organizations. If you are looking help or become part of the That Suits You movement, email [email protected] or they be contacted here. For more information, visit their website, ThatSuitsYou.org.

That Suits You

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16Dec/18
grpfit

GRPFIT, A Black Social Fitness Network For Health Goals

grpfit taji mag

Screenshots of the GrpFit app

If you are looking to achieve your fitness goals for the new year,  then the  GrpFit app will help! This fitness social platform will help educate you on workouts and health info to keep you on track with your aspirations. Not only does the app provide education, but it’s also a place where people can interact with others who are actively reaching or looking to reach their health goals. I had time to talk with the CEO and co-founder of GrpFit, Richard Bailey, to discuss the benefits and what to expect from the fitness platform.

Dapper Dr. Feel: What made you come up with this platform? At what point did you think Black people need this?

Richard Bailey: The idea came from a previous project that my partner and I came up with called Crowdfit. The idea for that finds an exercise partner in your area based on your fitness goals. For example, if you were preparing for a marathon, you could find someone in your area that was training as well.

It was met with moderate success back in 2016 (its first year) but then we hit a huge wall in engagement and growth. What we discovered was that people were more interested in the social aspect, (i.e. profile display, what people ate, how they worked out, etc.) At the time, social fitness wasn’t a popular item, even today fitness apps don’t really cover the social or community side of fitness.

Fast Fact: Richard Bailey (GrpFit co-creator and CEO) inspiration for health/ fitness came from being active in youth sports and competing professionally in dance from ages 8-23. 

DDF: What was your next move after your research?

RB: With this information we went back to the drawing board, keeping the same motive but approached it in a different way. While researching we ran into some eye-opening stats in relation to black health. These stats included, 76% of the Black community is obese, 43% suffer from hypertension, death by stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and the list goes on.

We started doing our diligence to find out more solutions for the Black community in health and fitness. To our surprise, there weren’t a lot of solutions from a consumer tech perspective. There were a lot of Black publications, non-profit and public organizations that tackle health/fitness as a separate vertical. The only issue is that they were regional and local in nature, not globally. It was at that point we had an epiphany and decided that we needed to be the first consumer tech product that specifically dedicated Black health and fitness. That’s when we launched GrpFit, which was late 2017.

FYI: GrpFit has workouts varying by length, time, and difficulty and provides workouts that can be performed anywhere.

DDF: Basically, your product is a one of a kind social fitness platform for Black people?

RB: Yes, our goal is to be a one-stop shop. Providing information, inspiration and being the catalyst for change in health and fitness in the black community.

RB: Our goal is to partner with different certified trainers and fitness influencers. We partnered with a few in the past, this time last year we worked with Gym Hooky for a new years resolution fitness campaign. We also worked with 21 Ninety, a Black millennial woman lifestyle brand under Blavity. Travel safe fitness. Periodically we reach out to influencers and certified trainers to partner with content for campaigns or just being a guest blogger. Although we don’t have much content on nutrition, we look to add more content in that area in the future. 

DDF: What should first time users expect from the GrpFit app? 

RB: We expect first-time users to embrace the community behind health and fitness. Seeing somebody like you, living a similar health and fitness journey is huge. For example, if you are a mother with a huge family that doesn’t have time to work out, you can come to the [GrpFit] app and see other women that fit those criteria. You can see what things they are doing to stay in shape and hopefully get some inspiration. GrpFit is serving as a tool for motivation, information, and inspiration is huge, it’s our biggest goal!

grpfit taji mag

Motivational quotes from the GrpFit Instagram account.

DDF: What advice would you like to give people who want to improve their health and physical activity?  

RB: Although its the end of the year, it’s okay to start on your fitness and health goals now before the new year. So sign up and log onto GrpFit to get your journey towards health started.

Fast facts: According to the CDC, The leading causes of death in the African American community are: 43% heart disease related, 41% stroke-related, and 29% cancer-related. Although the numbers are still slightly high they are steadily on the decline. With educational, social and interactive tools like GrpFit, the numbers will decline even more. 

Check out the GrpFit app which can be purchased at the Apple store. For the Android users, there are still plans to release the app later but for now, you can check out the GrpFit Instagram and Facebook page for content.

grpfit taji mag

Richard Bailey (Co-Founder &CEO of GrpFit) and Christopher Ketant (Co-Founder of GrpFit)

grpfit taji mag

09Dec/18

NATURAL BORN LEADERS

Black women have often been seen as a liability rather than an asset in many careers. This can be especially true for Black women with natural hair. As the year comes to a close, Taji Mag reflects on two strong Black women leaders with natural hair.
Shauntrice Martin and Wyllene Turner come from different backgrounds, but they are both Black women focused on improving the lives of young people. They are both leaders within an organization called the Bay Area Urban Debate League (affectionately known as “BAUDL”). There are dozens of urban debate leagues across the country and BAUDL has the most diverse staff along with such accolades as National Champions, League of the Year, and Champions of Diversity. They are truly making moves. I was able to interview these brilliant young women recently to learn more about what it means to be a leader and part of #teamnatural.
DapperDrFeel: Tell me a little about your organization.
Shauntrice Martin: The Bay Area Urban Debate League is an after-school program focused on marginalized youth in Title I schools. The goal is to engage students in policy debate to improve academic performance and college acceptance.
DDF: What are your titles?
SM: I am the executive director
Wyllene Turner: I got involved in Baudl in my 10th grade of high school. Then when I graduate in 2011 I came back to work and a regional coordinator until I worked my way up to Program Coordinator.
DDF: Ok, let’s get right into it. What does it mean to be a Black woman in a leadership role?
WT: It means that I have the opportunity to show represent, especially in a sport that is primarily a white male sport like debate.
SM: More than half of my time is spent on fundraising and development. Most of our donors are affluent white males and a lot of the “experts” in the field don’t look like me or the students we work with. I’ve dealt with microaggressions (being asked how I learned to speak so well, assumptions that I never met my father, etc.). When confronted with these issues, I’ve had to make decisions about whether to react in the moment and what the consequences might be. While this is not unique to a person of any race in a leadership role, my actions are seen as a representation of ALL Black women. As a Black woman, I have the added responsibility of representing the entire race as if we have monthly meetings of the Black Monolith.

 

Three students holding trophies after a win. Hesten, Ne’Jahra, and Jessica.
DDF: So how does being a Black woman with natural hair impact your work?
WT: I’ve been natural for about 7 years now! And I decided to go natural to find my self again, as I see it black women are so held back by their hair because it is seen as a symbol to show a multitude of things. Growing my locs where a way to take my crown back and make my own image!
SM: It gives me confidence. I know I will usually stand out in a crowd. At the same time, I went natural in college because I had people around me who celebrated me without trying to change me. We all deserve that feeling. In that way, it has a positive impact on my work. Conversely, I have been told to “tame” my hair in previous positions. I have been hyped up by white colleagues and supervisors when my hair was pressed straight as a signal that my naps were not welcomed in the workplace.
DDF: Speak more on that Shauntrice–are you saying that it is a bad thing to have natural hair in a corporate environment?
SM: I’ve had hundreds of white colleagues over the years and many of them don’t know how to react to my hair. I’ve had strangers reach out to touch my hair. I’ve had donors comment on my skin tone. Several years ago, before I had my son, I was asked in an interview whether I planned to wear afro puffs to the office. There is nothing but love growing out of my scalp so if someone attributes negative characteristics to my hair, it means they have a problem, not me.

 

Executive Director of BAUDL Shauntrice Martin
DDF: Ok, right on. In what other ways does being a Black woman in a leadership role present challenges?
WT: The challenges I face are people in different spaces act as if I don’t know what I am doing…which is funny because they’ll usually do that at an event I’m hosting.
SM: Yes. Hiring Wyllene was one of my best decisions as an executive director. She was hired based on merit, and as she said, she worked her way up to a full-time position. Because of the way she looks (dark-skinned woman with natural hair) people underestimate her. I have seen people disrespect her in situations and they end up looking like fools when she comes through. She cares about her job and if people could stop projecting their bias onto Black women, they would see that.
DDF: I noticed your organization is quite large for an after-school program. How many students do you serve?
SM: This school year we are on track to work with almost 1,000 youth in the Bay.
DDF: That is impressive. How do you maintain a program like this?
SM: Having people like Wyllene is absolutely essential. Our staff is one of the most diverse groups in the country. Most of the people who work at BAUDL graduated from the program. Our budget is just around half a million dollars and thankfully we have a dope volunteer base. I also do this really innovative thing when hiring people–I trust Black women.
DDF: Well there you have it. Now how can people get involved and support the work you do?
SM: The two biggest things we need right now are volunteers and donors. We have an end-of-the-year campaign called the #MakingMoves campaign. This is a Black-run organization and we hope to keep it that way. If you want to donate $5, $50, $50,000 use our link: www.tinyurl.com/wedebate. You can also share our story and encourage others to support.

Wyllene Turner

07Dec/18
Fit Grandpa

Exploring the Benefits of Mental and Physical Wellness with Titus aka Fit Grandpa

Fitness enthusiast, Jean Titus (@titusunlimited), has been an internet sensation and inspiration to many for his approach to fitness. Not only does he push himself physically but he also takes into account his overall wellness. His Instagram page is filled with health quotes, demos, and information for a healthy lifestyle. Taji Mag was able to speak with Titus, aka Fit Grandpa, about his keys to overall wellness.

Taji Mag (TM): What keeps you motivated towards a healthy lifestyle?

Titus: It is the belief that I haven’t reached my peak yet. I take the responsibility of being a profile name on social media seriously. When you see 181k followers on your account that you have inspired and motivated, it makes you feel accountable. That is because you don’t know how your actions might impact others. I believe that what you put into the universe comes back to you. Given that responsibility to be a good example is what motivates me.

TM: Besides exercising, what other areas do you concentrate on to improve physical wellness? 

Titus:  I meditate, detox my environment, and clear my mind because I believe that fitness is all-encompassing. You have to be fit mentally before you are physical. If you are not fit mentally, then, sooner or later, your physical follow suit. Like I mention in my 28-day plan, detox is not only a physical thing it’s also a mental thing as well. You have to detox your contact list, your situation, and your environment.

TM: Some people use fasting as a form of detox, what is your standpoint on fasting?

Titus: I did a wellness Wednesday on fasting on my Instagram account. When done correctly It is something that I recommend. If you can properly deprive yourself of food it can test your mental will and if done properly it can be to your benefit. Intermittent fasting does work, but the problem is that people use it as a quick solution. People say they are going to fast for a couple of days after leading an unhealthy lifestyle for a long period of time. That is not what fasting is meant for but if you are going to have it as part of a systematic thing I would advocate that. You can’t out train a bad diet. People think you can go to the gym and only put an hour’s worth of work but that is not going work by itself. It is the other 23 hours with that workout that help determine how healthy you are going to be. First, we make our habits and our habits make us.

TM: Can you give us an example of how you detox outside the physical?

Titus: For example, if you are in a toxic relationship or have a toxic friend. You will only go so far while you are existing in that toxicity. It’s like living in a house that has asbestos. No matter how much treatment or medication I give you after you leave that house, you won’t get any better unless you remove yourself from that environment completely. You have to extricate yourself from those toxic things and toxic mentality.

TM: Can you be fit on a budget? 

Titus: Not having the financial means to be fit is an excuse. At the end of the day, people will buy what they want. Healthy food is expensive but you see those very same people paying $8 for a cup of coffee. Other people may say that they don’t have enough time to make breakfast but will go wait in a drive-through line at McDonald’s for 15 mintues. They justify their choices with excuses. Living healthy is an investment but people will try to make it look like an option. Being healthy should be your primary obligation because if you are in the hospital you can’t help your family. So your health should come first, it should be your primary objective to ensure that you are capable of helping your loved ones. You do that by taking care of your overall health and wellness. Anything short of that and you are doing a disservice to you and them.

TM: What is your advice to those seeking occupational wellness? Can this affect your working out or should you let it?

Titus:  I would never tell one to quit their job because everyone is not in the financial situation to do so. But if you are going to work your job and not work on an exit strategy, then it becomes a choice that you are making. Unlike A couple hundred years ago, when you had people that were enslaved, you have a choice! I don’t care what job you have, you don’t have to stay there unless you are in prison. The problem is that people in those job situations complain but when they go home they do nothing. That in itself is depressing. When you are actively working on an exit strategy, you are working on an endgame. Even if the endgame is 2 or 3 years out, keep trying and eventually you will succeed. I did a post that says “Your salary is a bribe to give up on your hopes and dreams.” Your job doesn’t have to be a bribe, it can be a means. If you are using your salary towards your dreams then it is a means.

TM: Regardig your clients, what do they look forward to while participating in your program?

Titus: The 28-day plan is about building a better, healthy lifestyle. I made the plan easy to follow and easy to duplicate. It is not overly restrictive and it’s not a fad. Anything taken out of diet should remain out of your diet. It’s not one those diets like the cabbage diet, that is not sustainable. My plan is sustainable and it’s balanced. The key to success is to have balance.

You only have one body and it is wise to take care of it. To quote Carrie Latet, “If you don’t take care of yourself, the undertaker will overtake that responsibility for you.”

Make sure to check out Fit Grandpa on Instagram for health information and updates.