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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.

15Jun/19

Lil’ Buck: The Real Swan Doc World Premiered at Tribeca

Lil’ Buck discussing his career with Taji Mag during the Tribeca Film Festival.
Photo by William Baldon

A crowd of people sat in silence and awe at a dance performance that was beautiful, captivating and fluid to the accompaniment of music provided by the talented musician, Yo-Yo Ma. Though there weren’t many if any, people of color in the crowd as this was in Beijing, China, what mattered was the headliner was a young Black man from Memphis, Tennessee named Lil’ Buck.

It was a thing of beauty – a man doing what he loves and performing art for the world to see. His performance was something that Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud of, a young man being seen for his talent and not just his color. In a world where Black men are vilified, subjected to toxic masculinity and seen on the wrong side of police brutality, it was refreshing to see a glimpse into a world that could exist without racism or discrimination.

When asked about his performance, Lil’ Buck stated, “I never really thought about my performance in that way. For me it wasn’t about performing for the audience, I’m trying to make them feel a certain way. I think that’s why a lot of people gravitate towards me because they don’t see anything else because I don’t. When I’m performing, I am doing my best to become music. It’s a real thing for me. Especially to music that has a story already in it, like the Swan. You can hear the story within it. For me, I can visually see the journey in that song. I don’t come up with anything to impress people, I just feel the music and bring people into my imagination.”

Lil' Buck

Lil’ Buck performing during the documentary Lil’Buck: Real Swan. (Photo provided by Tribeca Film Festival)

The video is a snippet from the documentary “Lil’ Buck: Real Swan” that world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival; it was also the part that stuck out the most to me. To be honest, it made me misty-eyed because it’s what every person wants, or at least what every human being should want — to be able to live in peace and love freely. About the documentary, Andrea Passafiume wrote, “In this exuberant documentary, director Louis Wallecan takes an in-depth look at this extraordinary artist whose passion, drive, discipline, and talent have blazed a unique new path in the world of dance that has included performing all over the world, touring with Madonna, mentoring young dance students, and becoming a passionate advocate for arts education.”

Lil’ Buck: A Young Man From Memphis

Growing up in the Memphis skating scene, particularly at Crystal Palace Roller Rink, was the big thing for youth to keep them entertained and off the streets. Once the skates were taken off and the rink was open for dancing, that’s when the main fun began and people were able to show off their new jookin moves. Jookin is a popular dance style in Memphis for all ages that stems from breakdancing and the gangsta walk. This is how the film, Lil’ Buck: Real Swan, starts to chronicle the life of Lil’ Buck.

“I was born in Chicago and my family moved to Memphis when I was eight. Even back in Chicago, I can remember seeing footwork in indigenous street dancing.” – Lil Buck explained about his roots in dancing and upbringing.

Charles “Lil’ Buck” Riley developed a passion for jookin and dance at the young age of 12. From there he had the desire to become the best dancer he could be. He became so impressed with the length of time that ballerinas could stay on their toes that he decided to take up ballet.

“Growing up I always thought these dancers in videos were making all this money, we literally thought they were rich. All these dancers are next to celebrities like Lil’ Wayne, Madonna, and all these people. Some were not as good as my friends and I, so we would be like, “How the f*ck are they on TV?” We would ask this question every day and tell ourselves that’s where we needed to be.” – Lil’ Buck

Lil’ Buck said that in the beginning, he just wanted to be in videos and put jookin on the map. To be able to reach where he is now. Thinking about how small his dreams were, it just inspires him to dream larger and tell others to do the same. He further explained to not be afraid to dream big and to go after it! It’s not enough just to dream, its the work you put into it. He remembers when he experienced bloody toes and toenails falling off, trying to stand on his toes in his sneakers. Lil’ Buck reminisced, “Imagine walking around all day in school on your toes because you want to build that strength and to be on the level where you surpass ballerinas. It was painful but worth it!”

With some dancers, their goal is to tour with a different artist but not too many dancers see themselves as the artist that has the same strength and power as a singer or actor. They can make a good living for themselves and their family, creating generational wealth. Dancers like Lil’Buck, don’t always have that platform but their art is just as captivating. A lot of kids today are gravitating towards this instant success instead of really investing in themselves and really building themselves, enjoying that journey towards their goal. Lil’ Buck hopes to be a good example of enduring and enjoying the journey.

The Inspiration

Lil’ Buck being interviewed by Felipe Patterson (aka Dapper Dr Feel) of Taji Mag at the Roxy hotel during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. (Video by William Baldon)

Lil’Buck discussed that his inspirations are Earl “Snake Hips” Tucker, the Nicholas Brothers, Little Buck, Buck and Bubbles, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Michael Jackson. He explained the way they combined film and dance was inspiring to him. The way they combined storytelling and dance was amazing to him. He remembers that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, always called his music videos short films.

“Those that inspire me are my peers, Daniel Price, G-Nerd, Jah Quincey, Caviar Taylor (On My Toes), BoBo and all the rappers like 3×6 Mafia, DJ Squeaky, they created what I’m into.” – Lil Buck talking about others that inspire him.

Bruce Lee was one of his biggest inspirations because of his philosophy on life. Not isolating yourself mentally to learning only one thing. He was open to learning and putting together different forms of martial arts. He’s always into strengthening himself and thinking outside the box.

Lil' BuckThe doc starts off with smooth jookin moves, that impressed me and reminded me of the great dancing films like Breakin’. I wasn’t sure what the aim of the film was but this direction definitely kept me engaged. It didn’t feel corny or fake like the multiple Step Up films that lack the originality of dancers in this film. Every one of them passionate about their craft and every move.

The film was amazing and well done down the other performers describing their love of jookin and their performance that followed to the storytelling of a young Buck’s evolution of aspiring background dancer to a headlining performer. The ending of the film is creative as it has a dancing Lil’ Buck transitioning from background to foreground and left of the screen to the opposite side, representing the journey the project has taken you on.

It’s a film that everyone should see, especially the little boys of color, to show them that they should follow their heart and that they can truly be what they want to be in life.

Thank you Lil’ Buck and Lois Wallecan for the great film about such an inspiring young black man!

31May/19

Another Dream, a Tribeca VR Immersive, tells a Story that Needs to be Heard and Felt

Another Dream

Tamara Shogaolu and Dapper Dr. Feel aka Felipe Patterson. (Photo by William Baldon)

Love is hard to find in this world, so image finding a bond with someone so deeply that you can’t stand being away from them. Now imagine having to hide that relationship, restricted from fully exploring it in fear that you will be disowned, harmed physically, or killed. So you escape with your partner, leaving behind family friends and a life within a community, to have emotional and relationship freedom. That is the case for the two women in the virtual reality (VR) immersive, Another Dream, by Tamara Shogaolu.

Another Dream started out as a collection of interviews that were collected by Tamara and journalist Nada ElKouny over two years in Egypt. They interviewed many women, ethnic minorities, and people of the LGBTQ community about their experiences.

These stories needed to be heard because their relationships, in the eyes of some people in Egypt, are seen as immoral; having the livelihood and lives of people in the LGBTQ community threaten due to aggressive homophobia.

“After the Revolution, people became very open and started to reimagine what Egypt could be. What stood out to me about the experience was a lot of the queer voices and stories had optimism that things were going to change,” Tamara Shogaolu explained about her interviews.

Another Dream has more themes of discrimination within the project than that of the LGBTQ. When it came to explaining this Tamara stated, “For me, it’s not only about the LGBTQ community in Egypt, it’s also about when the characters come to Europe they face racism. You leave one form of discrimination to another form of discrimination. I think that is a global issue of how we create our own empathy and compassion so that we can all be better humans.” She then added, “With this project, the intersectionality of their identity goes that they are LGBTQ but they are also people of color, and even within the LGBTQ they face discrimination.”

Another DreamTamara mentions that the word refugee is misinterpreted, elaborating, “The word refugee has been highly politicized. If you really think about it, it’s someone that is forced from their home and I think people forget that. It means we don’t want you here and there are people that have whole lives, like the characters in our story. One is an engineer and the other is a medical professional. They have to leave that and start from scratch. They are doing well, back in school re-studying the occupation that they were doing, in another language, while only being there for two years. That’s amazing.”

FYI: There are some cases where authorities in Egypt have stepped in opposition to the LGBTQ community. In this case, eight men were jailed after their gay wedding video went viral showing two men kissing.

The Another Dream VR Experience

Another Dream

Dapper Dr. Feel experiencing the VR immersive Another Dream (Photo by: William Baldon)

Another Dream is a virtual reality immersive that pulls you into a world where two lesbian lovers have their relationship and love tested through many challenges. Two lovers are first introduced to you with their dog while sitting on a couch. As their story begins, the environment changes to match the narration of the two. The colors and visuals evoked emotions that allowed us to sympathize more with the couple telling the story.

The experience is very interactive, having intermissions where I had to use a laser pointer (almost a like a lightsaber from Star Wars, so I was geeked!) to trace positive Arabic words. Upon completion, I moved on to the next part of the story.

Another DreamThe most beautiful scene was that of the city; it’s a mix of colorful hues and sounds of the environment that are highlighted by the dark of night. I found myself floating as if I were on a magic carpet ride from Aladdin when exploring the area. It’s definitely amazing work by the VR and sound team.

During the journey, I got to a part of the story where the two lovers escape to Europe overnight because their love for each other is not accepted and one of them was set to wed in an arranged marriage. At this point, I felt the cold and dark of night, the fear of being captured by those in search of the two or just any random stranger that could harm the women on their search for refuge.

When the characters arrive in Europe, you feel the eyes of judgment and unfamiliarity of them being women of color as characters shop at the local grocery.

Eventually, they become comfortable in the fact that the only thing that matters is their love for one another. By the end of the experience, I felt happy for the two coming to the revelation that they were safe and although they are starting their lives together, they can do it happily together.

FYI: Another Dream is part of an animated transmedia series, Queer in a Time of Forced Migration. The first part of the series began with the first short Half A Life.

Who is Tamara Shogaolu?

Another Dream

Tamara Shogaolu and Dapper Dr. Feel aka Felipe Patterson. (Photo by William Baldon)

Tamara Shogaolu is a talented director/creator/artist from a multifaceted cultural background. While studying economics at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA, she was convinced by a professor to study film after creatively using it in her economics research projects.

From there she earned her MFA from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and her previous work, Half-Life, is a short film that has garnered many awards. Not only has her work has been featured all over the world in galleries and festivals, but she also is the creative director for Ado Ato Pictures.

Seeing Through It All

I didn’t know what to expect when I first put on the VR gear but I am glad I went to the experience with an open mind and with no expectation. This experience is a learning tool that may help others understand that love shouldn’t only be celebrated and hindered.

With the work that Tamara and her crew have put into this project, I am happy to say they have achieved the goal of both creativeness, experience, and informing the audience. Hopefully, Another Dream will touch enough people that it will allow people to safely and openly love whomever they want without any hindrance.

17May/19

Exclusive: Phillip Youmans, Youngest Director and 1st Af-Am to Win Featured Film at Tribeca

Phillip Youmans

Phillip Youmans (Photo by William Baldon)

“I didn’t dream about being a director. I didn’t know I wanted to do something with film until the summer between my sophomore and junior years at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.” – Spike Lee. Spike Lee may have spent his early years in college discovering his talent but there was a young director who has spent his first years in college winning awards for produced work. Juggling press junkets, red carpets, interviews, all while finishing his college exams. That was the case for the 19-year old director, Phillip Youmans, who became the youngest and first African American to win the Founders Award (Best Narrative Award) category for his creative and introspective film Burning Cane.

Phillip Youmans, Burning Cane

About the Film: Burning Cane is Phillip Youmans’ first film that stars the talented Wendell Pierce, Karen Kaia Livers, Dominique McClellan, and Braelyn Kelly. It explores relationships of a Southern Protestant church, toxic masculinity, gender/family roles within the small African American community, and toxic cultures that can plague families.

The Louisiana native discussed with Taji Mag the film’s origin. Youmans had put time and energy into a screenplay titled, Brothers and Sisters, that he is looking to produce next. His focus changed after a teacher suggested he put more energy into the Burning Cane realizing its potential upon reading the draft.

Inspiration for Burning Cane

Mostly inspired by his upbringing and questions about the southern Black church culture/spirituality, Youmans explained that the film was a form of therapy for him. Youmans went more in-depth about the film stating, “The biggest inspiration for Burning Cane was my upbringing and childhood in the Southern Baptist church, a lot of the hypocrisy and fallacies that I recognized early on in my childhood in the church. These were questions I had about the church that I was able to work through while making the film.”

Lessons of Life In Film

There are many topics that Youmans addresses in the film – one being toxic masculinity. Particularly when the film focuses on the character Daniel Wayne, played by Dominique McClellan. When asked about toxic masculinity, Youmans said, “In terms of toxic masculinity, there is a lot of danger in trying to uphold traditional gender roles. I think a lot of that is indirectly upheld through the Southern Baptist church. Especially in the fundamentalist Protestant communities. I did want to touch on it and it’s a pretty glaring issue. It’s a part of the fabric of American culture, world culture.”The struggle of religious practice was also a player in the film, having the various characters learn their moral identity. Helen Wayne, the main character played by Karen Kaia Livers, struggles with it the most as she faces decisions that push her to make impactful choices.

When it comes to exploring his thoughts on religion in the film, Youmans explained, “Growing up, I was able to extrapolate life lessons from religious doctrine. For instance, there’s a sermon about how relationships are more important than material possessions, that’s a valuable lesson regardless of age or experience.”

Phillip Youmans on Directing

Phillip Youmans, Wendell Price

Wendell Pierce in Burning Cane

Making the film, Youmans didn’t have any issues directing the cast and crew to bring his vision to life, even working with well-known talents like Wendell Pierce. “Wendell is dope! Working with him was incredible!” Youmans said excitingly. “This dude is a talented actor and he approached the script with so much excitement that it was a dream come true! Mel, my producer, knows that Wendell is a hometown hero in New Orleans – working with him was insane,” Youmans added.

Youmans said that the production went really smooth for all involved in Burning Cane. He further explained that “the camera is like neutralize and since we are all students of the craft, that age or experience doesn’t matter, we are all just trying to make something cool. In truth, it went really smooth, I think what was great about all of the actors was that there wasn’t any placed or forced upon hierarchy because there was such a respect for the material. By the time we showed up on set, it was about implementing the project. There were never any conversations about talking down.”

With the passing of the virtuous John Singleton, who himself created a film masterpiece at a young age titled Boyz n the Hood, we can only hope that Phillip Youmans continues his success in developing amazing films that add to the legacy of Black filmmakers.

Phillip Youmans

Directed by: Phillip Youmans
Starring: Wendell Pierce, Karen Kaia Livers, Dominique McClellan, and Braelyn Kelly
Production: Denizen Pictures

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

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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 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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