The Siwe Project

by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh

Over the summer, I wrote about Siwe Monsanto, the amazing, beautiful, talented 15-year old daughter of my friend, Dionne. I wrote about what  a wonderful human being she was. I wrote about how funny she was. I wrote about what a wonderful mother Dionne was. I wrote about how sad Siwe was at times. I wrote about how she took her own life. Since Siwe’s death, I’ve been struggling with ways I could do more as a human being and someone who loved her. I’ve thought about ways that I could use what few talents I had to do something more to honor Siwe’s memory and to prevent deaths like hers. In August, just 2 months shy of Siwe’s death, I came up with the idea of The Siwe Project, a global non-profit whose aim was to spread mental wealth awareness and education in the global black community. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I’m only a writer. I have no admin experience but I knew it needed to be done so I began talking to some people. It’s been said before but now it goes unquestioned that I’m surrounded by some of the most amazing human beings in the world. Friends, family and strangers both here and abroad rallied to offer support, guidance and encouragement. They all agreed that this was necessary. The last 6 months have been a serious learning experience for me. I’ve been tested and I’ve been encouraged. I learned that when I am overwhelmed and confused, there is an army of people prepped and ready to offer guidance and lend words (and actions) of support.

I can not tell you how grateful I am to announce that this Wednesday, December 14th in Washington, DC, The Siwe Project will launch officially. This is just a soft launch, we will be sharing our mission and plans for the future. We will announce our slogan and photo campaign. We are starting small in order to stay focused and on task but we hope to do big things. We need to erase the stigma of mental illness from our communities. We must learn to love and cherish our mental health as much as our physical health. We must encourage and support those with mental illness so that they may manage and seek treatment without fear or shame. These are imperatives. Too many of us our dying or the walking dead. This isn’t about pushing medication or specific forms of treatment on anyone. What works for me, may not work for you. But find something that works. Face it. Treat it. Then live.

The following video was directed by my good friend, Pierre Bennu. It is a version of my poem, Choices, which was written about my personal early struggles with illness. I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve had my setbacks and falls but I’m still here and I couldn’t ask for anything else. I want the same for all of you. We can do this.

Choices For The Siwe Project

Don’t let it or anyone else define you. Seek treatment and live your best life. Mental illness is not who you are. It’s what you have. 

Come out support and celebrate.