6 BOCNEWS.com OCTOBER 2018 This is an extraordinarily sensitive subject to describe in a book, a memoir. I was intrigued by Ms. Lewis’s proficiency in sharing such an intense journey while inscribing her story. I bow and curtsy to her courage. The title, The Mother of Black Hollywood, by Jenifer Lewis is a bit misleading and disguises the profound delicacy of the subject matter. However, through- out this discourse there are many times that she shows why this book deserves this title. She is indeed a star in Hollywood and a real light to those of us who delay being real and getting the help we need. We might take for granted how difficult it is to share an intense experiences, that was not the case as I read Ms. Lewis book. She is brave and told it like it was! She is a beautiful and talented woman. She writes with a feisty humor that will make your hair stand up on the back of your neck! Mental illness is a subject we as a community have a hard time hear- ing, addressing or embracing. It is hard for some to discuss, because mental illness has been stigmatized. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more like- ly to experience serious mental health problems than the general popula- tion. Ms. Lewis, leading by example to is encouraging a shift in our think- ing and to begin seeing mental well- ness as a vital part of living produc- tive lives. We have had a history of issues that kept us from dealing with mental health. We’ve been busy trying to survive all the -isms (rac- ism, sexism, etc.). Addressing the mental health stigma is a community affair. Everyone needs to be engaged because mental health stigma is still very prominent in the Black commu- nity. Part of this is related to shame, fear, and perhaps not wanting to be viewed as “crazy”. Additionally, some of us don’t believe that mental health is a health concern and others view- ing having depression as being weak. Because Black people are supposed to be strong – weather any storm, and certainly never air the dirty laundry in public. The fact is, most of us have been touched in some way by mental ill- ness, whether it is ourselves, a family member, or a close friend. By nature of living in America—-with racism- the stress of being Black in America, poverty, chronic illnesses, we can’t help but be touched. So many micro- aggressions, people messing with you just because they can, wears on us. It is a wonder that we still thrive and survive. Ms. Lewis delivers a very important message in this book, that is you have to be real, honest and unafraid. She conveys it best- They can’t come for me. Meaning that once you seek help, overcome your fears you are on your way to health and well-being. Others can’t take that from you or use it against. Mental illness may go unattended because we don’t often understand or recognize it in ourselves and oth- ers. Ms. Lewis describes perfectly just this. She had no idea her raging, over- sexed, out of control behaviors were related to her subsequently discov- ered mental illness. Fortunately, after many episodes a friend recognized something wasn’t right. She reluc- tantly took the advice and began to seek help. I was profoundly impressed with Ms. Lewis when she described her challenges and triumphs on her journey to mental wellness. After years of spiraling out of control or falling into despair, (while still engag- ing in her illustrious career), she diligently worked to overcome some of these challenges. She prevailed and strode on! She wanted to be a star. She tells you that this was a very clear goal starting from early childhood. In the book she plotted her expedition to stardom also leading to her discovery and mental wellness. She shined her starlight in this book by the way she shared her honest passions. Writing about and reexamining the routes and pathways that life presents us can be healing. Some readers may find the book shocking or boastful, but I interpreted her narrative as being real and authentic. She is sassy, funny, explicit and downright scrupulous. She too painstaking risks sharing with us. She was one to “tell it like it is”. She was very descriptive about her experiences, all the while cussing, screaming and letting people know just what she thought. She described sexual encounters, intimate and omi- nous behaviors that she reveals in humor and let us know there is no “Shame in my game”. Other key takeaways from her story are that we should value our family and support systems, get the help you need to get the work done. Not every- one knows the trouble we see. But if we pay attention, get attention and support, we can improve our men- tal fitness. Additionally, she shared how being a community advocate is her passion. She was an advocate in writing this book like so many other issues she champions. She was advocating for us to make our mental health a priority. I am so happy that I read this book. Experiencing the self-told story of a woman and her intimate journey for health and wholeness left me feeling hopeful. The more she revealed her story, the more I realized she was being liberated. She was becoming the free woman. As any MOTHER does, she imparted wisdom for soul. The “Mother of Black Hollywood”, indeed. This book helped me to realize that we are offering a jewel to the com- munity as Ms. Jenifer Lewis will be the featured guest at the Colorado Black Health Collaborative gala. She will be vibrant, alive and well here in Denver at the Colorado Black Health Collaborative’s 10th Anniversary Black and White Gala on Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. She will sing, dance, laugh and tell her story. Please go to the website and purchase your tickets. It’s not too late! Purchase tickets today: www.col- oraoblackhealth.org or call Thelma Craig at 720-579-2126. Mental Illness in the Black community BOOK REVIEW By Thelma Craig Thelma Craig Experiencing the self-told story of a woman and her intimate journey for health and wholeness left me feeling hopeful. The more she revealed her story, the more I realized she was being liberated. She was becoming the free woman. Aspen Theological Seminary Greetings and Welcome to Aspen Theological Seminary. As the CEO/President of our school, I think of us as a Grass Roots Institution of Higher Learning, Unapologetically Christian based, and Unashamedly celebrating the Black Church Experience. We ae here for anyone interested in Christian-based ministry, including Pastoral Care and Leadership, Community Outreach, Mental and Behavioral Health, and Chaplaincy . As a welcoming and affirming school in the con- text of Christian principles, we believe that religion is a vessel used in the exercise spirituality. If you are seeking to enrich your capacity or to fulfill your purpose in life, join our family of LEADERS IN THE NAME OF CHRIST By Rev. Marjorie B. Lewis, Ph.D.