A Mental Health Moment: Love…A Catalyst for Change in the Black Community

Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, LLC

Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, LLC
The Truth Contributor

Welcome to the month of February when both love and Black history are celebrated.  While love should and commonly is embraced all year long, attention to and education of Black history in decades past was only given a mere 28-29 days out of 365.

Fortunately with patience and perseverance of devoted individuals, the African American History Act of 2023 was introduced in the House on February 1, 2023.  This Act requires institutions of higher education and museums to provide African American history as American history period.

During the Civil Rights era, African Americans stood, marched and fought side by side to gain equal rights as white America.  Now just a few decades later, Black communities around the country seemed to have turned toxic by killing those of their same race, destroying Black communities and the absence of Black fathers weakening Black family dynamics.  It is as if those in the Black communities went from being in a very healthy loving relationship to a toxic, hateful state of no longer wanting a relationship.

To be fair there were often other factors involved around black communities that were in full blown love to an ugly break-up.  Why would a community with strong God-fearing families, business and property ownership and fashionable dress whether to the grocery store or Bible study, beautifully kept homes with well-kept lawns just begin to crumble?

Outside forces and politics began a rapture of pure desolation.  Homes were lost, businesses demolished, separation of families, loss of faith, hope and love. What happened?  Two words….Dorr Street.

A once thriving community destroyed by the hands of decision-making officials not part of the Black community forcing families into project housing and a beginning dependence on food stamps and other programs made to look like help but instead created a future of helplessness breaking the heart of a once loving and very independent community.

We all know the negative ramifications of a broken heart; the pain seems unbearable with no known medical cure.  Anger, rage, and hate begin to develop in the mind.  Feelings fold into destructive behaviors with no concern of consequence. The broken hearted seeks revenge on the self or anyone (man, woman, or child) in their path or both.

The increasing crime rate in the Black community and the surmountable rise in Black on Black violence emerged due to decades old actions destroying a strong love relationship of a once thriving community.

Imprisoning offenders, removing guns from the streets and increasing law enforcement will be a never-ending cycle not to mention costly and costly to those who can barely afford the rising cost of living as it is.

As a therapist one of my main jobs in helping clients is to find the healthiest solution to encourage the wellness of their mind, body and soul as quickly as possible.  This often involves change. A broken heart can be healed with a change in perspective, change in emotional understanding as well as willingness to do things differently.  Soon the individual is one day once again in love, with a return of faith and hope and most important with lessons learned.  They are very unlikely to repeat the same mistakes.

Toledo’s Black community can heal and return to a state of strength in family, supporting one another not killing each other but it’s going to take a great amount of change and a wanting to return to a state of love. Falling in love again after getting your soul crushed takes a lot of courage.

Taking a life is not courage its weak.  Regardless how we came to be here with countless grieving mothers of Black children and children without knowing the pleasure of having a father, love can be utilized as a tool to rebuild the Black community; after all love is the strongest emotion we have as human beings.

For the generations having never known a healthy thriving Dorr Street take the time and make the effort to learn your Black history.  You may just fall in love with the thought of being part of a community of individuals who supported one another, raising strong future generations not destroying them.

Take a mental health moment to envision a long life of love. Get your minds right.  Today we delve into the transformative power of love as a catalyst for change in fostering mental health within our community.   Find a therapist, get counseling to rid yourself of the anger, hate, rage and unfulfilled purpose you were most likely born into.  Learn to love yourself and others like yourself caught in the middle of a dying community.  Love is the catalyst for change in the Black community.  Love for one another, love for the return of Black pride, love for our children so they may know successes through opportunities of positions of power to ensure the existence of the Black community that will never be broken hearted again.

The irony of Black History Month being celebrated along with the celebration of love….. the solution has been in front of us all along but we instead chose to complain about it being the shortest month of the year.

Bernadette Joy Graham, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist can be reached at 419 409 4929.  www.bjgrahamcounseling.com   Email:  graham.bernadette@gmail.com

To learn more about the history of Dorr St. contact the African American Legacy Project located at the corners of Dorr and Collingwood.  

If you feel you may be in a mental health crisis, please call 988 or go to the nearest emergency room.