I was interviewed about Dear Universe on BET.Com! Check out the interview below!
From BET.Com: The state of African-Americans’ mental health—regardless of gender, sexual orientation and gender expression—isn’t as stable as it should be. According to the Office of Minority Health, African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to suffer from serious psychological distress compared to whites.
And whether this break is due to poverty, past trauma, homophobia, lack of access to health care, unemployment, stress and unsafe neighborhoods, it’s clear that we all need to heal. One man determined to improve our mental health is Yolo Akili. His new book Dear Universe: Letters of Affirmation and Empowerment ($9.99, Micheal Todd Books) fuses self-empowerment, humor and social justice to help his readers navigate their emotional and spiritual path.
BET.com sat down with Akili to talk about what inspired his book, why Black men need to tap into their emotional health and why Dear Universe is for everyone.
What inspired Dear Universe?
There was a period in my life when it seemed like everything was falling apart. I left a job I loved and moved from Atlanta to New York City, a place that was alien to me. I was really depressed and was struggling to figure things out, so I took to writing things down in a journal.
And it’s so ironic because before I moved to New York, I had spent years working in with therapists and counselors facilitating support groups for all types of African-American men (batterers, gay and bisexual men, men , living with HIV/AIDS) and here I was, forgetting all of the things that I had learned doing that work. And so journaling was a way to rediscover that knowledge. And when I started to feel better, I looked at all of these letters and was like, “This would make a good book!”
From there, I took these letters and tweaked them to better to convey the messages of self-love and empowerment.