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Mental Realness Mag

Volume I

Definition by Manny Laveau
Rodni Hicks (2018)


Realness, Intellect, Black(Women)

By Auri Lesia


What is mental illness to me?

Not a hinderance, but a perseverance.

You see, I don’t let my disabilities become nothing, but abilities

I was hit with a triple threat

They say I’m on the spectrum of bpd to bipolar, with psychosis

Well I say each spiral I bounce back, just like that

I can’t remember anything and I may go mad, even evil

But these are my strengths not my flaws

As a child of Saturn and daughter of the Sun

Vulnerability is hot and cold

Each spiral is a spike in my wall I am free, and me, no longer will I be crazy.

I am wild, I am boisterous, I am flagrant

I am free.


How to be Alone

By Lisa Holden

First, find comfort in being alone. Crave it wildly. The other toddlers will play on the entirety of the playground, but be sure to find your own corner between the swings and slide. The other kids look like they’re having fun, but so are you. You play whatever games you want for however long you want and don’t have to worry about sharing your toys especially with Samantha. She picks her nose. You don’t hate the others just prefer your own company more. A playground can turn into a library, a caterpillar zoo, or a spaceship if you play your cards right. Eventually, Ms. Jen will ask if you’re okay; you always play by yourself. She’ll make games for everyone to play and make sure you are included thinking that it was ostracism that led to your personal playhouse. You don’t understand why she won’t just let you be your own playmate or why you call her Ms. Jen when she’s the same age as your brother and you call him TJ. 


When you turn 12, you’ll realize now that you don’t just like being alone now your heart races when confronted with anything else. You’ve left your tiny elementary school and begin going to a blended middle school/high school. You used to be the tallest kid in your school after being the first one to make it to 5’0’’, but now the tallest kid in your school is 6’5’’ with facial hair and a vague stench of cigarettes. All the other kids went to school with each other before and seem to look at you strange when they catch you in their classes or walking down the halls. Everybody sits with their friends at lunch, but when you walk in the cafeteria you start sweating and looking around frantically. You turn around immediately. Not too long after that you do find people who don’t look at you strange and want you to eat at their lunch tables. These new friends somehow like to be alone a lot too, but that’s just fine. You’ll be alone together. Cherish these friends for the rest of your life because your heart doesn’t beat out of its chest when they say hi to you, and they like to read books in the corner with you.  


Leave your hometown and see there are other people out there with whom you enjoy spending time. Technically, you are no longer by yourself but that’s who your thoughts are kept with. Meet a boy. Meet a couple of boys. Strangely enough they always ask to see you alone. That’s fine when it doesn’t have to last more than a couple of hours and mentally you don’t have to leave the corner between the swings and slide. However, one will eventually ask to join you there. He’ll say he loves you and that he wants to be with you, but you’ll know what you always have. You’d rather be alone. When he looks in your eyes searching for something give him the same small, sad smile you remember but can’t exactly place where. Recoil from his touch. Consider loving him twice, scorn him once. Repeat until he finally decides to leave you alone. Find another boy. Repeat the whole cycle again. Then scorn yourself.  


As you get older you learn you can’t just sit by yourself anymore. The craving doesn’t go away, but it is temporarily replaced by the incentives of talking to other people. You can’t find out about the party next weekend if you don’t ask Jessica how she got those highlights in her hair. You can’t get extra pieces of gum slid under the desk to you if you don’t tell Corey about that one time your pants rip when you tried to do a split. Even then your heart still tries to beat over you as you talk, but you learn no one else can hear it but you. When you graduate hug many people, laugh and cry with them but spend that night with the friends who’ve always liked being alone with you. These are the only ones you continue to contact after June. 

Realize loneliness is no longer a preference but a reality you’ve built at this point. Also realize that loneliness doesn’t always equate to be alone but right now it does. Text the friends who’ve spent so much time alone with you ask them to join you between the swings and the slide. They don’t know what that is or what you’re talking about, so ask them to join you for lunch. Just like old times. Find temporary comfort in their presence, and, when that’s over, text one of the boys and find temporary comfort in their warmth. Question your preferences and decisions and wonder, aloud or not, what has brought you to this place. But have this whole conversation with yourself of course. 


Rodni Hicks (2019)

“Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.”

― Audre Lorde



By Cypress

In my journey, the biggest pill for me to swallow has been forgiveness. I know that in order to move on, I must forgive all that have done me wrong.



Forgive those who didn’t know any better. Forgive him he doesn’t know how to be the father you wanted. Forgive her, you won’t get those years back. Forgive them, they don’t understand. Forgive yourself for letting people treat you that way. Forgiveness is the hardest pill to swallow.

Model: Rodni Hicks

On the Relationship between Black Men, Women, and Dating

By Auria Creary

As a black woman I’ve had my fair share of experiences dating black men. Over the years I’ve noticed one thing remains the same, black women will continue to be the scapegoats to black men. Is our lack of communication a factor in the tribulations we face as black women dating black men, or is it the media that perpetuates negative images and tropes of black women that furthers this narrative?


As black women we have been shaped to be the most solid of all women, were grown to endure mental and physical anguish at the hands of all men. We’re seen as angry -- mad black women, but even this attitude is sexualized on women of other races, while we receive the brunt of this behavior for simply acting out of hurt. We are seen to be hostile without even being provoked. But do black men ever think that when this behavior is presented it is due to ill treatment and years of trauma? That what is seen as a bad attitude is actually pain coming to the surface. It is well known that we black women are at the bottom of the patriarchy, and the most disrespected person in America. Although we do see black women being praised seldomly outside of the praise we give one another, this praise outside of us must change. Fetishization is not appreciation.




Black women are highly sexualized, and even black men maintain this oversexualization of the black woman. From the days of Saartjie Baartman our bodies are exoticized and this impacts not only us but all women, because not every woman has a Baartman body, including black women. Now I am all for plastic surgery and physical enhancements, if it makes you feel happy and empowered then I say go for it. The problem is, that the current idealized body is a stereotypical curvaceous black woman model. If you are this model then you must have a flat stomach, a cut figure, no cellulite or stretchmarks in sight. When most women who have this body have a few or even all the “flaws” that are looked down upon. On the other hand, these features are praised on women who are not black, and standardized for black women, so we go overlooked.

Black men that do date black women often have a type that fits their standard. Typically lighter-skinned and loose curls are the image of a trophy wife. We see it in majority of our black media such as Martin, The Proud Family, My Wife & Kids, etc. Often times we have even seen dark-skinned woman traded in for their “greater” light-skinned counterpart based on looks and not talent. Dating a dark-skinned woman is often something black men do behind closed doors and if they don’t date black women at all publicly then we see them doing the same to the light-skinned counterparts. On their social medias a woman who looks nothing like you is often praised and you wonder am I not good enough?



Porn imagery continues the role black woman play in sexual and intimate relationships, many a times have peers expressed to me how during intimacy they felt as if they were treated like a porn fantasy come to life. In porn the titles say it all, ebony, bbw, slave, big booty, big black, chocolate and the list goes on. Now women of all backgrounds are degraded in porn, but it seems as if black women are treated like sex dolls. If porn, music videos, and music are the only examples men have for how to deal with black women then we’re doomed.


A black man’s relationship with his mom often paints how he treats black women going forward, as well as how his father related to his mother during his upbringing. In order for black men to treat us accordingly, they must first heal that relationship and reflect on what they’ve been exposed to. As the scapegoats for black men, they often do not communicate with us. Black women come into relationships with black men not always aware of the years of trauma they have endured, and sometimes they’re afraid to be open with us so they act out. The retaliation for showing vulnerability they’ve faced from their maternal authority figures effects them in their intimacy and expressing their sensitivities. At times we make them feel as insecure as they do us. And the worst comes seeping through


Now how does this all affect us mentally? To get straight to the point, black women are tired. At the end of the day, black men know that when nobody wants them a black woman will, but when the situation is flipped we do not receive the same privilege. Who wants a broken and battered black woman, apparently not black men as we have seen time and time again. Black women have been made to feel worthless, like the leftover scraps, and the last option. Meanwhile, when a black man is down and out we will always be the one to take him in, and if we don’t then we’re selfish. The patience and love it takes to grow into a relationship from the roots with a black man is a task that seems to be only given to black women. The question is, when is it going to surpass sisterhood, when will others be there for us?

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” 
― Angela Davis


Rodni Hicks (2018)


Rodni Hicks (2019)

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

- Toni Morrison



By Kami Lyles

Have you ever awaken in your bed only to feel as though you have forgotten entirely where you were?

That feeling lingers well into your day. You’re hit with inconsistent waves of dizziness, and you find yourself searching frantically for reminders that you are still placed within your body. A month has passed and that feeling of being stuck within a lucid dream has manifested into a physical detriment. The only place where you feel truly safe is tucked under three winter blankets, face entirely smothered in a crisp white sheet set that only reminds you of the snow that you are missing out on. How could it be snowing when it was June five days ago ? No, time has passed at an exponentially quicker rate than what you are used to because your head has been stuck in a malaise that you can’t seem to comprehend. Finding yourself over attentive to the manner in which you interact during conversation. You now speak to your peers as though they are clients and colleagues to avoid critique that may not even come. In monitoring the way you speak, you begin to fall into a monotone script that feels unnatural but you have developed it well enough to save yourself during everyday interactions... and repeat. Your posture slipped from that of a seasoned ballerina to someone who’s bones fit as though they have been placed within the wrong body. Your mirror at home speaks to you in an entirely different tone these days. The only time you feel truly confident in who you are is when a group of enthusiastic young women approach you in the dimly lit, sticky tile, restroom of your favorite bar. Feeling as though you have gone through a break up with a life partner. That life partner is yourself...and you have been broken up since your early stages as an adolescent.

"Happy Place" by Lisa Holden


The Sun, the Moon, the Fog

By Manny Laveau

where did the sun go wrong full of life once i’m sure now is diminished and crumbling

why does this happen to a sun so bright the cloud suffocates him and he falls in love

he falls in love with the smell of passion, erotica, and enticement inhaling

evil is this smell

he speaks of it as if it is knowledgeable and okay

the world follows the beat of his drum who can say no to the sun?

the world watches and watches

they’re eye start to burn into a red grey on their iris

they are intoxicated with the talk and smell of evil the suns

tongue speaks highly as if a phoenix galloped from his throat

eyes burning, the flame is a hot blue

the flames hiss as they spew

me, myself, the moon watch in sadness my eyes begin to water

i am a new moon so you cannot see me but i am weeping my world was subject to this cloud and now so shall the sun that once shined a gentle light upon the front of my body now hissing flames

the light i now reflect on the world is within my mind in blame

he’ll never be the same even though i came

i’ll let you know that the pipe was hard to tame

i watch the man put a pipe to his mouth the cloud left the silhouette of his lips

the smell mixed with my rose oil in the atmosphere a sweet cloud of evil

the flames in the palm of his hands burn

his eyes dim to grey

my faith begins to shed

i wanna get out of this bed

before the flame chokes me

and now i am dead

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