The Chicago community leader is determined to keep fighting on...
By Alexander Hardy
Tuesday afternoon, a day after an apparent suicide attempt that shut down Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive for an hour and a half, activist Jedidiah Brown took to Facebook to speak on his mental state and put concerned peers and community members at ease.
During the live Facebook video Tuesday afternoon, Brown expressed his gratitude for the many supportive messages he received and assured viewers that he was doing much better.
“I have been receiving so much support and love from the entire country and other places in the world. I want to thank everybody who tuned in last night,” Brown said, “and who’ve been there for me, even now as there are some people trying to kick me while I’m down, even a relative trying to say some very untrue things about me. It’s just okay. I’m not going to chase the lies. I’m going to outlive them.”
Regarding his mental state, Brown insists he simply encountered a rough moment—an uncharacteristic moment of weakness—and that his experience was not a sign of a bigger problem.
“I already know I’m not depressed. I’m not crazy. I’m not even sad anymore,” Brown revealed. “I’m so uplifted and that’s the power of unity. I’m not depressed. I had a very bad day.”
Though he’s reluctant to give a name to his mental and emotional struggles, he’s dedicated to taking steps to improving his wellness. His first step is to seek out a psychiatric evaluation.
“Im gonna do it. I’m gonna go ahead and get the evaluation. I’m gonna go ahead, and you know, Black people, we don’t like to talk to no therapists or no counselors, but I’ma do it.”
He continued: “I’m still hurting. I’m still wounded. I still gotta heal. I do gotta acknowledge that I was driven to a very low place. I don’t wanna fake and act like I’m 100% and be a disservice to my people.”
In the video, Brown also admitted to being heartbroken after hearing of a shooting on Chicago’s West Side that took the life of two-year-old Levontay White and a yet unnamed 25-year-old man and injured Levontay’s pregnant 20-year-old aunt. He opted to take a break and process this tragedy.
Overall, while saddened by those who said he merely pulled off a publicity stunt – many organizers were hesitant to speak with JET due to stunt rumors and alleged child molestation allegations – Brown is thankful there are more people for him than against him.
Ferguson activist Johnetta Elzie, who spent months protesting in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of Michael Brown, knows of Brown’s work via a mutual friend and can relate to his despair and frustration.
“I don’t believe he is alone in that feeling, or the feeling of just wanting to not be alive in this present time,” Elzie explained. “I get it, I understand it, I’ve been there. And I have many visible friends who have been there, too.”
Hopelessness, Elzie added, is not uncommon in the face of relentless negativity, referencing a 23-year-old popular Black Lives Matter protester who took his own life on the steps of the Columbus, Ohio statehouse.
“When MarShawn McCarrel said ‘my demons won today,’ I felt that so deeply because I’ve had so many days just like that.”
Considering the anxiety, sadness, and anger that witnessing and working amidst tragedy can cause, checking in with yourself is essential. As for handling stress and reacting to violence and injustice, Elzie has some advice for those protesting and organizing.
“I think it is fair to say, “I’m not okay right now, please help me” or “please give me some time,” she said. “Just be gentle and not judge yourself for even having those feelings of “I’d rather not be here anymore.”
As for support and care for those affected by trauma, Elzie suggests reaching out to and leaning on your community, as Brown did.
Dr. Marva Robinson, a Ferguson, MO-based Black psychologist, for example, helped many who struggled in the wake of the protests and unrest.
As for Brown, despite a setback, he intends to keep fighting for his people.