Giana Darville, Devery Jacobs and Nneka Ogwumike explore mental health and community healing at Teen Vogue Summit


For the third panel of Saturday’s Teen Vogue Summit, three activists discussed the distinct struggles their communities face and how to support them. Moderated by Vogue teens Editor-in-Chief Danielle Kwateng, the panel was composed of Giana Darville, Liaison Officer of the Board of Truth Initiative, Dogs Reservation Actor and filmmaker Devery Jacobs, and MVP and Women’s National Basketball Association Champion and WNBA President Nneka Ogwumike.

Darville spoke about his work with the Truth Initiative, focusing on the intersectionality between anti-black racism and tobacco marketing. She explained that tobacco companies place Following menthol cigarette advertisements in black communities than in white communities.

“These vulnerable communities have been targeted by tobacco marketing,” said Darville. “We help black people really understand what is for them. “

Darville continued that swift anti-vaping legislation demonstrated a marked difference in the attention given to issues affecting black Americans versus issues affecting white Americans, because “the overwhelming majority of nicotine vapers are white males.

Discussing his mission, Darville concluded that it aims to “give people the information they need to make the choices they really want to make.” Truth Initiative strives to share the truth about smoking, vaping and nicotine. This includes information on the harms of tobacco ads disproportionately targeting black communities.

Jacobs spent his time on the panel reflecting on his role in FX’s comedy-drama Dogs Reservation, articulating the need for indigenous representation in the media.

“The opportunity has been incredible and one that I have with such a great sense of responsibility,” said Jacobs. “It was a show by us, for us.”

Dogs Reservation follows four native teenagers living in rural Oklahoma who go to great lengths to try to get to California, a place they consider mysterious and fantastic. The show discusses mental health and suicide issues common in Indigenous communities.

“Talking about the issue of suicide through Reservation Dogs is one that, in our native way, we have handled with humor,” said Jacobs. “Our sense of community is our sense of humor and our ability to lean on each other.”

Beyond representation in media such as Dogs ReservationJacobs explained that his community’s mental health crisis could be alleviated by attempts to “de-stigmatize the idea of ​​therapy” and “find ways to decolonize mental health spaces”.

“Some of the mental health issues we face are issues like intergenerational trauma,” Jacobs said. “I’m someone in my community who gets the conversation going or tries to do it. “

Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks also spoke about mental health. She stressed that “leading starts with listening” and that “when it comes to standing up for our sanity, it really should be a non-negotiable issue”.

Responding to criticism of his outspokenness on mental health as well as issues such as anti-black racism and police brutality, Ogwumike said, “To all of you who say ‘Shut up and dribble’ I would love to to be able to. “

“We all wish we could do our thing, but it’s just not like that,” Ogwumike said. “At the end of the day, we have a platform because we play. So who are we not to use this platform for something bigger than what’s happening on the ground? “

Looking back on her experience as president of the WNBA, Ogwumike said she learned a lot from interacting with other players.

“There was so much that I didn’t realize the athletes needed because I wasn’t experiencing it,” said Ogwumike. “I think just providing a space for conversation, for dialogue, is where it is. “

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