On November 10, legendary Hip Hop entrepreneur and music mogul Master P spent the evening in the mile-high city. However, he didn’t take the stage to bust out some rhymes. He came to share his life experiences in an attempt to de-stigmatize mental health within the black community.
Percy Miller, the artist most commonly known as Master P, was the guest speaker in the Extraordinary Mental Health Series presented by the education committee of the NAACP of Aurora, Boulder and Denver.
Held at New Hope Baptist Church, the event brought out more than 150 people included the likes of Mayor Hancock, Denver Public Schools board of education directors, and many everyday city residents. All sat in the sanctuary with one common goal, to raise awareness about black mental health and to stress the importance of normalizing the topic in the African American community. That began with a definition.
Rey Merenstein, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Colorado, described mental health as a whole spectrum of where you need to be and where are you. He shared that it is when you’re not feeling well, whether it’s your brain, physical, the environment that you are in. He says that mental health is that journey which takes you on that next step in the journey of well-being. Mental Illness, however, is when doctors have diagnosed or found something that’s a challenge for someone and they have got to get you on that journey to mental health.
The topic of mental health is a topic that has recently gained prominence in Master Ps life. His daughter Tytyana Miller suffered from mental illness and this past May, she died from an accidental fentanyl overdose at the young age of 29 years old. Outliving his daughter is an indescribable pain that Miller deals with daily. He explained how difficult it was to come to peace with his daughter’s death and stop shouldering the blame.
“We think we know what our kids are doing, but we don’t. We just keep on making excuses for them,” said Miller. “Parents, don’t be so hard on yourself, these kids need to learn how to take responsibility for their own lives.”
The death of his daughter may have been the biggest factor that inspired him to begin his black mental health campaign. However, like most black folks, he has been battling mental health his entire life and just didn’t know it. It’s no secret that Master P grew up in some turmoil.
He was raised in the streets of New Orleans at a time when black men hoped to survive long enough to see their 26th birthday. Master P opened up about his childhood and explained how he was around death almost daily. He went on to explain how most of the dark cloud of death that followed him was due to black folks feeling the need to be “real.”
“We always want to be real. What is real? Real is going to a funeral and seeing your brother in a casket,” said Miller, who lost his brother at the age of 19.
A teen at the time, he explains how the death of his brother completely shook his family to the core. His mom stopped talking after Miller’s brother died. Seeing his mom in complete and utter distraught motivated him to get out of the streets and become successful by doing things the right way. One of the most recurring themes of the event was trauma, specifically how trauma is so prevalent in the black community’s mental health.
Vice President of the Denver Public School Board Auon’tai M. “Tay” Anderson explained, “Our community has a lot of trauma that we need to be able to address. Our people since being brought over here, we’ve always had to deal with a mental health crisis. When they brought us over here it was not by choice it was by force and we were enslaved so this has been generational, we have been passing this trauma from generation to generation.”
The importance of mental health was evident during the event as Master P gave the audience an opportunity for the audience to ask questions for 30 minutes straight. They were locked in and highly engaged. One of the attendees was Denver resident Otis Spears. When asked about the most impactful thing that he took away from the event, he responded:
“The people that came out. No one was judging each other and we all came together for one common cause, to really learn and understand what Master P was going to share about his personal experience. His personal experience tapped into everyone because we can all relate to something or someone that is dealing with challenges. So I really commend him.”
Spears continued, “Hopefully, this will put us in the proper direction to really create something that we can continue to do even without a celebrity present.”
Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, call the Colorado Crisis Services: (844) 493-8255 or (844) 493-8255.