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One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Lauryn Hill.  On her CD MTV Unplugged 2.0 Hill talked about the freeing power of honesty and transparency.

“We were in Florida this weekend. We took the kids to Disney World. They gave us a tour so they escorted us through the back. And when they escorted us through the back we got to see how there were all these people working all hard and it was real dirty back there. Of course in the front it was all immaculate and clean. And I said people need to see the reality. They need to see how these people slave to maintain this illusion….what’s the point. Oh, I just threw this together…. Slavin to act like I wake up like this. And none of us do….and reality is good. It means that everybody can exhale and let your belly out ….that is the blessing [to be able to] go around and say, ‘oh you got one too.’ And be free.”

And it’s true.  There is freedom in being able to expose all the things that you hold inside.  Case and point: Reality television. Besides the money that the people who star on these reality shows get, they have an opportunity to free themselves.  They no longer have to hide their stuff because it is now all out in the open.  So, while many find this a poor representation, I find it to be of great service to them and others.  They are sharing their testimony.  God gives us the test, so we can share the testimony.

Because I think this way, I am constantly defending reality television. It’s a risky thing to do in a society where no one wants to admit that they watch it (but obviously people do because it has become the biggest thing on television). I do it because I understand why we have fallen in love with it.  We love reality television because it gives us an opportunity to say, “hey, they have the same problems I do,” or “dang, my issues are so bad now that I see what they are dealing with.”  What it doesn’t do, in many cases, is allow us to see that we are all living the same lives on one level or another.  Money doesn’t keep us from problems and we can’t buy our way out of sadness or internal unrest.  We have to work at making our lives better.

That is partly why I started the #iam movement.

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The #iam movement is a women’s empowerment brand  designed to provide women of color with an opportunity to define themselves, and to explain how their environment, experience and the things they have been exposed to – good and bad – have helped them become the person that the world knows. #iam offers women new experiences, information, and support to help continue their journey to their purpose.

It’s a movement that is very necessary.  We don’t have to look far to understand why. In the past few months both Mary J. Blige and Nicki Minaj have talked openly about their battle with depression that caused both women to consider committing suicide. Let’s not forget the pressures and lies that lead Fantasia to make an attempt to take her life. These are women who are in the public eye, but there are so many other everyday women – like me – who have contemplated the same thing. The worse part is that most women of color don’t seek help. They suffer in silence for fear of how others will react or what they will think.  The reality is that the same people they are worried about are probably suffering too. It’s time for women of color to heal.  It’s time for them to stop hiding because you can’t heal when you are hiding.

The #iam movement is has officially launched, and will soon include signature tees, bracelets and workshops.  Join the movement by texting iam to 86677 to keep up with us.

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