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We Rise Rally Opening Day Celebration

Wall Art for We Rise Rally Opening Day Celebration in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)

WE RISE

By: Angela Redding

Photos: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l. 

Los Angeles, CA, (The Hollywood Times) 5/21/2018–“ We are honored to be here at We Rise… We are honored to be here amongst those who have supported this issue of mental health and mental wellness. A situation we really haven’t addressed in our neighborhoods, in our homes, in our families, in this country the way we should address it. We address it so much like it’s a problem. We try to push it away, but it’s something we all deal with and we all come across. If we just give each other support and learn what it is and educate ourselves and make sure we stay open to mental wellness and remember God’s got us, we are gonna be all right.” Common

Common performs at We Rise Rally Opening Day Celebration in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The Mental Health America organization, previously known as the National Association for  Mental Health, began the observance of mental health awareness month in 1949. Each year, those passionate about mental health and mental well being share information and promote different activities to help educate us about being mentally healthy.

WE RISE, an event produced by TaskForce, focuses on using the arts to break stigmas around mental health, especially in youth communities. A ten day pop-up festival of art and community building was kicked off  Saturday, May 19, with the WE RISE Rally in Downtown Los Angeles.

The Rally, emceed by Yesi Ortiz, offered Printmaking & DIY Stamps a workshop lead by Armory Center for the Arts, Teen Town Hall: Wellbeing Culture Shift,  and performances by Common, TY Dolla $ign, DJ Jada Boo, DJ Lina Bradford, DJ Daisy O’Dell, GFBF, Las Cafeteras, Syncopated Ladies, Raja Kumari, Los Rakas, The Black Eyed Peas (video), and McKayla Phillips.

Matthew Deitsch (L) & Jammal Lemy (C) attend We Rise Rally Opening Day Celebration in Los Angeles, CA, Emcee Yesi Ortiz (R) (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)

Event goers and supporters, many of whom wore a green ribbon in support of Mental Health Awareness, gathered to hear artists and guest speakers call for greater awareness in our nation regarding the issue of mental health and well being. There is a cry going out to our elected leaders to not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the issue any longer. 

Matthew Deitsch & Jammal Lemy (Parkland, Florida) spoke and called for change in the nation regarding mental health and gun laws.

Matthew Deitsch speaks at length on the issues facing our country,

As I’ve been traveling around the country advocating for changes in gun laws and other policies to bring up the standard living for people, uh, I find myself facing a question, too often, is that this isn’t a gun issue, this is a mental health issue. And they look at this as if it is the same thing, as if you can solve one and completely ignore and neglect the other. 

I’m here to talk about how you can’t equivocate the two and  how we have to face both of them with open minds, open hearts and find solutions that solve both gun violence and treat those who are mentally ill in our communities. And you cannot just victimize and put mentally ill people in the forefront of the gun violence problem because it isn’t mentally ill people who are out there doing this every day. 

McKayla Phillips, age 15, performs the song, Listen, at the We Rise Rally Opening Day Celebration in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)

There are mentally ill people who are not a danger to others. They need treatment and they need the support of the community to come up and rise together. 

So many politicians that I have seen around the country have said that this is a mental health issue, especially in Florida, where Governor Rick Scott has said that this is a mental health school issue. Florida is 50th in mental health spending and has not proposed a single piece of legislation to up that spending since the shooting of February 14th. 

So when our leaders are telling us it’s a mental health problem and not offering solutions to the mental health problem, they are using that to deflect from the truth. It’s important to realize that artists and communicators and influencers and people just need to perpetuate this conversation to actually help engage and educate others so that we can find solutions to this.

“Whether you are fighting for mental health or fighting to reduce gun violence in America, I think we all have to play our fair share in making sure that we treat these issues as public health crisis. Often times people don’t understand that the stigma around mental health is the same stigma people associate with gun violence. I make that comparison because while their journeys and their issues are not the same, people are just generally misinformed. People often think that people that suffer from mental health are dangerous or they can’t interact with society. That’s not the case, mental health is a spectrum. We need to remove the stigma around that. I just want to reiterate to you guys today, be more educated, educate your brothers, your sisters, and anyone else who may be ignorant to these topics. Thank you.”  Jammal Lemy

The Black Eyed Peas attend We Rise Rally Opening Day Celebration in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)

Fifteen year old, McKayla Phillips, performed a very moving rendition of Listen after the two young men from Florida spoke.

The Black Eyed Peas were not on the opening day’s event schedule but surprised everyone when they popped on stage to show their support for the We Rise Rally.

“Mental Health… All the things it’s going to take to have a healthy community, it’s going to take us all coming together like this. So I salute every single person that’s responsible for this event. We Rise will become something that’s not just a hash-tag or a slogan, but what we all do as a community, as a people.” will.i.am (The Black Eyed Peas)

Our mental health is as important as our physical health and neither should be taken for granted.

How do we as individuals ensure the best mental well being for ourselves? Where can we start?

Raja Kumari (L) Ty Dolla $ign(C) Los Rakas (R) perform at the We Rise Rally Opening Day Celebration in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)

Let’s start with what we feed on mentally. Words are powerful. The things we watch and listen to have a tremendous effect on our well being. Words can give life of kill and the words we speak to ourselves are the most important. Let’s speak words of life over ourselves and others to begin and maintain the healing process.

The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health offers ways to increase health, wellness and wholeness  through their Mental Wellness Series on their website.

WE RISE is a project of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and its WHY WE RISE campaign.

WE RISE Calendar of Events: http://werise.la/calendar – May 19th to May 28th

WE RISE is free and open to the public for all ages and RSVP is encouraged.

Saturday, May 19: 10am – 10pm
Sunday, May 20: 10am – 10pm
Monday, May 21: 5pm – 10pm
Tuesday, May 22: 5pm – 10pm
Wednesday, May 23: 5pm – 10pm
Thursday, May 24: 5pm – 10pm
Friday, May 25: 5pm – 10pm
Saturday, May 26: 10am – 10pm
Sunday, May 27: 10am – 10pm
Monday, May 28: 10am – 10pm

Address: 1726 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA

Event: We Rise Rally

Event Emcee: Yesi Ortiz from 97.1 AMP RADIO

Artists & Speakers: McKayla Phillips, Los Rakas, Raja Kumari, The Black Eyed Peas, Ty Dolla $ign, Common, Matthew Deitsch & Jammal Lemy (Parkland, Florida)

Produced by: TaskForce

EVENT Date: May 19, 2018