Behind the Smile: Viral Video Shows Black Female Depression and Friendship

5 years ago

Until a couple of weeks ago, no one knew who Amber Mondane was. On December 6, Amber and her best friend, Nash, made a four minute video that as of this writing has been shared over 56,000 times on Facebook. Amber and Nash silently narrated their story -- one that resonated not only with young black women, but with anyone who has either been touched with depression themselves or knows somebody who has struggled with it in the past.

Both girls tried to kill themselves. And as I write this, I’m crying.

I’ve been there. Too many times. I’ve also known too many people who have felt the same way as these two girls did. Many of them did not have a best friend who found them before they died of an overdose, who looked for them when they ran away, or someone who they could share a dangerous secret, like cutting themselves to replace their emotional pain with a physical one. While there is great sadness in this video, there is also joy, as these two women have supported each other, and loved each other more than at times that they probably loved themselves.

While everyone can experience depression this video resonated with me because both girls are black, and I felt like they did when I was their age. In a world where if we go missing, our faces don’t appear on national television. When we are murdered, it goes unnoticed and is rarely mentioned in mainstream media. Some of us are told that if we are sad, we need to keep it to ourselves, because showing any type of vulnerability will make us look weak. Some of us have tried to tell people that we are hurting and been told that because our experiences as black women are not seen as relevant as our white counterparts, that we are not to be believed.

This is why this video is so important. Not only do the two young women’s experiences resonate with viewers, but they serve as a glimmer of hope for the next generation of young ‘uns coming up: strong and courageous women who want to help others by telling their stories, even giving up their anonymity in doing so. By showing that despite the struggles and the pain, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

There are other projects that are focused on narrating the stories of black girls and providing support. Aiesha Thurman is a filmmaker and the director behind The Black Girl Project, a documentary that discusses issues that affect young black women, such as identity, sexuality, love, sex and family. From the website:

Every day, popular media bombards Black females with the same old one-dimensional stereotypes failing to to be invested in presenting more complex personas. Their most visible form of cultural expression, music, tells them that it is OK to be objectified, and subjected to sexist idealogy and behavior... Our ultimate goal is to effect change globally. It’s time to explore the lives of Black girls everywhere. Their stories, their voices deserve to be heard. The initial film was just the beginning.

In addition, I would recommend reading The Crunk Feminist Collective and Quirky Black Girls for more imporant conversations on these issues.

A huge thank you Amber and Nash for sharing their story and to Blogher CE Nordette Adams for sending me this video.

Contributing EditorRace, Ethnicity & Culture

Blog: Writing is Fighting:

My Book: What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

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