Lenard “Charlamagne Tha God” McKelvey is slowly becoming the unfiltered, unapologetic, fire-blazing voice of America. From Monck’s Corner, South Carolina, Charlamagne has come a long way from interning at radio station Z93 Jamz in Charleston, to creating hip hop’s most iconic radio show, “The Breakfast Club,” to his new late-night television with “Tha God’s Honest Truth.”
Can late-night television get any better than this? Hosted by Charlamagne Tha God, the hype is real. Tha God’s Honest Truth features Charlamagne’s unapologetic take on social issues with deep dives, sketches, and social experiments. The show’s first episode, “Decrackerfication” took no time in calling out American hypocrisy concerning the rise of white supremacy. Filled with witty one-liners and Charlamagne’s signature cocktail of truths, the episode takes viewers on a journey down memory lane. Comparing the “De-Nazification” of a Post-World War 2 Germany to present-day America, he argues how it is time that America began the “De-Crackerfication” of its Confederate past.
Since the premiere, the show has focused on many other topics such as the racism present in the FBI’s treatment of Black people, the toxic effects of social media, and critical race theory. Our favorite episode aired on October 10th to commemorate World Mental Health Day. In episode four of the show, Charlamagne explored the impacts of generational trauma, Chico Bean and Icewear Vezzo took part in a mental health gym, and Dr. Rheeda Walker, Resmaa Menakem, and Michelle Williams stopped by for a chat.
It’s a well-known fact that underprivileged communities are less likely to seek help for mental health issues. They are also more likely to face issues due to it. Analysis of data from the Millennium Cohort Study in 2012 found children in the lowest income quintile to be 4.5 times more likely to experience severe mental health problems than those in the highest.
The episode began with Chico Bean and Icewear Vezzo’s visit to the mental health gym, Inception. Inception is an institution founded by David McCullar that promotes the use of brain training therapy, an alternative health modality, to reduce symptoms from stress and traumatic events. Staff at Inception had them try out magnetic therapy and red light treatment. It eventually led to both artists having an honest conversation about finding peace of mind. They brought up their own traumas and how hard it has been for them. Ice opened up about his best friend dying in a penitentiary and Chico admitted the pain he felt as a child when his father passed away, and his recent encounter with loss when his mother lost her life to Covid 19.
The later parts of the episode brought together three notable Black voices in the mental health arena. Resmaa Menaken (Healer, New York Times Best Selling Author and Trauma Specialist) helped the audience understand the history of generational trauma in the Black community. “One thing that happened with land theft and slavery in respect to the Black Community was that it got organized around the trauma. So all the brutality, rape, and the degradation that was happening, we had to override and keep ongoing. Time decontextualizes trauma. Trauma in a person can look like personality over time, a trauma in a family can look like family traits over time, and trauma in a people can look like culture over time.”
Another issue highlighted by Charlamagne was one of safe spaces. How can you check up on an individual’s mental health without being intrusive? Dr. Rheeda Walker’s had important advice on the topic of reaching out for help and creating safe spaces. She believed that:
“Once you are open to the idea of mental health and healing, you should seek out help from a mental health professional who can then help you take control of your life and thought, so you can manifest that mental space better once new things happen because life will keep on happening”
Black people account for only 3% of psychologists in the USA. According to Dr. Walker, the USA does not only need more Black professionals in the field but there is also the need for culturally humble white professionals. These professionals will nurture more safe spaces where the trauma of Black clients is not being questioned or called out.
For the audience, Chico and Vezzo’s visit to Inception and their intimate conversation about their own traumas is the first step to reaching out to seek professional help. A single conversation can be monumental in one’s journey towards admitting that they need help.
Charlamagne is no stranger to mental health issues. He was molested at the tender age of 8 and spent years dealing with PTSD and anxiety. He also spoke about how his father finally confessed to dealing with years of mental health issues and attempted suicide. Wishing his father had told him earlier so he could understand his own past, Charlamagne spoke about the importance of connecting the dots within your own family.
Lenard ‘Charlamagne Tha God’ McKelvey is a driving force for mental health advocacy in the Black Community. His relationship with anxiety since childhood and his struggle to educate and uplift members of his community have shaped his understanding of the dire need for conversations surrounding Black mental health.
In 2019, he launched a platform called Mental Wealth Alliance (“MWA”) – a forward-thinking foundation that has been created to destigmatize, accelerate and center state-of-the-art mental health outreach and care across the U.S. while building an unprecedented long-term system of generational support for Black Communities. The initiative aims to raise at least $100 million over the next five years and is looking to associate with other Black-led institutes to help create awareness regarding mental health.
This year, Charlamagne furthered his efforts towards mental health outreach by honoring the Foster Youth at the LA County Independent Living Program’s 2021 Virtual High School Graduation & Scholarship Award Celebration. He presented five scholarships to students looking to pursue a profession in mental health. The scholarships will help support their studies in majors such as Psychology, Political Science, Social Work, and Sociology. The five students are also going to benefit from free virtual therapy sessions, whereas a sixth student will receive free sessions as well as a scholarship from an organization partnering with MWA.
Tha God’s Honest Truth has episodes that premiere weekly, exclusively on Comedy Central.