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Talking With Alfred Banks on Music, Mental Health and Racial Trauma

My name is Jasmin Pierre.

I’m the creator of  The Safe Place app, a mental health app for the Black community on Android and IOS.

Late last year, The Safe Place app released the first issue of our miniseries comic book “Generational Awakening: The Strange Anxiety In Dauphine Royal,” which focuses on the impacts of racial trauma in the Black community, after a racially traumatic hate crime takes place. Not much research, or education is usually done on this particular subject, so it’s the very reason I created the comic book. I feel every good comic needs a theme song, so through funding, I was able to create one. The Mighty let me do a Live about the comic, earlier this year

The song was written by myself and Alfred Banks @underdogcentral, it was also produced by Johnathan Thompson @tig_trackz.

The comic’s storyline is based in my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. So, I made sure to recruit people from the city to be a part of this. I’ve interviewed Alfred for The Mighty before, so I thought this would be an interesting follow-up.

Alfred, thanks for doing this interview. We first met when I featured your album “The Beautiful” on The Mighty a few years ago. I thought it was a really great dedication to your late brother, Orlandas Banks. I never stopped following you on social media after that.

A Brother Lost to Suicide Lives on in ‘The Beautiful’

Your album “The Beautiful” is exactly why I chose you for the Generational Awakening theme song. You’re talented, but also have a background of understanding mental health, which was important in my decision process.

Question 1: Did you ever think one day I would end up asking you to help me create a mental health theme song for a comic book? Are you happy to be a part of this project?

Answer: To be honest, no. I never thought you’d hit me for an opportunity like this. I’m very grateful, though. Any chance I get to talk about mental health, I’m always happy to use it! I’m super glad that my album “The Beautiful” spoke to you the way it did. In a selfish way, I just want people to know my brother’s name and how special he was.

Question 2: I was able to give you a copy of the comic’s first issue. What do you think about “Generational Awakening: The Strange Anxiety In Dauphine Royal?” Do you think racial trauma in the Black community is an important topic that needs to be discussed more in society?

Answer: I think your comic did a great job reinforcing the idea of traumatic situations in the Black community. Racial trauma is indeed something we need to focus on and discuss more, it’s a problem that needs solutions.

Question 3: Has your mental health ever been impacted by seeing racial injustices against the Black community? If so, how?

Answer: Whenever I see another video of a dead Black person in the streets, it impacts me deeply because it hurts. Our lives are treated like waste. I feel like we don’t matter and that makes me incredibly angry.

Question 4: How do you self-care lately? What are some things that help you relax?

Answer: Self-care for me looks like me playing basketball with friends. When I’m on the court, I don’t think about music, the stresses of life or anything like that. Sometimes, I take bike rides and walks to window shop, and enjoy the scenery of my city. Those are great ways for me to relax.

Question 5: What was your thought process like while writing your part of the theme song?

Answer: My main thoughts while writing my parts were to make sure you shined. I just wanted to add to what your poem spoke on, not take away and make the song about me. You did such a great job, and made my job very easy!

Question 6: What do you think about my app The Safe Place? Do you feel a mental health app, that focuses on Black mental health is needed in this country?

Answer: The Safe Place is definitely important. We need a space for us to go and get help. We need to get things off our chest. Your app is that exact thing needed to help usher in the new energy and thought process about mental health.

Question 7: Did you enjoy working on this project? Do you feel it turned out well working together on it?

Answer: I had a good time writing about a topic I care about and your story is so creative, it gave me a cool canvas to paint on. I think it turned out well and I’m sure people will love it!

I would like to Thank Alfred Banks for taking the time out to do this interview.

The “Generational Awakening Theme Song” is now streaming on all major platforms, and you can also check out the lyric video below!

Lead photo via The Safe Place’s official Facebook page