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Kanye just shined an ultralight beam on the issues of mental health in black communities.

The rapper's outbursts were frustrating, but they revealed a deeper problem.

Rapper Kanye West often finds himself as a point of discussion in the media, but this week was different.

During two concerts, Kanye West underperformed for fans and instead declared his support for Donald Trump, lashed out at Hillary Clinton, and complained about Jay Z and Beyoncé. After angering millions of fans, it was announced that rest of the "Saint Pablo" tour was cancelled, and West was hospitalized for exhaustion, reportedly suffering from temporary psychosis from sleep deprivation. Many immediately attributed West's outbursts to him vying for attention, but it's clear the rapper's recent outbursts are likely evidence of deeper issues that need professional attention.

Kanye’s behavior, while often inexcusable, does not exempt him from getting the help he needs.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.


As an artist, Kanye, albeit talented, has constantly exhibited waves of male fragility and a blatant disregard for black women. On the same note, he’s called out racism, criticized antiquated gender norms, and has been a game changer in the hip-hop genre.

He’s a complicated figure, but regardless of his often contradictory views, Kanye is still a human who deserves to get help when he needs it.

It's estimated that 5%-10% of African-American men face depression, but evidence of mental health services for black people across the globe is low. While issues like poverty and racism only add fuel to the fire for mental health issues in the black community, many find it difficult to talk about those issues and find help.

During one of Kanye’s recent performances on stage, he brought out Kid Cudi, another black male artist that recently opened up about depression and mental health. Kid Cudi’s openness about his issues sparked a viral hashtag, #YouGoodMan, where many black men opened up about their mental health issues.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Kid Cudi isn’t as polarizing a figure as West and, thus, was heavily supported when he was going through difficult times. But likability shouldn’t be the qualifier for getting help. By only providing help to those we like, we miss the opportunity to create a society that chooses support over judgment.

I myself struggle with giving Kanye the benefit of the doubt, given his random outbursts and questionable views on issues that are important to me. Then I remember his existence as a black man in this country.

In many ways, African-American men have long been seen as undeserving of empathy for their human struggles.

For years, black men have been told they shouldn’t be emotional, their strength and endurance against anything is what makes them a man, and mental health certainly isn't a point of discussion. Much of this is due to racism and the effects of hypermasculinity in the black community, where mental health is still heavily stigmatized — though many black women and men are actively working to change that narrative.

Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images for Vogue.

We aren't sure what caused Kanye to have such a public outburst, and speculating isn't our job. What we should do is acknowledge his outbursts were unusual and that he deserves to get the help he needs.

If we only believe folks who lead perfect lives and never say ridiculous things deserve empathy and a chance for help, we miss the opportunity to spread humanity.

West, like so many others, isn't just the job he does. He's a dad, a husband, and more importantly, a human being. By giving him the respect and space to get help, we show that choosing empathy over judgment is a feasible and necessary option.

You don't have to like West, but you should give him a chance for a healthy life at peace. All people deserve that.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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