by April D. Byrd
The blog titles on tumblr, can range from edgy and flamboyant to outright explicit, and the content is sure to follow. When I found For Brown Girls on tumblr I knew I had came across something special, not just on a natural level, but on some deeply cosmic, spiritual wave that transcended the confines of the internet. For Brown Girls was a movement living in my soul and Karyn Washington had manifested it into everything I could have ever dreamed. It didn't matter that it was after 1'o clock in the morning. I didn't hesitate to track For Brown Girls down on every social media account that it was active and let them know what it meant to me to have that kind of space and encouragement on the web. As I followed, "them" turned out to be Karyn...and we connected.
Correspondence and digital smiley faces transferred like nothing through E-mails, Facebook and Twitter, We we're "friends". It was easy. We got each other. I fell in line with regularly posting for FBG. Our genius seemed to be in synch, because the topics Karyn conceived for FBG were exactly what I wanted to write about. I raved about the brilliance of Tika Sumpter in the "Chocolate Spotted" series, and reflected on the depth of lyrics from artists like Keke Palmer, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu in "Motivational Melody" pieces. Karyn was the first to publish my rant about black women no longer being aliens before Blogher picked it up. The Gabrielle Impact highlighted the positive support for Gabby Douglas in the "hair" nonsense and celebrated the rise of Black women in American Society. Karyn reblogged a similar post of mine on tumblr through FBG and it became a hit! Even though I won a contest with it, I never will forget what it felt like, to feel like my voice was getting out to the masses. Karyn...through FBG, made me feel celebrated on so many levels.
Karyn not only helped me, she helped a community of women, by providing a community for women...Brown women. In the beginning when the For Brown Girls movement was catching on and gaining more notoriety, FBG re-tweeted appreciation tweets from women and girls alike, there were a lot! For so many women it was a source of hope and motivation, and in the end, courage. The thought that Karyn took her life to me is so unthinkable, that honestly I still don't believe it. She was MY friend, so full of inspiration and intellect. I find it hard to believe that she did it, but for the same reason I can't believe, I consider the culprit: Intellect. Somewhere in the entanglement of the internet and the wealth of information, geniuses are susceptible to madness. I avoided reading all posts about Karyn until I could fully express how I felt, but in the process thought back to Newsweek's cover story that covered the fate of Jason Russell and the effects of the internet on our brain.
The risk of i-Disorder is especially high for bloggers and content creators. Working in new media can give us a sense of having to stay "connected" all the time, running the risk of real mental health issues. Seems the world wide web is now buzzing about the importance of mental health, but, my main concern is: How was her support system? That was a goal, and a value that Karyn truly expressed through FBG. The nature of For Brown Girls was to truly build a support system. To quote Dr. Maya Angelou: "Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.", a truth that knows no race, no color. In the very sense that Karyn was just a social media acquaintance, I didn't know exactly how to feel when I heard the news. For a few seconds I cried real tears, and wanted to bury myself in pain, but something in the great impact that Karyn's life made wouldn't let me. Karyn had determination, and she had grit, the things I most admired about her. I just knew that one day we would meet in person and become the best of friends, but I'm all the more grateful our souls got to meet, even if it was through the web.