By The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey
Right after the capitalist driven Christmas/Kwanzaa season, it is important to remember what love is and what really matters, especially at a time when we are being propagandized to buy, buy, buy. Two of the members of the Soul/Hip Hop group Sol Development Felicia and Karega Bailey, had their firstborn pass away recently, and through their grief, they have stood as an exemplary example of family; teaching our community how to process with love, the un-thinkable, and not allow it to make us self-destruct or hurt somebody while on the journey to cope and heal. As somebody who knows them, while they are going through this, I can only hope that if I was put into the same situation, I would be able to rise to the occasion, as they have, for the community’s sake. So salute to these two spiritual warriors, who even with broken hearts, have stood front and center, and brought us along for the ride, so that we also may learn to acquire the psychological tools to keep our families together, and get over any mountain. Undaunted, this family has taught me, my family, and so many others so much about love, communication, dealing with trauma, and grief, that I had to highlight their light in an article, because I know there are a lot of people, who are trying to figure out how to mentally get out of the pit, and into a healthier mind-state. Karega Bailey is one of few that I talk to about anything and everything, to release the pressure in my head, from growing up Black in the ghettos of the United States. Community, we have to learn to face and fight our internal demons in a healthy way, this interview is my offering in that direction. Check out Karega Bailey, as speaks on grief, loss, family, mentally making it through hardships, and most importantly love, in this Q&A,.
The Minister of Information JR: Since the loss of your daughter, how were you able to use her memory to make positive things happen? How did you deal with her loss internally to be able to function at that capacity?
Karega Bailey: I think it’s important for me to first state that grief is Love. So, everything that comes from Kamaiu’s legacy is a result of the Love that her mother and I have for her. It also is a result of the Love that our family and extended community has for her, too. As far as functioning at this capacity is concerned, I am able to function at this level because I talk about how I feel! I don’t ignore my feelings.
The Minister of Information JR: Now that you hit rock bottom with the loss of your daughter and also your brother recently, what does love mean and look like to you? What does family look and feel like to you?
Karega Bailey: Well, rock bottom is solid ground. And yes it may be scary and feel uncomfortable, but if we are willing to experience that discomfort, we learn to keep the rock but we discontinue the idea that we are at the bottom. Love lifts and elevates, and we are committed to Love. So in time, we too will elevate. The goal is to create the conditions for my family and other families to rise in Love, from the grief we experienced.
The Minister of Information JR: What’s the story behind you and your wife getting on tv, and exploring your pain and grief after losing your daughter? What was the message that you wanted to convey?
Karega Bailey: Big ups to the whole Black Love team and a special thank you to the producers of Black Love, Tommy and Codie Oliver. They started following us on IG during our pregnancy with Kamaiu and some months after our loss, they extended the most gentle invitation to us to share our story on their show Black Love Doc. Though we were nervous on how our story would be handled, we were not at all disappointed with the outcome. Days before it aired, we learned that our segment was going to be their first ever, one hour special.
Our intention for doing the interview and sharing Kamaiu’s story was to create a reference for grief and neonatal loss, for families who’ve experienced such loss, because the early onset grief of losing a child can feel very alone and a lot like despair.
The Minister of Information JR: Can you talk a little bit about the album that you and Felicia just released, that accompanies your “Sol Affirmations” book?
Karega Bailey: The SOL Affirmations Deluxe Album is an audio experience that was created with the intention to soothe the soul. In my experience, sometimes life doesn’t give you a still moment, to just sit and read, so we created the audio experience to reach people who are on the move. It was also created with the intention to create accessibility for students who may have a difficult time reading the text but still deserve access to the affirmations. This album was produced by our good friend and musical director Damani Rhodes and the music touches the listener in ways that the words alone on paper just don’t reach.
The Minister of Information JR: Can you explain the importance of affirmations, and how do people use them?
Karega Bailey: Affirmations are important because they help us embrace our goodness when life creates the conditions that cause us to forget. Affirmations are written or oral statements that confirm that which is true already, but perhaps hard to remember. Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves of our goodness
The Minister of Information JR: Why did you write a book and album of this sort?
Karega Bailey: I wrote SOL Affirmations to be obedient to my own healing journey but didn’t realize that it would help so many others in the process. The album however, was released with the intention to help our people to de-stigmatize grief. 2020 brought about massive grief, like never before seen, but it is also a massive invitation to Love, if we create the conditions.
The Minister of Information JR: How have you found ways to protect your mental health in times of severe grief such as your brother being murdered, or child passing? What were you thinking about?
Karega Bailey: I am able to protect my mental health by making room to process what I feel. I process with my wife. I process with my potnas. I process with my siblings. I process with my Momma and Daddy, and I process with my therapist. I am blessed to not have to hide or mask my feelings. I process!
The Minister of Information JR: What kind of mental health support network do you have or are you developing? Why is it necessary?
Karega Bailey: The Covid-19 pandemic has made it a unique time to develop any network of any sort, insofar as it has become increasingly challenging to gather and hold space in meaningful ways. However, to the best of my ability, I am holding space online. Felicia and I have been guest on a number of podcasts, to talk about mental health, grief, and neonatal loss and we also host a weekly series on Instagram TV called “SOLAffirmation Sundays” in which we discuss the role of Love in grief, and and and alleviating the conditions that cause our own sufferings.
The Minister of Information JR: Where could people purchase the book and album? How can readers see your video interviews?
Karega Bailey: The album is available for purchase and streaming on all digital platforms and the book can be found at SOLandLove.com
The Minister of Information JR: How do people stay in touch with you?
Karega Bailey: Stay connected with us via Instagram @KaregaBailey & @fefemonique. You can also follow us at @soldevelopment as well as the Sol Affirmations project @solaffirmations. Or visit is us on the web at SOLandLove.com