In the days that passed since news broke about the passing of For Brown Girls creator Karyn Washington, there has been an outpouring of love and condolences sent out to Washington, her friends and her family. But while her supporters remember her fondly, there have also been people who have questioned how someone who pushed for self-love could decide to take her life when so many people were inspired by her. Well, a friend of Washington’s, Yumnah Najah, says it was depression caused by the loss of her mother after a long battle with cancer that caused Washington to take her life. However, Washington never stopped believing in the message she shared with young women of color and she loved her site, her skin and her beauty very much.
In a YouTube video, Najah wanted to let people know that For Colored Girls would continue and she wanted to clear up some things up about her good friend, and defend her from people who said that situations like this are why you can’t look up to folks online and on YouTube:
“I saw a few comments on a few different articles where people were saying, ‘This is such a tragedy because there were so many people who looked up to her, and that’s why you can’t look up to people because people are going through things and you really can’t trust these self-help gurus.’ I just think that’s completely false, and I think that’s not a good message to send people. For people to think that if you’re going through something as a person or if you have flaws or if you have things that make you human, that you can’t help other people.”
She also wanted to let people know that Washington always loved herself and her beauty, and she wanted other women to be confident in themselves as well:
“She was very comfortable in her skin. There were people who speculated and assumed that she was in this place because she wasn’t comfortable with her skin complexion or she had self-esteem issues. That really is 100% false. Karen loved who she was and she loved her beauty. She knew she was beautiful. She really overcame the whole colorism issue very early on in her development as a woman and as a young woman. She was very confident in her skin. I never heard her say anything negative about her dark skin or her brown skin. I just think that was not an issue for her at all…She really was confident in herself and she loved herself. I want all the brown girls or the girls who just really loved her and just really attached themselves to her message to know that.”
So with that said, Najah says her suicide had nothing to do with self-esteem issues, but depression caused by the loss of her mother, whom she was very close with:
“Knowing that she was going through so much the last couple of months with her mother passing, I knew that she was in a very bad place. She reached out to me and we really were very close and she expressed a lot of her pain after losing her mother with me. I tried to assist her in just getting to a better environment and trying to get back to a good place because she was really in a place of missing her mother. When I first found out about her passing I was really devastated. I was in my room and I was crying for hours…I just felt like my world has been shifted. I still feel that way. I feel like everything I was doing prior to this is completely different now. My whole life has changed within a matter of a couple of days. I was laying on my bed and the first thought I had was: ‘I need my mother. I need to be with my mother. I need my mother to hold me and I just need to cry with her and I need her to pray with me. I need my mother here with me.’ In that moment, I was reminded of the pain that I know Karyn was having because she didn’t have her mother. Losing her mother after her mother battled with cancer for five years was so hard for her because she was in so much pain and she was grieving for the loss of her mother. But she didn’t have her mother there to physically comfort her and she needed that.”
Najah definitely put a lot of things in perspective, including the importance of being there for people during the tough times when they need comfort. So no, Washington wasn’t battling any self-love issues with her beauty. As Najah said, Washington moved past any problems with that. She was just struggling to try and find peace, mentally, during a time of dealing with major loss in her life. So please keep all this in mind when speaking on this young woman’s passing, because as Najah says: ‘We’re dealing with other human beings. We’re dealing with other people who have feelings. You can say things that are so hurtful. They can be logically right, but they can be so hurtful. A lot of the comments…I just feel like people have lost their sense of humanity…Your words hold a lot of power.”
Check out her video below, which is a beautiful tribute to Karyn and her legacy.