The Unfiltered Project
Interview with founder Charity Lackey
Q & A
I’m working to teach people –with a specific emphasis on Black people – research-supported self-care practices. The Unfiltered Project’s mission is to heal through illuminating history and culture, enlightening communities on resources, cultivating self-care as a skill set, and composing life goals to move forward holistically.
As a PhD student at UNC’s School of Nursing, I’ve done a lot of research on how people experience stress and how it affects our bodies and minds. I identify as a black woman and I’m trying to understand stress and coping from the perspective of African American women because we are at such a high risk for adverse health outcomes like maternal and infant mortality, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cervical cancer.
Even when you control for conditions like income, education, or neighborhood – all the social determinants you think would improve these adverse health outcomes – we actually see them worsening. So I’m constantly asking, “What’s really going on here? What is it about the intersection of being black and being a woman that creates such a unique, vulnerable experience?” These questions are driving my research and my social entrepreneurship.
I’m a Tar Heel born and bred. I’ve been at Carolina since 2013 and have taken part in a lot of Campus Y social justice efforts during my time here. So I know that the Campus Y is a space on campus that will celebrate my questions, support the language I use, and invite me to think critically.
I’ve experienced mental health challenges and have witnessed the impact of black women historical trauma firsthand. It’s a densely packed experience and if you’re not a part of it, it’s hard to communicate. I’m aware that in these early stages, I’m in need of a space where this discourse is encouraged. I’m excited to be a part of a residency that is going to offer me support so that when I start to find myself in spaces that aren’t as open, I’ll have a nurturing and solid foundation to stand on.
My goal is to create an approachable online platform that uses scientific literature to promote simple stress-reduction modalities like mindfulness, yoga, and drinking water. I want people to understand these practices really do work, and it’s not just because their physician says so. There’s a deep mistrust between marginalized communities and physicians, and this draws along the lines of class, race, gender, and immigration status. My hope is that people see The Unfiltered Project’s website as a trustworthy hub of resources that can help you take care of yourself and join a community of people who are going to help you walk through this.
I love networking. It’s how I’ve gotten anywhere. By creating connections and establishing genuine relationships with everyone that I come across, I’m hoping to build a strong network that allows me to create paths for people to take care of themselves.