Karyn Washington, the 22-year-old founder of the For Brown Girls website, which sought to empower chocolate-complexioned black women, died on April 8, reportedly committing suicide, according to MadameNoire.
Her passing is a devastating loss for legions of black women who went online to seek refuge in any one of Washington’s many initiatives, including the #DarkSkinRedLip project, which knocked down beauty standards and encouraged black women to find and rock whatever shade of red lipstick that best suited them.
Early reports suggest that Washington suffered from depression as she coped with the loss of her mother.
Her supporters are expressing their condolences on Twitter and are beginning a conversation about the importance of addressing the issue of mental health in the black community.
— Werk Chic Magazine (@WerkChicMag) April 11, 2014
This shouldn’t be just a shock & awe social media moment. Ask the “strongest” women in your life, are you OK? #KarynWashington
— Kaira Akita (@OfficialKaira) April 11, 2014
Let’s use #KarynWashington passing as a chance to stop mental health stigma in the black community. Getting help doesn’t make you weak.
— Jenee Darden (@CocoaFly) April 11, 2014
— Shadon Akai (@ShadonAkai) April 11, 2014
Washington’s friend LiaLia described what she will miss most about the young social entrepreneur:
When I look at you I see a reflection of myself and most certainly that is why this hurts so badly. From now on I’ll forever remember your big beautiful smile, your charm, ambition, professionalism, entrepreneurship, confidence, humility, your drive, and your beautiful Brown Skin. That is what I’ll choose to remember…