Bassey Ikpi

We Strong Black Woman ourselves to death sometimes, rather than admit we can’t handle something, rather than admit that something is too much for us, because we are expected to carry it. And I just want to live my life dismantling that.

New York Times Bestselling author

founder of the siwe project

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Bassey’s prose moves with the ease of speech, honed by a remarkable human sensitivity and intellectual curiosity. When I read Bassey’s essays, I feel as if I’m having a conversation with one who is well-traveled, not just across national boundaries but across inner ones. Bassey captures the passion, strangeness, uneasiness of her inner world and at the same time constructs a language that bears her reader with such effortlessness; she is not a narrator so much as a companion.
— Patrick Rosal
Bassey Ikpi’s talents lie in her prose and ability to capture the reader’s attention with words that flow perfectly together. Bassey’s writing allows the reader to put themselves in her shoes. And she’s not afraid to bare her soul, even if it leaves her unprotected.
— Yesha Callahan,Essence

Bassey Ikpi is the author of the New York Times bestselling essay collection, I’m Telling the Truth but I’m Lying (Harper Perennial, 2019), which Kirkus Reviews praised as “relentlessly honest.” An American-Nigerian writer and mental health advocate, she is an active voice in pop culture commentary and the mental health community, Bassey’s essays have been published by The Root, Ebony, Huffington Post, and Essence, as well as in the anthologies Rookie On Love and Who Will Speak For America. She was also the resident pop culture critic for Philly’s WURD FM radio station and is currently a contributing editor for Catapult.

Appearing on stages across the world as a public speaker and TV personality, Bassey featured on HBO’s ‘Def Poetry Jam’ and joined the touring company for their Tony Award-winning Broadway show. In 2015, Bassey was commissioned by Nike’s global nonprofit Girls Effect to write and perform a short film, Invisible Barriers, which premiered at a panel discussing female empowerment as a means for societal growth at Aspen Ideas Conference.

Bassey is the founder of The Siwe Project, a mental health organization that centers Black and Brown people in an effort to spread mental health awareness. In an appearance on MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, she was asked about shame in the context of mental illness. “Shame is a barrier. People don’t want to admit that there’s something wrong. I was a dancer in a former life, and I use dance as metaphor where, if you have an injury, depending upon how you take care of that injury, that’ll determine whether you’ll even walk again, let alone dance again. And if you ignore the injury and continue walking and dancing on it, it becomes worse and you may never walk again. And that’s how I think that shame keeps people from seeking help. If you can’t even admit that there’s a problem, then you absolutely won’t do anything to take care of it.”

Bassey is also the creator of #NoShameDay, an initiative that attempts to reduce stigma and create space for neurodivergent people to be heard and seen through their own personal stories.

As a performing poet, Bassey has opened for Grammy-winning artists India Arie, Luther Vandross, and Alicia Keys. She tributed Venus and Serena Williams at the NAACP Image Awards and opened for Conde Nast Traveler’s 25th Anniversary Visionaries Award, performing original poems composed in recognition of attending honorees Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Christy Turlington, Olivia Wilde, and Susan Sarandon, among others.

Bassey currently lives in Maryland and is working on her next book.



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