April 14, 2022

By Betti Halsell

Assistant Managing Editor


The former college sports all-star turned educator, BJ Williams, had to face powerful waves of emotion at an early age. He felt the grief of losing his mother at the age of 16 and later in life, Williams lost his brother to suicide.

He had to the gain the tools to tend to these hemorrhaging wounds; the outcome was looking at the significance of mental health within the Black community, where he allows a very important question to be asked, “Can I be Vulnerable?”

Can I be Vulnerable (CIBV) has multiple layers within the non-profit program, but Williams explained that it started as a docu-series; content that addressed common concerns Black men were facing.

“So, with that [CIBV], you can see Black men talking about some of the same things that you dealt with, from similar backgrounds.

We use that as a tool to let them know like--hey, listen, it's okay to speak on these things,” Williams said.

The docu-series was used to introduce the topic of mental health to the students in high school. 

Williams spoke on his steps towards healing, he shared that he went to therapy.

As a teenager, he experienced a personal tragedy of his mother's death. Further down the road, Williams had to face another unimaginable loss and live life without his older brother.


Williams soon realized that his mental health was in poor shape since losing two of the most powerful people in his life, and that pursuing therapy would be a necessity. As he began to grow familiar with the resources that uplifted his emotions, he began to share his journey through social media.

Williams received an overwhelming response for more of this type of content, CIBV started to take root.

The mission of CIBV is to “to break the stigma of mental health in the black community. To encourage black men to embrace their emotions and see that there is strength in vulnerability.”

Often times, Black boys are conditioned to believe that part of being a man is putting their emotions aside and it would be considered “feminine,” to express their feelings. Williams identified masculinity as a self-discovery.

He stated, “My idea of masculinity is not going to be my friend's definition, it’s not going to be my son's definition of masculinity--he's going to have an example from me.”

The founder of CIBV went on to explain that the definition of masculinity is not a blanket statement.

The core of the program starts healing within the Black community, part of the official CIBV press release stated, “Healing ourselves and our community, starts with facing our wounds. CIBV is committed not only to shedding more light on the mental health journeys and struggles of Black man, but we are dedicated to encouraging action.”

Williams is taking mental health resources on the road, he has transformed a conventional bus into office spaces, where sessions and different programs could happen across the city and possibly across the nation. Williams encourages if anyone sees the CIBV bus, do not be afraid to hop aboard.

One can connect with CIBV through social media @ and they accept donations through the following link: https://gofund.me/b0b429db.

Category: Health