I’m late getting this post up due to my long Labor Day weekend without computer access but last week, actress Maia Campbell’s name lit up the Twitterverse. Where the majority of people were quick to barbecue Campbell and speculate on her behavior (drugs, mental illness, etc) I tried to stay on the periphery and avoid making light of what could be a serious situation. Additionally, I find little comedy in actual drug addiction. Therefore, I was glad that my good friend D.L. Chandler (twitter: @dlc123) was able to put into words what I couldn’t/wouldn’t express. I considered not posting this because the buzz around Campbell has died down but whatever she’s dealing with is not over and the message in D.L.’s post remains relevant.
Maia’s Descent Is No Laughing Matter – D.L. Chandler
Like many young men in the 1990s, I found actress Maia Campbell to be one of the more attractive young black starlets on television. Early on, I discovered that she hailed from the Greater Washington Metropolitan area just as I did and that factoid endeared me to her as well. Of late Maia Campbell has fallen out of the public eye, and has been unfairly ridiculed by her poor life choices fueled by her bout with Schizophrenia. The daughter of late bestselling author Bebe Moore Campbell, Maia found fame on the LL Cool J vehicle In The House. For 3 seasons, the show enjoyed some mild success and Maia Campbell was a prominent fixture of the sitcom. Once the show ended, Maia worked bit parts in television and small movies, but nothing more.
I am not going to play reporter here and try to guess what happened beyond that point. What I do know is that in the last three years, nude photos of an obviously inebriated Campbell and a very recent video of the actress has appeared on the Internet. The gossip blogs, Twitter, message boards and news outlets (such as The Examiner) have all had their say to the inner workings of Ms. Campbell’s fall. We don’t know what’s leading her down this path nor do we know if she’s ever had adequate help – at least as far as what’s been released publicly. However, what is quite telling is how much of my Twitter feed was filled with hurtful jokes about her condition. The blogs and their comment fields were also filled with the same insensitive and lame commentary found in the linked Examiner piece above.
I immediately felt sorrow for Maia Campbell after viewing the video and wanted nothing more than to protect her. It triggered an almost instinctive brotherly reaction. It was if I saw my little sister on that screen and just wanted to snatch that camera away from her antagonist and whisk her away. There wasn’t anything humorous about this scenario. There wasn’t a reason to make this a Twitter topic of the day. It didn’t have to become this ugly display of humanity – anonymous keyboard cowards levying all types of hurtful, insensitive words towards Maia. I’ve just read that there’s a prayer campaign for Maia Campbell and that’s great. I’m not a religious person but this is obviously a step in the right direction so I support it fully.
Many of us know a Maia Campbell, a young person lost to their own devices and lacking the help, love and care needed to rise above whatever demons ails them. Are we to look at Maia Campbell with pity or are we to act when we see this pattern in our respective cities and towns? What did you truly feel when you saw Maia in that state? What would you do if you saw it? Are you witnessing something of this nature now? Are you out there helping to prevent more lost souls? Are you content with reading the insensitive comments and hashtags on Twitter? I know I’m not. I know that any time I can help a person – young or old – I’m going to give whatever time I can spare. I don’t see how we can look at this as a laughing matter. Moreover, for those of you that I know who choose to see humor in such a sad situation, you’ve lost a huge chunk of my respect.