How Are You, Really? is an interview series highlighting individuals—CEOs, activists, creators and essential workers—from the BIPOC community. They reflect on the past year (because 2020 was…a year) in regards to COVID-19, racial injustice, mental health and everything in between.
How Are You, Really?: TikTok Creator Jason Linton on the Importance of Family
In 2019, Jason Linton was already making people smile on TikTok with his music covers (using his signature vocal talk box), spreading large amounts of positivity and spotlighting his family. So when the pandemic hit, he left his job in education and decided to make social media work for him full time. Since then, he’s continued to spread joy (with fun skits and duets) to his 8.3 million followers. We spoke to Linton about the past year and how it’s made him a better father, husband and creative.
So Jason, how are you really?
My first question is, how are you?
I’ve been well. I feel like the sense of community that I’ve gotten from TikTok has really helped me not feel alone when everybody else felt isolated in the pandemic.
How are you, Really?As individuals (specifically BIPOC) we tend to say, we’re Fineeven when we’re not.
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. There’s a lot of ups and downs because of the injustices that have been brought to light, and even some things I’ve seen happen to some friends. But even in those moments, I’ve noticed that ‘Hey, there’s people out there that might be feeling even worse than I am,' and I need to draw on something to inspire people. I look at [my family] as inspiration.
Why Do You Think It’s Tough For Bipoc To Talk About Their Mental Health?
When I finally became aware that I was Black, my dad told me ‘You have to be better than everybody. You have to be stronger than everybody. If you’re going to run track you have to be faster and when you’re doing things at school you have to be the best.’ I latched on to that, chasing perfection, just so that I can be validated as a human being.
So, having a crack in the armor is something that all of us try to avoid. We don’t want to be seen as weak…But life is very different for BIPOC in general [versus] people with privilege. It’s important that we do get rid of the stigma, but it is hard to do that and still be seen as valued and valid.
What are ways you focus on your mental health?
How do I find my center? My center is this, I remember what it’s like to have an empty house. I remember what it’s like to not be a dad. I remember all the poverty and other stuff that I went through when I was growing up. With that, I take privilege in the things that I see around me— my family, my little ones, my wife. When I look at them I’m like, ‘OK, I know what it’s like to not have them and because I have them now I’m going to appreciate them to the fullest. I count my blessings. That’s where I find my center and that’s where I get myself to a good mental health space.