Why Rwenshaun Miller Traded In His Football Jersey For Therapy


Every woman says they want a man who's in touch with his feelings, until they actually meet one who makes her realize that she isn't even in touch with her own.

Due to a number of environmental and psychological factors, African Americans are more 20% more likely to experience depression, and only quarter of those diagnosed actually seek treatment. This startling fact has an impact on our quality of life, physical health, and even our romantic lives and has created generational emotional trauma that is seemingly irreconcilable.

One North Carolina native and former football star is seeking to change this dynamic for good.

Rwenshaun Miller struggled with mental illness for 11 years in silence. His condition was unknown to those closest to him until after a number of suicide attempts, masked by his efforts to perpetuate the false ideology that boys don't cry. After going to therapy and receiving a proper diagnosis, the 31-year-old football star used his platform to tell the world that black men need therapy, too.

Rwenshaun is now a therapist by trade, the owner of three businesses, pursuing a PhD, and still finds time to check in with his feelings. Damn, who knew meeting a man who can multitask could be so damn sexy?

The young advocate says that his plans weren't always activism, but as we all know, the universe has a funny way of putting us all where we're supposed to be. After using an anonymous blog to share his battle with mental health, he realized that he could use what he learned about his illness to help the people closest to him. "That's when everything clicked for me because it was like okay," he said. "There's a reason why you're still here."

We recently got a chance to chat with #TherapistBae about his own romantic life and how he's using his platform to help other black men get serious about their mental health.

What have black women meant for you throughout your healing process?

Everything. They are some of the strongest people I've interacted with, and then with being able to show compassion and love and care. Even my aunt, close friends that I've grown up with over the years, even from college on to my adult life. Just being able to bounce ideas off them. To be honest, even though I'm in tune with a lot of stuff that goes on with me, it's hard to talk to another man about certain things, because you just won't get that response.

"Black women are some of the strongest people I've interacted with."

It's just something about that black girl magic.

Right, that's it. But then also them being able to provide that sense of security, that sense of support. It's unmatched. My mom displayed that early on and that's something that I look for in a companion.

So what are those traits?

The ability to be strong but then also still be vulnerable because there [is a] fine line. My mom always made sacrifices to give me the things I needed in my life. But she also was able to show me that stuff ain't always as they seem. She showed me that she struggled at times. She was open and honest with me about her feelings and emotions and didn't hide them from me. And then, we bounced things off of one another, especially as I got older.

She also instilled in me the fact that she's not above asking for help. Whether it was her getting help from her mom and dad, her brothers and sisters, and now she's even asked me for help. That opens it up for me to ask her for help. It's creating a two-way street.

And that takes a lot of courage.

Right, it takes courage. A lot of times people don't think that's vulnerability. That's the ultimate vulnerability, to show that part of you that says, "Okay, yeah tried it but I know I need help. So please help me."

And I know black women are strong, but we all have this innate ability to really be able to be there for somebody. If you ask somebody for help and you allow them to help you, I feel like that's another type of connection. It's much stronger than a connection between people who refuse to be vulnerable with one another. Because that'll break you down in the long run. Just like black men need therapy, black women need therapy. And we don't talk about it either.

"If you ask somebody for help and you allow them to help you, I feel like that's another type of connection."

There's this idea that women have that's like, "I want my man to be a man." I see your story in my father and my brothers and my uncles and my nephew, and it's painful. Every woman says they want a man who's in touch with their feelings, but in reality that can be a challenge. Has your knowledge about mental health affected your own romantic relationships at all?

Every woman wants a man that's in touch with their feelings, but also they don't want a man who's too in touch with their feelings because because they may consider him a punk. They want a man's man but they want them to still communicate. In my instances, before I talked about my mental health challenges, I played into that masculinity role. Like, no I'm not gone talk about the things that hurt me, I'm not gone talk about any aspects that can make me vulnerable and open up my heart to you, and that made relationships very difficult.

I'm familiar with that dynamic, I've been with so many men that made me feel like I was in a relationship with an ice box. I never considered that their emotional walls could have stemmed from a mental health issue. How did you overcome that?

I understand that my best bet is not communicating verbally, especially if I'm mad or sad. I would write letters. It's all about really trying to find ways to communicate, finding that balance, and being able to make each other comfortable when it comes to communicating.

With that being said, what does an ideal relationship look like to you?

I'm a hustler by nature, so I always have a lot of things going on. [She has to] be able to understand that aspect of my life and know that I have a million things going on and knowing that I'm building something larger than me. I'm running three businesses right now and I'm pursuing a PhD. Being able to communicate with each other but also being able to have fun with each other [is also important to me].

Communicating. Fun. I like the way that sounds. So if one of our readers were to shoot her shot via DM, what would a date with #TherapistBae look like?

I like to be out in nature, trying things that aren't status quo. I'd like to try things like skydiving. Things that are different man, that's me! If we do dinner, let's pack a picnic basket and go hiking, and do lunch on top of a mountain somewhere. Just small things like that.

Yasss. I know every woman would rather hear that than the average "wyd" or "come thru." No thank you, sir.

Yes! Honestly, whenever I get into those spaces, nature calms me down. If I'm able to be in a place of serenity with you, I'm more likely to open up about certain things and it's just more time for us to get to know each other, because we break down those walls, we don't have a bunch of distractions. We don't have a movie going on, we aren't trying to figure out what's on the menu, or people watching period. Or trying to figure out who's watching you while you're out. It breaks it down to: we [are] just gonna put on some workout gear and hit the trail.

"If I'm able to be in a place of serenity with you, I'm more likely to open up about certain things and it's just more time for us to get to know each other because we break down those walls."

So really, your ideal date would be anything having to do with being able to communicate without distraction? Now, that's scary.

It is, and honestly I'm a therapist by trade, but I enjoy people so I enjoy learning about people. No matter who I interact with, I feel like I can learn something from you. So even if we don't click romantically, there is something for you to learn from me and and something for me to learn from you. Just to make that connection, period.

I wish more men took that approach. What's your sign?


Oh Lord. I know what that means.

What?! We're passionate!

That they are. And, just to be clear, Rwenshaun is on the market and possibly open to some potential connecting, as long as you can keep up with his busy schedule. He's currently preparing to release a mental health journal in the fall, founding a mental health clinic, and recently launched a campaign to get his book in the hands of 100,000 incarcerated men.

So, yeah. He's pretty busy. But a man who knows himself and uses that knowledge to help others is well worth the wait. Keep up with Rwenshaun on Instagram and visit his website to learn more about our #TherapistBae.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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