Atlanta native Derek Watkins, aka Fonzworth Bentley, is a musician, fashion icon, author, influencer and host. After graduating from Morehouse College, he worked at the Ralph Lauren store in Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta’s chic Buckhead area and was later transferred to the Ralph Lauren store in New York City. From there, he became famous as the dapper personal assistant and valet to music icon Diddy. Bentley has appeared in movies such as Honey, Fat Albert, and Think Like A Man Too, and he also served as the host of MTV’s “From G’s to Gents.”
Before the conference, Bentley took the time to discuss ways to improve the overall health of Black men and communities with rolling out.
Why was being a part of this conference and discussing the healing of men in the Black community so important to you?
One of the things is when you talk to men about their health, the first thing that comes to mind is the physical health. When we talk about health, it’s not just physical — it’s emotional and spiritual, too. Diet is connected to losing weight versus having a balanced, regularly healthy lifestyle when it comes to eating. Anytime you get a shot in the arm or bring attention to something before a regular checkup, it’s not only a good thing but it’s imperative, especially in our community.
How would you describe the impact of the opioid addiction epidemic on the Black community?
The misconception is that the opioid addiction is not across all demographics when this is something that is across all demographics. Having this conversation and getting into the solution of this is important because it’s affecting our community.
What can health professionals do to provide education through community organizations about health and the opioid epidemic?
Individuals that specialize in any form of healthcare, whether it’s spiritual [or] mental, 10 percent needs to be donated to these unprivileged communities. Yes, it’s a radical idea, but it’s just a practice that can be established. That would resolve huge debts in healthcare and mental health issues across our country.
How does economics play a role in the opioid addiction epidemic?
Healthcare is expensive, and people equate getting health to another line item on their balance sheet. There has to be a way for people to make solutions more affordable but also spend money on outreach and let people know [about] proper affordable solutions. When I’m trying to figure out how to pay rent and how to support my children, a lot of people just go ahead and tough those things out because it’s survival mode. Economics has everything to do with that outcome.
What is the emotional language that men should be aware of and communicate better?
Needing help doesn’t mean that you’re weak and doesn’t mean that you’re less than. Getting help is taking the incentive to be whole and having that 100 percent and being the very best version of yourself. That’s going to make your business life, spiritual life, and all categories of your life operate better.