Abandoment

When I heard Mike Brown’s mother on the news, I empathized with her pain. However, I was surprised to hear her response. In the midst of the grief, she had the clarity to state the real issue. She shared how she encouraged her son to finish high school and to think about his future. She also shared how black males and blacks in general are concerned about the lack of opportunities in their city. When you are black, you question-even when you are qualified-if you will be given the OPPORTUNITY. Sports and entertainment are the only industries where there is a real presence of Blacks (African Americans). In the St. Louis Metro area, we don’t hear of African Americans as being CEOs of companies. I don’t know Mike Brown or his family personally. I only know about them from the news details- the ones that are consistent. So I suspect that they are true. His parents are divorced. Usually children of divorce feel abandoned. In response to Brown’s death, we must begin the painful dialogue about abandonment and how it has an infinite impact on people lives.

Abandonment is the root cause of issues in the Black (African-American) community.  A person or a people can only continue for so long with a lack of hope. Recently a friend of mine shared her story about her son. His story is similar to Mike Brown’s. His mother struggled to encourage him to finish high school. She tried to get him to get him to think about his future. She is still encouraging him to think about his future. He was recently incarcerated. These are the parallels between his and Mike Brown’s story. Where their stories differ is that my friend’s son was not in Ferguson to encounter Officer Darren Wilson-who would have shot first and got answers later- when he committed his offense. Thank Goodness.

News reports state that Darren Wilson has also dealt with abandonment. Had Officer Wilson struck up a conversation with Mike Brown, he might have found out they had more in common than different. Wilson had to feel abandoned by his family. His mother was married and divorced several times before she died while Wilson was in high school. More recently, he separated from his wife.

Now, my friend’s son has some additional obstacles to overcome but he can still have a future. She asked me to write him and to encourage him. I thought to myself, I don’t know what to say. Then I pondered about that thing Mike Brown, my friend son, other black young men like my cousin (who was incarcerated), and other black people like myself had in common. I thought we have all dealt with abandonment and struggled to remain hopeful.

My friend’s son lost his dad. He died when he was young. My parents are divorced and my cousin parents were never married. We have all dealt with abandonment. I can say for sure in Mike Brown’s case but in the other cases there was lack of parental involved from our fathers. When that happens children become desperate and seek acceptance. I know my cousin became involved in gangs seeking acceptance. I heard my friend say she felt her son was hanging out with the wrong crowd. I became a people pleaser seeking acceptance.

Like Mike Brown and others I have struggled as it seemed like the door of opportunity was not wide open. It is a battle to stay positive. The door seems closed because nationally the unemployment rate for African -Americans is 13.1% twice the amount of unemployment for whites. According the NAACP criminal fact sheet “One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime”. Only four African Americans have ever been elected to US Senate in all american history.
To educate means to bring out of ignorance but the educational standards are not consistent. Even though we have the “ NO Child Left Behind Act” It seems children in predominantly African American school districts are left behind. Business have divested in the communities and as result school districts have less money.
The outburst of anger from protesters, looters and rioters is from feeling abandoned. American can’t continue to treat Blacks(African-Americans) as rejected people. Blacks are suffering from the same ills that started the American revolution. Taxation with representation. The people who are charged with representing them are not taking the responsibility seriously.  Blacks have made valuable contributions to this country and the world. If given the opportunity they will continue make contributions.

 

 

 

 

 

Defining People (Race)

There have been a several incidents in recent history that have opened the dialogue for the discussion of race. The Rodney King beating. Rodney Denny being attacked following riots in watts. The riots were a result of an unheard people expressing their frustration. 22 years after acquittal of white police officers in the Rodney King case, America is still dealing with police brutality.    Police brutality has become more extreme with police shooting unarmed African-American men without consequence and the homicides being justified, due the American acceptance of generalizations, stereotypes and myths about black males.

The discussion on race leads to  clarifying questions before we can get answers.  The first question is what is race? Cliff notes defines race as groups of people who have differences and similarities in biological traits deemed by society to be socially significant, meaning that people treat other people differently because of them. What is the difference between race and  Ethnicity.  Ethnicity refers to shared cultural practices, perspectives, and distinctions that set apart one group of people from another. That is, ethnicity is a shared cultural heritage. The most common characteristics distinguishing various ethnic groups are ancestry, a sense of history, language, religion, and forms of dress. Ethnic differences are not inherited; they are learned. (From Cliff Notes)

Previously I tried to understand race and its social significance. I realize race has no significance but ethnicity does.

When I was in college, I wrote an article for The Collegian about all the different names that have been used to refer to people of my ethnicity.  The  feature  talked about how  the terminology to describe my ethnicity has changed throughout history During slavery African-Americans were referred to as Negro.   After emancipation the term  was colored used until the end of the Jim Crow Period.  I learned from reading about Ida B Wells-Barnett that during  the turn of the century the turn Afro-American was becoming popular, but some dark-skinned women thought the term offensive. Others supported Afro- American because, it was a name people of our (black culture) picked . Colored was a term that whites used to define the race.

There has always been that offensive name Nigger.  In the 70’s Blacks tried to define themselves  as Afro- American. In the 80’s Jesse Jackson embraced the use of African -American  because he believed  it was important that the culture define itself instead of being defined by others.

Now we African american are debating about the term nigga to describe our ethnicity. The term has been embraced by those that are a part of the hip hop culture. Personally I do believe nigga does define a subcultural of African-American ethnicity.

African-American is not really a true reflection of  my ethnicity because of slavery our ties with African culture where broken.  We have attempted to create our on culture in this country.  I think Black is the best descriptive term because we have absorbed from other cultures.

We should learn to respect different ethnicity.

sociologists …no clear‐cut races exist—only assorted physical and genetic variations across human individuals and groups. Since race doesn’t really exist we need to stop focusing on appearance and using appearance as reason to be judgement and create differences that really don’t exist.

 

 

Perils (pearls) of Ly Syin

I was reading Bill McClellan’s column. He was always telling stories of people who have endured and persevered. His column gave me hope. In Perils of Pauline he shared the story of woman who is on the brink. Women on the brink of poverty stories have become popular since the Shriver Report. In “Perils of Pauline”, McClellan talks  about how being poor created complex situations that are difficult to explain. Living in poverty does make things complex. The systems that are put in place to help are not easily accessible.

One thing that resonated with me from the column was utility assistance and how most agencies are not willing to help until after utilities are off. Utilities being off is difficult for people period, but especially for single parents with children. Having utilities off is grounds for eviction from apartments. It could also be considered as a form of child endangerment.

As  I have shared before on this blog, when I was younger, I refused to pay the utility bills because they were not a priority for me (lack of budgeting). After that phase ended, due to the realization that  utility companies will shut off utilities for nonpayment, then I began to struggle with underemployment and inconsistent employment. Once again, I dealt with having utilities off. Recently, I was faced with shut off notices for several utilities. I called around in search of  assistance and  the response from agencies was that I could get help after the utilities were off.

I didn’t really learn to advocate for myself until after I was homeless in Atlanta. I watched a fellow homeless woman do it and was amazed at the things she accomplished by being assertive. I have to admit at times, she was aggressive. When I was in a position again to pay  utilities and was short from lack of budgeting or lack of income, I started to reach out for help. Before I always said, “somebody else needs help more than I do.” I guess being homeless had taught me, “I ain’t to proud to beg”.

While working as an administrative assistant at church, I helped with their community care program (utility assistance). One day we processed application and I was thinking I needed to apply for gasoline assistance with myself .The hours we accepted applications made it difficult for working people to come in and get assistance. Having gas money or bus fare just to go to any of the churches or nonprofit agencies that help is an issue for some.

Recently I read some blog post that resonated with me How Being Broke is Blessing. I know it being in poverty has taught me to be creative.  Learning to entertain the children when the utilities were off. Enjoying the park for hours because we were homeless.  Sitting in a non running vehicle and being content. I also know that Money does not solve money problem’s. It can help and but attitude has a lot to do with. At least in my case my attitude toward paying bills was wrong. I am still struggling to develop the right attitude.

Interesting side note: “Paycheck  to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert“ was nominated for any Emmy and a single mom shared on Twitter that she didn’t get to watch it because she can’t afford cable television.

#MyBlackLifeMatters

Social media has been used this past week to express anger, to create awareness, to report events, and ask questions. #Ferguson, #FergusonPolice, #NOJusticeNOPeace, #MikeBrown. The police shooting of Mike Brown  in Ferguson, Missouri was the catalyst to change, to protest and riots.  The St. Louis metropolitan area of Missouri which comprises 90 municipalities has struggled with racial tension for decades. The evidence of urban flight is on exhibit in the Missouri  History Museum in Forest Park. Brown was a young African-American male. He was shoot and killed by a white police officer.  The circumstances surrounding Brown’s death has created a lot of questions about  use of force, value of life and more.

This incident has made me uncomfortable, angry and inquisitive. Angry because “African-American men are taught this at a very early age. You have be on guard, be careful around police. So if that’s what you’re taught to survive, then you’re not being taught that these are the good guys, these are the people who will protect you and serve you. You’re being taught that this is somebody who will probably kill you under certain circumstances.” From Alderman French interview in Mother Jones.

I am not saying that I have not had incidents where the police have protected me, but the first few minutes of any interaction with police are cautious because of the uncertainty. As victim and victory of domestic violence  I have called the police and received help. Unfortunately, I have to admit I have also got into an altercation with a police officer, where I was at  fault. Thank goodness she thought #MyBlackLifeMatters.  I hit her and she could have responded with excessive force but she choose not too. I am fortunate that my encounter was not with officer Darren Wilson. The officer I dealt looked through my coat pockets  and saw I had a card in my pocket  with the question “ What are three reasons women stay in domestic violence situations and a donate life key chain.” She realized I was person with a story who was tripping that day.  She realize our brief interaction did not display my true self. Mike Brown taking tobacco products from Ferguson Market and Liquor did not display his true self either.

#MyBlackLifeMatters because I have children, a common law husband, parents and extended family. My family loves me and values me. My children need a mother. I hope my existence impacts my community. I have hopes and dreams that I am yet to accomplish. #My BlackLifeMatters because I have a purpose.  God created just like he created every other human being for a purpose.

Observing a Riot

From my point of view as an observer.

I have never lived in Ferguson but I have lived around Ferguson. It has most of my life been an area notorious for racial profiling and police harassment. Divestment in the area has occurred a period of years. Which has affected the school district. Recently the school board superintendent was forced out. Because he cared about students in surrounding districts were failing and some even have lost accreditation. The citizens of Ferguson have been dealing with some issues. So after the shooting of Mike Brown, a desperate and near hopeless people were ignited to action.

Historically the police have used their abused their position of power and shown bias against African-American. In Missouri as well as other states the police have had ties with racist organizations should as the KKK. I know as an African American ever time I have to interact with the police there is fear, because I am aware that possibility for this interaction to cause me serious bodily harm or death. One should not have to fear those swore to protect and serve. But over the years police brutality has created an environment for mistrust.

Last night as I watched peaceful protest turn into a riot. I wonder what happen to change the crowd. I believe police investigation is necessary. I suspect based on the reports of citizen journalist on social media. That the police actions possibly aggregated some of the protesters which lead to the riot and indirectly the looting. It is my hope that the truth will come out about the events that lead to the death of Mike Brown and the truth will come out about the riot Sunday night.

I watched the press conference with the NAACP. The speeches were inspiration and the dialogue good for the most part. But as the first speaker said, young people are needed for leadership in creating a change. I hope they will invite them to be involved in the solution. There was a lot of christian rhetoric and Christianity does give hope. I know personally it continues to give me hope. But these young people don’t need christian rhetoric they need opportunities and respect, and then maybe we can discussion Christianity with them.

I know in recent years there has been a lot of marching and the NAACP and various other historical civil rights agencies have been involved, but for some reason no real change.  From Gena 6 to now. We need CHANGE NOW

Friendship

“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly” (Prov. 18: 24).frienship

As an only child I was very lonely and wished for close relationships with others. I wanted my cousins to be like my siblings. I often prayed God would give me a best friend. The Bible says, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly” (Prov. 18: 24). Some are too distant to form friendships.  The bible gives us several models of friendship. One of the most  memorable for me is David and Jonathan. Jonathan and David were close like brothers. Jonathan and David made a covenant. Jonathan did all he could to protect David from death.I was very shy until college. I believe that was why I struggled with friendships. I developed more friendships in adulthood than childhood.

I started this post some years ago after going through a  pruning period with a close friend.  We had developed a relationship like Jonathan and David. A ten-year friendship recently ended and I am hurt and sadden by it. My friend had become my god sister.“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity,” the Bible says (Prov. 17: 17).  Since I originally posted this the friendship has been restored.  We have went through adversity in our relationship but she has also helped me navigate adversity in my own life. She was my friend because she would be honest with me even when I didn’t appreciate. I was always jealous because I was not her friend that she would go to social things with but her friend that she could talk too and someone I can talk. She advised me to take steps to get my first apartment after college.  She taught me to be affectionate with my children and friends. She encouraged me to keep my family together through adversity.

Adversity does teach us about friends. We learn from Job that friends are not always helpful. When Job was going through his friends questioned him and accused him. Later her had to pray for them and ask the Lord to forgive them. I have learned like Job that forgiveness is a part of friendship.

 What Does the Bible say About Friendship?

Qutoes from biblequestions.org

There is great value in friendship.

We should have a Master Class on being Homeless

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about homeless people. People assume because of social-economic status homeless people are criminals.  There’s the perception that homeless people are uneducated, homeless people want to be homeless, and homeless people are unemployed. The list of negative stereotypes goes on. Exposure to homeless people is the key to changing these perceptions.

 Prior to going to college in Kansas, I use to see a homeless man outside the library drawing in a neighborhood known as the Central West End. I read in the Riverfront Times that man had a family and was very smart. He had worked for  Boeing  (formerly Mcdonnell Douglas).  He suffered from mental illness. After reading the article, I was not compelled to help the homeless or learn more about the homeless.

 The next time I focused on the label ” homeless”, it was during a discussion in Dr. Wilgers’ class, my freshman year of college.  Dr. Wilgers asked the class if we thought a homeless person could become a millionaire. One of my classmates suggested the homeless person could be an inventor.  As I listened to the discussion, I thought,  I am glad I am here at college. I will never have to deal with being homeless. After listening to the discussion for a while, I spoke up and said,  “I don’t think it is possible because the homeless person wouldn’t be able to focus. They would be focused on things like food and shelter. “

 Six years later, I realized I was wrong.  After graduating college, I was trying to find a job to support myself and my daughter. I lived with family but that was not working out well. My  God sister suggested for weeks that I go to a shelter. I refused until there was confrontation at home. Then I was forced to go to shelter.  Well, there I saw homeless women who worked to support their children. I saw unemployed women, who were working to better themselves by getting their GED. I saw women battling mental illness.

 After the experience was over, I still didn’t think much about the label ” homeless”. My next homeless experience was caused by domestic violence. Approximately 63% of homeless women have experienced domestic violence in their adult lives (National Network to End Domestic Violence). During my third homeless experience, I realized shelter and food are things that homeless people focus on. It was too difficult to focus goals and dreams.  My last homeless experience in 2003 was life changing. The label “homeless” was attached to me now.  At the time, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta had filmed the documentary “The New face of Homelessness”. They were working to educate people that homeless was not just men, with mental illness. Homeless had become an epidemic that  was impacting families.

I was shocked at how it seemed homeless people were treated with disrespect and second class citizenship. I thought it needed to be exposed. I figured if America knew,  they would make sure people where treated better.  I started writing about experiences in the midst of being homeless hoping to publish them and expose the treatment homeless people face. In the movie, “Pursuit of Happyness”,  I was excited about Chris Gardner. I thought- finally a story that would expose the conditions homeless people dealt with on a daily basis.  Next, Tyler Perryfeeding people went from homeless to media mogul.

 Social media has definitely helped give a voice to the homeless. They can share their experiences, strengths, hopes, and life lessons. Mark Hovrath-  Hollywood  formerly homeless-has done an excellent job of going around the country using  his media knowledge to allow the homeless to tell their  stories through Invisible People. Brianna Karp author of The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness. Individual like Chris Gardner, Tyler Perry, Mark Hovrath and Brianna Karp have proven that homeless people can be smart and educated. Not to mention Liz Murray (Homeless to Harvard).

 I know the some of the themes I see through my experiences and other homeless people are to continue to have hope and perseverance. Currently homeless and formerly homeless people have lessons to share. I think enabling people share lessons from being homeless would be beneficial in increasing awareness about homelessness and sharing inspiration.

 

 

Pay Check to Pay Check (My Story)

moneyI am One in three women in America who are living in poverty or teetering on its brink. That’s 42 million women plus the 28 million children who depend on them.

 

A woman pushes back from living on the the Brink out of desperation. Earlier this year I watched the documentary, ” Paycheck  to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert“.  Ms. Gilbert’s story was real for me. Learning about her struggles,  I got  a clear sense of desperation. Her story was similar to my experiences. I know about not having health insurance, about living in substandard conditions, about feeling stressed out, and about working in positions with low pay.

However, I did not get a clear sense of desperation as I read the article, Paycheck to Paycheck: How 4 Real Single Moms Make It Work.  In this article, the single moms talk about having support systems. In an optimal world, having a support system is vital to the role of single parenting. Realistically, it  is not always evident for every single mom. Recently in the news, a single parent in Arizona made a heart-wrenching decision to leave her children in the car while attending a job interview. Out of desperation, this single parent risked imprisonment, the endangerment of the lives of her children, and the endangerment of having them taken away. Assumingly, she convinced herself that this measure was needed and was a solution in assisting her to push back from living on the Brink.   I can relate. I have been in situations where I was unemployed and contacted about a job interview and did not have child care and had to make a hard choice. I have also been in the situation of the mother who worked at Mc Donalds and left her child in the park with a cell phone. I have had to take my children to work or have them to be latch key children. I was not making enough to afford after school care.

To continue to analyze  ….4 Real Single Moms, some of the profiled single parents were able to take vacations with their children. StilI, there is no clear sense of desperation. I am one of the 42 million women that are either living in poverty or on its Brink; and I  have only been able to take my children on one real vacation in their lifetime.  We went to Atlanta where we had been homeless a few years before. The outcome and the enjoyment of the vacation was no more different than when we were homeless. Saying yes to Dippin Dots at Centennial Park and choosing items we wanted to eat at CNN-not just from the value menu at Wendy’s-were the only concrete experiences that reminded me that my girls and I were no longer homeless.

 

Although references were made about the ….4 Real Single Moms, my intentions are not to blame. I applaud these women for their efforts, their devotion, their struggle, and their sacrifices. I applaud them for creating or maintaining such a system that allows room for problem solving and reconstructing ideas. I am truly inspired by their stories. Nonetheless, my heart and mind go out to the other single women that are on the Brink of poverty; and I often wonder what else could be done to reach out in more aggressive ways to address this epidemic. I would love to see a community or public panel to share information and formulate agendas on how to reduce or resolve this issue. I  envision feminist groups and volunteers lists surfacing in every community to tackle-at each state and local level- this disease which is a great indicator of the survival of communities. In addition, to minimize the capitalization of living on the Brink and to reduce the infinite interest of its impact, additional input from other REAL moms living on the Brink must be solicited to fully understand underlying causes. I am talking about single moms like me.

 

 

Leadership/ Americorps Motivational Statement

Leadership is about ultimately about creating a way for people to make something extraordinary happen according to Alan Keith. Improving the quality of the life St. Louis north side residents is about creating an environment for meaning change. This goal can be achieved through encouraging, and empowering the community. Using history, strategy and enlisting the aid and support north side residents dynamic change can be accomplished.

St. Louis neighborhood such as “the ville” are known for their glorious past, with effective leadership neighborhood can have a bright future. Through research about what factors contribute to the success of former residents such madame CJ walker, Annie Malone and Montford Point Marines. By sharing information about business models and grassroots organizing methods that were effective in the past. Plus using their stories about giving back to the community to inspire community action and through creating strategy through research of other neighborhoods that have progressed. North st. Louis can again be fertile training ground for entrepreneurs, doctor, lawyer and other professionals.

Americorps is a great leadership vehicle it provides opportunity for empowerment to individual (service members) and the community in which they serve. I feel my experience with stepping up to leadership training, completing the leading lady leadership series with Dress for Success Midwest Professional Womens Group and leading a community action project has provided me with the necessary skills to be an effective VISTA neighborhood organizer. I would be honored for this opportunity to make a difference in the St. Louis community.

Ok in Oklahoma

ok

After graduating from college, I not want to come home to St. Louis. I sent out my résumé to media outlets in Kansas.  One evening I received a call about an opening in Ponca city at local low power television station. One the girls I went to school with had worked there before. I went on the interview and my car broke down on the way home. I got the job at the small television station in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

One of my  Alcoholics Anonymous home group’s members loaned me his car for a week I  so could start my job as a reporter. I had never wanted to be an anchor person.  When I attempted to anchor SCTV our college news program I had an anxiety attack.  My classmates said I sounded like I was rapping. The news producer/camera man told me they would  train me. My training consisted of live promo before my first newscast. At KPOC, I was the news director, anchorwoman reporter, and video editor. One night I was more nervous than usual. I mispronounced everything and said the call letters backwards I was suspended from on air.

 The people who had supported me during college went out of their way to continue help me as I entered next phase of my life. I commuted 80 miles a day to and from work. During a rainstorm my friend from the domestic violence shelter and her husband came to pick me and take back to Winfield. The baby sitter took me to work. I got the dealer ship to resend the sale on the first car and put me into another.

While working at television station I went  the jail to interview the sheriff and a reporter from the local newspaper was there. I had plagiarized his copy the night before on air. I was sure he was going to confront me. He complemented me on the story.

Oklahoma one year after the bombing, I went to the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to cover a memorial event. The citizens of Oklahoma were emotional and mean to the press.   I was wearing my press badge and that made me a target. I took my friends middle school daughter with me to Oklahoma city.  Since I had struggled through my preteen and teenagers. I thought I could use my experience and  make a positive influence possibly.   My friend had shared with her daughter looked so I thought maybe she would be willing to listen to me.

My favorite story that I covered was “The drug store “a scare kids away from drugs project. They take the kids on the journey drugs take you on from the party, to the hospital, to court and finally to the casket. When you look inside the casket there was a mirror. I wonder would have not been an alcoholic if I had that in high school.

The commute was hard on me. I was not spending any time with La Freda. My mom suggested I rent a room, until I could find an apartment I liked in Ponca City. She came to Ponca City to help me find some place. She took La Freda to St. Louis until I was settled. The landlord was a nice woman she had multiple sclerois. One day I was having a horrible day. I ran over something knocked the water out for the boarding house. I was saying the short version of the serenity pray “fuck it”. I did not want to turn my life and my will over to the care of God. I wanted God to get me on the right course and then I wanted to take control.

I went to Narcotics and Alcohol Anonymous meetings in Ponca City because they were smaller than the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I had gotten use to small meetings in Winfield. More men from the halfway house started coming. In the meeting, someone blabbed I was a news-person. I told them I knew what anonymity was I hoped they did too.

At the meetings ,I met a white guy named Greg. At first, I thought Greg did not like me. One night the group was going out after the meeting but I had to go back and do the news. He invited me for coffee after the broadcast. One day we where at a pizzeria I wonder why people where looking at me was it because I was with a white guy or because I was on the news. The relationship did not go anywhere. I could not imagine being intimate with a white guy.

I was scared about being away from my support system. I asked a 17-year-old girl, I met at the Narcotics Anonymous to baby sit.  I let her drive my car and I used the company car.  That was a mistake. She wrecked my car.

I was working from about 9 am till 10:30pm at night. The other person that made up the news team had quit. I learned a lot but I did not feel comfortable. In April I quit because I was feeling overwhelmed.

My family came in May and  spent graduation weekend helping me load the U-Haul truck. I had always prophesied that on graduation day the moving truck would be packed. My friend had mailed my cap and gown to me in Ponca city. It had gotten lost in the mail. I could not be able to take part in commencement with out it. The morning of the commencement ceremony, I went the bookstore and rented another cap and gown. Then I called my friend to make sure she would attend graduation.She told me she had the cap and gown. I went to her house to pick it up. I did not like the length of the original gown I order. I went back to the bookstore and exchanged it. She gave me Tupac’s Mackeville cd as a graduation gift.