Michele Alexander is a lawyer, legal scholar, advocate and author who has written a comprehensive, well-researched examination of what is happening to our young men and women, to our families, to our future generations at the hands of the criminal justice system.
It seems that nearly every black family has a child, cousin, nephew or uncle who has been incarcerated. It’s happening to our college students, business professionals, working dads & mothers, drug involved and not. At every level, all over the country, black men, in particular, have been stopped and questioned multiple times. Now, that level of intrusion into black life is resulting in more than overwhelming legal costs and delayed goals for families. The fact that our men are constantly being sought out for examination of their being, is resulting in staggering numbers of deaths. We can no longer blame it on the boys, the neighborhood, our color. It is way bigger than that. We need to understand exactly what is happening and why. You cannot negotiate with an enemy that you cannot identify. This book identifies the problem AND the solutions.
Jarvious Cotton cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of black men who were born in the United States but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises—the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life. Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.
Cotton’s story illustrates, in many respects, the old adage “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” In each generation, new tactics have been used for achieving the same goals—goals shared by the Founding Fathers. Denying African Americans citizenship was deemed essential to the formation of the original union. Hundreds of years later, America is still not an egalitarian….(read more….)
A good rule of thumb for choosing a therapist is to find someone who can understand your feelings – someone who sees the world from your perspective in some way. You assume that their familiarity with you will help them protect you more effectively.
In this 2016 election upset, the outsider who has stunned the world, has demonstrated that he sees women, immigrants, African Americans and Latinos as the outsiders. The newly elected misogynistic, reportedly racist, clearly flawed president-elect has no history of public service and yet he is taking on the role of protector & advocate for all Americans. Many black folks (and whites, gays and women and differently-abled) are now decidedly nervous. With a penchant for “law & order” while being blind to the injustices acted out on black men & women daily through the criminal justice system, our fathers, spouses and children can become easy targets in this crisis of economic, religious and racial change. What to do, what to do?
10 Steps to protect black life, especially in a Republican administration:
Start planning now to take your whole family to vote. Four years will pass before you know it. Be educated and prepared for local upcoming elections.
Join & become active in your local political process and party of choice.
Keep a lawyer & law enforcement friends on speed dial. Check out apps that will automatically send your phone video to the ACLU. Know and communicate with your local public officials.
Teach your kids how to interact with policemen & others in authority.
BE VIGILANT: Monitor your kids’ whereabouts, know their friends & keep them busy in healthy activities. Be nicely nosy. Practice gentle but effective intervention. Parenting is a 24/7 job.
ADJUST THE SOLUTION TO THE LEVEL OF THE PROBLEM: Don’t use the police to settle family disputes & minor neighborhood disagreements. Have a plan in place for settling differences & learn to back down when it can save a life. If the issue is serious enough, use your church, school or community officials to help you negotiate solutions. If a family member has extreme stress or mental health needs, get them to a psychiatrist, mental health clinic or therapist. If drugs are being used in your home, contact a drug program or addictions counselor for help. Be respectfully persistent in getting them help from the right professionals. Police persons are not mental health specialists!
Face your relationship problems with the intention of being fair to all parties. You could win the argument now but be faced with violence later. Every little slight does not require redress. Allow yourself & others to make interpersonal mistakes – to have a bad day. Let the minor things pass while you plan a fair, effective strategy to handle common problems in a democratic way.
Children who are bullied or who are bullies themselves may be at greater risk of becoming psychotic as adults. Psychosis usually occurs in the form of hearing voices, seeing things that no one else can see and many other alterations in reality caused by the brain malfunctioning. From a study done at the University of Warwick in the UK, researchers found that some children were almost 5 times more likely to suffer from psychotic episodes by the age of 18 if they were bullied. This increased percentage occurred even if other factors such as home environment or behavior problems were taken into account. It occurred at 4 and 1/2 times the normal rate if children were the bullies themselves.
Researchers found that there was increased risk of psychosis when the bullying happened for brief periods as well as when children were bullied over a prolonged period of time. Psychosis is often diagnosed as schizophrenia and/or paranoia. It is usually treated with medication. Some people experience psychosis only when under extreme stress. Some experience it chronically and for some it is not known what triggers their psychosis or when it may be triggered. There is some thought that increased tendency to psychosis occurs due to genetic factors, brain allergies, chemical exposure and/or vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the diet.
This study highlights the importance of getting adults involved in preventing bullying of children and making sure your children are not bullies.
Source: University of Warwick (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/childhood_bullying_shown/)
“Crazy”….is what people feel when their reality doesn’t match that of the masses. “Crazy” is what many black folks have been made to feel upon entering the wider American culture. In many parts of the US, whites make blacks look and feel crazy because of their denial of racism.
“Between the World & Me” is a new, non-toxic, natural antidepressant. A balm of words, concocted by a master pharmacist of the black experience, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor at The Atlantic Monthly. Ta-Nehesi puts racism on a glass slide and puts the slide under a microscope that not only magnifies for dissection, the pathogen thereon, but allows one to verify the feeling caused by that pathogen.
This is a book that every mother, actually every black person, should read. It helps gel those streams of hurt, embarrassment, anger, disgust, frustration, sadness, reactive paranoia and as he points out, fear, that roll constantly off black people’s backs. In more solid form, one can more closely examine them and then toss them away. Or one can examine them, identify them and set up preventive barriers.
(from Sankofa.org) To see very touching photos of their mother-daughter experiences go to crumbnavigation.com
My parents, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, are needed in times like these. They would join the voices of folks like Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, and Alicia Keys to carry on about the resurgence of police killings of unarmed black and brown people; this Strange Fruit refrain. My role as a literary and visual artist and social activist begins at Sankofa.org, the place where dedicated, like-minded people are helping today’s artists use their influence to bring necessary attention to this and other grassroots movements. More…
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