Organizer, Community Builder, founding director of Umoja PEACE Center, chief strategist for the Africatown Seattle community development initiative, Wyking Garrett joined us. Wyking informed us of the Africatown Project and its connected projects in Seattle. In the second hour, Businessman, Author, and strong advocate of economic empowerment for African Americans through his weekly columns and website called Blackonomics, Prof. James Clingman joined the conversation.
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By Elliot Booker — 3 years agoyMegan Hobson was 16 when she was wounded in a drive-by shooting. She says black Miamians weren’t included enough in March for Our Lives events.Photo by Jayme Gershen
Some Black Gun Control Activists Felt Left Out by March for Our LivesJessica Weiss | March 26, 2018 | 11:30am
Millions flocked to March for Our Lives events this weekend, including tens of thousands to events in South Florida. In Miami Beach, huge crowds waved signs and chanted for stricter gun control, while organizers promised that the fight had “just begun.”
But as the push for gun reform gains steam in South Florida after the Parkland shooting, some longtime African-American activists have a message for those just getting involved: “We’ve been talking about this.”
Activist Megan Hobson, who is 22, survived a drive-by shooting in Miami Gardens in 2012 and has been outspoken about cracking down on gun violence ever since. She says she had hoped to see Miami’s black communities, which are disproportionately affected by gun violence, included in the local Never Again movement. But she didn’t find those voices well represented in Miami Beach on Saturday.
“The whole conversation behind Parkland is really great, but from young black kids’ eyes it looks different,” says Hobson. “To people who are saying this movement began in Parkland, I’m like no, this movement began in the hood. It sometimes feels like a slap in the face.”
Black children are ten times more likely to get killed by guns than white children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hobson was 16 when a drive-by shooter in Miami Gardens fired an AK-47 bullet through the trunk of her sister’s car and into her pelvis. She had multiple surgeries to reconstruct her intestines, uterus, and hip, and still has trouble walking on her right leg.
After the shooting, she was unsure how to move forward with her life. Her search for resources and support in Miami came up mostly empty. So, she began to create those opportunities herself.
She shared her story any chance she got. And she began working with youth impacted by gun violence to help them heal.
In 2013, Hobson was invited by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to attend Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. She’s since completed an internship in Wasserman Schultz’s office and continues to work with the congresswoman on legislation. She’s a spokesperson and state outreach coordinator for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which was created in 2012 in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She’s one of the 101 survivors photographed for Kathy Shorr’s SHOT project — in fact, she’s on the cover. She hosts events across Miami and the state, and is working to create a nonprofit space for kids to heal from gun violence.
But she’s still healing too.
“It’s tough,” she said. “The way trauma works is you grow older but the pain grows with you. I was not just surviving that night, but every day after. I’m still a black girl in Miami. We hear about shootings all the time –
at the gas station, in the car, in your community – it’s so common.”
On Saturday, a group of students from Liberty City who traveled to Washington, D.C. for the national March for Our Lives had the same message. “All I see is Caucasians. I don’t see black people,” one young man told CGTN. “They need to come to our area… We are from the hood, the ghetto, this is every day for us.”
Hobson says events designed to highlight the voices of gun violence survivors need to be accessible to people from the communities where gun violence has the largest impact. She attended Saturday’s event in Miami Beach but was disappointed by the lack of affected youth who were included. No one approached her about being a speaker.
“Is there transportation? Is it inclusive to everyone? Are we working to bring communities where this is most needed?” she says. “Those are the questions organizers need to ask.”
On Saturday, March 31, Hobson will take part in an event in Wynwood called “Stop the Gun Violence, Fool.” On April 14, she will host a walk for gun violence in Liberty City, and two days later she will be part of a “The Youth Speaks” event at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
“It’s gonna take a lot more than just a march,” she said. “It’s gonna take a 365-day conversation to create change. This fight for me is every day.”Post Views: 673
Trauma and Poverty Alters the Brains of Black People, and It Will Take Black Institutions to Stop ItBy Elliot Booker — 5 years ago
By David A Love
The shame is not ours. That holds true of the horrors and the trauma of the Middle Passage, and the toll it exacted on the bodies and psyches of African people. And that applies to the continued racial oppression, the deprivation and the economic, physical and mental violence to which Black people are subjected every day. While white society has told Black people that their “problems” are of their own making, a result of their moral failures and lack of work ethic, white America promoted this false narrative by punishing Black folks through public policy.
What if the shame is indeed not ours? What if neuroscience, the study of the brain, can make sense of the effect of trauma on the very minds and behaviors of Black families, adults and children? What if white supremacy takes its toll on the health and development of our minds, not just in a philosophical, political or cultural sense, but from a medical and scientific standpoint?
If the problem is one that Black people face, then Black institutions will solve it. For the first time, two African-American organizations — a health services agency and a fraternity — are teaming up to address the neuroscience of poverty and the impact of trauma on the Black mind and behavior.
The Columbus (Ohio) Area Integrated Health Services, Inc. (CAIHS) and the Columbus Kappa Foundation, Inc. — part of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity — have formed a partnership called the Global Life Chances Initiative. The project will provide services, education and outreach to Black families hit the hardest by infant mortality, educational under-performance and economic dislocation. Further, through a concept known as the neuroscience of poverty, the initiative will address prevention and repair of Black people traumatized and damaged by economic deprivation and exploitation and the toll poverty has on the brain.
The concept represents a bold and innovative research approach. Past studies have examined inter-generational trauma and post-traumatic slave syndrome, and the ways in which the psychic damage of enslavement, genocide and other forms of oppression can be passed down through generations.
A recent Newsweek article addressed how poverty impacts the brain. Specifically, it said that “poverty, and the conditions that often accompany it — violence, excessive noise, chaos at home, pollution, malnutrition, abuse and parents without jobs — can affect the interactions, formation and pruning of connections in the young brain.”
“This is an important initiative for this historically African-American mental health organization. For decades, we have witnessed clients that our agency has provided services for suffer from trauma and issues that professionals have found difficult to treat,” Penn told Atlanta Black Star. “When you look at the high rate of infant mortality in Columbus, the parents that are impacted by high infant mortality, there is a large [amount of] depression and need for support to those families.”
Penn added that it is important for the African-American community to move beyond these long-term issues that hold our community back.
As Nate Jordan II, President of the Columbus Kappa Foundation, Inc. noted, the new initiative will be based in the Mount Vernon section of Columbus, where the Kappa House is located. Jordan told Atlanta Black Star that Mount Vernon is “one of the most economically depressed areas from redlining. A lot of abandoned housing, all of the detrimental things are exemplified in these housing areas.”
“In Ohio, the Black infant mortality rate is 48th in the country. In Columbus, the Kappa House is in [an area with] one of the highest infant mortality rates in Ohio, where there are seven hot zones” for infant mortality, he added. Jordan noted that the Kappas became involved in the Global Life Chances Initiative through their engagement in infant mortality, safe sleeping issues and matters concerning Black fatherhood.
“We also looked at the father missing out of the family unit and how the father can make a big difference from an infant mortality standpoint…even when the baby is still in the placenta, having the father acting from a nurturing standpoint,” he said.
Jordan also mentioned the Kappa’s Nurturing Fathers program, an evidence-based, 13-week program in California that improves life chances for children and puts fathers back into the lives of their families. A group of 10-16 fathers receives services and education around their relationships with their child, the roots of fathering, nurturing, discipline without violence, anger management, nutrition, housing and other issues.
“We’re Black men showing leadership, and we already have a tremendous following. We’re politically in position, and people are looking for our leadership. So this is another example of the Kappas being on the front burner, and this model we’re putting together will be going nationwide,” Jordan noted.
For Dr. Stacy Scott, a consultant with the National Kappa Foundation’s Healthy Kappas/Healthy Communities National Initiative, this new partnership makes sense.
“I work in the infant mortality field, and we know the impact of stress on African-American women and the impact on their outcomes. We know African-American women have the highest rate of infant mortality, with 14 African-American babies dying for every 1,000 — 6 for white babies, so that is double,” Dr. Scott told Atlanta Black Star.
“We see a lot of babies who die because they are in unsafe sleeping environments,” she noted. “We are in the process of training Kappa membership to go out in the community to target specifically men on safe sleep practices for infants. It is growing; it is amazing when you start teaching men. When men are involved in prenatal care, especially in the first 3 to 4 weeks, we see how infants thrive,” Scott added.
Two issues that concern the participants in the Global Life Chances Initiative are the trust of the Black community, and the stigma over mental illness among African-Americans.
“That whole trust issue, that’s why it is so important that the partners look like the community we’re servicing,” Dr. Scott said. “A predominantly African-American membership is important because there is that mistrust. We know because of the Tuskegee fiasco,“ she noted, adding it is important “to have key people and key researchers who look like our community and build that trust so that people will not be exploited. There is such a disproportional representation of communities of color with health disparities, and it turns into an indictment of a particular group. And it is not an indictment, but reflects discrimination and segregation, and so I think it is going to be a slow-moving train” she said, noting that it all adds up to getting the message out one person at a time.
“It is a fresh new phenomenon. and the community is ready. And we are tired of ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ ” Scott added. “Maybe it is not something wrong with me, and I am a victim of racism.”
“On a national level, 1 in 5 people are impacted by a mental health condition, and we know that stigma and overcoming the stigma is real. But this is an awareness campaign we are launching to understand how to reach our community, how to make service delivery culturally sensitive, to take into consideration the historic stigma our community has faced with mental health issues, and neuroscience. So, that is part of our relationship with the Kappa Foundation, a fraternity that is well respected, and we go to the grassroots and find ways to be more effective,” Penn noted. “Through education, through door-to-door outreach and having culturally competent delivery providers, we know we’re going to have more of an impact than what has been historically done.”
According to Penn, often there is a lack of understanding of how to work with the Black community. The Global Life Chances Initiative hopes to provide a blueprint for upliftment though outreach to the community and addressing a serious condition. Given “the stigma that is associated with mental health issues, I personally want to see our organization and the Kappa Foundation be the institutions that lead this movement to make it easy for families, for individuals, for people of color, so that it is easy to come in and get help when I need it, to seek treatment when I need it. I don’t need to mask and hide the symptoms; I can come in. The same way you feel comfortable calling the doctor when you have a headache, people with mental health issues can find it easy to come in and ask for help,” he said.
“When you say ‘I am not quite right,’ I can give you a reason why I am not quite right,” Dr. Scott noted of this planned research. “It does give you another tool, and if we put it out there right, people begin to get a better understanding in regards to why we are the way we are. For example, why do so many African-Americans have high blood pressure? It gives some foundations as to why the community has such plights,” she said. “If you look at the brain and things of that nature, they want to blame the victim, and the idea that if we give you a pill and some job training, you’ll be OK.”
Meanwhile, the undertaking has serious implications in the public policy realm, with the potential to change the status quo.
According to Dr. Linda James Myers, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and African-American Studies at The Ohio State University and Director of The Ohio State University Black Studies Extension Center in Columbus, Ohio, the neuroscience of poverty provides a social context for what is affecting the Black community. She argues that Western science, for instance, is not holistic, and fails to make the necessary connections between one’s environment and physical and mental well-being.
“A more African-centered perspective assumes that what happens in my physical environment will affect my behavior and my chemistry, and that constant stress will affect every aspect of my physiology, including the brain,” Dr. Myers told Atlanta Black Star. She added that this more holistic and integrated African-centered perspective is nothing new. Further, a holistic world view and a cultural frame of reference that was previously missing will allow us to counter the notion that poverty is the result of Black people making bad decisions.
“One of the big things that we want to concentrate on in the first phase is to educate the decision makers that make policy, allocate funding, educate them on this work that we are undertaking,” Penn said. “What is different about this partnership that does not exist anywhere else in the country is that you have a unique partnership, with an integrated strategic approach on how to lay out a plan of dealing with the history of trauma that African-Americans have dealt with for decades. We have a strategy to begin to ask the questions and explore the research on how to better serve our community,” he noted.
“We know the issues exist, and there has been a system of a continued way of treating the problem, continuing to fund a certain model, but we’re looking at how do you, with scientific data, change the direction that we find many of our young people, many of our adults, living in poverty? How do we change the infection and change the cycle? We don’t want to lead by emotion, but we want our emotion to be inspired by research. It will benefit not only our community but all communities,” Penn added, as the program will be emulated nationwide.
“White folks won’t believe it unless it is researched,” Dr. Scott suggested, offering that the program has the potential to upend policies such as the welfare system, which is based on the premise of a work ethic. People in welfare-to-work programs are set up to fail, she noted, and people are punished as if it is a reflection on them. What happens, for example, when it is discovered they cannot perform certain work functions because of trauma.
“If there is long-term impact of trauma on the brain, that debunks the whole argument,” she concluded. “It is really going to challenge the status quo, and looking at all these acts and the welfare system, you can make an impact because what they’re doing is not working, and there is going to be a lot of fallout, because people don’t like change,” Scott said. “You don’t hear them talk about research and African-Americans with regard to this theory. This might be on purpose, because we would have another tool to say we want our 40 acres and a mule.”
Once the word spreads about this new initiative, Dr. Scott believes, it is going to be phenomenal. However, she provides a warning: “We have to be very, very careful to make sure they don’t use this against us. We have to advocate, because if they think we have a brain dysfunction they will write us off. It is important to make sure advocacy groups are on the case, because it is not our fault.”
“One of the advantages with this initiative is trying to get the powers that be to see that what is different about what young Black people are experiencing in poverty today — from what young Black people experienced back in the day with chattel enslavement and sharecropping — is the role of the community, despite the poverty,” said Dr. Myers. “Now we have urban renewal, our community has been fractured and displaced, our people were placed in public housing — which is not good for our community as it produces anger and frustration — and now without the community to support and without the educational system you have complete disenfranchisement. You have dislocation and generalized depression. Instead of asking what is wrong with these young people, we should ask: What is happening and how can we change it?”
“The fact that we see the physiological change because now we have the technology to monitor it has principal benefits and also great costs. The benefits mean that Western researchers must concede that these children are in a demeaning, disenfranchising environment that affects their brain. Maybe that means we not only need early literacy but to be more holistic in what children are experiencing. That awareness is coming is a good thing. Unfortunately, it has taken a long time to come to that realization,” Dr. Myers offered. “The downside is, ‘Oh my God, these Black children are deficient.’ They are open to being stigmatized, and the Black community is going to be further disenfranchised. We have to make sure that the people engaged in the research will not go that route,” she added, noting the evidence that the condition is not irreversible. “The evidence is the 250 years Black people spent in enslavement. I can’t think of a more hostile environment. Then you see Black people emerging out of chattel slavery making all the contributions to the industrial and technological revolution,” she added.
Meanwhile, Jordan reflected on the importance of having Black organizations step up to tackle this issue in the Black community, rather than rely on white society.
“No longer can we depend on them to solve our problems. We have the expertise, the talent, the facilities and the ideas. We live this. We are the ones who have been here 400 years, and we are going to get it solved.”Post Views: 897
By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent survey of business owners, there are 2.6 million Black-owned businesses in this country. While the growth is encouraging, gross receipts for all minority-owned firms are still well below the average gross receipts for non-minority-owned firms. A huge problem is that despite a collective buying power of $1.3 Trillion dollars, very little of that money stays in Black communities or is spent on Black-owned businesses.
Brooke Stephens’, author of “Talking Dollars and Making Sense,” research has found that a dollar circulates in Asian communities for 30 days, in Jewish communities approximately 20 days, and in white communities 17 days. In contrast, a dollar circulates in the Black community only six hours.
According to Maggie Anderson, just 2 cents of every dollar an African-American spends in this country goes to Black-owned businesses. In her book, Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy, Anderson recounts her experiences patronizing Black-owned businesses while highlighting the challenges many Black businesses face (Black businesses lag behind all other businesses in every measure of success).
Research has found that if higher-income Black consumers spent at least $1 out of every $10 with Black-owned businesses, it would generate one million jobs for African Americans.
Knowing how much of an impact supporting Black business can make, how do we go about supporting them?
9. Shop Online
In the internet age we live in there are plenty of online marketplaces to shop. Whether you find the stores through Google, some other search engine, or Etsy, there are black-owned stores that cover everything from hair products to clothing.Black Business Directories and Online Groups
There are several black-business apps and online directories that will help consumers locate black businesses. They provide real-time information on businesses ranked by referrals and reviews. There are also several Facebook and LinkedIn Groups dedicated to promoting black-owned businesses and providing a platform for entrepreneurs to network.
8. Social Media
Social media not only gives us access to many opportunities that might go missing in a normal online search, but it allows us to spread the word to like-minded individuals with literally the push of a button. Facebook, twitter, and Instagram alone account for at least two hours out of most of the population’s time every day. This is free marketing, a reliable review from a trusted source (yourself) to people in your circle, and it all it takes is a tweet or repost. There are popular hashtags being promoted to show support of black-owned enterprises.
7. Chamber of Commerce
This step will take a little bit of effort but it’s worth it in the end especially if you happen to be a business owner. Your city’s Chamber of Commerce or The National Black Chamber of Commerce can be used to find local business and who owns them. Most Chambers’ membership list can be searched for free. However, if you’d like to join there is usually a fee. The Chamber usually holds meetings and networking events where business owners get together to network and build relationships. Partnerships, business relationships, and referrals are common among members.
6. Find a business you like
No one is saying buy everything black and only black. As ideal as that would be, it’s highly impractical. If you could find a few items that you could buy on a regular bases from a one or more local shops or online, you could save money on gas for one and you’d be making a difference. But keep in mind, it’s never a bad idea to go out of your way to support black-owned businesses, even if it means taking a long drive.
5. Consider Specialty Shops
Think about some things that may be more specific to a black business. Whether seasonal or on a regular basis there are usually some things that may be more difficult to find if you’re an African American. Certain hair product, foods, cultural items and even services aren’t very easy to come by. Black businesses offering goods and services specific to the diaspora, rely one hundred percent on black consumers.
4. We all go to the doctor
By taking a little time to research or ask for a referral for an African American doctor, you can make one decision that will support not only a black business but the community as a whole. We all look for the best doctor we can find black, white, or other. If we want our kids to grow up and be doctors one day, we should hope that they’d have some patients as well. Just a quick FYI, African Americans make great doctors too. Just ask Ben Carson. Well, maybe not.
3. It takes a village
For many households, there usually comes a time when a babysitter, petsitter or a caregiver for our elders is needed. There are plenty of neighborhood daycares starting up as small businesses. You can also find reputable caregivers and senior homes owned by minorities. Young college students are in dire need of part-time work on weekends and nights. Many have gone into business for themselves as sitters. Passing off your children or pet for a few hours to a responsible young adult would make both of your lives easier.
2. Think Maintenance
How many times have you gone to Midas, called a tow truck, or needed repairs around the house? According to the US Census Bureau, 20% of black-owned businesses are in the repair and maintenance industry.
he purchase anyway. So, why not give the money to a business that needs it and will make a difference?
1. Think small
The say, “The journey of one-thousand miles begins with a single step.” If that’s true, 43 million African Americans taking one step in accord with one another can cover a lot of ground fairly quickly. You don’t have to do all your shopping black, but making one dedicated purchase in one place will make a big difference.
Small Steps. Big Results. So, how small is a small step? Next time you need beauty supplies, try to find a BLack-owned beauty supply store first. Nine out of 10 times, the stores usually frequented are owned by a minority group – who owns a shop in our community – but lives somewhere else. They earn substantial revenue in Black communities; if they didn’t, they’d open the shop in their community. You were going to make the purchase anyway. So, why not give the money to a business that needs it and will make a difference?Post Views: 1,147