All Articles Tagged "violence"
With some of the country’s prestigious colleges and universities under federal investigation for the mismanagement and handling of campus sexual assault claims, policies, and procedures, the current administration has developed a task force and begun spearheading an aggressive campaign to bring awareness to the issue of campus sexual violence. Despite the heightened attention about campus sexual assault in the media, there still seems to be a lack of discussion, programming and available resources for survivors. As a result, many campus sexual assaults go under or unreported and most survivors suffer in silence given the fact that many campuses are not properly prepared to respond to an incident. In addition, campus administration, staff, faculty, medical personnel, clinicians and therapist still seem to be missing the mark when it comes to providing effective reporting measures, survivor support and treatment options. These factors help desensitize the issue and create more complex concerns in the management of survivors and perpetrators. It also makes it even more difficult for survivors to report assault, heal, and seek out support and/or treatment. Given this lack of preparedness, consequently, many survivors end up dropping out of school, suffering from mental health challenges or substance abuse issues.
Because sexuality affects how we think, act and even how we relate to other people, it is very important that survivors of campus sexual assault heal; however, this can only happen once the survivor feels safe and supported by campus administration, staff, faculty and the community. It’s also important for campus administration, staff, and faculty to understand the dynamics of campus sexual assault. They must realize that there is no quick fix. Sexual healing is a process that occurs overtime. It can take several months to several years for a survivor to report the assault, come to terms with it, and begin the process of healing.
The journey to healing from a campus sexual assault is best undertaken only after a survivor is in a stable and safe environment and seamless, coordinated services and a significant support system are in place. Therefore it is critical for campuses to recognize this need and step up to the plate and begin to make our campuses and communities surrounding the campuses safer. In order to address campus sexual assault, campuses must first create a culture of healthy sexuality. It takes a coordinated effort from everyone. Men must become advocates, comprehensive and culturally relevant prevention programs grounded in best practices must be established, and bold awareness campaigns, by-stander intervention techniques, and sexuality training for all campus administration, faculty and staff, community partners and members should be put in place. In addition to survivor support, there must be anonymous and confidential reporting options, aggressive investigation procedures, perpetrator accountability and perpetrator programs designed to reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Something must be done to make college and university campuses safer! It’s time to stop sweeping campus sexual assaults under the rug. Speak up! Speak out! Speak often! Speak Positively!
Dr. TaMara loves nothing more than talking about sex! At the age of 13, she told her mother she wanted to be a Sex Therapist! Her passion is deeply rooted in spreading messages about healthy sexuality. Dr. TaMara is a sexologist, sex therapist, educator and motivational speaker with more than 20 years of experience speaking, writing and teaching about sexuality. She travels the country helping individuals embrace and honor their sexuality. Dr. TaMara has published numerous books and articles. She is the owner of L.I.F.E. by Dr. TaMara Griffin Live Inspired Feel Empowered LLC-LIFE Follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, www.drtamaragriffin.com or www.projectcreatesafe.com.
PJ is a former member of the Bloods. Big 20z is a former member of the Crips. In Ferguson on the now infamous West Florissant Avenue, they marched side by side chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and demanding an end to violence. They also eold a sign, which read in blue and red lettering: “NO MORE CRIPS. NO MORE BLOOD. ONE PEOPLE. NO GANG ZONE”
I asked them about rumors of there being a truce between the two gangs in the St. Louis area. Big 20z confirmed them: “The truce is real. And it is a beautiful thing.”
PJ and Big 20z have been personally holding a vigil against police brutality and for Michael Brown on a 24-hour bases, even going as far as to set up a make shift encampment in the parking lot of a furniture store, which is also right on the edge of the pre-approved protest zone established by local and state law enforcement.
Big 20z assured everything is “all love” when both sets show up at the same time to protest. In fact, he said, it’s like one big family. When I asked him who called the truce between the rival gangs he explained it was the “new generation” who were tired of what he alleges is constant brutality from the police, as well as the threat of prison.
“Young black men are dying from the police and they are dying from the gangs too, if I can be honest with you. But this is a bigger problem, so we took it upon ourselves to focus our energy on making a better solution for the community we live in. The gang don’t (sic) matter no more. We’re standing up. We need food, education, not to live in poverty. You got people in two counties away living better than we do and what exactly makes them better than me? That’s what the Crips and Bloods realized. We were fighting each other over who was better than the other when we should have been standing together and fighting together.”
Big 20z said right now the truce is limited to the St. Louis area, but he and PJ have been actively spreading the message of their union to Bloods and Crips across the country. “They were like, ‘y’all turned up for real,’ “ PJ said. “And we’ve been letting them know that they can do the same thing. They can’t beat all of us. And we’ve been taking out each other for years. So now we are focusing our energy right where it needs to go.”
I asked PJ if he thinks the truce will last? Both chuckled before PJ answered. “Why does it keep on going on? What’s the purpose in me keeping on killing somebody? For a color? I’m trying to make sure my granny, my future kids, my little brother, my little sister, my nephews and my nieces live fine. They need a good education just like everybody else. We need jobs just like everybody else. We can’t depend on them. We got to start getting our stuff back together.”
Despite what many have come to believe, folks in Missouri are clearly concerned about black on black violence. Although Ferguson itself is relatively calm — the word used by most residents to describe the area is “quiet” — St. Louis city is another story.
Wendy January has traveled to Ferguson from the notorious East St. Louis just about every single night. Her motivation to see justice in a case in which she feels the police are trying to “get over.” She was also upset over the local and state government’s militarized response to what she said were mostly peaceful protests. Since the murder and the subsequent protest began, January said she, too, has noticed a calm in the community.
“That’s why I’m really for this movement, because there has been no violence in the city. Can’t nobody touch a Black person right now. We’re not going to let it happen and nobody has gone out to do anything dumb, so I’m with this. We are for one another and we all got each other’s back. Something they said we would never do. We’re mourning but we’re all sticking together.”
Only the August crime stat numbers can confirm or deny January’s impression. Those won’t come until September; however her words reflect what many folks around St. Louis county have been saying about their respective communities: out of the racial crisis came black unity.
While the mainstream media hangs exclusively onto the words and actions of the NAACP, there are many different groups actively also organizing in Ferguson. There are numerous Black clergy groups – way too many to name individually – and the brothers and sisters from the Nation of Islam as well. There are Black liberation groups and Black Greek letter organizations too. Even the Hebrew Israelites have come to march through the streets in their purple and gold robes.
In a sense, the activism around Justice for Mike Brown has become a microcosm of Black culture. Some folks turn to the Gospel, like Cassandra Brookfield who, on the way to getting her tires rotated, stopped by one of the protest tents on South Florissant to pray for them. “I wanted to go out and protest but I work the second shift,” she shared. “So I decided to pray with them and for everybody’s safety. God’s love is key to solving all of this.”
Others like Pastor Cori Bush of Kingdom Embassy International have taken a more on-the ground approach by setting up a help tent near the memorial where Mike Brown was gunned down. She’s been on site every day with several organizations, including the People Health Center and Hope Well Center, providing crisis intervention as well as grief counseling to local residents within the apartment complex and beyond who were most affected by the unrest.
A family is left to mourn after a New York man was gunned down in front of his home on Memorial Day. 20-year-old Dowayne Henry was sitting on the front stoop of his family’s Springfield Gardens home with two other men around 1:20 am when a gunman opened fired, the New York Daily News reports.
Henry’s family members describe him as an ambitious young man who worked as a preschool teacher and a salesman at Champs Sports to save money for college. He also had high hopes of playing college basketball.
“Most important to him was basketball,” said Andrew Douglas, 49, Henry’s uncle. “That was his life. He loved it.”
Henry attended Monroe College, but relatives say that he was preparing to transfer to York College to play basketball.
“He was a funny, caring person,” said Kimberlyn Leslie, 27, Henry’s older sister. “He was saving up to have enough money to go back to school.”
Police officers have not confirmed a motive for the shooting, but the victim’s uncle says he believes it may have been over an expensive pair of sneakers that his nephew was wearing. Leslie adds that her brother took great pride in his sneaker collection.
“He loved to rearrange them,” she emotionally told reporters on the steps of the family home. “He would put the ones he liked the most on top.”
Those who knew the athlete are still in shock over the senseless crime.
“Oh my God, it’s sad,” said Henry’s Champs co-worker Leah Sivells, 19. “He was the hardest worker I knew and so strong. I just saw him yesterday.”
A 25-year-old man was also struck in the back during the shooting. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition. Police are still on the hunt for the gunman, who witnesses say wore a gray hooded sweatshirt.
“I Am The Victim, Too”: Jordan Davis’ Murderer Michael Dunn Talks Becoming A Victim By Standing His Ground
From The Grio
The Florida software designer accused of killing a black teenager during an argument over loud music compared himself to a rape victim, telling his fiancee in a recorded jailhouse phone call that the police were trying to blame him for the shooting when he was only defending himself.
In a series of taped phone calls and jailhouse visits released Tuesday by prosecutors, Michael Dunn also expressed surprise at the media attention his November 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a Jacksonville convenience store had drawn and expressed confidence that he would be exonerated once a jury heard all the facts.
Dunn, 47, was convicted Saturday of three counts of attempted second-degree murder for shooting at three of Davis’ friends who were all inside an SUV, but the jury hung on a first-degree murder charge for Davis’ death. Dunn, who is white, has argued that he fired at Davis after the teen threatened him and raised a shotgun or something that looked like one after he asked the teens to turn down their rap music. No shotgun was found in the SUV.
Dunn is facing 60 years in prison when sentenced and State Attorney Angela Corey says she will retry him on the murder charge, which carries a potential life sentence. A phone message left for Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, was not immediately returned.
In a December 2012 phone call with his fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, Dunn compares himself to a rape victim, saying the detectives wanted to blame him for the shooting, not Davis and his friends. Inmates at the Duval County Jail are warned that all phone conversations and visits will be recorded and can be shared with prosecutors except for those with their attorneys.
Read more on this case at TheGrio.com
Last week, the name Sharkeisha was trending on Twitter. And I’m sure many of you did the research and discovered the story behind the name. If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, Sharkeisha is the name of a teenage girl from Houston who beat and kicked her former friend in the face, all over a boy.
We intentionally didn’t publish the story, despite some of your requests to do so, because it wasn’t a story we hadn’t seen before. Just because the video had gone viral didn’t make it anything more than gratuitous violence that we couldn’t justify further promoting on the site. I know some of you will argue that we’ve published viral, violent videos here before. (Remember the Ohio bus driver?) But we usually do so, to promote discussion, pose questions about morality or ask you what you would have done in the same situation. There was no need to do so with this ridiculous video, as we would hope that none of you all are out here fighting other women over a man or boy.
So why do I say all this? Because today we are going to talk about that story. And not from a standpoint that glorifies Sharkeisha but hopefully one that promotes sympathy toward the victim, the girl who was brutally assaulted and has had to relive the pain and humiliation of that day as video of the fight is being circulated around the internet. Her name is Shamichail Manuel. The 17 year old and her mother sat down with WEAR, an ABC affiliate in Pensacola, Florida to talk about how this viral video has made the incident so much worse. She told reporters, “I’m going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life.” Manuel also says that presence of an audience and the eventual cell phone video that ended up on World Star made her believe that she was being set up. She said the incident was “very hurting and crushing” to her especially since she considered Sharkeisha a very close friend.
Manuel’s mother, Olevia Henderson, expressed how she feels about her daughter’s abuse being shared across the internet. “The video’s just going, going, going. And they’re making jokes. They’re taunting. They’re glorifying the girl Sharkeisha but they’re taunting my daughter at the same time.”
Henderson shared an recent experience at the grocery store where the incident came back to haunt her again. “I was in the grocery store yesterday and the girl was checking out my groceries and the baggers were just laughing and talking about it. And I said that’s my daughter in that video and their whole facial expression changed.”
Surely, they probably wouldn’t have guessed that they would be in such close proximity to the mother but the fact that they were laughing and joking about it in public indicates that in sharing this video, people are forgetting that there was a real person involved in this incident. That was a real teenage girl being kicked in the face by someone she thought was a friend. It’s not something we should be so quick to share, make memes from or laugh at. As Manuel asked, “How would you feel if that was your daughter or your son and that happened to them? How would you feel?”
You can watch the full interview with Manuel and her mother in the video below. But I must warn you that it contains the most graphic scenes from the video and also images of the injuries Manuel sustained afterward.
8-year-old Donald Maiden Jr. was playing with friends outside of his Dallas, Texas apartment complex when a bullet struck him in the face around 7:00 pm Tuesday night, CBS Dallas reports. Witnesses say that after being shot, little Donald hit the ground, then jumped up and ran into his apartment.
“He hit the ground when the guy shot him. Then, he got up and ran to the house and asked his mom for water, and his mom saw all the blood coming out,” said DJ’s grandmother, Sharon Locklin.
“His jaw was just hanging off and all of his little friends were crying,” one onlooker told reporters.
“He was talking, but you could barely understand him,” said Justin Yancey, another witness to the shooting.
DJ’s babysitter revealed that when he made his way into the house, his family was hysterical.
“When he ran in, I just screamed. His mouth was just hanging off and it was just a big hole. just threw him on the couch and laid him in my arms and put pressure on his mouth with the towel,” said DJ’s mother, Latamarin Locklin.
His shooter was identified as 46-year-old Brian Cloninger, who has been arrested and charged with injury to a child. His bond has been set at $2.2 million. His motive for shooting little DJ is unclear, but neighbors say that they saw him sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Maiden family’s apartment complex prior to the shooting.
“I just don’t know why this would happen. I’ve never experienced anything like this. I don’t know why someone would just target an innocent child like this.” Locklin told reporters.
DJ remains in a medically induced coma with his jaw wired shut, a sight that his father, Donald Maiden Sr., says that he wasn’t ready for.
“When I first saw him in ICU, I started crying Donald Sr. I just put my head down in his bed and was holding his hand at the same time. And he opened his eyes. And when I raised back up I looked and there were tears rolling down his eyes and it gave me a little bit of spirit in my heart. It was joy, I guess he was kind of happy to know I was there.”
While Dallas police continue to investigate the circumstances surround the shooting, DJ faces a series of surgeries. He is however, expected to be okay.
“Everything’s just too much. I just want him to get better and recover. And law enforcement can deal with everything else,” DJ’s mother said.
We send our prayers to the Locklin and Maiden families.
Watch CBS Dallas’ full report on the next page.
I hate having those personal face palm moments, but a few days ago, I had one. Two of my sisters live in a different state than I do, but we keep in touch regularly by having “Sister Skype Sessions,” or doing a four way call, or having a group text. One of my sisters has an adorable little girl, and one day texted us a video of her daughter riding the horse. In the video, my sister’s husband is holding the reigns and walking along with his daughter on one side, and the other side the trainer is holding the other reign.
As I watched my niece I started giggling in anticipation. I watched the whole video and when it was over I found myself saying: “Is that it?” I had to really think and try to understand what I felt I had missed, or wanted to see. My sister’s video didn’t give a hint to something happening in the end, but I was waiting for something to happen. After a few minutes, I realized what I was expecting. I was expecting for brother-in-law to fall in the mud, and for my niece and the horse to keep on walking right along as if nothing happened, leaving him there. I don’t know why I was expecting this. I love my brother-in-law. He’s such a nice person, amazing husband to my sister, and father to their two children. But I was waiting to see this thing happen to him. Now, I wasn’t hoping that he would get hurt, maybe just dragged a little, and then the video ends with him getting up and laughing with my sister about how “crazy that was.”
But why was I expecting this? When sending a group message to my sisters about my expectations of the video I realized that maybe it was all of the other crazy things that I’ve been watching. I realized that when I would get bored I would go to Youtube or Worldstar and watch those crazy mishap videos. Videos of people getting hurt. Now, I can’t stomach those “fight compilations,” but I will watch a woman getting kicked by a vigilante, or poor Scarlet and her notorious tumble. I then began to realize that I might not watch all of the craziness of “Love and Hip Hop ATL,” but every Tuesday I’m posted up to watch “Bad Girls Club” (and sometimes I’ll watch the episode before to read all of the Twitter comments.)
I feel like I’m beginning to become desensitized to the violence, and that’s not good. You can tell in comment sections of certain videos that other people might be too. The sad thing about this realization is that many of the videos are violence against women. As a woman I can’t co-sign it, but I would certainly laugh at it. That’s worse! I would be on my high horse of “women need to stick together,” and then rewind the foolishness on Youtube or WSHH, and then send it to other people to share the “hilarity.”
After the horse video, I realized that the saying “You are what you eat,” is very applicable to other areas of your life. Whatever you are feeding yourself, entertainment-wise, whether it’s musically, videos, or art, whatever you allow into your spirit, it becomes a part of you. Just like any eating plan, you’re allowed to have cheat days, but just be careful with indulging too much, because you might not like what you see in the mirror when it’s too late.
Kendra Koger is on an entertainment diet… right after Bad Girls All Stars Battle ends. Tweet her @kkoger.
I don’t buy games via apps on my phone. I downloaded Words With Friends a while back and before I knew it I was over it, specifically because it took up too much space on my phone. Because of my lack of knowledge on games everybody’s talking about and playing on their phones, I had heard nothing about this new game called “Angry Trayvon” until a reader asked if we’d come across it (so for those who might say, “You’re late!” that’s my excuse). When I looked it up and found it through Google Play, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There in a hooded gray sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers was a character made to look like a “terror,” going from place to place allegedly trying to exact revenge on bad guys in different cities. There’s video of how the game works on YouTube. Here’s the description according to the Google Play site:
“Trayvon is angry and nobody can stop him from completing his world tour of revenge on the bad guys who terrorize cities everyday.
Use a variety of weapons to demolish Trayvon’s attackers in various cities around the world.
As you complete a level, you will notice more bad guys coming at Trayvon at a faster pace and a deadlier attack.
If you like to attack from far, then purchase the ‘dagger’ as you will be able to throw it at your enemies for the kill.
If you want to dominate the leaderboards across the world, then make sure you collect the money that the bad guys will drop once you kill them to increase your score.”
A very idiotic person could probably try and act like this is all coincidence, including the developers who said on their Twitter page, “Angry Trayvon is fictitious and is was not intended to portray any people in real life.” However, with the name Trayvon and the hoodie, it’s clear that someone at Trade Digital thought they were slick and knew that some probably very hateful people would try and support it. While there are many things wrong with this game and the idea of it, the biggest problem is that the developers are trying to profit off of the death of a teenager as his family and friends continue to mourn his death and try to fight the many attempts to trash his character and fight for justice in court. As if watching this train wreck of a court case wasn’t enough, you’ve got people trying to make light out of the loss of life. I would say I’m surprised, but I’m not, just disappointed at the world we live in sometimes. People will never understand how painful these type of situations are until they go through them, and they should hope to God that they, as well as their loved ones, do not.
I’ve found the Facebook page for the game–https://www.facebook.com/AngryTrayvon–and luckily there are people there already letting developers know their game is disgusting. Feel free to do the same…
UPDATE*** On the “Angry Trayvon” Facebook page, this was posted by developers about all the controversy:
“The people spoke out therefore this game was removed from the app stores. Sorry for the inconvenience as this was just an action game for entertainment. This was by no means a racist game. Nonetheless, it was removed as will this page and anything associated with the game will be removed.”
Hmph. We’ll wait and see if it really gets pulled or if they’re just trying to save face knowing they still plan on profiting from this tragedy. Either way, it’s a little too late for apologies.
The Angry White Man: What Does This Lincoln Nebraska Beatdown Say About The “Threatening Black Man” Stereotype?
Here is a story from the weekend, which kind of skirted under the radar of the black blogosphere.
From the Lincoln Journal Star:
“A StarTran bus driver caught beating a rider on video and then dragging him onto O Street was fired this week. Troy Fischer, 43, punches the 40-year-old man 18 times in the video while the bus was at 84th and O streets March 23. He then throws the passenger to the floor, before dragging him out of the bus as the man holds onto the door. Fischer leaves the man in the eastbound lane of O Street and takes off, making a left-hand turn into the Southeast Community College campus.”
This happened on a bus in Lincoln, Nebraska. The video of the incident is pretty hardcore. In it, we see an overly-emotional Fischer aggressively shove the unidentified black man so hard that he falls back onto a row of seats on the bus before jumping on him and beating him down. The victim seems as confused by why he was being attacked for asking a question as anybody watching the video probably is. Fisher then slammed the man’s head into a row of seats and then proceeded to physically drag him from the bus out into the middle of the road, where he leaves him there. According to the Journal article, the bus driver has been fired and police have cited Fischer for misdemeanor assault. The unidentified man in the video had his statement taken by the police the day of the assault, but as the Journal writes, investigators have lost contact with the alleged victim after the incident.
What the heck is going on with bus drivers today? And why was the bus driver only charged with a misdemeanor? And more importantly, where is this victim? I can certainly understand why he wouldn’t come forward. But I hope the man is safe and okay.
My first instinct is that this assault might have been racially motivated. However, the full video also shows that prior to the attack, there are three other young men on the bus, and at least one looks to be of non-white origin. So perhaps this is just an instance of an over-worked and hot-headed (or possibly mentally ill) bus driver having a William “D-FENS” Foster moment on a passenger, who was asking way too many questions. However, watching the raw video of the incident, which is about 30 minutes total, the guy, while slightly annoying with his repetition, might have asked a total of five questions over the course of 30 minutes. Likewise, when the bus driver approached him, the black guy, while putting his hands up, says very calmly, “I don’t want any trouble.” Nothing we see in the video appeared threatening on his part, or prohibited the driver from doing his job in any way. He stopped the bus, got up, and looked for a fight. Therefore, there really is no justification to beat a man down like that – unless you have some underlining issue we are not seeing.
My second instinct is to wonder why this unidentified man did not try to fight back? I get it. Some folks are just not fighters. And then there is also a difference between what we say we would do in similar situations and what might actually occur. Like the time in college when my girlfriends and I were standing outside of a night spot and a Jeep full of white boys rolled down the window and yelled “ni**er” at us. I always imagine that when faced with blatant racism, I would do or say something heroic, but the reality was that we just stood there shocked and confused. And by the time we regained our composure, they had peeled off down the street.
But when it was evident that trouble was definitely going to go down -with or without his consent – why didn’t he throw his hands up, and at the very least, try to defend himself? Even if he isn’t a fighter, close your eyes and hit him with the windmill. It used to work for me – sometimes. And I don’t want to make this seem like I’m blaming the victim; there was nothing he did that caused this incident to occur. But this video was very uncomfortable to watch, mainly because of how this unidentified black man went on to be non-violent in the face of an extremely aggressive man.
There has been research, which suggests that at least subconsciously, black men are judged as more threatening than their white counterparts. It’s a fact that most black men will tell you from personal experience is the case. And many brothers might tell you how daily they must work to offset these stereotypes of being threatening and/or dangerous, including dressing very conservatively and being mindful of how their bodies are interacting in certain contexts. Those contexts could include walking behind women; making sure there is no emotion in their speaking voices, and most importantly, not looking lackadaisical. That last part is important when it comes to interactions with the police and was a factor when George Zimmerman decided to follow the young lad he found “suspicious,” named Trayvon Martin.
If not for the presence of the video, I’m pretty sure most folks’ initial reaction would have been to assume that the black man had done something to cause his assault. Television news and crime statistics often offer comfort to those who feel justified in fearing black men. And I think that part of the reason why this bus driver felt the need to escalate the situation was so that he could get an upperhand at what he thought was about happen. Sadly, it just goes to show you how every black man is a perceived threat, even if they are the ones less likely to do harm.
Deeper Than Twerking: For Parents of Little Black Girls, Hold Off On The Whoopings And Try Open And Honest Communication First
I understand that frustration, disbelief and even rage aren’t foreign emotions for parents. I know because I have a mother who didn’t pull any punches. I can empathize with parents because though I wasn’t as bad as many of the kids I grew up with – I was NOT an easy child to deal with.
Where my concern increases is when it comes to black girls. We’re quick to beat them, ground them, and punish them for their behavior or acting out, sometimes (most horrifyingly) in suggestive ways, but my question is this: How often do we talk to them?
In the 2nd grade, I was dared to write a dirty love letter to a kid in my class. Being the Billy Jean Bad A** that I was, I did it with no qualms. Never dreamed that the kid I wrote it to would give the letter to my teacher who then called my mother. How embarrassing for my mother to get THAT call about her pig-tailed daughter. Best believe I got a whoopin’ when I got home that day.
The embarrassment and subsequent anger of being confronted with your 2nd grade daughter’s rather sophisticated and graphic version of a love letter has to be through the roof. But the fear in wondering where she could have possibly learned all of this has to be even greater. And so, although my mother did ask why I wrote it, I couldn’t give any kind of soul-bearing answer at that age so she truly believed a good slap (or 15) on the butt would set me straight. It did, sort of. I never wrote anything like that again. But all the things leading to that love letter wouldn’t be discussed and a healing process wouldn’t begin until I was 22 years old. That’s a long time to be walking around with insecurity, shadows of bad memories, and emotional trauma you can’t quite work out no matter how many church services you go to or journals you fill.
So, when I saw the story of the girls who were beat for creating a twerk video, I understood both sides. I understood that the video they created was only a symptom of much deeper insecurity they’re dealing with. I understood their father’s anger, because as many of my male friends have expressed to me, where daughter’s are concerned, the black father’s role, in their mind, is to keep their daughter(s) off the pole. So I understood, but I grieved as well. I grieved for the root that was planted in those young ladies’ minds that caused them to believe popping their butts on camera would bring them admiration, respect, or love. I grieved for a father who never wanted this for his daughters, but who acted out of rage and embarrassment more than out of love. I grieved for the society that praises black women for being voluptuous but not for being value-based. But more than anything, I grieved for the generational curse of non-communication we face as a race.
While my mother and I have built an amazing relationship over the past few years, she’s been honest with me in saying that there were always things she never wanted to discuss with my sister and me, for fear that she would put the wrong ideas in our heads. I asked if she had had a communicative childhood with her parents and she told me that she hadn’t, not really. While there was unconditional love, communication wasn’t as free-flowing. I now see the pattern that had plagued not only my family but today plagues millions of families nationwide. The Internet and the media are a big machine. Our children are small wonders getting caught in that soul-crushing grind before they even get a chance to know and love themselves.
While I do believe physical discipline (not abuse) within reason and administered out of LOVE can be useful in parenting, open and honest communication MUST always be our first line of defense. There is a WORLD of things beyond a child’s comprehension and emotional maturity that young people are dealing with nowadays. If they can’t know that they have a safe space to express themselves with their own parents, where will they go and to whom will they run for affirmation?
La Truly writes to encourage and catalyze thought, discussion and positive change among young women. She is a contributor to MadameNoire. Follow La on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe www.about.me/latruly.