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Beth Lunde

Beth Lunde

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  • Special Needs Committee Update: Autism Awareness Month

    By Kimberley Alexander

         Moms of Black Boys United aims to be a resource for Moms everywhere. This month, we'd like to bring awareness to our boys with Autism. We've created an online toolkit with autism specific resources and tips, not just for Moms with autistic sons but for everyone.

    Autism Awareness Month

         In addition, Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. brings members of the private Facebook group a speaker series from MOBBs across the country sharing their journey raising their Black boys. No stories are alike as we delve into the joys and pains of being a parent of a child with Autism throughout the month. Whether you're a parent, a loved one, caregiver or just a curious mom, this conversation is for you.

    FaceBook Live Series

  • published Volunteer Shout Out: Vanessa McCullers in MOBB Connections 2024-02-08 06:00:48 -0600

    Volunteer Shout Out: Vanessa McCullers

    By Depelsha McGruder

     

    Vanessa McCullers

    The morning after Alton Sterling was killed, I went to wake my son  for work and found him sitting up in bed. His first words to me was "Mom did you see how they just killed that man?" I was too stunned to respond. The very next morning we found out that Philando Castile was killed. No words needed to be said. The words were on my son's face. He was scared, and so was I. But as his mother, my only thought was that I MUST PROTECT HIM. As I type this, with tears streaming down my face at the memory, my determination is just as strong. I cannot sleep soundly until I know that my son, Crys’ son, Vivian's son, Tasha's son, Depelsha's sons, ALL OF OUR SONS are safe from the ones sworn to protect them.”

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         Where does she get the energy?! Vanessa McCullers has been going all out for MOBB United since July 2016, and she seems to be as fully charged as the Energizer Bunny. We know her passion is fueled by her love for her SONshine, Carlos. If you’re wondering what Vanessa does for MOBB United, the answer is well...everything!!!

         Vanessa initially began as Co-Chair of the Communications Committee and shortly thereafter, became Chair. She now oversees all of Moms of Black Boys United’s (the 501c3 organization) activities, including Communications, Education and Engagement, Self Care, and the MOBB United Connections Program.

         This means she manages a team of leaders and volunteers who handle everything from branding, marketing and PR, content development across platforms, social media strategy and execution, media outreach and op-eds, research studies, education and wellness programs, partnerships, and events.

         Vanessa was instrumental in planning the first MOBB United Leadership Retreat in Bethany, PA, and in establishing our presence at the world renowned Essence Festival in New Orleans last year. She’s also brokered significant partnerships, including a partnership with Dr. Luke Wood of San Diego State University, on the “Black Minds Matter” virtual course. In addition, she has personally provided ongoing resources and support to moms who have lost sons to police violence.

         Most recently, Vanessa raised her voice as a featured speaker at the Women’s March in San Diego and by penning a powerful op-ed in response to H&M’s misstep in having a young Black male model wear a “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” sweatshirt.

         A few more specifics of Vanessa's tireless contributions to MOBB United as Communications Committee Chair include:

    • Branding MOBB United to ensure uniformity and consistency in design and language across social media platforms, designs, etc.
    • Managing a team of volunteers who write web content for www.mobbunited.com and disseminate mission-critical info via MOBB United's social media platforms
    • Facilitating regular Communications Team meetings
    • Planning and executing press releases
    • Putting MOBB United's mission on the agenda of local and national events
    • Participating in MOBB United outreach, visiting victims’ widows and families
    • And so much more.

         Vanessa has a heart of gold and a battery that never seems to run out. Her mind and heart are constantly churning out new ideas of ways to build and grow the organization’s presence and impact. We honestly don’t know what we’d do without her, and we are so grateful for all of her contributions. Thanks, Vanessa!!!

  • MLK Jr. Volunteer Day of Service and Remembrance Activities: Moms and Sons Giving Back

    By Tiffany Bargeman

     

         For the second year, Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. was out and about with our sons on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and Remembrance, January 15th. The goal was to give back to those in need while honoring Dr. King’s legacy, and changing negative perceptions of our Black boys and men. Please enjoy these pictures of MOBB United moms and their sons doing what matters.

     

    “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
    ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.~

     

    Lisa Spriggs: “Monday January 15, 2018 is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Holiday, which for some means a "Day Off" from school or work but for many others it is a "DAY ON" for service.  We are here to change the perception of our young boys and men and want the world to see them doing great things! What do you have planned for the weekend and/or Monday?  Share your plans and see if other MOBBs in the area will join you! Tag a friend!” Points of Light

     

    Depelsha McGruder: “Photos from the Brooklyn Day of Service Activity on January 20, 2018”

     

    Peggy Bruns: “In keeping with the vision of Martin Luther King Jr. we served at the City of Arlington Mission, where we unloaded, unboxed, sorted, reboxed and reloaded a truck of toys for their Christmas Store. Thanks for coming out Rhonda Tharpe, Kim Stockman, and Tiffanie Tinsley! ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?’ ‘Everybody can be great as anybody can serve!’ MLK Jr.” (Dallas/Fort Worth MLK Day of Service)

     

    Frankie Robertson: “Baton Rouge area MOBBs, Please join us Saturday from 8am-12pm. Sons are welcome. Register following the links in the invite and indicate you are with MOBB. See you Saturday! #MLK #Service” Louisiana MOBB United MLK Day of Service

     

    Kimberley Alexander: “Today I visited the Lorraine Motel. Now a museum, it is the place where Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered. I was there for 4+ hours reading, touching, talking and witnessing the evolution of the Black struggle. If there were one sentence I could use to summarize my thoughts: FIND YOUR PURPOSE! Each of us owes it for every sacrifice, for every martyr, for every scar, for every right we have obtained on the backs of those who set aside fear and stood tall when death was almost certain. In 2018, we owe it to our SUNS! Join us on the frontline...www.mobbunited.org. Remember the dream!”

     

  • Moms of Black Boys United Connections: Aunties

    ByKathei McCoy

         One of the initiatives of the MOBB United Connections Committee is the Aunties Program. The Aunties Program connects sons who are away from home at school, work, or in the military, with moms across the country. This program provides a village for our sons that ensures that they have their basic needs met, provides them with support from an adult who is nearby, and reassures their moms that their sons are doing well while away.

    Mom Teri Silar (top left, bottom middle), son Jahmansa (top right), and Auntie Harnette (top middle)
    Mom Teri Silar (top left, bottom middle), son Jahmansa (top right), and Auntie Harnette (top middle)

    Mom Teri Silar (top left), Auntie Kathei (second from left), son Jahmansa, and Auntie Deirdra (right)
    Mom Teri Silar (top left), Auntie Kathei (second from left), son Jahmansa, and Auntie Deirdra (right)

         I have the privilege of being one of the MOBB United Aunties to a young man named Jahmansa, who attends Seattle University. Jahmansa’s mother, Terri Silar, was instantly concerned when her son decided to attend Seattle University because they live thousands of miles away in Tampa, Florida, and she didn't know anyone in Seattle. In fact, she'd never visited the city. Teri didn't have a soror, a colleague, a friend, a relative or anyone she could entrust with checking in on her son from time to time.

         She was invited to join MOBB United, and according to Teri, it turned out to be the best invitation she'd ever received. She submitted a post in the MOBB United private Facebook group to share the success of her son being accepted into Seattle University and the fact that she was a nervous wreck that he would be that far away from home all alone.

         After her post, she was contacted by several women, including myself, from within the group, who assured her he would be taken care of. Teri was in shock! Before she knew it, women were asking for phone numbers and arrival dates. “These Aunties have been true to their words. They have fed him, taken him to the store, and mothered him in ways only MOBBs can,” said Teri. She went on to say, “They have shown me and my son how wonderful people can truly be. My son loves them so very much and often thanks me for my desperation in sharing his story. He said to me, ‘Mommy, these beautiful women are a part of my village.” Teri can sleep at night, not worrying about her son being in Seattle, as he's not alone and hasn't been since he first arrived.

         “This MOBB connection has been the experience of a lifetime. I'm a better mom, and he's a humble and better son because of it. He's not just my son, he's theirs, too!” Teri shared. This is exactly what the MOBB United Aunties Program set out to do.

  • Education and Engagement Committee Update

    By Kumari Ghafoor-Davis

    Education and Engagement

    Happy February, beauties! The Education and Engagement Committee has started reading another book, Between The World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. We have had three posts so far this month. If you haven’t already, hopefully you will begin reading the book with us and join in the discussion on Facebook by searching #mobbunitedbookclub on your MOBB United Facebook group search bar.

    We will also be holding another Facebook Live reading that will take place on February 25th at 7pm with the author of Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, by Javaka Steptoe. Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games, in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork that echoes Basquiat’s own, introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean—and definitely not inside the lines—to be beautiful. We will have giveaways for the first ladies who log on to the live reading that evening. This will be the second Facebook Live reading; our first live reading was in December from Derrick Barnes, the author of Crown.

    Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    Between The World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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    Facebook Re-Post

    *The following posts were shared originally in the Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. private Facebook group, and Education and Engagement Committee Lead Kumari Ghafoor-Davis gave us permission to share it publicly. If you are a mom of a Black son and member of that group, you can read and/or respond in the comments by clicking the linked dates.

    January 6, 2017
    “Happy New Year, Beauties! It's that time again for another book club read!!
    We are so excited about our choice for the next MOBB United book club read, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. We will begin reading on January 8th and will post our first question about the book on January 15th.
    Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of The Beautiful Struggle, Between the World and Me, and the new book We Were Eight Years in Power.
    In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of "race," a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion.
    Between the World and Me is Coates' attempt to address these questions and concerns in a letter to his adolescent son.
    Coates has been hailed by Toni Morrison as "required reading”, a bold and personal literary exploration of America's racial history by "the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States" (The New York Observer).
    Order your copy of Between the World and Me today, so we can start discussing this awesome book together.
    Thank you ladies.
    MOBB United Book Club”

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    January 23, 2017
    “Welcome to the second post for our current #mobbunitedbookclub choice, Between the World and Me, by TaNehisi Coates. One question that comes up for me as I read is, if so many people feel that the reality of race is a natural fact and inevitably leads to racism, how can we begin to heal this misconception within our own communities where we also have racism and hatred among and for ourselves? Please share your thoughts and your own questions with us in comments below.”

  • MOBB United Poetry: Jamie Hoffman's "The Legacy of America"

    POET BIOGRAPHY: Jamie Hoffman is an adjunct English instructor at a community college in North Carolina and a middle school English teacher. She devotes majority of her time to her loving family, her church, and her writing. Her poetry is socially conscious, and it shows a keen sense of cultural awareness. She has published many of her poems on her personal blogs. In addition, she published her first young adult novel this year, titled Finding Fatima. The novel depicts Fatima's struggle to find her place in the world amid inequalities, bullies, and her own insecurities. The book is available on Amazon and as an E-reader on Kindle Fire.

     

    The Legacy of America

    Red, white, and blue, yes, you!
    When all is said and done what will be the legacy of your daughters and your sons?
    Will we remember the true natives who were slaughtered and uprooted so that flags of England could be placed upon bloody soil?
    Do you hear the beat of their drums? The war cry of their souls? Their arrows piercing the wind?
    Fooled into believing their foes were their friends.
    Travel to a reservation and watch the legacy of this country's sin
    Let's make America great again
    Will we remember the hundreds of years of free labor of mothers, fathers, and children ripped from the motherland to toil and build this country in the day of light and the darkness of the sun?
    This is the land of democracy, where equality was fought and won...
    Why aren't you happy? Why don't you feel free? Why do you blame the past for your grief and misery?
    Well, hmmm let me see...
    Flash back, families divided misplaced and displaced, the woman of color took on a role that was not her place, and the man she loved become a shell of manhood, forced to submit like an animal and become docile and weak. Now years later after sharecropping, segregation, Jim Crow, and hateful-hooded-hoodlums were allowed to run free-to kill, rape, and go forth on murdering sprees, We say get over it! Yet, historically we can still see in the 21st century the "first" title given when a medal or award is presented?
    Are we there yet? Have you not arrived? Put away the shades and imagine what it means to be watched and monitored when you enter a store, stopped because you fit a description, stereotyped and considered a second class citizen, you bring the value of the property down, even with degrees of honor a job cannot be found, because you don't know the right person. Inner city living? Drugs pushed into communities and pushed through veins by business men in suits, how can a thug get a plane to ship the cocaine?  But I digress, 40 acres and a mule to help you climb out of the pit, and yet, it was never seen.
    No reparations for you, for them! This country owes you nothing! The rich are not rich from the slave trade or the servitude of the blacks, so take this here freedom we are offering and catch up from your place of lack
    Get your education, buy a house, and a car, forget about discrimination, racism, and prejudice, because they no longer exist, you are just a lazy bum wanting a handout from my check, but wait a minute let me check, how can a minority receive the most aid? I think statistically that is a lie that lacks depth
    Do you want wealth?
    This is America, America, so dream big, work hard, and succeed!
    Feed your pockets, make them full, so that you can become the elite, top percent
    Then you will never have to worry about the past, only how you will keep what you got, study the market hard, so that you don't lose a dime, walk over the back of the weak, and focus on your own kind, we are strong, we are better, we are powerful!
    Make American great again?
    How?
    When?
    Will we feed the hungry? Will we educate the youth? Will we love EVERYBODY? EVERYBODY? Will we give before we take? Will we truly look to God before decisions are made?
    I wish we could, I wish we would make America Again,
    Not great, because it never has been,
    But make it more honest, make it more true
    Make it more inclusive, loving, and kind, make it more by keeping God forth most in our minds.
    America this is the place, the building blocks and foundation of the great dream, that many immigrants came to obtain, looking for a better way. You want to build a wall? Build a wall that will keep our true enemy away!
    America is a beautiful place, full of beautiful people of all cultures and ethnicities, but to become great we need more than a flag, a slogan, a song, or pledge, we need a fear and respect for God!
    Please let us make America, let us rebuild and restructure this land, I'm not asking you to take a stand, I'm asking you to bend a knee, bow down with me
    Pray to God-for this land is dying, crying, bleeding, and pleading,  and healing is truly what we need, not a race war, filled with fear, anger, hatred, and destruction, but understanding, kindness, peace, and love overflowing from one soul to the next
    We need lies to be made truths, darkness to be made light, change to be made real, and the true power of God to come forth like a balm and heal
    So bow down and pray to God for the future of your daughters and your sons is at hand, we seek something far greater than a man or women's solution for this land,  we want the legacy of God's perfect will and divine plan!
    Jamie Hoffman, AKA J. W. Hoffman
  • Moms Reaching across the Race Aisle: True Sisterhood

    By Kara L. Higgins

     

     

         My first Cabbage Patch doll was a little boy with dark, chocolate skin, and the first boy I kissed was a sweet, nerdy Black kid. My folks were both in education, voted Democrat, and believed that their actions spoke louder than words. I was the blue-eyed, blonde-haired, middle class teachers’ kid living in the suburban midwest; I think I must have fallen into that category of white people who think they aren’t racist because they have Black baby dolls and boyfriends. Writing that makes it cringeworthy, but I know that there are countless white people in the world who fall into that same category, believing themselves to be woke, yet practicing systemic racism or arguing for “color-blindness”.

         In college, I always preferred to sit with the girls in my nursing class who were African-American. I loved their transparency, and I could relate to their general skepticism toward most of our classmates. We were in a private, Jesuit University where many of the kids attending were there because their parents were alums. I was on a full scholarship, and I couldn’t relate to the other white girls who got excited about the newest J. Crew catalog and the next frat party. The African-American nursing students’ expressions glazed over, just like mine, when the conversation turned to cotillions or couture.

         Although my classmates always included me, although they saw me through some milestones, there always was this unspoken barrier. No matter how much listening I did, and I did a lot more listening than talking, I still couldn’t quite fit in. I know now, 20 plus years later, that of course, I could never fully connect on a heart level. They were inner city girls from St. Louis, and I was the white girl. Maybe their first token white friend? It always made me sad that none of them came to my wedding, even my dear friend whom I had asked to read a scripture. I understand now that it must have been uncomfortable for them, and that our friendship wasn't as equally special as I believed that it was at the time. Yet even as a bright-eyed 22-year-old, I think I was aware then that there was still an invisible line keeping us from being true blue friends.

         Fast forward 20 years, and I am mothering five kids. Two of my amazing children happen to be differing shades of Black. And as my sweet boys are turning into young men, America is killing its Black boys. Trayvon Martin’s case was the first to scare me. Initially, I didn’t recognize my own emotions; I believed I was relating to Trayvon’s mom as one mom to another. Then Eric Garner died, and as my husband and I watched in horror, I started to notice that a lot of people around us weren’t watching. The protests in Ferguson had both of us up late at night, talking about it together because the people, the white people, around us just sort of tuned us out when we wanted to talk about the horror of these deaths. I know that we both felt like the world was upturned. I know we felt betrayed that so many people didn’t seem to care about these senseless deaths. We began to realize that what was changing was us, not the world. My hubby began following Black artists, politicians, and media on Twitter. I began unfriending a lot of middle aged “Evangelicals.” Things were shifting.

         Then, Philando Castile died. That was it. I was almost unable to function because of my grief and anger. I typed #blm and that unleashed the hate. Men in our church reprimanded me; one even using intimidation and threats. We were increasingly convinced that this racism was our problem too, not just because we were raising Black boys but because we are all in this together. But it sure seemed like we were alone as white people feeling this way.

         In our community, a church hosted a prayer event, inviting multiple churches, faith-based organizations, and even law enforcement. Our whole family attended that night, and as we held hands and prayed for justice, one pastor challenged us to exchange phone numbers and share a meal with someone we had met that night. My little prayer group within the event was an ideal melting pot: our mixed transracial family, a Latino family, and a Black family. The Black woman, Candi, and I immediately took charge of the challenge and planned for a picnic the next month. Amazingly, everyone in our prayer circle showed up for that first dinner. We spoke honestly about what was going on in America, and our common thread was that we all were desiring to approach the issue of race as a sin problem. Our common thread was that we saw each other as family. And that changed everything.

         Shortly after our first picnic, my family decided to host a dinner for our prayer group. However, the momentum had seemed to fizzle out, and our group dwindled down to the Black family and us. Again, we broke bread together, and our conversation was real. I won’t ever forget when Candi told me that her whole married life, she never let her husband go run out for milk after dark because she feared he could be pulled over and killed. That was pivotal. Her whole life, she had a fear that I was now experiencing. It was new and overwhelming to me, and here my friend was sharing with me that that same fear was the norm for her. We grieved over that. I needed to tell her I was sorry that I never knew the depths of racism in America. It was important for all of us that we could apologize, even though my husband and I were never directly racist, we were a part of a system of oppression, and our ignorance to it was permission for it to flourish. Candi and her husband were gracious toward us and continue to be. Their honesty and willingness to be real and vulnerable paved the way toward a genuine friendship. My heart and my convictions grew that night in my dining room.

         After that dinner, Candi and I started talking mom stuff more. I deliver babies and take care of mamas for a living, and she needed some insight on both. Candi gave me a chance to be her real friend. I know that in her life, she has had experiences that have made her cautious to tell her relatives when she has white friends. I respect that, and I know I can’t ever understand it. It matters even more to me than it could have when I was in college, trying to fit in with my classmates. We continued to talk and text and share meals. After her son was born, I was able to care for and love her when other women didn’t “get it.” Now, we have a standing pedicure date every 6 weeks. The first time we went together, the ladies awkwardly asked us how we became friends, and I laughed at their attempt to be politically correct. “Do you mean because she’s Black and I am White? Or because she is younger and I am older? We actually prayed together once...” In the end, I think we both agreed it was a God thing that connected us.

  • published Chapter Development Committee Overview in MOBB Connections 2024-02-04 04:51:42 -0600

    Chapter Development Committee Overview

    By Lisa Spriggs and Alycia Grace

    Chapter Development

    Chapter Development began just a few days after the Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. group was formed on Facebook. With a vast number of moms joining the private group and wanting to connect, we began to create state files so that moms in the same area could connect locally. This was an awesome idea, as many members began meeting all over the United States. We had moms getting together and bonding in New Rochelle and Staten Island, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Washington DC (DMV Area); Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, TX; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles and San Diego, CA; and other cities. They were passionately discussing ways to protect our Black sons. More than 30 meetups were held across the country over this past summer. This was the unofficial beginning of our “Heels on the Ground” chapter development throughout the country.

    Since then our group has grown exponentially and MOBB United for Social Change has moved off of Facebook to our own domain at www.mobbunited.org.

         Currently, we have moms who are ambassadors of MOBB United. We appreciate their volunteerism and could not do what we do without them. Our ambassadors have taken the initiative to host and hold events in their areas. Some of those events include, but are not limited to:

    • Hosting:
      • Meet and greet events (meetups)
      • MOBB United anniversary events
      • Pink Postcard parties
      • Organizing and/or participating in MLK Day Mother and Son National Day of Service projects
    • Registering voters during the Rock the Vote campaign
    • Representing MOBB United at government functions like the Congressional Black Caucus and local Lobby Days

    Some of our ambassadors have been with us from the very beginning, while others joined us more recently. For ambassadors who were new to the group and wanted to host an event, the tools were at their disposal to make their event successful. The resources provided included presentations, recordings, fliers, pink postcards, one-on-one conversations, and social media branding. After these events, we welcome all feedback from our members via testimonies and/or online surveys.

         At this time, all of our local chapters fall under the national umbrella of MOBB United. Each chapter should have a city leader, and Chapter Development is seeking individuals who are ready to take their city to another level. This mom will be the main contact locally to bring issues and/or concerns to the national level and vice versa. We expect the city leaders to attend the monthly Saturday national status and update calls so as to be able to disseminate information consistently to other members.

         We are accepting applications online for city leaders. The requirements for being a city leader include but are not limited to:

    • Completing online application
    • Being a paid member of MOBB United
    • Attending monthly Saturday national status and update calls
    • Hosting a minimum of four meetings per year (preferably monthly or bi-monthly) to include the following:
      • Mother and Son MLK Day of Service event (January)
      • MOBB United Anniversary event to commemorate our founding (July)
      • Advocacy Event (timing TBD)
    • Recruiting additional members
    • Participating in Chapter Orientation

    The application process is open until the end of December, and leadership expects to make selections in January 2018, as well as provide Chapter orientation.

    Please follow us to see the latest timeline in Chapter Development.

  • Strategic Financial Partnerships: Banking and Buying Black

    ByC.K. LeDaniel

    C.K. LeDaniel

    BANKING BLACK

        In 2011, I moved my money out of a big bank and into a small credit union, one that serves the community of color in which I work. I did this on Bank Transfer Day, launched that November 5th by a woman in California who was annoyed by newly imposed ATM fees. Bank Transfer Day coincided conveniently with the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I made the switch right around the time I was volunteering at Occupy’s encampment in lower Manhattan. It was a heady time of protest in New York City and around the country, which was still reeling in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. At least temporarily, our collective consciousness was raised as we were awakened to the nature of capitalism and its inevitable concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1% at the expense of the other 99%. That was enough reason for me to get out of the big banks.

        Conceived initially as a Million Man March on Wall Street, because White people—I am one—are always ready to co-opt a good idea, Occupy was largely a White movement addressing White concerns (although one of its heroes was a Black Iraq war veteran, Sergeant Shamar Thomas). Flash forward 5 or 6 years, and the country moved from awakening toward woke, as the Black Lives Matter movement erupted, reminding us to transfer out of the big banks and into the Black banks, because hey, capitalism may be a disaster but right now, it’s the only game in town, and you have to pay to play.

         For reasons of convenience, at that point my teenage children had their accounts at one of the big banks, one of the many that finances private prisons, and therefore mass incarceration, but my laziness regarding moving their money prevailed for awhile. That is, it prevailed until MOBB United’s Economic Development team, then chaired by Munirah Small, initiated its #MOBBUMoneyJar project, encouraging us to collect our household change into a jar and empower our sons and their communities by bringing them to a Black-owned bank to open an account.

        Well, first, we had to find a Black-owned bank and unfortunately, I learned that there are none in Manhattan! The closest thing to Black-owned is the majority Black-operated bank, Carver Federal Savings Bank, in Harlem, which is where MOBB United maintains its bank account! My kids and I did a little more research and decided to go with an online bank.

        If you are thinking about moving your money to a Black-owned bank but are reluctant to make the switch because of the onerousness of the task, I can promise you this—your experience won’t be as challenging as mine was. My kids wouldn’t do it without me, so we had to find time to sit down together and figure it all out. That was hard enough, but it ended up taking multiple meetings, emails, and phone calls to make it happen. Also, we made the classic mistake of closing the current accounts before we opened the new ones, which meant that things like direct deposit from their college employment and depositing those birthday gift checks from Nana were problematic, not to mention that they had no ATM access to cash and no debit cards during the transition. But what’s worse is that someone—maybe one of us or maybe someone at the bank—made the mistake of reversing my twins’ Social Security numbers. Those of us who have twins know that their Social Security numbers are the same but for the last number of each, and those two numbers are consecutive. It’s a sweet reminder of the proximity of their entries into the world and the fact that while they have much in common, they are still two distinctly different individuals. In this case, it resulted in both of their accounts being frozen until we could straighten it out and prove who was who. Like I said, I promise it will be easier for you.

        For a guide on how to make the switch, see consumerfinance.gov.


    BUYING BLACK

        It’s the holiday season, and what better way to give back than to buy Black? Let’s invest in our sons by investing in their communities. Black buying power can have tremendous influence not only on our sons’ ability to thrive economically; it also signals political power. Advertisers, marketers, corporations, charitable organizations, and politicians depend upon and monitor revenue streams, and they listen to our issues and needs when we buy Black. Money matters. Money talks. Let yours shout from the rooftops this December. Here are a few ideas for you:

    • MOBB United! Who doesn’t need a Woke Mom T-shirt – or a Woke Auntie, Woke Grandma, Woke Dad T- shirt? And what about an I Am Your Future onesie for your baby? Buying your gifts from the MOBB United store invests directly in our sons by empowering MOBB to empower them.
    • Fresh from our National Call on December 2, 2017, with Katie Ishizuka-Stephens and Ramon Stephens, is a curated list of books for children up to 18 years old from The Conscious Kid Library, because “Black Books Matter.”  The books have Black characters and heroes and are written by Black authors you will be supporting. You can also join https://www.theconsciouskid.org and have books delivered monthly for a nominal fee.
    • For online one-stop shopping, check out https://www.buyblackmovement.com/About/.  From their website: “TAG TEAM Marketing International, Inc. operates the powerful Buy Black Movement program. We are a Black-owned and operated company that specializes in marketing and distributing the products and services of Black-owned businesses to Black consumers.”  They have gifts in every category you can think of, from clothing and cosmetics to dolls and DVDs.

        *For a list of Black owned banks, visit blackoutcoalition.org.

    pink arrow

    Conscious Kid Library

  • published Special Needs Committee Overview in MOBB Connections 2024-02-01 05:49:10 -0600

    Special Needs Committee Overview

    By Kimberley Alexander

    Special Needs Committee

         The ability to experience profound worry is almost a prerequisite for motherhood. When you’re the mother of a Black boy born into this American society, that worry increases exponentially. Then, imagine being a mom of a son who is both Black in America and has a disability that changes the way he interacts with society. When you experience that as a mom, you know a new level of fear, a new level of concern, and a new level of anxiety, but you also know a new level of fight. It is the birth of the Ninja Mom. The Special Needs Committee of Moms of Black Boys United Inc. is the home of that Ninja Mom!

         Special needs run a long spectrum from the most mentally challenged to the most exceptional and from the most physically impacted to those mildly affected. No matter which end of the spectrum your son falls on, you have a place here.  

         The Special Needs Committee offers support and resources to every mom who has a son who is special. There is assistance with Individualized Education Programs (IEP), 504 planning, and accessing the rights and responsibilities associated with such. There is assistance with navigating medical appointments and understanding diagnoses, and a safe place to go in which the community understands the day to day frustrations of interacting with all of those systems. The committee supports its members in anything else that arises while we work to keep our most fragile sons safe. But the thing I love the most about this community is the empowerment that has been birthed from the sisterhood created in this committee. Support is only one aspect; the Special Needs Committee aims to end the unfair treatment of our most fragile boys.

         That is why we advocate! We are standing in the trenches for our sons who cannot speak for themselves in a partnership with the Policy and Advocacy Committee to help affect change at every level. We know it is not enough to be angry -- we must move out of outrage and into action. This is where you can help. If you have a passion for special needs advocacy work, contact me, Kimberley Alexander, at [email protected]. Be a voice for the voiceless.

    Special Needs Son

  • published Volunteer Shout Out: Natasha Marie in MOBB Connections 2024-02-01 05:37:45 -0600

    Volunteer Shout Out: Natasha Marie

    By Tiffany Bargeman

    “Being a volunteer with MOBB United has literally been a Godsend! My prayer has been to connect with other women who are of like-minded faith. Finding other women who are mothers (particularly of Black boys) has been an added bonus to my prayers.
    When I realized that this was more than just a Facebook page, I felt like I needed to do MORE. Just enjoying the lovely pics of our boys was not enough. When I offered to volunteer, I had no idea what I was signing up for! I was asked if I would volunteer specifically with the newsletter and with hesitation I raised my hand slowly—again, not really sure of the commitment. I am here to tell you that this was one of the best decisions I've made in a long time! As a person who loves to write, this was the absolute best use of my skill and talent as a volunteer. The women I've been able to connect with as a volunteer have not only blessed me with their stories of triumph, but also with their friendship. I'm doing more than just writing stories; I am bonding with unsung (mommy) heroes and giving them a voice! This experience has been more than fulfilling and life-changing, to say the least. It has been a sheer joy to help out in this way. The one thing I love about volunteering is that none of it is mandatory. If I'm unable to commit, I can communicate that, and there's no feeling of pressure or obligation. I can volunteer at my own comfortable pace. The more volunteers, the merrier, because there is SO much work to be done in this fight for social change. When more volunteers come forward, it will mean that the work can be shared among the masses instead of being carried by a small handful of faithful few. I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to consider volunteering because not only do we NEED the gifts and talent that only YOU can offer, but volunteering might just change your life!”

         This lady right here! Natasha Marie has hit the ground running with MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) and Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. She volunteered to write for the newsletter and has so far turned out some excellent pieces: “Young, Black and Incarcerated” and “Hopes and Dreams while Serving Time”, both of which give a powerful voice to moms of incarcerated sons. Check out her latest piece, "Black Sons in Military Service," in this edition of the newsletter. While connecting with moms who normally may be silent about their emotions on sensitive subjects concerning their sons, Natasha has a sincere way of drawing out the best stories—with love.

         Of course, this is her volunteer work. Like most of us, not only does working a full-time job and raising her son keep her extra busy, but she's also an entrepreneur and published author. She recently collaborated and published a book titled "First Lady Redefined.”

         Despite all of her personal activities, Natasha found time to host a Woke Mom Meet-up in Rochester, NY in September and is excited about starting a local chapter. (Oh, and she raps, but that's another story.) And she hosted a Pink Post Card Party in Rochester, NY and will mail those important notes to local representatives in an effort to effect change for our sons.

         There's much work to do for MOBB United, and we're so glad to have Natasha's creativity, passion, and energy on our team. MOBB United thanks you, Natasha Marie!

  • Facebook Repost: Lynda Jones on Incarcerated Sons

    Facebook Repost

    Publisher's Note: Usually, what is discussed in the Moms of Black Boys United private Facebook group remains confidential.
    Once in a while though, we get permission from members to re-post entries of notable impact. Check out this one by mom Lynda Jones.

    Lynda Jones' FB Post

  • published Holidays without Him in MOBB Connections 2024-02-01 05:12:52 -0600

    Holidays without Him

    By Sonya Marchand and Vanessa McCullers

     

         Ahhh, the holidays are here! For many of us, this is a time of joyful anticipation, warm fuzzy feelings, and memories of blissful family gatherings that may, or may not, include a heated discussion about who makes the best potato salad. All in all, the expectation is that the month of December should be filled with celebrations, good food, and time spent with our loved ones.  For those who must endure this time of year without their loved ones, it becomes much more difficult to enjoy. People who have lost a family member or friend feel the empty space that is left and know it can never be filled by any amount of hot chocolate with marshmallows. The holidays can be equally as depressing as they are joyful, depending on your personal situation.

         Imagine the pain of the holidays without a loved one, compounded by the pain of feeling robbed, victimized, and devalued by the very society you live in, work for, and to which you strive daily to contribute successfully. Every year, there are increasingly more moms of Black boys and men who will suffer through their holidays with an emptiness that only they can truly understand that of having lost a child to senseless police brutality. This is a pain compounded even further when law enforcement has gone undisciplined and is never brought to justice.

    This holiday season, we acknowledge those for whom our organizations Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. and MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) were founded: the moms, wives, sisters and caretakers whose SONshine has been eclipsed forever, who have lost someone and are trying to find their new normal in this dark new place.

         MOBB United was formed based on the intrinsic connection that we all have with each other, as we raise Black sons and love the Black men in our lives. We are collectively hurt and burdened by the egregious injustices so easily cast upon hundreds of victims in our communities each year.  We are the village that it takes to raise our families and support each other through the process. We are the backbone of society who painstakingly, and without hesitation, help, heal, and endure untold levels of despair and disappointment in order to try and make it all better for our loved ones.

    In the spirit of community and support, we will spotlight moms going forward in our newsletter.  We will update their current status as information is available and note how we can be of support to them. Most heartbreaking is that with so many victims, including those widely publicized like Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, et. al, we hardly have space to cover them all. There are many who don’t get the national media coverage that some of those mentioned have received. There are grieving moms everywhere that you may or may not have been following in the news. This month, we have chosen to spotlight Reshawna Myricks and Shainie Lindsay of Southern California.

     

    Reyshawna Myricks

         Reshawna Myricks lost her 15-year-old son Darius in May 2017. He was a scholar and an athlete—a normal teenager who liked to hang out with his friends and cousins when he wasn’t at football practice or a game. Darius was killed when he and his cousin were riding home on the train. Darius, at only 15, was the oldest of four children. The abrupt and unbearably painful loss is now a reality for all of them, who will grow up with their own perceptions of law enforcement and the issue of simple fairness in our society as a whole. Reshawna continues to battle heavy depression and grief over the loss, compounded by the fact that she has no real answers to the basic who, what, where, and how of the circumstances surrounding this case. She has not been able to stay at the home they all lived in prior to Darius’ death and continues to stay at her mother’s home with her other 3 children, Derek, 9; Deshaun, 7; and Deijanae, who is only 4 years old. As the holidays approach, it is increasingly hard for her to get into the spirit and create the festive atmosphere that most of us moms are buzzing around creating for our families right now. She welcomes and asks for our prayers and support while she tries to muster up the strength needed to get through the next few days with so much pain weighing on all of them. What gives Reshawna hope and purpose is plans to establish a scholarship fund for young athletes through MOBB United. She is also committed to being a full participating member of our organization and continues to do what she can to contribute. Most recently, she participated in the pink postcard campaign in Los Angeles.

         

     

    Shainie Lindsay

         For the second year, Shainie Lindsay is facing Christmas as a widowed, single mom. Last year this time, she was days away from giving birth to her baby boy and still reeling from the tragedy of losing her partner in life. The depth of her sorrow was buried in the routine of being a mom while preparing for new responsibilities. Friends and family were there to help get her through those first few months: her partner’s birthday, the holidays, and then the birth of Eli. But Shainie knew then that Christmas would never be the same.

    Her life took a significant shift, as Shainie struggled to make the adjustments needed to provide for her children. That included cutting her hours at work so she could be with the kids to help with homework after school, the way their daddy used to help. It also meant finding odd jobs here and there to make sup for the financial losses, even as she was exhausted from the trials of being a single parent to 6 children.

    This holiday season has presented its own set of readjustments as the family recently moved away from the home that held the memories of their father’s death. With all that she’s had to endure, Moms of Black Boys United provided some Christmas cheer early one morning this December. We surprised Shainie with ornaments for her kids to decorate and a gift of a spa day. But the surprises didn’t stop there. Recently, Shainie and her family were awarded a holiday brunch for the family with Ms. Vivica Fox along with $1000 holiday spending cash when a fellow MOBB submitted her story in a Christmas cheer giveaway.

    Happy holidays to all of our Moms of Black Boys United sisters. We are here for all of you!

     

  • published Volunteer Shout Out: CK LeDaniel in MOBB Connections 2024-02-01 04:54:18 -0600

    Volunteer Shout Out: CK LeDaniel

    By Vanessa McCullers and Tiffany Bargeman

     

    Woke Mom CK LeDaniel

     

    “I MOBB because Black boys and men walk a tightrope between their educations, their futures, their families and the systemic racism that leads to their being profiled and incarcerated. I MOBB because as mothers of Black sons, we walk that tightrope with them in our hearts every day. We can’t be idle. We have to try and change the world.”

         Passionate, vocal, caring, self-aware, protective, willing, proactive...these are just the first few characteristics that come to mind when CK’s name is mentioned. She has made many contributions to MOBB United since joining in July of 2016. She says that she spent some time exploring the different committees, including Policy, Health and Wellness, and Education and Engagement before settling down in Communications and working on our Newsletter, where she contributes ideas for content and writes and edits articles.

         You’ll find CK busy at any given time in several areas of MOBB United for Social Change’s (MUSC) mission to protect our sons. Here are just a few ways CK has made a difference at the grassroots level:

    • Dedicating her time to calling officials on important issues from our virtual call center.

    • Helping to found the Moms of Black Boys United Book Club, along with Kumari Ghafoor and Uchechi Eke.

    • Gathering photos for inclusion in image campaigns to change perception about our sons.

    • Contributing to the Policy Committee as a liaison to New York City.

    • Joining our bi-weekly national status and update conference calls.

    • Participating in committee conference calls.

    • Posting in the MOBB United Facebook group her timely, thoughtful opinions on current events that impact our Black boys and men.

    • Attending local rallies for our sons, representing MOBB United in her Woke Mom T-shirt!

         Remember that ONE thing is a big thing. If you volunteer to do just one thing that you have time and energy to do, it is SOMEthing that will make a world of difference in the lives of our sons. Please volunteer today. We are seeking help in many areas, including copy editing, research, graphic design, etc.

    We have an urgent need for Chapter leaders for cities and towns all across the country. If you're ready to start a local chapter, applications will be available October 10. Visit www.mobbunited.org/ChapterDevelopment for details.

         Also, Moms of Black Boys United appreciates donations. To date, our organization has been completely self-funded; but to grow and expand, we need your help. Please consider donating to Moms of Black Boys United this month at mobbunited.org/donate.

  • published Woke Mom Summer Meetups 2017 - Part 3 in MOBB Connections 2024-01-31 05:00:17 -0600

    Woke Mom Summer Meetups 2017 - Part 3

    By CK LeDaniel and Hostesses

     

         Woke Mom Summer meetups were hot throughout August and September! Hostesses Shantia Coley and Sandra Kearns showed up and showed out in Charlotte and San Antonio on the same day, while Natasha Marie and Danni Jo took on upstate New York with a Woke Mom Meetup in Rochester. And Washington, D.C. held a meetup as well, in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and with Founder, Depelsha McGruder, in attendance. What a dynamic energy we are building here at MOBB United, galvanizing ourselves for our mission of protecting our sons; creating and providing community for a common cause.

    Please enjoy some highlights below.

     

     

    Shantia Coley

    August 19
    Hostess Shantia Coley

         Motherhood is my ministry, and I will protect my brown sons at all costs. We had eight dynamic women in attendance for the Charlotte Woke Mom Meetup on August 19 at my home. Those in attendance were concerned moms, siblings and even godparents of our brown men. The meeting kicked off with snacks as the women mingled and met each other while jazz played in the background. No icebreakers were necessary, as the group instantly hit it off.

    A history of Moms of Black Boys United was shared, and many were shocked at how much work has been done in such a short amount of time. The women shared personal stories and accounts of their attachment to the issue, and the group became emotional. To bring spirits up, the group moved from the dining room to the living room, where they watched Moms of Black Boys United videos while Crys Baldwin (who traveled hours to attend the meeting), narrated.

    The women discussed their ideas for the future of Moms of Black Boys United in the area and pledged to continue to voice their concerns and advocate for our young Black men. As the meeting concluded, the guests toasted to a bright future in Charlotte, NC, where Moms of Black Boys United would have a loud, strong and proud presence.

     

     

    SandraKearns.jpg

    August 19
    Hostess Sandra Kearns

         The San Antonio Chapter held our Anniversary celebration on August 19th. We promoted our event as a family gathering; and when you add all of the children and spouses, we had around 20 people in attendance. We had a very casual get together. The children played, and the adults talked. It is a such a blessing to have a group of mothers who understand the unique challenges of parenting Black boys and men. We talked about plans for the future, including movie nights, a book club, and Wine Down sessions.

     

     

    SandraKearns.jpg

    August 19
    Hostess Depelsha McGruder

         Moms of Black Boys United and MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) made an appearance at the 2017 Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) September 21-23. Founder Depelsha McGruder attended several sessions on criminal justice reform and Black boys and men, interacting with legislators, professors and organizational leaders. She also co-hosted the 'Taking it to the Screen' Short Film Screening and Panel Discussion on September 21st in partnership with the Social Cinema Project. The panel discussion covered media images, police/community relations, restorative justice and violence in our communities. The event, also a Woke Mom meetup, was held at Busboys and Poets restaurant in D.C. MUSC thanks Ralph Scott of Social Cinema for the great partnership. Depelsha was pleased to meet and introduce to the crowd of more than 90 attendees Congressman Hank Johnson (D - GA) from her home district in GA, and she was excited to meet 15 local D.C. members of MUSC. Check out the press release from the event to learn more about the films and participants.

     

     

    Natasha Marie

         Rochester is on the Meetup map! Including myself and co-facilitator Danni Jo, we had a total of 17 moms in attendance. Several of them had to bring their sons, so I encouraged them to do just that! Perhaps a few little boys even became friends as they played together during the meeting. I know for a fact that as we gathered, the moms in attendance (some who didn't know one another before), left with at least one new woke mom friend.

    Due to issues with the internet, my presentation wouldn't play, so I had to work from the slides in my head! I spoke about how Moms of Black Boys began and how Depelsha was shocked from the overwhelming response to the Facebook page one year ago. I explained that we are now a 501c3 organization with Chapters nationwide. I spoke about Moms of Black Boys United’s five-point platform and then discussed the cost and benefits of membership, as well as the ways Moms of Black Boys United can impact change.

         I connected (ironically just days before) with a young man named Antonio Coleman who was in prison for 15 years but released in September! When I asked if he would give a first hand perspective of his experience with the criminal justice system, he was thrilled. He made for the perfect speaker and stressed to us as moms the importance of positive friends and role models for our boys. He wants to write a book and plans to start mentoring young men.

         Tracey Miller, the Assistant to our Mayor, Lovely Warren, was also in attendance! After listening to Antonio speak, she asked to address the group. Tracey was SO excited to see this gathering. She was impressed by the turnout and shared her contact info with everyone. She encouraged Antonio to contact her for work, if needed, and even offered herself as a resource for Moms of Black Boys United, willing to give us tips on key town meetings where she'd love to see us show up as a group. Then, without knowing anything about Moms of Black Boys United, she gave us three target areas of need for our City. We then broke into small groups to discuss specific solutions for 20 minutes and came back to share feedback.

         Rochester is ready to do the WORK and make some noise. The moms who showed up to our Woke Mom Meetup want to change statistics! We are determined to have fun with one another and socialize with our boys. But we are also ready for social change by impacting legislation.

         Looking forward to our next gathering!

     

     

         The Woke Mom meetups are the stepping stones to organized chapters that can accomplish the work necessary to protect our sons. This work must be funded. To date, our organization has been completely self-funded; but to grow and expand, we need your help. Please consider donating to Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. this month at mobbunited.org/donate.

  • published Woke Mom Summer Meetups 2017 - Part 2 in MOBB Connections 2024-01-30 05:41:30 -0600

    Woke Mom Summer Meetups 2017 - Part 2

    By CK LeDaniel and Hostesses

    Summer is the time for Woke Mom meetups! We are continuing to criss-cross the country, from Charlotte to Chicago and the Bronx to Baton Rouge. In Baton Rouge, the first one was so nice, they are doing it twice! Meetups are a great opportunity to meet the moms we’ve come to know and love online, focus our energies and our mission, and reinvigorate ourselves for the work ahead of protecting our boys. Below are some highlights from the hostesses of meetups held recently. If you'd like to host or attend a Woke Mom Meetup, learn more here.

     

    Mercedes Brazier

    Hostess Mercedes Brazier -- "If Langston was here, he would have wanted this."

    "And so begins the launch of the MOBB United for Social Change Harlem Chapter inside the Historic Langston Hughes House in Harlem. The owner of the home checked in and shared a brief history as 9 Harlem moms gathered, snacked and shared pieces of our hearts. We were brought together on a common ground. We discussed our shared journey, our sons of various ages, and why we were there.

    The founder of MOBB United, Depelsha Thomas McGruder, attended and shared why she created the organization and how/why we should get involved. We all would like to meet again...I appreciated this meeting because so much of it was already planned out -- an agenda and a PowerPoint (presentation).”

     

     

    Durice Galloway

    Hostess Durice Galloway -- “I'm very excited (Durice) about the Woke Mom meet up for the Triad and Triangle. We had eight people register initially, and seven that attended the meeting! With that great yield, we were able to have all the non-members financially commit to joining the organization as financial members, which is a big win. All the members also agreed that an area chapter is warranted, and they thought it would be supported. We will have a followup in the next month or two, either September or October, to come back to the table.

    We talked about future events, such as a walk in partnership with law enforcement agencies, and moms, and supporters to help share the story of our black community with law enforcement to change the narrative of our Black men and boys that law enforcement has seems to have. We talked about doing telethons and/or radiothons to drive membership.

    In the beginning of the meetup, we started just sharing some of our stories and parenting advice and just how nice it is, like a breath of fresh air, to be surrounded by Black moms who understand what we're all going through. Various ages and stages were present. We had new moms, and then we had moms who had kids and now are grandmoms who have kids back in their lives.

    I'm leaving feeling very motivated very excited, and I'm just even more passionate about the causes. We had special leadership guests Tiffany Bargeman and Crys Baldwin with their excellent experience with MOBB United that I think really helped convince our attendees to become members, and I'm excited.”

     

     

    Remembering Eric Garner

    Hostess Tammy Greer Brown -- "On Sunday, July 30, 2017, approximately 15 people gathered at the Everything Goes Book Café for the first ever MOBB United Staten Island Meet and Greet. Known for its relaxed and inviting atmosphere, ETG Book Café is located on the North Shore of Staten Island minutes away from the Staten Island Ferry. It is also next to the very spot where Eric Garner took his last breath.

    As mothers, aunts, and visitors listened intensely to Depelsha McGruder give a fantastic overview of the organization, many were touched by the shared stories of our fears and optimism for our young boys. Inspired by the mission and vision of MOBB United for Social Change, moms volunteered to pass out postcards at family reunions and sign up as members. Ronald Gregg, Esq. who attended the event, a former police officer and judge, pledged his services to the organization as well.

    It is our goal to meet again in the Fall and bring in more mothers who share our mission and vision to protect our sons on Staten Island. We ended the meeting with a picture in front of the shrine created in memory of Eric Garner. It was forever a day we will always remember."

     

     

    Rev. Dr. Deborah Jenkins

    Hostess Rev. Dr. Deborah Jenkins with Tammy Greer Brown

    Jenkins: “I hosted this first meetup at Faith at Work Christian Church, 120 Dekruif Place Bronx, NY 10475. All attendees were impressed with the presentation. Though few in number, each seemed committed to recruiting other moms and trying to grow a chapter. Subsequent to the meeting, I received several inquiries and apologies from moms who couldn't attend. One mom volunteered to organize a Northeast Bronx chapter here in Co-Op City; her name is Janine Thomas. The church is available for all future meetings, and I am eager to be a part of its growth."

    Brown: “A small and intimate group of women met in the sanctuary of Faith at Work Church in the heart of Co-Op City in the Bronx. Invited by Pastor Deborah Jenkins, this famous residential area has a population of nearly 45,000, of which families, children and the church grows daily.

    With a population of nearly 90K people who are of African and Latino descent, activism is interwoven into the very fabric of this church. Because they have a separate and thriving community apart from the rest of the Bronx, Co-Op City pays for its own NYPD security, thus their relationship is very different than in other parts in the Bronx. The police officers pretty much know the young children by name and work very closely with the tenant association to strengthen community relations. However, the church and its members have name recognition and extend their outreach beyond the borders of Co-Op City."

  • published Young, Black and Incarcerated in MOBB Connections 2024-01-30 05:30:46 -0600

    Young, Black and Incarcerated

    By Natasha Marie

    Natasha Marie     Being in the right place at the wrong time could cost you everything! Just picture it:  You’re a single mom who’s faced with the daunting task of paying all of the bills with little or no help. You must work hard to support your family and make ends meet. You’re trying to be the best role model you can be for your son, but often you wish there were strong Black men in your life or his who could positively impact him and encourage him to make wise choices. Your son is an only child growing up in your home, so you desperately want him to have friends his age. Truthfully, you’re not happy about the friends he’s selected lately. You want him to make sound decisions without ‘mommy’ being too overbearing, so you decide to cut him some slack.

         One day you head off to work and pray for the best, just like you do every other day. Little do you know that this day wouldn’t turn out to be just like any other normal day. As a matter of fact, this day would permanently alter the very course of life as you know it... for you and your child!

    Nicole Cade and son, Nikell

         Nicole Cade, also known as “Nikki”, is the 42-year-old mom of one son, Nikell. She is an upstanding, law-abiding citizen. She is a believer in God. She is a faithful employee, and most of all, she’s a mom -- just like many of you who may be reading this. She is heartbroken that her son, Nikell, was recently incarcerated.

         Nikki describes her son as kind-hearted, loving and respectful. Her son is very intelligent and enjoyed school as a young child. He didn’t have very many teachers who took him under their wings, but he never had problems at school. He wasn’t a troublemaker. He was the type of child who showed remorse when he made mistakes. Often times, when he did something wrong, he would apologize and then question why he had displayed such actions.

         One day, Nikki kissed her son goodbye and headed out the door. She never expected her phone to ring later that day with news from a stranger that her son was in jail. She had every reason to believe her child was safe and sound at school. When you’re focused on making ends meet and just getting through another work day, the last thing you expect to receive is a call from prison informing you that your only child has been taken in for questioning.  

         On the day he was arrested, Nikell did what many inquisitive and curious 16-year-olds do.  He opened the door open to his private life and allowed someone to walk in -- someone he viewed as a friend. The company of this ‘friend’ caused Nikell to end up in a vehicle that was tied to a crime. Because he was present, an arrest was made. As if the arrest weren’t enough, there also was an interrogation that took place before he was given an opportunity for legal representation. Because of his age, Nikell had to be tried as an adult in the state where he lives. Then he had to wait patiently for his sentencing -- a process that took almost an entire year.

         As a mother, Nikki always has felt obligated to protect her son. Now that he is in the hands of  the judicial system, she often feels helpless. Seeing her son in jail has been one of the most difficult experiences for her as a mother. Recently, she had to go to court and face the judge who would sentence Nikell. The maximum sentence for the crime was as much as 15 years. In July 2017, on the day of the sentencing, Nikki was a ball of emotion again, much the same way she was when she found out Nikell had gone to jail.

         Nikki could feel fear trying to rise in her heart that day as she and her beloved son waited to hear how many years this young man would stay in jail. Somehow, this was around the same time she stumbled across the MOBB United Facebook page. The details of her son’s story were purposefully excluded from a post that she shared there, as well as from this article to protect his privacy. Still, it took a tremendous amount of courage for her to post in the group that she needed prayers for her boy. Nikki says she was not only shocked but completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, prayers and support she felt in response to her post. “The presence of a very supportive MOBB family is what allowed me to go into Nikell’s sentencing and stand -- with confidence!” says Nikki.

         Nikki’s local community poured out their love also -- in the form of many letters -- to prove this young man’s character. Thankfully, the judge decided to give him 2 years instead of 15. But sadly, the story doesn’t end here. Nikki told me, “My son is in there with grown men and will come out of jail knowing way more than he did when he went in.” The question is, where are the resources that will help to rehabilitate our young Black men once released from the justice system? The level of difficulty they face when trying to assimilate themselves back into society is startling. Nikki went on to explain that although her son will get out of prison in 2 years, “my fear is him being institutionalized!”

         This young man was swept into the system. He may or may not have had positive Black male role models to properly influence him. He may or may not have had the kind of friends who had his best interests at heart. He now is faced with the very harsh reality of a criminal justice system that will force him to grow up faster than his mom ever wanted.

         The power of a positive mother has the potential to change any negative situation! As a supportive mom, Nikki is dedicated to visiting with her son weekly. She has embraced MOBB United and all the support from fellow moms that she so desperately needs right now. This organization is dedicated to providing just that and will continue to support moms and their sons in this way. In due time, Nikki and Nikell will have the resources they need to beat the “system,” and they will end up just fine. With MOBB United, no mom ever will stand alone again. There is so much work to be done for our sons, so please consider joining us in this fight to protect them.

  • published Volunteer Shout Out: Frankie Robertson in MOBB Connections 2024-01-30 05:21:03 -0600

    Volunteer Shout Out: Frankie Robertson

    By Delicia Hand

    VOLUNTEER SHOUT OUT
    Frankie Robertson

    “Volunteering with MOBB United and MUSC is an honor. It gives me the opportunity to affect change for Black Boys and men with a group of women who know firsthand how I feel. It's not always easy, but I make time to serve, not only for my son, but for all of our sons. I want them to grow up in a world free of institutional racism that has them as its primary target. I want them to reach their fullest potential and be valued in society and afforded their constitutional rights like any mom. Until then, I will remain on the front lines putting my heels to the ground to fight for and protect them.”

         Since joining the MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC) Policy and Advocacy Committee in January, Frankie Robertson has hit the ground running, and MUSC has benefited tremendously as a result. In addition to serving as lead for the Baton Rouge chapter, she has been a key contributor and leader of our policy and advocacy work. MUSC is so fortunate to have her energy, talent and commitment at work for us.

         On Saturday, August 5th, she organized MUSC’s participation in a state lobby day in support of criminal justice reform initiatives, and she also has established a strong presence amongst peer organizations and elected officials for MUSC on the ground in Louisiana.

         During our anniversary month, Frankie organized not one, but two meetups in the Baton Rouge area. She also invited and then facilitated Baton Rouge Mayor Broome’s participation in a recent national call. This Summer, she has organized MUSC’s Congressional outreach, ensuring that a number of members organized meetings with Congressional representatives to share our mission and policy agenda.

         Moving forward, Frankie will use that passion and drive to take on a greater leadership role in our Policy and Advocacy Committee, specifically overseeing our advocacy initiatives.  

        Remember that ONE thing is a big thing. If you volunteer to do just one thing that you have time and energy to do, it is something that will make a world of difference in the lives of our sons.

         Please volunteer today.

  • published MOBB United Selects in MOBB Connections 2024-01-30 05:07:32 -0600

    MOBB United Selects

    By Tiffany Bargeman

         Volunteerism is rewarding, but the time, effort, energy, and passion we pour into it is immeasurable. We all know already that moms are absolutely the busiest people in the world. Raising our children qualifies us for that title. And yet we go so far beyond that calling, many by volunteering with this organization. MOBB United appreciates the hard work of all of our volunteers.

         MOBB United Selects are nominated by their MOBB United peers. Strong women lift each other up, right? These ladies have been recognized this year for contributing so much to this organization: Vivian Nwankpah (February), Beth Lunde (March), Alycia Michelle Grace (May), and Tee Wilson (June). Help us honor these women by joining the fight to protect our sons. We need you on the front lines too. Our sons’ lives are worth it.

    MOBB United Selects Vivian Nwankpah

    MOBB United Selects Beth Lunde

    MOBB United Selects Alycia Michelle Grace

    MOBB United Selects Tee Wilson

  • published MOBB United Poetry in MOBB Connections 2024-01-30 04:48:54 -0600

    MOBB United Poetry

    By Shellie Moore Guy

              This is a poem I wrote in 1990-1991 when my sons and daughters were faced with harassment and stereotypical behaviors from the white community -- police, teachers, etc. I considered this issue in the historical context and understood my sons would need to maneuver and live in this world, where they are considered a threat and "less than". And because of that, their lives would be threatened. But they come from a rich tradition of strength, courage and intelligence.

    SONS

    Your commitment makes them sweat.

    Serious Black Business causes them sleepless nights.

    They've called the law and started rumors designed to divide. Don't forget their fathers planned to conquer this way before.

    Black Sons signify hope and promise, unity and clenched fists when necessary they gather strength through love and carry weights only heroes are required to tote.

    And yes, delicious righteous anger should make them sweat.

    They understand the audaciousness of their crimes.

    separated families

    butchered babies

    Violated mothers

    castrated fathers.

     When they distort history

    steal languages

    cop creations

    deny freedom,

    they inadvertently help to create

    Commuted Black Sons

    Denmark Vesey

    Steve Biko

    Fred Hampton

    Medgar

    Malcolm

    Martin. Murdered mentors

    who left legacies for the Sons

    My Sons

    their nightmares.

    Copyright 1995