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  • published From MOBB to MOBB in MOBB Connections 2024-01-30 04:06:09 -0600

    From MOBB to MOBB

    By Depelsha McGruder

    MOBB to MOBB

     

         Periodically, I select a mom's post that moved me personally. It may have inspired me or made me laugh, cry, or think differently. The following moms have been recognized with the MOBB to MOBB Award (#mobb2mobb) over the past year as a result of the following posts in the private FaceBook group (reposted here with permission). Thank you for your inspiration, moms.


    Terri L. Silar, Jan 2017

    Stacey Harris
    Stacey Harris, Aug 2016

    Stacey Harris

    Orissa Michelle Milton
    Orissa Michelle Milton, Aug 2016

    Orissa Michelle Milton

  • MOBB United Woke Mom 2017 Summer Meetups

    By CK LeDaniel and Hostesses

         From Brooklyn to Baton Rouge; from Atlanta to Minnesota; from Philly to LA; MOBB United moms are stepping out! We are stepping out of the virtual world, that is, and meeting up in person in cities across the country.  Amidst selfies and swag and speeches – and lots of hugs – we are getting to know each other and our mission up close and personal, affirming the already powerful connections we have made through our phones and laptops. While our community is made ever more powerful by 21st century communications, in the words of Marvin Gaye, “Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing!”  

         So get yourself to a meetup. Step out of the computer screen and then step back in by appearing in photos like these.

         Below are some highlights from the hostesses of woke mom meetups held recently. If you'd like to host or attend a Woke Mom Meetup, learn more here.

    Aimee Wilson
    Philadelphia, PA, July 8

     

        As one of the first Woke Mom meetups, Philadelphia moms of black boys got down to business -- that is, the business of connecting with each other, learning more about MOBB United for Social Change, Inc., (MUSC), and beginning the process for our local social change agenda. Four moms, three in person and one on the phone, separately identified our school systems in the Greater Philadelphia area as problematic and in need for reform. This aligns with MUSC's focus on the school-to-prison pipeline. Other major concerns for our local area generally are voter education and criminal / juvenile justice.

        Since we began the process to organize and strategize, our Philadelphia moms intend to keep the momentum going by scheduling our next meet-up for Saturday, September 30, 2017 at 11 AM, location TBD. Three of our boys who attended also had a chance to meet and network with each other. We look forward to building from our first meetup and becoming a recognizable group of changemakers.

    Frankie Robertson
    Baton Rouge, LA, July 8

     

         Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. partnered with Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge, Love Alive Church and BREC to host a viewing of the PBS documentary THE TALK-Race in America.The viewing was followed by a panel discussion on institutional racism and a brief Woke Mom Meet and Greet to allow participants to sign up to get involved with organizations committed to dismantling institutional racism.

         The event was open to the general public and attracted a racially diverse audience to raise awareness about institutional racism and to discuss ways in which institutional racism can be identified, dismantled, and how disparities in policing can be eliminated.

    Baton Rouge mom Davondra Brown did an amazing job serving as one of the panelists. Local moms “showed up and showed out” to help execute the event.

         There were approximately 130 people in attendance, including the general public and partner organizations. There has been a tremendous amount of positive feedback about the event.

    Missed it? View the documentary followed by the panel discussion by clicking the links below.

    Depelsha McGruder
    Brooklyn, NY, July 15

     

         Just a few Saturdays ago, 22 MOBBs and eight children convened at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation to fellowship and share their concerns and hopes for our sons. I began the meeting began with a welcome, followed by each mom in attendance sharing her personal reasons for being there. These moving revelations set the stage for a great discussion and led to the generation of multiple ideas on potential areas of focus for the group.

         I gave an overview presentation of the organization before moms and sons enjoyed food, drinks and a special MOBB United anniversary celebration cake donated by NY MOBB Raychelle Copeland. Photographer Margot Jordan captured moments from this historic event.

    Sara Keary
    Boston, MA, July 15

     

         The Woke Mom resources/materials were AMAZING. We had five moms in total at a very informal gathering outside with our sons, but we all gathered around a laptop and one of us gave the presentation. We can't express enough our gratitude for the calls leading up to the event and the materials provided to us. We shared about the background of MOBB United, its mission, and goals.

        Thank you to all the moms who made the materials and organized the calls for the [MOBB Anniversary] events. Two of us were already registered with MOBB United, and we encouraged the three others to join and spread the word about this wonderful organization!

     

    Kumari Ghafoor-Davis and Annisa Cooke Batista
    Roselle, NJ, July 18

     

         Annisa Cooke Batista and I had our meetup at Central Park Restaurant in Roselle, NJ. Eight moms attended, and we had such a great time. Many of the moms have adult children, a few have sons who are incarcerated, and many of us have children under 18.

    Many of the moms asked for more in-person meetings, including workshop sessions on how to have tough conversations with our boys. They wrote down a few of their ideas on index cards. We had a deep discussion on our concerns as moms as we went through the presentation on MOBB’s history, committees, and goals.

    We distributed MOBB United Woke Mom post cards and How to Get Home Alive magnets.

     

    Patty Garrett and A’donna Miller Garrett
    Atlanta, GA, July 20

     

         To commemorate our 1-year anniversary, 35 Atlanta MOBBs and supporters came together for a private pre-screening of the movie “Girl's Trip” at the Regal Cinemas at Perimeter Pointe. I hosted alongside A'Donna Garrett (no relation), giving a presentation to the audience about our organization.

    MOBBs and supporters were eager to brainstorm ideas for issues we would prioritize. Although we did not yet set our next meeting date, we did promise to compile all of the information received and follow up with next steps.

    MOBBs were treated to a swag bag with cotton candy and materials they could use to help support us in our mission to protect our black boys. After the meeting, we all enjoyed the movie. All in all, this was a very successful event.

    Pamela Wood
    San Diego, CA, July 22

     

         San Diego’s Woke Mom Meet-up in honor of MOBB United's 1st anniversary was totally enlightening and uplifting. There were five participants, three children, and our educator present. It was uplifting fellowshipping with one another. We discussed our sons’ struggles and accomplishments as we broke bread.

         In between races to and from the bathroom and football games with the little ones, we conducted a Know Your Rights teach-in, which brought forth much more than we bargained for. Of course, we learned the very basics of how to conduct ourselves during an interaction with law enforcement, but the other thing that was learned was that there is a huge need in San Diego’s Black and Brown communities for this type of teach-in due to the staggering amount of racial profiling and unwarranted arrests that take place every single day.

         We all agreed that there may be some opportunity in the near future for MOBB United’s San Diego Chapter to bridge a huge gap by conducting a Know Your Rights teach-in with other community service organizations and inviting Black and Brown men and boys of all ages and socio-economic statuses.

    Alycia Grace, Kimberley Alexander, and Amber E. Williams
    Houston, TX, July 23

     

         Moms in Houston gathered for brunch to celebrate MOBB United's 1st anniversary. The event was hosted in downtown Houston at the Circuit Entertainment Lounge by Alycia Grace, Kimberley Alexander, and Amber Williams, Houston's new chapter lead. The 15 women in attendance discussed the purpose of the organization, what has been accomplished over the past year, and next steps, including the further development of the Houston chapter.

        The moms were excited about the opportunity to join the organization and to take the lead in MOBB United’s efforts in Houston. There was music, food, fun, prizes, and great conversation. The Houston meetup was a huge success, and all the moms are excited to meet again soon.

    Peggy Bruns
    Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, July 23

     

         A total of 16 people turned out for this event held at a Frisco Spray Park. There were 7 local MOBBs, a visiting MOBB from Detroit, 6 sons and 2 additional family members.

         Although it was hot, we enjoyed connecting, sharing statuses with one another, sharing a little food, talking about both our international as well as local participation in our first year, and celebrating our black sons!

         

    We've identified some items we'd like to work on locally and have set a tentative next meet for September 17, 3 pm, in The Colony. Thanks for everyone's participation and assistance!

  • published Volunteer Shout Out in MOBB Connections 2024-01-29 06:22:25 -0600

    Volunteer Shout Out

    By Tiffany Bargeman

    Kimberley Alexander   A. Jay and Malik Alexander

         MOBB United's Volunteer Shout Out this month goes to Kimberley Alexander.

    Kimberley has two Black sons, both with special needs: A. Jay, 11 (pictured left), and Malik, 18. A. Jay has a rare condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Malik suffered a brain injury when he was nine years old, which caused Kimberley to take the murder of Keith Scott hard. Protecting her sons is a critical mission for Kimberley. Texas TV station KHOU 11 featured A. Jay's story on the news not long ago, and there's more in this public Facebook video.

         We asked Kimberley to tell us more about why she gives so much of her time, talent and energy to this organization. You know what she told us?

         “As Black men and boys, they have been a permanent underclass...as Black men and boys with special needs they are preyed upon. Underserved, misunderstood and passed over. Invisible to society and targeted by law enforcement. I want that to change, I want every son who is different to have a chance at life safely and through their lenses, not the ones we give them.”

         Check out this video featuring heartfelt words of moms with special needs Black sons. It shows more about why Kimberley has rolled up her sleeves to protect not only her son, but our sons.

         Here's how Kimberley has been contributing:

    • Works with the Special Needs Committee to support any member with a child that has a need that is special
    • As a part of MOBB United Outreach, traveled to Tulsa, OK with a group of moms to offer support to Terence Crutcher’s loved ones. Visited the site of his last breath and attended his funeral.
    • Former co-lead of the Houston Chapter of MOBB United.
    • Freelances with the Communications Committee, assisting where needed with communications strategy.
    • Assists with keeping the Facebook community respectful and shares valuable information about how to protect our sons.

         Kimberley is very busy with MOBB United and her family; her list of contributions is long. It may be hard for some to believe that one woman can do so much; but as fellow moms, we all know how it goes.

         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 SunAngels in MOBB Connections 2024-01-29 06:09:21 -0600

    SunAngels

    Kathei McCoy

    By Kathei McCoy

              We are honored to memorialize our SunAngels and to extend our support to you as you grieve the loss of your sons. Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. (MOBB United) was founded out of grief over lost sons not personally known to most of us, but we embrace all of our princes as our own and we share in your sadness as well as your joyful memories.

     

     

    SunAngelsPlease know that regardless of how or when your son left us, you have a community of mothers, some of whom are on the same path as you are, here to provide you with hope and encouragement whenever you need it. We realize that it may be difficult at times to participate in the group, but we want you to be assured that you will always be considered a MOBB United mom.

    Together, let us celebrate the life and memory of each of your SunAngels; they will never be forgotten.

     

     

  • published MOBB United Poetry in MOBB Connections 2024-01-29 06:01:17 -0600

    MOBB United Poetry

    Walking the Circle

    by Keisha Gaye-Anderson

    How many times
    can you walk a circle?

    You are breathless
    in this flesh
    blind and forgetful
    and partially deaf
    pulled by the nose
    across the globe like cattle
    aching from a boundless hunger
    which is really only
    questions

    Why I?
    Why now?
    Why pain?
    Why at all?

    And you are marching
    toward that carrot
    straight into the mouths of cannibals
    that live in your
    peripheral vision
    in the foreground
    in the background
    in the space in
    between your eyes

    They are a mist
    coating you with
    a mask that you
    mistake for
    your reflection

    So when you hear,
    A man was shot today
    A man was lynched today
    A street vendor was bulldozed today
    A woman was raped today
    A child...

    You say,
    "That is out there"

    But
    how many times can you walk a circle?
    and not know that
    You are the corpse
    The wrinkled street vendor
    The strange fruit
    The woman sawed in two
    The child
    The child
    The child?

    How many times
    how fast
    can you walk
    a circle
    before crashing into
    yourself?
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service 2017

    By C.K. LeDaniel

              MOBBUnited is more than 176,000 moms strong and growing, but we are made exponentially stronger by virtue of our partnerships with others.  While ours is a singular focus on the well-being of our Black suns, there are many other groups whose goals overlap with and complement our own.

              One such organization is Points of Light (POL), “the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service”. POL worked with us, as MOBB Malikah Berry, the Senior Vice President of Programs for Points of Light, helped MOBBUnited moms across the country gather with their sons to volunteer on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2017.  POL helped to connect us with opportunities to bond with our boys around service, while providing them with the sense of empowerment that comes from doing for others. Together, we volunteered to beautify communities, distribute water and food, make hats and blankets for children affected by cancer, and lots more.

              Please enjoy these pictures of MOBBUnited moms and their suns and join us in changing the false perception of our Black boys and men from those who drain their communities of resources to those who enrich and improve them.

  • published MOBB United Outreach in MOBB Connections 2024-01-29 04:54:03 -0600

    MOBB United Outreach

    Tiffany Bargeman

    By Tiffany Bargeman

             When a Black son is victimized, his mother suffers unimaginable grief, along with others in his immediate family. Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. (MOBB United), as his extended family, grieves as well. We grieve with the mother whose son was taken from her. We grieve with his children who will grow up without their father. We grieve for his community that will miss out on his talent and positive contributions. We grieve for this country, which suffers from the chronic sickness of fear that led to the untimely death of this son.

              How important is sisterhood in the time of tragedy? It is paramount. MOBB United knows this and takes action. We reach out by getting out of our routines and on the road, attending the memorials, funerals, and protests. We reach out and touch those families with physical presence, hugs and words of encouragement. Their loved ones’ lives mattered. Outreach and love matter once their lives have been lost, and that’s what MOBB United does. We don’t just talk about it. We do it. MOBB United actively supports victims’ families.

              Below are some personal accounts from MOBB United moms who reached out to the families of victims Reginald Thomas Jr., Terence Crutcher, and Alfred Olango during these trying times. Get ready because they're about to take you with them to the scenes.

    Reginald Thomas, Jr. killed in Pasadena, CA by Pasadena officers
    by Vanessa McCullers

    Reginald Thomas, Jr. Reginald Thomas, Jr.

              Reginald Thomas, Jr. died on September 30, 2016 in front of his home. Excessive use of force with a stun gun by officers from the Pasadena police department was the result of what started as a call from the victim’s family. Thomas was a father of six with a son on the way.

              That night, my husband got a call from a friend who was Reginald’s cousin. She knew I was involved in MOBB United, and she had one question, “Will MOBB go and visit this Mom?” At the time, I was preparing for a trip to San Diego to rally on behalf of Alfred Olango, who had been killed days before.

              What started as a call for help to 911 from Reggie turned into tragedy when he was tasered to death. While driving to San Diego we made plans to head to Pasadena the next day. Unbeknownst to all, before the day was over, we would be discussing plans to meet with yet another family whose son was gunned down by the LAPD as he was being pursued.

              Back from the road trip, we used  ribbon that remained from the Alfred Olango rally and memorial site visit in El Cajon, CA the day before to dress the memorial site for Reggie Thomas. Neighbors shared that his wife was out gathering cleaning supplies to clean up before family members arrived. To help lessen the load a bit more, we did a quick grocery run to ensure she would have easy prep foods during the week. By the time we got back with the groceries, Reggie’s wife had returned. Shainie was stoic in her appearance, never wavering in her stance. She intended to be the strong one for the family. She accepted our assistance on that day and followed gracefully. The only moment we saw a break in her demeanor was when her baby girl started to cry at the funeral. She could hold on to her own pain, but to see her children break down was too much for her to bear.

              Shainie and I continued our communication in the following months. As the birth of her little one neared, we talked more and more. Her kids had just lost their Dad but were gaining a new sibling. She wondered if she could get through this, how she would continue to provide for her children and the new one on the way, and how she would raise her new son without a father? We encouraged her to write down her memories of Reggie as as a way to help with her grief while preparing stories she could share with her son in the future. On December 27, 2016, 3-months after his father’s death, Eli Thomas made an early arrival.

              On May 13, 2017, MOBB United met Shainie and other moms on the #PamperPatio with information on how to support our movement and also on the Red Carpet, asking questions and getting insight on the tough job of #Motherhood and raising our Black sons.

    Scandal-less Mother’s Day Brunch

              On Mother’s Day this past May, MOBB United treated two very special moms -- Carlina Smith and Shainie Lindsay -- to a celebrity-filled Mother’s Day Brunch. For these women, this Mother’s Day was met with the pain of remembering their loved ones, who died last year 1 day apart due to excessive violence by law enforcement officers.

              Shainie was 7 months pregnant with her son Eli when her husband Reggie was shot by police with tasers so severely that he suffered a heart attack and died. The next day, on October 1, steps away from his home and about 15 miles from where Reggie was killed, Carnell Snell, Jr. was hit with three bullets in the back of his body as he tried to escape the police in a foot chase. Days after their loved ones were killed, Shainie and Carlina were surrounded by love when Los Angeles members of MOBB United appeared at their doors with gifts of love and support. The group has since stayed in touch with the women and provided continued support.

              Both women were invited to the Scandal-less Mother’s Day Brunch, hosted by Cario Events and others, for a chance to meet with fellow moms and enjoy a day when they should feel honor instead of pain. They were treated to massages, manicures, and mimosas for an afternoon, while celebrity moms, Melanie Fiona and Kristina Kusmic also were honored. “Moms of Black Boys United wants these moms to know that we understand and feel their pain and are here to support them,” said Founder Depelsha McGruder.

              The brunch was the first time Carlina and Shainie had met. Their stories are different, but there is one common thread: Their loved ones are gone, and no one is answering for it. “My children no longer have a father. I’m now a single parent, and it’s just so hard to carry on. I’m grateful for the support from this sisterhood of women fighting to protect our sons,” said Shainie.

    Terence Crutcher, killed in Tulsa, OK by Officer Betty Shelby

    MOBB Outreach - Crutcher Funeral (Munirah Small, Kimberley Robinson Alexander, Peggy Bruns, Sandra Goodwin Kearns, Christina Cain

    By Kimberley Robinson Alexander

              I remember the moment that silence overtook the car in which we rode. The laughter and smiles were replaced with the reality of our purpose in Tulsa, OK. The five of us had talked about it not being the first time that profound tragedy had added the stench of death to the air. I was thinking, “it is like a desert town.” And almost as quickly, someone remarked that it was so quiet and barren. The contrast from what appeared to be affluent neighborhoods and what was clearly considered “hood” was strikingly delineated from one sidewalk to the next. We arrived at the hotel and checked in wearing our MOBB United t-shirts and jeans, carrying the clothes we would wear as we represented an organization mourning with the Terence Crutcher family.

              We drove in echoing silence as night draped over us. In an instant, we were in a caravan of cars being directed through a dirt parking lot filled with rows and rows of vehicles. We parked and began walking. The closer we got, the more we were amazed. It was as if the whole town was where we were. There were Blacks and Whites, old and young, women and men, strangers and family, dignitaries and lay folk. There were license plates from all over the country…east coast met west coast and everything in between; together, on this night, under one roof, with one purpose, to say good-bye, in small town Tulsa.

              We followed the family in passing life size pictures of Terence. They were displayed on easels. In each, his eyes were alive, bright. He posed with loved ones and the warmth jumped off the canvas. As we shuffled closer to the sanctuary doors, I knew the life I saw in the vestibule would not be present once I passed the threshold.

    It took us a while to get in, capacity had been met, and the fire marshals were prepared to shut it down. I leaned over and asked, “What is capacity?” An usher replied, “1200!” In awe I thought, ‘truly death has brought life to this town.’ I sat and watched, at times, with tears streaming down my face. I openly mourned for a man I had never met, in a place I had never been, with people I didn’t know; and yet, I felt as connected to them in grief as I have to others for those close to me. A life’s promise had been extinguished.

              When the service ended, we were greeted by members of the Crutcher family who were moved by our travel and what MOBB United represented. We talked for a while as people filed out of the church. These women were in their Sunday best -- women whom we would call seasoned saints. They stood tall in their grief and their voices would not shake. They took our hands and in loud, strong voices, they petitioned God on our behalf. My knees were weak; I was overwhelmed at the care and the concern that those we came to service for had for us. I was moved.

              The first night was done. As the adrenaline rush subsided, we all realized we were famished. Returning to the hotel and changing, we found we shared purpose with many staying where we were, making small talk as we walked. We recapped over dinner and each shared thoughts and feelings on what we had just witnessed. Strangers engaged us in conversation expressing the hurt that the town was feeling behind this tragedy. We were prepared to leave when our waitress came over and said, “I applied a 40-dollar gift card [that] I received as a tip to your bill. I overheard why you are here; thank you!”

              The next day we would attend church with the Crutcher family, his dad, wife, children and other relatives. Again, we were greeted with love as we sat and listened to Terence’s father play pain through the piano keys. His wife sat quiet, exchanging hugs with each person who passed her.

              After service, we went to the place where Terence died. Instantly, the air got thick as we left the car. We were anxious to get there but moved in slow motion once we arrived. There was a makeshift memorial at the site where he took his last breath. This day, the air was damp, rain was coming. There was a ditch on either side of the road; the street was black top. It was a place you would drive by and would see road kill. His life was taken like an animal wandering in the middle of the road. Police markings remained on the ground where he laid dead. We laid pink and black ribbon next to other memorials and prepared to make our final stop.

              Meeting Terence’s wife at her attorney’s office, we presented her with a token of love from MOBB United: a photo album of past memories because with Terence, there would be no future to share.

     

    Terence Crutcher (continued)
    by Munirah Smalls

              I remember driving into Tulsa feeling a numbness. I'd been to funerals before, but this was different, very different. I'd never come to support anyone in this light before. I did not know Terence Crutcher. He was not a part of my family. We were not friends. Truthfully, until September 16, 2016, I and a world full of strangers would probably have never known who he was. He was a Black man murdered. Simply and truthfully.

              That one specific point was the reason I and four other members of MOBB United were in Tulsa. We were there to support the family of the fallen and to let the world know, no longer as mothers of the fallen would we mourn in silence. I didn't feel like mourning. I was enraged. There was a gray feeling that consumed me. The town was quiet and almost desolate by the time we got there. It felt ghost like, until we pulled up to the church. There were cars and people from everywhere. People, like our delegation, had come from everywhere to pay their respects. I was proud and crushed at the same time. Why and how many more Black men would we have to do this for? Why in this day and age did we have to keep doing this? The emotions you uncover in those types of moments are full range. I kept a strong face to do my task at hand. But I was completely broken. I was screaming and crying within. I watched and listened as people scurried past me. Even once I made it into the sanctuary, the melancholy veil that was beginning to completely cloak me was not dissipating. I could hear the kind words, the prayer calls, the pulse of the crowd. But I was sitting there in this deafening silence within wanting to scream and shake something. I wanted this to begin to reverse itself like a virtual resin and undo that fateful September evening. But that was not to be the case. A life had been taken in cold blood and now we wanted justice.

              Nothing prepared me for the crime scene visit. I remember us turning onto the street where Terence Crutcher was gunned down. The car went quiet as we slowly came to the actual spot.  There was a small memorial alongside the road, some candles and flowers marking it. The tears began to swell in our eyes. We said nothing. I remember Kim and I tracing the steps to the exact spot in the road where his body would lay lifelessly.  We stared at each other, tear stained faces. I closed my eyes and played back the viral video the world had seen over and over. And I finally broke. I cried out. I sobbed uncontrollably. The tears are falling again as I share this recount. It was too much. We could feel him. Terence Crutcher had died a senseless death, and we knew it. But more importantly, we felt it. With every fiber in our being, standing at the murder scene brought it full circle to each of us; our work was not only necessary. We were chosen. I bent down to touch the ground where he took his last breaths. All I kept saying to myself was that he was a few blocks from home. He was a few minutes away from his family. He was a few minutes away from this. A few minutes changed my life and took Terence Crutcher's. He was no longer a viral media sensation being shown in duplicity on my timeline. He was a real person. He was someone's son, father, brother and husband. He was a Black man. He was murdered. Not because he'd done anything wrong. He was a Black man on the wrong street at the wrong time. That moment changed my life forever.

     

    Alfred Olango, killed in El Cajon, CA by El Cajon Officers
    by Pamela Wood-Garcia

    Alfred Olango

              I saw media coverage of Alfred Olango's killing less than an hour after he he was shot . “A Black man having an emotional breakdown was shot by the cops.”

              San Diego's African-American community was rocked by this senseless murder. How could something so sadistic happen in our community? Come to find out Alfred had very close ties to my family. Alfred spent lots of time with my brothers. They referred to him as “Snake”. They were helping write a story about his life as a child soldier in Uganda. My nephews, Michael and Arthur were best friends with Alfred's younger brother, Tony. They all played high school football together. It was very painful to watch a family suffer that had such close ties to mine. A family who deserved so much more from a country that they came to seeking refuge had to suffer through such a tragic ordeal. It was painful to watch the way the El Cajon Police Department treated a man's life like it was limited to a few run-ins with the law. There was never any justice served in Alfred's killing despite the fact that the cop that shot him had a tainted past.

              We, as a community, practically were told that what we saw was not real and that we had to deal with the officer's perception of the situation even though eye witnesses gave accounts of Alfred's murder. The entire incident was caught on video via camera phone. The video should have been released immediately, but the public didn't see it until after more than a week. As a MOBB United mom, I felt like marching and chanting cries of justice for our loved one was therapeutic. We expressed our hurt and anger, but It didn't bring Alfred back. It didn't mend his mother's broken heart, and it didn't serve up any justice. There was no accountability brought forth from marching. The frontlines are not out on the streets with cops. The frontlines are in townhalls, city councils, Congress, the Senate, and courthouses. Legislation is our greatest ally AND our greatest enemy. We have lots of work to do; those trenches are deep.

              Unfortunately, MOBB United Outreach is not a finite work. We have to continue following current events and seeking ways to reach out to families of victims, those who are killed by law enforcement, but also those who are harassed or brutalized. It is important to let them know someone is in their corner and get them involved in the mission, fueled by their first-hand experiences.

  • published MOBB United Book Club in MOBB Connections 2024-01-29 04:32:48 -0600

    MOBB United Book Club

    C.K. LeDaniel

    By C.K. LeDaniel

              As mothers of Black boys and men, our joys are sometimes mitigated by worry as we watch our sons navigate through a world that often places their well-being, their freedom, and their very lives at risk. One of the ways we help each other cope is by sharing knowledge and support. MOBB United’s Education Committee launched our Book Club with both of these ends in mind.

              Please meet Kumari Ghafoor-Davis, Chair of our Education Committee. She is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work, and she is a Parent Coach with her own consulting company, Optimistic Expectations. Together with Uchechi Eke and myself, Kumari is also the Co-Lead of the MOBB United Book Club. I asked them both some questions so that all of our moms can become more familiar with what we are doing and hopefully join us in our readings and discussions.

                Hello Kumari, can you tell us a little bit about the MOBB United Book Club?

    Kumari Ghafoor-Davis          Yes, of course. Our Book Club was launched on March 18 with the book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander. We selected this book in part because it is featured in the documentary, 13th, by Ava Duvernay, which MOBB United watched together and discussed in our first ‘Watch Party.’  The issue of mass incarceration is central to our purpose as we seek to advocate for our sons and #protectthem from a system of law enforcement that makes them vulnerable not only to the tragic use of force by police officers, but also to arrest, imprisonment, and the social, economic, and political disenfranchisement that results upon release. Alexander shows us just how this system came to be and how it is perpetuated.

              Yes, she does! In the book, Alexander explains that mass incarceration was designed to reinstate the segregation of slavery and Jim Crow by using different and more socially acceptable language in the years that followed the Civil Rights movement. Code words like ‘Law and Order’ and the ‘War on Drugs’ were used to pander to racism among working class Whites, allowing politicians and moneyed interests to maintain and expand their privilege and power.  The result, as we see now, is an overwhelmed and underfunded judicial system and a for-profit prison industrial complex with a population that has quadrupled in the past four decades -- a population that is disproportionately represented by our sons.

              Uchechi, you are one of many international members of the MOBB United community.  What made you want to be a part of this organization?

    Uchechi Eki

              The reason I joined MOBB United, even though I'm based in England, is because the system of white supremacy, racism and injustice is global. Black boys on both sides of the Atlantic are subject to stop and search laws, are charged with harsher sentences for first time or non-violent offences, are imprisoned at disproportionate rates and suffer discrimination at all strata of society. It's harder for our sons to gain meaningful employment. To secure finance. To buy a home. To live in peace and be afforded dignity and respect. My 3-year-old son may be too young to understand or has not yet felt the effects of racism, but he will soon learn that the world he lives in is unwelcoming and hostile. That structures are in place to deny him parity with his peers. That systematic oppression is practiced across the Diaspora.

              Thank you for that. It’s important for us here in the U.S. to develop a global consciousness about race as well, even as we grapple with daily issues at home.

              Kumari, can you tell me what motivated you personally to get involved with the book club?

              As the mom of four black/brown boys, I worry daily about their safety. I cringe when our oldest, aged 24, leaves the house. When he is driving away in his car or hopping on the bus to work, I worry, despite the fact that he has a college degree and wears a suit every day. Sometimes it feels like our boys are never safe, like we cannot protect them, like the odds are stacked against them. Michelle Alexander shows us that they are. And it’s important for us to understand how they are. You know, knowledge is power!

              Yes, it is!  And so is community. What would you say is the purpose of our reading this book together?

              “The New Jim Crow” is a heart-wrenching read. It’s painful, and even more so enraging to learn about the deliberate actions of politicians and lawmakers to put African-American males, our sons, behind bars.

              People have told me they cried while reading it.

              That’s true, and by reading this book together, MOBB United moms are able to support each other through the process.

              Uchechi, how do you think it helps to read the book together?

              A book club, just like the Facebook group, is an important forum not only to share experiences but to elevate our state of consciousness. The “New Jim Crow” is a timely and necessary read. In no uncertain terms, it arrests your attention and provokes emotions. It clearly and poignantly paints a picture of the real forces at work. The prison industrial complex is a deliberate system set up to deny our sons freedom. Incarceration does not rehabilitate. Our boys are torn from their families. Separated from their communities, tortured and brutalized, mentally broken, and left spirituality bankrupt. These are hard truths, but the profound impact found in Alexander's book helps lead us moms in banding together to effect change.

              How can MOBB United moms join the book club, Kumari?

              We began to post the book club in the MOBB United Facebook group in March, so they can search for the posts there with the hashtag #mobbunitedbookclub and note their interest in comments, but we have also moved the book club over to the MOBBUnited.org website. Moms can click Community in the upper-right corner of the >homepag, click Forums, and then click “The New Jim Crow”. I expect that we will be engaging in some poignant and intense conversations there, as we read about the truly malicious plans that have been made to set our sons up for failure and as we talk about how we can work together to keep the boys and men we love out of jail. Doing so in the safe and supportive environment of moms with Black sons in common is also a way that we can promote self-care as we work towards change.

              I agree. I’d also like to point out that the Health and Wellness Committee has a sub-committee for MOBB moms with sons in the criminal justice system. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us, Kumari?

              As moms, our voices will be heard and this book will help us to keep our journey, vision and goals, in sight.

  • published Weathering the Storms: Harvey and Irma in MOBB Speaks 2024-01-28 09:19:43 -0600

    Weathering the Storms: Harvey and Irma

    By Amber E. Williams

    MOBBUnited Weathering the Storms

         Perhaps it was a moment of deja vu as the nation watched another hurricane form in the Atlantic after Hurricane Harvey had already devastated Texas just a couple of weeks before.  This time, it was Irma who threatened the Caribbean and the state of Florida as a category five hurricane. Florida residents took heed of the impending threat of the storm and evacuated to safety or prepared to ride out the storm, learning from Texas to take the situation seriously. The nation held its breath as Irma pounded the Caribbean islands and loomed toward the United States. On September 10th, Hurricane Irma landed on the southwest side of Florida and, like Harvey in Texas, left a trail of tornadoes, flooding, and destruction.

         Even though Houston and other parts of Texas are still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, help and aid has not run out, and this assistance is extended to victims of Hurricane Irma. Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. stands ready to support moms in the state of Florida, just as it has done over the past few weeks in Houston. It is the goal of MOBB United to help moms in Texas and in Florida to recover physically, emotionally, and mentally from these natural disasters.

         In Houston, moms are using this opportunity of service and volunteerism to change how law enforcement and first responders view our Black sons. The sons of Houston moms are participating in the volunteer effort alongside their moms by donating items, serving others, and providing meals and refreshments to those who are helping.  As recovery efforts in Florida and Texas continue, MOBB United will continue to be there to support our moms and their sons.

  • Hurricane Harvey: MOBB United Connecting in Troubled Times

    By Amber E. Williams

        All eyes look to Houston, TX in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the devastating flooding that resulted. Since last weekend, many Houstonians have held their breath as rains continued and loved ones had to evacuate or be rescued from stalled vehicles and flooding homes.  Homes, businesses, and roadways have been destroyed. Many lives have been lost. The emerging rays of the sun inspire hope in the greater Houston area that the end of the torrential rains have ended and recovery can begin. For our city of Houston, nothing will be normal for quite a while.  

        In the midst of this disaster, a caring and empathetic spirit has emerged. Neighbors are helping neighbors, families have united, and strangers are offering each other assistance. For the thousands of Houstonians who have been displaced and have lost everything, the kindness of strangers is welcomed. However, Houston MOBBs are not strangers. MOBB United leadership in Houston has reached out continuously to check on the welfare of fellow MOBBs, assessing the needs of MOBBs who have been impacted by the storm. MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC) stands in solidarity with the Houston chapter and is ready to offer support.

        MOBBs in the greater Houston area are encouraged to take advantage of aid being offered in and around the city. Helpful links include:

        There already has been an outpouring of love and support from MOBBs across the nation. In the upcoming weeks, Houston MOBBs in need and their families will be connected with other MOBBs for resources and support. Recovery will take months, and MOBB United will be there every step of the way.

    Hurricane Harvey

  • published by C.K. in MOBB Speaks 2024-01-28 09:04:14 -0600

    by C.K.

    As a White woman, when I married a Black man 20 years ago, I promptly inherited a piece of the history of Black wives in this country: concern for my husband’s safety at the hands of law enforcement. His 6’2”, 280 lb. frame seemed to factor by inches and ounces his vulnerability to being perceived as a threat and therefore victimized. When, 2 years later, I gave birth to a Black son, I was quickly reminded of the tragic mythology of even that totem of racism. From Emmet Till and George Stinney, Jr. to Tamir Rice and Tyre King, slight boys, half my husband’s size and half his age when I married him, are subject to the same stereotype or just pretense of threat and the same consequence of extra-judicial execution.

    So, as a white mother of a Black son, I also inherited a piece of the history of Black mothers in this country: a concern for the safety of my child in the presence of those pledged to protect. Maternal concern transcends spousal concern. It holds no self-interest. It mingles the tenderness of love and bonding with a proprietary protectiveness and a fearsome and ready reservoir of instinctual aggression.

    Although I live a life fairly rich with diversity, I was largely alone in that formidable amalgam of maternal anxiety. White mothers could not appreciate my experience; Black mothers held a complex relationship to it. The demographics of my circles would need to narrow considerably if I were to seek out a pure commonality. Or so I thought when, in the wake of an increasingly frequent series of graphically portrayed murders of Black men and boys by police officers, including Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, at the moment when my grief and anger were peaking, something crossed my Facebook feed inviting me into a group called Mothers of Black Boys United. I clicked join and follow and almost instantly, I was in a community of over 160,000 women who understood. The frequent assertions that the group was for all mothers and primary caregivers of Black boys seemed like an undue generosity on the part of my hosts, but even that betrayed a bias on my part. In this particular Venn diagram of society, maternal identity eclipsed racial identity.

    Fortunately, I was a part of this supportive community as the carnage continued with Terrence Crutcher and Alfred Olango, and we found ourselves suffering together a kind of collective PTSD. It is not for nothing that one of the pillars of this group is Promoting Self-care, that one of its committees is dedicated to Health and Wellness. But was it further fortuitous that I was a member of this group when last week’s presidential election voted in a candidate endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan? No, there was a continuous line that connected the array of dots between police brutality and the imminent Law and Order administration.

    I have heard it said that when a white person has a child of color, they become a family of color. For me, it was as if an invisibility cloak of privilege had partially fallen from me, but then only when I was in the presence of my husband or children. I live a double life, marked by not fully sharing my children’s mantle of race but having an inside line on it. In this position, I began with a certain conceit that I had the opportunity to build bridges, that my privilege could be used to educate those who shared my complexion. But increasingly, in recent years, I have simply wanted to shake my fist and walk away from even some of those quite close to me. Now, post election, I cannot in good conscience shake my fist and walk away from the 60,071,650 people in this country who voted for the candidate of hate. That number, almost precisely half the voters in this election, lays stark the brutal divisions to which this populace bound together by geography is subject. It intrudes en masse upon the idealized complacency in which so many of the other 60,467,245 would like to take refuge. And we are a country that in many ways enacts the roiling of race relations for the world stage, broadcasting ideological tropes. Now we have to acknowledge and appreciate the rippling that is occurring for our children in all directions of our global community.

    As mothers of Black boys, we muddle together in contradictions, admonishing our sons to be fearful enough to afford themselves a margin of safety, while simultaneously trying to instill them with pride, courage, and integrity. We seek to model and teach the morality of compassion and forgiveness, the value of intellectual inquiry and debate, while ever ready to strike out at anyone who would harm our babies, either physically or psychologically. We are more than ready – it need not even be said – to give our lives for them. This is not melodrama; this is not grandstanding; this is not the imaginary of fantasy any more than are the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray. This is as real as the mourning of mothers; as real as the mourning after the election of hatred to power. Racism need no longer hide within institutions. It is written clearly now in the halls of middle schools newly emblazoned with swastikas.

    Recently, I had an opportunity to help a young, black man who was in distress, while the white people in my liberal enclave stood around regarding him with suspicion. Having made eye contact with him, I noticed a trace of panic. Ushering him inside from a storm, literally, I learned he was having difficulty breathing. After I was able to provide him with the requisite inhaler, he looked at me with gratitude and he offered me a fist bump; he offered to give me ‘dap,’ but the gesture didn’t register for me so I didn’t return it. I think I smiled and said, “You’re welcome, no problem!” Afterwards, I felt so sad. I knew he was offering me a guest pass into a community that needs its signals to acknowledge friends among enemies, allies among indifference and ignorance.

    It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, but that admirable chestnut in our current world belies a trace of respectability politics. The village has a more important task at hand than rearing good citizens in this post-election world. It takes a village to keep a black child safe, and MobbUnited is now one of the players in that village of mothers and others, of partners and allies. We are ready to influence policy. We are ready to change perception. We are ready to demonstrate our power.

  • published MOBB Speaks in Early Days 2024-01-28 09:03:41 -0600

    MOBB Speaks

    Weathering the Storms: Harvey and Irma
    Posted by · October 15, 2017 9:19 AM

    by C.K.
    Posted by · November 29, 2016 9:04 AM

    See all posts
  • published Get Up, Get Out, and Cast Your Ballot in Cause (c4) 2024-01-28 08:55:55 -0600

    Get Up, Get Out, and Cast Your Ballot

    By Pamela Garcia

    Get Up, Get Out, and Cast Your Ballot

    Get Up, Get Out, and Cast Your Ballot

    The events of the past 10 months have been like being caught in a riptide. You have to take a deep breath and focus to figure out the direction of a riptide before you make an attempt to get out of it. If you don’t do these things you could drown.

    2020 started off in deep uncharted waters. So many of us had our vision and mission ready. We were going to conquer 2020 with everything in us. Then, Kobe Bryant and 8 other people (including his daughter) were killed when his helicopter crashed on January 26, 2020. This must have been a sign of things to come, because shortly after that the world was struck with COVID-19

    COVID-19 is the deadly virus that is wreaking havoc on America with Black Americans at the greatest risk. America is currently up to 70, 000 cases daily. 1 in 920 African Americans are dying from this deadly disease. As if having to shelter in place, wear masks, and being isolated from friends and family to prevent this virus has not been enough, the President had a very lackadaisical stance on preventing the spread of the virus which may have led to more deaths due to neglect, than America should have had. In the midst of COVID-19 Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd were killed by law enforcement. The most igniting of these killings was that of George Floyd. Minnesota police officer Derrek Chauvin kept his knee on Georoge Floydd’s throat for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while the world watched via social media. This led to nationwide protests on a scale that America had never experienced. Protestors were treated unfairly at times, which led to civil unrest.

    In the midst of all of this our voting rights were threatened by our nation’s leaders occupying some of the highest positions in our government. Some of them have done all they can do to suppress the vote. They have spread the rhetoric that voting by mail leads to fraud and also believes no votes should be counted after election day. Let’s not allow our voices to be silenced with these antics. No matter who you vote for, voting is your legal right.

    Voting is a right that African Americans fought for in this country. Many of our ancestors died in this fight so that we could make decisions about who leads the United States. They took on a great task in the face of their own fear and violence by white nationalist and law enforcement. All of that caused President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law. This law made poll taxes, literacy tests, and the forcing of Blacks to recite the entire Constitution of the United States in order to be allowed to cast their votes illegal. As a people we must push through this.

    Voting is not just our right, it is our responsibility. Just like our ancestors, we have to cast our ballots by any means necessary. Waiting in a long line, or walking past white nationalist as they attempt to intimidate you at the polls on election day (Tuesday, November 3, 2020) should not keep you from voting. If our ancestors did it, surely we can do it too. Focus your thoughts, study your ballot and get up, get out and cast your ballot. It is not just your right, it is your responsibility. It not only affects how you will live now, but how your children and your children's children will live once you are gone.

  • MOBB United for Social Change Call Center Update

    By Aimee Wilson and Carla Canty-Byrd

    MUSC Call Center Update

    Organize, Mobilize, and Demand Change: Outraged Moms of Black Boys Rapid Response and Call Center are Ready for Action

    We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, moms who were on the frontlines of past Civil Rights movements and moms who resisted the status quo. We organize in the spirit of our righteous mentor, Fannie Lou Hamer, who infamously stated, "I am tired of being sick and tired.” We activate the principles of MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC), which include showing our power and creating strategic partnerships. And we mobilize to stand in the gap for our sons, fighting the injustices of police brutality, and lack of accountability, fighting for justice for the lost lives and lost potential of our Black boys and men and their traumatized families and communities.

    If you are "tired of being sick and tired", if another incident of police violence makes you want to holla, and if you are ready to move from talk to action, the Rapid Response team needs you. You can work as a dedicated advocacy volunteer on the Rapid Response Team and stand on the frontlines of justice in our Call Center. You also can just jump in from time to time with our published MUSC calls to action. To volunteer, please complete the volunteer form and specify that you're interested in the Rapid Response team.

    To report a possible incident for Rapid Response, email us at [email protected] with available details of the excessive use of force or school-related racism, discrimination, or bullying incident.

    Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., the 501c3 sister organization if MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC), needs financial resources to do the important work required to protect or sons. Please consider donating to Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. this month at mobbunited.org/donate. Also, please learn more about fundraising plans and what else you can do to help.

  • published Parkland Reflections in Cause (c4) 2024-01-28 08:33:24 -0600

    Parkland Reflections

    By C. K. LeDaniel

    Parkland     On February 14th of this year, a young man armed with an AR-15 rifle entered his former high school, killed 17 people—mostly students—and injured 15. This was, by no means, the first school shooting we’ve seen; in fact, there have been at least 17 school shootings to date in 2018 alone. In part because of its scale, this one captured the attention of the country, but more so because of the remarkable activism of the surviving students.
     
         In the weeks since we began to see their faces on our televisions and in our Facebook feeds, these students are also becoming increasingly “woke” about the racial issues involved in gun control. To be sure, the predominantly White affluence of the Parkland students has allowed the issue to gain traction and mobilize the country to “March for Our Lives”—the DC march was one of the largest in history. But the Parkland students are not all White. Many are Black and Latina. One of the most recognized among them is the young, queer, Latina woman, Emma Gonzalez. Her Black classmates have seen less airtime on our major news networks. But the visible White students have begun to “check their privilege” and call this out, while Black students, many of whom participated in the National Walkout Day on March 14th, have helped to check them.
     
         In watching the march on television, I found that people of color were far more amplified than they were initially. The remarkable Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old African American girl, has gone viral with her powerful message, stating she is speaking for those Black girls who are often forgotten. We also saw many young brothers, including Zion Kelly, a resident of D.C., and Christopher Underwood of Brooklyn, who both lost siblings to gun violence. Alex King and D’Angelo McDade from Chicago took the stage with tape over their mouths and their fists in the air.
     
         But what exactly are the racial issues involved in gun control? First, let’s take a quick look at the racist history of the Second Amendment itself, which supported the rights of White people to form militias better known as “slave patrols”, some of which were later known as the Ku Klux Klan. When Black people sought to arm themselves and exercise their constitutional right to self-defense against these groups, it should come as no surprise that legal institutions were able to easily circumvent a “race-neutral” application of the law. In other words, the Second Amendment and gun control have largely only ever been implemented to the disadvantage of people of color. Think back to the Black Panthers exercising their right to “open carry”; the Reagan Administration and local California legislators swiftly imposed restrictions.
     
         Today, we see the racist implementation of the Second Amendment as gun rights activists, mostly White people, have their rights respected and protected despite their overt aggression. One need only recall recent pictures of heavily armed White Supremacists in Charlotte, flanked and unchecked by law enforcement. Meanwhile, a legal gun owner in full compliance with the law, like Philando Castile, cannot reach into his glove compartment without being shot to death in his car while his killer, a police officer, goes free. White people armed with assault weapons and bombs, weapons of war and mass destruction, who are members of known White Supremacist groups, are referred to as “challenged young adults” with mental illnesses or tragic victims of bullying, while unarmed Black people are thugs so frightening that they are gunned down, not only by police officers, but also by “neighborhood watchmen” like George Zimmerman, who took out Trayvon while he walked home with a package of Skittles in his hand.  The “law” allowed Zimmerman to be acquitted.
     
         The March for Our Lives youth and teachers’ unions oppose the “hardening of schools” promoted by Trump and the National Rifle Association (NRA), in which teachers would be trained and armed and more safety officers would be placed in schools. They oppose these for good reasons. It is a cynical attempt to increase gun sales. It will likely lead to more loss of life. A gun will not stop an AR-15. Teachers want to teach, not be armed, and they want funding to support the teaching, not the gun manufacturers. But we moms of MOBB United are keenly aware that the “hardening of schools” will mean the increased loss of Black life, as the armed fear for their lives around dark-skinned children. More safety officers in schools already has meant a dramatic growth in the school-to-prison pipeline as our sons are criminalized at an ever earlier age. This will only grow more, feeding the beast of mass incarceration.
     
         Much was made in the march of the concerns of communities of color regarding the presence and use of guns in their own communities. Fortunately, I did not hear the problem referred to as a so-called “Black on Black” crime issue, a racist construct, at least not from the march speakers and not on the media outlets I frequent. The issue was more appropriately raised as one of racially determined, socio-economic problems heightened by the easy availability of lethal arms. D’Angelo McDade, cited above, said, “I stand before you representing the body of those who have experienced and lost their lives due to gun violence. For we are survivors. For I am a survivor. For we are survivors not only of gun violence, but of silence. For we are survivors of the erratic productions of poverty. But not only that, we are the survivors of unjust policies and practices upheld by our Senate. We are survivors of lack of resources within our schools. We are survivors of social, emotional, and physical harm."
     
         For us moms, the gun violence that breaks our hearts all too often was reflected in the murder of Stephon Clark, a young Black father holding a white cell phone in his own backyard, whose phone struck such terror in two police officers that they shot him 20 times within 3 seconds of seeing him and cuffed his lifeless body on the ground. I was relieved that Stephon Clark was invoked several times at the march, including by Edna Chavez, a young Latina student from South Central Los Angeles. Let us hope that the youth involved in this new movement—many of our sons and daughters among them—will continue to be mindful of race and of intersectionality in all of their activism

  • published Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress in Cause (c4) 2024-01-28 08:14:03 -0600

    Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress

    By Delicia Hand and Frankie Robertson

    MUSC Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress, Delicia Hand & Frankie Robertson      The MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) Policy and Advocacy Committee sets the strategic policy priorities and drives advocacy initiatives for the organization. As a committee, we set and lead execution of MUSC’s policy agenda, research policies that impact Black men and boys, identify opportunities to advocate on behalf of our sons, and guide MUSC’s approach and responses to instances where Black men and boys have been victims of unjustified force and violence by police.

    Legislative Platform Launched
         The Policy and Advocacy Committee finalized and recently launched a new advocacy resource, the organization’s Legislative Policy Platform. The Legislative Platform outlines MOBB United for Social Change’s policy priorities and equips members to be informed about our policy priorities when they engage with partners and policy makers across the country. Think of the platform as your quick reference fact sheet that you can use to quickly outline the concrete policy changes we seek. Since it has been launched, MOBB United moms have used the platform to engage with their state representatives and advocate on key criminal justice reform issues. In March, moms in Louisiana and New Jersey have used the platform in meetings with their representatives.  Additionally, leading up to the close of the state legislative session on April 9th, Maryland moms relied on the platform as they weighed in with their representatives on key initiatives. Policy moms in California may soon use the platform to engage with their representatives. Check out our new resource here: http://www.mobbunited.org/MUSCPlatform.

    What’s happening in your state?
         If you’re not familiar with the state legislative process or state legislative advocacy, here’s a quick overview. State legislatures operate on varying schedules and time periods within a year.  Some states have part time legislators, others have full time legislators; each correlated with whether the state has a year-long legislative session or part-year legislative session. For example, California, New York and Pennsylvania have full-time legislatures; Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin have limited full-time legislatures. Other states have legislative sessions which are only in session for a few months of the year. For these states—Maryland, North Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, for example—typically the beginning of the calendar year, January through March, marks a very fast paced sprint to engage with a policymaker and have an impact on the process.  

         Over the past few months, Policy and Advocacy Committee members have been monitoring activities in various states across the country. In the spring, state legislatures typically start to introduce measures which go through the process of introduction, committee assignment, committee hearing, consideration by the main body, and, assuming passage, then signature by the state executive. When MOBB United engages on legislative policy issues at the state level, it can be during any of these stages. Sometimes when a measure is introduced, we reach out to state legislators and try to encourage them to sign on. In advance of a committee hearing, we urge members to attend to learn about a measure.  Once a measure is adopted by the legislature, we often weigh in to try to impact budget negotiations so that the enacted measure is actually funded. Otherwise, we continue to apply pressure to ensure the state executive branch moves to implement the measure.

         Below is an overview of some of the measures we have been following and advocating on this legislative season. Some of these measures have advanced and become law; others, have not advanced.  All represent initiatives where MOBB United moms reached out to their representatives and weighed in on behalf of our sons. 

    • California
      • SB1437 - [SUPPORT] will reform the felony murder rule and accomplice liability in certain types of second-degree murder. This act would abolish felony murder liability for an accomplice: a person who did not personally commit the homicidal act or intend that a homicide occur. PENDING; April 24, 2018 hearing.
    • Louisiana
      • HB560 - [SUPPORT] Creates the State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct. PENDING; April 13, 2018hearing.
      • HB709 - [SUPPORT] Creates the State Commission on Prosecutorial Oversight and the Code of Prosecutorial Conduct.
    • Maryland
      • HB1801- [OPPOSE] Requiring each public school to have an armed school resource officer present on school grounds during regular school hours on school days; requiring the Department of State Police to assign a State Police officer to a certain public school under certain circumstances; requiring a certain State Police officer to be present on school grounds during regular school hours on school days and to carry a firearm; and authorizing a private school to have an armed school resource officer present on school grounds. Did not progress this session.
      • HB1173 - [SUPPORT] Requiring a law enforcement agency to report beginning October 1, 2018, and every 2 years thereafter to the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention on policies and procedures related to use of force, de-escalation training for law enforcement officers; requiring the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention to adopt procedures for the collection, analysis, and compilation of use of force de-escalation training information received from a certain law enforcement agency; requiring a certain report; etc. Did not progress this session.
      • HB480/SB484 - [SUPPORT] Repealing a certain requirement that a certain defendant pay a certain fee to a certain private home detention monitoring agency; and providing that a defendant who is subject to pretrial release may not be required to pay for certain services provided or security measures taken by the State, a county, or another entity acting on behalf of the State or a county. Did not progress this session.
    • New Jersey
      • S406 - [SUPPORT] Creates New Jersey Innocence Study and Review Commission.
      • S428 - [SUPPORT] Provides for review of juvenile sentence of more than 30 years imprisonment without parole eligibility under certain circumstances.
    • New York
      • S3579A - [SUPPORT] Bail Elimination Reform Act of 2018 - eliminates money bail, protects the presumption of innocence and the right to freedom, sets strong limits on when and how any pretrial conditions are instituted, and prohibits the use of biased risk assessment tools.

    As these measures progress through the respective state legislatures, MOBB United needs pumps on the ground and moms on the front line who are willing to engage on behalf of their sons! We can train moms on how to be able and effective advocates. Join us! If your state is not represented and you are willing to send an email, make a call and take a meeting with a representative, email [email protected].

    Electoral Engagement
         The Policy and Advocacy committee will soon shift to educating members about who will appear on their ballots when they go to the polls this fall, and engaging candidates for electoral office so that they are aware of the issues impacting black men and boys. This year across the country, many policy makers, who can affect the standards and measures of accountability for law enforcement when they interact with our sons, will be elected into office. Many MOBB United members will vote for these persons, without any idea or information about how the official feels about important issues that impact our sons. How does your member of Congress feel about structural reforms to criminal justice law such as bail reform, ensuring that juveniles are not unnecessarily charged as adults, teen life sentencing? How does your city council representative or mayor feel about the standards that apply to police officers wearing body cameras? Does your local police chief care that his/her officers are sufficiently trained on issues like implicit bias, de-escalation, and crisis intervention?

         The Policy and Advocacy committee is developing Candidate Questionnaires and will soon shepherd a series of events where members can engage directly with those seeking offices to learn how they feel about these important issues. Specifically, we will be seeking answers from candidates for U.S. Congress, State Attorneys General, local prosecutors or District Attorneys to survey their views on our organizational priorities. We will be seeking answers from the candidates in seats that are up for election this year. We will develop a questionnaire that will be available on our website that you can download and send directly to candidates, to find out their position on issues impacting our sons. If you are interested in helping or participating in this initiative, email: [email protected].

    If you have the drive to seek policy solutions and be an advocate for your son(s), then please join the Policy and Advocacy Committee. If you have a background in law or policy, then the committee especially needs YOU! We meet every other week on Thursdays via conference call at 10 PM ET. For more information contact: [email protected].

  • published Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress in Cause (c4) 2024-01-28 07:43:34 -0600

    Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress

    By Delicia Hand and Frankie Robertson

    MUSC Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress, Delicia Hand & Frankie Robertson     The MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) Policy and Advocacy Committee sets the strategic policy priorities and drives advocacy initiatives for the organization. As a committee, we set and lead execution of MUSC’s policy agenda, research policies that impact Black men and boys, identify opportunities to advocate on behalf of our sons, and guide MUSC’s approach and responses to instances where Black men and boys have been victims of unjustified force and violence by police.

            It’s a new year for MOBB United for Social Change’s Policy and Advocacy committee, and we will soon be rolling out our Legislative Platform. A new resource, the Legislative Platform, will equip members to be informed about our policy priorities when they engage with partners and policy makers across the country. We will launch the roadmap with a training on February 24th, followed by a series of opportunities for members to engage directly with their representatives in March and April. Make sure you sign up for the training by emailing [email protected].

     

            We continue to fight for progressive change and a better world for our Black sons through direct engagement in state legislatures! States all across the country are beginning their legislative sessions. The Policy and Advocacy Committee is monitoring legislation in key states on issues that align with our legislative platform.  Specifically, we are monitoring legislative proposals that touch on:

    • De-escalation training for law enforcement officials
    • Implicit bias and diversity training
    • Police oversight mechanisms such as body camera laws
    • Structural intersections with poverty such as bail reform or teen life sentencing

         This March and April we also will be organizing a series of lobby days, encouraging members across the country to meet with their representatives to talk about these issues and how they impact Black men and boys. 

         To be successful, however, we NEED your help! Below are some ways you can join and support this year's campaign.

    1. Monitor legislation in your state. This year, we have a one-stop-shop software that allows us to quickly access information about what is happening in each state legislature.  We need people to communicate directly with sponsors of key legislation in their home states and identify opportunities for MUSC to get involved. If you have 30 minutes during the week, this is the job for you!
    2. Sign up to lead a state lobby day. Are you ready to connect with your representatives and let them know about the key issues impacting Black men and boys? Want to learn what is happening in your state? Interested in joining or organizing other moms to advocate for our sons? If so, join or lead a lobby day! When we organize the series of lobby days across the country this March and April, pick a date and join us to make sure your state is represented. Policy and Advocacy Committee members will train you and provide you with the resources to have a successful lobby day. Email [email protected] for more information.   

         If you have the drive to seek policy solutions and be an advocate for your son(s), then please join the Policy and Advocacy Committee. If you have a background in law or policy, then the committee especially needs YOU! We meet every other week on Thursdays via conference call at 10 PM ET. For more information contact: [email protected].

  • published Facebook Re-Post: Cause in Cause (c4) 2024-01-28 07:21:07 -0600

    Facebook Re-Post: Cause

    By Vanessa McCullers

    Facebook Re-Post: Cause

    The following posts were shared originally in the Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. private Facebook group: H&M Op-Ed “No Monkeys Here” by Vanessa McCullers Picked up by Blavity and TVOne Screening and Panel with Eric Garner's Mom. Mom Vanessa McCullers, our Communications Committee Lead, gave us permission to share them publicly. If you are a mom of a Black son and member of that group, you can read and/or respond in the comments via the links.

    H&M Op Ed by Vanessa McCullers

    H&M Op-Ed “No Monkeys Here” by Vanessa McCullers Picked up by Blavity

    TVOne Screening, Vanessa McCullers with Eric Garner's Mom

    TVOne Screening and Panel with Eric Garner's Mom

  • Black Maternal Trauma - Part 4: Paying for Freedom

    By Uchechi Eke

    Uchechi Eke     During President Barack Obama’s era, as it relates to judiciary and more specifically, prison and bail reform, the former President gave state judges discretionary powers to find alternative options to a custodial sentence if the perceived offender could not afford bail, such as a payment plan or community sentence. Just recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to repeal and roll back these powers, declaring that state judges no longer can practice such discretion, and if someone is accused of a crime, and cannot pay the bond amount, they will have to pay with jail time.

         Millions of people are separated from their families for months at a time—not because they are convicted of committing a crime, but because they are accused of committing a crime. On any given day, more than 400,000 people who are convicted of no crime are held in jail because they cannot afford to buy their freedom.

         We all know how discriminatory this is, especially as the majority of those stopped, searched, and arrested are young Black men—our boys. This policy also makes no fiscal sense for the public. For example, in the state of Texas, it costs over $50 per day to incarcerate someone, but less than $2 to supervise them on a community order. When Black and Brown people are over-policed, arrested, and accused of crimes at higher rates than others, and then forced to pay for their freedom before they ever see trial, big bail companies prosper. Every year $9 billion dollars is wasted incarcerating people who’ve not been convicted of a crime, and insurance companies, who have taken over the bail system, get richer.

         There is nothing more traumatic in this scenario than knowing that your son does not have the financial means to pay his bail and you are also unable to raise the exorbitant amount. This reminds me of the Kalief Browder case. Kalief’s family was too poor to post bond when he was accused of stealing a backpack. He was sentenced to a kind of purgatory before ever being brought to trial and finally the charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence. Meanwhile, of the nearly 3 years that he was at Riker’s Island, more than 2 of those were spent in solitary confinement, ultimately creating irreversible damage that lead to his suicide at age 22.

         The judges reviewing the bond limit are required to assess the risk of ‘flight or danger’ to the community. Many Black boys and men pose neither of these risks. Many offences with which they are charged are minor misdemeanors, i.e., shoplifting or possession of a small quantity of marijuana.

         The impact on the Black boy who now sits in jail awaiting a trial date or sentence is formidable, as he now faces multiple hardships. His education is disrupted. His mental state declines. He is estranged from his family and friends. He will be ostracised upon his release, labelled,and stigmatised. He will find it difficult to reintegrate back into society, including by finding gainful employment, which may lead him to repeat his behaviour.

         And what about the impact on his mother, not knowing when her son will be home? Mom worries herself sick, knowing he will be ill-treated. This worry accompanies tremendous guilt that weighs her down for not being financially able to bail him out, not to mention the emotional strain on his siblings and father and the mental anguish when confronted by family members, friends, neighbours and teachers who constantly ask “where is your boy?”

         Families are forced to take on more debt, often in predatory lending schemes created by bail bond insurers while their sons languish in jail, sometimes for months or years—a consequence of nationwide backlogs and prosecutorial interests. Not to mention, the Prison Industrial Complex, which also profits from vulnerable families who cannot afford bail. We can’t fix the broken criminal justice system until we take on the exploitative bail industry.

         As mothers, we have a duty of care. This includes social, political and economic activism.

         I hope this piece has ignited a flame, one that will help MOBB United and MOBB United for Social Change to distinguish this discriminatory practice and continue the fight to ensure that our sons do not pay such a harsh price for their freedom—whether at the hands of the police or the prison system.