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  • published Kneeling for Justice in Cause (c4) 2024-01-28 06:51:49 -0600

    Kneeling for Justice

    By Pamela Wood-Garcia

    Pamela Wood-Garcia

    With Super Bowl LII just concluding with a Philadelphia Eagles victory over the New England Patriots, one has to wonder what happened to the Black Community and its allies taking a knee for justice? Just the other day, I was on Facebook, and my timeline was flooded with posts about how the Patriots were going to beat the Eagles in the big game. People of color were paying homage to Tom Brady and his athletic ability and his winning record. I was mortified, to say the least. Not that Tom Brady is not worthy of another Super Bowl win, but how the hell did any of my Facebook friends know anything about the Super Bowl? Were they actually watching playoff games? These were the same people who just a few weeks back were posting “Blackout the NFL” videos and hash tagging that they “stood with KAP”. So many people were so passionate when Spike Lee and other celebrities decided to publicly stand with Colin Kaepernick after he was blackballed for taking a knee during the NFL games in which he played. Many of the same people have now abandoned the process of bringing forth change. Kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner or skipping NFL games is not just about boycotting a few football games, it is part of the long process of bringing forth change. When did we, as a people stop trusting the process? The process is all that we have ever had in this country. When did we become so out of touch with our power that we would relinquish it to watch a football game? Did they forget about the vicious killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Eric Garner? Have they really lost sight of the slayings of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and Mario Woods?

     15-year-old Darius Smith of California (second from left), son of Reyshawna Myricks, died at the hands of law enforcement.

    If we recap a few of the social injustices of 2017, it would give us plenty of reason to take a knee. Let’s start with January 2017 being the deadliest month for police brutality since 2015. In a report in the Washington Post, it is noted that 250 people were killed by law enforcement in the first month of last year. The rest of the year proved to be equally as disappointing. Betty Shelby was acquitted for the murder of Terence Crutcher. Darius Smith of California, Jordan Edwards of Texas and Jason Negron of Connecticut, all just 15 years old, were all killed at the hands of law enforcement within days of each other. Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of the murder of Philando Castile and our criminal justice system was placed under the leadership of very well known White supremacist, Jeff Sessions. The current president stood in front of a group of police officers and instructed them to use excessive force on “thugs”. There was the demonstration in Charlotteville, which was led like a Klan rally of old and took the life of Heather Heyer, who was peacefully protesting with friends. As if that was not enough, the president stood before another crowd and called NFL players sons of bitches for taking a knee during the national anthem. I think that is enough to justify kneeling for justice but if the events of 2017 are not enough to make you want to take a knee, then maybe the following will be.

    We, as Africans in America need to trust our own processes. If we say that we are taking a knee for justice, why did so many of us fall off of the boycott Spike Lee and so many other celebrities started? It is a sad day when we are not connected enough as a people to skip a few football games or take a knee during a song that is about murdering our predecessors to ensure that we are treated fairly and that our sons and daughters can move about the country they live in without law enforcement being a threat to their very lives. We need to quit playing woke on social media and wake up in real life! Things will not change if we don't trust our own processes. Our ancestors trusted the process of making change and they saw the process all the way through.

    Sojourner Truth, a Women’s Rights activist and an African Slave abolitionist was one of the very first Black women to take a stand to protect her son by way of legislation and win. Truth, who lived in New York, learned that her 5-year-old son, Peter, had been sold illegally by her former slave owner to a man in Alabama. With the help of white abolitionists, she took the issue to court and in 1828, after a long drawn out legal battle, she got her son back. The process of getting her son back took close to 2 years. Many Black Women in that era would have given up hope before their case reached a high court, but Truth stuck it out and saw victory by way of trusting the process that she started.

    Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman to serve in the United States senate. She was also the very first Black person to run for President of the United States after reconstruction. She never made it past the primaries but she did blaze a trail for future generations. People like Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama ran after Chisholm and each made mention of her while campaigning.

    Rosa Parks trusted the process of small incremental change based on major sacrifice. She and the entire Black community of Montgomery, Alabama, boycotted the bus system after Rosa was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. This sparked a large scale boycott of the bus system in Montgomery Alabama and marked the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. For 13 months our predecessors walked miles to and from their jobs and anyplace else they needed to go. They did this until the Supreme Court changed the segregation laws of the bus system in Montgomery. They became a cohesive unit and saw the boycott process through. Through this boycott, they fought for themselves, but they also fought for us. Our children need to see us the same way we see our ancestors.

    As moms, we are Black History in the making. Changing the perception that society has of Black boys and men, influencing policy, demonstrating the power of the Black woman and our allies, and partnering strategically with groups and individuals who can help further our mission is no easy task. We are women on a mission to make change but there is a process to making that change. On a daily basis, MOBB United leadership puts it all on the line to ensure that the world knows that we are here for our sons. We actually are marching, writing letters and emails, making phone calls, going to funerals, raising funds for families, meeting with legislators, having group chats and national calls, and educating ourselves, and we do it all for the love of our sons. It is not just a good look on social media; it is a daily sacrifice of time and energy. We have to let go of what seems normal and comfortable for what is right. Everybody mentioned in this article chose to do what was right. Kneeling for justice may have been perceived as a good look to some; those who boycotted until their team was in the playoffs. But Colin Kaepernick didn’t take a knee because it was a good look; he did it because it was the right thing to do. He did it to protest the atrocities that our sons face everyday. Taking a knee for Justice needed to be backed by the entire Black community throughout the entire football season for it to be most effective, but some people dropped the ball—they fumbled!

    As moms, we cannot drop the ball. We have to give our all to push our mission forward, and each mom’s contribution makes up part of that united “all”. Being on social media with MOBB United is a great look for any mom of a Black son, but it is the work that makes that look so amazing! Please help us to do our work and see our processes through by becoming an official member of MOBB United today. Sign up on our website and join a committee. Become a part of Black History. Help us to help our sons. We are carrying on the legacy of our ancestors by being an unstoppable, unmovable force in the communities that we serve. Our children should look back and see us the way that we see our ancestors. They should see all of us complete our processes.

    We take a stand for all moms whose Black sons love the game of football. We understand that most of them cannot simply choose to take a knee against injustice publicly. whether our sons are paid to take the field, do it purely for the love or don't play a sport at all, they ALL deserve to be treated fairly! On the field and off! They should be allowed to express their opinions. PERIOD.

  • 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.

    When excessive use of force incidents occur involving Black boys and men within the continental United States, a team of dedicated advocacy volunteers takes a series of actions and responds strategically to those incidents. Those volunteers are members of our Rapid Response team. Other incidents assessed for our organizational response may include excessive imprisonment or alleged mistreatment while incarcerated and school-related incidents of bullying, racism, and suspension/expulsion.

    As MUSC expanded during our young organizational life, we knew that advocating for our sons was critical for justice in our country. Operating from within the Policy and Advocacy Committee, the Rapid Response team examines and methodically analyzes if, how, and/or when our organization will add our unique voice to the ongoing conversation of police violence and social justice. In partnership with our organization's Communications Committee, we let our community and supporters know when it is time to take action.

    An important element of our organizational response is our Call Center, comprised of moms who have volunteered to contact key local leaders regarding identified incidents and demand responses to our calls to action. These volunteers, who are affectionately called "Gladiators" take a few minutes out of their day to call, email, and/or post on social media to share our expectations around an incident. All volunteers are given instructions on who to call, what to say, and how to say it. We operate as a united force. The power of our efforts comes in our numbers and our consistency.

    After making an initial Call-to-Action for Euclid, Ohio’s Police Department, new developments occurred with a local activist being beaten by that Police Department. With the updated Call-to-Action, MUSC escalated our request to direct our advocacy not only to Euclid’s Mayor and Police Chief, but also to local state legislators and the Governor. One of the state legislators is open to learn more about our concerns with that Police Department and is willing to meet with local MUSC members on this matter.

    When an incident is over, some organizations move onto the next cause. Our Rapid Response team conducts a series of check-ins to determine if any new developments might affect our organizational response and/or if the families involved need help connecting to resources. During each phase of Rapid Response, our team seeks partners from our MUSC community and other social justice organizations to build strategic partnerships. These growing partnerships may include local social justice organizations and/or local chapters of national organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Black Lives Matter (BLM), or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapters, to name a few.

    Did you know that police departments and city leaders bank on average citizens moving on after a short while? This leaves them free to do as they please. We cannot let this continue. That is why the Rapid Response team is here: to call out injustice, pressure key leaders, and make a lasting change!

    The Rapid Response team, including our Call Center volunteers, are members of the MUSC Policy and Advocacy Committee. The Rapid Response Team is welcoming new team members and would like to continue to grow with new researchers, writers, and Call Center volunteers.

    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.

  • published MOBB United at San Diego Women's March in Cause (c4) 2024-01-27 06:09:28 -0600

    MOBB United at San Diego Women's March

    By Tiffany Bargeman and Vanessa McCullers

         On January 20th, thousands of women descended on Waterfront Park for the Women's March in San Diego, CA, to demonstrate their unity and be voices for those in need of support. MOBB United's Communications Committee Chair, Vanessa McCullers, gave a powerful and passionate speech on behalf of the sister organizations MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) and Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., explaining just how valuable the lives of our Black men and boys are and demanding social change for them and all moms of Black sons in America. Please take some time to read her speech below.

    Vanessa McCullers gives speech on behalf of MOBB United at San Diego Women's March January 20, 2018

    Speech:

    “Good morning, everyone! I am so excited to see so many new and familiar faces today. To the organizers of today’s march, Sarah, Poppy, and your teams, thank you. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak this morning.
     
    This same time last year, I was preparing for the Women’s March. My daughter, Jazz, was beside me, proudly displaying her Girl Power. I was beyond thrilled with Jazz’s desire to be heard and to raise her voice against racism and discrimination, exactly like we do at MOBB United.
     
    In 2016, I joined our hours-old online network of mothers called Moms of Black Boys United on Facebook. We moms shared our concerns and fears.  In fact, many of us mothers agree that our Black children; specifically, our black boys, live in a society that is both hostile and threatening to them.  Statistics indicate that 1 in 3 Black men will enter prison at some point in their lives. The killings of unarmed black men are now being streamed via social media. Our members knew we needed to speak out against the negative things that were impacting our families and our communities. But we knew that simply complaining about injustice was not the way. So we have developed a nonprofit, Moms of Black Boys United for Social Change. We are committed to using our strength and power to fight police brutality.

    The emotional stimuli to fight and never give up comes from many different sources. Like Trump and his harmful remarks about women, African Americans, immigrants, poor and disenfranchised lets us know that our voices are needed.
     
    With its longstanding history of bias and insensitivity toward racial and ethnic minorities, I believe there is no justice in the Department of Justice. I say this because the DOJ declines to enforce laws that benefit and protect communities of color. Whenever communities of color are under attack and under siege, no one is held accountable.  
     
    Not only should the officers be held accountable, but also those who encourage them to be “rough” when arresting citizens!

     If we are to find justice for all the sons, brothers, husbands and loved ones we have lost, we must encourage our state and local officials to embrace our agenda—an agenda that cries POLICE BRUTALITY NO MORE, and seeks accountability from those who use their position of influence to break the law.
     
    MOBB United for Social Change is committed to holding the Trump Administration, our local, and our state officials accountable to creating policies that benefit all people, especially communities of color.

    We are serious about the fight for justice in America. We will not rest until our Black daughters and sons can feel 100 percent safe walking alone to the convenience store to purchase ice tea and Skittles.  They shouldn’t have to run from the police. They should be able to run to the police if they are in trouble!
     
    Together, we stand asking you to stand with us. We believe that by using our collective powers, we can create change, and build a better, brighter, kinder and safer world for your sons and daughters, for Jazz, for future generations, and for all of humanity.
     
    Thank you for hearing the cry of MOBB United! Stay alert, vote in every election, and never give up the fight!”

     Facebook Re-Post
    The following posts were shared originally in the Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. private Facebook group, and mom Vaness McCullers gave us permission to share them publicly. If you are a mom of a Black son and member of that group, you can watch her deliver her speech.

    Vanessa McCullers give powerful speech at San Diego Women's March January 20, 2018

    San Diego Women's March

    Vanessa's Reflections

  • published MOBB United Online in Cause (c4) 2024-01-26 10:43:29 -0600

    MOBB United Online

    By Vanessa McCullers and Tiffany Bargeman

    MOBB United Online

        Moms of Black Boys (MOBB) United, Inc. and MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) are sister organizations that are dedicated to positively influencing how Black boys and men are perceived and treated by law enforcement and in society. MOBB United, including both organizations, is a nationwide coalition of concerned moms of Black sons who represent every race, age, socioeconomic background, marital status, and education level. What we share is unconditional love for our Black sons, and we want others to see them through our proud eyes.  

        MOBB United applies a multi-pronged approach that includes media campaigns and storytelling, education and engagement, political and economic empowerment, self-care, strategic partnerships, sustained advocacy, and community involvement. MOBB United’s heavy online presence includes:

    Website: http://www.mobbunited.org/

         Our website is our online home base, which contains our MOBB-generated content, as well as the gateway to our membership website. With our member-accessed section of the website, our members benefit in the following ways:   

    • Maintain focus on our shared concerns and shared power
    • Gather the resources and tools to advocate on an individual and broader level
    • Maintain continual connection to organizational activities and active members
    • Obtain targeted information on key organizational initiatives and calls to action that may affect members and their families’ lives

         Like most websites, anyone can visit and learn more about our organization. In addition, our online store can be accessed here. MOBBUnited.org supports these MOBB United pillars: Influence Policy, Demonstrate our Power, and Partner Strategically.

    Facebook:

        Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. (closed): As our original online home, our closed Facebook group provides a space for moms and female caregivers of Black boys to share their joys, concerns, fears, tears, and celebrations with other moms.

        MOBB United for Social Change (public): This page is open to MOBBs AND non-MOBBs and provides a platform to illuminate issues that require action to affect public policy.

        Moms of Black Boys United page (public): Leadership uses this open Facebook page to share information on upcoming events and interests of Moms of Black Boys United, Inc.

    TwitterOur Twitter account is our way to contribute to the public discourse on a range of topics, including race relations, social and racial justice, and political topics affecting our boys.

    Instagram: @mobbunited On Instagram, we share real-time video, as well as personalized depictions of moms making a difference. We use this space to promote initiatives and events for Moms of Black Boys United.

  • published Education and Engagement Committee Update in Cause (c4) 2024-01-26 10:37:07 -0600

    Education and Engagement Committee Update

    By Kumari Ghafoor-Davis

    Education and Engagement     Happy December, beautiful MOBB United Moms! We have had a busy year. One of the goals of the organization is to provide critical support to Moms and further their ability to advocate on behalf of their sons. The Education and Engagement Committee has several projects we have been working on to stay true to the MOBB United mission.

         The Education and Engagement committee kicked off a collaboration with “Black Minds Matter”, a course created by Dr. Luke Wood of San Diego State University. This 8-week course ran from October 23 through December 11 (Mondays at 4:30 p.m. PST / 730 p.m. EST). The course’s purpose was to help us understand how the school-to-prison pipeline can affect our sons from preschool onward due to the way our boys are treated, engaged, and spoken to by teachers. We have learned about how we all can have unconscious/implicit bias and how our boys can be deliberately disregarded by racial preference in classrooms. We also learned about the ascriptions of intelligence, which assume that our boys are not intelligent, and how criminal behavior is assumed from very early ages. The course also had a forum after the calls where participants asked questions and voiced opinions and comments in a safe space. Drs. Luke and Idara Wood were our featured guests on the November MOBB United National Calls. You can find the links to listen to those calls here and here.

         We also recently partnered with Katie Ishikura and her non-profit organization “The Conscious Kid Library.” For the holidays, we launched a project together that gives moms access to a list of books for our sons as well as allows us to subscribe to the Conscious Kid book rental model where for a minimal charge ($9 a month), our boys can receive three books a month that are written by black authors with black heroes/main characters. The books will be delivered around the 1st of the month and picked up around the same time, so our sons (ages 4-18) can read more books that help them identify with characters who look like them. This project honors our mission by not only assisting our boys to have better perceptions of themselves but also by helping them to read more. Getting our children to read more has become the goal of many school districts across the country since studies like the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s have shown that the success of our boys is strongly correlated with learning to read at grade level by the 3rd grade.

         There’s much more to come as the school year moves quickly. For now, we would like to remind high school senior parents to connect with your school’s guidance counselor/social worker so that your children can apply for college financial aid for next Fall. Applications can be submitted from October 1st every year and should be completed by June 30th, 2018. Please be aware that filing early can allow for more funds to be available for your child for college. Also, be mindful that parents of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors should already be taking their children on college tours and considering college size (including classroom size), majors, course offerings, college philosophy, and professor experience. All of these can indirectly affect our children’s success in college and their ability to complete their coursework and graduate. Parents of all children should take advantage of any assistance their children can utilize during the school year, including tutoring, summer programs, SAT Prep, College Prep Courses and programs, (like Upward Bound), etc.

         As we move into the new year, we would like to remind parents to review the School Tips that were posted in August with their children. Follow up can include discussing/reviewing any goals that your family decided to work on for the school year. Revisit your vision board and see if you are on track. For example, if a mom had a “parent promise” of not yelling, she should revisit and discuss this goal with her child to see if she has been yelling less. We all have things in our lives we would like to change to make us more productive and sometimes we need to revisit our goals and tweak them accordingly.

         Have a wonderful holiday. See you in the New Year.

  • published Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress in Cause (c4) 2024-01-26 10:24:26 -0600

    Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress

    By Delicia Hand and Frankie Robertson

    Policy and Advocacy Committee Update

         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.

        In early October, we facilitated a Train the Trainer session with city and chapter leads and hosts for Pink Postcard Parties, which occurred throughout November. The session highlighted for participants the key objectives of advocacy, the importance of having a clear message, and the effectiveness of having concrete proposals and solutions to offer to policy makers. We then outlined the important role of the postcard, as well as the importance of gathering together as moms committed to a better world for their sons. City and chapter leads then took this information and provided trainings at the start of their postcard parties and deployed the postcards to introduce MUSC to policy makers all across the country. As we move into 2018, the Policy and Advocacy committee will provide regular training for our moms to ensure that members become effective advocates. Additionally, we will begin to deploy the pink postcards on a regular basis to drive and communicate about key initiatives.

         A successful Policy and Advocacy program isn’t always out on the front lines. Successful advocates know how to identify the right moments to push and pull to ensure visibility and progress on the issues they care about. In addition to timing, success also requires rigorous planning. It involves taking the time to build the necessary capacity to develop strategic plans and partnerships to ensure that when the right moments to advance an issue arise, we are prepared. This Fall, the Policy and Advocacy Committee continued to work with our Call Center to take action around Rapid Response incidents. Additionally, we doubled down to do the necessary work to ensure that we have a successful legislative season when it begins in January, 2018. In addition to digging into the key issues affecting our sons, we have been exploring potential opportunities and partnerships for the key legislative issues that we will take on in 2018.  Watch this space; as this work nears completion, we will soon be back on the beat with new tools and a refined focus for 2018. Specifically we will have:

    • 2018 Legislative Platform -- A clear roadmap and summary of the key legislative issues that the organization will be supporting in 2018. This will become a new resource for members who can bring our platform with them to meetings with policy makers across the country
    • 2018 Electoral Advocacy -- Quarterly initiatives that are geared toward ensuring that our moms, sons and other loved ones are engaged in the electoral process. We will sponsor voter registration drives, prepare candidate questionnaires, identify and organize attendance at candidate forums, and help to increase voter turnout.  

         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 Black Maternal Trauma - Part 3 in Cause (c4) 2024-01-26 10:12:06 -0600

    Black Maternal Trauma - Part 3

    By Uchechi Eke

    Uchechi Eke     This article discusses the impact of negative, derogatory terms and stereotypes on the psyches of mothers and their sons. Influencing policy impacting how Black boys and men are treated and perceived by law enforcement and society is central to the mission of MOBB United. At the heart of our work is the need to dismantle wrongly held views of our sons and redress racial perceptions of crime. When our sons are labeled as ‘thugs’ and criminals, how does this affect our ability to raise and protect them? Moreover, what role does stigma play on their mental and emotional health?

         If our sons repeatedly are told that they ‘never will amount to anything,’ and the only place fit for them is a prison cell, this feeds the myth that Blacks are pathologically predisposed to crime and as such, are more menacing and represented more in the prison population. The challenge to dismantle these lies is a real struggle.  

         An irrational fear of Black boys and men exists, evidenced by older White women who clutch their bags and cross the street when Black men are nearby, and ranging to accounts of police officers fearing for their life as they gun down unarmed Black boys and men.

         Being labeled as a stigmatized person and carrying the burden of being Black has substantial effects on the way people think and feel about themselves, as well as how they expect to be treated by others in their environment. The labeling theory posits that people come to identify with and behave in ways that reflect how others label them. It is most commonly associated with the sociology of crime and deviance, where it is used to point out how social processes of labeling and treating someone as criminally deviant actually foster deviant behaviour and have negative repercussions for that person, since others are likely to be biased against them because of the label.

    Social conditioning not only affects how we relate to others, but it also influences the way we see ourselves. If all visuals point to a negative image, then the self-fulfilling prophecy is hard to dispel, especially for young Black boys.

         Psychological research shows that stigma -- especially when it relates to the label ‘criminal’ -- can interfere with functioning and lead to maladaptive behaviours, poor mental health and difficulty participating in the community.

    According to the US Health & Human Services Office of Minority Health (2016):

    • Adult Black/African-Americans are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult whites
    • Adult Black/African-Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites.
    • While Black/African-Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide as teenagers, Black/African-Americans teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than are white teenagers.

         The data reveals a continuing trend -- that our sons face multiple mental challenges affecting their ability to be resilient and predisposing them to succumbing to psychological issues due in part to societal pressures and racial bias.

         Black men find themselves disproportionately subject to criminal punishment, for example, because society expects them to commit crimes. Black boys in school find themselves subject to labels such as ‘disruptive,’ ‘disobedient’ or requiring Special Education to temper their ‘hyperactivity’. These labels cause social stigmas, which impact not only our sons’ self-worth, but cause their peers, teachers and authority figures to view and treat them differently.

         This association of crime with Black males has been widely researched. Lisa Bloom, in her book Suspicion Nation, points out: “While whites can and do commit a great deal of minor and major crimes, their race as a whole is never tainted by those acts. But when blacks violate the law, all members of the race are considered suspect.” She further says: “The standard assumption that criminals are black and blacks are criminals is so prevalent that in one study, 6% of viewers who viewed a crime story with no picture of the perpetrator falsely recalled seeing one, and of those, 7% believed he was African-American. When we think about crime, we ‘see black,’ even when it’s not present at all.”

         If this unconscious bias is held by the general public, the same must be true of police officers – who are also members of society. There is a tendency for law enforcement to view our sons as ‘predatory'. In many cases, police are allowed to rely solely on race as a factor in selecting who they deem to be engaging in criminal activity or posing a threat. With racial profiling a standard practice, our sons are under constant surveillance. They are unable to travel freely without the risk of being held under suspicion.

         This suspicion leads to high rates of unlawful ‘stop and searches’ incidents.It leads to officers harassing, interrogating and humiliating Black and Brown boys and men on the streets and in jails, which heightens tensions and induces a climate of fear.

         In a report by the Sentencing Project, it is suggested that the entire government and media machinery is complicit in the distortion of our sons. According to the report: “Whether acting on their own implicit biases or bowing to political exigency, policy makers have fused crime and race in their policy initiatives and statements. They have crafted harsh sentencing laws that impact and disproportionately incarcerate people of colour…. Many media outlets reinforce the public’s racial misconceptions about crime by presenting African-Americans and Latinos differently than whites. Television news programs and newspapers over-represent racial minorities as crime suspects and whites as crime victims.”

         Social conditioning has led many to have inherent biases. How our sons are viewed are framed through a number of lenses and mediums – from stories and comments relayed by parents, to false and demeaning historical accounts in textbooks at school, to the vast deconstruction of Black men in the mass media.

         We must use the same vehicles to counter these narratives. We must also help our sons know that no matter how others view them, they must have a strong mind, self-worth, personal conviction and a strong value system – one that is reinforced by people who love them. They will undoubtedly face prejudice, but our role is to instil a sense of self-assurance rooted in their heritage and identity that will fortify and increase their confidence. They also need to know their rights, whether in the workplace, in school or when encountering police.

         Register at www.mobbunited.org/join as we band together to change perceptions and challenge policies affecting how our sons are perceived and treated by police and society. Also, Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., the 501c3 sister organization of MUSC, needs financial resources to do the important work required to protect our sons. 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. Also, please learn more about fundraising plans and what else you can do to help.

  • published I Am That B____ in Cause (c4) 2024-01-26 09:52:20 -0600

    I Am That B____

    Protect them? United we will! Moms of Black Boys United continues our mission to protect our Black sons, and people are noticing. On Wednesday, September 27, Huffington Post featured a heartfelt op-ed written our very own Kara L. Higgins, who also volunteers as a MUSC newsletter writer, in response to President Donald Trump's attacks on America's football players for exercising their right to protest.

    This MOBB United mom's op-ed was featured on September 27, 2017 by Huffington Post.

    I am that B____

    By Kara L. Higgins

     

    Black Sons and Football

     

        Allow me to introduce myself. I’m a 30-something, working American mom. I don’t identify with Democrats or Republicans; I’m a middle of the road kinda girl. I’m a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, women’s health care provider and Naval Reserve Officer. I have five kids, and I live somewhere in the middle of America. I’m also that B___ that President Trump called out last week.

        My son is a football player. He’s also Black. And he’s the kid that every white, corn-fed football fan wants on their team. Neighbors jokingly place bets on which Division 1 team he’ll play for someday. He’s strong, fast, and a naturally crazy-good athlete.

        My same Black athlete also is the boy that recently, while on vacation in Florida, reminded me of Florida’s gun laws and Trayvon Martin’s death and said that he wanted to hold my hand whenever we entered a public place. We, his very white parents and older siblings, listened as he and his Black brother told us how every time they are in a public place without their family, they feel afraid. Afraid that white people don’t like them and policemen think they are “bad guys”. While we personally know police officers in our church and community, it took a pep talk to get him to stand next to a State Trooper during a recent college football event. It’s not fair to the officer, whom I believe entered his profession with the intention to serve and protect, is being feared by a little boy. But I also believe that the officer, like too many Americans, has not had the personal relationships with Black friends that would strengthen his belief in equality and shatter his preconceived fears of Black America. Being my son’s mama, my eyes have been opened wide to his experience being Black in America.

     

    Kara L. Higgins and sons

    Kara L. Higgins and her sons

    Kara L. Higgins and Family
    Kara L. Higgins and her family

         A few years ago, friends, I would not have been offended if you joked about my Black son being a better athlete than my white one. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have worried if he wandered around our local high school stadium without me by his side, protecting him from crowds of white people. And I may not have even noticed when that security guard at Target followed him as he went to look for a can of tomatoes for me.

        But now I see it. I see how my friends that once wanted to hold and snuggle my African babies will quickly complain that the athletes of their favorite team need to keep politics out of sports. I carry it in my heart when congregants in my church will joke around with my boys, yet lecture me that Black Lives Matter is promoting police brutality. I feel completely betrayed when my white Evangelicals side with our President in saying that kneeling isn’t about race; it’s about disrespecting the flag. You can talk to my son about what skills he can offer your team, but you can't listen to him when he shares his experience as a Black American.

        Don’t you see that America is not a flag or a ritual? America is built on the ideal we don’t have to be the same to be equal. America’s patriotism is in serving one another in times of despair and crisis. America’s patriotism is not an exercise toward the flag, but in joining together for the greater good of others, and in protecting those that cannot defend themselves.

        America, I want you know that every mom of every Black boy in America sees you. We see that you want our sons scoring touchdowns and standing quietly on the sidelines while their friends, their fathers and the men with whom they identify are profiled, labeled, misunderstood and made to stay quiet. I want you to understand that kneeling is about not getting arrested or shot. It’s about generating a dialogue that America needs: This anthem represents pride and patriotism to some, but to others, a history of oppression. We still need to fight for liberty and justice. And I want you to know that every mom of these Black boys is committed to using education, politics, prayer and unity to bring liberty and justice for all Black boys and men too.

        Yes, Mr. President, I am that B____, with that son, on that field.

    Kara L. Higgins, is a volunteer writer and member of a non-profit organization formed by concerned mothers who want to work together to make a difference in how Black boys and men are perceived and treated by law enforcement and in society. What started as a Facebook group of about 30 women has grown into an online community of more than 180,000 moms nationwide and globally, representing every race, age, religion, socioeconomic background, marital status and education level. Learn more @ mobbunited.org

  • published Education and Engagement Committee Overview in Cause (c4) 2024-01-23 09:12:48 -0600

    Education and Engagement Committee Overview

    By Kumari Ghafoor-Davis

    Education and Engagement

         The Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. Education and Engagement Committee works to provide informative resources and referrals. The committee connects with community organizations and forms partnerships with law enforcement agencies, schools and other organizations to support the growth, development, and success of Black boys and men. Moms can get information and resources to be even better moms and seek guidance about their children’s social, academic and emotional development when they have questions or when their children are struggling in school. As moms, we know that education decreases victimization, so we must support all moms to assist their children in being self-sufficient as well as socially, emotionally and academically empowered. Moms who want to be a part of the Education and Engagement Committee and/or moms who have questions about their sons pertaining to education, can reach out to us at [email protected].

         The Education and Engagement Committee also has partnered with San Diego State University to provide a free online course titled “Black Minds Matter” this fall. This opportunity, led by Dr. Luke Wood, an Associate Professor at the college, can be utilized by our moms as a resource. The “Black Minds Matter” course will focus on addressing the experiences and realities of Black boys and men in education and the ways Black minds are engaged in the classroom. The course also will balance a discussion of issues facing Black male students, as well as offer research based strategies for improving their success. There will be several speakers during the series. Many are professors at other universities, such as the University of Southern California; UCLA; and the University of Chicago. Other partner organizations are: The Campaign for Black Male Achievement; The Education Trust West (a policy organization led by the former Secretary of Education under President Obama) and Our Scholarship Matters (an apparel company that helped fund/promote the course).

         Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., the 501c3 sister organization of MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC), needs donations to provide the much needed support to moms and sons. Pleaselearn more about fundraising plans and what else you can do to help. The work is crucial, so we hope you'll consider donating today at mobbunited.org/donate.

  • published Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress in Cause (c4) 2024-01-23 08:01:12 -0600

    Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress

    By Delicia Hand and Frankie Robertson

    Policy and Advocacy Committee Update

         This summer, in partnership with our 501c3 sister organization, Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., the Policy and Advocacy Committee of MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) has focused on outreach to congressional and state representatives. Revamping #MOBBUnitedGetInvolved, we reached out to and organized meetings with key stakeholders, congressional representatives in particular. We kicked off the initiative with outreach to members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The objective of these meetings was to:

    • Introduce Moms of Black Boys United as a resource to members and their constituents.
    • Introduce MUSC as a new but critically important voice for moms of Black boys nationwide who want to secure policy changes to ensure that our sons thrive and survive.
    • Learn about policy makers’ legislative agendas and identify ways in which we can partner with them.

         Our meetings were a great success. We reached out to more than 20 CBC and congressional members; attended approximately 12 meetings and August recess town hall events; and had one meeting with a state legislative representative in a member’s home district. For MUSC’s first effort at congressional outreach, this indeed was a positive start to building our range and reputation as an organization. Our work resulted in many suggestions and opportunities for partnership, including discussions about partnering with Sen. Kamala Harris to provide support for a bail reform proposal.

         Pivoting from these meetings, a small delegation of members attended the CBC’s Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) in mid-September. As the country’s key policy conference on issues impacting Blacks in America and globally, participation in the ALC provided key learning, advocacy and networking opportunities. Founder Depelsha McGruder and MUSC members attended several sessions on criminal justice reform and Black boys and men, interacting with legislators, professors and organizational leaders. Sessions included:

    • The History of Policing Black America and its 13th Amendment Roots
    • Preventative Strategies for Black Youth in the Juvenile Justice System
    • Criminal Justice Reform: Making America Accountable for Black Lives
    • The Resistance: An Intersectional Strategy Session
    • Policing Black Men and Boys: Are the Odds Against Them?

         Depelsha 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. With an audience of more than 90 attendees, 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 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.

         The week was a powerful opportunity to get re-engaged, meet with policy makers and identify future partners for our important work.

         Moving forward, we plan to make the ALC one of our cornerstone events where we will have even greater presence. We also will seek organizational meetings with policymakers while we are there in Washington, D.C. For now, as Fall begins, MUSC’s Policy and Advocacy committee is planning for the 2018 legislative sessions and the 2018 midterm elections. Prior to the start of the legislative season, MUSC will develop a platform to guide the organization’s legislative advocacy work. The platform will outline key issues that MUSC will support in its state, local and federal campaigns. Having this platform will allow MUSC proactively to identify opportunities and policy initiatives that improve outcomes for our sons, and we will organize our campaigns in support of these initiatives. Currently, the committee is conducting research to develop the platform. Are you aware of policy initiatives that MUSC should or could support? Make sure your voice is reflected in our legislative platform by contacting us at [email protected].

         Since the 2018 midterm elections are approaching, this is the time to make sure you and your sons -- and all your eligible family members -- are registered to vote. Make sure you are aware of any elections in your communities. Educate yourself about local candidates. The Policy and Advocacy Committee soon will begin executing a plan to ensure that moms’ voices are present and accounted for in the upcoming elections. If you are interested in getting involved in our electoral advocacy work, email [email protected] for more information, and join our bi-weekly policy update calls Thursdays, 10pm ET.

  • published Supporting Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. in Cause (c4) 2024-01-23 07:43:44 -0600

    Supporting Moms of Black Boys United, Inc.

    By Crys Baldwin and Vanessa McCullers

    Donate     This edition of the newsletter is dedicated to Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., the 501c3 sister organization of MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC). The mission of Moms of Black Boys United is to provide information and support for moms of Black sons while promoting positive images of Black boys and men. In addition to producing image campaigns to change the negative perceptions of our Black sons, we believe in making a difference through a holistic approach to strengthening the overall health and wellness of moms and the families of Black boys and men. This important work must be funded, so we are seeking donations for Moms of Black Boys United. By donating, you will be pledging to support an organization that has a singular focus and mission to protect our Black sons.

         With your pledge of support, Moms of Black Boys United can educate the community about our mission by hosting community forums across the nation to educate moms and sons on topics like those covered in the Saturday bi-weekly national status and update conference calls (from Know Your Rights and How to Interact with Law Enforcement to Preventing Bullying and the School to Prison Pipeline), but in person with community stakeholders present. These meetings will provide a platform for our mission to be heard and for moms to gather to raise awareness of our mission and hold elected officials accountable.

         Your support will continue our efforts to build the organization, which has a targeted approach to provide comprehensive resources for Moms of Black boys and men by providing the following:

    • Informational webinars/seminars featuring experts with advice on topics relevant for moms and sons.
    • Parenting workshops to support and empower moms by teaching them how to advocate for their sons.
    • Victim support funds to support families who have been affected by police brutality.
    • A resource database of expert consultants/partnerships that include mental health, education and criminal justice.

         How much should you donate to this worthy cause? Here are some more examples of what varying levels of support will allow:

    • $250: Helps create and maintain regular seminars/webinars in communities across the country to assist Moms in navigating the education and judicial systems.
    • $100: Helps to fund our image campaigns, distributed through social media platforms and beyond. Image campaigns, like #ProtectThem, are meant to:
      -Help change the perception of our Black boys and men.
      -Celebrate our Black sons.
      -In some cases, provide information to help others understand the plight of our sons and inspire them to advocate on behalf of Black boys and men.
    • $50: Allows Moms of Black Boys United to provide support to moms who have lost their loved ones at the hands of police brutality. One such way that we have provided support is by assisting with funeral arrangements, providing monetary support in times of need, and helping to  identify community/government funded resources to further assist.

         Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., as an eligible U.S. charitable organization, is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and not classified as a private foundation or certain types of supporting organizations.

         Company Donation Matching: While you carefully consider your donation, did you know that many companies support causes that are important to their employees by matching their charitable donations? Before you send your contribution, find out if your company will double or triple your impact to influence change in supporting Moms of Black Boys United. Matching your donation is simple. Enter your employer's name here, or check with your company's human resources department to see if they have a matching gift program. Most companies will provide you with a short form to complete and send to us with your donation. We will verify your donation, and send the completed form to your company for processing. It's that easy!

         Let's continue the movement of moms that came before us to press forward as a collective unit across the US and globally to drive change. We each must take a stand -- make it our business -- to do the critical work required to protect our sons. It has been said that when women get involved, a movement becomes serious. You are the movement behind the mission of Moms of Black Boys United. Your donation will help save lives.

         When you're ready, you can make a quick and easy donation online to Moms of Black Boys United. If you have questions, send them to [email protected].

         Thank you.

  • published School-to-Prison Pipeline in Cause (c4) 2024-01-22 08:34:35 -0600

    School-to-Prison Pipeline

    By Pamela Wood-Garcia

    Painting by Susan Kricorian

    Painting by Susan Kricorian

     

         With the 2017-2018 school year upon us, we are faced with the fact that we are living amid a socioeconomic regression. The current White House administration has all but vanquished the hope for any kind of reform that benefits people of color. This includes education and prison reform. With Betsy DeVos at the helm of the country’s entire public education system and Jeff Sessions dissecting our criminal justice system, much of the reform that took place during the Obama Administration is literally being reversed. Because of this, we can expect the school-to-prison pipeline to be flooded with even more of the hottest commodity on Wall Street: inmates.

         Shares of privatized prison stock are traded daily in America, just like shares of Amazon or Facebook. There is a big difference between what keeps each type of stock viable. The difference is that with Amazon and Facebook, shares of stock go up and down based on sales; but with privatized prisons, the stock goes up and down based on the number of inmates incarcerated at each facility. This form of trading relies heavily on the education system and criminal justice system failing people of color. This overlapping of government and industry is referred to as The Prison Industrial Complex. This phenomenon, which takes human life and turns it into profit, is fueled by the school-to-prison pipeline.

         As Moms of school aged Black Boys, we need to know exactly how the school-to-prison pipeline stacks up against our sons. The school-to-prison pipeline is described by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as being a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This trend is accomplished by way of several devices: Zero Tolerance laws, racial disparities, school resource officers, Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and parents who don't know their rights.

          Let’s take the time to be open and honest about what American schools are like for most boys and young men of color. Our boys usually have at least one teacher who has an amazing smile and an outstanding record amongst peers for being a stellar educator. This teacher usually is not a person of color and always states that he or she loves having your boy in the class but constantly complains that your child is extremely disruptive. Your child claims he is not doing anything that varies from what other students are doing, yet this teacher wants to put your child on a behavior contract. This way, if your child has a good day, he gets a treat; but if he has a bad day, he gets marks against him in his cumulative file, a permanent record that will follow him into college. Teachers like this usually hone in on children of color with IEPs > and non-apparent disabilities. What was just described is covert racism in the classroom. The Respect Institute has documentation that shows that schools are the main place where hate incidents and racism occur. If a child is on a behavior contract, it makes it easy to implement Zero Tolerance policies when the opportunity is presented.

         Zero Tolerance policies were established in the late nineties. These policies place unrealistic responsibility on young people maneuvering their way through their childhood and teenage years. These policies are strict and rigid and leave no room for principals or other school administrators to deal with student conflict with any type of discretion. There are no discussions about certain behaviors on a case-by-case, student-by-student basis. Instead, violations of  Zero Tolerance policies, which include possession of illegal drugs on campus, possession of a weapon on campus, smoking on campus, or fighting on campus, lead to out-of-school suspension or expulsion for first-time offenders. Many times, these incidents are referred to school police officers, which sometimes leads to arrests and trips to youth detention facilities. All of this for simple childhood mistakes that could have been handled by a principal or school counselor. The majority of people receiving these infractions are Black or Brown students on IEPs and/or those who have non-apparent disabilities and disorders. Examples of non-apparent disabilities and disorders are attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder. These disorders coupled with poor grades and racial disparities cause the school-to-prison pipeline to work in a way that has kept the number of Black students in the juvenile criminal justice system at an all time high for the past 20 years.

         Based on data from both the ACLU and the Center On Youth Justice, Black students are suspended three times more frequently than their White counterparts. The ACLU also noted that Black students who are suspended or expelled for discretionary infractions are three times more likely than White students to have contact with the juvenile justice system the following year. This process gets students documented and guided into America’s abyss of a criminal justice system early. Genevieve Jones-Wright, a Black public defense attorney and candidate for San Diego County’s District Attorney’s Office, gave MOBB United for Social change (MUSC) some very powerful advice. “There is a direct connection between students who are given harsh disciplinary sanctions by schools and those who enter the juvenile justice system. And these students are predominantly students of color. The school-to-prison pipeline ushers our babies into the criminal justice system where they are prepared for jail and prison, and not for college. We call our children ‘the future,’ and indeed they are. If we don't stop saddling up our children with convictions, our future will be bleak. We must disrupt this pipeline. And we must do it now.”

          How do we as moms do our part to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline? A number of things can be done to usher your child away from this ravenous monster of a pipeline. These things must be done consistently and thoroughly to work:

    1. Know your child’s teachers and make sure they know you. This means show for your child. When educators see your face on a regular basis, it makes it clear to them that you are there to support your child through their educational experience.

    2. Teach your son his rights and responsibilities as a student and as a member of his community.

    3. Know your rights and responsibilities as the parent of a student and as a member of your community.

    4. Document every single adverse incident your child has at school. This means keep a record of the date, time, place, and people involved in the incident. Note the cause of the incident, what was done to troubleshoot the incident, what solutions worked, what solutions did not work, and document follow up dates to measure progress of solutions implemented. Give special attention to incidents involving racial disparities.

    5. Don’t be afraid to go over the heads of teachers and administrators to your child’s school superintendent if you are not getting what you need from the staff at his school site.

    6. Put your child in a mentoring program that has a proven track record or that has mentors with outstanding credentials.

    7. If tutoring or educational resources are offered to your child, take advantage of them.

    8. Monitor your child’s homework and class work on a daily basis. Most schools have web pages set up for each student. You can monitor academic grades, citizenship scores, and individual assignments on these web pages and make duplicate copies of all assignments.

    9. Go into your child's cumulative file after any incident, infraction, or school related police encounter and read through all of the notes. If you find info that you disagree with something, add a note explaining your child’s position.

    10. Appeal or dispute infractions against your child that you feel are wrong.

         The Prison Industrial Complex feeds off of the school-to-prison pipeline. Its appetite is not going to be curbed anytime soon, but as moms, we can starve this monster by staying aware of what we are up against and using every resource at our disposal as a means to battle it. Moms of Black boys must stick together, share resources, and be a means of support for each other while dealing with issues involving our sons and their education. Join MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC) today.

  • published Early Childhood Suspension Study in Cause (c4) 2024-01-22 07:50:30 -0600

    Early Childhood Suspension Study

    ByKumari Ghafoor-Davis

    Kumari Ghafoor-Davis    MOBB United recently connected with Dr. Rosemarie Allen, an Associate Professor at Metropolitan State University. Dr. Allen asked our moms to review and participate in a survey (open to all races) that she and her colleagues (Dr. Vinh and Dr. Strain) are conducting to complete their “Early Childhood Suspension Study”.

        Within the study, the researchers are trying to learn how moms of Black sons and daughters feel their children are being treated in schools. They want to know if they feel their children are punished more harshly and given less consideration than their non-Black peers. With MOBB United moms, they are particularly interested in the experiences of our boys, which is why it is CRITICAL that EVERY mom with a young Black boy participate in the survey.

       There has been much research and many articles have been written confirming the disparities in the disciplining of Black students and White students. A 2012 New York Times article titled, Black Students Face More Discipline, described the problem. There also has been case after case showing how our children are treated differently by school officials and law enforcement. Such cases include the 2016 story of a 6-year-old in Milledgeville, Georgia who was arrested for throwing a temper tantrum, and the 2015 story of a high school football player with hopes of one day playing in the NFL, who was accused of rape when he was 16, tried as an adult, and sentenced to 5 years in jail plus 5 years parole for being a sex offender.

        Both of these cases bear direct similarity to nationally known cases of White children who were accused of the same type of behaviors but were treated much more leniently. For example, a White 10-year-old was suspended for a week for bringing a knife arsenal to school in Iowa; and Brock Turner, the White Stanford swimmer who was accused of raping an unconscious female classmate, received a 6-month sentence but only served 3 months of that sentence because the judge did not want to interrupt his education or his swimming career.

        Dr. Allen’s study of early childhood suspension is such an important and needed tool right now in a very volatile world. It can be used to raise awareness of how our children are treated in schools and how the school-to-prison pipeline is extremely prevalent in our communities from as early as preschool/kindergarten all the way through high school and into college. The more aware we are of the disparities, the better we can voice our dissatisfaction about how our children are treated by school officials and law enforcement, and the more effectively we can advocate on their behalf.

         If you are a mom or if you know of a mom with a young Black boy in 1st grade or younger, please take the survey or tell friends where they can find it at mobbunited.org/research. With this information in hand, we can empower ourselves, our children, and other moms to ensure that we all know the rights of students and parents and are equipped to handle situations that may arise in school.

  • published Black Maternal Trauma - Part 2 in Cause (c4) 2024-01-22 07:27:40 -0600

    Black Maternal Trauma - Part 2

    By Uchechi Eke

    Uchechi Eki

        My intention for this feature is to discuss in more detail the psychological impact that moms of Black boys and men endure when they watch, read or hear that their son, or another male figure in their family or community, has fallen victim to police brutality. (Also read Part One of this series). There is a mounting body of work dedicated to, and extensive research on, ‘Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS)’, which provides a useful context for this article.

        The revered author and highly acclaimed clinical psychologist, Dr. Joy DeGruy, describes PTSS as, “a set of behaviours, beliefs and actions associated with, or related to multi-generational trauma experienced by African-Americans as a result of slavery…PTSS posits that centuries of slavery in the United States, followed by systemic and structural racism and oppression, including lynching, Jim Crow laws, and unwarranted mass incarceration, have resulted in multigenerational maladaptive behaviours, which originated as survival strategies. The syndrome continues because children whose parents suffer from PTSS are often indoctrinated into the same behaviours, long after the behaviours have lost their contextual effectiveness.” (‘Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing’, 2005, Dr. Joy DeGruy).

        I think the relevance and impact of PTSS has never been more acute. We live in an age where ‘Black Pain Porn’ is commonplace. The term might appear extreme, but the reality is worse. The onslaught of visuals that Black mothers are subject to has become a relentless and constant part of our everyday experience.

        With the advancements in modern technology, we are witnessing an unprecedented and never-ending movie reel of terror. Mobile phones capture the indignity, brutality and murders of our boys at an alarming and exponential rate. As of the time of writing (08.10.2017), 608 people had been shot and killed by police this year. 150 or 25% of all cases were Black victims.

        Mobile phones and social and digital platforms have played a substantial role in our pain. But we also must give consideration to the impact on our psyche that news channels, the mainstream print media and Hollywood have played in our trauma. The broadcasting of state sanctioned killings on social media alert us to the horrors that occur in real time – no filters, just raw, unaltered images. These video clips compel and arrest our attention – impulsively, we react emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. Out of anger and frustration, we mobilize, demand reforms and seek justice. But then what? We are left empty still, hopeless and anxiety stricken for the safety of our boys, who merely are trying to live their lives like their White counterparts.

        During chattel slavery, mothers witnessed their children, husbands and members of their family being raped, beaten, set alight and killed. Lynchings were public events; they became fixtures in the calendar. Newspapers and posters widely promoted the execution of loved ones. Picnics and stools lined the vicinity, people waited with earnest expectation at the spectacle before them – the lynching, castration and burning of the ‘n***er who stepped out of line.’ Wives, sisters, aunts and mothers were forced to watch these heinous crimes as a form of punishment and as a deterrent. Of course, women also were lynched, leaving their children motherless; and with both parents gone, many children became orphans, left in the care of their extended family of slave owners.

        From slavery to the Reconstruction, from the Civil Rights movement to the Obama era, history has not been kind to our sons. Systematic oppression occupies all forms of strata. And with every age, new and evolved methods of brutality have been used to maintain White supremacy and White preservation.

        My question is what really is behind this agenda? Why haven’t the images of Black people being killed been censored or quelled? Why are we faced with the consumption of blackness in every form?

        From Emmett Till to MLK, from Rodney King to Michael Brown, from Tamir Rice to Darius Smith, we are bombarded with live-action footage of Black men and boys being shot and killed without recourse or reproach.

        Let’s look more closely at how our trauma is ever present, via the propaganda driven, race-baiting and one-dimensional narratives utilized for commercial gain at the Box Office. Hollywood, like nationwide media outlets, is one of our greatest aggressors. Film companies and studio executives strategically and falsely sell us ‘colorblindness’ and the importance of telling ‘our stories’, against a backdrop of racism. Their films and TV shows only serve to perpetuate and recycle ‘Black Pain Porn.’ Through the medium of television and film, racist language and acts are liberally displayed on our screens – seeping into our subconscious to normalize Black subjugation for a predominantly White audience. But we watch these films, too!

        This is why there is very little empathy or sympathy for our sons when their bodies are left at the side of a road, or outside a store, or in a car. The dominant society has seen the destruction and disposal of Black and brown bodies so many times, that they have become insensitive to our humanity. They cannot express outrage; there is no outcry. Don’t get me wrong, we have many allies within White America, from grassroots organizations to prolific and outspoken individuals who have been instrumental in our fight. And we will continue to partner with them to pursue our mission and align our advocacy efforts with theirs.

        However, there have been countless movies made about slavery, slaves, servitude and victim-hood, compared to the number of films showing us as the heroic protagonist, or films that revel in and celebrate our resistance, progress and advancement? Let’s look at a few popular examples over the past hundred years:

     

    Slave Films

    Revolt Stories

    1903 ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’

    1982 ‘A House Divided: Denmark Vesey’s Rebellion’

    1975 ‘Mandingo’

    1989 ‘Glory’

    1984 ‘Solomon Northup’s Odyssey’ and 2013 ’12 Years a Slave’

    1997 ‘Amistad’

    2012 ‘Django Unchained’

    2008 ‘Frederick Douglass and the White Negro’

    1977 ‘Roots’

    2013 ‘Tula’

    2016 ‘Roots’

    2016 ‘Birth of a Nation’

     

        Of the films listed above, which ones do you prefer and genuinely enjoyed watching? Which ones were as informative as they were soul-renewing? Or which ones just left a bad taste in your mouth?

       With ’12 Years a Slave’ for instance, as cinematographically brilliant as the film is, it’s hard to watch without being angered about the amount of violence perpetrated upon Black flesh and Black womanhood without simultaneously feeling that the self-worth of the modern day African-American isn’t being diminished. It’s also difficult to negate my emotions that that this kind of film inflames an omnipresent and smouldering mistrust of Whites by Blacks.

        In recent, years we have seen the tide turn slightly. We have the superb and thought-provoking documentary ‘13th’, ‘I’m Not Your Negro’, ‘The Kaleif Browder Story’, and the TV series ‘Underground’, which highlight not only the impact of racist laws, but also the spirit of our people to overcome and resist in the face of utter despair and savagery. However, we still have some way to go. The recent release of ‘Detroit’ is a step backwards for me. The film focuses on the 1967 uprisings in Detroit. Over 5 days, the city burned. One police officer was killed, and 43 citizens died. The ‘rebellion’ is tainted, and all we see are ‘rioters’ and ‘looters’. Aren’t we are tired of seeing the same images? Nothing new here. So why are such films continually being funded and produced?

        The bodies of Black boys and men still are subject to abuse, and no one is saying it’s enough. Rather, we are told to ‘get over it,’ ‘work hard,’ ‘pull ourselves up,’ ‘stop whining and complaining,’ and ‘stop being divisive.’ If you want us to forget, why continue to make films that remind us of our afflictions? Is it because it propagates the image they want us to retain, to impress upon our psyche, forever etched in our soul – that we are nothing more than captives, needing to be saved, unable to advance, regressive, feral, anti-authoritarian and inferior?

        We need to stop the profiteering of our pain by patronizing these films and shows. We need to be more decisive about that to which we expose ourselves. We need to guard our spirits and be more conscious of what we are willing to tolerate – anger without action is futile. Self-love, self-preservation and protecting our peace is paramount to our resistance.

        As bleak as it may appear, there are countless organizations that are working tirelessly to flip the script, impact policy, seek reforms, change perceptions, dismantle falsehoods and institute a new paradigm shift – one that clearly centres Black boys and men with dignity, showing their humanity, demanding respect and justice. I’m proud to be a member of MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC).

        Will you join us to protect and honor the image of our boys and start the healing process in order to repair our minds and restitute our communities? Register at www.mobbunited.org/join now!

        This is the second installment of the log and blog series on the victims of fatal police brutality that MUSC has been tracking since it was established in the summer of 2016. Also read Black Maternal Trauma - Part 1 if you missed it.

  • Victim Blaming or Basic Social Studies? Teaching Kids how to Interact Properly with Police

    By Pamela Wood-Garcia

    Pamela Wood-Garcia     Why have legislators decided that it is the responsibility of our youth to learn how to communicate with law enforcement? New Jersey, Texas, and Rhode Island lawmakers have introduced bills that will require “certain students” in grades K-12 to learn how to interact with police officers more effectively.

         Parents teach infants to communicate from birth through a series of sounds, body language and facial expressions. Parents have to learn what each of these signals means because children do not come with handbooks. As the communication skills of each child builds, parents can ascertain when a child is happy, sad, or cranky, etc. As children reach their teenage years, they begin to communicate a little differently; they start to assert their independence a lot more. This may result in them becoming more assertive and/or aggressive in their tone of voice and body language. Some children speak in slang and will say things that will not make sense to adults at all. As parents, sometimes we have to stop and ask our children, “ Who are you, and what have you done with my child?”

         This change in communication style does not give one the green light to go upside their child’s head. If a mom beats her child senseless with a billy club because the child’s tone of voice or body language is aggressive, that mom is going to jail. If a mom shoots her child to death because her child is acting and speaking irrationally, that mom is going to be charged with murder and will NOT get to take administrative leave from her job. If a primary caregiver becomes abusive toward a child and hurts or kills him, the responsibility does not fall on the child; the primary caregiver will be the one in court and ultimately, in prison. So, why are children being tasked with the responsibility to take and pass classes that will teach them how to properly communicate with law enforcement? Furthermore, why aren’t law enforcement officers being tasked with more responsibility, as there is proof that they are a huge part of the communication problem? Shouldn’t police be required to take child development classes, child psychology classes, in-depth diversity training with required continuing education units every year? Lawmakers seem to be overlooking this huge elephant in the room as they champion this legislation.

         The state of New Jersey is working feverently to get a bill passed that will require school-aged children to be educated on how to behave while interacting with law enforcement. Bill A114, The Police Respectability Act, was passed this past June in the New Jersey State Assembly with a 76 to 0 vote. The senate still has to pass it for it to go into effect. In a perfect world, Bill A114 would run parallel with the way law enforcement is supposed to interact with young people, especially young people of color. Unfortunately, there are so many racial disparities that occur during police interactions that a Bill like A114 would put the accountability on an already vulnerable group of people, children of color. Based on a Department of Justice Civil Rights Investigation of the Newark, New Jersey Police Department opened in May of 2011 and closed in November 2014, there was an immoderate number of unwarranted police interactions by this police department.These interactions have lead to excessive force and discriminatory actions by police. In the executive summary of the investigation’s transcript, it reads, “The NPD’s policing practices have eroded the community’s trust, and the perception of the NPD as an agency with insufficient accountability has undermined the confidence of other Newark criminal justice stakeholders as well...”

         This report goes on to delve into poor internal affairs investigative practices, theft by law enforcement, and other acts against predominantly Black citizens. There are reports similar to this in other cities in the State of New Jersey, as well as throughout the states of Texas and Rhode Island. The governor of Texas has signed Senate Bill 30 into legislation. This bill requires “certain high school students” to take classes to learn to interact with police, and it requires cops to take training in civilian interaction. Even if cops are trained in civilian interaction, as this bill would require, what good is the training if when they don’t adhere to it, they are not brought to justice? Are legislators cleaning up years of collateral damage from civil rights investigations of police departments and flipping the blame back onto a people who have been oppressed for years? It makes one wonder.

         State Assemblyperson Sheila Oliver, who sponsored the New Jersey bill, says it is not designed to place blame on children but to prepare them. You have to question for what exactly is New Jersey State Assemblyperson suggesting that our youth be prepared? When we see police shootings of Black men and women -- all over the media -- who were compliant with every order issued by law enforcement during an interaction, we know that there is no preparation that can be done. Whether we comply or not, the tone of the interaction depends on the cop.

         Some are speaking out against this bill.  New Jersey school teacher, Zellie Imani, told NBC News that he felt the bill promotes “victim-blaming.” Laila Aiziz, activist and member of the MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC) Policy Committee, rebuked the bill. “As a mother, I personally need to teach my sons to interact with the police because of the way the police will interact with my sons. It is a shame that at 10 years old, Black boys are perceived as a threat to society. Because of this, our sons are treated like public enemy number one by law enforcement. The primary thing that needs to happen is legislative change in police departments. Police training happens too quickly, and that is a problem. They want children from K-12 to learn how to interact with law enforcement. That is a great deal of training throughout a child’s school aged years. Police officers should be held to the same standard.”

         Police officers have to be held accountable for their actions for law enforcement to be effective. Bills like A114 place a lot of responsibility on young people who are just learning to communicate effectively and think critically. It implies that the onus of police brutality is on children rather than adult police officers who freely chose their professions. Proper training for law enforcement is what should be legislated.

  • MOBB United for Social Change Call Center Update

    By Laila Aziz

    Laila Aziz

          In July, MOBB United for Social Change's (MUSC) Rapid Response team worked on a myriad of local, state and national issues. MUSC Founder Depelsha McGruder's open letter to President Donald Trump was the highlight of the month for the Call Center. In July, during a speech to Long Island police officers, President Trump gave permission to officers to brutalize handcuffed suspects. We helped the Founder craft the open letter, demanding that the President retract his statement.

         In her subsequent call to action for federal legislatures, McGruder summarizes moms’ fears for our sons eloquently. The letter, representing all moms of Black sons, is a demand for humanity and the same constitutional rights afforded to all.

    "We understand that police officers have a tough job. They face many dangerous situations. It’s not a job for the faint of heart, and we pray for them to make it home safely every night, along with our prayers for our sons. But it is also not a job for the angry, the recklessly violent, the easily startled, the lawless or those with a depraved heart. We call on all police officers to speak up, to stand up, to right wrongs and to firmly reject this message of brutality."

         The letter was followed by a call to action encouraging members to contact their representatives and asking them to speak out against the President’s careless and dangerous remarks.

        The Calls Center’s Rapid Response Team stays busy; the current events in this volatile American climate of racism demand it. There is no time to lose, and we need additional volunteers to make calls. If you are interested in making calls regularly, please send an email to [email protected]. Stay tuned for updates.

  • The Chris Gunther Show - November 2023

     

    Kimberley Alexander Opens Up About The Importance of M.O.B.B.

    Kimberley Alexander, Executive Director of M.O.B.B. (Moms Of Black Boys United) caught up with Chris to discuss the importance of the organization and their upcoming podcast!

    Watch Video

  • Everything Urban (eurweb.com) - November 2023

    Kimberley R. Alexander Named Executive Director of M.O.B.B. United, Inc. and MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC)

    Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. (M.O.B.B. United), and M.O.B.B. United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC), sister advocacy and support organizations dedicated to reshaping societal perceptions and policies concerning Black boys and men, has announced the appointment of Kimberley R. Alexander as its new Executive Director.

    Read Article

  • Statement to the Council of the District of Columbia Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety

    Council of the District of Columbia
    Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety
    November 29, 2023

    On behalf of Moms of Black Boys (M.O.B.B.) United, Inc. I stand before you as the DC Chapter Lead for M.O.B.B. United and MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC). We are a movement of concerned mothers who have joined together to uplift and protect Black boys and men. We represent every race, age, socioeconomic background, marital status and education level.

    MOBB United was founded in July of 2016 after the back-to-back murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile on July 5th and 6th. Philando Castile was murdered during a traffic stop on a Facebook Live feed, while many of us watched in horror, as the passenger in the car went live to record the aftermath.

    The officer involved discharged his firearm seven (7) times at close range. Five (5) of those shots hit Philando Castile and took his life. It was the cell phone video, the advocacy of the Castile Family and the community unity that ultimately led to the release of the police dash cam video. Both videos were paramount in unearthing the facts throughout the investigation.

    I am here today, also, as a Black and Blue Mom who has a unique multidimensional perspective as it relates to body worn cameras, community unity, and fostering a proactive dialogue as we strive to serve our DC residents. Transparency and accountability are NON-NEGOTIABLE.

    Read more
  • published Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress in Cause (c4) 2023-12-03 10:35:11 -0600

    Policy and Advocacy Committee Progress

    By Delicia Hand and Frankie Robertson

    Delicia Hand    The MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC) Policy and Advocacy Committee sets the strategic policy priorities and drives advocacy initiatives for the organization. As a committee, we set 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.

     

     

        This summer, the committee continued its work of developing strategy and content for many different calls to action. Some calls to action served to bring awareness to incidents around the country where Black men and boys were subjected to excessive force when interacting with police and to demand swift and transparent action to bring officers to justice. These calls to action included: Carteret, NJ; Lansing, IL, and San Diego, CA.

     

        Other calls to action served to move forward our state legislative campaign, which we launched this Spring. As the legislative season winds down in most state houses, we have continued to focus on states with longer legislative sessions, such as CA. There we continue to support Senate Bill 10 (to change the bail system), which is being considered by the CA Assembly. We have issued a call to action for members to contact representatives who voted against the measure previously.

        

        This summer, the committee has focused on outreach and developing relationships with key stakeholders -- peer organizations, national policymakers, and social justice press. Specifically we have revitalized #MOBBUnitedGetInvolved, as we have encouraged members to reach out to Congressional representatives to request in district recess meetings in August and have attended town hall meetings. Meetings thus far have included those with representatives Cedric Richmond, Representative Elijah Cummings, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Kamala Harris, and Representative Gwen Moore. (Also, we have meetings planned with representative Karen Bass and are securing meetings with representatives Anthony Brown, Al Green, David Scott, Sheila Jackson Lee, Hank Johnson, G.K. Butterfield, and Frederica Wilson.)

     

    Olivette Greetn Temple, Representative Cedric Richmond, Frankie Robertson
    Olivette Green Temple (left), Representative Cedric Richmond (center), and

    Frankie Robertson (right)

     

    Frankie Robertson and Olivette Green Temple
    Frankie Robertson (left) and
    Olivette Green Temple

     

        In these meetings, we have introduced MUSC and shared with them how our sister organization, Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., can be a resource to them and their constituents and how MUSC serves as a voice to improve policies to change outcomes for Black men and boys.

     

        We have engaged 15 Congressional Representatives; there are 520 who still need to hear from a mom. Do you have a relationship with your Congressional representative or their staff? Would you like to inform them about policies that impact your sons? Reach out to [email protected] to learn how you can represent MUSC at a meeting with your Congressional representative.

        Additionally, committee members have ensured that MUSC has a presence at key legislative conferences and convenings. In early August, MUSC attended the Georgia Black Legislative Conference, and in mid-September, members also will attend the Congressional Black Caucus’ (CBC) Annual Legislative Conference. We also are looking to participate on a panel and are in conversation with CBC staff about this possibility. This Fall, if you would like to attend the CBC with us, contact: [email protected].

        Moving forward, we will pivot from legislative advocacy and outreach this Fall to begin planning for 2018’s legislative and electoral season. We are doing research to organize a policy platform so that we are prepared for the 2018 legislative session. In addition to finding legislation that is aligned to our mission, the platform will allow us to identify and develop legislative proposals proactively. During the electoral season, we plan to educate the membership, ensure that our members and age appropriate sons are registered to vote, work with the membership to get out the vote, and conduct targeted outreach. There are many law enforcement officials -- mayors, district attorneys and sheriffs, among others -- who will be elected next year. They need to know moms all over the country are engaged and will vote. We need YOU for this fight!

        The committee also now houses our Call Center -- a virtual group of moms who make regular calls to law enforcement officials and elected representatives in support of our advocacy actions. Laila Aziz is the new lead of the call center. 

       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 EST. For more information contact: [email protected].

        *As members have taken the time to attend congressional town hall meetings in their states and districts, we have asked them to share in the private MOBB United Facebook group what they have done personally to affect change for our Black sons. Communications Director Vanessa McCullers attended Congressman Brad Sherman’s meet and greet at a recent town hall at Lake Balboa Park in her local California area. She shared with him her concerns about the school-to-prison pipeline and bail reform, and they discussed setting up a future meeting. Her post is republished with here with her permission.

     

        “Stopped by the park to meet Congressman Brad Sherman. We talked for about 8 mins about white supremacy, monetary bail reform, the school-to-prison pipeline oh and this little organization called Moms of Black Boys United for Social Change. We certainly didn't agree in certain areas but I was pleased that he took a moment to talk and showed general concern for most things. My little detour only took 15 mins out of my busy evening. A phone call takes less time, a tweet even less. We MUST raise our voices on a local/state level. That's where it counts! I may not have the right to vote in this country but I'll be damned if my voice isn't heard in other ways.”

    Vanessa McCullers and Senator Brad Sherman
    Vanessa McCullers and
    Congressman Brad Sherman

     

     

    Tammy Greer Brown, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's Staffer, MUSC Founder Depelsha McGruder

    Tammy Greer (left),
    a Senator Kirsten Gillibrand staffer, and
    MUSC Founder Depelsha McGruder
    lobbying on behalf of our sons at the office of Senator Gillibrand (D-NY)

     

        Also, Patty Garrett attended a town hall meeting in Fulton County, Georgia with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) at Kennesaw State, a local university. She explained what MOBB United is all about, expressed her concerns for her son and all Black boys and men, and questioned his support of de-escalation training for law enforcement. Patty also attended a town hall meeting with Representative John Lewis (D-GA).

     

    Patty Garrett and Representative John Lewis
    Patty Garrett and
    Representative John Lewis