Quarterly or monthly local chapter meetings / recruitment outings; MOBB United connections; MOBB United Business Directory; special interest groups (e.g., special needs); driven by Chapter Development and Health and Wellness committees with support from Education and Engagement and Eco Dev committees for the directories; quarterly or monthly local chapter meetings/recruitment outings.
Ahhh, the holidays are here! For many of us, this is a time of joyful anticipation, warm fuzzy feelings, and memories of blissful family gatherings that may, or may not, include a heated discussion about who makes the best potato salad. All in all, the expectation is that the month of December should be filled with celebrations, good food, and time spent with our loved ones. For those who must endure this time of year without their loved ones, it becomes much more difficult to enjoy. People who have lost a family member or friend feel the empty space that is left and know it can never be filled by any amount of hot chocolate with marshmallows. The holidays can be equally as depressing as they are joyful, depending on your personal situation.
Imagine the pain of the holidays without a loved one, compounded by the pain of feeling robbed, victimized, and devalued by the very society you live in, work for, and to which you strive daily to contribute successfully. Every year, there are increasingly more moms of Black boys and men who will suffer through their holidays with an emptiness that only they can truly understand that of having lost a child to senseless police brutality. This is a pain compounded even further when law enforcement has gone undisciplined and is never brought to justice.
This holiday season, we acknowledge those for whom our organizations Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. and MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) were founded: the moms, wives, sisters and caretakers whose SONshine has been eclipsed forever, who have lost someone and are trying to find their new normal in this dark new place.
MOBB United was formed based on the intrinsic connection that we all have with each other, as we raise Black sons and love the Black men in our lives. We are collectively hurt and burdened by the egregious injustices so easily cast upon hundreds of victims in our communities each year. We are the village that it takes to raise our families and support each other through the process. We are the backbone of society who painstakingly, and without hesitation, help, heal, and endure untold levels of despair and disappointment in order to try and make it all better for our loved ones.
In the spirit of community and support, we will spotlight moms going forward in our newsletter. We will update their current status as information is available and note how we can be of support to them. Most heartbreaking is that with so many victims, including those widely publicized like Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, et. al, we hardly have space to cover them all. There are many who don’t get the national media coverage that some of those mentioned have received. There are grieving moms everywhere that you may or may not have been following in the news. This month, we have chosen to spotlight Reshawna Myricks and Shainie Lindsay of Southern California.
Reshawna Myricks lost her 15-year-old son Darius in May 2017. He was a scholar and an athlete—a normal teenager who liked to hang out with his friends and cousins when he wasn’t at football practice or a game. Darius was killed when he and his cousin were riding home on the train. Darius, at only 15, was the oldest of four children. The abrupt and unbearably painful loss is now a reality for all of them, who will grow up with their own perceptions of law enforcement and the issue of simple fairness in our society as a whole. Reshawna continues to battle heavy depression and grief over the loss, compounded by the fact that she has no real answers to the basic who, what, where, and how of the circumstances surrounding this case. She has not been able to stay at the home they all lived in prior to Darius’ death and continues to stay at her mother’s home with her other 3 children, Derek, 9; Deshaun, 7; and Deijanae, who is only 4 years old. As the holidays approach, it is increasingly hard for her to get into the spirit and create the festive atmosphere that most of us moms are buzzing around creating for our families right now. She welcomes and asks for our prayers and support while she tries to muster up the strength needed to get through the next few days with so much pain weighing on all of them. What gives Reshawna hope and purpose is plans to establish a scholarship fund for young athletes through MOBB United. She is also committed to being a full participating member of our organization and continues to do what she can to contribute. Most recently, she participated in the pink postcard campaign in Los Angeles.
For the second year, Shainie Lindsay is facing Christmas as a widowed, single mom. Last year this time, she was days away from giving birth to her baby boy and still reeling from the tragedy of losing her partner in life. The depth of her sorrow was buried in the routine of being a mom while preparing for new responsibilities. Friends and family were there to help get her through those first few months: her partner’s birthday, the holidays, and then the birth of Eli. But Shainie knew then that Christmas would never be the same.
Her life took a significant shift, as Shainie struggled to make the adjustments needed to provide for her children. That included cutting her hours at work so she could be with the kids to help with homework after school, the way their daddy used to help. It also meant finding odd jobs here and there to make sup for the financial losses, even as she was exhausted from the trials of being a single parent to 6 children.
This holiday season has presented its own set of readjustments as the family recently moved away from the home that held the memories of their father’s death. With all that she’s had to endure, Moms of Black Boys United provided some Christmas cheer early one morning this December. We surprised Shainie with ornaments for her kids to decorate and a gift of a spa day. But the surprises didn’t stop there. Recently, Shainie and her family were awarded a holiday brunch for the family with Ms. Vivica Fox along with $1000 holiday spending cash when a fellow MOBB submitted her story in a Christmas cheer giveaway.
Happy holidays to all of our Moms of Black Boys United sisters. We are here for all of you!
My first Cabbage Patch doll was a little boy with dark, chocolate skin, and the first boy I kissed was a sweet, nerdy Black kid. My folks were both in education, voted Democrat, and believed that their actions spoke louder than words. I was the blue-eyed, blonde-haired, middle class teachers’ kid living in the suburban midwest; I think I must have fallen into that category of white people who think they aren’t racist because they have Black baby dolls and boyfriends. Writing that makes it cringeworthy, but I know that there are countless white people in the world who fall into that same category, believing themselves to be woke, yet practicing systemic racism or arguing for “color-blindness”.
In college, I always preferred to sit with the girls in my nursing class who were African-American. I loved their transparency, and I could relate to their general skepticism toward most of our classmates. We were in a private, Jesuit University where many of the kids attending were there because their parents were alums. I was on a full scholarship, and I couldn’t relate to the other white girls who got excited about the newest J. Crew catalog and the next frat party. The African-American nursing students’ expressions glazed over, just like mine, when the conversation turned to cotillions or couture.
Although my classmates always included me, although they saw me through some milestones, there always was this unspoken barrier. No matter how much listening I did, and I did a lot more listening than talking, I still couldn’t quite fit in. I know now, 20 plus years later, that of course, I could never fully connect on a heart level. They were inner city girls from St. Louis, and I was the white girl. Maybe their first token white friend? It always made me sad that none of them came to my wedding, even my dear friend whom I had asked to read a scripture. I understand now that it must have been uncomfortable for them, and that our friendship wasn't as equally special as I believed that it was at the time. Yet even as a bright-eyed 22-year-old, I think I was aware then that there was still an invisible line keeping us from being true blue friends.
Fast forward 20 years, and I am mothering five kids. Two of my amazing children happen to be differing shades of Black. And as my sweet boys are turning into young men, America is killing its Black boys. Trayvon Martin’s case was the first to scare me. Initially, I didn’t recognize my own emotions; I believed I was relating to Trayvon’s mom as one mom to another. Then Eric Garner died, and as my husband and I watched in horror, I started to notice that a lot of people around us weren’t watching. The protests in Ferguson had both of us up late at night, talking about it together because the people, the white people, around us just sort of tuned us out when we wanted to talk about the horror of these deaths. I know that we both felt like the world was upturned. I know we felt betrayed that so many people didn’t seem to care about these senseless deaths. We began to realize that what was changing was us, not the world. My hubby began following Black artists, politicians, and media on Twitter. I began unfriending a lot of middle aged “Evangelicals.” Things were shifting.
Then, Philando Castile died. That was it. I was almost unable to function because of my grief and anger. I typed #blm and that unleashed the hate. Men in our church reprimanded me; one even using intimidation and threats. We were increasingly convinced that this racism was our problem too, not just because we were raising Black boys but because we are all in this together. But it sure seemed like we were alone as white people feeling this way.
In our community, a church hosted a prayer event, inviting multiple churches, faith-based organizations, and even law enforcement. Our whole family attended that night, and as we held hands and prayed for justice, one pastor challenged us to exchange phone numbers and share a meal with someone we had met that night. My little prayer group within the event was an ideal melting pot: our mixed transracial family, a Latino family, and a Black family. The Black woman, Candi, and I immediately took charge of the challenge and planned for a picnic the next month. Amazingly, everyone in our prayer circle showed up for that first dinner. We spoke honestly about what was going on in America, and our common thread was that we all were desiring to approach the issue of race as a sin problem. Our common thread was that we saw each other as family. And that changed everything.
Shortly after our first picnic, my family decided to host a dinner for our prayer group. However, the momentum had seemed to fizzle out, and our group dwindled down to the Black family and us. Again, we broke bread together, and our conversation was real. I won’t ever forget when Candi told me that her whole married life, she never let her husband go run out for milk after dark because she feared he could be pulled over and killed. That was pivotal. Her whole life, she had a fear that I was now experiencing. It was new and overwhelming to me, and here my friend was sharing with me that that same fear was the norm for her. We grieved over that. I needed to tell her I was sorry that I never knew the depths of racism in America. It was important for all of us that we could apologize, even though my husband and I were never directly racist, we were a part of a system of oppression, and our ignorance to it was permission for it to flourish. Candi and her husband were gracious toward us and continue to be. Their honesty and willingness to be real and vulnerable paved the way toward a genuine friendship. My heart and my convictions grew that night in my dining room.
After that dinner, Candi and I started talking mom stuff more. I deliver babies and take care of mamas for a living, and she needed some insight on both. Candi gave me a chance to be her real friend. I know that in her life, she has had experiences that have made her cautious to tell her relatives when she has white friends. I respect that, and I know I can’t ever understand it. It matters even more to me than it could have when I was in college, trying to fit in with my classmates. We continued to talk and text and share meals. After her son was born, I was able to care for and love her when other women didn’t “get it.” Now, we have a standing pedicure date every 6 weeks. The first time we went together, the ladies awkwardly asked us how we became friends, and I laughed at their attempt to be politically correct. “Do you mean because she’s Black and I am White? Or because she is younger and I am older? We actually prayed together once...” In the end, I think we both agreed it was a God thing that connected us.
The ability to experience profound worry is almost a prerequisite for motherhood. When you’re the mother of a Black boy born into this American society, that worry increases exponentially. Then, imagine being a mom of a son who is both Black in America and has a disability that changes the way he interacts with society. When you experience that as a mom, you know a new level of fear, a new level of concern, and a new level of anxiety, but you also know a new level of fight. It is the birth of the Ninja Mom. The Special Needs Committee of Moms of Black Boys United Inc. is the home of that Ninja Mom!
Special needs run a long spectrum from the most mentally challenged to the most exceptional and from the most physically impacted to those mildly affected. No matter which end of the spectrum your son falls on, you have a place here.
The Special Needs Committee offers support and resources to every mom who has a son who is special. There is assistance with Individualized Education Programs (IEP), 504 planning, and accessing the rights and responsibilities associated with such. There is assistance with navigating medical appointments and understanding diagnoses, and a safe place to go in which the community understands the day to day frustrations of interacting with all of those systems. The committee supports its members in anything else that arises while we work to keep our most fragile sons safe. But the thing I love the most about this community is the empowerment that has been birthed from the sisterhood created in this committee. Support is only one aspect; the Special Needs Committee aims to end the unfair treatment of our most fragile boys.
That is why we advocate! We are standing in the trenches for our sons who cannot speak for themselves in a partnership with the Policy and Advocacy Committee to help affect change at every level. We know it is not enough to be angry -- we must move out of outrage and into action. This is where you can help. If you have a passion for special needs advocacy work, contact me, Kimberley Alexander, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be a voice for the voiceless.
Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman,
Sunday, December 24, 2017
Updated: Sunday, November 12, 2017
Publisher's Note: Usually, what is discussed in the Moms of Black Boys United private Facebook group remains confidential.
Once in a while though, we get permission from members to re-post entries of notable impact. Check out this one by mom Lynda Jones.
“I MOBB because Black boys and men walk a tightrope between their educations, their futures, their families and the systemic racism that leads to their being profiled and incarcerated. I MOBB because as mothers of Black sons, we walk that tightrope with them in our hearts every day. We can’t be idle. We have to try and change the world.”
Passionate, vocal, caring, self-aware, protective, willing, proactive...these are just the first few characteristics that come to mind when CK’s name is mentioned. She has made many contributions to MOBB United since joining in July of 2016. She says that she spent some time exploring the different committees, including Policy, Health and Wellness, and Education and Engagement before settling down in Communications and working on our Newsletter, where she contributes ideas for content and writes and edits articles.
You’ll find CK busy at any given time in several areas of MOBB United for Social Change’s (MUSC) mission to protect our sons. Here are just a few ways CK has made a difference at the grassroots level:
Dedicating her time to calling officials on important issues from our virtual call center.
Helping to found the Moms of Black Boys United Book Club, along with Kumari Ghafoor and Uchechi Eke.
Gathering photos for inclusion in image campaigns to change perception about our sons.
Contributing to the Policy Committee as a liaison to New York City.
Posting in the MOBB United Facebook group her timely, thoughtful opinions on current events that impact our Black boys and men.
Attending local rallies for our sons, representing MOBB United in her Woke Mom T-shirt!
Remember that ONE thing is a big thing. If you volunteer to do just one thing that you have time and energy to do, it is SOMEthing that will make a world of difference in the lives of our sons. Please volunteer today.We are seeking help in many areas, including copy editing, research, graphic design, etc. We have an urgent need for Chapter leaders for cities and towns all across the country. If you're ready to start a local chapter, applications will be available October 10. Visit www.mobbunited.org/page/ChapterDevelopment for details.
Also, Moms of Black Boys United appreciates donations. To date, our organization has been completely self-funded; but to grow and expand, we need your help. Please consider donating to Moms of Black Boys United this month at mobbunited.org/donate.
Being in the right place at the wrong time could cost you everything! Just picture it: You’re a single mom who’s faced with the daunting task of paying all of the bills with little or no help. You must work hard to support your family and make ends meet. You’re trying to be the best role model you can be for your son, but often you wish there were strong Black men in your life or his who could positively impact him and encourage him to make wise choices. Your son is an only child growing up in your home, so you desperately want him to have friends his age. Truthfully, you’re not happy about the friends he’s selected lately. You want him to make sound decisions without ‘mommy’ being too overbearing, so you decide to cut him some slack.
One day you head off to work and pray for the best, just like you do every other day. Little do you know that this day wouldn’t turn out to be just like any other normal day. As a matter of fact, this day would permanently alter the very course of life as you know it... for you and your child!
Nicole Cade and son, Nikell
Nicole Cade, also known as “Nikki”, is the 42-year-old mom of one son, Nikell. She is an upstanding, law-abiding citizen. She is a believer in God. She is a faithful employee, and most of all, she’s a mom -- just like many of you who may be reading this. She is heartbroken that her son, Nikell, was recently incarcerated.
Nikki describes her son as kind-hearted, loving and respectful. Her son is very intelligent and enjoyed school as a young child. He didn’t have very many teachers who took him under their wings, but he never had problems at school. He wasn’t a troublemaker. He was the type of child who showed remorse when he made mistakes. Often times, when he did something wrong, he would apologize and then question why he had displayed such actions.
One day, Nikki kissed her son goodbye and headed out the door. She never expected her phone to ring later that day with news from a stranger that her son was in jail. She had every reason to believe her child was safe and sound at school. When you’re focused on making ends meet and just getting through another work day, the last thing you expect to receive is a call from prison informing you that your only child has been taken in for questioning.
On the day he was arrested, Nikell did what many inquisitive and curious 16-year-olds do. He opened the door open to his private life and allowed someone to walk in -- someone he viewed as a friend. The company of this ‘friend’ caused Nikell to end up in a vehicle that was tied to a crime. Because he was present, an arrest was made. As if the arrest weren’t enough, there also was an interrogation that took place before he was given an opportunity for legal representation. Because of his age, Nikell had to be tried as an adult in the state where he lives. Then he had to wait patiently for his sentencing -- a process that took almost an entire year.
As a mother, Nikki always has felt obligated to protect her son. Now that he is in the hands of the judicial system, she often feels helpless. Seeing her son in jail has been one of the most difficult experiences for her as a mother. Recently, she had to go to court and face the judge who would sentence Nikell. The maximum sentence for the crime was as much as 15 years. In July 2017, on the day of the sentencing, Nikki was a ball of emotion again, much the same way she was when she found out Nikell had gone to jail.
Nikki could feel fear trying to rise in her heart that day as she and her beloved son waited to hear how many years this young man would stay in jail. Somehow, this was around the same time she stumbled across the MOBB United Facebook page. The details of her son’s story were purposefully excluded from a post that she shared there, as well as from this article to protect his privacy. Still, it took a tremendous amount of courage for her to post in the group that she needed prayers for her boy. Nikki says she was not only shocked but completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, prayers and support she felt in response to her post. “The presence of a very supportive MOBB family is what allowed me to go into Nikell’s sentencing and stand -- with confidence!” says Nikki.
Nikki’s local community poured out their love also -- in the form of many letters -- to prove this young man’s character. Thankfully, the judge decided to give him 2 years instead of 15. But sadly, the story doesn’t end here. Nikki told me, “My son is in there with grown men and will come out of jail knowing way more than he did when he went in.” The question is, where are the resources that will help to rehabilitate our young Black men once released from the justice system? The level of difficulty they face when trying to assimilate themselves back into society is startling. Nikki went on to explain that although her son will get out of prison in 2 years, “my fear is him being institutionalized!”
This young man was swept into the system. He may or may not have had positive Black male role models to properly influence him. He may or may not have had the kind of friends who had his best interests at heart. He now is faced with the very harsh reality of a criminal justice system that will force him to grow up faster than his mom ever wanted.
The power of a positive mother has the potential to change any negative situation! As a supportive mom, Nikki is dedicated to visiting with her son weekly. She has embraced MOBB United and all the support from fellow moms that she so desperately needs right now. This organization is dedicated to providing just that and will continue to support moms and their sons in this way. In due time, Nikki and Nikell will have the resources they need to beat the “system,” and they will end up just fine. With MOBB United, no mom ever will stand alone again. There is so much work to be done for our sons, so please consider joining us in this fight to protect them.
We are honored to memorialize our SunAngels and to extend our support to you as you grieve the loss of your sons. Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. (MOBB United) was founded out of grief over lost sons not personally known to most of us, but we embrace all of our princes as our own and we share in your sadness as well as your joyful memories.
Please know that regardless of how or when your son left us, you have a community of mothers, some of whom are on the same path as you are, here to provide you with hope and encouragement whenever you need it. We realize that it may be difficult at times to participate in the group, but we want you to be assured that you will always be considered a MOBB United mom.
Together, let us celebrate the life and memory of each of your SunAngels; they will never be forgotten.
Moms of Black Boys United - Ensuring that our SUNs Survive and Thrive
M.O.B.B. United aims to provide information and support for moms of Black sons while promoting positive images of Black boys and men. Our goal is to influence policy impacting how Black boys and men are treated by law enforcement and society.