Love Doesn’t Look Like This

Not-Love-Vintage

Over the past few days a video of a father beating his daughter has gone viral. The caption reads, “Bad parenting or is this type of discipline acceptable now a days? Father disciplines his 13-year-old daughter after missing for 3 days messing around with boys & then posts all on Facebook.”

The video shows a man beating a young woman with a belt while pulling her hair and calling her a whore and bitch. It was a horrific display of violence and brutal humiliation. A debate followed the posting about whether or not this form of punishment is appropriate. After spending way too much time debating this issue on Facebook, I felt it necessary to issue this short Public Service Announcement:

Love doesn’t look like this. 

There are many supporters of this abuse, repeating the same phrases to celebrate violence.
Here are a few examples:

1. “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” — Just as mainstream Western society is critical of Islam and the Koran about the treatment women in societies, African Americans should be just as critical of anyone that seeks to use Christianity and the Bible as an excuse for maltreatment and abuse. Self selective religious interpretation for the purposes of supporting physical violence and abuse was used during our own enslavement and colonization.

2. “If I don’t do it, the court system will do it one day.” — Black parents have been whipping their children for decades and it hasn’t stopped millions of our young Black boys and girls from going to prison. Beatings don’t solve that. Addressing overall societal issues is the leading way to prevent prison time. Beatings are not going to end the prison industrial complex because it places the complete blame on the imprisoned instead of society as a whole. It completely ignores the commercial drive of prison systems that lead to overzealous laws and filled prisons. This father’s beating is representative of a myriad of societal issues including the institutionalized usage of brute punishment over rehabilitation.

3. Some one asked me, “Have you ever had a child go missing for 3 days?” — In response I asked, “Have you ever seen child abuse?” The leading reason for runaways is physical and sexual abuse. Based on the video’s caption,  if this is what parental love looks like in her home, would you blame her for leaving or seeking love elsewhere? If this brutality was so easily displayed for public enjoyment, one can only imagine what goes on behind closed doors.

80% of runaway and homeless girls reported having ever been sexually or physically abused. 34% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported sexual abuse before leaving home and forty-three percent of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported physical abuse before leaving home.  - National Runaway Hotline Stats 

It’s deeply disturbing that so many members of the African American community view such vicious behavior as parental guidance. Perhaps this is indicative of an overall healing that needs to take place in our community. It’s also further indicative of how we view Black girls and women. Zora Neale Hurston once stated, “Black women are the mules of the world.” Her words still ring true as to the thought process associated with the treatment of Black women. You know what you do to a mule that doesn’t obey? You beat it.

There is a pathology against Black girls and women that deems us deserving of abuse no matter how cruel or violent. This is an over present line of thinking that needs to be disbanded.

Finally, what if we are to assume for just one impossible second that this really is a father that “cares?” Is this young girl now supposed to connect physical violence and verbal abuse with love? Let’s just think about it for a second. If this is love, what is hate?

In the introduction of Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality In African American Communities, Johnnetta B. Cole & Beverly Guy-Sheftall state:

Violence against Black people wears many faces. There’s a much needed focus on police brutality and Black male-on-male homicide, but too little attention to rape, spousal abuse, and incest. We have often been in contentious debates as well with other Black Women about the impact of gender oppression within our own communities, how we treat one another, and our hasty defense of Black men no matter how offensive their behavior. Many Black women have been convinced that there is a conspiracy by white America to destroy Black men, and as a result they remain silent about physical and emotional abuse women suffer within our communities.

This isn’t about creating divisions between Black women and men. It’s about whether we love our community enough to acknowledge gender oppression, stop silencing pertinent discussions about violence against Black women by Black men and view abuse with a critical eye. We can’t uplift, protect or love our girls and women by inflicting violence on them and calling them bitches. Supporting anyone that uses these abusive actions is not only counter-productive but in the direct opposition to the well being of our future generations. For the sake of Black girls and boys everywhere, it’s imperative that we establish early on that Love Doesn’t Look Like This.

JamAllen2-nb-smallJessica Ann Mitchell is the founder of OurLegaci.com & BlackBloggersConnect.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com.

Follow OurLegaci on Facebook at Facebook.com/OurLegaci.

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Judge Mathis Open Letter: Uplifting Our Young Brothers

Judge-Greg-Mathis-Boy
I, along with my three brothers, was raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs and sacrificed a tremendous amount for us. Despite all of her love and hard work, in my youth, I did not escape the pitfalls that commonly plague young boys growing up in low-income and single parent households. I was arrested multiple times until a Michigan judge gave me an ultimatum to either turn my life around and get my education or serve a long term prison sentence. The goodwill sentencing of that judge allowed me to change for the better and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds that my friends and I faced growing up.

I was trapped in a cycle of self-destructive behavior. It’s the same cycle that far too many of our minority brothers are stuck in today. African American males, and more recently, Latino American males are falling behind their American colleagues. The statistics are shocking. In 2008, Latino and African Americans accounted for over 58 percent of our nation’s prisons population – despite only being 25 percent of the American population.
 
The important question we have to answer is: How can we break the cycle of negative outcomes for minority males? Underperforming schools, crime infested neighborhoods, and unprepared parents have combined to become a recipe for disaster in the lives of young men of color. There is a moral imperative to equal the playing field for minority males, but it also makes economic sense for the long-term health of our nation to uplift young boys of color. If we invest in educating our young men instead of locking them up, or allowing them to become trapped in counterproductive lifestyles, I guarantee we will see positive results.
 
Take my story as an example. If the judge that sentenced me had not given me a second chance, it’s highly likely I might still be locked up at an expense of $40,000 per year to the American taxpayer. On the contrary, I was able to benefit from federal investment in my future through affirmative action programs and federal student loans to get my college degree. Through taxes and other efforts, I believe I have more than paid back the government’s investment in me. I was able to break out of the cycle of negative outcomes for young boys like myself. We must prioritize our young boys and figure out why they are failing and what changes we can make to turn this trend around.
 
My Brother’s Keeper represents a crucial commitment to this turnaround effort. Private foundations and philanthropists have pledged at least $200 million, in addition to the $150 million they’ve already invested, to help young minority males close the gap between them and their colleagues. This initial money will be invested in research proven methods and programs in communities that need it most. In addition, President Obama has launched a broader federal interagency task force to examine federal policies and regulations affecting minority males – changing such policies when needed. These are important steps forward that include a number of grassroots activists, faith leaders, and philanthropists determined to push the well-being of America’s minority males to the forefront of our nation’s consciousness. I believe this initiative is just a start, but that with continued investment we will see a long overdue turnaround in outcomes for young boys of color. I welcome this new initiative and look forward to the positive change it will accomplish. 

7A5AA468-50AA-4CEB-B689-588C16C47C38About “Judge Mathis”
Inspired by Judge Greg Mathis’ own gang-to-gavel story, “Judge Mathis” is a nationally syndicated, reality-based court show presided over by former Detroit-area District Court Judge Greg Mathis. Mathis’ decisions are legal and binding. “Judge Mathis” is produced by AND Syndicated Productions and Telepictures Productions, an industry-leading and Emmy Award-winning producer of syndicated programming, and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Originating from Chicago, “Judge Mathis” Season 15 premiered Monday, September 9th. 

Saving Pecola Breedlove With Lupita Nyong’o

Photo Enhanced by OurLegaci

Photo Enhanced by OurLegaci

It isn’t enough to say that “Black Girls Rock.” It isn’t enough to proclaim that “Black is beautiful.” These proclamations bear a certain level of importance but what good is it to say these things if too often our collective actions show otherwise? Show Black girls how beautiful they are, how worthy they are, how valuable they are by fighting for them.

As the world becomes enthralled with the talent and beauty of Lupita Nyong’o, she continues to spread her message about the power of self love in the face of colorism. Images of her versatile beauty have taken over the internet in a display of glorious artistic prowess. Consequently, there are a myriad of discussions about the effects of Lupita’s spotlight on the millions of women and girls that look like her.

Yes, her beauty is sure to inspire, much like she was inspired by Alek Wek. But let this moment of adoration, along with Lupita’s openness to reveal her own struggles, lead to something beyond admiring beauty. If we truly want young Black girls to get the message that they are both valuable and beautiful, we have to show them by fighting for them.

lupita-fashionsizzle

Lupita Nyong’o accepted her Oscar while honoring the spirit of Patsey, the enslaved and brutally abused woman she embodied in her award winning performance. Many viewers of 12 Years of Slave wanted desperately for Patsey to be freed from her abusers. We saw the beauty in Patsey. We knew that she was worth fighting for…worth protecting. We can’t go back in time, but we can work to make sure that Patsey’s daughters don’t live a life of congratulated pain.

Abuse happens to girls of all races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. But when it comes to Black girls, the mechanism of race allegiance and the need to project race respectability often supersedes their need for protection. This leads to families keeping “secrets,” parents refusing to press charges, and neglect reigning supreme under the guise of keeping the peace. The ever present victim blaming then commences by calling the girl “fast” or asking, “Why was she over there if she didn’t want it?” And let us not forget the, “She knew what she was doing,” declaration. In an instant, a 14 year old girl becomes the sacrificial lamb of the Black community in addition to facing marginalization in mainstream society.

And you wonder why a girl could have color issues, wish for blue eyes or blonde hair. It’s not necessarily because she hates herself. It’s because she wants to be what she believes the world is more likely to adore and protect.

the-bluest-eyePecola Breedlove is a character in Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye. Pecola endured rape, neglect and various forms of abuse. She was a little Black girl, undervalued and unprotected, that wished for blue eyes.

Fighting for “her” involves building a fortress around her being. Not allowing abusers and neglecters  to have their way with “her” life. On a personal level, I know many Black woman that were sexually assaulted and abused as young girls. Their stories never made it to the news. Their abusers have gone free and the scars reflecting the pain are permanently etched in memory. They’ve all heard “Black is beautiful,” but nobody fight for them. Instead, they were blamed for their own abuse, shunned and rejected.

When you see a potential Pecola Breedlove, it’s not enough to show her pictures of Lupita to prove the existence of her beauty. We first have to protect her…show her how much she means us. We can let her know that she is not an “ugly ducking” but in fact a beautiful swan by showing her Lupita’s talent and beauty. But it is only after we protect her, that she will be able to believe and absorb this truth.

JamAllen2-nb-smallJessica Ann Mitchell is the founder of OurLegaci.com & BlackBloggersConnect.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com.

Follow OurLegaci on Facebook at Facebook.com/OurLegaci.

Walmart The Welfare Queen

Photo Credit: Amazon

Photo Credit: Amazon

Perhaps Walmart executives should hold a private viewing of the Lion King to learn about the Circle Of Life. After fighting tooth and nail against living wages for employees and working with ALEC, Walmart’s own selfishness is catching up with them. As one of the largest corporations on the planet, Walmart execs work tirelessly to prevent its underpaid employees from getting higher wages and health insurance benefits. Walmart now faces a 21% loss in its fourth quarter and it’s blaming the expiration of food stamp benefits.

On Thursday Wal-Mart reported a 21 percent decline in its fourth-quarter profit. The company said that the Nov. 1 expiration of a temporary boost in food stamps is hurting its shoppers’ ability to spend. It’s also caught up in the debate about minimum wages and dealing with increasing competition from dollar stores and grocers. – MSN Money

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Walmart has plans underway to open up 6 stores in Washington, DC and threatened to pull out if the DC Council approved a new living wage bill. The council approved it anyway but not surprisingly the bill was vetoed by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in an attempt to keep peace with Walmart.

Mike Debonis of the Washington Post states,”The city’s minimum wage is $8.25 an hour. The bill would raise the annual earnings of a full-time employee making the lowest legal wage from about $17,000 to $26,000.”  It should be noted that $26,000 is just above the Federal Poverty Line for a family of four. At a pay rate much lower than this with limited hours, it’s easy to understand why one Walmart store hosted food donation drives for it’s own employees.

Walmart’s new 21% loss means that in addition to the government subsidizing Walmart’s low wages by providing its employees with food stamps, the government is also a prime provider of funds to Walmart through its customers. Meaning that Walmart depends on food stamp recipients as a key consumer base. Now that those benefits are ending Walmart is in a crunch. Perhaps if they spent more time making sure that their employees could survive without needing food-banks, they would understand that pushing for legislation against the working class is not only unethical but harmful for business. People go to work, get paid and buy things. If they don’t have even money for basic needs like food, potential consumers are not going shopping. Walmart is a prime example of how “job creator” initiatives are hurting the economy. Suddenly Walmart is considering a new found support of Federal minimum wage increase.

Bloomberg.com reports, “David Tovar, a company spokesman, said today in a telephone interview. Increasing the minimum wage means that some of the 140 million people who shop at the chain weekly would “now have additional income.”

I guess they’re finally learning how this works.  The next time a conservative drones on about “entitlements” and poor people bashing, remind them that Walmart survives on food stamps, tax write offs and subsidies. They’re one of the biggest Welfare Queens in the land.

JamAllen2-nb-smallJessica Ann Mitchell is the founder of OurLegaci.com & BlackBloggersConnect.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com.

Follow OurLegaci on Facebook at Facebook.com/OurLegaci.

I’m Dunn With Florida

Michael-Dunn

The state that let Casey Anthony roam free and put guns back in George Zimmerman’s hands has now become infamous for some of the most outrageous cases with even more outrageous verdicts. Some view Florida as some sort of Twilight Zone in which open and shut/common sense situations are rarely handled as such. But the truth is Florida is a blatant representation of the violent tug-of-war centered on the citizenship rights and humanity of African descended peoples (Black people). The clarion call from “Birth Of A Nation” sounded in 1915 and its echoes still bellow across America. The belief that “Blacks” should be feared and the pathos allowing for someone to legally execute even the smallest among us is the driving force behind stand your ground laws and much of the “justifiable” deadly force logic in thinly laced “self defense” accounts.

Even as we learned that Michael Dunn gunned down an unarmed teenager and afterwards ordered pizza and jurors were still confused about whether or not this was 1st degree murder.

Jordan-Davis2

Jordan Davis

Where is the confusion? The confusion lies in the inability of some to divide their own internalized/learned fears from the reality that a child has died. Often in these cases people think, “What would I have done? What if it were me?” In the sad case of Trayvon Martin the jurors more than likely aligned their own fears of Black teenagers along with George Zimmerman’s; giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing Trayvon, to be labeled an aggressor even though Trayvon was the one being followed. The same can be said for some of the jurors in the Michael Dunn trial. Though he blasted bullets and punctured the flesh of an unarmed human being, his “fears” of mythical gangsters upheld by “thug” music, some how legitimized Dunn’s spray of bullets enough for their to be a mistrial.

Some are stating that these verdicts highlight a license to kill but this is wrong. It’s more than about one or two people. This is a license to exterminate. Trayvon and Jordan represent a population in America that has been abhorred, hated and subjugated for centuries. Even still we’ve managed to live, even thrive in some cases. This has infuriated those that wish to see Black and Brown people members of a permanent underclass.

When it comes to justice for us, verdicts in trials like these signal that the mainstream population views us as “not quite” human beings. Those that kill a Black person are given lighter sentences and fewer years in prison. This upholds the ever present three fifths of a human being compromise of 1787 (almost, but not quite human so the penalty is less). Though initially the compromise was about state representation, the premise is the still the same.

In all honesty, Florida is not far off from the rest of the US. It’s a peculiar state, which is bursting with multicultural communities that are surrounded by gatekeepers of the olden days, the good ole’ boys and gals. It’s a state with one foot in and one foot out of Jim Crow. This is why voter suppression tactics are suddenly vital for Florida. If law makers could construct new versions of the Grandfather’s clause they would…and they’re trying to.

Like other people, I’m done with Florida in its current condition.  Cases like this remind us of the thousands of other dead children with forgotten names and unmarked graves. Strange fruit. Yet, the Blacks are still here. The Native Americans are still here. The Latinos are still here. The freedom seeking, anti-oppression people of all colors are still here.

We’re not going to be silenced or forced out. The fear and aggression are enough to cause fatigue but these are examples of a declining era fighting desperately to hang on, yet is bound to fail. These battles are hard fought but history has shown us that it’s possible. A new Florida, a new America is possible.

#DangerousBlackKids

#DangerousBlackKids

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”- MLK Jr.

JamAllen2-nb-smallJessica Ann Mitchell is the founder of OurLegaci.com & BlackBloggersConnect.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com.

Follow OurLegaci on Facebook at Facebook.com/OurLegaci.

Fairy Tales of Reverse Racism Race Baiters

reverse-racism-450

It’s really disturbing when injustices that are linked to racism are brushed aside and we’re called race baiters for bringing it up. As if I’m imagining things. As if I created race. As if being silent is going to make everything okay. And the coup de grâce is that some unfortunate souls actually believe that by pointing out racism, that makes someone a racist. I find this to be a signifier of the failure of the education system. So many people know how to throw around the term, but so few know what it really means.

For everyone that’s confused, racism is a historically rooted systematic structure based on the creation of racial hierarchies. It’s racially based prejudices reinforced by systematic power structures that design global economic disparities, social guidelines for imprisonment, medical apartheid, and the socially determined value of life.

Just being born a Black woman in this current state of affairs, I simply do not have the power or capacity to be racist. And if it’s hard for you to grasp this information from me, please do Ask The White Guy and this really cool Bangladeshi Australian guy who gets it:

Still, I don’t deny that as an African American woman in 2014 I am born with a certain level of privileges that my ancestors didn’t have. For one, I wouldn’t be writing on this blog because it would have been unlawful for me to read or write. I wouldn’t have gotten two master’s degrees (that I’ve been told Affirmative Action paid for) because that too is a punishable offense. For being an uppity negro wench, I would have been hanged and buried in some unknown location and it would have been deemed justified because I didn’t know my place. That fact is the disturbing root of this discussion. These seemingly innocent demands of my silencing are born out of that same legacy. These are “be quiet or we’ll reprimand you” statements. 

Instead of trying to silence discourse, just admit that you’re a coward. Just admit that comfort and dare I say privilege is more important to you than justice. No we can’t talk about the prison system, the fall of the middle class or the military industrial complex without race. No, no, no! To exclude race from these topics is to participate in the erasure of reality and to disregard the validity of millions of lived experiences. These “reverse racism” and “race-baiter” accusations are built on nothing more than modern day fairy tales.

The racial divide is real:

Unequal prison sentencing: Check
Exclusion from the workforce: Check
Sexual abuse: Check
Segregated education: Check
Insufficient medical attention: Check

Pointing out all of these issues is not divisive, but ignoring them is.  It prevents us from fully exploring and understanding the crux of the problem. You’re not really for social justice if work ends when you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps you should ask yourself why your comfort is so dependent on avoiding the deconstruction of racism. If you’re not ready to have this discussion just admit that and move on. Remove your activist, social justice title and just “get to steppin.” But don’t try to silence people because you feel uncomfortable.  Those times are long gone. Mammy retired, leaving us very details instructions…being quiet is not on the list.

JamAllen2-nb-smallJessica Ann Mitchell is the founder of OurLegaci.com & BlackBloggersConnect.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com.

Follow OurLegaci on Facebook at Facebook.com/OurLegaci.

I’m A Single Parent And I’m Not Responsible

Single Mothers

As a single parent, there is nothing I hate more than someone saying,

“Is his father around?  Did you know he was an asshole before you got pregnant?”

As if I am responsible for him being a ‘deadbeat dad.’  Yes, I am partially responsible for him being a dad.  He is solely responsible for him being a deadbeat.

Now, let me say that I completely understand why someone would ask that but know this:  Our relationship, good or bad, before having our son does not absolve him from being a good father.  Nor does that make me responsible for him being a bad father.

I raise my son alone.  I have a great support system in my family and my son’s paternal family.  I clothe him, feed him, care for him, protect him and love him AS I SHOULD.  I am taking responsibility for my actions and choices. I’m doing what I am supposed to be doing as a mother.  Being irresponsible led to my being a mother.  It also led to me making the responsible choice of taking care of my son.

That there is where the responsibility rope ends for me.  I AM NOT responsible for his father not being present.  I am not responsible for his father choosing to not be a parent.  When a person tells a woman, “well, you should have known….” you are taking the responsibility away from the man and placing it on the woman.  You are telling her, “it is your fault that your child’s father is not around.”  I now know that not to be true.

For a long time I beat myself up thinking that it was my fault that my son is growing up without his father. It took me a while to realize that I was blaming myself for something of which I have absolutely no control.  Once my son was born all of the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s became irrelevant.  I couldn’t go back and change anything.   All I could do was be the best mother possible.  And that’s what I’m doing.

We both chose to engage in irresponsible sex and our son is the outcome.  However, I am taking responsibility for my actions.  I refuse to take responsibility for his inactions, also.

Destyne-MillerDestyne is a single mother and educator. Through personal experiences and life lessons she hopes to bring a different perspective to everyday issues in a simple, straightforward, yet positive way.  With her free spirit and ever evolving thought process she takes on the challenge of bringing people together.  Not to make them think the same but to be able to exist as different and unique individuals. Visit her blog Destynefulfilled.wordpress.com.

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