Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rhianna and Chris Brown: Love Gone Wrong!

Let's cut to the chase - no one knows what happened between Chris Brown and Rhianna. They both seem like nice and likeable individuals whose newfound relationship some of us appreciated from a distance. It was the boy and girl next door kind of romance that makes us feel anything is possible and help rekindle black love. In that regard they aren't much different from any of us. We are all looking for love or working on nurturing the love in our lives if we have been fortunate enough to find love.

Someone beat Rhianna as reflected in the pictures that were recently leaked. I have not seen any statements from Chris Brown refuting the accusations that he was the perpetrator. The fact that he has been remanded to "anger management classes" begs the issue. Violence is not about anger although it may involve anger. One writer posted the following on one of those "write-and-tell-us-what-you-think columns:

"anger is not the right treatment for someone who is abusive. What he needs is a BATTERERS INTERVENTION Program.It's not an anger issue it's a need for power and control over an intimate partner issue!!! So frustrating!!! Kate 2/25/09

Kate raises an important point that not too many of us get. We think violence is about losing control. Violence is about gaining control - over the other person or persons. No one is trying to make Rhianna out to be a saint. What I want to do is put forth a new bottom line that goes beyond, "a man should not hit a woman." My bottom line goes to the heart of the matter, that is, provocation does not justify violence. Let me say that again, "provocation does not justify violence." Many people automatically ask or think, "what did she do to make him hit her?" What if she provoked him? Chris had options. He could have walked away! He could have handled it any other way. Those individuals that are predicting the end of his career are living in la la land. People are very forgiving. And in a society that normalizes violence we tend to minimize violence against women. The following comment is fairly typical though sad:

"I don't think people should be so hard on Chris it's not like he killed her if it waz a regular guy that waz beating up his girlfriend they wouldn't be so hard on him. . . give Chris Brown a break and a second chance. . . 2/17/09

No one deserves to be beaten. Not Rhianna, not Chris - no one. We can love and appreciate both of them without feeling the need to rescue either of them. We don't have to choose between them. I repeat, we can love both of them and expect accountability from both Chris and Rhianna. Chris doesn't need anger management. He needs a program for batterers because that is what he is. You wouldn't send a sex addict to AA. A sex addict may also have a drinking problem in addition to the sex addiction but the treatment for the sex addicton has to be addressed with the appropriate intervention.

Regarding accountability for Rhianna. She ought to talk with a battered women's advocate. That will help her better understand the dynamics of abuse. She ought to learn that women that seek out shelter return to their abusive partners and leave and return on the average of six times. Rhianna is fortunately in a position that she would not need to seek shelter. The point is that women emotionally emeshed (engaged) with their partners find it hard to disengage even when violence exists. Is it hard for family, friends and loved ones to stand by while a battered woman returns? Absolutely! Nevertheless, it would be akin to leading a horse to water and trying to make them drink. They drink when they are thirsty - no sooner and no later. Battered women are similar in that we can lead them to the water but we cannot make them drink. They drink when they are ready. It is clear that the relationship is toxic. Neither Rhianna or Chris can obtain much happiness from it as long as the violence is present or the potential for violence. That kind of terror is not conducive to safety or freely exploring ones options.

Well, I have preached long enough. I felt this was such a teachable moment. Both Rhianna and Chris Brown are high visibility personalities and so this incident of violence got played out in the public rather than behind closed doors like much violence. And because it did it provides the opportunity to remind everyone that each of us deserves to live a violence free life. If someone is hurting you you don't have to stay and put up with it. Whatever your denomination or beliefs - God does not condone a man hitting a woman or staying in an abusive relationship. If you believe that then contact me so we can talk

God loves you Rhianna and Chris! Now demonstrate that same love for yourself!
Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah

Fast Facts on Domestic Violence

Battering of women is the most under reported crime in America.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States; more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. "Violence Against Women, A Majority Staff Report," Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 102nd Congress, October 1992, p.3.

Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or male lovers. "Women and Violence," Hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, August 29 and December 11, 1990, Senate Hearing 101-939, pt. 1, p. 12.

One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991.

About 1 out of 4 women are likely to be abused by a partner in her lifetime. Sara Glazer, "Violence, Against Women" CO Researcher, Congressional Quarterly, Inc., Volume 3, Number 8, February, 1993, p. 171.

Approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women. Statistics, National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, Ruth Peachey, M.D. 1988.

Police report that between 40% and 60% of the calls they receive, especially on the night shift, are domestic violence disputes. Carrillo, Roxann "Violence Against Women: An Obstacle to Development," Human Development Report, 1990.

Battering occurs among people of all races, ages, socio-economic classes, religious affiliations, occupations, and educational backgrounds.

Fifty percent of all homeless women and children in this country are fleeing domestic violence. Senator Joseph Biden, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Violence Against Women: Victims of the System, 1991.

A battering incident is rarely an isolated event.

Battering tends to increase and become more violent over time.

Many batterers learned violent behavior growing up in an abusive family.

25% - 45% of all women who are battered are battered during pregnancy.

Domestic violence does not end immediately with separation. Over 70% of the women injured in domestic violence cases are injured after separation.

Domestic violence is not only physical and sexual violence but also psychological. Psychological violence means intense and repetitive degradation, creating isolation, and controlling the actions or behaviors of the spouse through intimidation or manipulation to the detriment of the individual. "Five Year State Master Plan for the Prevention of and Service for Domestic Violence." Utah State Department of Human Services, January 1994.

Prelude to Women's History Month

(Stephanie Berry on vacation in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. Stephanie just recently finished a run at Milwaukee Repertory Theater where she played Wiletta Mayer in Alice Childress' 1959 play, Trouble in Mind. Stephanie last appeared at the Rep as Aunt Ester in Gem of the Ocean. She appeared in Katrina: The Bridge at the University of Houston, a new work based on the stories of Hurricane Katrina survivors. Last seasons she was seen in Gee's Bend at Denver Center Theater Company. Stephanie plays Nicole Kidman's assistant, Carly, in the sci-fi movie Invasion and she plays the school principal, Ellen Parker, in the movie No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones. Stephanie has been seen as a regular principal actress on various Law and ORder shows and other TV programs, for over 15 years. Stephanie is the winner of the OBI Award for "Best Performance" and the AUDELCO Award for "Solo Performance" in her one-woman show, The Shaneequa Chronicle: The Making of a Black Woman.

March is Women's History Month. A black female playwright that I was recently exposed to is Alice Childress. I traveled to see her play, Trouble in Mind at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater on February 12. A friend, Stephanie Berry played the main character, Wiletta Mayer. Trouble in Mind had a successful run beginning January 20 and ended February 15, 2009. The play included a Dialogue Series with its Director, Timothy Douglas, who entertained the audience on January 22 over hors d'oeuvres and wine in a conversation about his vision and insights prior to the play.

According to John O. Killens, Alice Childress' plays were an "exuberant celebration of the black experience with emphasis always on the heroic aspect of that experience in the constant struggle against racist oppression."(source: John O. Killens, "The Literary Genious of Alice Childress" in Black Women Writers 1950-1980" by Mari Evans. N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1984,129.)Childress' genius included the use of humor to write social commentary which she brilliantly demonstrates in Trouble in Mind. There were times I found myself laughing and later thinking, "was that really funny." Her ability to use humor is captured by Killens perceptive comments,"Even though one laughed throughout the entire presentation, there was, inescapably, the understanding that although one was having an undeniably emotional and a profoundundly intellectual experince, it was also political." Trouble in Mind is a "comedic drama about a group of black actors trying to make a go of it in a play conceived and directed by a "wellmeaning" white man.

Ironically, Childress wrote Trouble in Mind on a dare from Sidney Poitier who contended that a great play could not be written over night. She proved him wrong and Childress became the first black woman to win the Obie Award in 1956. In 1952 she achieved another great milestone as the first black woman to have her play, Gold Throught he Trees (a play about Harriet Tubman) produced in New York.

Childress wrote Trouble in Mind in 1949 and yet its themes are still relevant and fresh. , even more so with the recent election of our first black president.

We salute Alice Childress and other great female artists during Women's History Month. Stay tuned for a review of Stephanie Berry's, The Shaneequa Chronicles: The Making of a Black Woman (currently available for theater and University bookings.)

Take the opportunity to explore the contributions and lives of women and expand your awareness of women's history during the month of March.
Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah

Monday, February 2, 2009

Your Son and Daughter Probably Won't Grow Up to Be President

The writer is a friend of mine that knows how to speak truth to power. In the midst of our celebrating the milestone of electing the first black president, Junee Barringer Hunt raises some hard questions about being able to continue such an unprecedented accomplishment given certain realities.

What are you doing to better the conditions for underprivileged children in this country?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

[Thoughts from the Akazia Files] Your Son and Daughter Probably Won't Grow Up...
From: AkaziaJ. To:
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 11:28 am

I am little more than positive that I won't make any new friends and may even lose a few old friends by what I'm about to write. However, that's okay. I only asks that you hear me out before you start throwing the stones at me. I too watched in awe, though maybe not as euphoric as some at the swearing in of our nation's 44th president of the United States of America. Some call him our first black president, first African American, first bi-racial. Well you get the picture. As Princeton scholar, Melissa Harris-Lacewell stated, president Obama's selection of Michelle Obama as his wife and the mother of his children is probably one of greatest indicators of his black identity. But I digress. Back to the issue at hand. For the past week I've looked on as black mothers and some fathers wept on the evening news that they now can tell their children that they too can become anything they want, even president. Now while this sounds really good in a sound byte, little Ray Ray and NeNe probably have a greater chance of winning the lottery than becoming president of the U.S. What we need to remember is that Obama had some very unique opportunities, some of which include having a white mother, a continental African father and white mid-western grandparents. In addition, he grew up in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia. A very different cultural legacy and experience than most Black children in America. Now let's also add the fact that Barack Obama is one smart guy bar none. In addition, his intellectual genius was cultivated in some of the best schools in America. Add that to practical experience in community organizing, Chicago boot camp political training and being in the right place at the right time (The U.S. literally in the toilet) and you have President Obama. The point I'm making is that we can not ignore the role that intellect, cultural legacy and opportunity play in creating greatness. So while we are telling our children that they too can become president, we must be equally diligent in investing in their academic future at the same rate that we invest in the latest designer fashions. If you really want little Ray Ray and NeNe to become president, parents must attend PTA and parent teacher conferences on a regular basis. We must turn off the TV and Xbox and encourage our children to read and critically think. Now when I say read, I don't mean Zane or Carl Webber's latest urban lit offering. Future presidents need a knowledge of world affairs, they need to be able to speak the language of commerce which is not project English, but the King's or at least the Queen's English. Obama can do barbershop brother to brother talk, but it is his oratory eloquence that won the hearts and minds of Americans across race, class and political ideology. Though President Obam's election is truly historical, we must couple our excitement with a dose of reality. One out of one hundred Americans are currently behind bars. Approximately, 35% of those persons are of African descent. This sobering reality tells us that our work is just beginning. I am in full agreement that we should not place limits on our children because of race or class. However, the "black tax" (twice as good to get half as much) has not been lifted just because we now have a Black president. In fact, the bar may just have been raised a bit higher. The Keepers of the African village must get busy providing little Ray Ray and Shinqua with the tools they will need to navigate a global, multi- racial, multi cultural America. Our children must have at least an intermediate grasp of math and science. More importantly, our children must be emotionally intelligent. We talk about how cool president Obama is, well that coolness is really emotional intelligence. He is a genius at managing his emotions, even in the most complex circumstances. Obama probably learned at an early age that he would not be able to control the actions and attitudes of those around him, but he could control how he responded to those attitudes. The audacity of hope is indeed alive and well and the dream lives. However, faith hope and dreams mean nothing without hard work. The next time you tell your child they can become any thing they want to be including president, remind them that president Obama is a graduate of Harvard law school where he graduated in the top of his class. That it was was hard work, perseverance, service and being prepare when opportunity presented itself that brought president Obama to the White House.
Junee Barringer Hunt

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Setting Healthy Boundaries in 2009

Recently I was talking with a couple of sista friends about taking care of ourselves. I began to hear some themes emerge that I captured below.

May 2009 be a year full of adventure and growth. May we be mindful of the need to set limits while risking all for the joy of living fully aloud!
Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah

*Do not take work home.
*Identify the boundaries that you need to establish in order to live a balanced and healthy life
*cultivate a social life
*practice saying no
*give up perfection (remember, nothing can be done perfectly
*cultivate a network of straight talking-take-no-prisoners-friends that will tell you about yourself by speaking the truth in love
*don't sweat the small stuff and know the difference.
*engage in whatever spiritual practices work for you. If you do not have any it is time to acquire some
*what you feed will grow so grow yourself from the inside out!
*when difficult people come into your life ask yourself the following questions:
1. who is this person in my life? 2. what are they here to teach me? 3. what part of myself do they represent?
*Do not allow yourself to get distracted by your reactions to individuals or events or you will miss the message.
*trust yourself! Short of that, practice the art of trusting yourself. It will come more and more naturally.