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POEM: Darkness and Hope- No More Shame

September 9-15 is Suicide Prevention Week. I wrote the following poem to talk about the elephant in the room — the stigma attached to mental illness.

Depression, PTSD, and other mental disorders have plagued millions of people who hide in the shadows of their suffering. A staggering 800,000 people commit suicide every year worldwide and it’s on the rise in children under 18. Most people do not seek treatment (or disclose their struggle to loved ones) because they (we) are weighed down by the stigma.

I wrote a story about my brother’s battle with the stigma of HIV/AIDS and how it robbed us of precious time with him. I believe in fighting stagnant mindsets that put people in boxes of suffering. I originally posted this poem to my FaceBook page but in light of the fact that this is Suicide Prevention Week, I felt that I would be remiss by not sharing it with my readers.

If you have a loved one who is suffering from depression or any other mental illness, please point them to the help they need. Also, be kind, loving, and patient. If you are suffering, this poem is for you.  You are heard. You are not alone. There is hope.

****If you or a loved one is suffering in silence, help is available…
1. Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
2. American Psychiatric Association:
https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families
3. Psychology Today:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us
4. Anxiety & Depression Association of America:
https://adaa.org/finding-help
5. EMERGENCIES: Dial 911

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Disowned Black-Owned Businesses

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Sometimes it feels as though we talk too much without “saying” much at all.  Today we celebrate the independence of white America from the British. That’s not being divisive- it’s the fundamental truth. There are plenty of people either criticizing each other for wearing (or celebrating) the red/white/blue or, reminding us that Black Independence Day is really Juneteenth (June 19, 1865)- and that’s great…

Yet, I’m always amazed when we (self, included) are so “woke” and “pro-Black”, that we refuse to celebrate and support black-owned businesses.  Like FOR REAL support them. Like IN REAL LIFE- not on social media – support them. We sit back and write or post about the overwhelming racism which includes having the police called on us in white-owned and operated businesses/schools/pools, police brutality, children being snatched from parents at the border, and politicians finally removing their racially muted masks. But when Shameka or Travell makes posts about their business venture, no one in the black community REALLY responds.  There are hardly any ‘likes’ or ‘shares’, or recommendations.  They won’t even say “I’m not interested or the market for your product, but I’ll pass it on”.  But we’ll go to the Waffle House, Holt Renfrew (Tory Lanez), or Starbucks and slap down our money. It’s baffling that we don’t seem to understand that we control over 1 trillion dollars- TRILLION – in spending power.

Please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. I’m not saying that a new business will survive or grow on social media alone –although it can give it a huge boost in the right direction. What I’m saying is just as we say, “when whites don’t speak against racist behavior, they are complicit”, then it’s safe to say, “when we don’t spread the news and support black-owned businesses, we are almost as guilty as those who treat us like crap in their white-owned companies”. I say that because, how can we get upset at these instances and yet go right back to giving them our money? That’s where our guilt lies and we can change that.

So… let’s get serious and redistribute our dollars and rebuild Black Wall Street. That is the only way we’ll be able to push back and make our truth to power be heard by those who chose not to hear.  I’m making my own personal vow to do the same by being more mindful of where I shop.

Here are some links to black-owned businesses in Illinois:

https://www.supportblackowned.com/states/il

http://blackownedchicago.com/

Readers, please leave a comment with black-owned businesses links for your city/state and SHARE.

#Happy Independence Day #BuyFromandSupportBlackOwnedBusinesses

Happy Mother’s Day

**UPDATE:  If you missed the show, it will rebroadcast tonight (5/12) at 7pm. 

Domestic violence is responsible for over 50% of women killed in the United States.  It doesn’t just affect the abused – its ripples are felt throughout the family and impacts future generations. Join me on Saturday, May 12, when we discuss domestic violence on The Music According to James radio show.  I’ll share my testimony and the signs I didn’t see in my own relationship until it was too late.  Airs on the Urban Broadcast Media radio via the app or this link.  Check out the promo below!

I hope you have a safe, blessed, and wonderful Mother’s Day weekend.

 

 

 

Bill Cosby: Fallen Legacy

Bill Cosby Dr Huxtable

Well, the verdict is in and Bill Cosby has been found guilty of sexual assault so, hang onto your hats, because mine is not a popular stance on the issue. You might remember that back in late 2014, I wrote about this case as women (white and black) continued to step forward with allegations against him.  I cautioned against making judgements until this case played itself out in court. While this verdict saddens me, it also infuriates me because he threw away his legacy

Bill Cosby is a genius. He’s a prolific speaker, writer, entertainer, and businessman.  The things he managed to accomplish in racist America speaks volumes to the accolades he’s achieved and the pride he’s instilled in the Black Community.  There is a great divide among blacks because Cosby has also been viewed as an elitist who is out of touch with the lives of poor people.  But the truth of the matter is this: Cosby is a predator and a rapist, and the Black community should take a breath and stop defending the indefensible.

We can continue with the “war of the memes” and go down memory lane with Dr. Huxtable, but it doesn’t erase the fact that Bill Cosby drugged and preyed on women- whether it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago is irrelevant. He violated someone’s body, mind, and sense of safety- often without them being aware of it.  He, like many rich and powerful men, attempted to cover it up.  So, let’s go through some of the reasons we use to defend Cosby and why we should stop:

  1. He admitted to giving Quaaludes to women without their knowledge.
  • Seriously, if you personally knew someone like that, would you be so quick to make excuses for them?
  1. This is punishment due to his attempt to purchase NBC.
  • I’m pretty sure we can say this is a possibility. However, that is a huge stretch of the imagination when there were at least two allegations made against him (one recorded but never published) as early as the 80s. Not only that, but NBC was worth over 4 billion dollars at the time.  Cosby was not looking to purchase NBC by himself- he needed partners/investors/loans to accomplish this. Regardless of that, when it fell through, he had the same option as Oprah: start his own network. She did it with far less capital than what he supposedly was attempting to do.
  1. Historical rape of black women by white men
  • This is the most disturbing of all the excuses. Rape is rape no matter who perpetrates it.  It’s not news that black women have been raped by white men.  We’ve been raped by black men too. I would rather see a movement to bring the Weinsteins, Trumps, Collins (Steve) of the world to justice instead of using this as a defense. Remember, he assaulted or sexually harassed black women too.
  1. “Steve Collins admitted to molesting children – not raping GROWN WHITE WOMEN” / Woody Allen got a pass because he’s white…
  • Both rape and pedophilia are heinous crimes. So… are we suggesting that Cosby gets a pass because the victims are ADULTS (and white)?? If molesting children is disgusting to an individual, then raping anyone should be just as vile and unacceptable.
  1. It’s a distraction because it directs us away from more important issues going on in the black community.
  • No, it doesn’t. Its difficult to be distracted by Cosby when we’re constantly immersed by reports of black people being killed by police, arrested in restaurants, or forced off golf courses and trains.  This man raped women – both black and white. He was found out, tried, and convicted (of one but lets face it, he got lucky).  I believe that energy should be best delegated to those other issues instead of fiercely defending a sexual predator.
  1. Some of the women lied about the rapes.
  • Yes, they did. But he also admitted securing drugs, he’s made jokes about Spanish Fly, and he settled with Constrand. His pattern of behavior has been established. Any women who lies about rape is a sick opportunist but that is still not a defense for what he’s done.  Hasn’t Trump’s pattern of behavior as a racist, liar, and sexual predator been established? Well, so has Cosby’s. The only difference between the two is that Bill Cosby had a solid reputation as a person of character and, an enduring legacy and the other one…

Here’s the thing… I’m most angry because Bill Cosby did this to himself.  Phylicia Rashad is quoted as saying “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture,” she said. “This show represented America to the outside world. This was the American family. And now you’re seeing it being destroyed. Why?”  Why? Well, sadly, because he couldn’t keep it in his pants.  He’s not Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, or Philando Castille.  He wasn’t minding his own business when along came the police or ‘the system’ to ruin his life.  HE THREW IT ALL AWAY. He literally gave it away.

Bill Cosby built a legacy that should’ve produced accolades speaking highly of his laurels.  Instead, he allowed his ego to catapult him into a perverted abuse of his wealth and power.  It doesn’t matter the race of the victims because every sexual predator has a type.  People love to forget that. His type was white women and light-skinned black women who could almost pass for white.  He knew what he was doing when he made the comment about Spanish Fly just as Donald Trump knew and understood that “grabbing her by the pussy” was something to be proud of.  The look of perverted glee on Cosby’s face when he said it tells us what his mindset is.  Cosby provided his enemies with the ammunition they needed to destroy him.  He, of all people should’ve known that White America would not give him a pass. That, eventually, the bill would become due.

We keep forgetting that this is a highly educated and intelligent man- emphasis on man– prone to human errors and frailty of character. He’s not perfect – none of us are. Cosby never imagined he would ever be called out or, that it would take such a tragic turn.  But… here we are, fighting among ourselves about “them destroying him because he wanted NBC”. To be honest, I think that he stepped on the wrong toes and someone set out to get a devastating revenge.  But he still committed a crime.

Bill Cosby was once quoted as saying The lower economic people,” he said, “are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for their kids — $500 sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for “Hooked on Phonics!”  Well, Bill Cosby, you did not hold up your end in this deal.  You allowed your misogynistic and egotistical personality to blind your judgement.  Now, at 80 years old, you have left us with a new legacy – one of sadness and anger. You allowed for the evidence and destruction of your legacy- one that was to be a beacon of endurance to our culture.  You’ve created a new space of dissension among black people – including “the lower economic people” as they argue among themselves to make sense of what you’ve done. Lastly, rape victims are being victimized because they were ashamed to come forward earlier and future victims will remember this. That is what you’ve left us.

Black people, please – let us mourn the loss of the icon he used to be and, accept the fact that he is a disappointment to the people he claimed to represent- you. There is no washing over the fact that he is a rapist and a sexual predator.  There aren’t enough news stories you can share or memes you can post (pointing out the unfairness of him not getting away with it as white men have done) to cover up what Bill Cosby has done to himself, his wife, his children, and Black Americans.

So, when you post those memes to juxtaposition the crime he’s been convicted of vs the free pass that those white celebrities have enjoyed, be honest and call it what it is.  Try this “It is unjust that Bill Cosby, a convicted rapist, was rightfully convicted for his crime while Steve Collins, a pedophile, hasn’t been charged or punished for molesting children. They both violated the safe space of people and should both be punished.”  Say that. But let’s stop trying to rehabilitate Cosby’s image.  He put it in a shredder. It’s gone. That, is the biggest and most painful tragedy that we must comprehend.

POEM: No More Sacred Spaces

Safe Passage

There are no more sacred spaces,

Just look at all the faces

Lost in a haze of confusion

Finding out safety is just an illusion

When children go to school to learn

And find bullets are all that they’ve earned

Finding no safe place to hide

As munitions come in at all sides

 

There are no more sacred spaces

Just look at all the faces

As they go to worship in churches

And a gunman uses pews as perches

To snuff out everyone he sees

And receives a meal for his deeds

The ultimate sanctity has been broken

Shooting up a church is an unspoken

Betrayal of all that is holy and civil

Peace shattered by a psycho

 

There are no more sacred spaces

Just look at all the faces

Their eyes are permanently dilated

Scarred by evil incinerate

Going to work is a clear and present danger

When a coworker uses guns to express anger

And blood begins to flow like rain

Never to earn a living again

Because they came in to make a living

Just to be murdered by a cold-hearted villain

 

There are no more sacred spaces

Just look at all the faces

Children are no longer safe at home

But instead, shed blood and bone

As parents commit filicide

Driving off cliffs into ocean tides

Or stuffing them into couches to smother

Or being molested or harmed by mom’s lover

Leaving more questions than answers

A sickness that spreads like cancer

By system too broken to protect

Those suffering abuse and neglect

 

There are no more sacred spaces

Just look at all the faces

As they exist within their own skin

On a scale that deems darkness a sin

When they see those flashing lights

And their guilt is deemed by flight

And bullets blaze all around them

Murdered by cops forever condemning

Dark skin to death due to cowardly fear

Only to walk away when the smoke has cleared

 

There are no more sacred spaces

Just look at all the faces

As they celebrate in a marathon crowd

Or an outdoor concert celebrating loudly

Oblivious to the impending peril

Of ticking bombs or the sights of a gun barrel

Victimized by a cruel declining civilization

As powers-that-be argue over legislation

While we witness the castration

Of the peace of a powerful nation

 

There are no more sacred spaces

Just look at all the faces

That vote on the whim of hope

Our way of life is on a slippery slope

Because we took our eyes off the prize

Valuing wealth over human life

Sacred spaces are dissipating

As the nation is segregating

And as our children are dying

And evil continues its uprising

 

There are no more sacred spaces

Just look at all the faces

As they look to us for solutions

To put an end to all the pollution

All we can do is pray

That it will not remain this way

©2018 Kim R Woods All Rights Reserved

 

Last Semester in College, Out of Options

UPDATE- Message from Malik’s mom:

“One week ago, I was overwhelmed with worry and distress over whether my son would return to school this week. Then my sister Kim (aka the wind beneath my wings) created a donation page and with just one initial donation, the love and support started flowing in. I want to thank everyone who shared and/or donated and prayed for Malik’s return to school. They took a partial payment and he was able to return to school today and register for classes. This could not have happened without a community of people who cared enough to donate, and share the post. I am now overwhelmed in a profoundly grateful way!
The abundance of love and inspiration has been nothing short of amazing; and I am humbled by the kindness of strangers! I’m not FB friends with everyone who shared or donated but please share this post with those who received the original post! THANK YOU ALL!
Henry Rosemon Nadine Rosemon, Tracy Rosemon, Nicole Langston, Belinda Ramos
Sabrina L. Williams Loren Moore
Maisha Nailah Nicole Layton
Corey Rosemon Deneen Collins Sharese Simmons
Miguel Anderson, Emanuel Alexander Kawanda T Johnson Kenneth and Ora Pittman. Carmela C, Michelle Nickolaisen, Carl Young, Laverne Woods, Latarsha Leveston-Green, Litesa Wallace, Chris Hutchinson Shekinah Carrera, Kathryn Kappes, Michelle Guido, Joseph Coates, Heidi Paugh, Nicole Mijatovic-Torres, Chanel Philips” 

Thanks to you, we were able to convince the school to allow him to register- knowing our efforts to raise the funds.  Please, support us.  As of today we are looking for these #DreamMakers:

11 people to donate 100  OR

15 people to donate 75

23 people to donate 50

46 people to donate 25

115 people to donate 10

Also, PLEASE don’t dismiss $5.00 or $1.00.  EVERY dollar helps Malik.  You can also send PayPal to:  paypay.me/krose125 or PayPal my sister (Malik’s mom) at denise.rosemon@gmail.com.  We need a miracle to help him graduate this year.  You can be that miracle.  Thank you!

https://www.youcaring.com/malikstuckey-1065184

Hello, friends.  As you SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESknow, I have used my platform to speak for those who have no voice.  Today I am writing for a young man who has surpassed many obstacles, working extremely hard in high school and college.  He has worked jobs throughout his high school/college journey to defray costs.  He is charismatic, responsible, and highly intelligent.  He is currently one semester away from graduating from college at Western Illinois University and he needs your help.

Please help Malik Stuckey, my nephew, complete his education.  Our family has sacrificed to get him this far and we are tapped out of options. He will not be able to register for his last semester next week if we can’t raise the funds he needs.  Please go to https://www.youcaring.com/malikstuckey-1065184 and donate.  If you can’t donate, we ask that you please SHARE the link above and/or repost this blog to signify your support.

We are only as strong as the children we release into the world and my nephew truly deserves to complete his hard-earned education.  Thank you!

Last Semester in College, Out of Options

UPDATE- Message from Malik’s mom:

“One week ago, I was overwhelmed with worry and distress over whether my son would return to school this week. Then my sister Kim (aka the wind beneath my wings) created a donation page and with just one initial donation, the love and support started flowing in. I want to thank everyone who shared and/or donated and prayed for Malik’s return to school. They took a partial payment and he was able to return to school today and register for classes. This could not have happened without a community of people who cared enough to donate, and share the post. I am now overwhelmed in a profoundly grateful way!
The abundance of love and inspiration has been nothing short of amazing; and I am humbled by the kindness of strangers! I’m not FB friends with everyone who shared or donated but please share this post with those who received the original post! THANK YOU ALL!
Henry Rosemon Nadine Rosemon, Tracy Rosemon, Nicole Langston, Belinda Ramos
Sabrina L. Williams Loren Moore
Maisha Nailah Nicole Layton
Corey Rosemon Deneen Collins Sharese Simmons
Miguel Anderson, Emanuel Alexander Kawanda T Johnson Kenneth and Ora Pittman. Carmela C, Michelle Nickolaisen, Carl Young, Laverne Woods, Latarsha Leveston-Green, Litesa Wallace, Chris Hutchinson Shekinah Carrera, Kathryn Kappes, Michelle Guido, Joseph Coates, Heidi Paugh, Nicole Mijatovic-Torres, Chanel Philips” 

Thanks to you, we were able to convince the school to allow him to register- knowing our efforts to raise the funds.  Please, support us.  As of today we are looking for these #DreamMakers:

11 people to donate 100  OR

15 people to donate 75

23 people to donate 50

46 people to donate 25

115 people to donate 10

Also, PLEASE don’t dismiss $5.00 or $1.00.  EVERY dollar helps Malik.  You can also send PayPal to:  paypay.me/krose125 or PayPal my sister (Malik’s mom) at denise.rosemon@gmail.com.  We need a miracle to help him graduate this year.  You can be that miracle.  Thank you!

https://www.youcaring.com/malikstuckey-1065184

Hello, friends.  As you Malik silhouetteknow, I have used my platform to speak for those who have no voice.  Today I am writing for a young man who has surpassed many obstacles, working extremely hard in high school and college.  He has worked jobs throughout his high school/college journey to defray costs.  He is charismatic, responsible, and highly intelligent.  He is currently one semester away from graduating from college at Western Illinois University and he needs your help.

Please help Malik Stuckey, my nephew, complete his education.  Our family has sacrificed to get him this far and we are tapped out of options. He will not be able to register for his last semester next week if we can’t raise the funds he needs.  Please go to https://www.youcaring.com/malikstuckey-1065184 and donate.  If you can’t donate, we ask that you please SHARE the link above and/or repost this blog to signify your support.

We are only as strong as the children we release into the world and my nephew truly deserves to complete his hard-earned education.  Thank you!