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Monday, June 4, 2018

The ideology behind white supremacy




Where did we go wrong?  It’s a question that I ask myself repeatedly from time to time.   And before I get too far along in this editorial, I have to preface it by saying that certain paragraphs are going to come off as politically incorrect…perhaps even racist.

In re-reading this publication, I may come away with that same impression even though I believe with every fiber of my being that I don’t have a racist bone in my body.

But things have changed.  Racism has returned to the surface full force and it’s an issue that must be dealt with.  We are not afforded the luxury of saying that it doesn’t exist even when we know it does.  We are seeing more evidence of blatant racism now than ever before.

It is said that the more things change, the more they remain the same…and never has this been more apparent than in 2018.  But racism has morphed (or is in the process of morphing) into something else.  People of color are not being lynched from trees the way that we were one hundred years ago.  We are not being arrested for vagrancy because we don’t have money, property or jobs to go to as they did freely in the Jim Crowe era.  We are not being incarcerated at an alarming rate under the guise of declaring a war on drugs when it really was a war on people of color.

Instead, our institutions are being steadily eroded to the point where right is wrong and wrong is consistently being made right all in the name of an ideology that somehow, white people have been forgotten and in that left behind.  It doesn’t matter that this has been the experience of people of color for entire lifetimes and generations.

It doesn’t matter that in every major corporation that I have ever worked for, the ratio of people of color in managerial/supervisory roles were disproportionate to the people working in roles that would be considered subordinate.

It doesn’t matter that what is important to me and my well being is considered to be inconsequential to people that don’t look like me.  I say this with honesty as this has been my experience foremost of my adult life.

In the era that we are living in now, the institutions that have been put in place to protect us have been turned into weapons.  Some white people have been emboldened to use the words nigger, chink and wetback in an effort to demean and belittle; as if the target of these words were somehow not capable of feeling…or even worse, that they deserved to be called it in the first place.  

We are living in an era where people of color are looked at with more disdain and mistrust than ever.  We are watched with suspicion in stores, told where we can and cannot be and labeled as drug dealers all in the name of an ideology that somehow, the forgotten white people…white people that feel as if they have been left behind is right and justified in their feelings and that everyone else is wrong.

It is the same demographic of white people who feel as if they are having their rights infringed upon  which coincidentally are often the same ones that will call the police because they feel as if a person of color isn’t accepting or acknowledging that somehow, they are superior and how dare we forget that.

They frequently use terminologies that would label themselves as patriots and that somehow, most people of color don’t get that concept because we did not originate from here.  Or we don’t know or understand the concept of sacrifice when we have, in fact, making sacrifices all our lives.  They tell people that don’t look like them that they need to get out of “their” country and go back to where they belong; as if somehow they are the only ones that have the right to lay claim to this country.

After all, the term “black/brown” flight does not exist.  But you can look up the definition of “white flight” in the Mirriam Webster dictionary and it is there for you to see:

Definition of white flight
: The departure of whites from places (such as urban neighborhoods or schools) increasingly or predominantly populated by minorities

This issue goes much farther and deeper than the subject of where some people choose to live.  It is a reason why they make those decisions in the first place.  It is not just the desire of wanting to live among their own kind.  After all, that would be tribalism.  The real question is the reasoning or “whys” of white flight in the first place.  And one of the simplest reasons for this is the word, “equality.”

Some white people have no desire to learn anything about anyone else’s culture, traditions, needs or wants.  The farther away the better because if they get too close, they may be forced to reckon with the fact that people of color are just like them.  That we feel…just like them.  That we love…just like them.  That we care for our children…just like them.

That indeed, we are no different than them.

But some of them are clinging to a notion that they are better.  They are holding on to the ideology that equality can exist as long as they get the best and first fruits of this country and everyone else gets what’s left over.  And the sad part about that thought process is that it is this concept is not equality at all.  It’s like saying I don’t mind getting old just as long as I look the same.
And yet, some have murdered, maimed, tortured, raped and imprisoned in the name of a superiority that never existed.

But when you put the paint to the wall, how superior are you really if you have to maim, torture, rape, murder and imprison to prove to yourself and countless others that you really are superior?  It’s ironic that truly superior people don’t have to infringe on other people’s livelihood to substantiate their value.  Superiority is a concept made up by man to present to his fellow man’s role as being one of servitude.

I am not a radical.  I am a realist.  I’ve always been a person that disagrees with every fiber of my being that one race is not greater than another.  I believe that everyone has value.  I’ve believe that everyone is entitled to that positive sense of self-worth and that it does not belong to one race of people to withhold or deny.

I’m not a racist.  But given our current political and social climate, I can see the inclination, although it will never be directed at the white men and women that love me for everything I am as well as everything that I am not.

I am angry at the ones that see me as somehow being “less than” and “less deserving.”  I am angry at the ones that look at equality, not as a tool to give everyone equal say in our society but one of oppression.  

It annoys me that you can’t acknowledge me when I nod my head to acknowledge you in passing; that your way of acknowledgement is to not acknowledge me at all by looking past me as if I didn’t exist.  And I cannot tell you how much it bothers me that these same people will say that they aren’t racist when in fact, they are.

Perhaps, what is the most disturbing is the reference to people of color being animals.  That immigrants seeking safety from persecution on our shores are being referred to as people that aren’t even human at all; and therefore deserving of any punishment they receive.  Because it’s not that they are breaking the law.  A defined path should be outlined and made available.

Men of color have been deemed a societal threat since we were freed as slaves.  We are viewed as the main perpetrators of violent crimes when statistically; this isn’t the case at all. 

1.

I enjoy a very close, tightly knit circle of friends from various racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  I have revealed things to these people because I know that what we have supersedes anything that society says we should have and be.  These people have laughed with me; cried with me; rejoiced with me, leaned on me and I in turn have leaned on them because we have something that is so powerful and beautiful in its simplicity that it is very much worth sharing…we love one another.

But in order to have this, it really is time for us to stop seeing our differences and instead see our similarities.  We need to figure out ways to stop the senseless hatred and instill peace in our lives.  People aren’t born to hate.  Hatred is taught.  But it takes effort to hate.  It takes a concerted effort for people to not see others as human beings.  

Because at the end of the day, every single life has value and every single life matters.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Resources:
2.      History of white supremacy:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_supremacy



Sunday, April 22, 2018

What Goes On In The Mind Of A Battered Woman?



 NOTE - This is a reproduction of an interview that took place 7 years ago

Several years ago, The Examiner reviewed RadiKal Publications, “Twisted Pleasures” by author Shirelle “Diamond” Hogans.  The book told the story of five women who were all the victims of domestic abuse.  Today, I sits down with four of the five women who will tell their story in detail, providing answers to questions that some of you may have.  How did she get into her situation?  Why did she stay?  If she went back, what was the reasoning?  And most importantly, how did she summon the strength and courage to finally leave and start her life anew?
            Today, author Shirelle “Diamond” Hogans and contributors Tanisha, Jenelle and Shivice will tell their stories as only they know how in an effort to prevent their experiences from being repeated.  This will be the first of three installments.  Now more than ever, their stories bear repeating.  Consider the sobering statistics below:
  1. One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
  2. Between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic violence each year.
  3. Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
  4. Intimate partner violence affects people regardless of income.However, people with lower annual income (below $25K) are at a 3-times higher risk of intimate partner violence than people with higher annual income (above $50K)
JL:  Can you briefly describe what your life is like now?  How are you doing and would you mind telling us your current relationship status?

Shirelle
SHIRELLE:  My life now is a happy one. I never thought I would be "here". My relationship status is "drama free".  I'm single. I've been single now for the longest period in my life.   I was always with someone in the past.  The past few years of discovering me almost drove me crazy, but I'd rather be alone than be unhappy.

SHIVICE:  My life is good.  I am now an author of a book called "Rape... The Ultimate Forgiveness" scheduled for release this summer. I am currently working on a poetry album. I am currently single and am still aware of some of my past issues. I don't let my past control my future. 

TANISHA: My life has lots of ups and downs.  It's been a struggle for me since 2008 when I lost my job. I am a graphic design student and I try my best to keep busy! I recently secured a position so now I'll be working a full time traditional job while doing my photography and taking a lighter load for the school fall 2011 semester.  I am now divorced. Currently I am single BUT I am a good thang waiting to be found!   (Smile)  I would like to be in a relationship eventually. The wait is rough, but I definitely don't want to botch it up like the last time so I ask the Lord to get me ready and get him ready. Preparation is indeed necessary. A premature anything is risky!

JENELLE:  My life is great. I am happily married with 2 boys (one from a previous marriage).  I am working in ministry with my husband. I never thought I would be married to a pastor but I wouldn’t change it for anything.  I am also modeling and acting.  I’m currently filming a pilot for a TV series call End Game Dark Pawn. I can honestly say I am truly happy.
Shivice
 JL:  What were some of your previous relationships like?

SHIRELLE:  Very unhealthy.  Looking back, I can’t recall ever feeling loved.  Tolerated…yes. Strongly liked… yes, but not loved. Even with my ex-fianc├ęs…we were just playing house until something better came along.  I am a giver...and that seemed to be a magnet to people who were takers.  I'm not bashing any of them.  It’s just that we were young and trying to discover what love was...only to conclude we knew what love WASNT.

SHIVICE:  I struggled in my relationships. I had trust issues. I was emotionally unattached and used men at their emotional expense.  My method was to hurt them before they could hurt me… even if their intention wasn’t to hurt me. If I felt anyone getting too close or if I thought they were starting to have some type of feelings for me, I would push them away.

TANISHA:  Before I got married my previous relationships were just sex. It seemed like I was the only one putting forth any effort. I wanted so badly to be LOVED. I always ended up choosing men that were takers. They took the sex and that was it. They weren't interested in committing, and I know now that I allowed that. There were no wine and dine experiences, movies, walks on the beach, trips, NOTHING! Back in the day I remember paging dudes and waiting on them to call back.  Man, that was the worst! They dealt with you when they wanted to. I gave them too much control and didn't exercise putting my foot down or cutting them off. My ex-husband was actually my first "real" relationship.
Jenelle
JENELLE:  Some of my previous relationships were controlling and manipulative. It was controlling in the aspect that I had to maintain a certain level of beauty in order to stay in a relationship with some of the men I dated.  If I gained weight, I would get dumped.  If I wasn’t looking perfect at all times, I got called names such as ugly. My kindness was taken advantage of by a lot of guys I dated.  I had money stolen from me several times.  I was used because I had my own car and my own place.

JL:  What were some of the characteristics that you were looking for in a partner at that time?  What are you looking for in a partner now?
SHIRELLE:  Back then I was looking for fun and comfort from a lifetime of pain…Someone to protect me from the "boogey-man" so to speak. They had to have some height and be physically strong.  Back then, I didn’t have a laundry list of requirements. I wanted to be safe and I wanted to laugh, and I did anything to get it. My list of things I wanted in a man began to grow after every bad relationship.  I eventually crossed off the "thuggish" type of man and replaced it with a man that has strength and character. Now, I am waiting to meet the man that can caress my heart with his words and ease my mind with his actions. I am awaiting someone who knows and values my worth as I have fought to discover.  What I'm looking for now is someone confident about who they are and doesn’t make jump through hoops like I'm a circus act for their love and affection.  I guess I want someone that will never make me cry (unless it’s because of something good).

SHIVICE:  Because my father wasn't around, I was looking for a father figure…someone to guide me, love me and hopefully take the pain away. But the simple reality was that always became the fairytale dream…unrealized.
Tanisha
TANISHA:  You know what?  I use to want to date hustlers. And I LOVED me a thug! Timberland boots, saggy jeans, nice ride with rims, loud music and of course money! This is what attracted me! I was so materialistic. Money outweighed the looks too. I would date an ugly man if he had money.  So sad but true.

JENELLE:  At the time, I was looking for someone who was honest and truthful.  I was looking for someone who truly cared about me and didn’t use me for money or for material possessions.  I wanted someone who liked me just the way I was and didn’t try to change me in any way.

JL: Did any of you experience any emotional, sexual or psychological trauma at an early age?

SHIRELLE:   Yes.  I experienced all the above…past emotional/physical/sexual abuse -abandonment issues with my father, estranged relationship with my mother even though she raised me and we lived in the same house most of my childhood.  I was molested by family members and "extended" family members. I was raped by a man I thought was my blood uncle, and I am just discovering now that he's not who I thought he was.  All of this and some insecurity and self-worth issues played a part in my choice of men in my life.

SHIVICE:  Yes.  I was molested at the age of 9.  I was raped at the age of 13 and then at the age of 17 I was raped in the custody of my foster parent.

TANISHA:  For me, my father not being around was emotional. I was so angry! I was mean and did not have even the slightest residue of love in my heart for anyone! I always said, "I don't have a daddy." I was hurt because his family didn't know about me…that he only came around a few times a year and my mom struggled to take care of us and he barely gave her anything to assist. Like she made me on her own! Don't get me started… LOL! There was no LOVE...he never told me he LOVED me, showed me he cared. I don't remember hugs, spending ANY time with him outside the house. Like who are you? So I really felt like that played a huge part in what I was seeking from men.

JENELLE:  No I never experienced anything like that at an early age. Well let me say I don’t remember.  After my rape when I was 17, I learned to block a lot of things out of my memory.

            There are so many reasons why our women make the choices that they make; and by “our” women, I mean all of our mothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, cousins and nieces regardless of race or ethnicity.  Some of what the women that agreed to participate in this interview has to say are graphic and to the point.  They make no apologies for it nor should they.  It is intended for you to see what goes on in the minds and hearts of women all over the world who have been in this situation.  If you have any comments, please feel free to post them at the appropriate section of this page.  Also, please join us for the second installment of this eye opening interview.  If one woman can be spared the pain that the participants in this discussion experienced, then it will be worth it.

J.L. Whitehead

RESOURCES:

 Domestic Violence Resource Center – www.dvrc-or.org
  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, July     2000. The Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999
  2. Rennison, C. (2003, Feb).  Intimate partner violence.  Us. Dpt. of Justice/Office of Justice Programs.  NXJ 197838.
    Straus, M. & Gelles, R. (1990).  Physical violence in American families.  New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers.
    Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000).  Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner violence.  National Institute of Justice, NCJ 181867.
  3. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Violence Against Women: Estimates from the Redesigned Survey, August 1995.
  4. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.

           








Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why Now?


Why did I decide to tell my story after all this time?  That's a question that has been asked of me many times.  It's a question that I ask myself from time to time.  After all, what good could come from all of this?  What good could come from talking about something that happened to me in the seventies?

It's complicated.

But I'll try to explain it to you.

For decades, I've always thought that something was wrong with me.  I couldn't put my finger on it directly, but I knew in my heart that something was out of kilter for me.  As a child, I knew that I was socially challenged.  Well, maybe challenged isn't the right word.  Maybe the more appropriate descriptive would be awkward.  I knew that I didn't fit in with my peers, but for the life of me I didn't know why.

I knew that what happened to me at the age of thirteen was wrong in so many ways and on so many levels.  And logically, I know that I wasn't of age to give consent even if I wanted to.  But when all of that was happening, I thought that I was more of a willing participant than I really was.

I've made poor choices throughout my life.  But I also made many good ones.  Hindsight being what it is, I now know that I could have done better.  One common saying is, "you have to do better to be better."

What happened to me all those years ago changed who I would have been. I know this now beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I wish I could tell you who I would have been.  I wish I knew.

Now, while I don't lay all of my mistakes and shortcomings on what happened to me all those years ago, I made the correlation between what happened and who I ultimately became.  I managed to connect the dots.

I know that while I am human and prone to mistakes and misgivings, what happened to me shaped me emotionally.

I know why I made the choices that I made.


What I know is that what was done to me changed my perspective on life .  It altered my senses and changed my thought processes.  Instead of focusing on what was important, I focused on what felt right in the moment.  Instead of thinking of my future and what would make me successful, I placed my efforts on instant gratification.  I honed in so hard on what would make me happy at that point in time that I neglected the very thing that was important for me to succeed in life.  My self-esteem had been compromised to the point that I felt like I didn't have value even though a part of me knew I did.

I was willing to change who I was to accommodate whoever I was with at the time in the hopes that they would give me what I needed, not realizing that what I really needed was the freedom to be me.

I looked to someone else to validate me when I should have been doing it for myself  all along.  And I believed the horrible things that people would say about me, allowing that to form who I was instead of allowing it to being relegated to being the smallest part of me.  I allowed my good intentions for everything that I did to take a back seat to the truths and untruths of the malicious words of my associates, co-workers, family, partners and enemies.

People that could see my weaknesses would pounce if I gave them reason.  And over the years, I have given people many reasons to attack me.  People would attack if for no other reason than knowing that they could. 

Most of this happened because of a few events that occurred back to back at the age of thirteen. 
And while I willingly own up to my flaws, I now know why I made poor relationship choices.  I know why I may have drank too much.  I know why at one point in time I drugged too much.  I know why I lost myself in things that were so inconsequential, but at the time felt like it was of dire importance.

And if I could find out these things now and connect the dots, then so can others.

My story may not be like yours exactly but there may be parts that resonate with you.

What I hope is that you come away with a better sense of self.  What I hope is that you will come to realize that you are more than an unfortunate event(s) that took place a while ago.

What I hope is that you discover that despite the choices that you may have made in your life that may not have been great, there is still time to make good ones.

Link to purchase "Groomed" by Jerome L. Whitehead

~ Jerome L. Whitehead

Saturday, February 24, 2018

"United or Divided"

I have been trying to understand how our nation has become so polarized.  I've been trying to wrap my head around how I suddenly have so many people that are my enemies instead of people whose political beliefs differ from mine.

I can understand why people choose to stand behind their political candidate.  That candidate, after all, embodies what they believe.  They have placed their hopes for the betterment of this country in that candidate and believe with all sincerity that the candidate will be able to deliver on what ever promises have been made not just on the campaign trail, but also also during their tenure while in office.

Right now, the political climate has been denigrated to an "us versus them" mentality.  We spend more time fighting one another...challenging the other party's intentions and motives as opposed to coming up with viable solutions that will serve the American people.

One of the correlations that I see with our current president and the people that support him is that in the course of being patriotic and moving forward with his (or their) agenda, they have to have an enemy.

I don't think that a day has gone by where the president has not attacked or lashed out at someone, even if it is member's of his own party.  And likewise, his supporters also lash out, sometimes in his defense; sometimes in support of his policies.  But the common thread is that someone has to be an enemy.  It's something that I see over and over.

When I listened in part to the president's speech to CPAC yesterday, I lost interest when they started to chant "lock her up."  This chant, which was so popular during the 2016 campaign is still prevalent today even though the campaign ended over a year ago.

Someone has to be an adversary.  Someone has to be the brunt of an attack because the president and his supporters may feel as if they are under attack.  And so they lash out.  Over and over again.  But I realize that the issue at hand isn't just because of party affiliation and a difference of opinion.  What we are living in goes far beyond that.

We are spending more time focusing on our differences than our similarities.  We have honed in on what we believe and that somehow, that translates to the fact that we are always right and that our adversary is somehow always wrong.  And when we take that approach, we become a nation that is divided against itself.  And we all know that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

We can agree to disagree.  But the moment that we try to silence the other party in their message, whether we believe that message is right or wrong, we become complacent...that is, we are comfortable with having enemies.  We are happy with "us versus them."

While I will never be a supporter of this current president,  people need to understand why there are those of us that will not.  Maybe the dialogue that needs to take place isn't so much around the differences of opinion, but why we have those differences of opinion in the first place.  Because if we can have that, maybe, just maybe, we can mend fences and find solutions that will better all of us as Americans.

I say this because our enemies are watching us.  And they are waiting.

Because remember, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

~ J.L. Whitehead




Sunday, December 10, 2017

Owning Up To Your Mistakes

Even though the book has been written, I still feel a little uncomfortable in telling my story.  It's not that I didn't think that the story didn't deserve being told.  It's not that I am uncomfortable with what happened to me at the age of six and thirteen.  It's not even that I was ashamed of my thought processes in choosing a partner to spend the rest of my life with.

The issue is that although I have no regrets about writing the book, I wonder what the fallout is going to be.  I wonder who will benefit from my story as well as who will find me at fault for who I was at the time.

With our current climate of sexual misconduct running rampant in our government, we must reconcile within ourselves that this is not the only area where this type of abuse occurs.  We must understand that it occurs more often than we like to think.  It occurs everyday in every aspect of our society.  Victims are women, men, boys, girls and children.

We don't want to admit that because to do so would be to rip away the illusion of a great society.  It will show our flaws and force us to come to grips with the fact that we may not be as great as we thought we were.

It may cause us to take a look at the ills that pervade our souls and force us to come to reckon with something that we don't want to acknowledge.

We have to work on what and who we want to be as a people.  We have to work to change who we are.  We have to own up to our faults and mistakes and then strive to  make it and be better.

But the first step is dealing with the cards that have been dealt; right or wrong, and take ownership of what is wrong with us in the first place.

I admit my mistakes.  I lay bare my flaws.  And as I embark on this journey to try to make this world a bit of a better place by telling my story, I realize that this is just the beginning.


I know that some will read this book and take me to task and call me on my flaws and mistakes.  I know that some will accuse me of piggy backing off the current climate of sexual misdeeds and believe that I am looking to make a quick buck.

I assure you that this is not the case.  I began this book five years ago...on the eve of my fifty-first birthday to be precise.

We have such a long way to go to claim who we once were as a people...because as a people, we are flawed even if we don't want to admit it.

We have to address what is within us before we can fix it.  In many ways, it's what I have done and continue to do everyday.  It doesn't make me perfect and I certainly cannot undo the wrong choices that I have made or the people that I have hurt along the way.

But I can continue on my journey knowing that I can either be the best of me or the worst of me.  I choose to be the best of me.  And even more importantly, I cannot allow anyone to define me now by the mistakes that I have made in the past.

This is my journey.  This is my story.  It's not perfect and it doesn't have the proverbial happy ending, but it is mine just like your story is yours.

I will continue to speak my truth and try to live the rest of my life in way that God intended.

But we need to understand that in order to deal with a problem; in order to fix an issue or right a wrong...we must take that first step and acknowledge that something in us has gone awry.


~ J.L. Whitehead


Monday, June 12, 2017

Who Is This Man?

I have never been as aware of politics as I am in this moment.  Perhaps it is because I am watching history being made.  Maybe it's because I have never seen a president like this come to power and be devoid of basic characteristics of human decency like the ability to empathize with others that are  not like him.  Perhaps it is because I am very much against the policies that this president is making.  Or maybe I have never seen someone so consumed with the role that they currently occupy that it astounds me at how much he has or has not accomplished in the short amount of time that he has been president.

Many people refuse to even acknowledge that he is indeed the president of the United States.  Many refer to him as "45", representational of the number of presidents that have had the privilege to govern this country.

I watch this man and I shake my head because every time he says or does something, he proves that he is not fit to run this country.  Some of you would disagree with me and for those of you that do, you are entitled to.  After all, this is a free country and we are entitled to free speech; and since this is my platform, I can express my opinion in the way that I see fit.

Trump has bothered me long before he came to power.  He bothered me because he seemed to be a person that is full of himself and had little empathy for his fellow man.  He bothered me in the same way that any billionaire who has no concept of what it is like to struggle or live paycheck to paycheck would.  He has always painted himself in the image of someone who is above everyone else around him.

He has done little to change that image.  In fact, if anything, he has said and done things to exacerbate it.  Mr. Trump is flawed.  This we can all agree on.  But the flaws in his character run so deep and it is counter to what the characteristics of a president should embody that you have to wonder who sees this.  And for his supporters, why are they willing to turn a blind eye to a man that is so consumed with self that he can't seem to govern for all people.



Yes, I said it.  All people.  As the president of the United States, you cannot just create rules, regulations and policies that would help the people that support you.  That is not the role that you signed up for.  Nor can you ignore the constitution which he seems to do on a regular basis.

His budget, if it passes, will hurt the poor the most.  His policies will help the super wealthy maintain their wealth and the lifestyle that comes with it even if it is at the expense of the middle class.

The image that he paints of himself is someone that is arrogantly self-assured despite that fact that he craves praise and adoration as much as a newborn craves his mothers milk.

He needs loyalty because that is how someone with those defects of character navigate the waters of society.  He needs to know that people will put him first and above all others even if it means that they have to compromise their personal values to do so.

I am not a fan of the president.  Perhaps I never will be.  And the reason is very simple:

You cannot be the leader of the free world and govern for only a small percentage of the country that took an oath to serve.  You cannot stand for the suppression of the rights of people that form a portion of our society.  You cannot create legislation that will benefit people like you...people that share your societal circle and ignore the people that don't.

So who is this man?  Take an honest look.  Take a good hard look and ask yourself if this is someone that really represents your values as a citizen of the United States.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Survivor's Tale: Patricia's Story

On April 2, 2012, I conducted an interview with Patricia McKnight.  At the time, I was a writer for an online publication entitled, "The Examiner."  Ms. McKnight is an advocate for child abuse, domestic abuse and as of late has become one of the many voices that speak out against human trafficking.  In addition to advocating for the rights of the defenseless, she also heads up a radio program entitled "Your Voice Radio Network."

Ms. McKnight is an abuse survivor and although the original article is currently not available, I decided to reprint a copy of the original interview so that the many victims who have endured abuse in any way, shape or form will know that they are not alone.

This is Patricia's story:



Abuse: A survivor’s tale
Patricia’s Story
It’s a beautiful, quiet day today.  There’s a slight chill to the air as I look outside my window at the rows of beautifully kept homes lined with lush trees with light green grass that will turn to a deep green as we glide from winter to spring.  And as I look at these homes, the first thing that crossed my mind is not how wonderful the neighborhood appears, but what is really going on behind the closed doors of some of these beautiful homes.
I thought about that as I began to write this article because I know that domestic abuse is the crime that hides in plain sight.  I know from talking to abuse victims, that there are telltale signs but many people choose to ignore them.  No one wants to reach out to help the victim.  Some simply choose not to get involved.
I met Patricia McKnight through one of the previous articles that I had written.  She is an advocate for the rights of battered spouse and abused child.  But what makes Ms. McKnight so intriguing is not who she is, but where she came from.  An introduction is not needed.  Instead, judge for yourself as you read Patricia’s Story.

JL:  Do you remember when your particular circumstance of abuse started for you?

PM: This moment I will never forget. Returning home from a weekend with my most beloved grandmother and my father's family; having celebrated my fifth birthday with them. As she said goodbye to my brother and I there was a very tight hug and I could feel her very special love for me, but that would be the last time I saw her until my grandfather's passing at age 19. As I ran to my mother's door, returning home with my presents in hand and a very happy girl, I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw the evil spiraling out of a man's eyes who was sitting on our couch. A few months later he was left to care for my brother, the neighbor boys and myself while my mother attended her bridal shower. It was that night the snake of the devil made his first violent attack of molestation and perverted acts towards me, with the boys in the same room. The next twelve years of my life would be under his complete sadistic control, violent rape, years of night time visits; simply all of the ugliness and cruelty of abuse that you could possibly imagine plus much, much more. My mother had walked in on us when I was nine and found me in her bed, naked as he was using his "toy doll", but instead of rescuing me she got angry and sent me to my room for the night. I was not allowed to join in for dinner, but made to come out and clean up the mess. For years I was the family care taker, babysitter, cook, and housekeeper; but in simple terms...a SLAVE!! As I grew it was never safe to bathe in my home and I decided to quit bathing as a mode of protection. This resulted in a skin infection of some type that ate away at my arms and legs, leaving me now to be disgusted by my own reflection. There was never any medical care or dental care, not even the provision of a tooth brush. An entire community watched and was even disgusted by how I looked.  Many teachers and school mates were afraid they would catch something if they made contact with me.  The community and the police knew of drunken teenage parties, the violence of my stepfather's rage when he drank and many times there were brutal physical attacks public to everyone, but still no one said a word or ever questioned my safety or care.

JL:  What was the lowest point in life that you had to face?

PM:  I would say that the very lowest point of my life actually happened twice. The first was when my stepfather's sadistic desires lead to rape with a shotgun barrel. At that moment of only being 12, I physically died inside and my entire view of myself and what I deserved in life was changed for the next 25 years. It started me down a long term path of self-destruction and promiscuous behavior. Actually I became a very ugly person inside and out. I began drinking, which was highly promoted by my family life. I used marijuana and speed drugs to make me feel numb or escape into someone else. The men and relationships I chose to live were almost deadly. There were multiple attempts from various boyfriends and husbands to actually end my life. This came through beatings, kicking, choking, and drowning attempts. They used weapons to hold me captive in corners cowering and praying for my life. The only reason I am here today is because of the higher grace of God who for whatever reason made them stop at that precise moment and walk away rather than killing me. This was the pattern of accepted abuse and it was my life through three marriages and even a few simple dating relationships. The last beating was so severe that it lasted for two solid hours.
I was awakened at 4:00 am with my husband on top of me choking me. I was able to maneuver myself and reach my head up to fiercely bite his left upper wrist which caused him to let go, but set off a furious rage of punching, throwing, kicking, and finally trapping me naked in a corner of my son's room. He then used an old style heavy chrome legged chair…the kind from the 60's style kitchen set that served as an art table for my children. The chair became his fury and it was repeatedly smashed down on my back, head, and wherever he could connect. His stature was tall, lean and strong; but his rage made him insanely powerful. It took two hours before I could crawl to a phone after he spit on me and walked away. As I called 911 it came to me that our neighbors on the opposite side of the duplex had to be awakened by this fighting. You could hear between our homes as there was only a wall that separated the actual home. They turned a blind ear as many had done in the past. When the police arrived I was told that either both of us were going to jail or one had to leave. I forced myself up from the position at the top of the stairs, bruised; shaken; crying; searing with pain, but I decided at that moment I was done with this evil and never again would anyone get away with harming me. During my marriage to this husband, named "Marcus" in the novel, "My Justice", my children were living with us and I did not realize the impact the violence of our marriage was having on them. After I got away and with the support of a very dear friend who gave me safe place to stabilize my thoughts; it was then that I used the education I had worked for to begin a career in which I could take care of my children and myself and purchase a home for us to rebuild and create our safe world. It was important to try and mend what horrors they had experienced. When you are in the very pit of this evil, you don't often realize the damage done to your children as they cower and hide from the battles. This became my rebuilding point, my strength and desire to do better, live safe, and create a world for them to enjoy.

JL:  What did you do to change your circumstances?

PM:  The best thing I ever did to help myself was at 25 and pregnant with my third child, I went back to school. I completed my G.E.D. courses and went on to achieve valedictorian from a small business academy in Fredrick, Maryland - Abbie Business Institute. This gave me the belief in myself that I could actually be more and strive for more than all of the violence and control in my life. That night some 9 years later when I left my second husband; it was this education that gave me the ability to provide us with shelter, clothing, food and the necessities to survive without the financial control and violence of another.

JL:   Could you tell our readership about your publication and the programs that you are affiliated with?

PM:  In February 2011, I released the true graphic novel, "My Justice" and finally gave voice to that person who had been forced into the silence of torture and abuse. This was not only my freedom, but more as a way to apologize and explain to my children who their mother was and why there was so much pain in their lives. It also became my strength to reach out and connect with others who had survived these types of trauma. In January 2011 I started creating a "secret" group connection using the Facebook group applications. This is still safely running today and we have a small community of about 50 women who have overcome their circumstances and are now rebuilding their lives. I make it a point to check in with them, provide any resources they may need to get back on their feet. It's very hard work to actually rebuild the person you are, but if you truly want to be safe in your world it is something you must do; if not for yourself then for your children. Any woman who is struggling with this rebuilding and recovery process is welcome to reach out to me at facebook.com/triciagirl62 and we will discuss their needs and the support or resources they may need. Then we include them in our family of positive supporters who are growing stronger and brighter each day.
Also with the publication of "My Justice", I've been able to connect with some wonderful people. Best-selling author and advocate Peter Thomas Senese not only purchased and read my story, but gave rave reviews and provided two major press releases in the PRWeb site. He has become a friend and I've learned of all he is doing as an advocate. In my view his actions are sincerely directed at protecting our children.
I have been really blessed by connecting with the amazing team at Dreamcatchers for Abused Children. Not only did they do an interview of my story on their blog talk radio programing, but then brought me into this realm as a host for a special program; Survivors Speak Out. Of course this has grown tremendously, as my bond with the Founder/C.E. O. - Ms. Sandra Potter, who is a very well established author, but more so a strong and devoted advocate for the safety of all children. Also our President, Ms. Donna Kshir; a platinum level author and another sincerely devoted advocate. These two amazing ladies have given me the opportunity to reach out and inspire many lives. They've given me the position of Executive Director of the Dreamcatchers for Abused Children Blog Talk Radio Programing. We are revamping and refreshing our programing now. Our listeners from all around the world join in with me to share our stories, support those who are healing, inspire them to reach out and achieve their full potential.  We also discuss cases of abuse, provide education on awareness, prevention and intervention of many types of abuse. Our wide spectrum of violence in this world is not only the abuse, bullying, teen dating violence, self-harm, emotional scars and suicide of these victims; but more importantly using our voices and special guests to provide them comfort and knowledge to pass on to others. When we can discuss these crimes openly then we can remove that bond of silence within society and break down those barriers of shame that trap us in this world. This programing gives me the opportunity to touch people lives all over the world and inspire them to allow the rejuvenation of human kindness and caring, vigilance against these crimes and protecting the children in our circle. Those we see each day in our neighborhood and those within our family. We encourage everyone to at least check out our dedicated team of advocates and specialist; survivors and inspirers. You can find me on the show Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's by going to www.blogtalkradio.com/dreamcatchersforabusedchildren. You can also check out our new 24/7 live stream of every show recorded through wix.com/dreamcatcherstalkrad. Go to our website and find resources, books, testimonials, education materials and much more at www.dreamcatchersforabusedchildren.com . Everyone can also find our World Wide Non-Profit 501(c)3 at facebook.com/dreamcatchersforabusedchildren or myspace.com; Linkedin; Twitter and most any other social web tools.

JL:   How did this evolve into the blog talk radio program and would you provide the specifics such as when the show airs and your call in numbers?

PM:  Our show airs, three days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The broadcast starts at 9:00pm e.s.t. and is usually a two hour program, full of great information and amazing guests. All of our listeners are encouraged to call in and get involved in the discussions and can do so by calling (917)932-1132 and then press 1 to get in the queue and talk with me live. The most wonderful part of this is the comments left by our listeners who have repeatedly stated how well they loved the show, connecting with me, and most of all feel comforted and SAFE!! This is the most beautiful thing I could ever ask for; it tells me I am where I'm supposed to be now and I am using my past experiences in a very positive manner to enlighten and inspire others to keep moving forward.

JL: Would you mind telling the readership about your book entitled, "My Justice"?

PM:  This is a journal to my children to explain and apologize to them for the horrible pain they suffered because of the abuse I was "trained" to accept as normal in my world. You can find "My Justice" through Amazon.com / BN.com / Authorhouse.com and it's been published in the Kindle; Nook; E-Book and paperback formats. The cover of "My Justice" has received many wonderful comments about how well it truly connects with the body of this story. I have to give that credit to my wonderful son and very talented artist, Brett T. Sanders and his beginning business of KreAtion Studios. The substance and depth of this story has left an impact on all of its readers. They have reviewed it as being a "Magnificent well written story about a very horrific subject". It has been deemed "A learning tool for anyone who is involved directly with children to be watchful of the many silent signs of abuse and what can be hidden behind the neglected and dodging child". Author Peter Thomas Senese heralded this novel as "A call to arms for all human kind to stand against the abuses in our world, but also an amazing portrait of the survivor's determination to achieve that happiness in life and overcome each barrier to finally reach their FREEDOM!!"

 JL: What is the message that you want to convey to all women that are in situations of domestic abuse?

PM: Don't believe in the brainwashing emotional and physical abuse that anyone might subject you to. Find just one piece of belief in yourself and allow it to be the building blocks of your complete happiness. There is nothing in this world that you cannot achieve if you put forth the devotion to make it happen. It is very hard work, therapy is a great way to gain that support and create a "Positivity" list for yourself. Each day write down one positive something about yourself. Carry this list with you everywhere. As you are feeling beaten down and have no strength or energy to carry forward; especially when the anxiety and P.T.S.D. set in on you heavy, that is when you take out that list and began reading it over and over out loud to yourself. Saying each positive mention about yourself and truly believe in the words you are speaking; it will provide a huge helping tool to refocus your thoughts on the present surrounding of your life and what it is that is good in you as a person and in the new beautiful world you are building.

JL:  Would you mind providing all of your contact information in case someone reading this should be inclined to reach out to you?

PM: I sincerely love connecting with other survivors and creating that positive energy between us as we move forward in this mission of awareness and taking down that brick wall of silence. You can reach out to me in many ways, email me; tricia.mcknight@hotmail.com ; You will find me on Facebook - facebook.com/triciagirl62 ; Twitter - @tricialgirl62 or through my new blog site - survivorsjustice.com ; the Dreamcatchers for Abused Children website as above and for the blog talk programing as well. I encourage anyone who is suffering to reach out and connect with just one person you trust and allow the emotions that were forced to remain silent for so long to finally have a voice and be told. Talking about your past is a huge step in the healing process and no one should be forced to bury such horrific secrets of crimes against them; not crimes that they have committed. Remove the blame and shame from the victim and allow it to be placed where it should be, the evil monsters who attack us out of sick power to maintain control over what life has been given to us by the grace of God.
We all deserve the following positives in life and they have also been shared on the last page of my novel as a beginning list to your own "Positivity List" which will help you begin your own steps toward freedom and happiness.

Positive Thoughts About You
You deserve a safe place to sleep
You deserve respect
You deserve kindness and support
You deserve as much love as you freely give to others
You deserve roses in your garden of life

~ J.L. Whitehead