Violence is a disease. You don’t cure it by spreading the illness to more people. Game of Thrones via Gecko Fly
Kujichagulia: Self-determination that life’s unfortunate events or circumstances will not take control of one’s life; of one’s family, or child, or neighborhood. Dr. Bravada Garrett Akinsanya, founder and CEO of the African American Child Wellness Institute (AACWI) and co-host of “Conversations with Al McFarlane” Friday Healing Circle would attest there are certain things within our control and power. Speaking that power into existence is the key. It’s called social wellness.
“We can choose to use our hands to hug, or we will decide to harm. Eventually, some will learn they cannot dehumanize someone without losing part of who they are and a portion of their Divine appointment as a human being. I just want those holding guns to stand in a mirror and keep telling themselves, ‘I affirm my right to be. My life does matter,” said Akinsanya.
Lisa Clemons wore a police officer’s badge for 13 years until she began the critical work of her non-profit organization, A Mother’s Love. She emerged from the chaos of post George Floyd murder resulting in civil unrest around the country and around the world, as a prominent critic of a left-wing philosophy towards the police department. She heard shouts of “disband, defund,” and she declared “reform!”
“Violence experienced at the hands of law enforcement cannot be condoned, but all police don’t have that brutality-type reputation. Cops are human, too, but they are and should be held to a higher standard,” Clemons said. “We also recognize that 70% of African American households are headed by women and they needed support in holding their families together. We’ve stayed the course with many mothers and their children over the years.”
Spike Moss is often referred to as ‘the General’ and rightfully so. By the time the 40 plus year freedom fighter and civil and human rights activist had finished his truth discourse, I was temporarily stunned. The information was jarring and I sat there wanting people to hear him; to get the truth that was peeling off; and to want to do something about this deadly atrocity.
We deserve to be whole; we deserve to be free; and our children need to laugh and learn and feel love once more.
If the young people who formed Black Lives Matter had paid attention to what has been going on in the urban communities all over the country, they would have never used that catch phrase, Moss said. “They might have replaced it with the words ‘co-conspirators of their own demise’, as James Baldwin once wrote of black people. There’s been few villages or visions in 20 years, and with the staggering statistics of gun violence, obviously Black lives haven’t mattered in quite some time. I went to my first gang conference in 1968 in St. Louis. It was sponsored by the Vice Lords out of Chicago. Believe me when I say, things have not changed.”
Moss continued by validating his declaration with raw facts. “The Ku Klux Klan has been in business for 173 years. We have now killed more black people than the Klan has in 173 years. The Viet Nam War went on for 5 years and we were 7% of the front line. We have now killed and wounded more Blacks than in the Viet Nam War. To date, over 200 have been shot in the Twin Cities not including the ones who were murdered. At the end of last year, the total figure was approximately 1,000 victimized in Minneapolis and St. Paul combined, Moss said. “Do Black Lives Really Matter?”
On one of his frequent prison visits around the country, Moss found himself in New Jersey visiting four prisons a day for a week. In addressing young men mostly of color, he realized these boys might be 50 or 60 years old when they would have a chance for freedom.
“I’m not upset about how many of you are here; how many years you were sentenced for your crime; or how young you are. I’m upset because you are here for doing something to someone who looks just like you,” Moss said he told the imprisoned men. “It reflects self-hatred.”
“But there’s no time for excuses, for them or for us. We have to teach and provide resources and places to heal,” Moss said.
Telling the story of how we arrived at a place where there are constant sounds of popping bullets and mothers’ cries when learning thier babies’ lives have been taken by stray bullets, Moss highlighted 1998 when then President Ronald Regan went on television and announced, ‘If you can go to the rest room yourself and you can feed yourself, we shall no longer take care of you in mental institutions.”
They emptied facilities and many very ill people found themselves living under bridges and on the highways and byways. These individuals got even sicker, Moss said.
“Another white man got on television and warned that in 30 years children would suffer from a new drug called ‘crack cocaine’. It would stifle learning, anger control, and create extreme anxiety. The children wouldn’t be able to sit still. At the end of 2020, it was reported that 1 in every 5 Americans are mentally ill. If one looks at an African American study, it will probably show every two or three in five. Then we poison these mentally ill people with dangerous drugs while making sure they have a loaded weapon that empties in seconds at their disposal to end of someone else’s life. And added to all that, let me sadly report that African Americans have the largest population of dysfunctional parents. They have the largest population of single mothers trying to figure out how to handle this life when they’ve never been taught to be women or mothers. We only comprise 14% of the country’s population. Who’s taking care of the children?”
Moss said “If there is a father figure in the home, there’s a chance he could be dysfunctional, chemically dependent, or on alcohol. Often, there’s no mother figure either. And if she’s there, she’s probably dysfunctional, too, living on chemical drug fixes every day, or on the street looking for a man. What kind of modeling are her children getting? They tell their five-year-olds not to get ‘punked’ when they go to school. To get the person back. Revenge. The child grows up getting revenge in the streets and walks away from school at 13. There’s been no guidance. And most of those holding a gun they don’t know how to use, haven’t had a hug in years.”
“We were fortunate as young people to have had a man by the name of Mahmoud El-Kati,” Moss boasts proudly and with admiration and respect. “He taught us the importance of being African American and being proud people; that we were not the N-word they told us and everyone else we were. We were not to disrespect our women, calling them ‘bitches and hoes’ or sing rap songs with degrading, demoralizing lyrics while our babies sit in the back seat. We were to call them Queens,” Moss said.
Pensive, Moss said he was tired of being mad, and yes, sometimes it took courage. He said, “We need a legion of healers. It’s what the famed educator Jaime Escalante did with a group of broken souls in East L.A. turning them around, making them believe in themselves, showing them they were loved.”
“You know, Dr. B.,” Moss concluded. I hate to say it, but unless we re-evaluate our current crises with urgency, answers, and resources, the only way this will all end is that we will kill off each other.”
Part 2 of the “Healing Circle” interview with Spike Moss, Tenanye Heard, Dr. Oliver Williams, Dr. B., Lillie Rankin, and Al McFarlane” offer solution recommendations.