An Open Letter to Those Who Still Give a Damn ::: John Pavlovitz

An Open Letter to Those Who Still Give a Damn

JULY 21, 2018 / JOHN PAVLOVITZ

From   JohnPavlovitz  Stuff That Needs to Be Said

It’s exhausting to give a damn isn’t it?

To be a person of compassion in a time when compassion is in such great demand?

To wake up every day in days like these, and push back against predatory politicians and toxic systems and human rights atrocities and acts of treason and spiritual leadership failures and Presidential Tweet tantrums—the volume and the relentlessness of the threats can be wearying.

You may have noticed.

I think you have.

And you’re not simply carrying around these big picture, larger systemic sicknesses and political realities—but the people behind them; the names and the faces and the lives of specific human beings who are under unprecedented duress right now; people whose stories you listen to and know and are living within, people you dearly love.

And day after day, all these massive realities and these individual stories begin to accumulate upon your shoulders and in your clenched jaw and in your elevated heart rate, and in the knot in your stomach that returns every morning when you check Twitter or turn on the news or step out into your community or walk into the kitchen—and you see so many reasons for grief, places so many places compassion is so needed and yet so scarce.

And worst of all, is how many people both at distance and very close to you, just don’t seem to give a damn; how the pain of other people simply doesn’t register in them anymore.

It seems like fewer and fewer people are capable of even an entry-level empathy for the suffering around them, and you’re seriously considering joining their ranks, because of how tired you are of carrying both your own and their share of compassion for a hurting humanity.

Not long after the election I purchased a blood pressure monitor. And not one of those manual base models, either. I went high-end, top of the line; full upper arm cuff, automated pressure, digital readout—the works. I soon stopped using it though, as it was a daily reminder of how stressed I was. I don’t look at it any longer. I don’t measure my blood pressure anymore. Now I just assume it’s dangerously high.

Those of us who give a damn all have new dangers assailing our hearts these days, and it is in this time of relentless urgency and sustained trauma and prolonged fatigue and profound fracture that you and I find ourselves.

I’m not sure why you’re reading this, but it’s probably because still you’re a damn-giver; because you are a fierce lover of humanity and of the planet, and of people who don’t look or worship or sound like you. As a result you probably find yourself pissed off, disconnected, isolated, worn out, and exhausted because how few people are as moved by the need around them as you are.

Whether you’re an activist or a minister or a parent or a caregiver, or just a citizen of the planet who is moved by other people’s suffering—you likely feel the immeasurable heaviness of these days. Sure, speed and activity can mask it for a while, but if you stop long enough, the reality of the fatigue catches up to you—you can measure the toll it’s all taken on you. I want you to measure it. I want you reckon with how tired you are. I want you to hear yourself exhale with the heavy sigh of someone who feels the weight of it all.

There is a cost to compassion, a personal price tag to cultivating empathy in days when cruelty is trending. There is in your body and head and in your midst, a collateral damage to you giving a damn when others do not, and it manifests itself in many ways: in irritability, impatience, physical illness, eating emotionally, addictive behavior, the inability to be present to the people who love you, an obsession with social media, a fixation on how jacked up everything is.

Notice these things in you today, and give them your attention.
Extend some of that compassion you’re so willing to extend to the world—to yourself.
Take some time to step away from the fray and the fight. It will still be there when you return, and you’ll be better able to face it.

Friend, I know you’re exhausted. If you’re not exhausted right now your empathy is busted. But I also know that you aren’t alone.
Millions of people are as tired as you are right now.
We too, live in disbelief at how callous so many people we know and love have become.
We too, are incredulous witnessing our elected leaders and parents and neighbors and pastors and parents and favorite aunts abandon any semblance of kindness.
We too, feel the fatigue of believing we’re doing this damn-giving alone.

You are in good company, so keep going.
Fight like hell to keep your heart soft, even while so many people have become hardened.
Yes the world is upside-down right now, but we can make it right—one beautiful act of decency at a time.
Get some rest and keep going.
The world needs people like you.

Blessed are the damn-givers, for they will right-side the world.

About John Pavlovitz  

John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. In the past four years his blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said has reached a diverse worldwide audience. A 20-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. In 2017 he released his first book, A Bigger Table. His new book, Hope and Other Superpowers, arrives on November 6th.

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Black-owned Makeup Brand Pat McGrath Projected to Surpass Kylie Cosmetics with $1B Valuation ::: Atlanta Black Star

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(Photo by John Phillips/BFC/Getty Images for BFC/ Kevin Tachman/Getty Images for Vogue)

 

Black-owned cosmetics company Pat McGrath Labs lands a $60 million investment deal with Eurazeo Brands has put the two-year-old business’ valuation in excess of $1 billion. That accomplishment, according toWomen’s Wear Daily, launches her ahead of Kylie Cosmetics, a brand that Forbes controversially said put reality star Kylie Jenner on track to become the youngest self-made billionaire.

A press release issued on behalf of Pat McGrath Labs, which was founded in 2016 by the world’s number one makeup artist Pat McGrath, said the investment will build on the British brand’s success. It will also expand the company’s U.S. distribution to 90 Sephora stores in the fall as well as increase worldwide demand. Eurazeo Brands will become a minority shareholder in the company. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“It has always been my dream to create an iconic beauty brand that goes beyond the usual limitations, that lives outside the parameters of what is expected,” McGrath said in a statement of her company that swiftly transformed modern beauty with its must-have, straight-from-the-runway makeup experience. “I am thrilled to be working with the unique and expert team at Eurazeo Brands.”

Her brand has become a major staple at Sephora stores, where it’s available online and in 54 stores and became the top-selling SKU brand. It also has attracted more than 30 billion social media impressions since launching.

“The next phase is to continue our incredible trajectory,” McGrath told Fashionista of expansion plans. “We have been so blessed to have such an engaged and passionate customer base and the aim is to continue to provide them with more groundbreaking, straight-from-the-runway products and a makeup experience that they cannot get anywhere else. I get so much joy and satisfaction when I see how much our loyal customers love the products, it fuels us to come up with even more innovative creative ideas.”

 

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Baby Bonds: A Plan for Black/White Wealth Equality Conservatives Could Love?

Baby Bonds: A Plan for Black/White Wealth Equality Conservatives Could Love?

Darrick Hamilton calls for spreading the benefits of asset-ownership to all Americans.

 

JOIN THE INSTITUTE IN DETROIT FOR A CONFERENCE ON RACE & ECONOMICS, NOV. 11-12.

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Sex, Race, and the Law: Considering America ‘In the Dark’ :: The Nation Mag

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Jerry and Patty Wetterling, parents of Jason Wetterling, who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed by an Annandale man in 1989. (Star Tribune via AP / Renee Jones Schneider)

Madeleine Baran’s stunning investigative podcast grapples with our so-called “justice” system.

If Childish Gambino’s song “This is America” and Boots Riley’s film Sorry to Bother You perfectly distill the absurd comedy and violent hell of the United States circa 2018, then Madeleine Baran’s In the Dark does the same in podcast form. The audio-documentary series dropped the haunting final episode of its second season earlier this month, and, like Donald Glover’s and Riley’s works, Baran’s opus lays bare the nexus of racial anxiety, guns, criminal “justice,” and capitalism in our nation.

In the Dark is produced by APM Reports and hosted by lead reporter Baran, who helms an investigative team of a half dozen journalists who work on a single story for a year. Season 1investigated the 1989 abduction of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota. Wetterling’s fate went unsolved for almost 27 years, during which he became the poster child for dangerous misconceptions about child kidnappings. But unlike the purveyors of many true-crime series, Baran and her team do not hype hysteria. Rather, they reveal how those in positions of power—like the local sheriff, politicians, and huckster John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted—were incompetent and exploitative of the Wetterlings. (Danny Heinrich, an early but largely unpursued suspect, confessed in 2016 as part of plea deal over child-pornography charges.)

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Black Women Are Suffering In Silence From Arab Abuse :: ATL Black Star

Migrant domestic workers march at Beirut’s seaside and hold banners demanding basic labor rights as Lebanese workers during a 2013 protest. The recent beating of two Kenyan domestic workers in Lebanon highlights the ongoing problem of violence against Black women in Arab countries. (Photo: Hussein Malla/AP)
There is a problem in the Arab world with the abuse of Black women. Arab racism against people of African descent goes back to the days of slavery and continues to the present, with African women facing dual oppression as women and as Black people. Cruel acts of Arab racism against Black women have gone unnoticed, as Face2face Africa reported, with the brutal beating of two Kenyan women by a Lebanese soldier — after he nearly hit them with a car and they confronted him about it — as one of the more recent and poignant examples of a larger problem.

The video of the assault, which has gone viral, shows two women, who are known as Rosa and Shamila, pulled by the hair and beaten by a crowd of people on a busy street in Beirut. The two women and three of their assailants, including an off-duty Lebanese soldier, were arrested after the incident on June 17. Shamila, a domestic worker, was issued a deportation order, the decision of which was then placed on hold as a result of public outrage, pending the outcome of the assault case.

The Kenyan government has called for the prosecution of the five people seen in the video assaulting the women. “We are insisting on the prosecution of the culprits so that they meet the full force of the law. We are also demanding an apology from the Lebanese authorities,” read a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 2008, Human Rights Watch reported that domestic workers were dying in Lebanon at a rate of more than one per week, mostly from suicide and botched escapes. Women undertake these desperate measures because they are attempting — even from windows and balconies in high-rise buildings — to escape forced confinement and mistreatment in isolation, behind closed doors and in private homes.

Officials from the African migrants’ embassies in Lebanon have sobering words, including one former ambassador: “Don’t call this an embassy. We have become a funeral parlor. People die. Natural deaths, accidents, suicide. When they try to run away, accidents happen.” Sometimes, these women are locked for days by their employers. Throughout the Arab world, African women who serve as domestic workers are subjected to harsh treatment, including beatings, broken arms, 21-hour workdays, inadequate living conditions and medical care, food deprivation, burnings, and more.

This latest incident in Lebanon comes following the 2016 burning death of a Kenyan woman named Mary Kibawana Kamajo, a housemaid who lingered for three months after she was set alight in the home by her Lebanese boss using a gas cylinder. Kamajo described the conditions she faced at the hands of her employers. “My female boss and her daughter would often beat me for the most trivial of reasons. They would also give me bad food,” she said. “I had no breaks from work and I would toil from 6 am daily to late in the night. They took my passport away the day I arrived, and I had no access to a calendar so I never knew what day it was, let alone the time.”

One Kenyan domestic worker in Lebanon had bleach poured over her head as punishment for cleaning too slowly, as her employer threatened to send her home in a box, while another Kenyan woman in Saudi Arabia was offered a choice of having sex with her boss or death. Last year, a Lebanese national was arrested for the alleged rape of his 19-year old domestic worker in Accra. When the suspect’s wife, children and another domestic worker were away, he reportedly beat her savagely after she rejected his demands for sex, slapped her and dragged her to his bedroom to rape her. The victim said this was the fourth time the man had raped her in two separate occasions.

In 2017, an Ethiopian housekeeper in Kuwait fell from the seventh-floor balcony of an apartment building because her employer was trying to kill her. “The lady put me in the bathroom and was about to kill me in the bathroom without anybody finding out,” the woman said. “She would have thrown my body out like rubbish, so instead of staying there I went to save myself and then I fell.”

It is a thorny issue for African and Mideast nations. Throughout the Persian Gulf, 2.4 million domestic workers live in slavery, according to the International Trade Union Confederation. Arab countries typically recruited domestic workers from Asian nations such as Philippines, Indonesia and India. However, those Asian nations have begun to establish regulations to protect their people once stories of abuse surfaced, causing Arab countries to recruit in Africa. African women, including hundreds of thousands from Kenya, facing poverty and unemployment at home and attracted to the promise of lucrative work and the chance to send remittances to their families, have moved to Arab nations.

A sponsorship system known as kafala ties workers’ legal status directly to their employer. Once they arrive in their host country their employers confiscate their passports and other important documents and are protected by the law. Typically, these women have no protection from these states’ labor laws.  As a result of the violence, nations such as Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia banned their citizens from domestic work in the Mideast. Workers continued to come, and Saudi Arabia deported thousands of workers who were there illegally. However, African countries have lifted or partially lifted these bans, and the abuse of Black women continues.

Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman and the UAE are subjected to excessive hours, unpaid salaries and physical and sexual abuse, according to Human Rights Watch. Some workers are forced to relinquish their salaries as a condition for their “release.”

The Mideast has developed a reputation as the worst place for domestic workers. Yet African women have shown a willingness to take the risk and work in Arab nations because of the competition for jobs and less rewarding work in their home countries. Further, some are single mothers and will make the calculation of facing possible mistreatment for the promise of a higher paying job abroad, as opposed to a job at home in which they are unable to support their family. Similarly, domestic workers in Arab nations who escape from their abusive employers risk arrest and imprisonment for walking the streets alone. Sending and receiving countries must make efforts to stop the exploitation of workers, as the Global Observatory notes, with the abolition of the kafala system, and a sweeping new policy that is widely disseminated so that all workers and potential workers are made aware. In addition, domestic workers should be provided with Arabic- or English-language training prior to departure. An orientation program for employees and employers on their rights and obligations under the employment contract would be constructive. Further, given that these African women often are made to sign contracts written in a language they do not understand, documents should be written in their native language.

Arab countries have a legacy of an African slave trade that targeted women who were kidnapped and captured in war, becoming sex slaves and bearing children whose genes are still evident across the Arab world. The ongoing violence against African women is a sign that anti-Black racism and slavery are alive and well in Arab nations.

 

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New Report: The Capitol of Suspensions: : Examining the Racial Exclusion of Black Males

New Report- The Capitol of Suspensions: : Examining the Racial Exclusion of Black Males in Sacramento County

Across the nation, Black males are routinely exposed to exclusionary practices that remove them from learning environments (Howard, 2008, 2013; Wood, 2017; Wood, Essien, & Blevins, 2017). These practices include over-placement in special education, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, and even expulsion (Losen & Skiba, 2010). Among these forms of exclusionary discipline, suspensions have been a topic of continued interest in the past several years, with numerous reports and studies demonstrating that California is home to some of the most egregious suspension patterns in the country.

As detailed in a recent report, GET OUT! Black Male Suspensions in California Public Schools, Sacramento County is ground zero for some of the highest total suspensions in the State. In fact, Sacramento county has the second highest total suspensions in California, falling only behind Los Angeles County. This rate exceeds those in other urban counties, such as San Bernardino, Riverside, Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Joaquin (Wood, Harris III, & Howard, 2018).

Prior research has demonstrated that students who are regularly suspended are being tracked into the prison industrial complex, a pattern often referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline. Thus, while some students are being socialized by schools for college-going and entering into the workforce, others are being socialized for prison. Moreover, research has also shown that those subjected to suspensions are more likely to enter into the permanent underclass and to have a reliance upon social services (Darensbourg, Perez, & Blake, 2010; Fenning & Rose, 2007; Skiba, Arredondo, & Williams, 2014). Bearing this in mind, this brief sought to highlight key facts about suspensions in Sacramento County. These facts are meant to generate conversations around issues of racial injustice and educational inequities that permeate the region’s educational institutions that fortify the economic and social health of the region.

This brief details the exposure of Black males to exclusionary discipline in Sacramento County. In particular, this report highlights the high suspensions of Black boys and young men in Sacramento County public schools. Some of the key findings include:

  • Black males are 5.4 times more likely to be suspended in Sacramento County than the statewide average.
  • Nearly 18 Black males were suspended, per day, in the county.
  • Sacramento County has four school districts in the top 20 suspension districts for Black males in the State of California.
  • Sacramento City Unified is the most egregious suspension district for Black males in the State of California.
  • Black males in early childhood education (kindergarten through third grade) are 9.9 times more likely to be suspended than their peers (statewide).
  • One third of all Black male foster youth are suspended in Sacramento County.

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The Leesburg Stockade Girls

You Should Know

Hidden Herstory: The Leesburg Stockade Girls

 

I never fully realized the monumental role that massive numbers of children played in civil rights protests. Law enforcement arrested and jailed children by the thousands for days, and sometimes months, and their involvement helped to enable one of the greatest legal and social assaults on racism in the 20th century—the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Leesburg Stockade Girls are an incredible example of these courageous, young freedom fighters.You may ask, “Who were the Leesburg Stockade Girls?” In July of 1963 in Americus, Georgia, fifteen girls were jailed for challenging segregation laws. Ages 12 to 15, these girls had marched from Friendship Baptist Church to the Martin Theater on Forsyth Street. Instead of forming a line to enter from the back alley as was customary, the marchers attempted to purchase tickets at the front entrance. Law enforcement soon arrived and viciously attacked and arrested the girls. Never formally charged, they were jailed in squalid conditions for forty-five days in the Leesburg Stockade, a Civil War era structure situated in the back woods of Leesburg, Georgia. Only twenty miles away, parents had no knowledge of where authorities were holding their children. Nor were parents aware of their inhumane treatment.

 

A month into their confinement, Danny Lyon, a twenty-one year old photographer for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), learned of the girls’ whereabouts and sneaked onto the stockade grounds to take pictures of the girls through barred windows. After SNCC published the photos in its newspaper The Student Voice, African American newspapers across the country printed the story, and the girls’ ordeal soon gained national attention.

Leesburg, Georgia. Arrested for Demonstrating in Americus, Teenage Girls Are Kept in a Stockade in the Countryside, © Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

On August 28, 1963, as Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC,  these children sat in their cell bolstering their courage with freedom songs in solidarity with the thousands of marchers listening to Dr. King’s indelible speech on the National Mall. Soon after the March on Washington, during the same week of the bombing of the five little girls at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963, law enforcement released the Leesburg Stockade Girls and returned them to their families.

Their story was part of the broader Civil Rights effort that engaged children in a variety of nonviolent, direct actions. In Alabama, for example, thousands of youth participated in the 1963 Children’s Crusade, a controversial liberation tactic initiated by James Bevel of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After careful deliberation about the merit of involving children in street protests and allowing them to be jailed, Dr. King decided that their participation would revive the waning desegregation campaign and would appeal to the moral conscience of the nation.

On May 2, 1963, in response to an invitation from Dr. King, roughly a thousand students—elementary through high school—gathered enthusiastically at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and joined a civil rights march throughout the streets of Birmingham. By day’s end, law enforcement had jailed over 600 children.

Alabama Fire Department Aims High-Pressure Water Hoses at Civil Rights Demonstrators, © Charles Moore, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The next day the number of children doubled. However, the training classes provided by SCLC leaders could not have prepared the children for the violence they would encounter. The Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor directed the use of fire hoses and attack dogs on the children, and people in America and around the world witnessed this brutality. Authorities arrested nearly 2,000 children—one as young as four years old.  These protests continued throughout the first week of May, with over 5,000 children being jailed.

Within days, SCLC and local officials reached an agreement, in which the city agreed to repeal the segregation ordinance and release all jailed protestors.  Ultimately, the activism of thousands of African American children in 1963, including the Leesburg Stockade Girls, provided the momentum for the March on Washington and contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act the following year.

The history of children’s Civil Rights activism continues to be important to tell. The Leesburg Stockade Girls realize this importance, and they are documenting their story. In 2015, as the keynote speaker at a commemorative event for the Leesburg Stockade Girls at Georgia Southwestern State University, I engaged with ten of the surviving women, who shared recollections about the day of their arrest. Remarkably, these women still possess a collective spirit of resistance to social injustice, and they are beginning to embrace their place in history.

As we reflect on their story and the broader history of youth activism, let us consider:  How might children today play an equally significant role in promoting racial equality in the United States?
Written by Tulani Salahu-Din, Museum Specialist, National Museum of African American History and Culture.

7842ac11-d64a-4d96-8308-644077b426c7.jpgSource: The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

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