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A Reverend Brings Healing Approach to Domestic Violence Fight

Moore-Orbih, a United Church of Christ pastor, whose career has focused on racial justice and violence against women, hopes to bring a new paradigm to the role, focusing on the intersectionality of factors that can contribute to an abusive relationship, including race and ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender and sexual orientation, age, ability, and immigrant identity.

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Combating domestic violence requires a healing-centered approach which doesn’t always remove an abuser from the household nor criminalizes him, said Dr. Aleese Moore-Orbih, incoming director of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV). 

“I have never come across a woman who did not want to help her abusive partner. Leaving an abusive relationship is an old paradigm. Women of color want to stay with their partners and want agencies to help the abusive partner break out of their cycle of violence,” said Moore-Orbih in an interview with Ethnic Media Services. “For me, the call has been to help people see one another with all their shortcomings and still love them.”

Moore-Orbih will officially joined the CPEDV team April 19. 

The Partnership, founded nearly 40 years ago, represents over 1,000 survivors, advocates, organizations and allied individuals across California. The organization has successfully advocated for over 200 pieces of legislation on behalf of domestic violence victims and their children, and it brings a racial justice focus to the issue.

Moore-Orbih, a United Church of Christ pastor, whose career has focused on racial justice and violence against women, hopes to bring a new paradigm to the role, focusing on the intersectionality of factors that can contribute to an abusive relationship, including race and ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender and sexual orientation, age, ability, and immigrant identity. 

The Partnership noted in a press release that she “will raise the visibility of the Partnership’s anti-oppression work, move the public discourse, and support policy and community advocacy toward more effective prevention and intervention solutions.”

“People of color already live in an environment that is hostile towards them. Their survival mechanisms are seen as criminal and violent,” said Moore-Orbih, noting the generational trauma of slavery and Jim Crow laws, the continuous murders of young Black men without cause, poor economic conditions and housing insecurity. 

“It is a system that has traditionally tried to kill people of color, who are brought up with generations of disempowerment. When things are out of control most of the time, you attempt to control it, sometimes with violence,” she said.

For Black and Brown men, masculinity is determined by power. “They have spent a lifetime trying to prove their power to their communities and their partners,” she said, noting that Black men have traditionally been underemployed while Black women are often over-employed.

Women have had to do the delicate dance of bringing in the family’s income, raising their children, and pleasing their men.

“For a woman of color, domestic violence may be fourth or fifth on the list of things they have to deal with,” she said. “I can handle him, but this is all the stuff I cannot handle.”

COVID-19 has added an extra layer of pressure for both survivors and their abusers. “Women doing the cha cha cha all these years are quickly learning the flamenco,” said Moore-Orbih. “But this is nothing new. Our communities have been doing the survival dance for decades.”

Domestic violence has spiked alarmingly as victims are trapped at home with their abusers amid lockdown orders during the COVID pandemic. The New England Journal of Medicine reported last year that one out of every four women in the U.S. and 1 in 10 men are currently facing abuse from a spouse or intimate partner. At the same time, traditional safety nets have largely been shut down. Domestic violence hotlines have seen a drop in calls as many victims cannot find safe spaces from which to make calls. 

Shelters are closed or operating at full capacity, and thereby cannot take on new clients. Black and Brown victims of domestic violence are less likely to call police because of a mistrust of law enforcement or language barriers.

“When COVID broke, we were all struggling trying to figure out how to provide services,”

said Moore-Orbih, adding that the number of people sent to hotels tripled, as survivors had to quarantine for 14 days before they could be sent to a shelter.

“COVID became another layer of pressure for people who were already drowning in anxiety, fear, and trauma. If a person is trying to save you, you can’t see that,” she said.

Getting a woman out of her home and into a shelter to build self-esteem and self-reliance is just one small piece, said the reverend. “She is not healed.”

Similarly, Moore-Orbih does not support criminalizing perpetrators who must also be healed via the same holistic approach.

An integrative holistic approach must be brought to both survivor and perpetrator, said Moore-Orbih.  “If we are looking to make people whole again, we must address the psyche, the physical ailments, forced immigration, and slavery.”

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Activism

OCCUR & the San Francisco Foundation FAITHS Program Present: A Model Built on Faith 2022 Leadership Series

Presenter, Karl Mill, Esq., is founder of Mill Law Center, a firm providing legal support to the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors. A long-time champion of underserved communities, Mill is dedicated to promoting justice under the law. “Our firm is in the nonprofit sector because we want to devote our lives to activities that relieve suffering and promote justice” says Mill.

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Workshop 3: Building Your Legal Guardrails

May 26, 2022

As organizations and communities emerge from years of changes and transformations due to the Covid pandemic, the broader landscapes in which they function have also changed. What current and possible new legal guardrails must be in place to move forward into the new normal? OCCUR and the San Francisco Foundation FAITHS program present Building Your Legal Guardrails. This capacity training will provide nonprofit and faith-based leaders with an overview of legal topics key to understanding and exploring the rapidly changing legal landscape.

Presenter, Karl Mill, Esq., is founder of Mill Law Center, a firm providing legal support to the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors. A long-time champion of underserved communities, Mill is dedicated to promoting justice under the law. “Our firm is in the nonprofit sector because we want to devote our lives to activities that relieve suffering and promote justice” says Mill. “We focus on priority areas such as racial justice, combatting economic and educational inequality, supporting immigrants’ rights, and dismantling mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline. Understanding key elements of the law is critical to advancing the work of all those who work in the nonprofit arena.”

Please join us for this informative workshop!

Date/Time:
May 26, 2022, 9 a.m.-11a.m.
Location: Zoom
How to Attend: Please RSVP on our website, amodelbuiltonfaith.org
Questions: Email info@occurnow.org, or call (510) 839-2440

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Activism

COMMENTARY: “COVID-19 and White Supremacy, Creating Our New Normal”

We must rescue and refine the best of Black ways. Look at our historical grandeur. We once imagined the great Step Pyramid before there was a pyramid. How did we do that? Black people lived through over four hundred years of rabid, hostile, savage, dehumanization yet never became rabid, hostile, savage dehumanizing people. Our way, our worldview, our narrative, our normativity is what allowed us to do this. This is what we need to revisit.

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Dr. Wade Nobles
Dr. Wade Nobles

Black Mental Health pt. 2

By Tanya Dennis

With the global COVID-19 pandemic, we knew the world would never be the same. For some, COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to correct a society filled with bias, inequality, and meanness.

For Dr. Wade Nobles, long-time scholar/activist, and co-founder of the Association of Black Psychologists, “This is our time of reckoning. It is a time to redo what we have always done, sometimes under the radar, always in opposition to white supremacy. This is the time for Black people to interlock, reconnect and heal our community without European influence.”

Dr. Nobles, the Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists, and Oakland Frontline Healers are bringing together the best minds and calling on every sector to join them in the development of African American Wellness Hubs and an African American Healing Center in Oakland.

“Restoring wellness is to make the whole well. It is to connect everything and everyone in life affirming ways throughout the entire African world. Our way of being well and whole were well established in our past. In the past we gathered and found solutions collectively. Remember rent parties, Sunday church special offerings to send a child off to college or visiting the sick and shut in? These are our examples. In our way, personhood, familyhood, neighborhood, peoplehood, all the “hoods” are of equal importance. We can’t have a sick community and think our people will be well.”

Nobles and colleagues, after surveying and talking with Black people in Black communities across the nation, designed a detailed written plan for an African American Wellness Hub Complex. They envision a hub that is linked spiritually and psychologically, as a place where wellness and wholeness is real and ethnically authentic. Nobles said, “In many places our children are failing in school, many of our children are feeling they have no value, are being demeaned and assaulted. We need to take charge of these places. If teachers don’t love our children, they cannot ignite in them a desire to know and a passion for learning. If law enforcement doesn’t have high regard and deep respect for Black people, they will never understand that to ‘serve and protect’ means to be life affirming in what they do.”

“A big part of our new normal is to have in our thought, beliefs, and behavior the best of our wisdom, traditions and restorative practice available. This means to have in place living learning laboratories that are unapologetically devoted to our wellness, e.g., a wellness hub complex with healing centers. To have an exceptional and extraordinary place to bring people together and take them from hostile angry dis-at-ease producing places to places where we can work in harmony, create in dignity, and live to inspire life and ways of being that is affirming.”

Alameda County has stepped forward and is committed to establishing a Black Mental Health facility in partnership with the Association of Black Psychologists. The Association is grateful to Alameda County but notes four or five locations are necessary considering the amount of damage and illness that needs to be undone in the Black community.

Nobles says, “We must create a space, place and time that is guided by an African American wellness narrative that is awe-inspiring.” As an example of how important space is, he notes, “We tried to escape the blight and poverty of the inner city and move out to the suburbs, but all we did was go from inner city hostility to outer city hostility in the white enclave. At least in the inner city, our children didn’t lose their point of reference of belonging in the neighborhood or church. Healing spaces and places must be grounded in life affirming worldview and culture.”

“We must rescue and refine the best of Black ways. Look at our historical grandeur. We once imagined the great Step Pyramid before there was a pyramid. How did we do that? Black people lived through over four hundred years of rabid, hostile, savage, dehumanization yet never became rabid, hostile, savage dehumanizing people. Our way, our worldview, our narrative, our normativity is what allowed us to do this. This is what we need to revisit. We need a wellness place in our Black community where people can ‘imagine the better.’ A place where we can dismantle the ill and wrongfulness and recreate a vibrant affirming life spirit.”

Dr. Nobles says, “our new normal is the old African normal, where Black people inspired greatness just by living well and whole. Black people are a people of caring, sharing and daring. Our way was to care for our people, to share what we have, and to dare to be free. Our history records us having sacred places in nature where we would go to recreate our spirit of wellness. We need those places today and that’s why we need an African American Wellness Hub and healing centers.”

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Bay Area

Higher Black Unemployment in California Distorts Rosy Picture of Job Recovery

A sharp drop in the national unemployment rate for all Americans — down to 3.6% in February — brings the number of people without jobs across the United States to just one tenth of a point above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5% (February 2020), according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor

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Cecilia Rouse is chair of President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers. Commons Wikipedia.org photo.
Cecilia Rouse is chair of President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers. Commons Wikipedia.org photo.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Officials in Sacramento and Washington frequently point to the low unemployment rate in the state and around the country as proof that the U.S. economy has recovered from the downturn experienced during the global COVID-19 crisis.

But the total unemployment rate for Black Californians seems stuck at almost three times higher than the national rate — despite steady increases in overall hiring of African Americans in the state.

A sharp drop in the national unemployment rate for all Americans — down to 3.6% in February — brings the number of people without jobs across the United States to just one tenth of a point above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5% (February 2020), according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor.

In February alone, the U.S. economy added a remarkable 431,000 jobs, bringing the number of jobs created since 2021 to 7.9 million.

Cecilia Rouse, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, told California Black Media that the nation’s Black unemployment rate has drastically decreased since the pandemic related recession.

“At the height of this pandemic, the unemployment rate for Black people was 16.8% and from what we saw this month, it is down to 6.2%,” she said.

Overall, unemployment in California is also down from a pinnacle in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined 10.5 percentage points from April 2020 to February 2022, from 15.9% to 5.4%.

According to the California Employment Development Department (EDD), the state’s economy has added 2,405,900 non-farm jobs, “in effect, recovering 87.2% of the non-farm jobs it lost during the COVID-19 recession.”

Although Black unemployment in California has seen a decrease during the recovery period as well, it has not dropped to pre-pandemic levels, according to state officials.

Black unemployment was hovering at around 10% for the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. At that time, California’s overall unemployment rate was 7.5%, about two points higher than it was for February.

Although the unemployment rate for Black Californians is higher than the state rate, it continues to move downward.

From April 2020 to February 2022, California increased its number of Black workers by 59,000, going from 1,009,000 in April 2020 to 1,068,000 in February 2022.

Before the COVID-19 recession from February 2020 to April 2020, there were 1,133,000 employed Black workers in California, according to the EDD.

Over the course of the COVID-19 recession, the state lost 2,758,900 non-farm jobs and the unemployment rate rose from 4.1% in February 2020 to 15.9% only two months later. Over this time period, the unemployment rate for California’s Black workers rose 8.2 percentage points.

Across the country, the unemployment rate for African Americans is also decreasing, dropping from 9.5% in March 2021 to 6.2% in March 2022, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

“What we’ve seen is tremendous improvement in the labor market status for Black Americans, Black workers,” Rouse says, attributing the improving numbers to the American Rescue Plan, the Biden administration’s pandemic recovery initiative.

“It provided the resources to help us get through this pandemic,” said Rouse. “The management of the pandemic is fundamental and so integral to this strong labor market recovery that we’re seeing.”

Since 2021, growth in employment for Black Californians has been significant in three industries: Transportation and utilities, services, and the leisure and hospitality industries.

According to the EDD, there has been an increase of over 50,000 Black employed workers in the transportation and utilities industry, over 14,100 in other services, and over 13,700 in the leisure and hospitality industry.

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