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COMMENTARY: Roe v Wade – Considerations for the Black Community

Within the Black community, we have historically accepted the downtrodden and nurtured our own. Share your stories with your daughters and sons (dads too). Talk to them let them know you love them unconditionally. This does many things. First, it increases their self-worth and decreases the likelihood of unintentional pregnancy. This also increases the likelihood they will come to you if something happens. This also increases the likelihood they will not try to end an unintentional pregnancy on their own or through a backdoor illegal abortion, as did so many from my generation.

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Dr. Lorna Kendrick, Ph.D.
Dr. Lorna Kendrick, Ph.D.

By Lorna Kendrick, PhD

This article is dedicated to all women and their loved ones who have suffered silently because of biases towards female reproductive choice. As we as a community ponder Roe v Wade, we must pause and consider this is not simply about abortion. This is about human rights not politics or societal dogmatism, equity for those most vulnerable and at risk, and freedom for all, not just for an elitist few.

During my doctoral education in the early 1990’s the buzzword or answer to achieving health equity for Black America was “access” to care. Data showed, with access we could change the poorer outcomes we were seeing in our communities. As a woman and as a researcher who has dedicated my entire career to improving care for all, in particular my community, I am beyond outraged when I think about the decision to overturn Roe v Wade, a decision never steeped in data only personal beliefs and opinion. Frederick Douglass once said, “I expose slavery to this country, because to expose it is to kill it.” I hope my words on this page expose this new form of slavery, hatred, and destruction of our community, through the overturning of laws and redistricting of voting lines, helps support efforts to “kill it.”

I am outraged. There are groups and individuals determined to deny the rights and freedoms of others and force their beliefs on the populous of this nation. How did we become a nation where, if you believe something, I too must believe exactly as you? How can I support a nation where one of my loved ones was gang raped in the military and was forced (pre-Roe v Wade) to have the child? A nation where she never received needed resources to support, nurture, or help her heal from the trauma. This healing did not happen, because it is just too taboo of a subject to acknowledge in our perfect society where she, as a woman of color, is invisible and not as valued. Many of these women often live out their entire lives both reliving the trauma and navigating a life of poverty unable to provide for her child/children.

Sadly, a growing part of our society has demonized those seeking abortion in such a way, although legal, this choice continues to wreak havoc in the minds of women and others. Some in our society posit an inaccurate ideology where women are viewed as choosing abortion as if they were ordering a cup of coffee, with little to no mental or emotional struggle. As a nurse with years of experience and as a therapist and researcher in the area of mental wellness, I can emphatically say, women I have seen in my practice have struggled a lifetime with their decisions. Their mental and emotional wellbeing suffered because they were indoctrinated by our society to believe they were awful human beings for making this kind of decision. They bought into the belief that the most important part of being a woman was to bring life into the world and if they chose not to, they were the scum of the earth and doomed to eternal death.

Within the Black community, we have historically accepted the downtrodden and nurtured our own. Share your stories with your daughters and sons (dads too). Talk to them let them know you love them unconditionally. This does many things. First, it increases their self-worth and decreases the likelihood of unintentional pregnancy. This also increases the likelihood they will come to you if something happens. This also increases the likelihood they will not try to end an unintentional pregnancy on their own or through a backdoor illegal abortion, as did so many from my generation.

Prevention coupled with love and acceptance can be the saving grace of our powerful Black community. We know the strength of grassroots efforts. Let us begin to take control of our own future and stop waiting for society to help us turn the tide. This is a time for action, not silence.

Lorna Kendrick Ph.D is currently serving as Dean of the Samuel Merritt University College of Nursing. She is the first Dean of Color in their 113-year history. She also served as President-elect for the California Association of Colleges of Nursing (CACN), and worked for many years in neuro/surgical ICU and as an Advanced Practice Child/Adolescent Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, while maintaining a small private practice.

Editor’s note:

In the June 29, edition of the Post in Dr. Martha Taylor’s article on “Roe v. Wade-A Divided Nation,” she advised the community of readers to respond by going to the polls in local areas and voting for people who will support your choices and beliefs because they will determine the outcomes in your states. Dr. Martha Taylor has invited guest contributors and experts to submit articles, opinions and advice for publication.

The Post News Group will publish articles that will discuss the fallout from the reversal of Roe v Wade. Professionals will be invited to discuss, the theology, sociology, political, and medical impact from the Roe v Wade abortion reversal. In the meantime, Dr. Taylor is asking the readers to continue to pray for Brittany Griner who has just pled guilty and remains incarcerated in a Russian prison.

Activism

Marin County Offers Booklet to Parents to Prevent Preteen Substance Abuse

Each middle school teen is different and there is no single right way to address their changes, experiences, and their transition to middle school. But the book endeavors to help parents more objectively understand and support their children.

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Top: Mother and daughter talking (From care.com). Bottom: English and Spanish covers of the booklet “Let’s Start Talking.” Go to letstalkmarin.org for more information, downloadable digital booklets, and video recordings of recent “Let’s Talk” community discussions.
Top: Mother and daughter talking (From care.com). Bottom: English and Spanish covers of the booklet “Let’s Start Talking.” Go to letstalkmarin.org for more information, downloadable digital booklets, and video recordings of recent “Let’s Talk” community discussions.

By Godfrey Lee

Marin County District Attorney Lori E. Frugoli recently distributed an informational booklet “Let’s Start Talking – A Parent’s Toolkit for Understanding Substance Use in Marin County Through the Middle School Years” at the San Rafael Elks Lodge 1108 on Tuesday, July 19.

The toolkit booklet was created with support from the Marin Prevention Network and the Marin County Office of Education. The booklet was also translated and published in Spanish under the title “Hablemos.”

The booklet begins by saying that although drug usage among 7th graders remains low, their substance abuse can increase as they grow older. Parents and caregivers can still lay the foundations to support preteens/teens as they grow and help prevent negative consequence from substances use. This involves knowing the facts, communicate openly, and focus on relationships and resilience.

Each middle school teen is different and there is no single right way to address their changes, experiences, and their transition to middle school. But the book endeavors to help parents more objectively understand and support their children.

The major life experience for middle schoolers is the start of puberty, where their bodies, brains, and social environments rapidly and dramatically change, along with their hormones levels and emotions. The booklet says, don’t joke about or dismiss the child’s puberty process as being unimportant.

Parents are still in charge and should also teach and model healthy coping skills. Accept the child even while they are investigating their own identities and their attraction to the other or their own sex.

Their adolescent brain is not fully developed until about the age 25, and they are still growing in its management of reasoning, decision-making, planning, and impulse control. Their peers become more important, their circle of friends may change, and need to become more independent from their parents.

All teens face a lot of risks. Social media gives a lot of unfiltered information that can be disturbing. Other risk factors include mental health issues, attention deficit disorders, trauma, bullying, family substance and drugs abuse, the family rejection of their same-sex identity and thoughts of suicide.

Teens can still be protected with parental monitoring and involvement, a positive self-image, community and school norms and behavioral expectations, positive coping and self-regulation skills, positive and healthy peer relationships, school and community connections, and a sense of belonging to a healthy group.

Peer pressure and social norms are powerful during the middle school age, and the child’s social relationships can tip the scale toward risk or protection. Parents or caretakers can still meet and know the child’s friends and their parents, and also ask questions concerning the safety of their children. Parents can also spend time with their teens to stretch their minds and find opportunities for their teens to meet and work together with other youths with similar interest in groups and clubs.

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Activism

New 988 Behavioral Health Crisis Number Launches in Marin County

“We hope that calling 988 in a behavioral health crisis becomes as second nature as calling 911 in a medical or safety emergency,” said Dr. Jei Africa, BHRS Director. “Everybody has a role to play in crisis response and suicide prevention and that’s why we’d like everyone to be aware of this new number.”

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Marin HHS oversees government-funded behavioral health and recovery services on a local scale. More resources are on the BHRS webpage.
Marin HHS oversees government-funded behavioral health and recovery services on a local scale. More resources are on the BHRS webpage.

Courtesy of Marin County

A new phone number for behavioral health crisis needs will soon launch nationwide. Instead of dialing 911, people should call 988 to report when someone is in danger of self-harm or suicide. Marin County agencies are raising local awareness of the new option and explaining when to use it.

Beginning July 16, 988 is the number to dial or text for urgent help in a time of mental health or substance use crisis, or even witnessing another person deal with a behavioral health challenge. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) envisions 988 as a first step toward a transformed national crisis care system. The service is a universal entry point to a trained crisis counselor regardless of the caller’s location. Marin will be among the first counties to launch 988, as other areas across the U.S. plan to launch later in 2022.

“We hope that calling 988 in a behavioral health crisis becomes as second nature as calling 911 in a medical or safety emergency,” said Dr. Jei Africa, BHRS Director. “Everybody has a role to play in crisis response and suicide prevention and that’s why we’d like everyone to be aware of this new number.”

The local provider of the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is Novato-based Buckelew Programs. Staff who receive 988 calls or text messages will quickly evaluate the emergency and use trained crisis counselors to provide an appropriate intervention. Urgent calls requiring an in-person mobile crisis response are directed to clinical staff in the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) division.

“Buckelew Programs is proud to lead the 988 transition, providing life-saving services for Marin residents,” said Buckelew Programs Chief Executive Officer Chris Kughn. “It means greater access for those experiencing mental health, substance use or suicidal crises. Our trained counselors can provide callers with de-escalation, safety planning, connection to resources, and engagement with mobile and emergency response teams as needed. The hotline helps a person experiencing any level of distress with inclusive, multilingual and culturally sensitive services. 988 is about understanding the caller’s urgent mental health needs and is an alternative to our current emergency response systems.”

The creation of the 988 line is an expansion of the free 24-7 services and confidential support to callers in emotional distress that have been available since 2005. The federal government designated the 988 number to operate through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 2020 and went to work creating the infrastructure and training counselors fluent in many languages to respond to caller needs. States can now raise money to fund the call centers and related mental health crisis services by attaching new fees to phone lines. In California, Assembly Bill (AB) 988 is under review in the state senate and would assist with hotline launch and provide funding for local service providers to handle calls.

The launch’s timing this summer ties in with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added stress to many lives. The national suicide rate has climbed nearly 30% since 1999 and is now the second leading cause of death among young people, according to federal sources. About 20% of the American population has a documented mental health condition.

Recently, high-profile acts of violence against innocent people — especially in the U.S. and especially with firearms — have brought more attention to the need for mental health services. It is estimated that victims in 25% of all officer-involved shootings are people in a mental health crisis. Thus far, law enforcement agencies across the country have supported the 988 program.

“While our 911 dispatchers will continue to be trained in crisis communications, de-escalation and recognizing those experiencing a mental health crisis through our inhouse Crisis Intervention Team post certified training program we welcome the opportunity to work cohesively with 988 operators,” said Heather Costello, Communications Manager for Marin County Sheriff’s 911 Call Center. “Cross-system partnerships are critical to 988’s success because the dedicated phone number will utilize resources from various disciplines, such as mental health, police, and fire, depending on which services may be needed by the person in crisis.”

Marin HHS oversees government-funded behavioral health and recovery services on a local scale. More resources are on the BHRS webpage.

If you or someone you know is in mental health distress, find resources on Prevention.MarinBHRS.org or contact:

Marin Suicide Prevention Hotline: (415) 499-1100

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255 y en Español: 1 (888) 628-9454

The Trevor Lifeline: 1 (866) 488-7386

Friendship Line (for 60 and older): 1 (800) 971-0016

Crisis Text Line: Text MARIN to 741741

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Activism

Center for Elders’ Independence Celebrates 40 Years in the Community

“More than 5,000 senior participants and their families have benefited from CEI and PACE during the 40 years we have served the East Bay and we look forward to being able to serve 5,000 more,” said CEI President and CEO María Zamora.

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CEI participant Ervin Vinson (left) speaks to - geriatric aide O'Nesha Hogroe (center) and Maria Zamora (right), CEO of CEI.
CEI participant Ervin Vinson (left) speaks to - geriatric aide O'Nesha Hogroe (center) and Maria Zamora (right), CEO of CEI.

Senior residents of the East Bay gathered at the Center for Elders’ Independence in San Leandro to celebrate the organization’s 40th anniversary on July 12. About 100 participants and executives from CEI were there to celebrate the milestone with dancing, live music, food, trivia, and activities.

“Our organization has grown so much over the last 40 years that now we have more than 1,000 participants taking part in our programs,” CEI President and CEO María Zamora said. “We recognize the great responsibility we have to everyone who take part and our staff does an amazing job of meeting their needs every day.”

CEI’s participants are served through PACE, a personalized healthcare and services program, which allows seniors to receive the care they need, all while continuing to live at home.

“More than 5,000 senior participants and their families have benefited from CEI and PACE during the 40 years we have served the East Bay and we look forward to being able to serve 5,000 more.” Zamora said.

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