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Healing Domestic Violence: “It has to be Heart Stuff’

Black people must learn to “leverage our allies in support of our goals,” even if those allies aren’t Black. She explained that others could and are willing to give resources, but she is an advocate for Black people setting their own agenda. 

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Charlene Muhammad | Special to the Oakland Post

Wilhelmenia “Mina” Wilson, executive director of Healthy Black Families, Inc., in Berkeley grew in a nuclear family in the Bay Area.

Her parents met in college and were each other’s first love. Still, there was trauma.

As Ms. Wilson grew older, she went through her own traumatic experiences. As a young woman, she, too, became a victim to domestic violence.

“The only way I was able to save myself was to remove myself. And not only did I leave the environment, but he knew where I worked. I left my job. I left and created a new life for myself,” she said. “And in removing myself, what I had to do also was stay by myself until I could heal myself. And that took some years.”

To overcome her trauma, Wilson employed some of the techniques she now shares with others as the executive director of Healthy Black Families, Inc.

“I had to learn myself. I had to unpack my trauma. I had to learn to love myself again. And then that allowed me to navigate relationships in a different way,” she said. “So, I’m not really talking from what I think. I’m really talking from what I know, from my own personal experience, and I’d love to try this and see if it works successfully at a macro level as it did for me on a micro one.”

In an interview with Post News Group, Ms. Wilson provided her views on the root causes of domestic violence and proposed several viable solutions.

“When you subject people to lack of human dignity, when people don’t have their basic needs met, that begets a lot of different types of negative behaviors,” she said.

She attributed the causes of domestic violence to how the capitalist system sometimes devalues Black people, and Black women in particular — both of which, from her view, are rooted in slavery. Black women were a commodity, and Black men were vulnerable because they could not protect Black women and were slaughtered when they attempted to, she said.

Fast forward to 2022 and the “same type of socioeconomic structure exists today as it did then. Black poverty is high. Black unemployment is high. Black folks still are fewer as far as home ownership,” she added.

With that month-to-month struggle for sustenance paired with the lack of options to support people’s needs, “people tend to implode upon each other,” Wilson said.

She said when she thinks about solutions to domestic violence, she thinks about how to detach from the system that wants to manipulate and capitalize on Black people, how to gain deeper knowledge of self and how to create new pathways of life and livelihood.

Some solutions she offered included: tackling poverty and the socioeconomic structure by creating an economy within the Black community and buying Black; supporting underfunded grassroots organizations that are grounded in the community; establishing programs and vocational training for children and the community; getting into agriculture and urban farming; and building infrastructure and offering support services.

Related to the solution on economics, she said Black people must learn to “leverage our allies in support of our goals,” even if those allies aren’t Black. She explained that others could and are willing to give resources, but she is an advocate for Black people setting their own agenda.

Wilson especially noted the importance of mastering self, bringing up Biblical figures like Jesus as examples.

“They had done self-mastery, and they had learned universal law. And they knew how to walk in the world so they could be creative energies,” she said.

She recalled a course she took offered by Dr. Ishmael Tetteh, a spiritual teacher from Ghana, on “soul processing.” Students were asked to make a timeline of their entire lives. Tetteh labeled the painful parts of their lives as “cud,” which is partly digested food that a cow continues to chew on.

“Those painful experiences are like cud in our spirit, and we continue to chew on them. And he said, the goal of this life soul processing is to break apart those cud patches and then redefine them in a way that serves you,” Wilson said.

She said as Black people in America, “all of us have trauma” that need to be unpacked.

Another solution she proposed was creating spaces that are culturally authentic where Black people can heal together. But she said the first step is unpacking the pain that fuels the violence.

“Oftentimes that means you have to move people away from each other so that they can do their own healing,” she said, because “it’s hard to heal with people who have harmed you.”

Necessary infrastructure for her includes safe houses and community-based intervention.

“If it’s a mom and kids, where do we put them while we work out the situation, and with the man who’s doing it, how do we get them into a situation where they can do some anger management rather than criminalize everything?” she questioned.

When Wilson experienced domestic violence, a woman she had been close to helped her out.

“She talked to me, and she was the person who made space for my healing. She let me stay with her for a while. And so, fast forward, years go by, I get my act together. And I think about her, and I go back to her and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how to thank you for what you did for me,’” Wilson recalled.

“And she was like, ‘Girl, what you don’t get is that it’s not even about me.’ She’s like, ‘The only reason that I am here to do this for you is because there was some woman who did it for me.’ And she said, ‘So you don’t owe me anything.’” She said, “‘What you owe is you got to step up and do it for someone else when you see a need.’”

Wilson says she lives her life trying to hold true to that advice.

“And I think we have to proceed with that kind of heart in order to really heal people. It can’t just be tactical stuff. It has to be human stuff. It has to be heart stuff,” she said.

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Activism

Juneteenth Father’s Day for the Formerly Incarcerated

The giveaway was a testament of the Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back to the community in the best way they could. Participants received an array of gifts including clothing, work pants, jeans, socks, toiletries and gift cards. The event gave them a place to identify with other men who have overcome many hardships and now live independently of the direct supervision of the criminal justice system.

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From left to right: Dora Parlor, Richard Johnson and Ayanna Weathers. Photo by Jonathan ‘fitness’ Jones.
From left to right: Dora Parlor, Richard Johnson and Ayanna Weathers. Photo by Jonathan ‘fitness’ Jones.

By Richard Johnson

The founders of The Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back organization sponsored a Father’s Day celebration event that highlighted a “just serve spirit” which recognized dads who want to “give and serve” their families and communities, that reached over 150 men in deep East Oakland. Fathers from all walks of life, languages and nationalities were in attendance.

The giveaway was a testament of the Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back to the community in the best way they could. Participants received an array of gifts including clothing, work pants, jeans, socks, toiletries and gift cards. The event gave them a place to identify with other men who have overcome many hardships and now live independently of the direct supervision of the criminal justice system.

The celebration was co-sponsored by several organizations, including the African American Sports and Entertainment Group, (AASEG) headed by Ray Bobbitt, B.O.S.S. Reentry program, and the Reentry, The Post News Group and Violence Prevention programs directed by John Jones III.

The participating fathers were offered counseling and services to cover back rent, rental deposit, utility bills, credit repair and much more.

As fate would have it, one of the Founders of Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back, Mr. Paul Redd, was called home by the Lord. His passing came on Father’s Day. We could never question God’s work when He calls His flock home. Paul will be greatly missed by many who loved, appreciated and respected him greatly. We, the Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back, gave back in our experience our profound condolences to the family. We will certainly continue the work that he helped to establish. Rest in Peace my brother.

To utilize the services of BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency), please contact John Jones at 510-459-9014. For more information on this activity and future activities, please contact Richard Johnson at fatijohns28@gmail.com.

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Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties Partner to Create Cleaner Coast

California Coastal beaches and public parks are experiencing rises in visitation year over year as important outlets for mental and physical health. Over 10 million people annually visit the California coastline and adjacent communities across Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. Even more staggering, over 55,000 pounds of trash were picked up from the sensitive coastal environment across the three counties last year alone.

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“Leave No Trace is thrilled to be working with Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties,” said Dana Watts, executive director of Leave No Trace. “With such diverse natural and cultural resources, we look forward to addressing the key issues in the area. Consistent messaging is crucial because there is no differentiation from visitors on what county they are in when they visit the coastline.”
“Leave No Trace is thrilled to be working with Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties,” said Dana Watts, executive director of Leave No Trace. “With such diverse natural and cultural resources, we look forward to addressing the key issues in the area. Consistent messaging is crucial because there is no differentiation from visitors on what county they are in when they visit the coastline.”

The Goal: Teach leave no trace practices to growing number of coastal visitors

Courtesy of Marin County

Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties are launching a coordinated campaign to provide visitor education and outreach to reduce the amount of litter and waste in coastal regions and watersheds through a three-County memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the non-profit organization Leave No Trace. The ongoing partnership includes coordination with federal and state agencies, tribal partners, local jurisdictions and land managers, Sonoma County Tourism, and other community-based groups across all three counties.

Beginning later this month, the bilingual campaign will include a broad scope of messaging that will be used by all three counties to educate and influence visitors prior to and during the summer season. Agencies and organizations partnering with the campaign will be able to share the Leave No Trace-based messaging resources in English and Spanish and take advantage of a new stewardship education series, both of which specifically address visitation impact issues taking place along the California coastline.

California Coastal beaches and public parks are experiencing rises in visitation year over year as important outlets for mental and physical health. Over 10 million people annually visit the California coastline and adjacent communities across Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. Even more staggering, over 55,000 pounds of trash were picked up from the sensitive coastal environment across the three counties last year alone.

“COVID-19 pushed more residents outdoors and drew them to the coast as they looked for safe ways to recreate,” said Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, who initiated the three-County collaboration in 2020. “This stressed our limited visitor-serving infrastructure, creating an overflow of trash and waste like I have never seen before.”

Sonoma County Tourism, the county’s destination stewardship organization, was instrumental in bringing the Leave No Trace organization into the partnership conversation with the three counties. Sonoma County Tourism has worked with Leave No Trace since April 2021 on the Sonoma County Leave No Trace Initiative.

Through its Seven Principles, Leave No Trace provides a framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. New education messaging focusing on trash and litter in coastal watersheds is highly relevant due to a surge in visitation to all three counties’ coastlines and adjacent communities. The new education messaging serves to complement existing Leave No Trace and other trash reduction efforts promoted by state, county and local parks officials in all three counties, as well as the Sonoma County Leave No Trace Initiative.

“We had a bit of a head start with the successful launch of our Leave No Trace campaign last year, and we are happy to leverage and coordinate our efforts with our neighbors from the north and south,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins. “Visitors don’t stop at county lines, nor does the flow of trash.”

Trash causes major impacts on our enjoyment of creeks, bays and the ocean, and creates significant impacts on aquatic life and habitat in those waters; trash eventually enters the global ocean ecosystem, where plastic persists in the environment for hundreds of years – if not forever.

“We don’t have the resources to launch this effort on our own,” Mendocino County Supervisor Ted Williams noted, “But with the support from our southern neighbors and non-profit partnerships with groups like MendoParks, we are excited to launch this campaign.” Fellow Mendocino County Supervisor Dan Gjerde added, “The key to moving this effort forward was the unanimous decision for all three counties to use a shared MOU and contract with Leave No Trace. We look forward to working together for years to come.”

“Leave No Trace is thrilled to be working with Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties,” said Dana Watts, executive director of Leave No Trace. “With such diverse natural and cultural resources, we look forward to addressing the key issues in the area. Consistent messaging is crucial because there is no differentiation from visitors on what county they are in when they visit the coastline.”

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Juneteenth ’22: California Legislature Recognizes Reparations Task Force

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

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While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media

Several members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans received a standing ovation from constituents of the State Legislature last week for their work over the last 12 months.

During the opening of legislative sessions at the State Capitol in Sacramento on June 16, members of the Senate and Assembly participated in the gesture that coincided with the kickoff of the state’s official Juneteenth 2022 commemorations.

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

Bradford, who was appointed to the task force by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, made his remarks on the Senate floor after fellow task force panelist Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) delivered similar comments in the Assembly chambers.

Seven of the nine task force members and staff from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) were recognized at the event.

Task force members attending the ceremony were Chairperson Kamilah V. Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; Vice Chairman Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s; Dr. Cheryl Grills, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized trial attorney.

Attorney Don Tamaki, Esq., an attorney best known for his role in the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States and the only non-Black member of the panel, was also in attendance.

Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon met briefly with the panel.

Task force members Monica Montgomery Steppe, a San Diego Councilmember and Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley, could not make the trip due to prior commitments.

Several members of the CLBC attended the function, which coincided with the passage of resolution in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday in the Assembly.

Assemblymembers Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Akila Weber (D-La Mesa), Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and CLBC vice-chair Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) showed up to support the task force members’ efforts.

The Task Force first convened on June 1, 2021, to conduct an examination of the lasting consequences of discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants.

Under Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, authored by then-Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who is currently Secretary of State of California, the nine-member panel is charged with making recommendations for how the state can compensate Black Californians who are descendants of enslaved African Americans.

On June 1, the task force released its first interim report, a 483-page document compiled by the California Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section.

“The information in the interim report reveals uncovered facts about incidents that disproportionately and negatively affected Black Californians in California for 170-plus years and the country for the last 400 years,” Grills said.

“Until we have a reckoning with the truth, we cannot understand who we are as a nation. When we then begin to have that kind of reckoning, I think the specific manifestation of the harm will be easier to deal with and we will actually have an opportunity for transformative change,” Grills continued.

Over the next 12 months, Moore told California Black Media (CBM) that the task force will focus on bringing increased awareness for the interim report, community engagement, and formulating a framework of how California should compensate around 2 to 2.6 million Black Californians.

“It’s important that the California Legislature understand how important this effort is,” Moore told CBM. “This past year we’ve been working incredibly hard. The next (12 months) I categorized it as the development stage where the nine-member task force has substantive and intentional conversations about what reparations should look like.”

Video link of Sen. Steven Bradford and Dr. Cheryl Grills at the state capitol in Sacramento:  .California Task Force For Reparations at State Capitol 6.16.2022

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