Thursday, October 20, 2016

Youth and Adults Must Work Together to Stop Violence

By Dr. Stephanie E. Myers, National Co-Chair, Black Women for Positive Change 

Click here for more blog posts from the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2016.  

Last year, during the 2015 Week of Non-Violence, Black Women for Positive Change (BW4PC), asked youth what they thought were some of the causes of violence affecting their communities. We wanted to get their firsthand opinions about the pathways that lead to physical violence, domestic violence, gang violence and one-on-one confrontations. We wanted to know why they get into fights, gangs and confrontations. 
To facilitate our discussion, we convened a “Youth Speak: We Listen: Town Hall Meeting,” in Pittsburgh, PA., in collaboration with Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay; BW4PC Pittsburgh Chair Diane Powell; Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. A diverse group of 125+, mostly African American high school and college age youth, ages 14-24, joined the discussion in the auditorium at Allegheny Community College, in Pittsburgh. Other invited participants were elected officials, faith leaders, parents, teachers and law enforcement officials. 
Our opening question was, “What do you think are the causes of violence in your school, community or family?” We expected answers of police abuse, poverty, bad housing, bad schools, etc. Instead, the youth responded, “The adults in our lives! Many of the adults in our lives are negative and their negatively leads us to create violence against our classmates, siblings and in our communities!” Some of their examples were:
  • Adults don’t like their spouses”;
  • Adults don’t like their neighbors”;
  • Adults are unemployed, or don’t like their jobs”
I was very surprised to hear the answer from the youth that the adults in their lives are the problems, that contribute to violence. I expected them to say it was their peers, or gangs or police. But, when I consider the U.S. divorce rate of 46% the youth may not be far off…I guess the statistics show that many adults don’t get along with spouses. And, when you consider the impact of gentrification in U.S. cities where whites are moving into predominately Black neighborhoods and don’t speak or interact with the residents who were there before they got there, this can create anger. Plus, the export of millions of U.S. jobs overseas has left many Black American adults unemployed and underemployed and this can lead them to express anger, depression and job dissatisfaction. 
As we listened to the youth complain, we noticed that most of them were well groomed, well dressed and articulate so, it appeared that their parents were around and caring for them.  And, while I admit some parents are negative, I must speak up for millions of hard-working parents and adults who try to give their children and youth, the best they can.  However, it cannot be denied that the students at our Town Hall meeting felt the negative attitudes of adults in their lives contributed to violence. They felt the adults put lots of pressure on them and this caused them to be short-tempered, and get into random fights. 
In order to address a perceived problem of negativity, youth and adults must take responsibility for walking down the pathways that lead to trouble. Neither group can blame the other for all of the bad decisions that are leading to violence. Consider the following:
We adults must look in the mirror and recognize the negative impacts we have on youth from divorces, lack of employment, lack of money and interpersonal conflicts. Yes, those behaviors probably do create environments that foster youth anger and violence…and the price is too high.  On the other hand, youth who bully classmates, drop out of school, get arrested for shop-lifting and burglaries and become gang bangers, can’t expect the adults in their lives to stand by and watch them self-destruct. 
If today's youth and adults want to live in neighborhoods of peace and prosperity they must work together. Adults and youth need to sit down and explain how they are feeling and the challenges they are facing.  It’s up to all of us to “Change the Culture of Violence” and it starts with each individual. If adults and youth work together in families, churches, schools, neighborhoods and with law enforcement, the violence can be stopped.

STEPHANIE E. MYERS, Founder and National Co-Chair of Black Women for Positive Change, is Vice President of the R.J. Myers Publishing and Consulting Company (RJMPUB), a minority-owned small business in the District of Columbia that provides management consulting and capacity-building services for local government agencies, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and national non-profit organizations. She is co-producer of, a website dedicated to webc,asting minority health lectures, workshops and conferences.  Dr. Myers spearheaded the Week of Nonviolence.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Organizing for the Week of Nonviolence in Atlanta

William Kellibrew
Click here for more blog posts from the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2016

The Black Women for Positive Change Atlanta, Georgia Week of Nonviolence focused on bringing awareness to violence prevention. Community members joined together to discuss the impact of violence and identify strategies for supporting a violence-free community.

The goal of the event was to support nonviolence and violence prevention in the Atlanta community.

We held the event at the Adamsville Recreation Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Two moms who have experienced their sons killed, as well as community members, were involved. 12 people attended.

Difficulties we experienced included finding a location, collaborating with local organizations, finding funding, and advertising the event without a huge network.

Having a co-chair was extremely beneficial.

Quality was more important than quantity at this event. Two mothers provided a glimpse into their experiences of losing their sons to violence. The conversation was extremely beneficial and the discussion about violence-prevention provided some relief to attendees and enabled us to look at solutions. It seems like there is commitment to continue next year’s event. 

Next year, we will start organizing earlier and utilize social media to share information about the event.   
On July 2, 1984, at age 10, William Kellibrew witnessed the murders of his mother, Jacqueline and 12-year-old-brother, Anthony, by his mom’s ex-boyfriend in their family living room.  The killer took his own life that day, but not before making William beg for his life at gunpoint.  Kellibrew struggled as a child, teen and young adult, but persevered to become a global leader on the issues he faced in his years of struggle including child sexual abuse, witnessing and experiencing violence and homicide as well as a multitude of victimizations and long-lasting effects related to trauma. 

Now, a global advocate for human, civil, children and victims’ rights, Kellibrew travels throughout the world sharing his story of courage and resiliency on the pathway to healing and on-going recovery.  

In 2011, Kellibrew was recognized by the White House as a ‘Champion of Change’ working to end domestic violence and sexual assault.  In 2013, he received the Voice Award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, CA for his work across the country as a peer/consumer leader.  In 2014, he accepted the Capitol Probe Award at the District of Columbia Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and in 2015 he received the U.S. Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award.  Kellibrew credits his grandmother, Delores, for being a model for humanity.  Follow Kellibrew on and at

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Why I Am Committed to Nonviolence

MLK Faith Is Taking the First Step
Click here for more blog posts from the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2016

I have blogged a lot about the things that affect me – and I am sure they affect you, too. Like the killings of Black people by the police and other authorities.  And The Calais Jungle.  And the history of the Freedom Riders.  And I have blogged about the fact that Black women cancer patients are often denied the care they need. 

For some of my recent blog posts, see the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2016

As I have asked bloggers to submit blogs that are personal, I want to share with you some of my personal thoughts, feelings and experiences.

As I said in Violence Begins at Home, this work begins with the self. We all want other people to change, but in order to achieve that, we first need to change ourselves.

I use many different personal development methods in my work and in my life. The one method that has affected me the most is Nonviolent Communication (NVC). For more about NVC, see 8 Books about NVC and my interviews with NVC authors.

My biggest problem has probably always been my low self-esteem, which I could also characterize as self-hatred. I taught courses in Building Self-Esteem and Confidence for many years.

The way we talk about ourselves, to ourselves, is a central feature in our self-esteem. We use language that undermines our confidence. We use jackal language (blaming, judging labelling) to ourselves, about ourselves. We learn lessons such as feeling “not good enough” very early in life, and in consequence, we put ourselves down. Often, we learn to put ourselves down before someone else has the chance to do it. I have seen this tendency in myself and in many of my students. I am usually unaware of it – it's a tendency that is unconscious.

When I was doing a lot of NVC, I found that my self-talk changed. The way I talked to myself became more positive. I didn't plan for this or expect it, it just happened.

I have agoraphobia, one symptom of which is that I find it difficullt to cross the street. I have to wait until I feel comfortable, until there is not too much traffic, and so forth. I could be giving myself positive, encouraging messages in this context.

But one day, as I was waiting for the lights to change, I heard a voice in my head saying you're so STUPID!!! Over and over again. I was shocked, but I'm sure these are the types of messages I am giving myself all the time. 

This is just an example of the kind of self-talk that undermines our self-esteem and conidence. When we are harsh with ourselves, we tend to be harsh towards others as well. As Marshall Rosenberg explained in Nonviolent Communication, we can use jackal language towards ourselves or towards others.

When we have jackal thoughts towards ourselves, we tend to project these kinds of thoughts and attitudes towards others. This can, and often does, lead to conflict.

When I became kinder in my self-talk, others saw and commented on how different I was in my interactions with others. I wish I had known about NVC when I was teaching.

I am very keen that more and more of us learn NVC. This will transform our our lives, our worplaces and our communities and will, eventually, transform the world. Transformation begins at home.


Saturday, October 01, 2016

Black History Blogs

MLK voting 1964
I have posted many Black history posts on this blog and I think it's useful to list them.  So you can find many of them listed below (in no particular order).

Plus click here for some of my African history blog posts.

Please share these with your networks, and particularly with parents, children and young people, and teachers and schools.  Please leave your comments on the individual blog posts.

Please note, I DO NOT distinguish between African history and Black history. Its all the history of African people on the Continent and in the Diaspora. If you are familiar with my work, such as my More Black Success ebooks, you now that all of my work has a global
Slavery by Another Name
African focus. Whether we are in Africa, in the Caribbean, in Europe, in the United States or the Americas – wherever we are, we are African people.

But since I know that some people make a distinction between Black people and African people, and because I know this distinction is important to some people, I have listed them separately. Remember, we are one people, and it is all the history of African people. And remember, too, EVERY MONTH IS BLACK
Josephine Baker

Black History Blogs

Aimé Césaire Centennial at the Schomburg

Please share these with your networks and please leave your comments on the individual posts.  Thanks. 

African History Blogs

Nelson Mandela and Family
I have listed some of my African history blog posts below.

See also:  Black History Blogs.    

Please note, I DO NOT distinguish between Black history and African history, but I have listed them separately because I know that this distinction matters to some people.

When we learn about what has happened, what has been done to people, on the African Continent and in the Diaspora, it is clear that it is all the same story. We are one people. 

Benin bronze
Please share these with your networks, and particularly with parents, children and young people, and teachers and schools.  Please leave your comments on the individual posts


African History: Invasion 1897 - this links to some of my other African history blogs 
including blogs about Kenya, Namibia and the Congo..

The Sowetan:  Jumping the Border for Water

Sweet Crude - The Niger Delta

World War One:  The Crucial Battle for Togo 

See also:   Black History Blogs

Please share these with your networks and please leave your comments on the individual posts.  Thanks.