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For the second year in a row, Ujima, Inc. hosted its Domestic Violence Awareness Month Op-ed Writer’s Workshop. On Saturday, October 5, 2019, in partnership with the Georgetown University Law Fellowship program, Ujima, Inc. continued its work around domestic violence by hosting a workshop that would engage the community and provide best practices on how to write an op-ed for a newspaper, magazine or blog.

Facilitated by Ujima’s very own LisaLyn Jacobs, the workshop explored the importance of op-eds, how to successfully write one and how to pitch your op-ed to editors.

A brand new event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Ujima, Inc. hosted its first Coffee & Conversation: Black Maternal Health at Busboys and Poets in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC on Monday, October 14, 2019. Moderated by Megan Simmons, Senior Policy Attorney for Ujima, Inc., the panel discussion provided insight into the intersection of violence and Black maternal health. The conversation centered on violence, bias, and preventable deaths experienced by Black women throughout the duration of their pregnancies.

Panelists for the event included:

  • Jamila Perritt, MD, MPH, FACOG
  • Jessica Pinckney, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Vice President of Government Affairs

Dr. Perritt shared practical experiences and how her medical care is guided by trauma informed skills. Ms. Pinkney offered her knowledge on policy implications on Black women’s maternal health, as well as policy recommendations to improve outcomes going forward. Dr. Perritt and Ms. Pinkney, both activists and advocates, often work together to educate others on reproductive justice.

Both women shared their personal experiences on how they arrived at incorporating reproductive justice into their professional lives. When asked, “Why are there disparities in Black maternal health?” they both responded by saying, “it was a result of white supremacy that permeated into the healthcare system”.

If you missed the event, click here to view the entire discussion on our Facebook page.

Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community was thrilled to present two Issue Forums at the 2019 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference. On Thursday, September 12, 2019, we held our first panel, What We Need Is Love: Preventing Sexual and Dating Violence on HBCU Campuses. Moderated by award winning actress Tanya Wright, the panel explored issues around sexual and dating violence on the campuses of historically Black colleges and universities. Panelists included:

  • Tricia Bent-Goodley, Director of the Howard University Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program and Chair/Director of the University’s Women’s Leadership Initiative
  • Candy Young, Title IX Coordinator, Delaware State University
  • Darlene Johnson, Associate Director, Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Megan Simmons, Sr. Policy Attorney, Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community

On Friday, September 13, 2019, we held our second panel, The Untold Story: Trafficking in the Black Community. Also moderated by award winning actress Tanya Wright, the panel took an in-depth look at human trafficking and why Black women and girls are trafficked at a higher rate. Panelist included:

  • Austen Williams, Human Trafficking Advocate and President, The Culture Catalyst
  • Tanisha Murden, Human Trafficking Survivor
  • Gretta Gardner, Deputy Director, Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community

As we prepare for the holiday season, Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, is dedicating the month of November to discussing Black Mental Health. In many traditions, the coming days and weeks entail joyous, festive, and celebratory rituals that center gratitude, charity, and community. However, this time of year presents new challenges, pressures, and expectations that can make the holiday season overwhelming and stressful. In our commitment to uplifting our community, we want to prioritize and discuss mental wellness as we immerse ourselves in Daylight savings and the colder winter months.

Although African Americans make up roughly 12% of the US population, they comprise approximately 18.7% of those affected by mental illness. African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general US population. Some scholars have identified racism-specific stress and coping responses to include anger, paranoia, anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, frustration, resentment, and fear for African Americans. Moreover, symptoms of depression and anxiety show up differently within and across racial/ethnic groups that speak directly to historical trauma from diverse lived experiences. For example, research has shown that anxiety can be more chronic and the symptoms more intense for Black women in America. A new groundbreaking study reveals that the pressure of holding everything down as a “strong Black woman” places immense stress and pressure that can increase the risk of depression among Black woman. This pressure can reach even higher levels during the holiday season.

The American Psychological Association notes that “holiday-related stress and the ‘holiday blues’—feelings of disappointment, sadness, fatigue or frustration—are not unusual” during this time of year. The Holiday Blues are often temporary, but for those suffering from mental illnesses, the holidays can be immensely stressful and emotionally taxing. Whether you are worried about purchasing gifts for family and friends or bracing to celebrate the season without a loved one who recently passed, this time of year can trigger a range of negative and positive emotions. The psychological toll of the holidays can result in adverse health outcomes that impact ones overall wellness beyond the season.

Despite the clear need for mental health care that addresses the multitude of stressors Black Americans face on a daily basis, racial disparities persist when it comes to access. The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health reports that only 8.7% of Non-Hispanic Black adults, compared to 18.6% of Non-Hispanic White adults, received mental health services in 2018. These disparities exist due to several barriers to care such as social stigma, distrust of the health care system, lack of cultural humility and diversity among providers, and lack of health insurance.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that Black Mental Health is central to our efforts to promote wellness for our community. As the holidays approach, there are several things that we can do to help navigate the highs and lows of this season, including seeking professional help and identifying other community resources that cater to our needs. Dr. Joy Harden-Bradford, a Licensed Psychologist, author, media contributor and host of the “Therapy for Black Girls” podcast, is one of several remarkable Black women encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. She shares the following tips on steadying yourself for the holiday season that we encourage you to consider:

  1. Be realistic about your budget.
    • Don’t feel pressure to overspend on gifts for friends or loved ones this year. Instead, think of gifts that do not have a specific monetary value attached such as babysitting or curating a music playlist.
    • Next year, plan to set aside some money for gifts to avoid financial stress.
  2. Create new traditions and reexamine old ones.
    • If you can’t be with your family this year for Thanksgiving, consider spending time with friends and having a Friendsgiving instead.
  1. Make a game plan for dealing with the loss of a loved one.
    • Reimagine what holiday traditions might look like without your loved one’s physical presence this year.
    • Don’t avoid the holidays after experiencing the loss of a loved one. It may not be as a joyous occasion, but you will be able to tolerate the pain and push through.
    • Plan ahead to avoid panic.
  1. Set and stick to your boundaries.
    • Recognize that you cannot do everything and that it is okay to say “no” sometimes.
  1. Build some downtime into your schedule just for yourself.
    • This could simply entail heading back home a few days earlier before you have to head back to work or school, going on a solo vacation or planning a staycation.
  1. Allow yourself space to feel whatever you feel.
    • Let go of the unrealistic expectation that you have to feel endless happiness and excitement during the holidays. It is okay to feel sad or worried in light of what is happening in your life.

 

 

During the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), The Person Center (TPC) partnered with Ujima, Inc. to engage DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV) members and community partners in raising awareness about domestic violence. Collectively, they educated communities on how to promote safety, respect and accountability by changing the way we talk about relationships across the Diaspora.

Ujima, Inc. and TPC, in collaboration with DCCADV, kicked off DVAM on the campus of Howard University at their Paint the Campus Purple event, hosted by Howard University’s Violence Prevention Program. The event gave both programs the opportunity to engage the student body in discussion on raising awareness about DVAM and healthy relationships, while also distributing “culturally specific” literature and resources.

Following the Howard University event, Ujima, Inc. and TPC took part in DCCADV’s signature DVAM event, Paint the Town Purple. This year, organizations from across the District of Columbia joined us at various Metro stations throughout DC where we educated the community about domestic violence by distributing resources and other materials.

Other exciting events that took place throughout the month included:

  • US Attorney’s Office and the East of the River Family – The US Attorney’s Office and the East of the River Family Strengthening Collaborative hosted an Inter-Faith Health Resource Fair in Ward 7. This outreach and tabling event focused primarily on domestic violence and intimate partner violence and included over a dozen organizations and resources available to Washington, DC residents, specifically in Ward 7. Organizations and agencies that were represented included: The University of the District of Columbia, Interfaith Advisory Board to the Mayor, MedStar Health Hospitals, the Metropolitan Police Department, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The Person Center and Ujima, Inc., just to name a few.
  • Spread the Love Trivia Night – An exciting event where locals had the opportunity to show off their smarts while raising awareness about healthy relationships. Trivia Night is an annual charity event that supports the work of the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • Purple Thursday Fest – A day of unity in the community to commemorate the annual Purple Thursday Awareness Community Fair across the DC metropolitan area. The event showcased the strength of the DVAM member organizations and community partners. Located on the steps of The National City Christian Church, the event included awareness activities, performances and a declaration by the Mayor of Washington, DC.

Other DVAM events included, Coffee & Conversations, a movie screening of the classic 1940’s film “The Heiress,” a presentation on the Public Charge ruling around housing in DC and Surviving DC: The Cost of Safety, a discussion about domestic violence and the actual cost of assisting survivors.

The Person Center also had the opportunity to engage with the community, organizations and advocates through various training sessions. In partnership with the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The Person Center conducted three, all-day trauma informed trainings at the Hill Center in Southeast, DC. Shelter organizations from across the city participated in a group discussion about trauma and its impacts, as well as how to address trauma when supporting the clients we serve. The groups also discussed systemic challenges and barriers when responding to trauma and defining trauma informed care that is shared across the spectrum.

Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community was thrilled to be a part of the 25th ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Ujima team had the opportunity to meet thousands of women and men from all over the country. Guests were eager to share their survivor stories with the team and loved hearing about the work we are doing in the Black community. Ujima distributed resources, giveaways and received over 600 signatures from guests who are interested in participating in addressing domestic violence, sexual violence, and community violence in their own communities.

The ESSENCE Festival, which was held July 5th – July 7th is known as the world’s largest celebration of global Black culture, entertainment, and empowerment. The 2019 Festival promoted Black culture, economic ownership, and inclusion. The Essence Festival has an international audience of over 500,000 attendees and brings a $4 million economic impact to the city of New Orleans.

Because of the overwhelming support we received, Ujima, Inc. plans to attend and support the Festival annually.

 

Star Jackson
Ujima Communications Intern

Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

On June 3, military opened fire on pro-democracy protesters during their sit-in in Khartoum. Protestors called for a civilian-run government to ensure a fair election after Omar Al-Bashir, former president of Sudan, was overthrown. The seven-member Transitional Military Council (TMC), along with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) assumed power. The military agreed on a 3-year transition period but reneged on the agreement when they opened fire and announced that elections would be held within nine months. Civilians reported over 100 people dead. In addition to the attacks, there were reports of rapes of both women and men by the military, and shutdown of Internet access, which led to further protest strikes in the streets. SPA called for “complete civil disobedience and open political strike.” According to an article by the International Crisis Group, The African Union’s Peace and Security Council suspended Sudan’s African Union (AU) membership until authorities put a civilian administration in place. After a month since the attack that took place on June 3, protest leaders decided to halt protest strikes for 72 hours in order to meet with the military to discuss elections. The conflict is over Sudan’s post-revolution government.

 

The new agreement was mediated by the African Union and Ethiopia. Diplomats from the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were present. During the aftermath of the attack, Saudi and Emirati officials openly supported the actions of the military, while U.S. and British officials openly supported protestors. The New York Times reported that during their meeting they agreed on a power-sharing deal to share the sovereign council for a period of at least three years. The ruling council will have five civilians and five military leaders and an 11th member they both agree on. An army general will run Sudan for the first 21 months of the transition and civilians will run Sudan for the next 18 months that follow. They have also agreed on a civilian-ran government under the leadership of a prime minister. Both sides also agreed to a national independent investigation into the killings of protestors by the military. Details of the deal are still being finalized. Meanwhile, the military has freed rebel fighters who were arrested for opposition.


Last month celebrities and social media influencers used their platforms to raise awareness about the Sudan crisis. #BlueForSudan began trending on all major social media platforms and turned their avatars on social media blue in honor of Mohamed Mattar who was killed by the military during the protest. At the time of his death, Mattar’s profile avatar was the blue image being used in the online movement. In addition to raising awareness on social media, individuals who would like to support the people of Sudan should reach out to their member of Congress or text them (RESIST to 50409) using ResistBot and let them know that you support helping the people of Sudan. Other ways you can help, donating to UNICEF or other organizations whose mission is to support the country and amplify the voice of the people. There are also local Facebook groups and GoFundMe opportunities that are raising funds for food and medical aid.  

Black Philanthropy Month (BPM) is a multimedia campaign created in August 2011 that celebrates African-descent giving. Founded by Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network (PAWNet), BPM is an annual, global celebration that invites African and Black communities and allies to use August as a month to give back. The theme for 2019 is: Let’s Make History.

BPM’s purposes are to lead civic engagement, amplify stories, cultivate next generation givers, and to expand the ways of giving through month long of events. BPM promotes the power of giving to transform lives and aims to inform, involve, inspire and invest in Black philanthropic leadership in order to strengthen giving in all forms in black communities. Public participation began in 2013 and has grown throughout the years. Participants can now get involved in BPM through various avenues, unique to their philanthropic styles – online and offline, locally and globally. Involvement can occur by attending a philanthropy or community related event, writing an op-ed piece inspired by the theme of the campaign, sharing news and stories using the #BPM2019 hashtag on social media, joining or starting a giving circle, becoming a mentor, hosting local civic engagement forums, engaging in community service projects and donating to a cause of their interest.

BPM was recognized by the United Nations as part of its Declaration of 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent. Each year, a new organizing concept frames the BPM campaign.

For more information about Black Philanthropy Month, visit blackphilanthropymonth.com. To support Ujima, Inc. and our mission, click here.

Star Jackson
Ujima Communications Intern

Happy summer! As temperatures rise across the country, the Black community is abuzz with the sights and sounds that make us unique – from neighborhood block parties and cookouts to concerts in the park, our communities are alive and the energy is palpable.

In the midst of our joyful reunions and celebrations of family and community, we can’t forget that the scourge of domestic, sexual and community violence is an ugly reality that doesn’t go away with the change of seasons.

Ujima, Inc: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community is a national organization with local roots firmly planted in the Black community. We serve the full range of the African diaspora, including Africans, African-Americans, African immigrants, Afro-Caribbeans and Afro-Latinx. The needs of our community are as unique and diverse as our experiences. Our work is guided by the singular vision – to create a world where Black women and girls are valued, respected, safe and free from violence. Our vision is actualized through 5 key goals:

  • Act as a resource center tailored to Black survivors of domestic violence and their families and friends.
  • Build the capacity of domestic violence service providers in their response to family, domestic, and dating violence in the Black community.
  • Advocate for social change and drive policymaking for domestic, sexual and community violence in the Black community.
  • Engage in culturally competent research on race, class and equity surrounding victim services and systematic accountability.
  • Develop tools that have a direct impact on the reduction of domestic, sexual and community violence in the Black community.

Since its inception, Ujima staff, supporters, advocates, allies and friends have adopted a collaborative approach to addressing domestic, sexual and community violence in the Black Community in a comprehensive way. We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made, yet are fully aware of how much further we need to go to ensure the safety and security of the Black family.

We are excited to announce the first installment of our U-Blast (or Ujima Blast), a bi-monthly publication that is an outward expression of the collective, ongoing work of Ujima and its partner organizations and advocates across the country.

The inaugural issue of the U-Blast will be full of information and insight including a review of the 2019 Essence Festival and a glimpse into the power of Black Philanthropy Month (August). Keep a close watch on your mailbox; you won’t want to miss this must-read resource.

 

Karma Cottman
Executive Director
Ujima, Inc.: The National Center On Violence Against Women in the Black Community

CHANGE THEIR WORLD. CHANGE YOURS. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.