The Silent Grief That’s Plaguing Our Girls

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by Leatrice Burphy, Guest Blogger 

There are no words to adequately describe the heartbreaking and tragic ending to a life short lived. Bobbi Kristina was one of too many young women in the grieving girls club, whose cry for help was often ignored or misunderstood. Her death is a grim reminder to every adult; children cannot cope with loss or emotional trauma without a support system. When there is a lack of guidance in a grieving child’s life, they tend to look for love, comfort, and refuge from the wrong people and influences. This is a wake-up call for America. Sometimes, your love and pep talks are not enough to save a young person impacted by tragedy.

I read once, “Grief is the most powerful emotion, yet it is the one emotion, we are taught the least about in our society.” In the light of all that is happening in the country right now, it’s time to start an open dialogue with our younger generation about this silent killer. The truth is, you never get over a death, it is something you learn to live with. Grief does not get better with time, it just gets different.

Often the “forgotten grievers” in our culture, people underestimate how fragile and vulnerable young people can be in that state of mind. Bereavement puts them at a higher risk for alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, depression, mental illness, violent behavior, suicide, promiscuity, truancy, and the list goes on. Because children and teens are not taught how to handle an emotional crisis beforehand, recovery is highly dependent on their support system. In some cases, this may require professional counseling.

We were given a glimpse into the private world of Bobbi Kristina after Whitney Houston died. While the reality show aired, there were red flags Bobbi Kristina was a ticking time bomb. What caused a greater concern for me, were the family and friends who acknowledged the problem, but did not stage an intervention. There should have been a unified force to get her into rehab and grief therapy. For a young person greatly affected by death, divorce, domestic violence, and addiction; she needed more than prayers, a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on.

Bobbi Kristina endured a life filled with anguish but did not have the mental capacity to cope with it. Studies show girls self-medicate to numb the pain and escape emotions caused from traumatic experiences. As a result, they will most likely battle drug and alcohol abuse. Often ridicule for being rebellious and out of control, this girl was actually hurting and crying out for help.  The writing on the wall was crystal clear in her interview with Oprah, tweets on social media, and last text message. If there was an intervention for Bobbi Kristina, the outcome of her story could have been one that brought a smile to our faces, instead of tears to our eyes.

Burying a twenty-two-year-old whose potential we will never know, hits close to home. Like Bobbi Kristina, I am also a part of the grieving girls club. A year after my father lost his battle to illness; my brother was murdered at twenty-two. I had no idea that magnitude of pain existed, and it rocked me to the core. “Grief affects everything you do, and it can disrupt every aspect of your life, in ways you least expect.” But I can attest, therapy (creative or traditional) and a strong support system can save a young person’s life because it saved mine.

How can we fight for the girls, like Bobbi Kristina?

(1). We need to break the silence in our homes, schools, and communities because grief knows no boundaries.

(2). We need to advocate for laws that will require grief therapy for young people and grief training for the adults responsible for them.

(3). We need to create long-term grief support programs where our grieving youth can find a safe haven, in the company of their peers who understand their loss.

Just like I never stopped praying for Bobbi Kristina, I will never stop fighting for our future in the grieving girls club.

LeatriceLeatrice Burphy is the founder of A LEGACY Left Behind, Inc. The 501 (C)(3) organization provides grief support and mentoring services to young ladies in the DC Metro Area who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling. Inspired to give a voice to children and teens who are often the “forgotten grievers” in our society, she has created a platform to raise awareness about the impact of grief among the younger generation and the lack of support programs and resources available to them. In 2014, Leatrice was honored with the Next Generation Award from the Business Resource TV (BR-TV) for her philanthropic work in the DC Metro Area. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the United Nations Association.

 

We’ve Got the Political Power: 3 Reasons Millennials Need to Vote

Source: ivn.us
Source: ivn.us

by Monica Reid, Guest Blogger

What comes to mind when you hear the number 78 million?

78 million is the current baby boomer generation. What generation could be larger than 78 million?

As it currently stands, the millennial generation is the largest and most diverse generation in American history with a whopping 95 million people. The millennial voting strength has increased as a result. In 2012, millennial voters ages 18-29 comprised 19% of the electorate. According to the Center for American Progress, millennials are a full quarter of the voting-age American public with 46 million potential voters. This is in comparison to the 39 million block of voters older than age 65. Needless to say, we are a force to be reckoned with! However, are we truly aware of just how much political power we possess?

However, are we truly aware of just how much political power we possess?

#1. We can change the political direction of this country.

In 2014, millennials only comprised 13% of the electorate compared to 19% in 2012. This represents approximately 14 million fewer millennial voters. The 2008 presidential election was a peak year for youth voter turnout with 52%. However during the 2012 presidential election the turnout dropped to 45%. In nonpresidential elections, we definitely see a trend of lower voter turnout among millennial voters. However, the relevance of our issues is not isolated to just presidential elections. A number of elections take place every year that determine the composition of our local city councils, state attorney’s, governorships and our state legislatures. As millennial voters, and specifically black millennial voters, seeking to influence policy and successfully implement legislation of interest to our communities, continually engaging in our electoral process is vital. Every election is important. In 2012, 43% of voting age millennials were people of color.

#2. Our Votes Impact Black Lives Matter.

We’ve all seen how the instances of deadly force used toward black men and women by law enforcement have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ve seen how their actions are impacting elected officials at all levels of government and bringing issues of racial and criminal justice reform to the forefront. Continued civic engagement by millennials in keeping elected officials accountable, electing candidates that support our issues and encouraging other members of our community to get involved will be crucial.

In Virginia, a coalition of civic organizations is doing just that – seeking to engage more black residents in Northern Virginia in the political process. The Northern Virginia (NOVA) Coalition is a collaboration of 30+ civic and faith-based organizations in Northern Virginia focusing on African American voter registration, education and empowerment. Through its “NOVA Votes: Educating and Encouraging the Black Vote Campaign,” we’ve been able to reach thousands of black voters in Northern Virginia. Between now and the October 13th deadline, we are launching an aggressive voter registration campaign to in Northern Virginia in preparation for the November election. This is a perfect opportunity to get more involved and engaged! We are always looking for new collaborations, partnerships and volunteers to help us reach our goal. If you are interested in learning more or in volunteering, you may contact nova.coalition.events@gmail.com.   

#3. If we don’t show up we cannot complain.

As millennials we are notorious for bluntly expressing how we feel. Sometimes our arguments warranted, other times they are baseless. In the case of our communities and who is in leadership, we will have zero legs to stand on if we don’t vote. Local votes are not as complicated as presidential ones. Because fewer people turn out to vote, the greater our chances are to get who we want in office. Learn when your local elections are, educate yourselves about the candidates and SHOW UP to vote. If you don’t, you cannot complain.

We have the political power to change this country. Let’s get to it!

monicaMonica Reid, a graduate of George Mason University where she received a B.A. in Government & International Politics and Economics and a Masters in Public Administration, has been a leading force behind social and civic awareness for a number of years. A dedicated public servant and a government relations professional with over 8 years of professional experience, Monica has worked to promote civil awareness, political engagement and advocacy throughout the Washington Metropolitan Region.

Who Speaks For Us: Are We Straight Outta (Conscious) Hip-Hop?

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By Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Chief Millennial Officer, Friends of Ebonie

I finally went to see Straight Outta of Compton last weekend. I thought it was awesome. In fact, it’s was No. 1 at the box office for three straight weekends. #GoCube. I expected it to be pretty good, but I was not ready for how much the movie imitated present-day life.

Set in the mid-1980s to the early-1990s, Straight Outta Compton tells the musical journey of rappers, Ice Cube, Easy E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella also known as N*ggas With Attitude (N.W.A.). The group’s “started from the bottom now we’re here” story was filled with highs and lows, but I was especially intrigued by the influence police brutality, systematic racism and discrimination had on some of N.W.A.’s music. From their experiences they recorded their most famous anti-police song, “*uck the Police.” As the movie depicted scenes ranging from innocent teenagers (including N.W.A. themselves) being stopped and frisked to the Rodney King beating, I kept thinking is this set 2015 or 1986? Socially, not much has changed since the coming-of-age of NWA. Their music is just as relevant today as it was then. 

There was a scene in the movie where the group members were convinced that because the Rodney King beating was caught on video that the officers would automatically be found guilty. However, as we all know, none of those officers were found guilty. Neither were the officers in the Amadou Diallo case, Trayvon Martin case, Mike Brown case, Eric Garner case…need I go on? Why are we still fighting the same fight from the 80s and 90s? If rap music was the equivalent of social media in the 80s and 90s N.W.A. would be voices within the #BlackLivesMatter movement for sure.

After watching Straight Outta Compton, I see Ice Cube in a brand new light. I admire him for taking a stand and being the voice of his generation. I admire the courage of Easy E to speak out when the highest federal law enforcement agency in America, aka The FBI had N.W.A. on their most wanted list. N.W.A. did not back down and they did not stop. When the police in Detroit tried to intimidate them and told them not to sing “*uck the Police” at their concert they did it anyway.  They knew that their music was shedding light on what was really happening in their communities. They knew that by using music to touch their fans someone was going to hear the truth. Where is that today?

We live in a society driven by music. So much of who we are and what we do today is influenced by music. What or where would we be if more artists took an N.W.A stand? Or what would happen if those who do speak out got the same appreciation as those who exclusively rap ratchet?

I don’t really listen to today’s hip-hop music, however when I do hear a song all I hear is foolishness. There is no struggle, there is no “F the police “there is no why didn’t he get indicted.” All you hear are fake thugs trying to be real when there is truly a genocide happening to our people. Watching Straight Out of Compton convicted me. It made me think, who in our generation’s hip-hop music could be an N.W.A.? Who is our Ice Cube? I shared this post idea with a few friends, and they offered these artists as possible hip-hop revolutionaries of our time:

  1. J-Cole – For his latest album, outspoken lyrics and humble presence in the Black Lives Matter movement
  2. Kendrick Lamar – For his outspoken lyrics and his song, “Alright” which has been called the new black anthem.
  3. Janelle Monae and Wondaland– for their song “Hell You Talmbout” and social justice protests that take place before their concerts in each city

Additionally, back in January Mic News offered “These Six Rappers are the Defining Voices of #BlackLivesMatter.” Five of the six artists I’ve never heard, but that could just be me. #ImNotThatCool.

I’m not saying N.W.A. was perfect. Despite what the movie showed, I know a lot of their music was the anthesis of black power. However, in my opinion that’s the fabric of being an artist. They used their platform to the best of their ability to seek change when a change was needed. It is my sincere hope that artists with a message get the platform they deserve. And for those artists that do have a platform, they begin (or continue) to use it in a way that will not only entertain but also educate, inform and raise the level of consciousness of those who look up to them.

Hey #DC! Brunch For A Cause Is Back!

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Hey DC! We’re a proud sponsor of A Diva State of Mind’s Brunch for a Cause!

This DC brunch series returns in June to benefit Safe Shores & Shepherd’s Table. Lifestyle blogger & stylist Keri Henderson of A Diva State of Mind, combined her love of brunch with friends and passion for giving back to the community, to create her brunch series A Diva State of Mind Presents: Brunch for a Cause in 2014. Last year she hosted two brunches that attracted over 80 attendees and raised funds for DC area non-profit organizations. This highly anticipated brunch series returns this summer!

The brunch will benefit Safe Shores – The DC Children’s Advocacy Center and Shepherd’s Table. Safe Shores is celebrating 20 years of serving child victims of abuse and is a direct service nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and working directly with child victims of sexual and physical abuse in the District of Columbia. Shepherd’s Table provides help to people who are homeless or in need by providing basic services including meals, social services, medical support, clothing and other assistance in an effective and compassionate manner.

All attendees will enjoy an afternoon of networking, a three course meal, unlimited mimosas and more! Along with purchasing a ticket, all guests will be asked to bring ONE inkind donation for EACH organization or make a monetary donation at the door.

When: Sunday, June 14, 2015

Where: M Street Bar & Grill 2033 M Street NW Washington, DC

Time: 12:30pm

Tickets: $38 | http://www.brunchforacause2015.eventbrite.com

It is Keri’s hope that each Brunch for a Cause event will become more successful than the last and collectively, individuals can raise money or collect a significant amount of in-kind donations for great organizations serving the DC community.

Keri is a lifestyle blogger and personal stylist in the DC area. She’s an advocate for community service and seeks to host events in the DC area that are fashionable, fun and focused on giving back to the community. Visit www.adivastateofmind.com for more information.

#IAMYBGB: Clemmie Perry

Clemmie PErry

 

The golf course or the green is where business deals happen. Big deals, small deals and those in between happen on the golf course. There’s a power on the course that provides the opportunity for banter, negotiation and real-time deal closing. Despite the power on the green, there is a shortage of women and definitely a shortage of women of color. Clemmie Perry, founder of Women of Color Golf and Girls on the Green T, has made it her mission to change this.

When sharing her story of learning the game Clemmie told Forbes, “It was exciting, and I was making all these new friends and contacts. It opened a whole new world for me. But I also realized when I was out on the course, I rarely saw women who looked like me out there.” She also saw the need for young girls of color to learn the game. So she started Girls on the Green T to work with girls ages 14 – 22. The girls receive weekly golf lessons as well as establish mentoring relationships and take classes in health and financial literacy. “This is a world many of these girls never even knew existed, let alone thought they could gain access to. We can be an entry way for them to see a different kind of future,” says Perry. “We’re trying to prepare them to enter into a diverse and quickly changing world.” (Forbes)

We salute Clemmie and her team on a job well done! Learn more on Clemmie Perry and her work to bring women and girls of color into the world of golf here.

Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

#IAMYBGB: Sha’Condria “Icon” Sibley

Sha'Condria Sibley

 

Sha’Condria Sibley uses her voice to inspire, activate and motivate others. She’s more than a artist, she is an artistic changemaker. In addition to rocking the mic at poetry slams in NOLA, she teaches youth about spoken word and using their voices to create change. Today we honor her and her BIG voice for making a difference in her community.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

Watch her work!

Say it Loud! I’m Young, Black & Giving Back!

Say it loud...

Last week we kicked off of our digital campaign: “I AM Young, Black and Giving Back” We could not be more excited! If you have been sleeping on this dope campaign now is the time to wake up and check out #IAMYBGB on social media.

I AM_ShowMeShoes (2)The I AM Young, Black & Giving Back is a digital campaign focused on young, black givers and the cause work they care the most about. Our goal is to recognize and applaud the work these individuals do to impact their communities. Through our platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we will engage with some of the best and the brightest young, black givers-  that includes YOU! That’s right,  the best part of this campaign is that it involves YOU! We want to know what motivates you to give, why you give, how you give!

Often times we recognize those doing good but we fail to truly celebrate them and that is what this campaign is all about. It is not about simply taking notice that young, black philanthropists, leaders, and activists exist but we also want to honor their contributions. We know that by elevating the work you do, we not only will be inspired but other young, black givers will be inspired to give more and better than ever! So how are we going both celebrate and inspire?

So glad you asked!

We will host an information-packed twitter chat on April 14 and two young, black giver features each week through April 30!

When it comes to being young, black and giving back we never want to lose sight of the inspiration behind the phrase. We take your work and our work very seriously and want to ensure you always have a place to shine! Here’s to you!

We look forward to celebrating with you guys! Say it loud, “I am Young, Black, Giving Back …& I am proud!”