Photos by Salim Adofo
IBW’s Black Family Summit, an umbrella grouping of some two dozen Black professional organizations, held a recent retreat in Baltimore, MD. Below is a photo gallery of participants, along with notes on the subjects discussed at the two-day retreat.
On this page:
- Summation and Highlights by Dr Laura House
- Summation of key action items by Dr. Ron Daniels
- Excerpts from “Sketches” by Senator Hank Sanders
- Summary of Emotional Emancipation (EE) Circles by Enola Aird, Esq.
- Manifestations & Solutions by Patricia A. Newton
Summation and Highlights
Submitted by Dr. Laura House
1) Brief history and report: IBW/BFS/FEMA Disaster Task Force
Yusef Muhammed (International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters) and Lucy Perez, M.D. (The National Medical Association)
- Shared a brief report and history of the work of IBW with Black Family Summit and FEMA over the last 10 years and future plans in terms of providing resources and strategic support in our people nationally, in states and locally around emergency preparedness and disaster responses.
2) Culture and Our Response: Why this Matters?
Annelle Primm, M.D. (All Healers Mental Health Alliance) – Black Culturally Competent Pre & Post Natural/Human Made Disasters Responses
- Reported on the work her organization, the All Healers Mental Health Alliance is doing in terms of supporting our communities and families nationally with natural and human made disasters through the provision of technical assistance and resources in the area of behavioral health
- She said that a lot of their work is like jazz—improvisation- working with people, in our community– hearing, feeling and knowing what they need and meeting them there to provide the support they need
Dr. Mario Beatty (The Association for the Study of African Civilizations) – Black Culture/Values are Foundational to Our Work
- Discussed the importance of African culture and cultural values as providing the foundation for the work that all of the organizations at the Black Family Summit do.
- This society teaches and demonstrates the following: “I am because you are not. In essence, it seeks to negate the experiences of people. Culture is not peripheral- it is central. “
- He stated that: “Our view of ourselves should inform our conceptions of freedom and liberation.”
- The first person that came to him was Dr. Asa Hilliard—his whole life was about convening in these kinds of spaces and professionals to try to anchor all of us in our Africanity and where we need to go as African people. From Hilliard’s work, the Meaning of Kemet, he shared a quote from him: “No conqueror has won a final victory over any people until the history is destroyed. Conquerors must erase the people of conquered people.”
- He shared that we must understand that culture is what anchors our humanity. Weapon we must use to fight assaults on our humanity.
- He then shared his experience at the 2010 Third World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal. It was important because it was global conversation on Africa. He said there is a different energy when African people talk to each other and we must bring our ways being in the world and doing in the world to bear in everything we do. We are powerful when we do this.
- He encouraged us to change the paradigm of culture in this conversation and stand on who we are unapologetically as African people constantly moving the needle forward.
- “When you move in the world and your oppressor frames you as cultural empty, then the only culture you can operate is from the culture of the oppressor. We must fill ourselves up with who we are and who we have been in the world.”
- Want to put the culture of African cultural on a global scale.
- “The inertia of culture has to have an end. Culture must move in some direction. For African people, the concept that provides some foundation for us is Ma’at. Ma’at is a common cultural understanding among African people. We did not need laws to do this. It represents African social order and an African renaissance.”
- “Our cultural measuring stick has always been that we measure ourselves against white people. If we measure ourselves against white people, we are always going to be deficient and inadequate. To be reborn as African people, something has to die. What has to die is our old thinking. We have to anchor ourselves in the things that give us life. We must be bold to communicate a humanity that is an alternative to what we see now. What we see is death. Don’t hang onto it—let it go. Open our hearts and minds to a higher sense of self. Bring the best of our humanity and who we are to the conversation.”
3) Black Civic Engagement/Voting is not An Option in 2020
Hank Sanders, Esq. (Save Our Souls)
- Greeted the group as “fellow strugglers- with the level of education and experience that have not abandoned their people.”
- Faya Rose Toure Sanders, Esq. shared two songs that she wrote: #1- “When the family comes together, when the family comes together, when we show how we feel and we give love that’s real, then the race will begin to heal.” #2- “We are an African people don’t you forget it.”
- He shared that he participated in last leg of bridge crossing. He vividly remembers Dr. King asking the question: “How long” and saying “not long.” He was assured that it would not be long. But, then the voting rights act passed and he decided to go back to Alabama to fight for the rights of communities there.
- His mother shared with him: “Take what you have and make what you need.”
- In educating our people, we have miseducated people about the reason to vote. If an elected official does not suppress our efforts, that‘s important. If they occasionally provide some resources, that’s important. But, ultimately we must remember that we will have to do for ourselves.
Faya Rose Toure Sanders, Esq. (National Voting Rights Museum and Jubilee Bridge Crossing)
- The history of the power of the vote is critical and what we’re doing now is saving ourselves and trying to continue to move towards justice and democracy.
- When we got the right vote, they still excluded us. Black men got it 15th amendment and then Black women with the 19th amendment.
- She reminded us that we need to fully understand white supremacy and teach our children about it.
- Where are we in Selma? We started the National Voting Rights Museum and Jubilee Bridge Crossing annually. We use these efforts to teach, reach, and empower.
- She asked the question: “Why are black people quiet, not in the streets organizing the people to vote.” They have organized three voting campaigns. She said the power of vote very important to white people. She said that we cannot become easily confused by white people who are using and abusing us.
- She argues that the Black middle class has given up the fight for the poor. In order for us to convince the masses to vote, they have to see us fighting for the least of these.
- Three things white supremacy does to bring down activists. They demonize you. If that doesn’t work, they put you in jail. They will then kill you if the first things don’t work.
- She said that we have not put in mechanisms to teach our people about the lies. We must do this. We have a generation who know nothing about Selma, etc—easily manipulated to participate in their own oppression.
- We start right where we are in terms of educating and empowering our people. We try to put books about Black history and culture in our schools and encourage children to read one book a month; we started a newsletter- called the New Liberator named after abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.
- Fear may be one reason why people don’t vote and get involved in civic engagement; we have started anti-fear study groups—false evidence accepted as real to address and dispel the fear.
Commissioner Salim Adofo (The National Black United Front)
- He talked about the importance of getting the community to support Black elected officials once they’re in office.
- We still need get engaged and involved in other aspects of community engagement—on the school board and other institutions; we need to get into the space where we can get funding.
- How do we get more folks from our community involved? How are we grooming other people from our community to be in the spaces that we need them to be?
- We need to get folks organized around the issues that matter (i.e. Medicaid expansion of funding for maternal health)
- We worked on a maternal and child health issue where we brought together community representatives to write a maternal and child health policy in DC.
- Office of African American Affairs- I serve on the board. We don’t want to have Black people in seats holding seats without consciousness.
- We will try to get the city to do a Kwanzaa program so that we can introduce people to this information.
Clarence Davis (National Association for Black Veterans, Inc.)
- You have to seek truth. But first must develop the capacity to receive truth.
- Gavin Eugene Long- killed several cops and went into the prison system.
- Read letter from Long: “Must bring the same destruction that Bad cops continue to bring upon my people in the hopes that the good cops will do the right thing”
- Black leadership is problem- white people will not acknowledge the truth and our involvement in the military because it will destroy them.
- Should have created a path to re-integrate brothers into the community once they came home from the military
- When the lion tells a story to hunt, the hunter will not be glorified
- We are trying to engage black veterans—older Black veterans have abdicated our responsibility to younger Black veterans.
- We will work to organize Black veterans to vote. Ask anyone—what must we do in 2020? Vote. February 3rd—anniversary of the 15th amendment.
- We are looking to wage a campaign on the vote with National Black veterans throughout 2020
- “If only Black folks could get together to do one thing together.”— John Henrik Clarke
4) Re-imaging a Black Alternative to the Criminal Injustice System
Nkechi Taifa, Esq. (National Conference of Black Lawyers)
- Is it justice or is it just us?
Andrea James, Esq. (National Council of Formerly Incarcerated and Incarcerated Women and Girls)
- We are doing abolition work; criminal legal work.
- We do not know our history and do not have a political or cultural context of how Black people have been churned in the prison system.
- We need Black women’s expertise in terms of understanding how to navigate the prison system.
- We come here to fill up again to get educated and make sure we understand.
- Women are the fastest growing incarceration population in the country- 50% higher for Black women than white men.
- Incarceration has been a disruption in the lives of Black women and Black people.
- She and others decided they were going to organize in 2010 – Michelle Alexander’s book published- to use their voices; didn’t hear anything about women and children
- ALAC formed- architect of mass incarceration. Formed National Organization of Formerly Incarcerated Women.
- We all stay connected to stitch our quilt together. We don’t have the money but we have the power.
Justine “Taz” Moore (National Council of Formerly Incarcerated and Incarcerated Women and Girls)
- We need to utilize the participatory defense model to help people who are going through the court system. It is a family and community model that helps people facing charges navigating through the court system to get the best outcomes
- “We cannot continue to operate in this system. It’s not broken and doesn’t need to be fixed. It is running exactly the way it was intended.”
Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight (Moms for Peace)
- She shared the work of her organization, Mothers in Charge, and her personal experience losing her son to violence. She also shared a clip about the participatory defense model.
5) The Movement and Voices for Reparations Now
Adjoa Aiyetoro, Esq. (National Conference of Black Lawyers)
- “Reparations is the umbrella remedy for us. If we really repair, we will touch on all of the different issues and causes we have been talking about.”
Queen Mother Mashariki Jywanza (National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America)
- We must not divide and conquer one another.
- We must refill ourselves so that we can continue to give.
Dr. Ron Daniels (President, Institute of the Black World 21st Century)
- “My life is about getting it done.”
- “Reparations is thriving because of our long-standing work.
Partial Summary of Action Items from 2019 Black Family Summit Retreat
Submitted by Dr. Ron Daniels
A. The 2020 Census was discussed as a matter of urgency. The following actions were suggested/recommended:
- Request that the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, under the leadership of Dr. Iva Carruthers, develop a plan for conducting “Census Sundays” to educate congregations about the importance of the Census and to offer on-site assistance with completing the forms.
- IBW’s Pan African Unity Dialogue to devote a segment of a forthcoming meeting to the Census and strategies to inform immigrants and African-American and Continental Muslim Communities about the importance of the Census. Request that Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood, develop a plan for conducting “Census Fridays” in African American and Continental African Mosques across the country.
- Dr. Ron Daniels to request that the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table convene a webinar for Esmeralda Simmons, Esq., to make a presentation on the importance of the 2020 Census and to discuss strategies to educate and assist people to fill-out the form.
- Dr. Daniels will request that hip hop activist and NAARC Commissioner Jasiri X convene a webinar of conscious hip hop artists to achieve same goals as M4BL’s webinar recommended above. Esmeralda Simmons, Esq., to make the presentation.
- Each BFS organization is requested to develop at least one educational assistance strategy to be implemented and share with other BFS organizations.
Note: Esmeralda Simmons, Esq., Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice at Medgar Evers College, will be the primary Resource Person for work on the 2020 Census.
B. Voter Registration, Education and Mobilizations for the 2020 Election was also discussed as a major priority:
- At a minimum, BFS organizations are encouraged to use Black History Month 2020 to implement at least one strategy for registering Black voters for the 2020 election. Organizations that have the interest and capacity to do more should also develop plans for voter education and mobilization for the 2020 election.
- Dr. Daniels volunteered to reach out to Melanie Campbell, Executive Director, National Coalition for Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, to assess whether there is a united front effort to register, educate and mobilize Black voters for the 2020 election. If not, he will encourage Sister Melanie to convene a conference call of organizations engaged in voter registration to suggest a united front effort.
C. BFS organizations are encouraged to explore implementing or assisting with the development of Participatory Defense Projects across the country.
Note: Andrea James, Esq., Founder/Executive Director, National Council for incarcerated and formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls and Dorothy Johnson-Speight, Founder/Executive Director, Mothers in Charge, will serve as Resources Persons for this work.
D. Dr. Daniels that Baba Leonard Dunston convene Zoom, Skype or Conference Calls at least twice a year to continue the information-sharing, the cross-fertilization of ideas and discussion of joint work where feasible.
Excerpts from Sketches
By Senator Hank Sanders
Sketches is a regular column written by Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders. In this edition of Sketches, Sen. Sanders commends Baba Leonard Dunstan on his leadership of IBW’s Black Family Summit.
Black Family Summit Partners Supporting Black Families and Communities. It is a long name, but every word is meaningful. Black. Family. Summit. Partners. Supporting. Black. Families. And. Communities. It was meaningful enough for Faya Rose Toure and me to travel to Baltimore, Maryland in the middle of December. But the name with its many meaningful words was not all that brought us to Baltimore. This was the Black Family Summit.
In addition to the critical Black Family Summit, we were going because a special friend asked us to attend and make presentations on voting. He was not just any friend; he was Leonard Dunston, a friend for more than 50 years. He is a truly righteous brother who has supported our struggles in Selma over these many years. He comes to Selma year after year to help with the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. His deceased wife was chairperson of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee Board for a number of years. We wanted to go, no we needed to go, and support Leonard Dunston. It was the Black Family Summit.
The Black Family Summit covered a lot of critical issues that impact Black families including the following: the U.S. Census; current impact of white supremacy and slavery; Emotional Participation Circles; sexual abuse in the Black family; spiritual awaking; Black culture; Black civic engagement (voting); confronting injustice; reparations; and much more. All these subjects confirmed our decision to come and participate in spite of everything. It was the Black Family Summit.
I can say that it was the most meaningful conference in which I have participated in some time. The many critical issues addressed was one reason. However, a greater reason was the people participating. They are all dedicated to lifting our communities. And they are really serious about their lifting. It just made me feel hopeful in a profound way. It was the Black Family Summit.
When all is said and done, the presence of Leonard Dunston infused the moment and the proceedings. He is truly a committed brother. Many call him Baba, which means a highly respected and valued Father. I am certain that Faya and I were not the only ones who came because Baba Leonard requested their participation. When Baba calls, we all come. It was the Black Family Summit.
The Black Family Summit sprung out the Million Man March on October 16, 1995. This historic March was called by Minister Louis Farrakhan. The vehicle used to create the Black Family Summit was the Institute of the Black World under the leadership of Dr. Ron Daniels. However, Baba Leonard was the moving force in leading the Black Family Initiatives. It has become one of the premier initiatives dealing with Black families in this country. I am just glad we came, we participated, and we are better servants for our coming. It was the Black Family Summit.
An Overview of Emotional Emancipation Circles
Submitted by Enola Aird, Esq.
Enola Aird, Esq., Founder and President of Community Healing Network, Inc. (CHN), and Dr. Cheryl Tawede Grills, Past President of the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi), presented “An Overview of Emotional Emancipation (EE) Circles.”
The EE Circle is a culturally-grounded, evidence-informed, community-defined self-help support group process designed to help people of African ancestry heal from, and extinguish, the lie of White superiority and Black inferiority—the root cause of the devaluing of Black lives. EE Circles were originated by CHN, and developed in collaboration with ABPsi, as one of several CHN strategies designed to build the global grassroots movement for the emotional emancipation of Black people.
Sister Aird launched her presentation by announcing “We are escaping. Come with us.” She explained that the movement for emotional emancipation is about Black people escaping from the centuries-old European narrative grounded in the lie of Black inferiority, and creating a new African narrative grounded in the truth of Black humanity. Sister Aird also explained that, through the EE Circle process, Black people are working together: to deepen our understanding of the impact of the lie on our self-images and relationships, and our mental and physical health; to detoxify our minds and spirits; and to learn essential emotional wellness skills to help us be at our best as individuals and as a people.
Sister Grills led us through an “EE Circle Journey,” so we could actually experience what it is like to be part of a Circle. Along the way, she explained in greater detail the African psychological, spiritual, and philosophical underpinnings of the EE Circles process. She also introduced us to, and gave us an opportunity to practice, several emotional wellness skills. Particularly powerful was the “De-Blackening Diversity Toss” activity. It helped to illustrate how as Black people we “give away” parts of ourselves and how parts of ourselves are “taken away” every day, and how much stress that causes us. Sister Grills closed this session with a “Sawubona” exercise that involved us “seeing each other” in a deep way—in the way that the EE Circle experience is designed to transform us as Black people.
Manifestations & Solutions
Submitted by Nana Patricia A. Newton, M.D., MPH, M.A. (Black Psychiatrist of America)
Sexual abuse is a serious problem in the United States and globally at all levels of society regardless of ethnicity, economic status, religion and gender. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that 1 out of every 4 girls and one out of every 6 boys in the United States has been sexually molested. This equates to 1 out of every 10 children.
- Data from Baltimore Survey conducted by the author in 1980-81 from Emergency room data at the then Provident Hospital for first time admissions to the Emergency Department regardless of the initial presenting symptoms indicated that 6 out of every 10 females 4 one of out every 10 men reported that they had been sexually molested as children out of over 18,000 ED admissions. (Newton, 1983)
- Data from office based psychiatric practice in Baltimore city conducted on 5,850 patients from 2005 through 20010 showed that 9.2 out of every 10 women and 6.8 of every 10 men coming for psychiatric care regardless of diagnoses reported that they had been sexually molested as children. (Newton, 2006)
- In 2018, tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused (2xs more than the previous year)
- Video games like “Dream Hack” are the new “Hunting Grounds” for child sexual predatory behavior. They often pose as children themselves striking up conversations. Critical because 97% of young children and adolescent boys play video games and 83% of girls in this same category play video games. (Pew Research Center)
- Children are being bribed with gaming points and currency (V Bucks in Fortune) to take nude photos and threatened as well as cyber-blackmailed to send more provocative photos.
- Critical platforms: Instagram, Kick Messenger, Chat rooms – Omegle, Xbox and services like Stream or sites like Discord and Twitch. Facebook, Kick, Skype are places that are difficult for FBI to track the communications
In the United States of America human trafficking is a major problem and it impacts the African American community more than most persons recognize. The statistics are alarming. The U.S. Department of Justice reports the following:
- 62% of human trafficking suspects are African American
- 52% of all juvenile arrests for prostitution are African American
- 40% of victims of human trafficking are African American
In attempting to understand this issue in the African American community several theories have been postulated including the fact that law enforcement is less likely to apprehend traffickers who exploit African American children and thus traffickers are able to operate more comfortably “under the radar” in lower economic communities where many of the victims live.
Discussions with medical colleagues across the United States in particular those who work in HIV and infectious disease related clinics report similar findings. Child sexual abuse is a public health problem that does not appear to be on the radar of most municipal, state, and federal policymakers yet it is a major factor in terms of adverse childhood experiences (ACES) that have long term health consequences that are physical as well as emotional. Because sexual abuse is a form of trauma, there is a plethora of studies in the medical literature documenting the consequence of trauma: Substance Use Disorders (alcohol and drug abuse), depression, anxiety, binge eating disorders, obesity with associated medical complications, irritable bowl disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and many more. Issues related to self esteem must also be factored into the equation of children and adults that have been traumatized mentally, physically, and sexually.
It is imperative that communities begin to address this growing epidemic in a more proactive way and cease continuing this “conspiracy of silence” that affects the mental, physical and spiritual well being of the nation’s citizens. It is not going to go away because the society is either in denial or unwilling to address this problem that has permeated nearly every aspect of out lives.
The Royal Circle Foundation, a Baltimore based non-profit organization offers training to churches, schools, organizations, and communities in addressing this problem through its SEAT Advocacy Training (Sexual Exploitation, Abuse & Trafficking Advocacy Training). The Foundation provides a series of lectures, film screenings, seminars and workshops to empower the heads of these institutions, organizations, and community leaders to assist in the identification, elimination, and prevention of sexual abuse, trauma and human trafficking throughout the country.
It is not an easy task but it is worth it in the long run relative to the general health and well-being of our communities and its residents. It costs way too much in terms of wasted lives and resources to continue to ignore this critical public health issue.
For more information on the SEAT Advocacy Training Program, contact Dr. Newton at: 443-540-5040 by phone or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and join in the fight to stop sexual abuse and human trafficking.
Taken by Salim Adofo