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The Look of a Man

Posted by Author D Leach on June 30, 2012 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Date: June 24, 2012

Writer’s Name: Charlotte Templeman

Title: The Look of a Man

When I think about what a real man looks like I do not have to look far for the answer. A man is an individual who takes care of his family by providing a safe environment for them. He is the protector of his household and he leans on God or his spirituality for guidance. He provides his family with a secure sense of stability while being there for them emotionally, physically and spiritually. He has a strong work ethic which he shows every day by going to work, even when he does not want to. A real man respects women, especially his mother and his wife. He loves her unconditionally along with his children and he supports her every endeavor. A real man not only takes care of his immediate family but he extends himself to others when needed.

 

From an early age I was blessed to see first-hand the look of a real man. That man was my father. He worked daily to provide an income so that my mother had the resources to take care of me and my siblings. Not only did he financially take care of us but he always encouraged us to do our best. His motto was “go to school and learn something.” He gave us accolades when we did something wonderful but he also reprimanded us as well. It was all done out of the love he had for us and we appreciated it as we grew older. My father instilled values and morals in us by teaching us to respect our elders and other human beings. He showed us the importance of loving ourselves and each other. Today my father is 83 years old and he continues to be loved by his family and friends. He continues to teach his grandchildren, especially the males, about valuing life and living it to the fullest. He truly exemplifies what a real man is and from his teachings my two older brothers know it too.

 

But what if a young boy growing up today does not have the example my siblings and I had? What would their definition of a man be and what would he look like? Would he be the drug dealer on the corner making a fast buck? Would he be the rapper who constantly degrades women and put them down? Or would he be the man who does not work but relies on a woman to take care of him? Often within our communities there are single mothers who have the task of raising boys to men. Most of them are doing their best without the help of a man but as we know it can be difficult raising a son alone. The difficulty does not come in the lack of love they give or the resources they provide in ensuring their needs are met, the difficulty is a woman cannot teach a boy to be a man. That is why it is imperative for single mothers raising sons to have positive men around them.

Young boys growing up have to be made aware that it is okay to be respectful, hardworking, loving and kind with a solid foundation to do the right thing. They have to understand that a real man does not hurt, degrade or abuse their loved ones but instead uplift them and motivate them. They have to also understand that a real man never stops learning and is always eager to learn something new. The trend of young boys growing up without fathers or positive men in their lives has to change. This change can come from the old saying; “it takes a village to raise a child.” As a village if we do not get a hold of our boys early and teach them right from wrong and the look of a real man, it is highly possible that we may lose a lot of them to unfortunate circumstances. Our African American boys are too valuable and needed. Are we committed to raising men or non-productive males? It is highly important that we nurture our boys from an early age and surround them with positive images; doing this will increase the number of African American boys going to college as opposed to jail. Let’s show them the look of a real man and give them a head start in life. They deserve it. Are you on board?

Saving Our Children

Posted by Author D Leach on June 30, 2012 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Date: 06/25/2012

Writer’s Name: Tyeisha Downer

Title: Saving Our Children

“Child what are you up to out here in everything, but the right thing? Your parents have no idea what you’re up to while they’re at work. Well I got news for you! I seen what you did now go pick a switch off the tree… and not a little one either because I’m fixing to spank you real good and then I’m going to call your parents and tell them why.”

Those are the words that you used to hear when children were being disobedient to themselves or others. Once upon a time it was okay for the neighbors in the community to get together and teach children the difference between right and wrong. Nowadays most parents will be ready to fight if you touch one strand of hair on their child’s head – no matter if their kids are right or wrong. Many parents believe that their child could do no wrong and are very over-protective of their children.

Society and the media has polluted our children’s minds with the music that’s being played on the radio, and even encouraging our youth to dress half naked by implying that you have to look a certain way in order to appease a crowd. There is less focus on education and empowering the youth. It takes a community to raise the children of today’s world. No longer do we implement plans on disciplining our children the old fashion way. Now we will tell them to go sit in the corner until I tell you it’s okay to move and then when we tell them to move they are back to their old ways.

The young men are missing fathers, thus having no idea what it takes in order to become a man. Maybe if some of the elder men in the community took action in teaching them properly the world would be a better place. Years ago the men of the community would rip a young man to pieces if they even had a clue that they wanted to sell drugs and drop out of school. Many disciplined them and spoke from their own experience in doing the same thing and tried to protect them from going down the road they once traveled. Ruining your life was never an option.

Young women carried themselves like ladies and knew their self-worth because other women embraced them and taught them at a very young age on how to be a woman. These women knew their own self-worth. Lessons were given on the art of courtship and demanding respect from men and others. Now young ladies are confused on what has to take place in order to get a guy to like you. Questions surface like, do I have to dress sexier or pretend to be something I’m not? Maybe if we went back to being involved in displaying discipline for our young women, dressing too sexy may not be an option because others would intervene and instill these positive values in our youth.

Our community and elders need to go back to the basics in teaching our youth discipline. Get to know your neighbors and their children. Open up the line of communication. Start to gain trust amongst your peers. Granted we can’t trust everyone with our children but if you go with your intuition it will never steer you wrong. Maybe we can start off with one neighbor getting involved and disciplining our children and once that’s established we can move on to the next trustworthy neighbor that would never mean our children any harm – but rather who would want to see them successful and disciplined. Eventually we can end up with a neighborhood full of mentors for the youth and then gradually we will gain a community. Get involved. Start disciplining early. Our children need us to be their protectors, mentors, and role models. We hold their future in our hands.

Five Traits of an Effective Leader

Posted by Author D Leach on June 29, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Date: June 18, 2012

Writer’s Name: Andrea “Dreas Stokley

Title: Five Traits of an Effective Leader

 

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd." -Max Lucado

This is by far not only one of my favorite quotes, but also one that I have strived to emulate in my own journey of becoming an effective leader. And so by studying a few effective leaders who have paved certain roads, I have gathered that setting yourself away from the crowd is only one skill set of many effective frontrunners. Self- discipline, confidence, patience, and faith are four others.

 

Self-discipline goes hand and hand with obedience. It is a skill worth executing in our daily regimes, and definitely one worth mentioning as a trait in an effective leadership role. Self-discipline involves a person taking the necessary sequence of action regardless of his or her emotional state. We sometimes hear this manifested as, “Do what we have to do now so that we can do what we want to do later.” I’m sure this sounds cliché, but by sticking with this course, a leader limits the traps which are sometimes set by the pressures of their peers.

Confidence is another important trait to have. A leader undeniably needs to be confident in order to stay determined that he has everything needed to proceed on his track. Confidence is vitally important. In fact, I would even venture a step further and say that if he doesn’t believe in his own gift, skill set, or craft then why should anyone else? Not only should confidence be seen in a leader, it must be felt in his presence and also in the way he communicates his message. I have often heard that confidence can sometimes come across as being a little cocky, but this is nothing a humbling spirit shouldn’t be able to balance out.

Patience and faith are the last two qualities a leader should possess; and in my opinion should go hand and hand because a faithful person patiently trusts that as long as he puts forth the efforts and stays true to his gifts, the rewards will come.

Patience involves drowning out the noise levels and the ego that sometimes seeks out to deliver the message of, “YOU SHOULD BE HERE BY NOW!” This message is anything but true. The rewards will come in due time. However, when waiting for rewards an effective leader must also remain truthful to him-self. And if need be he must take a step back to properly access the changes that may need to be made in order to continue on with the path which lies ahead. Many individuals want to be leaders, but not so many are willing to exert the traits outlined in these paragraphs or to stay diligent while encountering certain challenges. It is my belief that the traits outlined above should be interchangeably used as a person sees fit. Just as there are several routes which may lead to a certain destination, there is no one trait which will lead you to becoming an effective leader. Take time out to develop your crafts and hone your skill and then proceed accordingly.

A Lesson in Life

Posted by Author D Leach on June 29, 2012 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Date: June 18, 2012

Author: Norlita Brown

Journal Topic: A Lesson in Life

WHERE FEAR FIRST STRIKES

Society is making many attempts to save our sons and daughters from drugs, alcohol, pedophiles and predators but who is making the attempt to save them from reckless upbringing? The words may sound harsh, and honestly, they were intended to. This question is not just posed to the obvious abusers, the ones who hit their children unmercifully, abandon or neglect them; it includes the parents who have fought their whole lives to insure they would never repeat the child rearing of their parents; the ones who try to do everything right but find that they are doing everything wrong. We shake our heads every time we see disrespectful teens, intolerable children with pants worn at their knees versus their waist, or another teenager pregnant entering yet another statistic. While we wonder what has happened to our children, many times, we neglect to acknowledge there has been a shift in parenting. The behavior of our children did not change overnight but is the direct result of the lack in proper parenting, the absence of discipline, and the decrease in community involvement. What is oddly ironic is that many times fear first strikes in the home, the one place where they shouldn’t be fearful at all.

Lack in proper parenting rears its ugly head in many forms to include the single parent who works multiple jobs, the absentee parent who chooses to remain absent, and of course the teenage parent who will not accept guidance, to name a few. “A child with problems does not necessarily have problem parents.” (Turecki & Wernick, 1994) Though this is a valid point of fact, it does not negate the fact that proper parenting can lessen the amount of improper children because “it’s also true that most parents could improve their behavior toward their child and help him more. Knowing it’s not all their fault, but that they could do better. They can then move forward in a way that’s practical and constructive.” (Turecki & Wernick, 1994) After all, isn’t that the bottom line? The intent is not to place the blame solely on the parent, but it is to shift some of the weight that has been given to the children. “In order to effectively solve any problem you must first identify what the problem is and where it lies,” Jerry Day points out in his work How to Raise Kids You Want to Keep: The Proven Discipline Program your Kids Will Love (And that Really Works!)

If a child is not securely attached or bonded to one or both parents, the child learns to trust only himself and will not submit to authority. In some children, an insecure attachment is the result of difficult or traumatic experiences suffered under the care of one or both parents. Neglectful or inconsistent parent care may also produce an unbounded child. A child under the care of a rigid, harsh, or abusive parent cannot safely submit to the authority of his parent, so he learns a system of elaborate avoidance and rebellion (Day, 2007).

In order to save our sons and daughters we must put strength back into the family unit. Having a home with both parents is ideal, but not necessary. Putting strength in the family unit is not meant to insinuate that the structure needs to be there, but more that the role does. The mothers need to be mothers and the fathers need to be fathers. Where ever their place is in life should not deter them from being the parent they have agreed to be the moment that child was conceived and brought forth into life. Although “a happy nuclear family is the best environment, [it has been] repeatedly seen that children can be brought up successfully under many familial arrangements: by a single parent; by an unmarried couple; by a divorced mother and father who share custody” (Turecki & Wernick, 1994). Therefore, it is not the structure that is the issue but the role that is. Too many times children are telling the parents what to do as well as what they’re not going to do. The roles are drastically reversed to the point that it is damaging to the healthy mentality of the child.

The absence of proper or correct discipline is playing a pivotal role in choking the life out of our children; well the productive life. Many may argue that each child is different so there is no way to define what is proper or correct. Yet, too many times children are spanked, punished or “disciplined” while the parents are still angry at the situation or circumstance. Barbara Coloroso, author of Kids are worth it! Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline, makes a statement so wise with regard to effective discipline and parenting as she says, “I will not treat a child in a way I myself would not want to be treated. If I wouldn’t want it done to me, I have no business doing it to my child” (Coloroso, 1994). That is a pretty good gauge. Of course there will be those who believe that the punishment fits the crime and therefore may argue that they didn’t do the crime so therefore this rule wouldn’t apply to them.

There is an old African proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child.” Though this statement has brought the ‘poe tay toe – poe tay tah’ mentality to the forefront as Kari Hulac Bowers points out in her article, It takes a Village “conservatives say it means the government is trying to take over the family. Advocates say it’s all about reaching out to one another and lending a helping hand” (Bowers, 1996). The conservative belief is most likely the reasoning behind walking away from a philosophy that was so beneficial to our children, but the advocate’s way of thinking is what we need to return back to. The mere change in our children’s behavior from the times when this was instilled to the time when it is no longer a factor, should be evidence enough in the strength of the community working together as a whole. Turecki and Wernick attest to the influence of community involvement, understanding that “Youngsters experience difficulties for many reasons that have nothing to do with their families. For example, school may be a source of stress for a child” (Turecki & Wernick, 1994).

Influence on a child does not begin and end with the parents or the teachers but with every person that child comes in contact with to include neighbors, hence the understanding behind the village that we must return to. Bowers’ article was written in 1996 during a time when “Families young and old, black and white, single and married help[ed] each other raise the 11 or so children” in their Lincoln neighborhood. In this article, Bowers quotes Kim Fitzke, mother of four as saying, “it’s an unspoken neighborhood rule that if anyone’s children get out of hand, the adults have the right to correct the behavior and report it to the child’s parents” (Bowers, 1996). This concept was stolen at the hands of the abusers and the pedophiles, but it was also stolen at the hands of the parents who have lost their direction.

Some may say that these words are an over exaggeration to a simplistic situation. Yet there is nothing simplistic about parents who feel restrained or restricted from parenting properly because they fear their children. Gone but not lost are the days when the children feared their parents.

Parenting comes with many questions and for each question there are a million different answers. Though it may prove difficult at times to decipher what is good and bad advice, the ultimate deciding factor is the behavior of the child. The children we raise today very honestly are the leaders we will have tomorrow. Therefore, children become a huge lesson in life because our lives depend on how we nurture theirs. Finally, before you choose proper discipline for your child, ask yourself if your goal is to have your child fear you or love you.

The Game of Life

Posted by Author D Leach on June 29, 2012 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Date: 6/18/12

Writer’s Name: Sheri Henry-Harrigan

Title: The Game of Life

Suicide is a topic that hits home. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the number of suicide deaths is up to 36,909. That is a pretty high number. It doesn’t include the growing number of people who are suicidal. What is causing people to become suicidal? What are the signs that a person is suicidal?

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website these are the warning signs of suicide:

• Talking about wanting to die or to kill one’s self.

• Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

• Talking about being a burden to others.

• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

• Sleeping too little or too much.

• Withdrawing or feeling isolated.

• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

• Displaying extreme mood swings.

The signs listed above can also be associated with other disorders or problems such as bullying and depression. They are also causes of suicide. In order to recognize the warning signs of suicide, we must know the person. If a person used to be social and now they don’t want to go out or talk to anyone something is wrong. Don’t sit back and not do anything; you could be saving someone’s life. At one point a person may even say that they want to die or that they will kill themselves. Those words are not a joke even if the person seems to be joking. Immediately get the police involved!

 

So what is one to do when a person displays any of these warning signs? The first thing to do is to get them some professional help. If that doesn’t work then the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK is available. Suicide isn’t a joke and most people don’t realize that they are contributing factors to the issues of a person. They say “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Well that saying is a lie! Words do hurt and if they come from someone that you love they will never be forgotten. I have been hurt by loved ones my whole life. Now that I have a child of my own I will never let him feel the heartache I felt growing up.

 

As a person that was at one point suicidal I know how hard it can be to deal with certain issue; like when there is no one to talk to or nowhere to go or when people make fun of you and constantly put you down. My suicidal attempts came from the pressures of trying to please everyone. Living my life knowing I was by myself even though I had all these people around, made me so depressed that I attempted to slit my wrist at the age of twelve just to escape the hell I lived. I have so many suicidal stories of my own that it isn’t funny. However I managed to cope with my depression by seeking professional help. And I urge you or anyone you know to do the same. It helps and can prevent a tragic accident from destroying a family.

 

Life to me is just a game that we are all trying to win. But we all are not dealt the same cards. We must take the cards that we are dealt with and try to end up with a good hand. For some it will come easy, for others it will be hard. The goal is not to give up because once you do you lose. Giving in to depression and other issues takes you out of the game. I understand that times get hard because I have been there and done that but you can rise above it with the right help.

Big Things Come in Many Different Packages

Posted by Author D Leach on June 29, 2012 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Date: 6/18/2012

Writer’s Name: Tyeisha Downer

Title: Big Things Come in Many Different Packages

Girl his swag is out of control! Look at his back; he walks with confidence and he demands respect and power whenever he steps up on the scene. I bet you his money is long and that he will give me some of it if I play my cards right. He probably has a girl, but who cares? I can make him mine look at him! He is gorgeous!”

Now that’s what a real man looks like….or is it? I have heard so many comments like the ones listed above from various women of all cultures, and all ages all over the world, but what does a real man look like? Even I had a closed mind towards certain men in my mind. I envisioned the perfect man to be tall with dark features, an exhilarating smile, an unusual fashion sense, broad shoulders, God fearing, powerful, romantic, and in tuned to my every emotion. In a perfect world, meeting a man like that would be easy; but not in today’s world. Most women are lucky to even get a door opened for them. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that a man like this exists in some parts of the world; however it’s very rare in today’s time.

What ever happened to courtship when a man pursued a woman and made her his loving wife? Yes, they together they provided a home, but the woman was usually a help mate and a man took care of his family working various jobs or overtime just to provide a certain lifestyle for his family. Somewhere in between a man still made time to play with his children, instill values and morals, and had his wife feeling like the luckiest woman in the world. Granted everyday wasn’t perfect and sometimes even marriages seemed hard to stay in, but a real man or woman never allowed that to happen because they remembered the importance of their wedding vows – “for richer or poorer, for better or worse until death do us part.”

Marriage used to be sacred and meaningful, not just an opportunity to buy expensive items and impress family and friends; to go into this would be a different article within itself.

Real men take care of their family. They’re able to vibe with their significant other mentally physically and spiritually. A real man provides and protects, and although no one is perfect, they take care of their home. Respect helps determine a real man; in order to receive respect you have to give respect. In other words, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Many feel like you have to earn respect, but when was the last time you did something worth respecting? Being a man is more than your swag, how many women you laid down with, or how much money you have. Being a man takes great character, integrity, morals, patience, values, and knowing the importance of hard work. A real man doesn’t have to look a certain way; he may come in a variety of different packages. Question is, will you recognize him when he comes your way or will you cut your eyes towards the tall, muscular, great looking man with pearly white teeth, a sense of style and a fragrance you could never forget? Don’t block your blessings by having a closed mind towards great possibilities of meeting a real man. Big things come in many different packages.

Cultivating a Diamond in the Rough

Posted by Author D Leach on June 26, 2012 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Date: O6/16/2012

Writer’s Name: Danielle Taylor

Title: Cultivating a Diamond in the Rough

Building the self-esteem of young teenage girls can seem to be a very challenging entity within itself; while, destroying it is a lot easier. After looking at what society deems to be the latest movement on how a woman should look, act, think, and feel, it has become apparent that no one really has a clue! Society has become way off course here. For one, God didn’t create each of us to be the size 4 which they consider to be the perfect size (at 98 pounds fully clothed and soaking wet standing 5 foot 9 inches in height). This false ideal starts our young women down the roads of eating disorders and self- hatred because they’re not up to what mainstream thinks they should be. Little do they know that these young women are “Diamonds in the Rough.”

If we were to take a very close look at how the diamond is created, there are many processes that must take place before it can be a diamond. A jeweler places his glasses on to look deep into the diamond for the qualities that it has to have before it will become that perfect setting for a ring, earrings, watch or necklace. It is goes through extreme pressure and temperatures before it will even be considered. God is the same way. He is the perfect jeweler and knows what he wants us to have. God created us, as he wanted us to be - blueprints not carbon copies fresh off the assembly lines. There is no one diamond the same, just like a snowflake.

Even though some twins and triplets may resemble each other, they are different. We should encourage our young African American women that their Black is Beautiful and not be ashamed of the full lips, voluptuous hips, and their natural hair and be proud to know that they have been wonderfully made in the image of God. Beauty can be purchased at a price, but at what price, one may ask?

I recently saw a picture of Lil’ Kim, and it wasn’t a pretty sight at all! She’d really messed herself up. She paid the price for beauty like so many others have who were not comfortable in their own skin. Too many times we’ve been looked over because of our bodies. Every single African American woman is worth more than just her looks.

We need to build up our women to be productive citizens and business owners, wives, teachers and lawyers, and encourage our women that they can be anything they want to be when they put their minds to it.

The entertainment industry is placing so much emphasis on wanting to be a Black Barbie. And I’m thinking why should we encourage our young women to become a plastic doll? Honestly, I haven’t really figured that one out yet. On the contrary, our black women are rocking like something serious these days; we’re in the White House! Michelle Obama sets the example for young girls; if she can do it so can they. We’re even astronauts, doctors, and authors too. Let’s tell our daughters, nieces, cousins, aunts, and friends that they can be all they can be, just like the Army!

We can teach and lead by example. Who is the first woman your daughter will see? You are! So why not show her how a woman must and should carry herself. We should speak life into the lives of today’s young women and tomorrow’s leaders. Let them know they’re much more than beauty and body, tell them they have BRAINS!!

When we see our young women going down the wrong road we need to keep encouraging them of the right roads they must take. Tell them that they are built to stand against the negativity that others speak over their lives, and tell them they can do ALL things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13). Encourage them to dream big and live life to the best ability that God has given them. Tell them it’s okay to be comfortable in their own skin, and they don’t have to accept anything less than perfect in life. Tell them they have the ability to accomplish everything in life that’s in the will of God. Tell them they have the right to be whom God created them to be, and God makes no mistakes on how he created them. Tell them they are unique, gifted, and designed with a purpose.

Society can be so cruel to the young black woman. They tend to take her self-esteem away by saying, she’s only good to be a baby momma, the other woman, and even worse, calling her a female dog? Really? There’s enough wrong going on in this world, and what is carried out in the media that depicts what should be. Society also tells us the tighter the clothes and the more cleavage a woman is showing makes her a dime piece? Come on now, really? There are some great things that have finally happened for us. After many years we have an African American Princess that was created by Disney, even though it was a fantasy. Overall, it is important to realize that we have a face and voice in this world. We can be anything we want to be, and the sky is the limit.

Photo Credit: Lee Taylor

Reaching the Faces of Homelessness

Posted by Author D Leach on June 25, 2012 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Date: 6/17/12

Writer’s Name: S. F. Hardy

Journal Title: Reaching the Faces of Homelessness

 

There is a growing issue metastasizing in the United States—it goes by the name of homelessness - defined by the McKinney-Veto Homeless Assistance Act as: “individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” It is reported that 2.5 to 3.5 million people are homeless on any given night. Although homelessness can be seen in rural and suburban areas among various ethnic groups, the brunt of the disparity is overwhelmingly felt in African-American communities in urban metropolises.

 

My friends and loved ones perceive me as fearless, but what they don't know is that I do have a fear, a big one! I'm terrified of being homeless. I hide my fear because in the past, when shared, my concern was dismissed as being baseless and unreasonable. Perhaps it was due to lack of knowledge to what exactly homelessness is or denial of the economic crisis faced within this decade.

Brace yourself, as we explore the grim reality homelessness bestows revealing that it is diverse in the populations it affects and is not exclusive to a particular group as one Facebook commenter described as: "irresponsible people who make one bad decision after another." Truth is, this crisis extends itself to individuals, families, youth, the mentally ill, and Veterans alike. Like the population it affects, the reasons behind homelessness as well as the characteristics are wide-ranging.

In 2010, my fears where inflamed after discovering that Michigan was host to a homeless population of 100,000 individuals. The fire inside matured as I learned 20,000 of the 100,000 homeless existed in Detroit. Revealing Detroit as the national leader of the homeless population, 82.7% of the 713,777 individuals accounted for in the 2010 Census are African-American.

"Where is that number, I know I saw it when we moved.” Frustrated, that I couldn’t find the number Tonya gave me in case we lost touch, I took comfort knowing that I took the time to get to know her. Many, but not all of our talks took place on the same concrete church porch Tonya often slept on. Tonya has been on my mind lately and it concerns me that the parish as well as the porch remains; but Tonya has disappeared without a word of whereabouts or condition.

 

The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of homelessness is chronic homelessness; people living and surviving in places not meant for human dwelling for long periods of time that include but is not limited to: residing outside on park benches, abandoned structures, manhole covers and underpasses. Although the most visible to human eye, due to lack of shelter, the chronically homeless actually represent the smallest group of homelessness in Detroit at 10%. Comprised of individuals who suffer from mental illness, chronic health deficiencies and substance abuse reliance, this group is most difficult to reach in terms of assistance and long-term treatment. As a result, a major portion of resources available to assist the homeless is expended on the chronically homeless.

 

Who then, makes up the larger portion of homelessness in Detroit, if the people who are thought to make up the higher percentage of homeless are actually the smallest portion of homeless population? It is easy for those who move in with family, go from one home to the next, take up residence in shelters in temporary and transitional housing to go unrealized as homeless. However, homelessness is comprised mostly of those situations invisible to the human eye because they receive some type of shelter.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no one explanation for homelessness. In many cases, the reasoning is beyond the control of those faced with homelessness.

 

• Fifty-one percent of individuals currently experiencing homelessness are experiencing the crisis for the first time. Foreclosures, evictions due to increases in rent, loss of work due to lay-offs, company downsizing and closures, home fires, and failure to pay property taxes can be attributed to the loss of a place to call home.

• Twenty-seven percent of first time homeless Michiganders are employed but below the poverty rate and cannot obtain or sustain affordable housing.

• It is reported that the majority of Detroit’s homeless population endured by families with children have never been homeless. Forty-seven percent of children who experience homelessness across the US are African-American.

• Runaways, throwaways, who are either forced to leave home due to mental health issues and abandonment, and/or those who leave home voluntarily for lack of acceptance and support as a result of revealing their lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender status account for up to 800 homeless individuals in Detroit.

• Unaccompanied youth who age out of state care make up 15% of Detroit’s homeless.

• Approximately 6000 individuals who experience domestic violence find themselves homeless.

• Individuals with felonies as well as those reentering society from prison make up 10% of Detroit’s homeless population as these individual are not a protected class.

• 13% of Detroit’s homeless is comprised of United States Veterans who suffer from mental illness such as posttraumatic stress syndrome and substance abuse.

 

 

There are organizations and agencies who seek to assist and eradicate homelessness in each of the aforementioned homeless populations but the resources are limited even more so in the current economic crisis. Funding has been either depleted or cut forcing many organizations to close its doors. Detroit alone has a little over 5,000 shelter beds all recently filled to capacity forcing organizations to turn just as many if not more individuals seeking assistance away.

 

As individuals, we can all help in our perspective communities by first acknowledging that the problem exist and has the potential to affect each and every one of us. Volunteering with churches and other organizations and lending our expertise and hand in various events or on a regular basis as needed could all make a big difference. We can also write to community officials taking an active stance against homelessness and the problems it creates for the community as a whole. More importantly, we can treat the homeless like the humans they are because it is the right thing to do. No one ever knows if, when, or why they will face homelessness.

 

Now that we have unsheltered some of the many reasons associated with homelessness across the United States as well as my own backyard, my fears have not been laid to rest, but more realized. However, I hope that through this article I have shed some light of the disheartening diversity of homelessness and encourage readers to be more sympathetic towards homelessness by gathering together to fight against homelessness in the name of prevention and eradication.

 

Resources

1. http://www.endhomeless.org

2. http://handetroit.org/documents/10YP.pdf

3. http://www.nccp.org/annual_fund.html

4. http://ourmichigan.blogspot.com

 

Organizations and Agencies where individual can seek assistance, volunteer, or donate

http://www.covenanthouse.org/

http://www.hud.gov/local/mi/homeless/detshelter.cfm

http://www.ruthelliscenter.org/

http://www.safehorizon.org

Jumping the Broom

Posted by Author D Leach on June 25, 2012 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Date: June 18, 2012

Writer’s Name: Debrayta Salley

Journal Topic: For Better or Worse

When I think about what accounts for the high divorce rate in America, the first thing that comes to mind is that there needs to be more effort and energy put into preparing for the union of marriage than planning for the wedding event. Just think about it, most little girls grow up with dreams of the fairytale wedding with the white dress, veil, flowers, and butterflies in their stomachs as they walk down the aisle towards their Knight in Shining Armor who is going to save her from her life as she knows it, and once the ceremony ends they will “Live Happily Ever After.” On the contrary, the marriage relationship is by no means a fairytale and the more this fact is accepted and addressed in society, the more knowledgeable and prepared our sons and daughters (through strong examples and pre-marital counseling) will be before they “Jump the Broom.” One of the most profound statements that I have ever read about marriage was written by Gary Thomas in the book “Sacred Marriage.”He states, “What if God didn’t design marriage to be easier? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place?” Are you kidding me? You mean to tell me that our life isn’t going to be perfect and that we’re going to experience discomfort and unhappiness along the way after we say I Do? I hate to break the bad news to you, but unfortunately, yes you are! Please do not let this fact kill your desire to be married someday if you are single or to hang in there if you are married.

Sadly, when a person is single, society doesn’t typically view their status as a positive one and as a result many of them have been driven to find their “missing rib” or “help meet” by any means necessary. Many think that in order to be whole, they have to be connected to someone of the opposite sex and as a result, they rush into unions that do not compliment or suit their best interests. By teaching our children early on that they are already “fearfully and wonderfully made” and complete as the individual that God made them to be, they will no longer search for another human being to complete them. In addition, we also need to build them up and prepare them to be self-sufficient emotionally, physically, financially, purposefully, and spiritually. The season of singleness is the time in which an individual can nurture and develop a selfless/servant mindset so that when they do find that special someone, they are prepared to put the needs of their mate above their own.

Another contributing factor is that many do not view marriage as a covenant, but as a contract that they can walk away from as soon as the going gets tough. The vow “For Better or Worse” no longer holds the same power as it did many years ago since it has become much easier (or so it seems) to pack up the bags and walk away - and in most cases into another relationship that seems to better serve their needs. In order to reduce the divorce rate, we have to get back to the foundational intent of marriage. Instead of walking away, marriage partners need to make a solid effort to join together to fight for the vows that they made and not give up on their families so easily. In instances where the parties aren’t able to come to a resolution, mediation and/or counseling should always be considered before divorcing. If more couples would cancel their marriage contract and take action to fulfill Covenant Promise in Marriage, the high divorce rate in America that exists today will have no other choice but to be reduced. Ultimately, the key to having a successful marriage is to work hard at building a sound relationship before you say I Do and even harder once you become one.

Here are a few books that I would suggest:

Preparing for Marriage – Authors: David Boehi, Brent Nelson, Jeff Schulte & Lloyd Shadrach

Sacred Marriage- Author: Gary Thomas

Making Marriage Work – Author: Joyce Meyer

Herpes

Posted by Author D Leach on June 25, 2012 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Title: Herpes

Writer’s Name: Pathfinder

Date: June 17, 2012

More than 1.5 million Americans aged twelve and over are currently infected with herpes. The risk of getting the disease increases without the use of a condom. Quite a number of people believe they are not at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. However, STDs are the nation’s most common type of infection. The disease can lay dormant for years. Even people who have had only one sexual partner can have an STD. Many people feel that talking about sexual health can be awkward or embarrassing. However, there are good reasons to start the conversation. Some STDs can cause lasting damage or become more difficult to treat the longer you wait. Enlisting the help of your health care provider is the first step in diagnosing and treating any sexually transmitted disease--and protecting your sexual health. Unfortunately, many people do not use proper protection on a regular basis when they engage in sexual activity.

Herpes Simplex is an infection caused by the pathogen called Herpes Simplex Virus. There are two types of herpes simplex virus infections that can cause genital herpes. The first is HSV-1; the warning signs are cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth, though it can spread to your genital area during oral sex (Mayo Clinic, 2010). HSV-2 is the most commonly widespread sexually transmitted cause of genital herpes. This virus is spread through sexual contact and skin-to-skin contact. HSV-2 is extremely contagious; you can contract the disease whether you have an open sore or not. On the other hand, the infection doesn’t show any distinguished signs or symptoms for some people who are infected. Yet they can still spread the disease to their partner. According to the Mayo Clinic (2010), “the virus dies quickly outside of the body and it’s nearly impossible to get the infection through contact with toilets, towels, or other objects used by an infected person.”

There are usually early warning signs before a breakout happens, such as tingling, burning, and itching where sores were before. HSV-2 is a pesky disease that involves blisters, bumps, cold sores, and even irritation to extremely embarrassing places on your body. Even though herpes is not a deadly disease, it is still very annoying and may become a great inconvenience if the person infected is sexually active. Herpes may have no symptoms for years; sometimes it is very difficult to know who passed it to whom. The symptoms vary and it affects each person differently. The first symptoms of herpes usually occur two weeks after the virus is transmitted.

Since herpes is an incurable virus, infected individuals will endure the annoying and contagious virus for the rest of their lives with recurring “outbreaks.” The virus is incurable because during the latent phase of the disease, the virus hides itself and becomes invisible to the immune system. The immune system was designed to fight off unfamiliar pathogens; but cannot do its job if a pathogen has hidden itself. The only time the immune system fights off the herpes virus is when an outbreak occurs. At this time, the virus infects the epithelial cells causing blisters or sores on the person’s body and no longer hides itself from the immune system. The immune system then recognizes that there is an unfamiliar pathogen present and fights it. Nevertheless, at the outset of the first breakout, the virus by then has already become incurable. This occurs because the virus was “transported along axons to the neuron itself.”

Let’s take a look at how herpes affects pregnancy. The biggest concern with genital herpes during pregnancy is that it can be transmitted during labor and delivery. If the mother is contagious, or “shedding virus” during birth, then the likelihood of her infecting her child is highly possible. Newborn herpes is relatively rare (about 1,500 newborns are affected each year), but the disease can be devastating. So it is important to learn how to reduce your baby's risk of becoming infected. Another thing to keep in mind is that the risk of transmission is high if you get herpes for the first time (a primary infection) late in your pregnancy.

According to ASHA, 2010, illness, poor diet, emotional or physical stress, friction in the genital area, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, surgical trauma, and steroidal medication may trigger a herpes outbreak. Physical and emotional stress can also trigger an outbreak of genital herpes in some people. Stress can compromise one’s immune system. Getting adequate rest, exercising regularly, and eating well are all great ways to reduce stress and strengthen one’s immune system. The frequency of outbreaks can be managed through efficient stress management and getting adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise. For people with frequent outbreaks, therapy can be beneficial and helpful if one uses their antiviral treatment as prescribed.

Millions of women are infected with genital herpes each year, and according to Looker (2008) approximately 17% of adults in the United States are infected with Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2. More than two-thirds are infected and are unaware of their infection, and the majority of infections are transmitted by these individuals.

It is possible to prevent the spreading of herpes to others. Tell Your Partner. It is also important to understand what herpes is, how it can be prevented, which precautions are best, and what are the social and emotional impacts of herpes. Try to avoid any sexual contact if you are infected (abstinence). The use of a condom can help. The first time that a person is aware of any warning signs, they should avoid sexual contact until all sores and scabs are gone.


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