Remembering Dr. King

This year on January 16, 2017 we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for his remarkable contributions not only for African- American but for all mankind. Dr. King was a true humanitarian.  His selfless acts along with others provide me with opportunities that most likely I would not have without their stance, blood sweat and tears.  If Dr. King were still alive he would celebrate his 88th birthday this year. Below is an abridged version of an article by the Huffington Post authored by Clarence B. Jones about Dr. King and what he might have done to deal with current issues:

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on His 86th Birthday

This weekend our nation will observe its annual commemoration of this great man’s life. It comes at a time when national and international events have provoked a lot of discussion about what Dr. King would say or do in response to those events if he were alive today.

An entire generation of Americans has grown up associating Dr. King almost exclusively with his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech (which I copyrighted; it is now one of the most valuable intellectual properties of the King estate). Few people today know of his opinions on issues like poverty and income inequality, or of his early support for Israel and his public opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Although I have no polling data to support my belief, I estimate that he enjoyed an approval rating of 80 percent or higher at the time of his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, but that his approval rating had probably dipped to 40 percent or lower by the time he was assassinated five years later.

This blog post addresses some of the important contemporary domestic and international issues that I believe would be of major concern to Dr. King if he were alive today. My statements are not based on what I have read or on what some third party told me. They are based on my personal recollections of conversations and discussions I had with Dr. King one-on-one, and of conversations we had together with third parties, over the approximately seven years I worked with him as a political advisor, personal lawyer and draft speechwriter.

The night before he was assassinated, Dr. King spoke at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, before a large gathering in support of a strike by sanitation workers for better wages and working conditions. Among other things he said:

We’ve got some difficult days ahead. … Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I am not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.

The contemporary issues that I believe would be of primary concern to Dr. King today, issues that challenge the coalition of support he enjoyed at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and threaten our ability to get to that Promised Land, are (in no particular order):

Systemic and growing poverty among a significant segment of the population.

Dr. King would regard systemic poverty in the United States as morally indefensible and unacceptable. He would publicly align himself with Pope Francis, who, in an address to the students of the Jesuit schools of Italy and Albania on June 7, 2013, said:

The poverty of the world is a scandal. In a world where there is such great wealth, so many resources for giving food to everyone, it is impossible to understand how there could be so many hungry children, so many children without education, so many poor people! Poverty today is a cry. A few weeks later, in an address to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on June 20, 2013, Pope Francis added: A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.

Dr. King would closely examine the amount of money expended on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the cost of maintaining our military bases around the world and compare those expenditures with those allocated toward reducing poverty, increasing affordable housing, and creating employment opportunities. He would put forward an updated version of his “bill of rights for the disadvantaged,” which he proposed as early as 1964. In November 1967 he wrote:

[O]ur country must undergo a revolution in values. The billions of dollars now directed toward destruction and military containment must be redirected toward a bill of rights for the disadvantaged. Such a bill of rights should provide an adequate education, income, home, recreation, as well as physical and mental health care.

Ubiquitous gun violence.

This year firearms are expected to surpass automobiles as the leading cause of death in the United States. Nationwide, young black men have the highest firearm mortality rate; the overwhelming majority of these firearm deaths were from homicides perpetrated by other black men. Dr. King would be forceful in speaking out on the reality of gun violence among young black men.

Efforts to limit voting rights by the U.S. Supreme Court and various state legislatures.

Dr. King would initiate a national campaign to restore the enforceability of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires that certain states and local governments get permission, or “preclearance,” from the federal government before enacting any change to voting laws or practices. As of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County vs. Holder on June 25, 2013, which declared Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act (the section containing the “coverage formula” that determined which states and local governments would be subject to the Section 5 preclearance requirement) unconstitutional, there is no way to enforce Section 5, and many states that would have been subject to the preclearance requirement have since enacted laws restricting voting. In those states Dr. King would seek to mobilize mass support for removing such restrictions.

Continuing police shootings of unarmed black men.

Dr. King would respect, applaud, support, and join the new generation of young people who are forcefully but nonviolently calling for an end of the disproportionate use of excessive force against young African-American men by police officers. He would participate in relevant demonstrations in Ferguson and elsewhere as long as they remained nonviolent. He would say not only that black lives matter but that all lives matter. He would declare that police shootings of unarmed black men require not “negotiation” but immediate cessation. He would say, “Stop killing our young people! They are the most sacred and precious asset we have as a people.”

Mass incarceration of black youth.

According to legal scholar Michelle Alexander, in some inner-city communities four out of five black youths can expect to be incarcerated at some point in their lifetimes. Alexander elaborates in her 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness:

The mass incarceration of people of color is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born in slavery. … More black men are imprisoned today than at any other moment in our nation’s history. More are disenfranchised today that in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.

The above statements are not intended to be definitive claims regarding what Dr. King would actually say or do today. They are intended solely as projections of what I believe he would say or do today were he alive to celebrate his 86th birthday.

Martin, we miss you.

 

What A Shame!!!

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Yesterday I was watching the news and the following story caught my attention…..my first response…..What A Shame….my second response was young lives wasted lives. According to ABC news two high school students (girls) were arguing in one of the girl’s bathrooms located at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Delaware early Thursday morning. Witnesses report that the argument was over a boy. Yeah, that is an entirely different blog.  Anywho,  the argument escalates into a fight. It is believed that the victim (Amy Joyner-Francis) was attacked by more than one person. The assault resulted in Amy hitting her head on a sink in the bathroom. Amy was airlifted to a local hospital where she later was pronounced dead. How tragic. You send your kids off to school in the morning with the hopes that they learn something. Hopefully, we are instilling values to produce healthy, happy, productive citizens. Yes, I once was a high school student, so I do know the foolery that does occur….seems like it was a lot simpler back in my high school days.  Most importantly, we lived!!! Yes, arguments are going to occur between kids but we have to ask ourselves, “What are we teaching our kids?” When violence is the answer to resolving a problem. What a shame this younger girl died over foolishness. What a shame that the individuals responsible are going to endure consequences they are not prepared for. What a shame there were peers watching and joining in but no one felt compelled to be the voice of reason or to go get assistance until it was to late.  As adults, as parents we have to do a better job of teaching or kids right from wrong. We have to do a better job of teaching them to live to fight another day.

 

http://abc7ny.com/news/16-year-old-girl-killed-in-high-school-assault-remembered/1302551/#videoplayer

The Good Ole Days!!!

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Who remembers “the good ole days?” I admit that I am not old enough to have lived during the good ole days era. One of the current presidential candidates keeps referring to “the good ole days.” How he would like for things to be as they were during the good ole days. Who is the candidate? I am quite sure you all already know but for those of you not up to date on current events….it is none other the republican hopeful Donald Trump.  Now, there are several things that Trump says and does that give me pause and great concern but his rallying for the good ole days is over the top in my opinion. First, he accepts funding from a former red dragon of the white supremacists group the KKK, David Duke. And then he goes on the record supporting returning to the good ole days. Although, I am unsure if Trump thinks about things before he speaks….you have to wonder why would a presidential candidate go on record supporting racism? Is it for the extra publicity time or does he just not know any better? He is a P.R. person’s worst nightmare.   I do not think there is one minority that considers the good ole days….good! During the 1950’s and 1960’s (the good ole days era) minorities had little to no rights. Basically, the majority were satisfied because minorities “knew their place”……and if they forgot, there was a tree close enough for the hanging.  During this time African Americans had to fight for the right to vote, to sit in a restaurant with white people….. and let’s not forget education or drinking out of a public water fountain. None of things suggest good ole days to me and I most definitely do not wish to return to the way things were during this time. It was not just African Americans, that were negatively impacted by this era but the lgbt community as well.  By all means vote for who you think is the best candidate for president….not for the person in the limelight. I personally have no desire to vote for someone who has shown me they are a racist.

6 Common Myths About Counselors

8 Common Myths about Counselors

Over the past 13 years I have encountered some interesting myths about counselors.  When I meet people in a social setting I am often reluctant to tell them what I do for a living.  Of course just like a medical doctor I get some strange questions from people I meet.   In this blog I thought I’d clear up some common myths I have encountered about counselors.   These are common myths I have heard and here’s my take on them.

  1. “Counselors know ‘mind tricks’ and they use them to help people.”  We are trained professionals.   We don’t “trick” people or read their minds.   We do become very good at reading emotions and we understand human behavior.  Our most valuable skill lies in our ability to connect with others on a deep level.  On a level that is also safe so that the client feels safe enough to explore the really hard parts of themselves.
  1. “Counselors must be strange to actually enjoy listening to people’s pain all day long.”  Well we are a different type of person.  When people are hurting counselors don’t run away, we lean in.  Not due to some sick fascination but because we know healing can take place when someone can walk through the painful places with you.   Most of us are naturally curious about people and human nature which is helpful in this line of work.
  2. “Counselors make lots of money.”  Let me tell you most therapists don’t start making a decent living until they are at this at least 5 years into the field and even then we don’t get paid near what our counterparts with similar level of education get paid.  If we wanted to be well paid this is definitely not the field we would have chosen.  Funny story: My husband and I were both in the Master’s of Counseling program together many years ago when my husband realized how little money therapists make.  He essentially told me “Hey one of us needs to make real money if we’re going to have kids one day.  So I’m going to change careers so we aren’t broke for the rest of our lives.”
  3. “You only care because I pay you.”  No one can pay me to care!   You can pay me to listen to you but not to care.  If I didn’t genuinely care about helping others then why would I have chosen this as my career? Remember, it’s not for the money!
  4. “Counselors must get tired of listening to people’s problems.”  Some counselors do get “burned out” but burnout usually occurs due to working too many hours, having too much paperwork (we generally hate paperwork) and not doing enough self-care.   Most of us do not get tired of counseling others.   The only time counseling is frustrating is when a client that is emotionally stuck and no matter what we say or do the client is not ready to do the work of counseling and they are miserable.   That is a hard place for the client and therapist.   It can be hard to witness and to stay present with that client but that’s our job.   It can be trying phase in the counseling process but that phase doesn’t last forever.   While we may have that one client that is “stuck,” in all likelihood most of our other clients are making great strides.   I actually get energized from my work with others.   Seeing a client grow and change emotionally and behaviorally is exhilarating!   Being witness to someone overcoming hardships and pain is a huge privilege!   Assisting a client to work through something so difficult, that for others may cause a total mental collapse, is awe-inspiring!
  5. “Counselors diagnose or analyze everyone they come into contact with.”   I run into this one in social settings quite often.   When I meet new people, I’m just like everyone else.   If I’m not at work, I’m not working to analyze you!   Frankly, I have better ways to spend my free time.   Of course if you have a serious mental illness I’m going to pick up on that, but I’m not working to find it.   If you have major issues that you aren’t working on, I will pick up on that too but once again I’m not trying to find them.   If I meet people in a social setting, I’m just trying to be social and make friends like everyone else.   I’ve actually encountered people that were scared to talk to me after I tell them what I do!   As a result, I’ve been tempted to lie about my profession.   Then, I decided if people are scared to talk to me after they learn what I do then I figure they got serious drama in their lives and I don’t need them in mine until they work on themselves.   Besides, I am proud of my profession and wish more people were open to improving themselves via counseling.

 

If you have any questions about counselors that you’ve wondered about, feel free to comment below and I’d be happy to give you my thoughts!

 

Love Thy Enemy

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Christians are familiar with the greatest commandment in Mark 12:30-31:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (ESV)

It is easy to love your neighbor, especially if they are considerate ones.  Ones that are enjoyable to be around.  Those that we see eye to eye on multiple things in life.

But, what about those that aren’t so kind back?  What if your neighbor (which can represent a family member, coworker, acquaintance, customer service rep, etc.) makes it hard for you to love them?  Maybe they aren’t located on the love spectrum in your eyes – they are on the polar opposite: hate.

You know, everyone (that is human) has said this line before – “I hate __________.”  I hate those individuals that cut in front of me in stand still traffic.  I hate those individuals that abuse animals.  I hate those that defame my name for their advantage.  I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about when I wrote these simple “I hate” lines.  Sound familiar?

So, what did Jesus do with those that would be considered our enemies?  He loved them still!  Sounds outlandish, but our savior loved those that we despise just as much as He loves us.  Take a moment and consider the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.  Jesus befriended a despised chief tax collector!  Out of all the individuals that were present to greet Jesus, he requested to stay at Zacchaeus’ living quarters the night before being sentenced to death.  What an honor!

Why did Jesus choose to stay at Zacchaeus’ house instead of one of his followers?  He wanted to show his people who being a Christ follower also means to love your enemy.  He came to seek those that were lost and save them by making them believers.  As Christians, we should seek those that are lost and be kind to them.  Show them who a follower of Christ is, by being like Jesus.

Acknowledge who you may be “hating” at this moment and ask yourself, how can I show brotherly/sisterly love towards this individual that will exemplify Christ within me.  Love thy enemy, by recognizing they are your neighbor as well.

If you are still finding difficulty in loving your enemy, here are five Bible verses to assist:

Luke 6:27 – “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

Exodus 23:5 – If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

Acts 7: 60 – And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

(http://www.christianpost.com/buzzvine/5-bible-verses-that-will-teach-you-to-love-your-enemies-in-spite-of-everything-125406/)

Super Bowl Victims

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Super Bowl is right around the corner!  It is being called the old school (Denver Broncos) versus new school (Carolina Panthers) football matchup.  Super Bowl is the time where most of us spend hours rooting for our favorite team with family and/or friends over food, drinks and TV.    However, not everyone will be celebrating.  Would you believe me if I was to say there are Super Bowl victims?

What a lot of individuals do not know is the dark side of Super Bowl: an increase within the sex industry.  While the football teams draw in large crowds, there are those that are flocking to the trading of women.  The peak of sex trafficking occurs during Super Bowl, where an influx of CHILDREN and women are shipped in for sex trade.  Houses will turn into brothels, there will be pimps and prostitutes readily available, along with $32 BILLION in revenue!

These facts come from an article from The Christian Chronicle in 2011 from the Super Bowl that was held in Dallas, Texas.  I can only image the numbers have increased within the past 5 years.  Numbers are important, nevertheless, the people are more important.  We’re talking about daughters, wives, sisters, aunts, nieces, neighbors, friends… they are all human beings with worth.  A worth that should NOT have a price attached to them, thus they do.

So, I encourage each of us to remember the price of Super Bowl – beyond tailgating in the parking lot before the game, the outrageous price of a ticket in the nose bleed section, the glamorous half-time show and the celebratory aftermath of your team winning – instead, those that may not have a choice or a voice of exiting the crude industry.  If you are looking to make a difference by assisting those in the sex industry escape the demeaning lifestyle, contact your local charities and churches in your city.  For Dallas/Ft. Worth area we have:

World Relief http://worldrelief.org/fortworth/humantrafficking

Children at Risk http://childrenatrisk.org/content/

Human Rights Initiative http://www.hrionline.org/

Mosaic Family Services, Inc. http://mosaicservices.org/

New Friends New Life http://www.newfriendsnewlife.org/

The Friends of Letot http://letotgirlscenter.org/

You Can Free Us http://www.youcanfree.us/