Perspectives from Black women: What to Do, Say and Learn during a time of Civil Unrest and Racial Divide.

posted on: June 11, 2020

I sit here at my laptop, hands trembling as I begin to finally write and share all the things I have learned over the last three weeks since George Floyd was murdered. This black man was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down in the street, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. When George Floyd called out to his mother, mothers everywhere answered.

Today, a black man, right now at this very moment is being arrested and held in handcuffs across the street from my home in the police station parking lot. I am watching as several people mill around and video him and the six police. What a day we live in. However, I choose to believe the pain of dealing with everything that is going on in our nation is a good sign. When our thinking is challenged we can grow and see other perspectives.

Push through the pain.

I always wondered what would I do during the time of slavery or the holocaust or the civil rights movement era. Now I know. I am doing it right now. 

Over a week ago, I began asking questions I did not have the answers to and recieved answers I was not prepared for. Things I have been taught all my life were illusions and lies.

I decided to do what comes easiest for me. Curiousity. Ask questions. Ask the hard questions. 

I began to think of the community of people that I have been so privileged to know and meet. I realized I had the right people in my large circles who would not be offended by me asking the hard questions to them. They would be strong enough and brave enough and tolerant enough to teach me. I ask nine women and one man the below questions. A few declined however, what I did not expect was how one black man and six beautiful women would go out of their way to provide education to me that for some reason I feel like I don’t deserve. I am holding a precious gift from this man and these six brave, beautiful women of color to whom I owe a great debt. I am forever grateful to you. Thank you from all of us. 

In the following posts you will read questions I asked and answers from multiple women who opened their hearts to me. One beautiful friend said the following:

Thank you for this opportunity. 
Though I am usually ready to give my perspective, I didn’t think only my perspective would give voice to the many questions you asked. So I got together with 3 other black women so you will find the replies saying ‘we’. All of our feelings are combined. We agreed almost 100% on the majority of things. Honestly it was a learning opportunity for each of us when we differed in our opinions. The black experience is a spectrum and hopefully this provided you with a wider one than me doing it alone would have. 
Much to my chagrin, she went on to say the following:
The comments provided are a compilation of thoughts and feelings of me and 3 other black women. We tried to respond as honestly as we could. Our willingness to engage in these discussions vary, but they were willing to diversify the feedback to you because I asked them to. I am not sure how you plan to use this information but these are feelings we feel safe with releasing.

Even after you read the information below, understand people still have not opened up fully. They have not discussed the hurt closest to their heart. They are angry, afraid, and cautious. There are still unthinkable and unspeakable things that have not been brought to the light. Trauma so terrible, they cannot be uttered. A kind of trauma no white person in America could fathom. 

Black Lives Matter

I don’t know if the following blog post will help anyone else other than myself however, I would like to believe somehow my words and their words of education would live long after I do and ring out through the coming generations to others so our future won’t make the same mistakes we are repeating today. 

  • What do you say Justice is?
    • The question almost implies that black people hold a different definition from others. Our ‘perspective’ on the word Justice is the same, it doesn’t matter because this definition already exists. Yes, it is both a behavior and a treatment. Justice in action looks like (not in any specific order):
      • Being aware of micro aggressions
      • Not letting black people to the all the work/ the only ones fighting
      • Reparations (goes back 400 years)
      • Representation in leadership in government/business etc., so the discussions continue.
      • Education of youth, stop the cycle.
    • Justice is seeking what’s right for a wrong that has been done. When I think of justice, I think of God. He is a just GOD and as men and women of God we should stand up against injustice in the natural but more so in the spirit as well. The word of God tells us to love our neighbor as ourself.
      • So if you were treated unfairly or unjustly, how would you want to be heard? How would you want to be treated?
      • I believe the greatest issue is we first need to love God with all of our mind, soul, heart, and strength. When we do these things, we will love what HE loves and hate what HE hates. Proverbs 28:5 says that evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully. So seek ye first the kingdom of God and all its righteous, so that you may understand what is good and perfect in His sight.
      • He is the judge and He will judge all according to their deeds and actions. But in order to acquire the justice that the bible speaks of, we must submit and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. The word speaks clearly on how God views righteous judgement. Take time and really read:
        Ecclesiastes 3:17, Hebrews 10:30, Hosea 12:6, Job 12:22, Proverbs 21:15, Proverbs 24: 24-25, Matthew 5:38-39Isaiah 30:18-19Isaiah 61:8-9, Isaiah 1:17Psalm 106:3Zachariah 7:9Leviticus 19:15Psalm 33:5Isaiah 51: 4
    • I have two strikes against me. I am black and I am a woman.

 

  • What does BLM stand for? 
    • A human rights movement
    • Black Lives Matter
    • I am not black, I am not white but I am from a minority race. I am against violence and looting but I believe that without this riots there is no change. Riots have come and go thru the years and many involving police brutality but this one stand out because a whole state is coming out of quarantine of a pandemic that was killing black people faster than any other race. A quarantine where so many racial incidents were recorded on video; the insult is in your face.
    • BLM should not have to be a thing if it was understood by everyone that every life matters.
    • BLM is a cry, is a SCREAM to be seen and heard.
    • BLM is to me: people who look like me and who don’t look like me rally together to speak out against white supremacy and build power within the community.
    • It means that my life and the life of other African American’s matter.
  • What does “Black Lives Matter” mean? 
    • It means what every other human rights movement means, “the right to life and liberty…”
    • It means that we matter too.
    • For the most, whites, they still think they are worth more and elite. We are still n******, wetbacks, and such in their eyes regardless how far we come up or contribute. Piss them off and they will call you a racist slur.

 

  • How is BLM different than ALM (All lives matter)?
    • All lives matter was reactionary to a community self-advocating (with allies) and pointing out that black lives were seen as less than.
      We liked this analogy using a Christian lens:
      BLM= “blessed are the poor in spirit”
      ALM= “no Jesus, blessed are all people”
    • Imagine your kid being in a classroom where the teacher says, you all matter. But because your child is different from the rest, they are treated differently. Everyday they come in the class and the teachers say’s you all matter but your kid is being treated as if he/she doesn’t matter. Eventually they will speak up and say, hey I matter too!!! How would that make you feel as a mother? Would you not say my child matters too or would you tell your hurting child that all the kids matter?
    • BLM is different than ALM because it takes the focus off what is truly happening. Everyone is given one life, and to think that your privilege affords you to feel or not feel in a certain way on the lives of black people while we are mistreated. As we die in our homes, the streets, wherever, our tears could mean the difference between life and death.
    • All lives matter is 100% facts! The only thing is we see to some people (unfortunately those also being some in power) show us in a discriminatory way that the statement “all lives matter rings untrue”. So I say yes, all lives should matter, but can not and will not be that a true and valid statement until we see black lives matter. That’s the difference.

 

  • What do white women need to know?
    • Stop tokenizing friendships with POC (i.e. I am not racist because I have a black friend).
      • Educate yourselves, for mothers educate your children.
      • If you have no POC in your immediate community/network/friendships, think about why. And through self-reflection look to see if you are a part of the reason or part of communities of people who are.
      • Outside of legitimate reason such as proximity, read black literature, watch films/documentaries, research, expand your family’s perspectives through education, activities, and build/keep a humble curiosity. And, do all this even without POC around.
    • As a woman in general you should know what it feels like to be discriminated because of your gender. You know what it feels like to not be taken seriously or to go unheard because of your gender. To be treated unfairly or unjustly. Most woman of any race knows what its like to experience this. So just dig deep and see if you remember a time this may have happen to you.
      • How did it make you feel?
      • What did you want to say?
      • Woman matter too, right?
    • A white woman’s tears could shut a city down, charge a innocent man with murder, and have a man hung from a tree. Sadly the things I have listed has been hidden from our history books and told as bedtime nightmares.
    • We seen how powerful our voices are! I witnessed it with the “Me too movement”. Don’t let the difference in skin and injustice silence your voice for your allies. We are sisters. And right now we need to send a united message as we have before.

 

  • How do we need to listen to our friends that are POC (People of Color)?
    • Don’t speak first, don’t just hear, listen, empathize.
    • Don’t generalize, and don’t let your opinions/preconceptions supersede our experiences.
    • If you don’t already understand the POC perspectives, don’t try to fit their experiences into your conceptualizations.
    • You listen the same way you would listen to a white person who is hurting. We are no different we just want to be heard. Being sympathetic to someone else pain and suffering shows you are compassionate and that you care.
    • If you are comfortable, you are not growing. I appreciate you for allowing me to give my thoughts freely.
    • Ask questions, get uncomfortable, put your pride aside, and listen. We have to start somewhere.

 

  • “Black lives are more important than white feelings.” “Black lives take precedence over white tears and fragility.” Do you agree or disagree with these quotes? 
    • YES! When did someone’s hurt feelings matter more than someone having breath in their body, or access to education, or civil liberties?
    • To be frank, we don’t care about white tears or fragility. Black tears built this country and revolutions take place it is because we are tired of crying.
    • If you take the words black and white out then it will read: lives are more important than feelings. Lives take precedence over tears and fragility. A feeling can be fixed and cared for. Tears can be wiped away, and fragile can be made strong again. But a life that has been taken can never be replaced.
    • I’ve dealt with being called a n***** by my teacher, spit on and having to fight. I have been jumped on by 2 teachers and being kicked out for protecting myself while the whole class reported that it wasn’t my fault. I was told by the police not to walk in certain neighborhoods, stay on my side where I belong and more but it comes to a point where walking away or turning a cheek makes your self-worth as a person and your spirit to be broken down or diminished. I’ve never let anyone diminish me but they have tried and weapons were and are formed to try. This applies to all miniorities. We deal with a lot on our jobs.
    • Yes. Its time to admit that white privilege is a real thing and being on the wrong end of the stick of it can be deadly. We have to acknowledge a problem before we can fix it instead of dancing around it.

 

  • How do People of Color let white people in to understand what is going on?
    • This question’s structure is part of the problem. It is phrased in a way that puts the blame on black people. “Let us in” implies that POC have kept white people out of understanding something. At no point were black people not receptive to white understanding our plight. The problem is because white people don’t have to deal with these issues on a daily basis, they have the privilege to ignore what has always been there.
    • To let anyone in they must be trusted. Meaning I’m not going to let you in if you don’t care about my pain. I really don’t understand this question.
    • No one needs to read books or watch a movie or be educated on racism, just treat your neighbor like you would like to be treated. If you see injustice, get involved, report it, don’t stay silence. It’s not right.
    • By opening up and speaking on their realities and experiences. We’re all in the same boat, some just have a better seat or view. Use your voice to bring awareness.

 

  • Where and how do we find a place to listen and to hear People of Color?
    • I don’t believe there is a special place, more of a concern. If you have someone in your life who is of color then talk to them. Stop being afraid. If they were your friend before then there shouldn’t be a problem with sitting down and having a talk if you are truly sincere about what’s going on in their lives. What’s their struggles?
    • You can read some books, a blog, facebook, or watch a movie. You can even listen to a song. Its been out there you just have to open your eyes and ears to hear.
    • “place?” There is no specific place, it is in every moment of life. The conversations don’t need a specific place, they just need to happen with or without POC present all the time. “There is no wrong time to do the right thing.”

 

  • How do white people/women help, grow and change? Do we need to change? Give us direction.
    • I don’t feel like this is a question that needs to be asked, given all the above. But if white people don’t think Justice should prevail, then do nothing. That is why we are quoting “Not being racist is not enough, you have to actively anti-racist.”
    • It all starts with the renewal of the mind. Renewing your mind to the word of God and erasing generational mindsets that have been passed down through your blood line. I believe this is all learned behavior. It starts in the mind but the mind can be changed. We all have mindsets that need to be torn down and then rebuild. So in turn it starts in the home. What you teach and show your children matters. What are you teaching/modeling to your kids about other races? Transform how you think and your actions will follow.
    • Phone a friend, text, or log on to social media, ask and inquire! Reach out and let someone know, “Hey! I’m here and I want to help.”

 

  • Recently, it has been said repeatedly that it is not the People of Color’s responsibility or job to educate white people about the matter of BLM or racism.
    • This question is often infuriating because it seems like people, in general, put in the energy to learn the things they care about. How have others learned that billions of people don’t have access to clean water, or that being poor leads to increased likelihood of negative health outcomes? Curiosity, research, education, and training. All of this is available when it comes to the BLM and fighting against racism.
    • White people can attend seminars, reading books, attend town halls, joining community initiatives, and do the work to understand a problem.
    • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. In many of these spaces you may be the only white person sitting in the room. That in its self is a powerful way to increase empathy for the black experience. So at the end of the day educating yourself and being aware is the first step. You don’t need to protest or be at the frontlines to part of the change. There are multiple venues to make impact.
    • If you are aware of the injustices of black lives and you want to help and grow and cause change, then half the work is already done! Now be about it! Practice that in your day to day. Treat those the way you would want to be treated and fight for those as you would want for some one to fight for you. Step in and show up, everyday.

 

  • I don’t want any more families to be hurt. I don’t want any more people to be killed because of the color of their skin. It is scary and sad. What a sad day it is in America. Is it possible for all of us to live in a safe space and not be afraid of offending anyone because of the color of our skin?
    • Offense is different than actively using racism to marginalize and brutalize people. If all the black community felt was offended, we don’t think we would be where we are today. This is past offensive, it is again connected to human rights.
    • Sadly, we don’t think there is one solution and if it will happen in our generation but we do think it can and will be much better in the next coming years.
    • That’s a fantasy. The bible says in Luke 17:1 that it is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. There are evil spirits who are always on the prow seeking who they can use to do what they came to do and that is to steal, kill, and destroy. So it’s up to you if you choose to be a vessel who offends.

 

  • Would reading certain books help us understand racism? Are there any suggestions you would make for blogs and books to read so we can understand? Please list the title and author here.
    • Yes, there are blogs, social media pages, and bookstores that have list of reads. From historical reads to narratives. Use them all to gain knowledge of the spectrum of the black experience in America.
    • Read the Bible. Read about Azusa St. by Frank Bartleman, How to Kill a mocking bird. Harriet Tubman: The Road to freedom. Ask God to lead you to the ones that will best open up your understanding to all of this.
    • If reading is your thing then yes. I personally would recommend Maya Angelo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and The lyrics and poems of Tupac.

 

  • It has been said that “Colorblind” white children grow up to be racially dismissive and violent.” Do you agree or disagree with that opinion? Why?
    • Yes, because the whole concept is teaching them to not acknowledge and respect differences in perspectives, lifestyle, cultures, and religions. The only time color blind should be mentioned is when it is a diagnosis from a physician.
    • Agree, I think “colorblind” is just a nice way of saying “I’ll turn a blind eye if and when a situation or problem comes up related/ associated with your color.”

 

  • There have been photos of People of color and police or People of Color and white people hugging to show kindness in the world. Some say this image perpetuates a false narrative and unity looks like focusing on kindness instead of equity. Equity is the quality of being fair and impartial. What do you believe? 
    • We agree, though it seems nice at first glance, it is giving a false narrative. One because this march wasn’t about the ‘good cops’, it is about the culture inside of the profession that has allowed for injustices to occur. The media is almost using those images to distract from the deeply rooted hurt in the black community.
    • I am a woman of God so when I see this, I see God working and moving. I see God’s goodness. But this statement is not dismissing the kindness shown in these pictures. They are saying they want more than just a hug and a pat on the back. They want action as well.
    • It just depends on someone’s intentions and perspective. I happen to like those photos. For me, it helps me visualize a future I want to see for my little brothers’ future, but I do understand how they can be used to make it look as though there isn’t much progress that has to be made or things aren’t that bad to try and glaze things over. Times are crazy and confusing. Just do your part and don’t get distracted by white noise. I stray away from people that just want to argue about anything and everything, and find a group of people that want to cause change instead of just talking about it.

 

  • “Compassion without accountability is manipulation.” Do you agree or disagree?
    • We were not completely sure what this was getting to. However, we will say, feeling sorry for someone eventually fades if you don’t see how it affects your life. The major reason why we see what we see today through riots is because there are a lot of people who are not overtly racist but they said nothing or committed to nothing to make it stop. After a while, the silence of people who see injustice becomes just as hurtful as the people who did the direct harm. If people are not part of the solution in some way (we listed ways that people can be part of the solution above) then they are part of the problem.
    • It all depends on the person’s motive behind it. If a person is only being compassionate so that you shut up and forget about the situation then yes it is. Basically, if your compassion has a hidden agenda then yes it’s manipulation at its core. A man judges the outer appearance but God judges the heart. Just because you see with your eyes that this person is being compassionate doesn’t mean their heart is right. A spirit filled person with discernment will understand this more than anybody else.

 

  • “Racism isn’t cured by ignorance, apathy or kindness.” Do you agree or disagree?
    • Agree. Systemic problems can only be solved by systemic solutions. Racism systemic. Look at the system, see the history of brokenness, and start to see what part you can play to repair and reconcile.
    • I agree. Action must be taken. Faith without works is dead. When has ignorance ever helped any situation? Even the bible says get wisdom and with all of your getting get knowledge and with all of your knowledge get understanding.
      Apathy, if you got wounded and chose to have lack of interest or concern about it the wound, does that make the wound go away? No, it doesn’t as a matter of fact, because you chose to ignore it will now become infected and worse than it was before. So, when I see a white person who never experienced racism be apatheic to racism that shows me that you don’t care and it’s not your problem. You don’t have to deal with that at all, so why care?
      Kindness shows that you are sympathetic but your actions enforces it. What are you willing to do as an individual to see a change in this world? Being kind is not implementing change but it is a start. Never stop being kind but action must be taken with it.

 

Lives are in danger and it is up to us to shed light on that, rather than focus on exceptions to the rule.

 

Pray for the loss of this nation.

Educate your family. 

Listen. Silence can reinforce racism so begin hard conversations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Has this article benefited you in any way? Let me know in the comment section below. Share to spread awareness.

 

May God bless America.

 

My interview with Creator of In a Skirt Podcast

posted on: February 7, 2020

Below is a great interview from a Southern friend who is an avid runner. She is an inspiration and I am so excited to to share part of her story with you today. Comment and Share!

 

1. Why are you running?

You could choose to do anything to exercise. 

I started running for health and fitness reasons. I guess that’s still one of the reasons I run, but I mainly run now because it brings me mental clarity, I love the way I feel after a run, I love chasing goals, and I love the running community.

2. Who is in your running support network?

So many people! I have made so many wonderful friends through running and I consider all of them my support network. My best friend (who I met through running) is my number one supporter. Her name is Jerri Kay Boyd and we run together several times a week. I’ve learned so much from her and she is the most encouraging person. And, of course, there’s my family. I couldn’t run if I didn’t have their support.

 

3. What are the top three “little things” that you do to prevent injury?

I think the most important is nutrition. The most serious running injury I’ve had was because of a nutritional issue. It’s really important to eat enough for the number of miles you’re putting in and to make sure your body is getting sufficient nutrients across the board.

The second is recovering properly. For me, this means taking a day each week to rest and making sure my easy days are truly easy and will help my body recover from harder-effort days.

The third is incorporating a little bit of strength training into each week. It doesn’t have to be everyday, or even every other day, and it doesn’t have to be long sessions. Maybe just 20 minutes of Pilates a few times a week, or something like that.

4. Tell my readers all about running gear.

The great thing about running is that you don’t need a lot of gear to get started. That’s one of the reasons why I took up running instead of other activities. Just lace up some running shoes and go! Of course, now that I’ve been running several years, I’ve made it more complicated by adding gear. I love Garmin running watches to record runs and all the data from a run, an LED vest for running in the dark, water bottles that can be carried on a run, etc. Shoes are personal. What type you need depends on how you run. Some people strike on their heels, some strike on their forefoot, some strike mid-foot. Different shoes are made for different strikes. I recommend going to a specialty running store to have your running analyzed and let them fit you to a good shoe for you. The best clothes are moisture-wicking clothes that move with you. I chafe easily, so I prefer shirts that do not have lots of seams. If you’re getting blisters, or having other issues with your feet when you run, your shoes are probably too small. Your running shoes should be AT LEAST one full size larger than what you normally wear. I always buy my running shoes two sizes larger than what I normally wear. Your feet will swell while running. Running puts a lot of force and trauma on your feet, so they should have extra room while running.

5. Thanks for the shoe size advice! How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

I think one of the best motivators is that I have a running buddy. We both get out of bed and get over to our meeting spot because we know the other one is waiting. Another good motivator is to sign up for races, because then you have something on your calendar that you’re working toward.

6. Running Buddy! Got it! That is the same for hiking for me! Thanks! Have you read a new running book lately?

What podcast do you listen to. 

“Run the Mile You’re In” by Ryan Hall is an excellent book.

I finished it recently and highly recommend it. Ryan is the American record-holder in the half marathon. He is also a Christian, adoptive parent, non-profit organizer, and just all-around motivating guy.

I rarely listen to anything while running because I usually run with a friend and we talk!

If I have to run on a treadmill, then I may listen to a podcast.

I love “I’ll Have Another” with Lindsey Hein,

“The Illuminate Podcast,” and

“Run Free Podcast” with Ryan Hall.

 

7. Talk a bit about your podcast. That’s the one thing I want the HikerBabe Community and every other reader to know about. 

I started my podcast close to a year ago to celebrate people who do sports a little differently.

I don’t want people to be afraid to do something because they feel like they’re different than others who normally engage in that activity.

I want people to realize that activities like running are diverse and accepting.

I try to tell the stories of people who decided to forget about stereotypes, or who are encouraging, or who will make listeners think, “Hey, if they’re doing that, I can, too!”

In A skirt podcast
Running

 

 

Her podcast can be listened to at inaskirt.com or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or iHeart Radio…simply search for In A Skirt Podcast.

 

 

 

The book she talked about in the above interview you can find here:

My evening at Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue Farm Tenino, WA

posted on: July 13, 2018

Oftentimes, I have been intrigued by those beautiful people who dedicate their entire lives to a cause or business. One example would be a family Mom & Pop shop or a community’s meat market with a famous butcher who is the grandson of the creator and owner…a business that has been passed down from generation to generation. It amazes me that people can stay in one place and dedicate their entire lives to doing just one thing…for me, that would scare me to death to have to do that but it also impresses me that others are so good at so many things that the world may never know about. In this post, I want to share one of those special people I believe the whole world should know hear about and know. She may never be a household name but to alpacas, she is a hero. 

Many know, I am away on holiday visiting family in Washington. I am currently writing book two in the Pushing Back the Darkness series bringing awareness to abuse and sexual trafficking in America. I was driving to visit Mount Rainier one day last week, when I drove past a ‘llama’ farm. On a whim, I looked them up online and found Cross Creek Alpaca Farm. Without thinking to hard on the matter, I quickly sent her a message and asked if I could come visit her and check out the farm. She replied and invited me  out. Tonight I spent over an hour there. One of our first conversations was one of her explaining to me she had to find a job to support the rescue Alpacas. She relies on donations to feed them and nurture them back to health.  Alpacas are not native to the United State of America. Since 1984, alpacas have been imported from Peru, Bolivia and Chile into the United States but when they arrive here they can be mistreated, misused or neglected…sounds familiar, huh???  What a parallel…maybe that is why my heartstrings were tugged so tightly…..

   

Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue was founded by Sharon Bond and Jacklyn Glover who started with rescuing horses in 2003. Then in 2007, they began to rescue alpacas. There are very few animal rescues dedicated to the saving of alpacas but the need exists. Too often gelded males, older females and otherwise unwanted alpacas are passed from farm to farm, or they are put down for little or no reason other than they are a burden to the current owner. I was able to learn that llamas are bigger than alpacas. Alpacas love love love to be sprayed with the water hose and I had the distinct privilege to spray them down and watch them jump in the cool water and then lay in the cool dirt now that they were nice and wet. It was so cute!

Alpacas only live to about 15 years old but these can get to 20 or older since they are so loved and spoiled here at Cross Creek

If you could see them, you would fall in love with them just as I have. I didn’t even know alpacas could be abused or neglected…but they are just like any other farm animal that people don’t take care of. She is a hero and every alpaca rescued is one out of harm’s way.

What is abuse/neglect?
Abuse of animals could be defined many ways depending in which context you are speaking and to whom. In Webster’s dictionary abuse is defined as; to hurt by treating badly; mistreatment; causing injury.
Neglect is defined in Webster’s as; not to care for sufficiently or properly; slight; to treat as unimportant, through carelessness or by intention.

Many of her alpacas came from a rescue in 2014 from Polk County, Oregon. The owners of Jocelyn’s Alpaca Ranch in Falls City were charged with several counts of animal neglect in 2014 after alpacas on the farm were found dead or starving. (*CAN YOU IMAGE!??* THAT’S SO SAD!)
Jocelyn and Robert Silver were both indicted on 18 crimes: felony first-degree animal neglect, felony second-degree animal neglect and 16 counts of misdemeanor first-degree animal neglect.
They were arraigned on the charges Tuesday afternoon after press time. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has seized and is caring for 175 alpacas. Later the news came out that there were as many as 200 being kept on 3 acres with little or no food.These animals were in terrible conditions and as many as 50 have already died before the rescue.

Cross Creek’s website is full of information:

Why does she want to rescue an Alpaca?
Alpacas are not native to the United State of America. Since 1984, alpacas have been imported from Peru, Bolivia and Chile into the United States. Alpacas, cousins to the llama, are native to the Andean Mountain range of South America. In their native lands they have been used for clothing, food and heat for many thousands of years. In the US, attempts are being made to develop industries utilizing the fiber produced by alpacas. Because of its soft texture, alpaca fiber is sometimes compared to cashmere. Containing no lanolin, alpaca fiber is also naturally hypoallergenic.

The alpaca industry has grown steadily with current estimates totally over 120,000 registered alpacas with the Alpaca Registry, Inc (ARI) in the US. Due to the small size of the national herd, the alpaca industry is a breeder’s market. This has led to the discarding of non-breeding alpacas due to age, deformity, illness and poor breeding practices. In recent years, many intelligent alpacas have been discarded as of no worth, due mainly to the lack of human understanding. Because of the influx of alpacas, there have been increases in neglect, abused and abandoned animals. The well-being of the alpaca is put into jeopardy. This was reason enough to be a hero and rescue them. I applaud her efforts and want to share her story with the world!

 

 

Click here to learn more or DONATE to : Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue Farm

A note from her:

CCAR is a 501c(3) non-profit organization,

and they rely entirely on private & adoption donations to pay for medication, veterinary expenses and feed.

All contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

SEND A CARD

Send a complimentary card with your donation to CCAR to let your family and friends know about the special donation you gave in their name.

Whether it be birthday, anniversary or in memory of someone, they will send them a personalized card.

When you use PayPal, you can attach a note to them that will let them know that you would like to SEND A CARD.  Or on their website you click on CONTACT US, and send them an email.  They will then contact you by email to get the needed information to send the perfect card for you. For more info call: (360) 350-3813

Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue welcomes your support. GO CHECK THEM OUT–Tell them AUTHOR LAURA ARANDA sent you!

Interview with Sharon Wilharm, Filmmaker, Blogger, Speaker Part One of Summer of ’67 Series

posted on: March 5, 2018

Over the next several weeks, I will feature five incredible women the world needs to know about.

This week we begin the Summer of ’67 series Part One with Filmmaker Sharon Wilharm.

The name of her movie is Summer of ’67, a Vietnam War romance.

You can check out the website www.summerof67.com  and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Summerof67themovie/ to watch the trailer and learn more about the movie.

We will have four of her amazing actresses that we’ll be lining up interviews for to start their film festival circuit in May and they will do a limited theatrical release in late July.
Below is the interview with the strong and beautiful Sharon Wilharm. Enjoy!

Please tell the readers a little about yourself by starting off with 2-3 specific accomplishments or experiences. 

I’m Sharon Wilharm, filmmaker, blogger, and speaker. Working together with my husband, I’ve written and directed seven feature films. They’ve screened in festivals around the world, aired on multiple television networks, and sold in bookstores and online outlets including iTunes and Amazon Prime.
Providence, our last movie released as part of the AMC Independent lineup and screened in select theaters across the country including AMC Empire in NYC.
Summer of ’67, our latest film, will make the film festival circuit this summer and release theatrically in late summer.
When I’m not caught up in the filmmaking process, I blog about the faith-based film industry and speak at film festivals and writing conferences.
What are your greatest professional strengths?

I’m a planner. I’m very organized and whatever I’m doing, I give it everything I’ve got. I also try to be kind and respectful of other people. The film industry can be a very stressful environment, but I try to appreciate and encourage cast and crew members as well as fellow filmmakers.

What would be a few of your greatest Weaknesses?

I tend to set unrealistic expectations for myself and feel disappointed when I don’t live up to my expectations.

Do you have a nonprofit organization you admire or contribute to?

I don’t have a pet charity. I much prefer to see an individual need and react to it on a  personal or local level.

What do you think you have had to overcome to be who you are today?
 

The older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize how much more I have to learn. As a teen and younger adult, I was cocky. I think God had to bring me down a few notches so that I would be a more suitable vessel to be used by Him.

I totally understand that! I believe he has to do that to so many of us. There are so many examples of him doing such to many of his leaders. Saul is one example I can think of. 
What is the last book that has made you cry? 
I read the most amazing book this weekend, and we were literally late for church this morning because I had to finish reading the last chapter before we left. But then I dropped it off at the church library and now, for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the book.

HA! Oh no! Well, if you remember send me a message so I can share that with our readers. We could just say you were reading my book! HAHA-

You are doing so much but what else? What’s your dream job? 

 
Traveling the country speaking to women’s groups. My favorite place to be is in front of a large crowd, passionately sharing from my heart.
Public speaking is a fear for so many. That’s amazing. We need good public speakers out there. 
Sharon Flowers from front
What is your definition of success? 

I want to impact lives in a big way. I want to leave a legacy that’s still impacting lives long after I’m gone.

Would you say you are successful and in what ways? 

That’s a tough question. I have a fireplace mantle covered with film festival trophies. I’ve been mentioned in film trade magazines, and my movie screened in one of the most famous theaters in the country. I’ve been blessed with what the world would define as success. But have I truly impacted lives? I don’t know. I may never know.

Wow. What a sobering thought.

crown awards
What is your greatest professional achievement?
 
In 2016 we submitted Providence to the ICVM Crown awards. ICVM is the industry organization for faith films. We were new to the organization, but knew that we would be competing with movies much bigger than ours. We hoped we might get nominated for one award, but really weren’t expecting it. Then we received word we were nominated for four awards! We were blown away, especially when we saw the other films that were up for awards.  We were excited just to attend the awards dinner with no expectations for any recognition beyond the nominations.
Well, first we won third place for “Best Youth Film.” Then second place for “Best Evangelistic” (sandwiched between Beyond the Mask  and War Room !). Then first place for “Best Drama Under $250,000. And finally, out of 55 movies, we were awarded third place for “Best Picture”. The entire experience was surreal. I’m still not sure how that happened, but thankful for the encouragement God offered us that night.

Do you have long term goals that you can share with the readers?

Growing up, my greatest desire was to entertain and inspire audiences. For years I prayed to be able to speak to large crowds, but while I’d have the occasional speaking opportunities, for the most part, God kept saying, “No, not yet… not yet.”
I’m thankful, though, that my filmmaking days are winding down and God is allowing me more speaking opportunities.  I look forward to the time, hopefully in the near future, when I can spend my days writing historical novels and traveling around the country speaking to groups of women.

 If a young person walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?

I would tell them to pray diligently and to commit to following God’s lead, even when it doesn’t make sense. I would tell them to take risks and not settle for the safe and easy route for their lives. I would tell them to love God with all their heart.

Have you ever created a vision board? 

Not in the traditional sense, however, I do have Pinterest boards that I use for inspiration.

Do you have a favorite motto that you live by?

Follow God wherever He leads!

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what’s the easiest way(s) to reach you???
My website – www.sharonwilharm.com
My blog – www.faithflix.com
They each have contact forms.
I’d also love if folks could check out Summer of ’67 on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and give us a follow.

Girl, Taken – An interview with Author Elena Nikitina

posted on: February 6, 2018

Name:

Elena Nikitina

Age:

To me, age is a state of mind.  Depending on the day, I can feel myself anywhere between 18 and 90.

What are you passionate about? 

I’m an artist at heart.  I enjoy writing, painting and photography.  My other passions are Latin dance and shooting weapons at the range.  I love to work out and create things as well.  I love to design new stuff from scratch or transform ugly things into beautiful ones. I love fashion and my dream is to create a fashion clothing line one day. I’m also passionate about real estate – I’m a licensed agent in Ohio.

What human trafficking looks like and how does it affect American youth? 

Human trafficking is illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor.  Behind those words there are many broken human lives.  Each story is an incredible tragedy of a person who is torn away from his normal life and deprived of his freedom and human rights.

Young people are particularly vulnerable, as criminals can find victims and manipulate them through internet, social media and private chats. One report cited “13 years old as the most common age in Ohio for youth to become victims of child sex trafficking”.

What motivated you to write a book and more importantly what inspired you to get involved with bringing awareness to human trafficking? 

The book Girl, Taken – is a true story about kidnapping and survival.  The plot of my book took place in real life and I just described it in my own words.

I saw and experienced things no one should have to go through.  I’m sure that right now, right at this particular moment, there is someone who is suffering from being a victim of kidnapping or trafficking or facing a similar ordeal in life.  I wanted to deliver a message to those who seek hope or to those who are about to give up. Hope and faith should never leave you, even in the moment of total and all-consuming despair.

Every human trafficking story looks similar to mine.  The incredible tragedy that involves not only one person – it’s an adversity for all family members.  Unfortunately, most people consider human trafficking as a problem of the past or believe that it is limited to being outside the United States only. Only by bringing awareness and education about this problem taking place everywhere there will be a chance to fight this crime.

Tell us a few statistics concerning human trafficking in your city and the surrounding areas. 

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs in every state, including Ohio.  Ohio ranks number five in the nation for the most human trafficking cases. Last year, 375 Ohio trafficking cases were reported based on calls to the national hotline–according to Polaris, a nonprofit organization that tracks human trafficking cases in America and across the world.

If any readers might think a loved one is in harm’s way what would be a few actions you would suggest so they can get the help they need?

The professional help from the therapist and a good family environment are the best sources, in my opinion.

What steps did you take to begin bringing awareness and getting involved?

I’m at the very beginning of my journey at the moment. I think social media is the best way to bring the awareness.

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them? 

Through the horrifying months of my captivity – witnessing atrocities, surviving bombings and sexual violence, and trapped in a land where countless people were dying every day, I fought desperately to stay alive, stay sane and not lose the one thing that kept me going – my hope.

We never know what we are capable of until we are placed in a situation when you have to make a choice – stay strong or break down.  Choose to remain a victim or choose to become a survivor.

At some point, I decided for myself – I wanted to be a survivor and not a victim.  I like to believe we can all make this choice, no matter the hardships we face in life.

What advice would you give to parents of youth? 

Pay attention and talk to your children.  Be proud of what they are accomplishing.  Love them.

So many people have dreams and want to start nonprofits or businesses because they have a burning desire to change the world. They want to be men or women of influence with a powerful message. Then doubt sets in or failure happens. 

-What are your thoughts about this? 

Robert Kiyosaki – famous American businessman and author – once said: “Winners are not afraid of losing.  But losers are.  Failure is part of the process of success.  People who avoid failure also avoid success”.

Pursuing things that truly matter gives people a sense of purpose and this, in turn, will help people persevere in their pursuits.

-What would your message to these people include? 

Take a risk to make a difference.  If you win, you will be happy.  If you lose, you learn.

What is your favorite quote or mantra?

This too shall pass.

My favorite of all times, meaning that nothing is permanent.

When everything is good, remember that it won’t last forever. So, enjoy and cherish it while you can. When things are bad, remember that it won’t last forever. Have faith, bad times eventually will pass.

What motivates you?

Achieving the desired results motivates me.

When was the last time you were out of your comfort zone?

A few days ago, I was honored to give a public speech about my book Girl, Taken.  That was something I have never done before and had zero experience with. I was way out of my comfort zone.

What are your most important gifts you have to offer your city and state?

Every voice has an influence. Many voices have the power to change the world or to stop a crime.  To be involved in the organization or a group with like-minded people – is a gift that every citizen should offer to their community to improve the quality of life.

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what would be the easiest way to reach you? 

The best way to reach me is through one of my social media accounts:

www.girltaken.com

https://www.facebook.com/elenaleonidovnanikitina

https://www.facebook.com/girltaken.truestory/

https://www.instagram.com/elena.l.nikitina/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsURhjE6wpOR_yo9ANWWAw/videos?view_as=subscriber

Is there anything else you want me to know that will help me write this article?

As I mentioned earlier, I wrote a book Girl, Taken – A True Story of Abduction, Captivity and Survival.  In 1994, just after my 21st birthday, I was drugged and abducted from my hometown in southern Russia by a group of gangsters. The idea was to hold me for ransom, but an unfortunate thing happened.  Soon after my kidnapping, the first Russian-Chechen War broke out…

I would love to share my story with the readers of your blog.

Readers love Girl, Taken.

Here’s a small sample of what they are saying:

“This book will astonish and inspire you.  It is the harrowing tale of a young woman who saved her own life through nothing more than courage, determination, and inner strength.”

“One of the best books I’ve read in the past few years…”

“Girl, Taken kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.  She is lucky to be alive.  Very intense, hard to put it down.  I would definitely suggest you enjoy the book for yourself and feel what it’s like to be kidnapped…”

Girl, Taken – A True Story of Abduction, Captivity and Survival.  You can check it out on Amazon

Human Trafficking Awareness Interview with Michigan State Police Trooper Steven Kramer of Flint Post

posted on: January 29, 2018

Interview with Flint, Michigan State Trooper, Steven Kramer

Steven A. Kramer, age 44 is a community Service Trooper of Michigan State Police-Flint Post. For over the last four years, Trooper Kramer has pledged to do something to change the dynamics of the way human trafficking is viewed and dealt with in Flint, Michigan. Flint is well-known as the city drowning in so many other problems and fighting so many difficult obstacles. Studying online recorded the racial make-up of Flint consists of 57% black; 37% white while 42% of Flint residents live below the poverty line. The average household income is only $39,000.

Flint has ranked as one of America’s most dangerous cities for several years based on FBI crime statistics of violent crimes per capita.

Human Trafficking is just one more nightmare this city is trying to combat.
Human trafficking is both sex and labor trafficking.  It is a form of modern-day slavery that occurs around the world and in the United States.  It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, or receiving a person through the use of FORCE, FRAUD, or COERCION.  ANYONE can be a victim of human trafficking and ANYONE can be a trafficker. Flint and Michigan State Police are hoping to bridge the gap with Flint neighborhoods.

Below is an interview with one of the heroes on Flint, Michigan streets.

 
How long have you worked in this field?
I have been with the Michigan State Police for twenty years.  I have been in my current role as a Community Service Trooper /Recruiter for almost five years.   I have been involved with Human Trafficking awareness for about the last four years.  My partner, Trooper Amy Belanger  also works in this field and is heavily involved with human trafficking.  We have been partners for about three and a half years.
 
What are you passionate about?
I would say I’m very passionate about my job, especially  the work I am currently doing with the community. One message I want the world to understand is there is no such thing as a juvenile prostitute! If they are under age, it is trafficking!

What does Human Trafficking look like and how does it affect American Youth?
This is a tough question to answer, because it can look like so many different things.
Human trafficking is a crime that affects victims of any age, gender, race, or immigration status. Human trafficking occurs in all parts of this country – from cities, to suburbs, to rural areas.

Traffickers/Pimps are constantly coming up with new ways to lure our youth into this lifestyle.  They prey on desperation, curiosity, and naivety. 

Pimps/Traffickers can be girls, women, boys, young men, and older men.  Many kids are runaways at the time of recruitment.  Between 100,000 and 200,000 of United States Children are taken into trafficking each year.  The desired starting age is twelve to thirteen for girls and twelve years old for boys.

What motivated you to become a state trooper and more importantly what inspired you to get involved with bringing awareness to human trafficking?
My main motivation to become a State Trooper was my father.  My father worked for and retired from the Detroit Police Department as a Detective Sgt.   For as long as I can remember, being a police officer is all I ever wanted to be.  I look up to my father and have much respect for him.  I guess I wanted to follow in his footsteps.  It was his suggestion to join the Michigan State Police if I really wanted to be a police officer.
I would say the more I learned about human trafficking and how it happens everywhere, I became interested in seeing what I could do to help.
I joined the Genesee County Human Trafficking task force and began to learn more about it.   I also attended presentations from victims speaking about their experiences.   I see how it happens and how it affects our communities.  I felt that helping to educate the community was a great way to help.

Tell us a few statistics concerning human trafficking in Flint, Michigan and the surrounding areas.
It happens in Flint, Michigan the same way it happens everywhere in the United States.
Some interesting statistics:

  • 62% of victims are tricked into trafficking by someone they know and trust (boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend, ect.).
  • 35% of victims are sold into human trafficking by their own family.
    Only 3% of victims are kidnapped.
  • Every year, 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Every minute, two children become victims of sexual exploitation.
    A trafficker/pimp will know within seconds of contacting their victim if they “got them”.
  • It takes as little as 8 minutes for a trafficker to win over his/her target.
  • 90% of all the children trafficked for sexual purposes are American children.
  • There are as many as 2.8 million runaway children each year in the U.S.
  • Within 48 hours of a child being on the street, 1 in 3 will be approached by a sex trafficker.
  • The most common approach is the “lover boy” approach.
  • This is where the trafficker will appear interested in a romantic relationship while gradually coercing the victim into prostitution.

If any readers might think a loved one is in harm’s way what would be a few actions you would suggest so they can get the help they need?
Be aware of and look for the warning signs.
Some warning signs of a victim include:

  • unexplained absences from school,
  • inability to attend school,
  • runs away from home,
  • makes references to frequent travel,
  • sudden changes in behavior or material possessions,
  • makes reference to sexual situations that are beyond ages specific norms,
  • drug addiction,
  • signs of physical abuse,
  • Avoids eye contact,
  • fearful of authority figures.

There is a lot of valuable information online at sources like the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Polaris project, and many more.

The National Human Trafficking hotline number is 888-373-7888
 

What steps did you take to begin bringing awareness and getting involved?

I am a member of the Genesee County and Shiawassee County Human Trafficking task forces.  I give presentations on human trafficking awareness at:
churches,
schools,
community action groups,
neighborhood associations,
Law enforcement,
Fire stations,
EMS,
Medical professionals,
and anyone who requests one.

What advice would you give to parents of youth?
Monitor your children’s activity!!!  I can’t stress that enough.  Kids today have cell phones, tablets, computers with basically unlimited access to the Internet.  Parents are too trusting of their kids.  We should be keeping tabs on what our kids are doing!
There is no such thing as violating your kids privacy when they are under 18!! 
You should know what your kids are doing online including:

  • Who they’re talking to,
  • Apps on their phones,
  • Online places visited.

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what would be the easiest way to reach you?
The best way to contact me is via Email: KramerS1@michigan.gov
Storytelling is never going to go away. I am honored to have the opportunity to be an outlet of sorts to bring honor to

Michigan State Police Trooper
Steven A. Kramer
Flint Post
Community Service Trooper/Recruiter

Men like Steven need to be recognized for all they do to help open eyes and bring awareness to the crisis of human trafficking in Flint, Michigan and around our country. Together as a community and as a country we can make small steps to help bring awareness and support to those affected by human trafficking.

One person that has been personally impacted by his actions is Rebecca Huey. I’ve spoke with her many times. She’s a phenomenal person.
She had the privilege to meet Michigan State Police Officer Trooper Kramer, Flint Post when she was a special guest speaker as a Christian Actress for a Human Trafficking event held by the Genessee County Medical Society Alliance in 2015.

Now as an Entrepreneur, Actress and Motivational Speaker, Rebecca Huey’s life has been changed for the positive by being able to share her story with Trooper Kramer which gave her the opportunity to begin to heal. Over time, she was able to share with Trooper Kramer her story and journey and how she is overcoming and excelling today.
Rebecca is an American actress known for her award-winning role Store Clerk “Best Cast” in redemptive romance feature film Providence that came to theaters in February of 2016. She was nominated and chosen Top 10 and Top 3 in 2015 and Top 1 in 2016-2017 by fans from across the world and Faith Flix Films, Tennessee for her press release interview.
Faith Flix Films released her interview in 2015 and it has traveled around the world bringing many others hope – the only hope that can be found in Jesus Christ.


Rebecca is also a female business entrepreneur that holds a business degree from a private college and is the owner of Education Creation LLC with Trademark Cursive Kidz™.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8830953/

So in her words concerning Trooper Kramer:

He is a voice for me and so many others that don’t have the strength to speak right away. He has gone above and beyond his job. He deserves to be honored and recognized for his sacrificial hard work, tireless effort to help others, superior dedication to combat human trafficking and for being a loyal trusted voice for those that don’t have the strength to speak. 
He is doing so much to help so many others in human trafficking in Michigan. He has helped me more than he will ever know and he deserves to be recognized for all he is doing. -Rebecca M. Huey 

America tips her hat to you, sir. Thank you. Keep up the good fight. We stand with you.

Written by Author Laura Aranda who published her first novel titled, Pushing Back the Darkness in April 2017. This novel brings awareness to human trafficking in America. You can find the book on Amazon or at her blog: Www.authorlauraaranda.com

For speaking engagements email: lauraaranda@owlofhope.com

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