Attending college was rooted in trauma. I wanted to prepare myself to
work to heal and restore my community, family and myself to health.
What did I find? I found course studies needed for graduation and to
work within specific institutions and attempts at intimidation. Students
walking carefully trying not to upset the apple cart. Colleges are filled
with professors and a system Hell bent on perpetuating a failing non-
system of education. What did I not find? There was no authentic
creative spaces for thinking, nor a psychology that spoke to the total
person. One rooted in real healing. There was no curriculum with
which to connect socially, politically, spiritually, and culturally. All
concepts of Western healing were divorced from a holistic framework,
mind, body and spirit. What did I earn? I earned student loans I’m still
trying to pay off. I cannot receive my degree until my student loans
are paid off. I’m fine with this.
Professors were learning from our discussions and carving many of
the contributions of Blacks and students of color into curriculums.
We recommended books, that were never institutionally embraced,
Books thought to threaten the status quo, instead of expanding the
education and knowledge of all parties. Focus continues to remain
on prevailing ideologies supporting suppression, oppression and
control. Classmates with no ties or interest in communities of color
desiring on graduation to counsel/save communities of color. Folk
never having engaged fellow classmates of color. Sounds like the
centuries old maternalism and paternalism.
Learning and implementing constructs that address, connect and
serve to dismantle paradigms of suppression and oppression.
Today, when there are so many disrespectful, insensitive and uncaring individuals it is a pleasure to be treated with respect and offers of kindnesses. I take no offense with being called ma’am. Nor am I offended when someone offers me a seat on a crowded bus or subway. I’ve experienced the opposite. It’s not a great feeling being shoved and nearly falling, by someone racing for a seat or standing when your body is practically ready to collapse. You will not get any votes from me in support of a truly disappointing article.
The appropriate response to all kindnesses is always a polite thank you, a kind smile or a polite refusal. If preferring to stand, just say so. Good manners in this day and time when it’s rare goes a long way with me. I was raised from a child to respect my elders, this includes offering a seat to an elder, a pregnant woman or someone obviously in need of a seat. I have no problem offering my seat or
opening a door for others. We help each other, is this not what caring humans do? When kindnesses are extended to me my response is always one of gratitude.
People feel wonderful when a kindness they offered is appreciated. Sometimes, they appear to stand taller. I’m a proud elder who embraces her age with joy, style, energy, vibrancy and grace. It shows in how I walk in the world.
The kindnesses this author speaks of have absolutely nothing to do with ageism and everything to do with respect, being raised with manners and caring for your fellow humanity. I’m grateful I qualify for reduce fare at the movies. Have you seen the price for tickets?I appreciate a restaurant special, reduced transportation fare and all benefits afforded me. There are many us who’ve worked all of our lives, now living on one third of our former incomes. Individuals who welcome this assistance, an assistance which supplements our income. Frankly, I’m disappointed by this lack of gratitude, author vanity and immaturity. Perhaps, this attitude is rooted in an ideology grounded in societal ageism, mythology of aging, obsession with youth and an indoctrinated accepted shame and fear of aging.
As creatives do we have a responsibility to address social justice? If so, what does it mean to be both artist and activist? What does this work look like and how does it impact our work, lives and communities? How does it impact our cultural and educational institutions? These are just some of the questions being asked, pondered and answered by artists. Clearly with our institutions under threat by the new administration we have much to ponder as we move forward.
Creating art under the new administration will surely test our resolve and demand commitment to addressing social justice. It will demand artists have the courage to address these attacks on our art and lives. Attacks threatening to silence our messages. Social justice art demands we not cower in the face of
these attacks and stand firmly in our support for the who are marginalized and disenfranchised. Understanding that we are in this together. There is the real possibility of being targeted, bullied, ostracized and boycotted. This is not a new concept , artists have encountered these since the beginning of time.
I’ll tell you what this movement does not need, that is stage activists. Activists on
stage, yet silent when off stage. Needed are artists activists on the ground in our communities doing the work, when the cameras are not flashing. Artists must
continue to be the light burning bright, encouraging and inspiring. Author and human rights activists James Baldwin said it best. “Artists are here to disturb the peace.” An illusionary peace rooted in injustice and privilege for the few.
Are you taking the needed time to self care? Do you feel as though you’re on an unending escalator unable to get off? Are you experiencing burnout, exhaustion, trauma or depression? Articles and discussions center on burnout, exhaustion, depression and stress. Depression and anxiety resulting from the state of this country’s affairs has become a norm. Many speak of skipping or forgetting to eat. Still others speak of having difficulty sleeping. It’s never okay to skip meals and not to sleep! Individuals traumatized by assaults on our humanity and well being by this administration. While, being vigilant we must take care to not allow these unrelenting poisonous assaults to inhabit our spirit and affect our well being. Whether living our daily lives or addressing social justice issues, we must take care to protect ourselves. Self care is not a sign of weakness. Healthy bodies cannot survive without care. We must do everything possible to protect our health. Self care demands that we step away from our activities to rest, re-energize, relax and return renewed. We cannot be of service to anyone, if we are not well ourselves. Self care is not an option!
Ways to Keep Healthy:
Do not isolate yourself.
Remember, there is still beauty and love in the world. Embrace it!
Do those things that bring you joy.
Surround yourself with those you love, like and respect.
Listen to music and sing along.
Pray and meditate. Keep your spirit and heart fed.
Take a break from social media and online debates.
Check in on each other.
Share a meal. Organize a potluck.
If physically able, take a walk and enjoy nature. Sit by the water.
Be still. Clear your mind. Repeat a mantra of your choosing.
In a crisis? Speak with a professional and/or someone you trust.
Are you an artist? Create.
Take a well deserved break. Have a me day.
Eat properly. Your body deserves good nutrition.
Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross, a pioneering black pediatrician, psychiatrist, prison monitor and mental health administrator, died on Jan. 16 in Manhattan. She was 80.
The cause was lung cancer, Elinor Tatum, her goddaughter and the publisher of The New York Amsterdam News, said.
Dr. Harrison-Ross was a ubiquitous presence in the mental health field in New York and nationally for more than 35 years. She was an early leader in designing rehabilitation and therapy for children with a combination of severe developmental, emotional and physical disabilities.
She was also at the forefront of promoting teleconferencing to bridge gaps between doctors and patients, and what is known as televisiting, to link inmates in prisons in rural parts of upstate New York to their families in New York City and other urban areas.
From 1973 to 1999, Dr. Harrison-Ross directed the Community Mental Health Center at Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem and was the hospital’s chief of psychiatry.
She helped form the New York City Federation of Mental Health,Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services in 1975; was president of the Black Psychiatrists of America from 1976 to 1978; and was chairwoman of the New York City Directors of Psychiatry in Municipal Hospitals in the late 1980s. In 2000, she founded the Black Psychiatrists of Greater New York & Associates.
Dr. Harrison-Ross served on President Richard M. Nixon’s National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse Prevention and the New York State Commission of Correction and was chairwoman of the commission’s Medical Review Board. She recently said that since 1976, she had reviewed the deaths of thousands of people in state and local custody.
After the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she mustered her colleagues to provide interfaith disaster services and became the volunteer president of All Healers Mental Health Alliance, which seeks to organize long-term responses to mental health needs that arise from natural and man-made disasters.
Dr. Harrison-Ross was also an emeritus professor of psychiatry and behavioral health services at the New York Medical College. She wrote numerous articles and two books: “Getting It Together,” a textbook for junior and senior high school students, and, with Barbara Wyden, “The Black Child: A Parents’ Guide.” Of “The Black Child,” The New York Times Book Review said, “Everyone can learn something from this book.”
Phyllis Anne Harrison was born on Aug. 14, 1936, in Detroit to Harold Jerome Harrison, a teacher who became deputy superintendent of the Detroit public school system, and the former Edna Smith, a social worker and professor at Wayne State University.
She was accepted to Albion College in Michigan when she was 15 and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1956. Three years later, she was the only black woman in the graduating class of Wayne State University’s College of Medicine.
Her husband, Edgar Lee Ross, died in 1996. No immediate family members survive.
Last July, she was featured in an article in The Times about issues facing older people when they move to smaller living quarters. She had lived in the same large apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for 48 years.
Dr. Harrison-Ross trained as a pediatrician and as a psychiatrist, interning at Bronx Municipal Hospital and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There she helped develop therapeutic programs for multiply handicapped preschool children at what is now known as the Rose F. Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. New York officials replicated the programs statewide.
In 2004, she received the American Psychiatric Association’s Solomon Carter Fuller Award for African-American Pioneers.
“Black women, in particular, are generally perceived to be stronger than most other groups. It’s a kind of stereotype that so many of us have bought into. “Never let them see you cry or sweat,” used to be my mantra. Nevermind that I needed to cry, that my heart was about as soft as they come, that my sensitivity was part of who I was authentically and was meant to be gift not the curse I’d made it out to be; that I’d allowed people to tell me it was. Janie, in Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Are Watching God” explained it like this: “Black women are the mules of the world.” Mules carry everything on their backs. As much as folks can pile on, a mule will hold it all steady and push that weight along the path. So many of us all too often carry not just our own weights but the weights of others. But because we do so wearing the flyest white coat a la Olivia Pope or huge, albeit fake, smiles, no one believes that we are hurting.”
Burnout has been described as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that results from constant or repeated emotional pressure associated with an intense, long-term involvement with people. It is characterized by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and by a negative view of self and negative attitudes toward work, life and other people. Jenaro, Flores, and Arias (2007)describe burnout as “an answer to chronic labor stress that is composed of negative attitudes and feelings toward coworkers and one’s job role, as well as feelings of emotional exhaustion” (p.80).
Mental Health Resources & Advocacy welcomes Carmel Mawle, Founder and President of Writing for Peace. In her 2015 Writing for Peace Progress Report Carmel Mawle shares Writing for Peace news, introduces new Writing for Peace Adviser Victoria Hanley, shares Victoria Hanley’s writing exercise Peace of Mind and answers the question, “How do you keep from getting burned out?”
Carmel Mawle, Founder and President of Writing for Peace
One of the questions I am most frequently asked by fellow activists is, “How do you keep from getting burned out?” I always struggle a bit with this one. Like many artists I know, I’ve never found a way to face the suffering of the oppressed, the groaning of this beautiful planet earth, without internalizing that pain. As activists, we have different burn-out thresholds, and our resilience may rise or fall depending on health or other stress factors. We do need to make decisions about energy expenditures, and be aware of those times when our reserves are low. But, if you are lucky enough to have an artform in which you can express that awareness, if you can take the pain and suffering of the world and create art with the intention of shaking the imperial foundations and corporate pillars, then you might have already learned one of the hidden joys of artivism – pour your heart and soul in, and it fills you up. Creation heals us and increases our capacity. As Kurt Vonnegut put it, “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.”
Writing for Peace was founded on the premise that the very act of writing is transformative. We experience that shift when we read, slipping into a character’s mind, like walking in another man’s moccasins, to think their thoughts, and understand their reasoning. Imagine how exponentially greater the transformative impact when we are creating the story, researching the environmental, familial, or political pressures crushing down on our characters, and imagining our way into their consciousness. This is empathy, the seed of compassion, and the foundation of a more peaceful world.
One of the coolest aspects of Writing for Peace is when we check in with our young writers a year later. We ask them how their writing is coming along, and where they see it going in the future. This year we also thought it would be interesting to ask a more philosophical question: What does “writing for peace” mean to you? The answers are always moving and inspiring. For those of us who need the periodic boost to the energy reservoir, it’s helpful to shift our focus to where something positive is happening. Here are some examples:
Writing for Peace holds a special place in my heart because it’s really the first time I had written a fictional piece that digs so deeply into the struggles and wonders of cultural identity. It gave me the valuable opportunity to think about what peace really means, and how to apply the concept to a cultural perspective. Writing for Peace was truly a catalyst for my passion for writing, and I am honored to have participated in it. One of the best things about it is that it is open to the entire world; anybody can submit a piece of writing, and anybody can be encouraged to explore our world’s cultural diversity. Some of the most inspirational world leaders have all started out writing pamphlets or articles for a certain cause because to them and to me, writing has always had the power to move minds. Writing for Peace can truly make future world leaders.
~ Angela Yoon, Grade 10, Gangnam-gu, Seoul-si, South Korea
The next major phase of my writing came in the form of college essays. I carried the same lessons I learned from Writing for Peace—incorporating personal examples, evoking pathos, and writing with passion—into my college essays. The consummation of my college writing/application process occurred when I was accepted into Cornell University, where I will be writing the next chapter of my life.
~ Ben Gershenfeld, Grade 11, Voorhees, New Jersey, USA
To me, the moment that I was silent with incredulity at the sight of my name on the award-winning essays of Writing for Peace Young Competition, was one of important milestones in my journey to become an international journalist. Writing For peace brings me a great deal of personal experiences and knowledge that at a certain extent dissolves my cultural preconception and at the same time boosts my self-confidence.
~ Yen Nguyen, Grade 10, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
I hope to continue to explore issues of current events and global citizenship through my writing. To me, Writing for Peace is a vessel for empathy between people who have little in common. It strives to break down barriers which we’ve erected over millennia, and I’m thrilled to be a small part of it.
~ Dash Yeatts-Lonske, Grade 10, Rockville, Maryland, USA
In the future, I plan to continue writing and using this art form as a mechanism for spreading messages of peace.
~John Vernaglia, Grade 8, Medford, Massachusetts, USA
When I talk with our readers and advisers, I hear it again and again, “These young writers give me hope.” I feel the same way. How can we not be inspired by young writers who maintain their optimism despite what might be an unprecedented awareness of global crisis? But hope is a two-way street, a reciprocal commodity. While their optimism may give us hope, our faith in these young writers, our commitment to educate, support, and lift them up, also gives them hope. In the words of Cassidy Cole:
Writing for Peace, and all that it stands for, is what this world needs in the light of peace, happiness, equality, and a more desirable place. Just the pure existence of an organization that aims to create compassion and peace through creative writing gives me easeful thoughts for our future. Writing for Peace gives me hope and I am utterly inspired by its vision and what the organization does. This organization is the light of not only what lays on the other side, but the light that guides all us writers there.
~ Cassidy Cole, Grade 8, Denver, Colorado, USA
All of our 2014 winners’ work is featured, along with works from many of our advisers, and other established and emerging artivists, in our “Nature” edition of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. This beautiful book will be released a week from this coming Friday, on May 1st. Watch our blog, website, and Facebook page for information on how you can purchase your copy, and support Writing for Peace.
Writing for Peace News
Victoria’s Writing Tips~
Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce our newest adviser, Victoria Hanley. Victoria is an award-winning author, known for her exciting young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as her nonfiction books dedicated to developing the craft of writing. Victoria has offered to provide bi-monthly writing tips for our young writers (and the rest of us). Thank you, and welcome to Writing for Peace, Victoria!
Writing Exercise for Peace of Mind
By Victoria Hanley
No one else will read what you’re about to write. This is because you need to know you can confide in yourself no matter what you have to say.
Write about something that’s troubling you. Let the emotion pour through you, and use your strongest verbs and most illuminating adjectives to describe how you feel and what’s going on. When you’re done, hit the delete key–or if you’ve written on paper, feed the page through a shredder or tear it up.
When at least two hours have passed, write again, and this time write anything that occurs to you that might be able to solve your problem.
Meet Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace Adviser
By studying fiction, I’ve learned that a good story is built around conflict. However, a good life is built around peace.
~ Victoria Hanley
Victoria Hanley spent years preparing for a writing career by holding as many contrasting jobs as possible, from baking bread to teaching anatomy and hosting radio shows. She’s lived in California, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Oregon, and Colorado, and traveled throughout North America via plane, train, bus, car, and bicycle. Who knew she’d be the author of 7 books published in 12 languages!
Victoria’s novels have won many honors and awards at home and abroad, and inspired two nonfiction writing books: Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, andWild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market. She teaches writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and at Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins.
Learn more about Victoria’s books, read her blog, download a free chapter of Wild Ink, and watch Victoria in action at www.victoriahanley.com.
Writing for Peace May Day Events
2015 DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts “Nature” Edition Book Release! Watch for news of the latest DoveTales, a truly extraordinary and beautiful edition of our annual journal.
2015 Young Writer Winners Announcements! Find out what our prestigious judges (Antonya Nelson, Fiction; Steve Almond, Nonfiction; and Stephen Kuusisto, Poetry) have to say about our talented young writers!
Carmel Mawle is the founder of Writing for Peace, and serves as president of the Board of Directors. Carmel Mawle lives in Colorado, where she and her family enjoy hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Carmel Mawle has an English Literature Degree from the University of Washington, and a varied career that includes piano instruction, as well as operating a martial arts school, teaching women’s self-defense, child safety awareness, and traditional Hayashi-Ha Shito Ryu Karate. She served as executive director of a youth orchestra, and as president of a chamber music organization.
Mawle’s work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly Review, Contemporary World Literature, SPACES Literary Magazine, and Rocky Mountain Scribe Anthology. Her Pushcart nominated story, The Calisia, is forthcoming in KNOT Literary Magazine.
She is a member of the Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop, where she is focusing on completing her first novel.
Links and Posts By Carmel Mawle:
Jamila, a short story featured in Smokelong Quarterly.
Janet Mock has written a memoir of her life journey in Redefining Realness, My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. Janet Mock has invited her readers into her life sharing detailed descriptions of childhood, puberty and teen years. Her story is shared with dignity, honesty and scholarship. Ms. Mock provides a wealth of information. Information which destroys prevailing societal transsexual mythology.
She shares what it is to live daily in a body you do not believe nor accept as your truth spiritually, psychologically, emotionally and physically. Ms. Mock does not paint herself as some tragic heroine but as an individual who knows who she is, was born to be. This is a book based on Ms. Mock’s experiences. Who can better tell one’s story than the person who has and is living it? This is not a book fueled by tantalizing sensationalism. This is a text whose purpose is to enlighten. Ms. Mock continues to be embraced by many communities. However, it is the Black community who has and continues to champion her. The Black community sees her as a symbol of advocacy for equality, human and civil rights.
Janet Mock shares the politics and criminalization surrounding transsexual sex workers. In doing so we see the human being not a societal fantasy imagined and draped in judgement, racism and prejudice. She also shares perceptions of society’s heterosexual hierarchy. The belief that transsexuals specifically trans women are less than She goes on to provide statistical data of harassment, assaults and deaths of trans women. Trans women of color being the major targets and victims of these threats, assaults and deaths.
There has been conversations centered around competition between cis women and trans women. I’d like to dispel this myth. Cis women are not enemies of trans women and vice-versa.This is not and never has been a competition. Women whether lesbian, heterosexual, queer or trans are in a united fight for equality, and it’s crucial all women remain supportive of each other, especially women of color. Why? Because women of color specifically Black women remain the media and societal targets of misogynists. Males believing erroneously that Black women and women of color are easy targets and will not respond to their misogyny.