empowerment

Overcoming Challenges and Model Victory

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Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.
— Benjamin Franklin, American inventor and politician

Because of the cycle of riotous and addicted behavior this family has received a second chance to be consumers and tax payers leaders of their family and models within their communities. Mother’s have been reunited to children and grand children, fathers to son’s and various companies that these individuals are associated with are getting a honest individual that is very assiduous in work ethics.

Bad habits have been broken due to the model of these individuals. They used the skills given while within community of one another. Skills like:  
1.Change the environment to change your behavior 
2. Learn new behavior (using models, self-instructions)
3. Using controlling or conditioned response 
4. Relapse prevention 
5. Motivation training–increasing our drive level 
6. Meet basic needs (so they won’t get in the way) 
7. Recognize your motives and defense mechanisms

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

I am still learning to walk the faith I profess to have and I am still learning to be a good christian witness. The challenges I face on a daily bases alone rocks my foundation. Keeping the love of Christ and His admonishments from scripture help me daily to face my challenges as a rooted christian. Having been delivered from adverse conditions of temptation and foul living I pride myself on being committed to what so many others find boring. Being a christian is fun when you get in service and fellowship.

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Christians living in modern American society face many challenges to their values and lifestyle. One of the biggest of these challenges is maintaining their Christian values while being continuously bombarded by worldly values found in secular music, movies, television programs, magazines, and advertising.
The way Christians can overcome this challenge without losing their values is found in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
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As Christians read the Scriptures to learn God’s principles to base their life on and ask the Holy Spirit to give them the power to apply these principles to their daily lives, they will be transformed away from worldly values and their minds will be renewed with spiritual values.
Another way for Christians to have their minds renewed is by listening to good Christian music while they are travelling in their car or in their homes. As they listen to songs praising God, it lifts their spirits, renews their minds and attitudes, and reduces their daily stress.
Another challenge that Christians face is the need to be part of society and have fun with their friends while still maintaining their Christian values and lifestyle. This challenge can be overcome by having fun in social activities within Christian groups. Many Christian churches have social activities that are fun and meaningful for people of all ages, such as: Christian movie nights, social dinners, Christian music concerts, sporting events, Bible study groups, and prayer support groups.
The third challenge that Christians face is maintaining their Christian values while going through the secular public education system which teaches values and principles that often conflict with Christian values and principles. The way for Christians to overcome this challenge is for them to have been taught Christian principles based on the Scriptures so well that when they hear something that conflicts with these principles, they will know the difference and then be able to discuss this with their teacher, parent, or church worker.
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There are some parents who deal with the challenge of secular public education by making great sacrifices in order to be able to send their children to Christian schools so they get taught Christian principles as a foundation that will last them a lifetime.
Although there are other challenges that Christians will face in their life in modern society, these can also be overcome by using the power of the Holy Spirit to apply Scriptural principles to overcome every challenge or problem that comes their way.

Adversity Is A Blessing

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There’s nothing as exciting as a comeback – seeing someone with dreams, watching them fail, and then getting a second chance.

Rachel Griffiths

This slideshow shows God’s power. May and I have been given everything over again from the drapes to pictures to couches and tables and cars. We have been blessed with community and several church families that love us and we love them. Our family who once had written us off has been restored as well. But the vision of acquiring a business that will help us perform the ministry of reconciliation for a targeted species that we ourselves know all too well is what “Second Chance Alliance” is all about. The building is in sight and the hope is flourishing, however the funds are still so far out of reach. Please pray with us and believe for us that this vision will one day soon become a reality in-order  for us to perform our mission statement- “Empowering Felons to rebuild themselves and their lives” …as we have . Click the link below to view our passion and dream.

 

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

While nobody enjoys trials, in God’s loving hands, they are tools for our improvement.

When it comes to adversity, none of us are immune. We have all experienced the heartache, pressure, and anguish caused by hardships. Whatever form our trials may take—whether sickness, financial problems, animosity, rejection, bitterness, or anger—we tend to consider them “setbacks” in our life. God, however, has a different perspective. He views adversity as a way, not to hinder the saints, but to advance their spiritual growth.

When facing tribulation, we often wonder where it came from. Is this my own doing? Is this from Satan? Or is this from you, Lord? Regardless of the specific source, ultimately all adversity that touches a believer’s life must first be sifted through the permissive will of God. That is not to say everything coming your way is the Lord’s will. But God allows everything that occurs because He sees how even adversity will fit into His wonderful purpose for your life. ( Romans 8:28)

According to Isaiah 55:8-9, God’s thoughts are higher than ours, so we cannot expect to understand all that He is doing. He oftentimes takes the most painful experiences of adversity and uses them to prepare us for what lies ahead. God wants us to regard our struggles the way He does so that we won’t be disillusioned. Therefore, far more important than determining the source of our adversity is learning how to respond properly.

Consider Joseph, one of the very few people in the Bible about whom there is nothing negative, but whose life is characterized only by adversity. It is interesting to note Scripture says that God was prospering Joseph in the midst of his affliction—even in a foreign jail! Every trial was part of God’s equipping Joseph to become the savior of Egypt and also the savior of his own family, who would later journey there to avoid starvation.

The Bible reveals a number of reasons that the Lord allows difficulties in our life. As we begin to comprehend His purposes, we can learn to react in ways that will strengthen rather than discourage us.

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ONE OF GOD’S PRIMARY PURPOSES FOR ADVERSITY IS TO GET OUR ATTENTION.

He knows when we are frozen in anger and bitterness or set on doing something our own way. He may allow adversity to sweep us off our feet. When we stand before God, stripped of our pride and self-reliance, He has our complete attention.

Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul, had to learn a lesson this way. Proud and egotistical, he was doing everything he could to rid this earth of Christians. Then God struck him blind. Lying on the Damascus Road, Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5) God had totally captured his attention. At the time, it must have seemed like a screeching halt to his life’s work; in actuality, it was the beginning of an extraordinary preaching career.

ANOTHER WAY GOD USES ADVERSITY IS TO REMIND US OF HIS GREAT LOVE FOR US.

Let me ask you: If you moved out of God’s will into sin, and He just let you go that way, would that be an expression of love? Of course not. He loves us too much to let us get by with disobedience.

The Bible realistically agrees that “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful!” (Hebrews 12:11 nlt) We can all say “Amen!” to that. But just as we lovingly discipline our children to protect them from developing harmful patterns in thinking and behavior, so our heavenly Father trains us by discipline in order to bring about “a quiet harvest of right living.”

Hebrews 12:5-6 says: “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes those He accepts as His children” (nlt). If you are without discipline—which is correction in love—you are an illegitimate child, and not one of God’s own. So if you are experiencing adversity, allow it to be a reminder of God’s great love for you.

A THIRD REASON GOD SENDS ADVERSITY IS FOR SELF-EXAMINATION.

When God allowed Satan to buffet Paul with a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), the apostle prayed three times for its removal. In the process, Paul certainly must have searched his own heart, asking the Lord, “Is there sin in my life? Is my attitude right?” When we encounter adversity, we would also do well to ask, Am I in God’s will, doing what He wants me to do?

Perhaps you’ve done that and confessed any known sin, but the adversity persists. God deals not only with acts of transgression, but also with pre-programmed attitudes from youth. For many believers, it isn’t a matter of overt sin or not loving the Lord, but something from the past that may be stunting spiritual growth.

To deal with “roots” —like self-esteem, attitudes toward others, and even misguided opinions about God’s capabilities—the Lord sends adversity intensely enough to cause deeper examination than usual. He wants us to ask: What fears, frustrations, and suffering from childhood are still affecting or driving me? Is an old perfectionism or grudge destroying me? Did a comment cause feelings of rejection or worthlessness? An attitude lying dormant for years may be hindering progress. Recognize in your adversity God’s loving desire to help you reach your spiritual potential.

A FOURTH PURPOSE GOD HAS FOR ADVERSITY IS TO TEACH US TO HATE EVIL AS HE DOES.

Satan sells his sin program by promising pleasure, freedom, and fulfillment, but he doesn’t tell you about the “interest charges.” The truth is, “Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7)—and he reaps later than he sows and more than he sows.

People once trapped by drugs, alcohol, or sexual indulgence, but now freed by God, will speak of their hatred for the sin. Because of the suffering, helplessness, and hopelessness they experienced, they have learned to despise the very thing they at one time desired. David agrees: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray” (Ps. 119:67). If we could learn to anticipate sin’s ongoing and future consequences, our lives would be far more holy and healthy.

As parents, we need to level with our children about our failures. There is no such thing as a perfect father or mother, and pretending to have no faults is detrimental. Our children need to understand that God allows adversity for their protection. We should be candid about our weaknesses and clearly explain sin’s effect, Satan’s desires, and God’s solution. Warn them by explaining how you responded to sin in your own life, and how they can avoid it in theirs. Your children will be blessed by your honesty.

A FIFTH REASON GOD SENDS ADVERSITY IS TO CAUSE US TO RE-EVALUATE OUR PRIORITIES.

We can become workaholics, exhausting ourselves and ignoring our children until it’s too late. Or, we can get so enamored of material things that we neglect the spiritual. So what happens? The Lord will do away with the things that dislocate our priorities.

God doesn’t initiate family breakdowns, but when He sees us neglecting His precious gifts or focusing in the wrong place, He may send a “breeze” of adversity as a reminder to check priorities. If the warning goes unheeded, however, a hurricane may be in the forecast. Then, if we persist in ignoring the intensifying storm, it’s as if He withdraws His hand and lets the adversity run its full course.

For example, many women work hard to balance career and motherhood. There are inevitable points of conflict between the two, which can serve as cautionary breezes. But if priorities are misaligned, and moving up the corporate ladder becomes the exclusive goal, a whirlwind of adversity may be approaching. Don’t choose the world over your family, or they may decide to let you have your way.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT PURPOSE FOR ADVERSITY IS TO TEST OUR WORKS.

God already knew the outcome when He told Abraham to sacrifice his son. His purpose was not to discover what the response would be, but to show the patriarch where he was in his obedient walk of faith. When Abraham came off that mountain, not only did he know more about God than ever before; he also understood more about himself spiritually.

Besides that, Isaac, more than likely, never forgot the experience! Children often remember things we do not expect—things far deeper than the externals. More than the sight of that pointed dagger, Isaac remembered that he had a father whose obedience to God knew no boundaries.

So when God sends adversity to test us, does our family watch us buckle, or do they see us standing strong in faith, trusting the Lord to teach us, strengthen us, and bring good from the circumstance? Remember that our response carries a weighty influence for good or for evil in the lives of those who love us most.

As you face hardship, keep in mind that its intensity will not exceed your capacity to bear it. God NEVER sends adversity into your life to break your spirit or destroy you. If you respond improperly, you can destroy yourself, but God’s purpose is always to bless, to strengthen, to encourage, and to bring you to the maximum of your potential.

Disenfranchisement Of Black America: The New It- Felon Not Negro(G80964)

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About 371,000 German soldiers were held in American prisons until 1946. That they, above all in the southern states, were treated better than black workers, gave the growing civil rights movement a powerful weapon.
http://youtu.be/8vZzFwR4rVE

In contrast, American soldiers and civilians often described the German POWs as “magnificent physical specimens,” “physically supreme, muscular types” or “fine specimens of physical manhood.” The prisoners from Africa especially attracted attention and admiration. For a man from Texas, the Germans were “just the best bunch of boys you ever saw,” while a reporter who visited Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, confessed that he found them “uniformly neat, excessively polite, splendidly disciplined, these young men are – frankly – hard to dislike.”

Americans who employed POWs often shared this feeling. Most Germans worked in agriculture, canning, logging and lumber where the war had created a shortage of reliable unskilled labor. Many of these jobs had been traditionally performed by black Americans who were no longer available in sufficient numbers, despite substantial efforts to restrict their mobility or defer their induction. The German POWs filled this gap and grateful employers often showed their appreciation in various forms. Some even invited them to restaurants or into their own homes. The Inspector General’s Department was not pleased and wrote in a March 1945 report: “The average employer and his foremen, learning that the German prisoner of war, except for ideological concepts, is in general little different from the rank and file of our own soldiers, are apt to become overly friendly and solicitous of the prisoner of war’s welfare.”

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The vast majority of POWs were interned in the South or border States where they often worked next to black Americans in the fields and factories. The availability of POW labor kept the wages for blacks at a low level and also had “rather a good effect on some of our sorry Negro labor by tending to keep them on the job better,” as one employer from Alabama put it.

Nevertheless, the German POWs reported almost uniformly that the African Americans treated them friendly and regarded them as “prisoners like us.”

“We were their fellow-sufferers,” one former POW recalled. “Bad time, prisoner time.” For the moment, the joint “underdog” status was more important than the racial divide. POWs and black Americans shared stories, songs, food and drink, and many Germans came to regard the blacks as the anti-thesis of white, soulless, capitalist America – the “land without a heart.”

While black Americans frequently clashed with Italian prisoners of war who enjoyed greater freedom than their former German allies, there is little evidence of direct tension between Germans and black Americans. However, black American soldiers frequently contrasted the treatment of German POWs with their own treatment and reported in countless letters that “there are German prisoners here and they live better than we do.”

Although not all of these reports were accurate, German POWs often did enjoy better treatment and more rights, such as access to “whites only” facilities. The fact that “Nazi prisoners” were given access to restaurants or railway compartments off-limits to black American soldiers provided the growing civil rights movement in the United States with a powerful weapon.

Racial discrimination also limited the effectiveness of the reeducation program for the German POWs. The program, which started in 1944, tried to turn the prisoners into democrats “by presenting to them in so far as is possible under the circumstances the best aspects of American life and institutions.” Some POWs responded by contrasting American values with the treatment of black Americans. However, the majority of them were more concerned with when they would be allowed to return home.

The Americans created the impression that participation in the reeducation program would lead to quicker repatriation but this was not true. The first to return to Germany were “useless” prisoners and “troublemakers,” i.e. unrepentant Nazis. The last regular shipment of German POWs left the United States on July 22, 1946 of which around 178,000 of the POWs were handed over to Great Britain and France as workers. For the prisoners, this was a “modern slave trade on the grandest scale.” Some of them had to endure over two more years of captivity and forced labor.

To “disenfranchise,” typically defined in any basic dictionary, is to deprive of civil privileges, rights of citizenship or constitutional rights, especially the right to vote. Within a colonial administrative or nation-state context, disenfranchisement is an active process by which the colonizing power, state or state-sanctioned institutions deny colonial subjects or citizens basic rights.

To borrow the title from John Gaventa’s book (1982),disenfranchisement includes dynamics of “Power and Powerlessness.” American ethnic minorities can tell a variety of stories about disenfranchisement and struggles against disenfranchisement for civil rights. This is especially true for Native Americans and Black Americans.

To what degree do the more recent experiences of black American felon’s resemble the historical experiences of actual slavery and Black Americans? In order for disenfranchisement to occur and then be maintained or sustained, the colonizer, enslaver, invader, or the usurping power has to create and disseminate a story or ideological justification. Renowned scholars like Pierre Bourdieu, Antonio Gramsci, and Edward Said have contributed to and inspired a vast literature on ideological hegemonic dynamics (Bourdieu and Johnson 1993, Gramsci 1971, Said 1994). This presentation borrows briefly from the work of Bourdieu but focuses more upon the claims of John Gaventa. Political Sociologist, John Gaventa, reveals how ideological justification is forged through a “mobilization of bias” during which the usurping power asserts, imposes, and legitimizes cultural hegemony (Gaventa 1982). Another way of looking at this may be through the concept of symbolic violence. Symbolic violence, as defined by Bourdieu , refers to the ability of a dominant group to impose it symbols upon
others not through physical violence but through cultural domination, the control of ideas, images,standards, icons, and so on (Bourdieu 1977, Wacquant 1993). This ideological control becomes so pervasive and taken-for-granted that both dominant and disenfranchised group members internalize or accept these symbols as legitimate. Organizations, corporations, colonial administrations,governments, government-based institutions (including school systems), are just a short list of the entities that often engage in symbolic violence. Over time, the control of ideas, images, and symbols may become so taken-for-granted that, as argued by Gaventa, inequities become non-issues. Allow me to repeat, grave inequities such as land dispossession, dehumanization, enslavement, and apartheid eventually become non-issues. Inequities become non-issues!

So, according to Gaventa (as well as Bourdieu), what are the procedural dimensions of power and powerlessness by which a dominant ideology is imposed and, then, grave inequities become nonissues? Well, disenfranchisement and other forms of disempowerment may involve the following three levels or dimensions of power (Gaventa 1982):

1. The ability of a powerful entity (e.g., organization, corporation, government, colonial administration, executive or congressional or parliamentary power) to force someone or some group to act against their will. This level of power often involves physical force and observable conflict.
2. The ability of a powerful entity to set the agenda or “rules of the game” and thereby mobilize bias in its favor in some political arena. At this level of power, a powerful entity constructs barriers that prevent a disempowered group from participating in a political process.
3. The ability of a powerful entity to shape individual and group consciousness through the control of ideals, information, ideologies, myths, and so on. It is at this level of symbolic power (also known as symbolic violence) that a powerful entity has legitimized its ideals, symbols, and ideologies and de-legitimized or destroyed those of disempowered groups.The concepts of “mobilization of bias” and “symbolic violence” illuminate the stages through which inequities become non-issues. Also, during processes of disenfranchisement, the powerful are able to successfully characterize and treat the disempowered as a “thing” or as an “it”, in other words, as a less than human object instead of a complex human subject.

♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫
“Doe,” deer, a female deer…
“Ray,” a drop of golden sun…
“Me,” a name I call myself…
“ME,” A NAME I CALL MYSELF!
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“Me” to “It” Disenfranchisement has many consequences. In addition to issues becoming non-issues, another consequence is that an individual or group is de-evolved from a subject to an object, from a “’Me’ a name I call myself” to an “’It’ a thing I am called by others.” As mentioned above, disenfranchised groups become known not by what they call themselves but by what they are called by the colonizer, conqueror, or some other powerful entity.

Back to the ideological justification or the story created by powerful entities to justify disenfranchisement. For Native Americans, the story has changed over time as British colonizers, then U.S. state and federal governments have justified disenfranchisement. During pre- and early colonial times and prior to disenfranchisement, Native Americans appeared in romanticized Enlightenment stories as noble savages. This was also an image held by Thomas Jefferson in the late 1700s.

Also, prior to European contact, many Native Americans did not describe themselves as “Indians” who belonged to mere “tribes” but as “The People” who belonged to Nations, Bands & Clans, Pueblo City States, Confederacies, and so on.

This story would give way to stories about “Indians” as non-Christian “heathens” to stories about them as “wild animals,” “savage redmen” or “blood thirsty savages” to modern day stories of American Indians as “wards of the State” and “drunken Injuns/Indians”. For Black Americans the story has also changed overtime. Prior to enslavement, those West
Africans who would become victims of the slave trade included Arabic scholars, merchants, craftsmen, peasant farmers and cattle-tenders.

The reality that enslaved Africans were diverse and complex, would change to colonial American stories of Blacks as “uncivilized heathens” to early American stories about them as “childlike” beings that were more like chattel or property than human beings to stories about them as “pack animals,” “niggers,” and rapists of white women to more modern day stories of Blacks as “criminals,” “thugs,” and “welfare queens”.

In other words, the enslaver or colonizer creates dehumanizing stories to justify the inhumane treatment of disenfranchised peoples. Gaventa argues that ultimate power exists when the powerless are made to appear quiescent or apathetic despite their history of resistance and/or when the usurping power can manipulate policies, symbols, and ideologies to the extent that inequities experienced by the disenfranchised appear to be non-issues.

Grave Inequities Become Non-Issues It is important to understand that Native and Black Americans are not dehumanized into “objectified it-things” overnight but through processes of disenfranchisement and domination carried out from the first to the third levels of disempowerment listed above. At the first level of disempowerment Native and Black Americans were forced to act against their will through such events as colonization and/or enslavement, war, land dispossession,
forced migration, apartheid, and ghettoization.

Then, at the second level of disempowerment, colonial powers and then the U.S. government were able to mobilize bias against Native and Black Americans. It is during this second level that the powerful entities excluded Natives and Blacks from the political process and set the rules of the game through various types of discrimination institutionalized in Congressional Legislation, Supreme Court decisions, presidential practices, codes, and military actions.

Then, by the third level of disempowerment the control of ideals and information is so pervasive that Native and Black Americans are known more by the labels given them by dehumanizing entities than by the names they once called themselves. Even worse, some Native and Black Americans internalize dehumanizing labels. This is the level where symbolic violence is most pervasive and insidious. I here see the plight of credit checks, background checks, and all other planned criterions’ as sifting tools to disqualify a race of people. None of which is a new thing in and of itself, but it is unique in itself because of the mask and techniques implemented to set order for the new slaughter of underpowered people.

The Trial of our Faith

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Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.

Grenville Kleiser

Psalms 46
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

In this time of trial we need to be encouraged and comforted by one another. The temptations of Satan are greater now than ever before, for he knows that his time is short and that very soon every case will be decided, either for life or for death. It is no time now to sink down beneath discouragement and trial; we must bear up under all our afflictions and trust wholly in the Almighty God of Jacob. The Lord has shown me that His grace is sufficient for all our trials; and although they are greater than ever before, yet if we trust wholly in God, we can overcome every temptation and through His grace come off victorious.

If we overcome our trials and get victory over the temptations of Satan, then we endure the trial of our faith, which is more precious than gold, and are stronger and better prepared to meet the next. But if we sink down and give way to the temptations of Satan, we shall grow weaker and get no reward for the trial and shall not be so well prepared for the next. In this way we shall grow weaker and weaker, until we are led captive by Satan at his will. We must have on the whole armor of God and be ready at any moment for a conflict with the powers of darkness. When temptations and trials rush in upon us, let us go to God and agonize with Him in prayer. He will not turn us away empty, but will give us grace and strength to overcome, and to break the power of the enemy. Oh, that all could see these things in their true light and endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus! Then would Israel move forward, strong in God, and in the power of His might.

God has shown me that He gave His people a bitter cup to drink, to purify and cleanse them. It is a bitter draught, and they can make it still more bitter by murmuring, complaining, and repining. But those who receive it thus must have another draught, for the first does not have its designed effect upon the heart. And if the second does not effect the work, then they must have another, and another, until it does have its designed effect, or they will be left filthy, impure in heart. I saw that this bitter cup can be sweetened by patience, endurance, and prayer, and that it will have its designed effect upon the hearts of those who thus receive it, and God will be honored and glorified. It is no small thing to be a Christian and to be owned and approved of God. The Lord has shown me some who profess the present truth, whose lives do not correspond with their profession. They have the standard of piety altogether too low, and they come far short of Bible holiness. Some engage in vain and unbecoming conversation, and others give way to the risings of self. We must not expect to please ourselves, live and act like the world, have its pleasures, and enjoy the company of those who are of the world, and reign with Christ in glory.

We must be partakers of Christ’s sufferings here if we would share in His glory hereafter. If we seek our own interest, how we can best please ourselves, instead of seeking to please God and advance His precious, suffering cause, we shall dishonor God and the holy cause we profess to love. We have but a little space of time left in which to work for God. Nothing should be too dear to sacrifice for the salvation of the scattered and torn flock of Jesus. Those who make a covenant with God by sacrifice now will soon be gathered home to share a rich reward and possess the new kingdom forever and ever.

Oh, let us live wholly for the Lord and show by a well-ordered life and godly conversation that we have been with Jesus and are His meek and lowly followers. We must work while the day lasts, for when the dark night of trouble and anguish comes, it will be too late to work for God. Jesus is in His holy temple and will now accept our sacrifices, our prayers, and our confessions of faults and sins and will pardon all the transgressions of Israel, that they may be blotted out before He leaves the sanctuary. When Jesus leaves the sanctuary, then they who are holy and righteous will be holy and righteous still; for all their sins will then be blotted out, and they will be sealed with the seal of the living God. But those that are unjust and filthy will be unjust and filthy still; for then there will be no Priest in the sanctuary to offer their sacrifices, their confessions, and their prayers before the Father’s throne. Therefore what is done to rescue souls from the coming storm of wrath must be done before Jesus leaves the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary.

Black woman empowerment / Sadie and Maude

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We can say “Peace on Earth.” We can sing about it, preach about it or pray about it, but if we have not internalized the mythology to make it happen inside us, then it will not be. -Betty Shabazz

All great achievements require time. -Maya Angelou

Some subjects are so complex, so unyielding of facile insight, that it will not do to think about them in the ordinary way. Black women, their lot and their future-is for me such a subject. Thus, the new crop of literature concerning women – attuned to the peculiar relationship between white women and white men in America – has inspired me much, but less than the poetry of the great black poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, who writes for me and about me. Take, for example Miss Brooks’ poem, “Sadie and Maude,” * a sad ballad that in a few stanzas touches in some intimate respect all of us who are black women:

Maude went to college.
Sadie stayed at home.
Sadie scraped life
With a fine-tooth comb.
She didn’t leave a tangle in.
Her comb found every strand.
Sadie was one of the livingest chits
In all the land.

Sadie bore two babies
Under her maiden name.
Maude and Ma and Papa
Nearly died of shame.

When Sadie said last so-long
Her girls struck out from home.
(Sadie had left as heritage
Her fine-tooth comb.)

Maude, who went to college,
Is a thin brown mouse.
She is living all alone
In this old house.

*Gwendolyn Brooks, Selected Poems, Harper & Row, N.Y. 1963

Sadie and Maude are blood sisters, each in her own way living the unrequited life of the black woman. Sadie has two children out wedlock, but the Sadies of this world also include black women who have been married but have lost their husbands in America’s wars against the black family. Maude “went to college” – or wherever black women have gone over the years to escape the perils of living the nearly predestined half-life of the black woman in this country. Maude, the “thin brown mouse” lives alone rather than incur Sadie’s risks or risk Sadie’s pleasures.

The difference in the lives of those two women cannot conceal the over-riding problem they share – loneliness, life lacking in the chance to develop a relationship with a man or satisfactory family relationships. The complexities of the problems facing black women begin to unfold. Not on1y must we work out an unoppressive relationship with our men; we must – we can at last – establish a relationship with them de novo.

In this respect, we conceive our mission in terms that are often different from the expressed goals of many white women revolutionaries. To be sure, our goals and theirs in their general outlines are same, but black women confront a task that is as delicate as it is revolutionary. For black women are part of a pre-imminent struggle whose time has come – the fight for black liberation. If women were suddenly to achieve equality with men tomorrow, black women would continue to carry the entire array of utterly oppressive handicaps associated with race. Racial oppression of black people in America has done what neither class oppression nor sexual oppression, with all their perniciousness, have ever done: destroyed an entire people and their culture. The difference is between exploitation and slavery. Slavery partakes of all the worst excesses of exploitation – and more – but exploitation does not always sink to the miserable depths of slavery.

Yet black women cannot – must not – avoid the truth about their special subservience. They are women with all that that implies. If some have been forced into roles as providers or, out of the insecurity associated with being a black woman alone, have dared not develop independence, the result is not that black women are today liberated women. For they have been “liberated” only from love, from family life, from meaningful work, and just as often from the basic comforts and necessities of an ordinary existence. There is neither power nor satisfaction in such a “matriarchy.” There is only the bitter knowledge that one is a victim.

Still the stereotypic image of matriarchy has basic appeal to some black men who, in their frustration may not see immediately the counter-revolutionary nature of such a battle cry. To allow the white oppressor to share the burden of his responsibility with the black woman is madness. It is comparable to black people blaming Puerto Ricans for competing with them for jobs, thus relieving the government of the pressures it must have to fulfill its duty to provide full employment. Surely, after hundreds of years black men realize that imprecision in detecting the Enemy is an inexcusable fault in a revolutionary.

But our problems only begin with the reconstruction of the black family. As black men begin to find dignified work after so many generations, what roles will their women seek? Are black people to reject so many of white society’s values only to accept its view of woman and of the family? At the moment when the white family is caught in a maze of neurotic contradictions, and white women are supremely frustrated with their roles, are black women to take up such troubled models? Shall black women exchange their ancient insecurity for the white woman’s familial cocoon? Can it serve us any better than it has served them? And how will it serve black men?

There is no reason to repeat bad history. There is no reason to envy the white woman who is sinking in a sea of close-quartered affluence, where one’s world is one’s house, one’s peers one’s children, and one’s employer one’s husband. Black women shall not have gained if Sadie and Maude exchange the “fine-tooth comb” and the “old house” for the empty treasures white women are today trying to turn in.

We who are black have a chance for something better. Europeans who came to this country struggled to be accepted by it and succeeded. Occasionally they changed America – for the better and for the worse – but mostly they took it as it was, hoping it would change them. Black people imitated this process pitifully, generation after generation, but were just so much oil on all that melting pot water. Today we are close to being true outsiders, no longer desiring to get in on any terms and at any cost. Racial exclusion has borne ironic fruit. We are perhaps the only group that has come to these shores who has ever acquired the chance to consciously avoid total Americanization with its inherent, its rank faults. On the road to equality there is no better place for blacks to detour around American values than in foregoing its example in the treatment of its women and the organization of its family life.

With black family life so clearly undermined in the American environment, blacks must remake the family unit, not imitate it. Indeed, this task is central to black liberation. The black male will not be returned to his historic strength – the foremost task of the black struggle today – if we do not recreate the strong family unit that was a part of our African heritage before it was dismembered by the slave-owning class in America. But it will be impossible to reconstruct the black family if its central characters are to be crepe paper copies acting out the old white family melodrama. In that failing production, the characters seem set upon a course precisely opposite to ours. White men in search of endless financial security have sold their spirits to that goal and begun a steady emasculation in which the fiscal needs of wife and family determine life’s values and goals. Their now ungrateful wives have begun to see the fraud of this way of life, even while eagerly devouring its fruits. Their even more ungrateful children are in bitter rejection of all that this sort of life signifies and produces. White family life in America today is less than a poor model for blacks. White family life is disintegrating at the moment when we must reforge the black family unit. The whole business of the white family – its softened men, its frustrated women, its angry children – is in a state of great mess.

But it would be naive to think that the temptations aspects of this sort of life are incapable of luring black people into a disastrous mockery. The ingredients are all there. We are a people in search of what for us has been the interminably elusive goal of economic security. Wretchedly poor for 350 years in a country where most groups have fattened, we could come to see the pain of much of white family life as bearable when measured against the tortures we have borne. Our men, deliberately emasculated as the only way to enforce their servile status, might easily be tempted by a family structure which, by making them the financial head of the household, seemed to make them its actual head. In our desperation to escape so many suffering decades, we might trip down the worn path taken by so many in America before us.

If we are to avoid this disaster, the best, perhaps the only, place to begin is in our conception of the black woman. After all, the immediate tasks of the black man are laid out for him. It is the future role of the black woman that is problematical. And what she is allowed to become – or relegated to – will shape not simply her future but that of the black family and the fate of its members.

If she is forced into the current white model, she is doomed to the fate of the “Empty Woman” about whom Miss Brooks has also written:

“The empty woman had hats
To show. With feathers. Wore combs
In polished waves. Wooed cats.”
If so she will be unfit for the onerous responsibilities she must meet if the struggle for black freedom is to bring us out of our ancient bondage into a truly new and liberated condition.

In any case it is too late for any group to consciously revert to old familial patterns of male dominance and female servility. Those roles have their roots in conditions of life that are rapidly disappearing, and especially so in this country. If the woman’s place has historically been at home, it was at least in part because there was much work to be done there, and as the natural custodian of the children, it seemed logical for her to do it. But today there is neither so much work to be done there, nor so many children. Doitall appliances and technology are making housework a parttime job, freeing millions of women to do something else. An increasing array of birth preventatives has released women from the unwanted multiples of children it was difficult to avoid in the past. The effect on the family of these work and child liberating phenomena will reverberate in ways we still cannot foresee.

Yet it is certain that the institution of the family will under”: radical alteration largely through the new roles women will have to seek. With birth preventatives and with world overpopulation, many couples will rethink whether it is wise to have children at all. And even though most may choose to have children, it is doubtful that it will any longer be Prestigious or wise to have very many. With children no longer the universally accepted reason for marriage, marriages are going to have to exist on their own merits. Marriages are going to have to exist because they possess inherent qualities which make them worthy of existing, a plane to which the institution has never before been elevated. For marriage to develop such inherent qualities, the woman partner heretofore oriented toward fulfilling now outmoded functions will have to seek new functions. Whether black or white, if American women are to find themselves, they must begin looking outside the home. This will undoubtedly lead them into doing and thinking about matters now pretty much reserved for men. Inevitably, women are going to acquire new goals and a new status.

We who are black are taking up the longdelayed work of familybuilding at an historic moment in history. We embark upon this goal at a time when the family institution in America is in a state of great flux. This is fortunate happenstance, for had we been about this task in the years immediately following World War II, we might have fallen into the mold which today traps white families, and especially white women.

As it is, we have a chance to pioneer in forging new relationships between men and women. We have a chance to make family life a liberating experience instead of the confining experience it more often has been.

We have a chance to free woman and with her the rest of us.

Black Women and the Struggle for Liberation

In the early part of the sixties, social scientists became more and more interested in the family structure of blacks. Unemployment and so called crime among Blacks was increasing and some of these “scientists” decided that the problems of the Black community were caused by the family pattern among Black people. Since Blacks were deviating from the “norm” more female heads of households, higher unemployment, more school “dropouts” these pseudoscientists claimed that the way to solve these problems was to build up a more stable Black family in accord with the American patriarchal pattern.

In 1965, the U.S. government published a booklet entitled “The Negro Family The Case for National Action.” The author (U.S. Dept. of Labor) stated, “In essence, the Negro community has been forced into a matriarcal structure which, because it is so out of line with the rest of American society, seriously retards the progress of the group as a whole.” According to this theory, the institution of slavery led to a breakdown in the Black family and the development of a socalled matriarchy, in which the Black woman was “dominant.” This “matriarchal” structure was held responsible, in turn, for contributing to the “emasculation” of the Black man. In other words, as these people would have it, the oppression of blacl people was partly caused by the chief victims of this oppression, Black Women!

This myth of the Black Matriarchy has had wide spread influence, and is even widely believed in the Black community today. It is something we have to fight against and expose. To show just how wrong this theory is, let’s look at the real condition and history of the socalled dominant Black woman.

Under slavery, once arriving on American soil, the African social order of Black people was broken down. Tribes were separated and shipped to different plantations. Slaves underwent a process of de-socialization and had to adopt a new culture and language. Black men greatly outnumbered Black women. Sociologist E.F. Frazier indicates in his book The Negro Family In the U.S.,that this probably led to “numerous cases of sex relations between Negro slaves and indentured white women.” The “marriage” rate between Black men and white women became so high that interracial marriages were banned.

Prior to this time, Black men were encouraged to marry white women in order to enrich the slavemaster’s plantation with more human labor. The Black man in some instances was able to select a mate of his choice. However in contrast, the Black woman had little choice in the selection of her mate. Living in a patriarchal society, she became a mere breeding instrument. Just as Black men were chained and branded under slavery, so were Black women. Lying nude on the slave ship, some women gave birth to children in the scorching hot sun.

There were economic interests involved in the Black women having as many offspring as she could bear. After her child was born, she was allowed to nurse and fondle the infant only at the slavemaster’s discretion. There are cases of Black women who greatly resisted being separated from their children and having them placed on the auction block even though they were subject to flogging. And in some cases, the Black woman took the life of her own children rather than subjit them to the oppression of slavery.

The Master’s Household
There are those who say that because the Black woman was in charge of carin for the slavemaster’s children, she became an important figure in the household. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Black woman became the most exploited “member” of the master’s household. She scrubbed the floors, washed dishes, cared for the children and was often subjected to the lustful advances of Miss Ann’s husband. She became an unpaid domestic. However, she worked outside as well. Still today, many Black women continue to work in households as underpaid domestics. And as W.E.B. DuBois stated in his essay The Servant in the House, “The personal degradation of their work is so great that any white man of decency would rather cut his daughter’s throat than let her grow up to such a destiny.”

In this way arose the “mammy” of Black women an image so embedded in the system that its impact is still felt today. Until recently, the mass media has aided in reinforcing this image of portraying Black women as weighing 200 pounds, holding a child to her breast, and/or scrubbing floors with a rag around her head. For such a one, who was constantly portrayed with her head to the floor and her behind facing the ceiling, it is ludicrous to conceive of any dominant role. Contrary to popular opinion, all Black women do not willingly submit to the sexual advances of white men. Probably every Black woman has been told the old myth that the only ones who have had sexual freedom in this country are the white man and the Black woman. But, in many instances even physical force has been used to compel Black women to submit. Frazier gives a case in his book where a Black woman who refused the sexual advances of a white man was subdued and held to the ground by Black men while the “Master” stood there whipping her.

In some instances, Black women stood in awe of the white skin of their masters and felt that copulation with a white man would enhance her slave status. There was also the possibility that her mulatto offspring would achieve emancipation. Her admiration of white skin was not very different from the slave mentality of some Blacks which caused them to identify with their master. In some cases, the Black woman who submitted herself sexually played a vital role in saving the life of the Black man. If she gave the master a “good lovin’,” she could sometimes prevent her husband from being horsewhipped or punished.

“Emancipation”
The myth that is being perpetrated in the Black community states that somehow the Black woman has man aged to escape much of the oppression of slavery and that all avenues of opportunity were opened to her. Well, this is highly interesting, since in 1870 when the Fifteenth Amendment guaranteed citizens the right to vote, this right did not apply to the Black woman. During reconstruction, those Blacks who served as justices of the peace and superintendents of education, and in municipal and state governments, were men. Although the reconstruction period was far from being an era of “Black Rule,” it is estimated that thousands of Black men used their votes to help keep the Republicans in power. The Black women remained an the outside.

To be sure, the Black man had a difficult time exercising his right to vote. Mobs of whites waited for him at the voting booth. Many were threatened with the loss of jobs and subjected to the terror of Klan elements. The political activity for the Black an was relatively ephemeral, but while it lasted, many offices fox the first time were occupied by them. The loose ties established between Black men and women during slavery were in many cases dissolved after emancipation. In order to test their freedom, some Black men who remained with their wives began flogging them. Previously, this was a practice reserved only for the white master. In the later part of the 1860s and early 70s, female heeds of households began to crop up. Black men who held Jobs as skilled craftsmen, carpenters, etc., were being driven out of these occupation. Since the Republicans no longer needed the Black vote after 1876, the “welfare” of Blacks was placed in southern hands. Black men found it very difficult to obtain jobs and in some instances found employment only as strikebreakers. Black men, who were made to feel “less of a man” in a racist oppressive system, turned toward Black women, and began to blame them for the position they occupied.

The Black woman, in some cases, left to herself with children to feed, also went looking for employment. Many went to work in the white man’s kitchen. DuBois in the same essay mentioned earlier, The Servant In the HOLLY, gives a vivid portrayal of the exploitation of domestic workers. He speaks of the personal degradation of their work, the fact that they are still in some instances made to enter and exit by the side door, that they are referred to by their first name, paid extremely low wages, and subjected to the sexual exploitation of the “master.” All this proves that because the Black woman worked, it did not make her more “independent” than the white woman. Rather, she became more subject to the brutal exploitation of capitalism as Black, as worker. as woman.

The “Free” Labor Market
I mentioned earlier that after emancipation Black men had a difficult time obtaining employment, that after emancipation he was barred from many of the crafts he had been trained in under slavery. The labor market for Black women also proved to be a disaster. Black women entered the needle trades in New York in the l900s, as a cheap source of labor for the employers, and in Chicago in 1917, Black women who were willing to work for lower wages, were used to break a strike. There was general distrust between Black and white workers, and in some cities, white workers refused to work beside Black women and walked off their jobs.

The Black woman has never held high status in this society. Under slavery she was mated like cattle and mere breeding instrument. Today, the majority women are still confined to the most menial and lowest paid occupations domestic and laundry workers, file clerks, counter workers, and other service occupations. These lobs in most cases are not yet unionized.

Today, at least 20 percent of Black women are employed as private household workers, and their median income is $1200. These women have the double exploitation of first doing drudgery in someone else’s home, and then having to take care of their own households as well. Some are forced to leave their own children without adequate supervision in order to earn money by taking care of someone else’s children. Sixtyone percent of Black married women were in the labor force in 1966. Almost onefourth of Black families are headed by females, double the percentage for whites. Due to the shortage of Black men, most Black women are forced to accept a relationship on male terms. In Black communities there sometimes exists a type of serial polygamy a situation where many women share the sme man, one at a time.

Black is Beautiful
As if Black women did not have enough to contend with, being exploited economically as a worker, being used as a source of cheap labor because she is a female, and being treated even worse because she is Black, she also finds herself fighting the beauty “standards” of a white western society. Years ago it was a common sight to see Black women wearing blond wigs and rouge, the object being to get as close to the white beauty standard as one possibly could. But, in spite of the fact that bleaching creams and hair straighteners were used, the trick just didn’t work. Her skin was still black instead of fair, and her hair kinky instead of straight. She was constantly being compared to the white woman, and she was the antithesis of what was considered beautiful. Usually when she saw a Black man with a white woman, the image she had of herself became even more painful.

But now, “Black is beautiful,” and the Black woman is playing a more prominent role in the movement. But there is a catch! She is still being told to step back and let the Black man come forward and lead. It is ironic that at a time when all talents and abilities should be utilized to aid in the struggle of national liberation, Stokely Carmichael comes along and declares that the position of women in the movement is “prone.” And some years later, Eldridge Cleaver in referring to the status of women said they had “pussy power.” Since then, the Black Panther Party has somewhat altered its view, saying “women are our other half.” When writing their political statement, the Republic of New Africa stated they wanted the right of all Black men to have as many wives as they can afford. This was based on their conception that this is the way things were in Africa. (In their publication The New Africa written in December 1969, one of the points in their Declaration of Independence seeks “to assure equality of rights for the sexes.” Whether this means that the Black woman would be allowed to have as many husbands as she can afford, I have no way of knowing.)

Abortion and Birth Control
So today, the Black woman still finds herself up the creek. She feels that she must take the nod from “her man,” because if she “acts up” then she just might lose him to a white woman. She must still subordinate herself, her own feelings and desires, especially when it comes to the right of having control of her own body. When the birth control pill first came into use, it was experimentally tested on Puerto Rican women. It is therefore not surprising that Third World people look at this example and declare that both birth control and abortion is a form of genocide a device to eliminate Third World people. However, what is at issue is the right of women to control their own bodies. Enforced motherhood is a form of male supremacy; it is reactionary and brutal. During slavery, the plantation masters forced motherhood on Black women in order to enrich their plantations with more human labor.

It is women who must decide whether they wish to have children or not. Women must have the right to control their own bodies. And this means that we must also speak out against forced sterilization and against compelling welfare mothers to accept contraceptive methods against their will. There is now a women’s liberation movement growing in the United States. By and large, Black women have not played a prominent role in this movement. This is due to the fact that many Black women have not yet developed a feminist consciousness. Black women see their problem mainly as one of national oppression. The middle class mentality of some white women’s liberation seem to be irrelevant to Black women’s needs. For instance, at the November 1969 Congress to Unite Women in New York, some of the participants did not want to take a stand against the school tracking system fearing that “good” students thrown in with “bad” ones would cause the “brilliant” students to leave school, thus lowering the standards. One white woman had the gall to mention to me that she felt women living in Scarsdale were more oppressed then Third World women trapped in the ghetto! There was also little attempt to deal with the problems of poor women, for example the fact that women in Scarsdale exploit Black women as domestics.

The movement must take a clearer stand against the horrendous conditions in which poor women are forced to work. Some women in the movement are in favor of eliminating the state protective laws for women. However, poor women who are forced to work in sweatshops, factories and laundries need those laws on the books. Not only must the State protective laws for women remain on the books, but we must see that they are enforced and made even stronger.

Women in the women’s liberation movement assert that they are tired of being slaves to their husbands. confined to the household performing menial tasks. While the Black woman can sympathize with this view, she does not feel that breaking her ass every day from nine to five is any form of liberation. She has always had to work. Before the Emancipation Proclamation she worked in the fields of the plantation, as Malcolm X would say, “from can’t see in the morning until can’t see at night.”

And what is liberation under this system? Never owning what you produce, you are forced to become a mere commodity on the labor market. Workers are never secure, and their length of employment is subject to the ups and downs in the economy. Women’s liberation must relate to these problems. What is hampering it now is not the fact that it is still composed of mainly white middle class women, Rather it is the failure to engage in enough of the type of actions that would draw in and link up with the masses of women not yet in the movement., including working and Third World women. Issues such as daycare, support for the striking telephone workers, support for the laws which improve working conditions for women, and the campaign to free Joan Bird are a step in the right direction. I don’t feel, however, that white women sitting around a room, browbeating one another for their “racism,” saying, “I’m a racist, I’m a racist,” as some women have done, is doing a damn thing for the Black woman. What is needed is action.

Women’s Liberation must not isolate itself from the masses of women or the Third World community. At the same time, white women cannot speak for Black women. Black women must speak for themselves. The Black Women’s Alliance has been formed in New York to begin to do this. We felt there was a need for a revolutionary Black women’s movement that spoke to the oppression of Black women as Blacks, as workers, as women. We are involved in reading, discussion, consciousness raising and taking action. We feel that Black women will have a difficult time relating to the more bitter antimale sentiment in the women’s liberation movement, fearing that it will be a device to keep Black men and women fighting among themselves and diverting their energies from the real enemy.

Many Black women realize it will take both men and women to wage an effective struggle. However, this does not negate the necessity of women building our own movement because we must build our struggle now and continue it after the revolution if we are to achieve real emancication.

When the Third World woman begins to recognize the depth of her oppression, she will move to form alliances with all revolutionary forces available and settle for nothing less than complete destruction of this racist, capitalist, male-dominated system.