stigma’s

~N-Word~

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The n-word is unique in the English language. On one hand, it is the ultimate insult- a word that has tormented generations of African Americans. Yet over time, it has become a popular term of endearment by the descendents of the very people who once had to endure it. Among many young people today—black and white—the n-word can mean friend.

Neal A. Lester, dean of humanities and former chair of the English department at Arizona State University, recognized that the complexity of the n-word’s evolution demanded greater critical attention. In 2008, he taught the first ever college-level class designed to explore the word “nigger” (which will be referred to as the n-word). Lester said the subject fascinated him precisely because he didn’t understand its layered complexities.


©Jason Millstein

“When I first started talking about the idea of the course,” Lester recalled, “I had people saying, ‘This is really exciting, but what would you do in the course? How can you have a course about a word?’ It was clear to me that the course, both in its conception and in how it unfolded, was much bigger than a word. It starts with a word, but it becomes about other ideas and realities that go beyond words.”

Lester took a few minutes to talk to Teaching Tolerance managing editor Sean Price about what he’s learned and how that can help other educators.

How did the n-word become such a scathing insult?
We know, at least in the history I’ve looked at, that the word started off as just a descriptor, “negro,” with no value attached to it. … We know that as early as the 17th century, “negro” evolved to “nigger” as intentionally derogatory, and it has never been able to shed that baggage since then—even when black people talk about appropriating and reappropriating it. The poison is still there. The word is inextricably linked with violence and brutality on black psyches and derogatory aspersions cast on black bodies. No degree of appropriating can rid it of that bloodsoaked history.

Why is the n-word so popular with many young black kids today?
If you could keep the word within the context of the intimate environment [among friends], then I can see that you could potentially own the word and control it. But you can’t because the word takes on a life of its own if it’s not in that environment. People like to talk about it in terms of public and private uses. Jesse Jackson was one of those who called for a moratorium on using the word, but then was caught using the word with a live mic during a “private” whispered conversation.

There’s no way to know all of its nuances because it’s such a complicated word, a word with a particular racialized American history. But one way of getting at it is to have some critical and historical discussions about it and not pretend that it doesn’t exist. We also cannot pretend that there is not a double standard—that blacks can say it without much social consequence but whites cannot. There’s a double standard about a lot of stuff. There are certain things that I would never say. In my relationship with my wife, who is not African American, I would never imagine her using that word, no matter how angry she was with me. …

That’s what I’m asking people to do—to self-reflect critically on how we all use language and the extent to which language is a reflection of our innermost thoughts. Most people don’t bother to go to that level of self-reflection and self-critique. Ultimately, that’s what the class is about. It’s about selfeducation and self-critique, not trying to control others by telling them what to say or how to think, but rather trying to figure out how we think and how the words we use mirror our thinking. The class sessions often become confessionals because white students often admit details about their intimate social circles I would never be privy to otherwise.

What types of things do they confess?
In their circles of white friends, some are so comfortable with the n-word because they’ve grown up on and been nourished by hip-hop. Much of the commercial hip-hop culture by black males uses the n-word as a staple. White youths, statistically the largest consumers of hip-hop, then feel that they can use the word among themselves with black and white peers. … But then I hear in that same discussion that many of the black youths are indeed offended by [whites using the n-word]. And if blacks and whites are together and a white person uses the word, many blacks are ready to fight. So this word comes laden with these complicated and contradictory emotional responses to it. It’s very confusing to folks on the “outside,” particularly when nobody has really talked about the history of the word in terms of American history, language, performance and identity.

Most public school teachers are white women. How might they hold class discussions about this word? Do you think it would help them to lay some groundwork?
You might want to get somebody from the outside who is African American to be a central part of any discussion— an administrator, a parent, a pastor or other professional with some credibility and authority. Every white teacher out there needs to know some black people. Black people can rarely say they know no white people; it’s a near social impossibility. The NAACP would be a good place to start, but I do not suggest running to the NAACP as a single “authority.” Surely there are black parents of school children or black neighbors a few streets over or black people at neighboring churches. The teacher might begin by admitting, “This is what I want to do, how would you approach this? Or, how do we approach it as a team? How can we build a team of collaboration so that we all accept the responsibility of educating ourselves and our youths about the power of words to heal or to harm?” This effort then becomes something shared as opposed to something that one person allegedly owns.

How might a K-12 teacher go about teaching the n-word?
At the elementary level, I can imagine bringing in children’s picture books to use in conjunction with a segment on the civil rights movement, because students talk about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Look at some of the placards [held by white people at 1960s civil rights] protests and see if some of them have been airbrushed or the messages sanitized. Talk about language, about words and emotion, about words and pain. Consider the role of words in the brutal attacks on black people during slavery, during Jim Crow, during the civil rights movement. Consider how words were part of the attacks on black people.

Depending on how old the students are, a teacher might talk about the violence that involved lynching and castration, and how the n-word was part of the everyday discourse around race relations at the time. Then bring in some hip-hop, depending again on the age. If these are middle school students or high school students, a teacher can talk specifically about hip-hop and how often the n-word is used and in a specific context. … There are many ways that a teacher can talk about the n-word without necessarily focusing on just one aspect—like whether or not Huck should have used the n-word when he references Jim [in Huckleberry Finn]. Any conversation about the n-word has to be about language and thinking more broadly.

What should teachers keep in mind as they teach about the n-word?
Remember the case of the white teacher who told the black student to sit down and said, “Sit down, nigga.” And then the teacher is chastised by the administration and of course there is social disruption. He said, “I didn’t say ‘Sit down, nigger,’ I said ‘Sit down, nigga,’ and that’s what I hear the students saying.” I’m thinking, first, you are an adult, white teacher. Secondly, do you imitate everything that you see and hear others doing or saying? At some level, there has to be some self-critique and critical awareness and sensitivity to difference. Just because someone else is doing it doesn’t mean that I do it even if and when I surely can.

In my courses, I’m more interested in raising questions than in finding answers to them. I think the questions lead to potential self-discovery. It’s not about whether or not a person uses the n-word. I try to move the class beyond easy binaries—“Well, blacks can use it, but whites can’t.” That line of thinking doesn’t take us very far at all. What we are trying to do, at least the way I have conceptualized and practiced this discovery, is so much more. The class strives to teach us all manner of ways to talk about, think about and to understand ourselves, and each other, and why and how we fit in the rest of the world.

There Is A Message; Do You Care?

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Oppression typically operates as a system. This means that there are multiple forces taking away someone’s power based on a part of their identity (their sex, sexual orientation, skin color, etc). All of these forces work together to marginalize, subordinate, dehumanize, or otherwise devalue groups of people.

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Nas & Damian Marley – Patience Lyrics

Here we are
Here we are
Yeah
This one right here is for the people

[Hook] x2
Sabali, sabali, sabali yonkote
Sabali, sabali, sabali kiye
Ni kêra môgô

[Verse 1: Damian Marley]
Some of the smartest dummies
Can’t read the language of Egyptian mummies
An’ a flag on a moon
And can’t find food for the starving tummies
Pay no mind to the youths
Cause it’s not like the future depends on it
But save the animals in the zoo
Cause the chimpanzee dem a make big money
This is how the media pillages
On the TV the picture is
Savages in villages
And the scientist still can’t explain the pyramids, huh
Evangelists making a living on the videos of ribs of the little kids
Stereotyping the image of the images
And this is what the image is
You buy a khaki pants
And all of a sudden you say a Indiana Jones
An’ a thief out gold and thief out the scrolls and even the buried bones
Some of the worst paparazzis I’ve ever seen and I ever known
Put the worst on display so the world can see
And that’s all they will ever show
So the ones in the West
Will never move East
And feel like they could be at home
Dem get tricked by the beast
But a where dem ago flee when the monster is fully grown?
Solomonic linage whe dem still can’t defeat and them coulda never clone
My spiritual DNA that print in my soul and I will forever Own Lord

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Major forces that make up a system of oppression are:
*Diminished legal rights/status of the oppressed group
*Negative attitudes and heightened violence toward the group
*Decreased social investment (money, resources) in the group
*Interpersonal prejudice
*Employment, educational, institutional discrimination/exclusion
*Oppressed group’s identity reduced to stereotypes
*Loss of power and freedom within the group
*Oppressed groups adopting destructive beliefs about their own group (internalized oppression)
*Perpetuation of the oppressor’s power
*Privileges afforded to the oppressor

Throughout most of the world, the most privileged groups are: light skin, male, heterosexual, transgender, conventionally attractive, Christian/Gentile, healthy/able bodied, wealthy/financially comfortable. These various groups have historically been, and currently are, some of the major groups that contribute to oppression. But, that doesn’t mean they have to be!

WHAT IS INTERNALIZED OPPRESSION?
When people are targeted, discriminated against, or oppressed over a period of time, they often internalize (believe and make part of their self-image – their internal view of themselves) the myths and misinformation that society communicates to them about their group. Exploited peasants might internalize the ideas that they can’t do any other kind of work, that their lives were meant to be as they are, and that they’re worth less than people with wealth or education. Women might internalize the stereotype that they are not good at math and science, or people of color might internalize the myth that they are not good workers,

When people from targeted groups internalize myths and misinformation, it can cause them to feel (often unconsciously) that in some way they are inherently not as worthy, capable, intelligent, beautiful, good, etc. as people outside their group. They turn the experience of oppression or discrimination inward. They begin to feel that the stereotypes and misinformation that society communicates are true and they act as if they were true. This is called internalized oppression.

Internalized oppression affects many groups of people: women, people of color, poor and working class people, people with disabilities, young people, elders, Jews, Catholics, immigrants, gays, and many other groups.

Not all members of groups that are discriminated against or oppressed necessarily turn stereotypes inward. Many remain proud of their heritage, or are able to take prominent places in the larger society through their exercise of effort, intelligence, talent, interpersonal skill, and self-respect. Many members of oppressed groups try to escape their situations by emigration or other means, and many succeed. Some rise up and overthrow their oppressors, although this can cause nearly as many problems as it solves.

Don’t assume that just because someone is a member of a group that has experienced bias, he is suffering from the results of internal oppression. Individuals are different, and have different experiences and backgrounds. If you assume internal oppression in all cases without getting to know the individual at least a little, you may, in trying to be helpful and empathetic, find that instead you’re being condescending or insulting.

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It is important to note that internalized oppression is not the fault of people whom it affects. No one should be blamed or blame themselves for having been affected by discrimination. Nevertheless, as community members, we have to face these barriers in order to achieve our goals.

While the stereotypes that people internalize are imposed by society, we all, whether we are members of the favored majority or the oppressed or unfairly treated minority, have a personal responsibility to confront those stereotypes. As members of the majority, we need to help and support those in the minority to see that their personal worth has nothing to do with society’s current or past prejudice. And as members of the minority, we have a responsibility to listen to those among us who challenge the majority view, and to analyze and challenge it ourselves. We may need support and guidance in doing so – that’s what Paulo Freire provided to those he worked with, and what he wrote about.

democracy

There are two ways that internalized oppression functions:

Internalized oppression operates on an individual basis. A person believes that the stereotypes and misinformation that she hears are true about herself. She holds herself back from living life to her full potential or she acts in ways that reinforce the stereotypes and are ultimately self-defeating.

Internalized oppression occurs among members of the same cultural group. People in the same group believe (often unconsciously) the misinformation and stereotypes that society communicates about other members of their group. People turn the oppression on one another, instead of addressing larger problems in society. The results are that people treat one another in ways that are less than fully respectful. Often people from the same cultural group hurt, undermine, criticize, mistrust, fight with, or isolate themselves from one another.

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WHY DO COMMUNITY BUILDERS NEED TO UNDERSTAND INTERNALIZED OPPRESSION?

Understanding internalized oppression is invaluable for community builders. People simply can’t fight effectively for themselves when they believe the problem is their own fault or that something is inherently wrong with them. To empower communities to become more effective at fighting the battles for better health care, good education, a safe environment, and adequate jobs, community members have to learn how to overcome the discouragement, confusion, and divisions that are a result of internalized oppression.

Stand “Your” Ground- Press Towards The Mark

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As I was sitting this morning in contemplation of what should I do to acquire finances to open Second Chance Alliance a transitioning housing facility with the intent to reeducate “Felons”, I began to pray to receive wisdom on how to see this vision through. In the past I devoted much consideration and effort in getting the DBA and Dunn’s number and Cage number and Government.Gov registration all the while interviewing 167 times last year only to be told 88 times after being blessed to get to the final offering stage for those positions that we don’t hire felons.

Perplexed and at times totally down trodden I speculated defeat. Having 26 years in the work force as Production Supervisor and Engineering and other rolls of leadership and two degrees I figured I was a good candidate for any job. Reality sat in and I seen the hideous practices associated with the stigma of having a felony conviction. I really want to make a difference with my life as to help others with the opportunities needed not to return to a life of defeat. There are a lot of success stories of felons getting a second chance and receiving degrees and moving forward, but the numbers are staggering still for those who don’t get those opportunities.

Edward Simmons is a young man with impressive credentials: He graduated with honors from Rutgers University this year and is headed to the University of Cambridge on a prestigious Truman scholarship.

But on a typical job application, the first thing an employer might notice about Simmons is that he’s an ex-felon.

Simmons, 28, served two years in prison for dealing crack cocaine: He got out in May 2010 and has been clean since. Though he’s successfully turned his life around, he says discrimination against those with a criminal record is very real.

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“There have been a lot of times that I haven’t been offered an opportunity because of the stigma,” said Simmons, a New York native. “A lot of companies have a blanket policy that excludes anyone who’s had any contact with the criminal justice system.”

In recent days, two major discrimination lawsuits have been filed alleging conviction and arrest records were used inappropriately to deny employment. The first, a class action against Accenture Inc. , holds the consulting firm discriminated by using a 10-year-old conviction record to automatically disqualify Roberto Arroyo from a full-time job even after he’d proven himself. The second alleges the U.S. Census Bureau’s requirement that all applicants be run through the FBI database and provide proof of the dispositions of any arrests, was onerous and discriminatory.

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The lawsuits come as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission works to step up enforcement in cases of discrimination related to background screening. The EEOC, in fact, is expected to release new guidelines soon that will re-emphasize the importance of analyzing screening results on an individual basis – and require employers to use empirical data in support of their hiring decisions. That means considering factors like the length of time since the offense, and what the job seeker has done since then. “Many employers have started using very fuzzy criteria,” says Sarah Crawford, senior counsel with the Washington D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which filed the lawsuits . “They have blanket bans on hiring people with any history at all. You can’t do that.”

(To backtrack for a sec: It’s important to remember there are no specific protections for ex-offenders under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But restrictions on hiring people with criminal records have been found to have disparate impact on certain protected groups, and are therefore considered discriminatory. Bureau of Justice statistics, for example, show that 17 percent of African-American men have been incarcerated, compared to 8 percent of Latino men and 2.6 percent of white men. African Americans make up 13 percent of the population, but account for 38 percent of felony convictions. Latinos are twice as likely to be arrested as whites. So arbitrarily screening out anyone with a record, discriminates against blacks, Latinos and other minority populations.)

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The story caught some employers off-guard: “Federal EEOC Warned Census Bureau of Likely Discrimination.” The article describes a lawsuit brought by the EEOC and others against the U.S. Census Bureau alleging the bureau’s system of criminal-background checks unlawfully discriminated against up to 100,000 Blacks and Latinos “who are more likely to have arrest records than whites.”

Although pre-employment checks are common, particularly for federal employees in a post-9/11 era, this practice is fast becoming an area of hot litigation. In 2003, the Society for Human Resource Management noted that 80 percent of its members conduct pre-employment criminal-background checks. Employers beware: The EEOC is leading the charge, but the plaintiffs’ bar is not far behind. Because background checking is usually a “systemic practice,” if it is found to be unlawful, the damage exposure could be huge.

Why Employers Conduct Criminal-Background Checks

Employers conduct criminal-background checks primarily to protect:

Their customers
Their employees
The general public
Their property
Their reputation and assets from legal liability

Some businesses, such as daycare centers, nursing homes, hospitals, nuclear power plants, educational institutions, transportation agencies, law enforcement, and security firms, must be more concerned than others with the safety of their customers. Even without a statutory mandate, the rise in “negligent hiring” claims with large potential damages, along with heightened sensitivity to workplace violence, post-9/11 security concerns, and increased liability of company officials, has enhanced corporate wariness of hiring high-risk applicants. Reliable criminal-background checks can assist employers’ efforts to reduce that risk.

Why Would Anyone Oppose Criminal-Background Checks?

Several reasons:
1. Civil-liberties advocates and criminal-justice reformers oppose background checks because they often rely on inaccurate records and reduce opportunities for ex-offenders to make a full and productive return to society.
According to the EEOC, it is unfair and a violation of Title VII to rely on arrest records only, where not supported by a conviction. Even where there is a conviction, the EEOC’s position is that the applicant should not be barred for offenses that do not “present an unacceptable risk.”

Many state legislatures concerned with employability of ex-offenders are enacting or considering statutes limiting the use of criminal-background checks. For example, Hawaii limits employers’ background checks to convictions within the past 10 years that bear a direct relationship to the responsibilities of the position.
Do Criminal-Background Checks Disproportionately Screen Out People From Underrepresented Groups?

It is both conventional wisdom and the position of the EEOC that employers’ use of criminal-background checks may violate Title VII because non-whites are disproportionately represented among those with criminal records.

However, a 2006 study in the University of Chicago’s “Journal of Law and Economics” found otherwise. The study concluded that “employers who check criminal backgrounds are more likely to hire African-American workers, especially men. This effect is stronger among those employers who report an aversion to hiring those with criminal records than among those who do not.”

In theorizing why criminal-background checks lead to increased hiring of Blacks, the authors observe: “In the absence of criminal-background checks, some employers discriminate statistically against Black men and/or those with weak employment records.” As another University of Chicago professor suggested, “in the absence of accurate information about individuals’ criminal histories, employers who are interested in weeding out those with criminal records will rely instead on racial and gender proxies.” That is, they are more likely to assume the prejudicial view that non-whites have criminal records, absent the facts.

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Is the EEOC Actively Seeking to Limit Criminal-Background Checks?

In 2005, the EEOC issued an informal discussion letter taking the position that an employer using a “blanket policy” of refusing to hire anyone with a history of arrest or convictions violates Title VII because the policy “disproportionately excludes members of certain racial or ethnic groups, unless the employer can demonstrate a business need for use of this criteria.”

In September 2009, the EEOC filed the lawsuit EEOC v. Freeman Companies (Federal District Court, Maryland), alleging that the company used criminal-background checks to “unlawfully deprive a class of Black, Hispanic and male job applicants of equal employment opportunities.” The case is in the discovery process. (The EEOC filed another case, EEOC v. PeopleMark [Federal District Court, Michigan], with similar allegations.) As further evidenced by its recent lawsuit against the U.S. Census Bureau, the EEOC is leading the effort to curtail employers’ use of criminal-background-check policies.

Do Criminal-Background Checks Violate Title VII?

This area of law is evolving. The cases recently filed by the EEOC will likely provide guidance to employers in formulating their policies and practices. Until then, one recent U.S. Court of Appeals (Third Circuit) case sheds some light on where the law is headed. In El v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, the employer terminated a traditionally underrepresented employee who transported individuals with mental and physical disabilities when the employer’s post-hiring criminal-background check disclosed a 40-year-old conviction (with no subsequent criminal activity) for second-degree murder. The court held that the employer must demonstrate that the criminal-background check is “job related” and that the disqualification is required by “business necessity.” The court ruled that the employer adequately demonstrated the severity of the crime and the heightened vulnerability of its passengers with disabilities. The court implied that some criminal-background-check policies may violate Title VII, although the employer’s policy in this case did not.

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How Can Employers Legally Conduct Criminal-Background Checks?

This has suddenly become a tricky area of the law, and until further case law is developed, employers conducting any type of routine criminal-background checks may be vulnerable to challenge. Here are several tips to assist employers:

With the assistance of your legal advisers, know the statutes, regulations and case law in your jurisdiction. There are differences among the states, and between federal law and the states, that must be taken into account in considering workplace screening policies.
Review current criminal-background-check policies for consistency with the “business necessity” requirement and the EEOC position. To the extent the EEOC’s position is upheld in the courts, employer policies that take into account the nature and severity of the offense, the length of time since conviction, and the relationship of the offense to the job sought are more likely to be upheld. If necessary, modify pertinent policies and applicant questionnaires to reflect these considerations.

Routinely audit applicant/hire files to determine whether your criminal-background-check policy disparately impacts any group. If so, explore the reasons for the disparate impact, and if it is not justified by business necessity, amend the policy and its implementation.

If this is an area of particular concern to your business, monitor your local and federal legislative developments, and examine whether your company should lobby on this issue. This area of the law is actively changing, and employers need to be vigilant in monitoring the latest developments and implementing best-practices compliance policies.

80 percent of the mentally ill live in low or middle-income nations. So why aren’t we doing anything about them?

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The sun is scorching hot, and the two leafless trees provide little refuge in the way of shade. The village dwellers barely notice. Especially one young boy, probably 8 years old.

His face lacks the youthful exuberance you would expect and is replaced with grave concern, sewn deep into the fabric of his soul. Diagnosis: Hatred from the gods. At least that’s what he’s been told since he started acting strangely a few years ago. What else could cause the paranoia and compulsions he’s tried so hard to hide?
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In reality, the small African child is victim of a severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression. But how would anyone in his small village possess that knowledge? Only in the last few generations have wealthy nations with available research monies begun to form an understanding of the inner workings of the mind and its applicable abnormalities.

Prior to this new understanding, those suffering from mental illnesses were largely treated as criminals, often grouped together in the same cells and shackles, beaten and left unclothed. Dorothea Dix, well-known reformer in the 1840s, reported this type of activity—in Massachusetts. Her eyewitness report went as far as to include the story of one patient, kept in a “close stall” for 17 years. Sadly, this activity carried on for several generations.
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In the late 1800s, New York World reporter Nellie Bly went undercover as a mental health patient in New York’s infamous Blackwell Island Insane Asylum. The resulting work, Ten Days in a Mad-House, went “viral” and helped to reform the inexcusable injustices in government-run mental health facilities.

Bly called the asylum on Blackwell Island “a human rat-trap. It is easy to get in, but once there it is impossible to get out.” Bly personally experienced ice-baths and forced isolation. She also described the choking and beatings that other inmates experienced. Possibly the most damning conviction was the fact that foreign women, incapable of communicating in effective English terms, were hauled off to Blackwell—in spite of being perfectly sane.

Thankfully, there are no “Blackwell’s” in today’s United States, even though injustices still exist; see Juliann Garey’s recent article in The New York Times. But as a whole, the research dedicated to mental health and the services available are worlds apart from the early 1900s.

If the West is just advancing from mental health’s Dark Ages, then most developing nations are still firmly planted in its Ice Age.
Unfortunately, these great strides haven’t made the leap over poorer nations’ borders. Not even close. If the West is just advancing from mental health’s Dark Ages, then most developing nations are still firmly planted in its Ice Age.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 80 percent of people suffering from mental disorders live in low- or middle-income nations. The vast majority of this group has no access to mental health care. Furthermore, though mental illnesses account for approximately 13 percent of the Global Burden of Disease, they are beneficiaries of only 2 percent of world health expenditure.

Take Ghana for example, 2.2 million of the 22 million-member population suffer from mental illnesses or epilepsy. Far too many patients for the 12 active psychiatrists and three public psychiatric hospitals in the country.

Chris Underhill, founder of Basic Needs, a mental health advocacy pioneer, became painfully aware of the crisis when traveling overseas several years ago. “(I)n rural areas of Africa and Asia, it is common to chain people in shackles and put them in cages to ensure their control. It was therefore clear to me that mental health is a hugely neglected area,” he wrote in an article on Takepart.com. Cases like this are the reason the WHO has declared mental health “a global human rights emergency.”

In an era completely invested in social justice and charitable campaigns, most of us are unaware that a need of this magnitude even exists. How do we account for such a discrepancy? And it’s not solely on a personal level. The mental health community at-large seems to lack a real plan to tackle the growing issue.

If any organization should champion the cause of those in mental darkness, it’s the Church.
In his 2010 article titled, “Mental illness and the developing world,” author Andrew Chambers argues that the overwhelming need for funds and organizations devoted to mental health may be due to a lack of empathy. Compared to more “visible” diseases (i.e. AIDS, malaria, etc.). “It is much more difficult to generate that empathy: there are no externally apparent symptoms to create a good snapshot image, and indeed it is very difficult to understand what living with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder would actually be like,” he writes.

Despite the difficulty in assessing these needs, we can rely on our own nation’s dark past and the testimonies of friends and family who suffer from similar disorders to foster the compassion we need to take action. This starts with addressing mental illness as actual illness. Failure to understand and empathize with those suffering within our own borders will certainly keep us from seeing the bigger picture, and prevent us from donating our time and money to those who desperately need it and unknowingly beg for it.

If any organization should champion the cause of those in mental darkness, it’s the Church. Dorothea Dix proclaimed this in her 1843 Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts: “Could we in fancy place ourselves in the situation of some of these poor wretches, bereft of reason, deserted of friends, hopeless; troubles without, and more dreary troubles within, overwhelming the wreck of the mind as ‘a wide breaking in of the waters,’—how should we, as the terrible illusion was cast off, not only offer the thank-offering of prayer, that so mighty a destruction had not overwhelmed our mental nature, but as an offering more acceptable devote ourselves to alleviate that state from which we are so mercifully spared…”

This “devoting of ourselves” as the Church should be through prayer, through action and maybe even through financial means. Organizations such as Basic Needs, who are devoted solely to issues of mental illness abroad, are perfect places to start.

Maybe then, if we start to do our job, the young boy can breathe a sigh of relief.

Believe In Yourself “Don’t Quit”

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While being skeptical can be a healthy way to avoid getting taken advantage of, being pessimistic – that is, always assuming the worst – can have major negative consequences on your life. Seeing only the negative aspects of any situation can cause you to miss opportunities, neglect problems that need to be solved, and fail to take action that would otherwise improve your relationships and quality of life. In fact, studies show that pessimists are more likely to develop chronic illnesses later on in life than optimists.[1] Optimists look for the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve always had a pessimistic worldview, it can be difficult to shift your focus, but it is possible to start seeing the glass as half full, not half empty. In fact you may come to realize that glasses are generally full – it’s just that gravity attracts the more dense liquid material towards the bottom.

This world is always devising ways to sift people, whether by talent or caste status, belief system, color, race, ethnicity or origins the world and complex people in the world will try to make you quit. My wife and I are faced with a insurmountable obstacle, we are no longer the “It” of society, but the “Felon” and as such we are not expected to live nor continue to exist among the regulars in this world. If you are in this plight of life I want to encourage you to continue to believe in Jesus and what He has said, because we’re moving forward by His grace and so can you. Refuse to be redeemed by California or any state prison systems for 40,000 dollars and another extended stay in confinement. A plastic or glass bottle is given better chances than a human life. I solicit anyone that is challenged by life whether by past mistakes or any addictions or broken family and disappointed dreams to press onward with a plan and stand with the Word in your mouth and heart.

Many of us quit, half way through with what we have started and we have enough reasons why we do it. Years ago I owed a Engineering firm in California. Inflation and economics gave me a reason to compromise on how I did business and it cost me 5 years of my life and my company and 300 people their jobs . I had to quit. The reason seems genuine. Had I admitted to my dual addictions and faced them I would not have suffered those loses. I still face the consequences of quitting today due to the stigma’s placed on me by a unforgiving society. I failed as a minister of a large body of believers due to my compromising spirit of conduct. My dual addiction to money and cocaine and pride took me to an all time low. I lost material goods and very close family and friends. Recently I recalled the incident and this blog is a result of such introspection. What does the Bible talk about in terms of giving up? Does the Bible recommend us to quit or does it urge us not to give up.

Galatians 6:9 “…for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

What does it mean? The scripture tells us that if we do not give up on we will surely see the reward of it. For example the farmer sows his seed and takes the little grown stuff and plants it in the properly ploughed field. He does not see the grains immediately, he waits for the rain and the shine at the proper times and then a harvest, during harvest it is not what he sowed but several measures more than what he had sown. If this is true for a farmer I am sure the same principle applies for us too. The only thing is to wait patiently until we see results.

Before getting into the principles of how not to quit, let us examine a few reasons why we quit.
The reasons can be so many; I have tried listing a few of them…

1. Fear of failure.
2. Skepticism I am not the one.
3. I am not trained enough.
4. Someone can do it better than me.
5. I don’t want to be the first, let someone do it and then I will follow.
6. I have a bitter past experience.
7. This is not my cup of tea.
8. I don’t want to be embarrassed.
9. I am too sensitive to handle failures.
10. My support system is poor.
11. I don’t prefer to risk when all is fine.
12. Why get into a mess?

Some of the reasons are overlapping but still this is how we feel and reason out to quit and remain a bit satisfied though we know we can do it more than we have tried.

I want to drive home just two aspects for not giving up but before that I want to quote a few people and their views on never giving up…

Marilyn von Savant – being defeated is often temporary, giving up makes it permanent.

Thomas Edison – many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

King Solomon – for an upright man, after falling seven times, will get up again. (Proverbs 24:16)

The first aspect to consider if we decide not to give up is:
I. Making the most of every opportunity. (Ephesians 5: 15,16)
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

The wise person makes the most of the opportunity but the foolish ones miss out on every opportunity and grumble about their failures. Grab every chance that you get, never mind whether you fail or win – the result is secondary what is primary is the attempt. There is nothing wrong in giving it a try, it might click and we can become experts so I urge you not to miss a chance. Peter toiled all night at the sea but was willing to give it a try when Jesus told him to do so. He made the second time more than what if would have done the first time. He knew he had God on his side. That was blessed assurance. If we have such confidence we too can try and we will surely make it by not letting a chance go by. Therefore make the most of every opportunity and be wise. The second aspect is…

II. Marching Forward. (Philippians 3:13)
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.

If you have to march forward, you have to forget about what happened in the past, if we brood over the past more either success or failure it can ruin us. If we brag about the past success it will makes us complacent and would never make new attempts at the same time if we brood over our failures it will diminish the morale and the potential we possess. Therefore it is important to be moving and not stagnating.

Paul understood this and that is why he is going ahead with the goal and not worried over the past. If Paul had to think of his past as wretched man he will have be ashamed for the rest of his life not doing anything. He overcame the shame and guilt of destroying so many good Christians and began to be a blessing. He never gave up but carried on.

Dear friends, how about you? Better wise up, make the most of every opportunity. Never leave room for compromise, March forward don’t retreat. I think of Henry ford, his first car was not able to even go faster than the horse chariot, he never gave up and today these cars do well. The Wright brothers first flying machine fell and broke after it took off to a few feet but they never gave up and today we see planes that fly at a phenomenal speed at great altitudes. We have Jesus on our side we will surely be conquerors, not just conquerors but more than conquerors. God bless you.