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Mother’s Day… Everyday!

The day after Mother’s Day is usually a solemn one. For the celebrated mothers, it is a reminder of being back to the toils of normalcy. For those whose mothers have transitioned, the challenge of returning to work or school to hear about the ‘wonderful times with Mom’ can be excruciating.

Mothers, you are worth a daily celebration for all you do to ensure our happiness and upbringing. At times, I am often apologetic for my lackadaisical approach to showing appreciation to the matriarch of our family structure. I am blessed to have a spouse who can assist me with such a daunting feat. I can only empathize with single parents; imagining the task of raising children to be embraced by today’s society while educating them to be passionate, righteous and safe.

So this day, the day after Mother’s Day, I want to say thank you to all of the mothers of the World. Even though you too may be challenged with personal faults, you are still appreciated!

I have a special place in my heart for mothers who have to illustrate a false sense of happiness while covering wounds of depression and abuse to protect their children. Can you imagine facing a child or children who sense your pain and vulnerabilities after witnessing your abuse? The strength of Mom is immeasurable beyond belief.

Take a moment out of your day to show a mom, even if not your Mom, some appreciation for all she does. Something as simple as a phone call, a smile or words of encouragement can show a mother the love she deserves.

Stopping Toxic Masculinity

“Why we rape our women, do we hate our women? I think it’s time to kill for our women; time to heal our women, be real to our women.” – Tupac, Keep Ya Head Up

I have been challenging myself to develop preventive measures for young men in middle school to proactively educate them on stopping violence against women. As owner of Divas In Defense, I am proud to say we have trained tens of thousands of women Worldwide. From the high seas of the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage, to the hot desserts of Kuwait, the Divas In Defense training staff have worked diligently to empower women through self-defense. Yet, the feeling of incompletion weighs heavy on my heart. How can I, as a man, reach young men to prevent attacks?

Today, at the A CALL TO MEN: Engaging Men in the #MeToo Era sponsored by Uber and hosted at The Gathering Spot, myself and a few good men came together for this one special reason… including men in the fight to end violence against women (VAW). I mean, we have all been trained to respect women and don’t hit girls. Yet, we objectify them and are very misogynistic towards them and sometimes… we don’t even know it. It is time for men to be intentional when preventing VAW. There were some wonderful speakers and panelists including: Jennifer Bivins (Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault), Adrian Githuku (Uber), Tony Porter (A Call To Men), Lina Juarbe Botella (A Call To Men), Elisa Covarrubias (LiveSAFE Resources), Langston Walker (Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault), and Greg Loughlin (Men Stopping Violence).

“Stop Toxic Masculinity!”

This message resonated with me because I found myself guilty of toxic masculinity. Growing up in the inner city, men are led to believe anything which society deems as “girly” is unacceptable. Men are not to show emotion or ask for help. How idiotic is this? Without a proper outlet, emotions can erupt in anger. “The glue to the man box is homophobia.” – Tony Porter. Why are men afraid of being compared to women? Most men were raised by a strong woman, yet see women as weak and docile.

It is time to cultivate the inclusion of men! I have started with my sons, but this is not enough! I implore mothers to be transparent with past experiences when it comes to their sons. The reason for starting Divas In Defense was because my brother and I witnessed domestic violence in the household. I wish these sons would #AskYourMama about being victimized. It is so easy to dismiss violence against women unless it’s one you personally love.

My message to these young men begins with becoming certified in A Call To Men and the following pledge:

  • I will show and speak love to my sons and fellow men.
  • I will be a positive example to boys and men.
  • I will hold men accountable for their verbal and physical actions.
  • I will be proactive in educating men on the variety of abuse and protection of womanhood.
  • I will not allow the misogyny of women.
  • I will be comfortable with my vulnerabilities.
  • I will dedicate some of my time to mentoring young men.

#LoveMePainFree #AskYourMama #MyNamesNotBaby #DivasInDefense #MeToo #ACallToMen #Uber #TheGatheringSpot #MenStoppingViolence #GeorgiaNetworkToEndSexualAssault #StopVAW #SexualAssault #LiveSAFE

 

America’s Dad… The Predator!

What a way to end Sexual Assault Awareness Month…

The man who cultivated a culture and entire generation of African-Americans to excel in education and family, was secretly a predator of women. Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable…The Voice of Fat Albert… Mr. Jell-O Pudding Pops…a Rapist! I remember being a teenager with no interest in college being raised by a single mother thinking, WOW! The Cosby Show gave me the possibility of a complete Black family unit with two successful parents. Soon to follow, A Different World, which set the fire for me to be one of the first in my family to go to college.

What is the world coming to? I can honestly tell you, the World has been here for quite some time:

  • Every 98 seconds, a woman is a victim of attack.
  • 600 women are sexually assaulted daily.
  • One in five women have been raped in their lifetime.
  • Nearly half of rape victims were assaulted by an acquaintance.

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Polonius (Hamlet)

I am sick and tired of the excuses people use for their personal demons and shortcomings. Bill Cosby has been tried and convicted of assaulting three women. THREE WOMEN! This does not count those who feared coming forward, were paid to remain silent or did not get their chance in court. As much as I am happy for his many contributions to children, I am equally disappointed for his victimization of women.

These attacks are completely and utterly inexcusable! This was not an isolated occurrence. The #MeToo movement has proven there are many voices who remain unheard.

Dr. Cosby, for you to act like you are the victim here, I have only one thing to say about you…

“You’re like school on Saturday: NO CLASS!” – Rudy (Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids)

#LoveMePainFree #MeToo #SexualAssaultAwarenessMonth #Rape #SexualAssault

Divas In Defense in Kuwait

2017 was a great year for Divas In Defense®. We had so many wonderful opportunities but nothing compares to our trip to Kuwait. We were contacted by Balsam International to join their ‘Be Strong Campaign’ to end violence against women. We eagerly joined the call to serve and our Director of Training, Vanessa Parker, and our Girls Can Fight Too Program Director, Skye Walton, headed to Kuwait for a 14-day training tour.

Balsam Al-Ayoub created Be Strong a few years ago to empower women and girls in Kuwait. She founded Balsam International that provides empowerment courses and workshops throughout the area.  Balsam Al-Ayoub is an Olympic Fencing Champion, Fashion Designer, TV host and a woman on a mission to empower women and girls in the Middle East. Her ‘Be Strong Campaign’ for 2017 was sponsored by the United States Embassy in Kuwait, United Nations Women Campaign to End Violence Against Women, Kuwait Sports Club, Agility, Derby and Ali Abdulwahab Al-Mutawa. Our training took place during the UNiTE Campaign’s observance of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women (25 November – 10 December). 

While in Kuwait we facilitated classes for over 600 women from over 32 nationalities in just 14 days. During this training, we hosted Six 3-Day Certification Programs at the Kuwait Sports Club in Kaifan. We also facilitated classes at American Academy for Girls, Al-Bayan Bilingual School of Kuwait, American University of Kuwait and the Al-Sidra Center for breast cancer survivors. We also had the honor of facilitating a class at the Kuwait Women’s Police Academy. The women and girls of Kuwait left our classes feeling Fierce & Fabulous. We cannot thank Balsam, Nicky and her team enough for their hospitality and determination to end violence against women.

Here are just a few pictures from our trip. We hope to return again soon inshallah.

Welcome to Kuwait Balsam International-Divas In Defense

Our Welcome to Kuwait Cake. The desserts in Kuwait were amazing!

 

Prep before our first class Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Getting ready for our first class

Skye Walton Balsam International Divas In Defense in Kuwait

Skye rocking her Be Strong/ UN Women Campaign to End Domestic Violence T-shirt

 

Al-Bayan Bilingual School Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Al-Bayan Bilingual School

 

Skye training at the American Academy for Girls of Kuwait.

American University of Kuwait Balsam International-Divas In Defense

American University of Kuwait

Al-sidra Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait (1)

Al-Sidra Breast Cancer Survivors

 

FM 99.7 Kuwait Radio

FM 99.7 Kuwait Radio. We interviewed on The Drive Back with Maha and Yousef. Great times and great music.

 

Womens Police Academy Kuwait Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Kuwait Women’s Police Academy

 

Bazaar Magazine Event 2 Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait (1)

Skye and I at the Bazaar Arabia Magazine honoring Balsam as one of the 10 Best Dressed Women of Kuwait. We are wearing dressed from Balsam’s clothing line.

 

Bazaar Magazine Event 3 Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Balsam and her business partner looking fabulous.

Skye and Nicky at the Bazaar Magazine Best Dressed Kuwait Event

Last 3-Day Certificate Class at Kuwait Sports Club

 

Last class celebration Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Skye celebrating our last day of training. We trained over 600 women from 32 nationalities in just 14 days.

Sightseeing in Kuwait City

 

Going away dinner from Balsam and her mother, Fatima Al Omani. Both of these women are amazing and an inspiration to all women.

It’s OK to Let Go!

As we enter into a new season, it is a time to re-evaluate things in our lives. Our relationships, our mindset, our bodies, our jobs, our businesses… our time. Time is the most invaluable commodity we are awarded, yet we waste it away as if it is replaceable. Fall has always interested me. With all the beautiful hues of reds, browns, and oranges; the basic concept is death.

Unfortunately, nature has a way of personifying itself to speak volumes to those prepared to be attentive. Autumn, the precursor to death (winter), is arguably the most beautiful season for nature to express herself. My lesson is, in life there must be constant renewal. At the expense of this rejuvenation, some things in my life are not meant to carry on to the next year. Releasing the baggage can help you to live a longer, healthier and sustainable life.

What in your life do you need to let go? Take time to evaluate things, people, and activities in your life. Are they there for the release and lessons learned or to carry on to the next year? It may take some courage, but the decision to “let go” falls in line with our God given gift of free will. You have the choice, make it! At times, the choice is to “Let Go!”

Seven Safety Tips for Runners

Whether you are an avid runner or preparing for an upcoming 5K or 10K for a cause, it is important for you to always keep your safety at the forefront of your routine. Here are seven simple safety tips to ensure your safety on your run.

CHECK IN. Make sure you inform someone of your run time(s) and estimated ending time. Letting others know and checking in with them relives the worry.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL? Different situations present themselves often. For your safety, a cellular phone is detrimental in case of emergency.

BE SEEN. It is imperative in both day and night running to be visible to others, especially drivers. Be cognizant about your running outfit’s ability to be seen in high and low light conditions. Always assume drivers can not see you, therefore go out of your way to be seen.

HEAR ME NOW? Unplug at least one, if not both, of your ears from headphones when running. Considering your hearing gives you a completely different perspective of your surroundings, you will be more likely to recognize impending dangers by listening.

I SEE YOU! If you are running near moving vehicles, it is best to run facing traffic. This gives you an opportunity to avoid being run over by seeing if drivers are paying attention or driving erratically.

SAVE A LITTLE BIT. Keep in mind, if you are attacked you may have to run and/or fight back. Do not exhaust yourself where you will be unable to do either. When leaving it all on the track, store a little reservation for the just in case situation.

STICKS AND STONES DO BREAK BONES. When running, it would be best to have a weapon of some sort to defend your self against potential attackers and animal attacks. The Too Hot To Trot is a non-evasive pepper spray for runners and the Knuckle Up allows you to be electrifying with a runner-friendly stun gun. The Brutus and the Attitude Adjuster both are designed for easy hauling while running.

Bae Watch: The 4 Most Influential Figures in Your Teen’s Life

As a father of a 16 year old daughter, my life is in ruins! Just kidding, but I can honestly say I wasn’t prepared for the differences between my sweet little princess who loved me unconditionally to grow into this barely speaking, rolling her eyes, teeth sucking mean girl! After a quick reflection (look into her social media), I realized the need to pay attention to the “influencers” in my child’s life. She calls them her “BAE’s” which consists of women so I barely complain. In an attempt to regain some of my “Daddy is my Fav!” days, I learn about them and have open dialogue with my daughter about them; at least when she is not on life support (i.e. Her iPhone).

This list is comprised of entertainers, entrepreneurs, fashionistas, millionaires and moguls whose followers are over 280,000,000 combined! I call them my BAE Watch, my mission is to “watch” my daughter’s BAEs. If you question the Power of these BAEs, I implore you to take some time to learn the language of teen girls and indulge in the music, makeup and mayhem of these four beautiful women who can all be individually identified by one name: Beyonce, Kylie, Rihanna, and Taylor!

Instagram: @beyonce

beyonce-instagram

Instagram: @kyliejenner

kylie-instagram

Instagram: @badgalriri

rihanna-instagram

Instagram: @taylorswift

taylor-instagram

Divas In Defense Partners With City of Atlanta Fire & Rescue

The City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (AFRD) will host its annual Open House on Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All fire stations across the City of Atlanta will open to the public, giving visitors the opportunity to meet their firefighters and tour the station house. We will be located at Station No. 9 in the City of Atlanta and will offer programs and activities, including fire safety education, preventive health screenings, car seat safety workshops, smoke detector giveaways, food and music for participants.

Atlanta residents and visitors are always welcome to visit an Atlanta Fire Rescue Station for blood pressure screenings and emergency medical services 24-hours a day.

For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed

#DivasInDefense #CommunityPartner #PartnerWithPurpose #AtlantaFireDepartment #DivasInDefenseCares #MLKFireStation #June18 #Fierce #Fabulous #Divas #DID #OnTheScene

Summer Bully

It’s the last day of school, and you’re thinking, “Maybe my child can finally rest, no more bullying.” WRONG! Unfortunately, the summer is prime bullying season, the difference is those kids’ parents are your friends. Yes, there is a bully in your neighborhood! In some aspect, you are wrong for not realizing it.

Unlike the constant supervision in school, most kids in the neighborhood play hours unsupervised. This subjects your child to endless hours of demeaning and often physical attacks. Then, we ignore our children when we decide to visit our neighbors for dinner; placing them right in the belly of the beast. We have to pay attention to  our siblings; the breath of our bosom, the fruit of our loins, the chip off the block.

Character.org states:

Repeated bullying causes severe emotional harm and can erode a child’s self-esteem and mental health. Whether bullying is verbal, physical or relational, the long-term effects are equally harmful. Both boys and girls report high levels of emotional distress and loneliness as well as lower self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

Here are a few warning signs that your child may have a Summer Bully:

  • Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises, and scrapes
  • Clothes, toys, books, electronic items are damaged or missing or child reports mysteriously “losing” possessions
  • Doesn’t want to go to activities with peers
  • Marked change in typical behavior or personality
  • Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed and that mood lasts with no known cause
  • Physical complaints; headaches and stomach aches
  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cries self to sleep, bed wetting
  • Change in eating habits

Remember, just because school has ended doesn’t mean the bullying has! For more information on bullying, visit divasindefense.com/victim-resources.

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