Was Bill Cosby On Trial Due To Race?

In high school, you’re taught to use credible sources when writing a research paper. A primary source involves firsthand knowledge about a person, event or object while a secondary source is information that was created by someone who did not experience or participate first hand in an event. Ironically, a newspaper article can be both a primary and secondary source. If it is a factual account of events, recording the events as they happened, it is a primary source. If the article is interpreted or has opinion interjected, it is considered a secondary source. Distinguishing between the two was relatively easy until the age of the Internet and the advent of media bias.

Media bias occurs when the media systematically emphasizes one particular point of view in a way that contravenes the standards of professional journalism. Coupled with the fact that people can no longer differentiate between opinion and fact, folk readily jump to conclusions and make rash decisions due to questionable information sources, stereotypes and their own personal biases. With regard to the Bill Cosby trial, race has been an underlying issue in the media and among supporters and protesters.

I can admit that race was one of my underlying issues as a black woman and mother to a black boy. I possess an African-American Studies degree from Howard University and radiate black pride. I prefer Malcolm over Martin and Booker T. over DuBois. I believe desegregation did us a disservice. I believe our Ferguson activists who were “found dead” is racially motivated. Cops killing our young men and women is racially motivated and the disproportionate number of African-Americans in jail and their length of sentencing is definitely racially motivated. And I understand racism in America not only because I studied it; but because I experienced it. But because my biases cross both sides of the aisle, I’m also a survivor of sexual assault, I decided to witness the Cosby trial firsthand to see if racism played any part in it. My son’s life and the issue of sexual assault are too important to leave in the hands of strangers tainted with their own personal biases.

Purchasing NBC

Cosby sought to purchase NBC in 1992 and in a 1994 interview he was asked if he would try again. He said, quote, “No, it’s over. Couldn’t get it.” General Motors, who owned NBC at the time, said no to him before allegations of sexual assault ever surfaced. In 2015, Cosby was working with the network to air another sitcom when NBC decided to sever all ties. Comedian Hannibal Burris had joked in 2014 that Bill Cosby was a rapist and the floodgates of accusations opened.

Let’s make sure you read that right. NBC severed all ties in 2015. Andrea Constand went to the police with allegations in 2005 about a 2004 incident. So even after she gave her statement, NBC was still willing to work with him.

The Charges

Bill Cosby was charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault. Count 1 alleged that Cosby didn’t have consent when he penetrated Constand’s genitals with his fingers. Count 2 alleged she was unconscious or semi-unconscious at the time and could not give consent. Count 3 alleged all this happened after he gave her an intoxicant that substantially impaired her and stopped her from resisting.

Let’s be real. Some of y’all have done this. You ply a woman with drinks and wait for her fall asleep or pass out before performing some sort of sexual act. While at the trial, I was told stories by men who were sexually assaulted by women and became fathers as a result. Whether is a man or woman, prior relationship or not, the victim can press charges.

The Judge

Judge Steven T. O’Neill is nicknamed ‘the whistler’ and is considered a ‘regular guy.’ He’s respected and well-liked by employees of the court and residents of Norristown. I happened to speak to a local resident, a black woman, while the jury was deliberating. She sat next to me and told me about her upcoming case. Some family property was sold and she wasn’t given her fair share. She didn’t like the judge who would be presiding and was looking for a way to get Judge O’Neill to preside. She said he was reputed for being kind and fair, residents of all races respected his decisions and she personally loved the fact that he whistled down the hallway.

Prosecution

The prosecution called Kelly Johnson to the stand to give her testimony about an incident with Bill Cosby. Her alleged assault occurred in 1996 and she was the only alleged victim allowed to testify. If the judge was unfair or a racist, he would have allowed other accusers to testify. But O’Neill said that the incidents were too far in the past and he didn’t allow it. I spoke to an attorney who explained that even four women testifying would have sent a message to the jury that Cosby exhibited a pattern of sexual assault.

Many people believe that Kelly Johnson and Andrea Constand were conspiring but the timeline doesn’t support such a claim. Kelly gave her testimony in 1996 to a workmen compensation claim and Andrea gave her report to the police department in 2005. They both live on opposite sides of the US and as the district attorney pointed this out, Cosby was vigorously shaking his head in the affirmative! So Cosby agreed that these women never knew each other and were not conspiring.

Testimony

In Cosby’s deposition, he said he believed Andrea and her mom are honest people and that they are not out to extort him or receive “hush money.”

Joseph Miller, a white worker’s compensation lawyer, testified that Kelly Johnson filed a claim against Cosby’s agency, William Morris. In her deposition to him and another white man, she described the abusive treatment she suffered from Cosby’s agent, the late Tom Illius. She was asked to return the next day to finish her statement and when she began to discuss what happened with Bill Cosby, Miller decided not to transcribe her testimony. He even admitted that her testimony about Cosby hastened them to ssettleher claim.

Kelly reported the assault to the police and the white officer advised her to not press charges and “go up against Bill Cosby.”

When Andrea Constand filed a report with the Montgomery County police, the police chief had a closed door meeting. So only a handful of officers were aware of the accusation.

Detective Schaffer of the Montgomery County Police Department was chosen to investigate the case and on the witness stand said he conducted a background check on Andrea but it was “not necessarily for Andrea Constand. It was for Cosby to make sure she was legit.” Later in his testimony, he said, “…to protect Mr. Cosby’s interests.”

After hearing testimony from Constand and Cosby, a judge wouldn’t or couldn’t sign a search warrant but Cosby did consent to a search.

A sexual assault expert took the stand to explain the reasons why victims don’t speak up. She noted not only because of the criticism and harassment faced by the perpetrator’s supporters, but they don’t speak up because of shame, guilt and fear. If you really care to understand why sexual assault victims don’t speak up, read this or peruse the comments found in the Twitter hashtag #whysurvivorsdontreport.

Defense

The judge wouldn’t hear testimony from Marguerite Jackson, a woman who claimed to have been roommates with Andrea during an away game. I read the statement presented to the press and decided to call her myself. I immediately asked her how she felt about all this and she responded, “I don’t know how I feel. She (Andrea) plotted and planned.” When I asked her the timeline of this statement, she wasn’t sure if it was said before she met Cosby or while they were friends. Then I asked her if Andrea ever told you about her visits to his home and she was only told of a dinner party Andrea attended with others which led me to believe they aren’t really friends.

Now, let’s break this down. Marguerite said Andrea plotted to set Bill up. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Andrea and Bill both admitted to being introduced by a Temple employee. That employee was with Bill at the time of the introduction. Cosby admitted to upon seeing Andrea, he was romantically attracted to her and wanted to establish trust and a friendship first. Andrea never admitted to a romantic interest but believed Cosby was her friend and mentor. Also, if Marguerite was so infuriated by Andrea, why did SHE wait so long to give her statement? Unlike a sexual abuse survivor, there would have been no guilt, fear or shame on her part.

The judge would not permit Marguerite to testify because Andrea claimed to not know her even though Marguerite claims they had a friendship. The defense asked Andrea specifically if she knew Marguerite Jackson to which she replied no. That’s why Marguerite’s testimony was hearsay and inadmissible. BUT, if the defense had asked, “did you ever tell anyone that you would set up a rich, old man?” and Andrea responded no, then Marguerite’s testimony could have been introduced, proving Andrea to have lied. But because the defense didn’t ask, it was never allowed.

I also wondered why the defense didn’t take the time to prove they knew each other. The pulled Andrea’s phone records from Temple University. They could have easily pulled Marguerite’s and shown they knew one another. If they shared a room during an away game, they could have found the email or invoice proving they were in fact roommates. But the defense did none of this. I wonder why?

Conclusion

From what I witnessed and learned from area residents, lawyers, etc. Cosby wasn’t on trial because of his race although many African-American supporters have been making this unsubstantiated claim for years. Race did play a role but not in the way that you think:

While many African-Americans have taken up arms to defend their hero, what they fail to realize is that Cosby has been fully assimilated in mainstream (white) America for generations. And yes, he supported HBCUs and black causes during those years. But he also blatantly disrespected every black single mother, mother with multiple fathers and black boy shot for allegedly stealing from a convenience store in his NAACP Pound Cake Speech in 2004. He wants y’all to forget that speech as he runs back into the arms of the community he insulted.

But did you know it was because of his indignity toward those above and disdain for “names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed” and “people with their hat on backward, pants down around the crack” that the Associated Press filed a motion to obtain documents related to a 2005 civil lawsuit against Cosby? The judge agreed to release the documents citing that Cosby’s Pound Cake Speech deemed him a public moralist and the public has a right to be made aware of his hypocrisy.

So who’s the racist now?

This Mother’s Day, How Do You Measure Success?

While I was unsure what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. As a matter of fact, I wanted a house full of kids, boys mostly, making it decades before I’d ever have to experience the empty nest syndrome. My life took a different route so I only have two children. But hands down, being a mom has been the best job I’ve ever had. 

As I look back over my life, I strived to be successful in all things: a wife, employee, business owner, author, etc. I held various positions for a myriad of industries and I guess you can say I was successful. I never became CEO or EVP of a FORTUNE 500 with writeups in Forbes magazine or an appearance on Oprah! I never invented a new product or won a Nobel prize. But – if I had managed to do any of those things and my children were delinquents, drug addicted or simply unhappy, unruly or disrespectful, I would not have considered myself successful.  

I’m realizing now that I’ve always measured success by how my children turned out. Of course, I never wanted them to endure any form of abuse and I protected them with everything I had. But I also made sure to raise intelligent, emotionally mature citizens with a healthy compassion for others. I use the term healthy because I didn’t want them to be pushovers or suckers. Or prey. So not only did I work to instill empathy, I also taught them the mind games folk use to try to manipulate them. A lot of parents claim that kids don’t listen to adults, but that wasn’t the case for me. Both of my children heed my advice and make better choices because of it.

I know, there are thousands of wonderful parents whose children become lost. I do not blame them for it; some people are chosen to take a difficult path regardless of their upbringing. I pray they find their way back and become a light for those who’ve lost their way.

So I ask you, moms, how do you measure success for yourself and your children? And what are you doing to ensure that success?


 

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The Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Fable

I LOVE football. And that may be an understatement. Since I was a child, I loved watching the games and I particularly loved watching my mom play outside with the neighborhood boys. She played quarterback, receiver, corner, etc. and always held her own. It was the coolest thing to watch.

As I got older, my love for the sport only grew. And when I was blessed with a son…man! Among his first words were da-da, ma-ma and touchdown. No lie. While he was in diapers, I would (gently) tackle him, yell touchdown and throw up my arms to signal the score. My ex husband warned me that our boy was going to be crazy for football. But that was the point.

When my son was finally old enough to play, I served as team mom. But before the start of his season, we’d road trip to several games. My bucket list was to visit every single NFL stadium and of course, I wanted to share the journey with my son. I even started a blog detailing our experience but abandoned it shortly before the divorce. I plan to pick it back up at the start of next year’s season.

My lifelong love for the sport and this day has been muddied by the allegation that the Super Bowl is the largest human trafficking event in the U.S. While there have never been statistics to prove it, the assumption has only gained momentum since it was first suggested by a Texas US Attorney General in 2011.

For years, I too believed the fabrication.

A 2011 report published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women researched sex trafficking statistics related to the World Cup, the Olympics and the Super Bowl and found:

“despite massive media attention, law enforcement measures and efforts by prostitution abolitionist groups, there is no empirical evidence that trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events.”

That goes for all large sporting events.

U.S. law enforcement does admit that prostitution takes place in and around the environs of each year’s Super Bowl, and some of that activity does involve the sex trafficking of minors and women. But on a scale of “zero” to “thousands” the numbers tip to the low-end of that spectrum. Typically, the number of persons arrested for sex trafficking-related crimes in FBI Super Bowl operations falls in the dozens rather than the thousands, and those numbers include locals who took advantage of a major event occurring in their neighborhood. Here are the facts from previous Super Bowls:

  • Said Phoenix police Sergeant Tommy Thompson after the 2008 Super Bowl: “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes. They didn’t notice any sort of glitch in the number of prostitution arrests leading up to the Super Bowl.”
  • Said Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis after the 2009 Super Bowl: “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa. The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same.”
  • Arlington, Texas, Deputy Chief Jaime Ayala reported after the 2011 Super Bowl that of the 59 people arrested on prostitution-related offenses, only 13 were non-local sex trade workers.

As a survivor of child sex abuse and a former stripper, the emotional and physical safety of women will always be my top priority. Love for a sport will never trump that. But, every year at this time the media dims the stadium lights with its misleading and erroneous information . And too many men, women and prevention advocates are wasting time debating and protesting a non-issue. It’s not the first time Americans have fallen for a smoke and mirrors trick.

The truth is that thousands of groupies flock to all sporting events looking to hook up with men. Out-of-town dancers and prostitutes also make trips hoping to capitalize off the thousands of drunk and presumably horny men. And horribly, young girls and women are forced into sex trafficking. But instead of spending countless hours and resources exaggerating and debating an embellishment, we should spend those same resources on sex trafficking prevention and rescue as well as the healing of both the unwilling and willing victim.

 

Sources:

Barton, Eric.   “Sun-Sentinel Front-Page Story Repeats Super Bowl Prostitution Urban Legend.”    Broward/Palm Beach New Times.   3 February 2012.

Kotz, Pete.   “The Super Bowl Prostitution Hoax.”    Riverfront Times.   2 February 2012.

What President Trump Means For Sexual Assault Survivors [REMIX]

There’s no denying that Trump’s objectification of women have left women and young girls feeling uneasy and disrespected. Many women, especially survivors of sexual assault, have little to no faith that their rights will be protected…or that the current president even cares about their rights at all. During Trump’s campaign season, rape crisis centers even saw a spike in calls and services. And a poll conducted during his campaign concluded that nearly half of teenage girls said Trump’s disparaging remarks have had a negative effect on the way they view their bodies. And for young women attending college, their concerns have only increased because it’s unclear how Congress and Trump’s administration could potentially affect Title IX and sexual assault victims for the next for years.

More than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October, or November.

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Some major points include:

  1. The prohibition of sex discrimination in schools. It protects pregnant and parenting students, women in STEM, sexual violence, etc. Sexual violence is defined as Sexual violence includes attempted or completed rape or sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, exhibitionism, verbal or physical sexuality-based threats or abuse, and intimate partner violence.
  2. Any person from sex-based discrimination, regardless of their real or perceived sex, gender identity, and/or gender expression.
  3. Schools must take immediate steps to address any sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence on campus to prevent it from affecting students further. Schools may not discourage survivors from continuing their education, such as telling them to “take time off” or forcing them to quit a team, club or class.
  4. Every school must have a Title IX Coordinator who manages complaints. The Coordinator’s contact information should be publicly accessible on the school’s website and there should be an established procedure for handling complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence.

The Obama Administration intensified focus on campus sexual assault and Title IX prompted an outpouring of complaints and lawsuits against colleges and universities over claims they mishandled reports of sexual violence. In 2014, the administration made public the list of colleges currently under investigation. There are 216 open investigations that will now be handled by Trump’s administration.

College women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed.

It’s unclear what Trump will do since he remained silent on the issue throughout his campaign. But the Republican party has criticized Obama for interpreting Title IX too broadly. The RNC further stated, “sexual assault is a “terrible crime,” but cases should be “investigated by civil authorities and prosecuted in a courtroom, not a faculty lounge.” Leaders from other organizations expressed similar concerns saying, “leaving these cases to the schools to adjudicate could violate a student’s right to due process.”

It’s believed that Trump’s administration will cut the budget for crisis hotlines, shelters, rape-kit testing, courts, law enforcement, rape crisis centers, and community outreach through the Violence Against Women Act, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, and the Victims of Crime Act. However, Republicans introduced their own legislation,  the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which aims to improve how public colleges and universities handle sexual assault and other violent crimes. It will require colleges to publish their crime stats on their websites, participate in a campus climate surveys, make confidential advisers available to students, and work closely with local police departments.

86% of sworn campus law enforcement officials have legal authority to make an arrest outside of the campus grounds.

Most of America believe the women who came forward with sex abuse allegations against President Trump. They watched as his misogynistic behavior and comments were leaked to the media. And they were shocked and dismayed when he unapologetically defended that behavior.

So, for the next four years, America will be led by a man who encourages “locker room” talk and believes women who can’t tolerate it shouldn’t be in the workforce. While his culture has negatively impacted the women of this country, I wonder whether the men will embrace it or take a stand to reject it.

[Read original article What “President Trump” Means for Sexual Assault Survivors.]

Book Review: The Path To Wealth

No, this isn’t the typical book review found on this site. The content I reviewed previously touched on some aspect of sexual abuse. But, this year, I want to share reviews of the inspirational books I’ve been reading lately. They’ve helped me immensely and I hope the reviews motivate you to pick up a copy.

Authored by May McCarthy, The Path To Wealth: Seven Spiritual Steps For Financial Abundance was gifted to me by Saba Tekle. Saba is the publisher of the uplifting anthology, 20 Beautiful Women. I first told my story in volume two of the series and ever since, Saba has given me wise counsel. Twice last year we spoke of the hardships I was facing, and she helped point me in the right direction. Calling her feeling lost once more, she ordered the book and I began reading.

And it provided the paradigm shift I desperately needed.

Well, I didn’t just read it; I did the work, a seven-step process to gain clarity and direction for your personal and professional life. The information is nothing new. They’re directives found in the Bible and advised by thousands of self-help gurus. But for some reason, the way it’s explained here was a turning point for me. Although I believed I was doing everything right: attending church, praying, reading the Bible, volunteering, etc. I didn’t see any real change in my spirit…or my situation.

What was I missing? Gratitude. Each day should begin writing a gratitude letter to the Creator. Once we recognize that He is the center of it all, we should go to Him everyday with an attitude of thanks. May explains when we do, the ideas we receive are directions He’s given to us. And we should follow them explicitly. Before, we were making decisions from our point of view and often times, not seeking God’s help. This way, we’re seeking God’s guidance before we start our day.

I’ve implemented this practice over the last few months and I’ve already seen a difference. Even during my most recent hardship, I kept a gracious attitude. In the midst of it, opportunities arose improving my situation until finally, I was able to see my way out. In the past, I would have sought vengeance, cussed people out and held onto the anger, telling everyone how I was betrayed. However, I simply walked away. Writing those gratitude letters in the morning gave me a new perspective. I couldn’t hold onto the hurt and anger long because I started my day with thanks. I’m unsure whether my situation would have improved if I hadn’t improved my attitude.

As a survivor, I’ve held onto so much anger for years. Much of it has been released after confronting some people, but still, it remained. With this new perspective however, I’ve learned to spend more time focusing on the good and much of the lingering anger withered away.

Because this book was gifted to me, I paid it forward and bought it for a friend. If you do decide to order the book, I invite you to pay it forward to a friend too.

(If you’re interested in sharing your story in 20 Beautiful Women or 20 Beautiful Men, click here.)

A Lying Tongue

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand liars. It’s difficult to form a relationship of any kind with a liar; they’re untrustworthy, unreliable and fake as hell. I’ve been thinking about the reasons why folk lie. Here are my top three:

They lie to avoid hurting others.

This is somewhat understandable. You may not want to hurt your coworker’s feelings so you compliment her hair or his shirt. You may tell your family member she’s a wonderful songstress when in actuality, her singing gives you a headache. While some people can take constructive criticism, there are those who lack the emotional strength to handle any type of constructive criticism. So you lie.

They lie to impress.

People who lie to impress others aren’t very satisfied with their lot in life. Instead of working on improving themselves or their situation, they’d rather lie and give the impression that they have it all together. In my 45 years on this earth, I found most people who lie in this manner have no real intention on improving themselves. They, again, talk a big game about all the changes they’re going to make but you’ll later discover, it was all lies.

They lie to avoid criticism or consequences.

I saw this while raising children. When you ask who spilled the juice all over the floor, most children lie and say it wasn’t them. They’re lying for fear of the consequences. As a parent, I always told my children they could always tell me the truth. Nothing is more important than establishing honesty early in children. The juice can be cleaned up. But if a parent rules with fear, children will continue to lie to avoid punishment, a beating or being yelled at.

As we mature into adults, some are still afraid of the consequence or criticism from telling the truth, so they lie.

Psychologists list a myriad of other reasons, but what’s interesting is they also distinguish between pathological and compulsive liars.

A pathological liar lies with intent.

There is a purpose or goal to their lies and they care little, if not at all, about the feelings or opinions of others. Manipulative and cunning, they get what they want without caring who it hurts in the long run. They also create their own reality and over time, are unable to separate their lies from the truth. As a matter of fact, if you even attempt to shatter this reality, they viciously attack you. So you learn to lie to avoid their wrath or to not hurt their feelings.

Psychologists suggest that those who suffer from Anti-Social Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder are pathological liars.

A compulsive liar lies habitually and constantly.

This type of liar exhibits very little control over their lies. There’s no purpose behind their falsehoods; they just lie about everything, anything and everyone, and tend to find the truth uncomfortable. Psychologists argue this is due to low self-esteem but if you’ve ever tried establishing a meaningful relationship with a compulsive liar, it’s damn near impossible. You’ll never really know how they really feel or what they really want because they lie all the time.

Psychologists suggest that some compulsive liars may suffer from ADHD, Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder.

There are more than 45 Bible verses that warn against lying and dealing with liars. Some of my favorite include:

Proverbs 12:22 – Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Exodus 23:1 – “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.

Colossians 3:9-10 – Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

When I was a child and as a young adult, I lied all the time. As I got older, I realized it was because of many of the reasons noted above. I know I felt inadequate, insecure and small. Today though, I see no reason to lie. I am who I am and work everyday to become a better me.

“I Did Not Want It” – Sexual Abuse Dichotemy In ‘Luke Cage’

If you’re not watching Luke Cage, you need to be. It’s a Netflix original Marvel series about a reluctant Harlem super hero. Luke finally decides to stand up to the criminals running Harlem and to put it mildly, all hell breaks loose.

There’s one family in particular that runs Harlem. Cornell, nicknamed Cottonmouth, extorts the local business owners and runs drugs and weapons. His cousin, Mariah, looks legit as the community’s local councilwoman. Extremely close, they grew up like brother and sister since Cornell’s mother abandoned him.

A significant side story is that family’s relationship. Their uncle Pete nurtured Cornell but sexually abused Mariah. As a result, the cousins have conflicting feelings about him and his behavior towards Mariah. In a traumatic scene, Cornell antagonizes Mariah by suggesting that sex with her uncle was consensual. He argues that she constantly flirted with him and walked around half naked. Mariah takes her outrage out on Cornell as she screams, “I did not want it.”

Child survivors of sexual abuse understand this dichotemy all too well. We know the abuse is wrong, we want it to stop but we’re too afraid to tell.The abuser uses threats against the victim and their loved ones (read more on grooming here). Some abusers may even convince the child that their parent not only knows, but approves of the relationship. But the reason most children are victimized is because the abuser is fulfilling some need. And if need is loneliness, love or attention, this is where the dichotemy steps in.

For me, I never wanted the abuse. I wanted to be left alone. But because I had been abused for so long, it became second nature to me. Something was wrong if my abusers didn’t want to have sex with me. Growing up, I constantly craved love. I wasn’t given attention at home; as a matter of fact, if I wasn’t being ignored I was getting into trouble. Although I knew it was wrong and I wanted it to stop, it really was the only consistent affection I ever received as a child.

That’s not just disgusting. It’s sad.

So, when I saw Mariah lose it, I got it. From the outside, it may have looked as if she wanted to have sex with her uncle. Hell, adults and kids from the community accused me of the same thing. And, as I was watching it with a friend, he said it too. There were girls in his neighborhood who preferred sex with older men. To him and to most, those girls were just fast — looking for some money or a shopping spree.

But I ask you, why were those girls that way? I watched my daughter grow up. I’ve seen countless other young girls grow up who never displayed that behavior. But I can tell you, I have friends who behaved that way as children and they admitted to being either sexually abused, extremely poor, emotionally abused or neglected.

It’s time we look at the cause of our young girls’ behavior and work to fix it.

And a HUGE shout out to the writers of Luke Cage for not just including it in the story, but for getting it right.

Book Review: Debbie

**Trigger Warning**

It’s taken me a while to finish this book. Not only because I’ve been dealing with personal issues, but because her story his heart wrenching. I cried throughout many parts of the book and constantly wondered why her story went on for so long? There were moments where it seemed as if there was gonna be some resolution, some peace, but people continuously failed at their job of parent, police officer, social worker, husband, etc. I am amazed and inspired by Debbie’s courage. Years ago when a friend read my story, he asked why wasn’t I on drugs…or still dancing. Reading her story, I asked the same questions. There’s so much resiliency and strength and hope in Debbie. I love her for it.

Hope has aided in my survival, but it has also aided in my torment. I know I am not alone in thinking that hope is a bitch, but without it, what else is there? Nothing.

Overall, the book is well-written. There were times where it was a little hard to follow, but that’s because she was looking to protect herself and her family. It reads like a friend was sitting next to me on the couch telling her story. There were times I wanted to give her a high five, yell at her to drive faster or sit with her after she recalled every instance of sexual and physical abuse.

The story opens with Debbie being interviewed by an intake officer. She’s purposely haggard, her breasts are hidden in an oversized sweater and she even admits she hadn’t showered that day. If you’re a survivor, you understand why. I’ve had days like that myself. But it’s apparent she’s still stuck. The counselor makes a pass at her but instead of standing up for herself, she let’s him continue. She uncomfortable and guilt-ridden. And it broke my heart.

Soon after, she delves in the incest and physical abuse she endured at the hands of her father. The father is just as cruel and vicious to her mom and it bonds mother and daughter in ways we’d never imagine. Her brothers never sexually abuse her, but they’re just as physically abusive, cruel and demeaning.

I had no idea what to do with a Barbie doll except to dress it, undress it, dress it again, undress it, and make it punch or have sex with other dolls.

She eventually grows up and works a myriad of jobs including an exotic dancer. She marries and has children early. It’s apparent and she admits that she’s yearning for love, healthy love, but she doesn’t receive it with any of her husbands. She travels from state to state to state to escape domestic violence, pursue job opportunities, to be near or away from family. Her adult life is just as traumatic has her childhood.

I already knew God wasn’t going to protect me from men.

I didn’t want to have sex for food, but I was hungry and had to find a way to eat. I had already been sexually exploited so often in my life it wasn’t really a big deal, until after when I would feel wothless, abandoned and used. I was just a worthless teenage slut, I guess.

I don’t want to give the entire story away, but believe me, you’ve never read anything like it. If you can endure the triggers, I suggest you order a copy today. You can also follow her Twitter on @redtaperesidue.

Closed For Self-Care

The brazen and senseless murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have taken an emotional toll on me. I just recently accepted that I suffer from CPTSD, depression and anxiety as a result of child sexual abuse and emotional abuse. I tried my best to avoid watching the deaths of Alton and Philando, but it was practically unavoidable. I’ve been crying ever since. Given that I’m already new to self-care, these recent events have forced me to be even more vigilant.

As a black woman and mother of a black boy, I can’t really turn a blind’s eye to any of this. It’s imperative that I watch the news; if there’s another shooting or a KKK rally, I need to know where not to be. It’s also necessary to keep watch on the viewpoints of white and black America alike. The impulsive explosions of anger toward people of a different color and officers in blue via social media and during demonstrations are further indications that America’s rage is boiling over. And just like hot water spewing out the sides of a pot, if you’re nearby, you’re bound to get burned.

So how do you self care AND stay aware?

HuffPost Black Voices offers tips if you’re on social media:

  1. Turn off video auto play.
  2. Follow accounts that inform AND nurture
  3. Ignore trolls.
  4. Log off.

When you decide to step away from the computer or cell phone, do something you enjoy. Last night, I took a walk and listened to blues music. It cleared my heart and mind and allowed me to focus on life. Doing so helped me realize that a part of me was feeling guilty. I was watching Lavish watch her boyfriend die as I sat at home safe. It didn’t seem right for me to binge on Game of Thrones or market my book or pull up silly YouTube videos.

While those feelings are valid, there really wasn’t much I could have done in either situation. I don’t know the victims and don’t live in Baton Rouge or Minneapolis. Although I will be demonstrating and attending community meetings, maintaining feelings of anxiety and sadness doesn’t help anyone and it actually causes more harm than good. So, in the interest of myself and my kids, I’ll periodically be closed for self-care.

What Is A Hoe?

Expanded excerpt from the best-selling book, From Ivy League To Stripper Life: 10 Lessons Learned

From rap to rock, mansions to projects, women and girls are continuously referred to as sluts and hoes. The words roll off the tongue of both men and women, young and old alike. Between friends, it’s a term of endearment or used in a joking manner. But all too often, the words are used to degrade a woman for her sexual behavior. While there is no way to permanently remove the word from the English language or instill compassion and understanding to prevent everyone from hurting others with it, those of us who’ve been defined by it can speak out about its harmful effects. Hopefully, it will inspire more people to stop degrading others by their perceived or actual sexual exploits.

I was probably six or seven when my older cousin, my first abuser, called me a freak. I immediately felt guilty. He had been snatching me out bed in the middle of the night and coercing me into the attic during the day to have sex. Every time it was over, I felt dirty and embarrassed. But it also felt good. Yet, I still tried to prevent it from happening. Deep down, I knew it was wrong. But he kept me compliant by threatening to tell grandma that I was being a freak.

When I moved to Princeton, NJ to live with my mom, I was sexually abused again. This time, my abuser told his friends about me and I became the neighborhood ho. The abuse lasted from seven to twelve years of age.

“I don’t remember the total number of older boys and men who raped me. I do recall the gang rapes. And I recall telling one that I got my period, hoping it would deter him from pulling down our pants. But it didn’t. He said I was a woman now and pulled out when he came.”

As you can imagine, my teen years were ripe with promiscuity. I had sex with boys my own age and men old enough to be my father. Because I’d been abused in two states by boys who’d never met, I came to the conclusion that’s all I’d ever be good for. Plus, my abusers made sure to remind me of this. Family, friends and strangers chimed in as well. What pissed me off about it though, was that everyone blamed me for what my abusers had done. No one, other than I, perceived their actions as deplorable and disgusting. Because I was the only one who felt this way and no one validated those feelings, the only conclusion I could draw was that I was a ho.

And based on the definition from the urban dictionary, that’s exactly what I was. Urban dictionary defines a ho as:

“a promiscuous woman, someone who engages in casual sex, thereby having multiple sex partners.” Multiple sex partners is a relative term and the exact number doesn’t really matter; when men refer to a woman as a ho, they’re typically indicating that it took a little effort for him and many other men to get her in bed.

My feelings of disgust, shame and guilt were directed inward instead of towards those who groomed and manipulated me into becoming the neighborhood ho. So for years, that’s exactly how I behaved. If a man wanted to have sex with me and I found him somewhat attractive, we usually had sex. If a man didn’t act sexually attracted to me, it affected my self-esteem. After all, all I was good for was sex. Never did it occur to me that some men were simply respectful, wanted to take it slow or faithful to their significant other. I’d never met a man like that. All the men who approached me wanted sex. If a man seemed genuinely interested in dating or getting to know me, I immediately thought something was wrong with him. Or that he was a “good boy” and too good for me. No, the men who belonged in my bed were users unable to see beyond my cute face and phat ass…….

Read more here.


When you’re given the backstory to someone’s life, it usually results in a paradigm shift. When people hear my story, they’re always sympathetic towards me and enraged about the abuse and lack of support I received. But why does anyone have to tell their story to gain sympathy? Why does a promiscuous woman have to validate her behavior in order for others to understand and stop judging?

No one should ever be defined by their actions. But all too often, that’s exactly what we do. We even label men and women heroes or saviors due to an act to save or stance against an injustice. But when we discover that “hero” has a drug problem or has been embezzling funds, we remove the title and replace it with a negaive one, one that “befits” the crime. Either way, we need to cease placing people in neat little boxes, expecting them to remain there and never grow or make a mistake.

A woman may work as a stripper yet be more forthright and honest than your sorority friends. She may also be struggling with issues stemming from abuse or low self esteem. Or she may not. Either way, to disregard someone due to their sex life or occupation is baseless and immature. And says a lot more about your character than it does about any stripper.