Listen & Lead
Have you ever participated in a kidnapping? Are you absolutely sure?
The overwhelming majority of us will say, ‘of course not!’ In fact, you’re probably saying this is an absurd question. Nevertheless, I need to ask because I need to dramatize a certain type of relational transaction many of us participate in daily without proper consideration of seriousness of our actions.
This subject should be of the deepest interest to any decendent of the Black people forced here to North America and made chattel slaves. The Atlantic Slave Industry used kidnapping as it’s prime supply tool. This kidnapping had the immediate effect of separating by force and deception families that had maintained lineages hundreds, and even thousands of years.
In this practice of kidnapping, children suffered the unthinkable – unexpected, unplanned and traumatic separation from parents. This continued throughout the 310 years of legalized chattel slavery in the United States. In fact, it was such a powerful tool that it was all too frequently used by slave masters as a threat toward defiant slaves. It would most certainly break the spirit of defiance of almost any parent in captivity and bring that slave back into the control of the slave master.
Today, it is reported by agencies of the U.S. government that: Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child becomes missing or is abducted.
Abduction, kidnapping is an act of violence and domination. It is a tool of control. It is often combined with emotional and psychological manipulation of the intended victim.
Have you ever participated in a kidnapping? Are you absolutely sure?
Let me help you think a little deeper on my question. Here are some addiction facts:
Based on the identity of the perpetrator, there are three distinct types of kidnapping: kidnapping by a relative of the victim or "family kidnapping" (49 percent), kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim or "acquaintance kidnapping" (27 percent), and kidnapping by a stranger to the victim or "stranger kidnapping" (24 percent).
In the Black community, we often hear dialogue about relationship violence and abuse toward women that sometimes involves physical kidnapping or abduction. This is certainly an area of grave concern for all right minded people. And men must learn that violence toward women is totally unacceptable.
However, I want to ask you about a form of abduction that has become common practice, socially acceptable and legally sanctioned. In fact, it is so common that you may have unwittingly been a participant in its practice. It is a bad habit with high risk potential that occurs everyday, like drivers turning automobiles without using signals. This type of abduction is a common tool in present day relationships.
In fact, family kidnapping is committed primarily by parents, involves a larger percentage of female perpetrators (43 percent) than other types of kidnapping offenses, occurs more frequently to children under 6, equally victimizes juveniles of both sexes, and most often originates in the home.
Again, I ask: Have you ever participated in a kidnapping? Are you absolutely sure?
Frequently, we use our children as currency in relationship turmoil. Frequently, we resort to various forms of abduction of our own children as a means to gain control, make a statement of power, or inflict pain on the other parent of our children.
Most of us are products of a too negative environment, negative observational learning, toxic relationship models and faulty group thinking – we engage in relationship transactions using our children as currency.
There are too many parents who engage in emotional conditioning, psychological anchoring and passive aggressive strategies all designed to ensure that the mind and emotions of our child is only capable of seeing us as the legitimate parent. Once the child is positioned emotionally and psychologically this way, then the child can be used as a ‘cat’s paw’ to inflict pain, or extract reward, from the other parent.
I regularly counsel fathers who, along with their child or children, are the victims of this kind of family abduction. Another word for it is Tiger Kidnapping. A tiger kidnapping or tiger robbery involves two separate crimes. The first crime usually involves an abduction of any person or thing someone highly values. Instead of demanding money, the captors demand that a second crime be committed on their behalf. The second crime could be anything from robbery, murder, to planting a bomb. A person or item held hostage is kept by the captors until their demands are met. The goal of the captors is to have their risky/dirty work performed by another person. The victims of a crime like this are less likely to report to authorities since they just committed a crime themselves.
Police have identified highly organized paramilitary training camps that prepare potential tiger kidnappers; one witness stated that trainees operate so cohesively that they are comparable to a SWAT team.
Tiger kidnapping is also the taking a hostage to make a loved one or associate of the victim do something: e.g. a child is taken hostage to force the shopkeeper to open the safe. The term originates from the usually long preceding observation, like a tiger does on the prowl.
This can be a subtle process or an abrupt visceral event. When it is subtle it usually means that the child is indoctrinated to see one parent as positive and the other as negative. One parent paints the other as the cause of all pain and problems, which by default makes the other the source of relief. Often in this type of dynamic, the extended family or the ‘family of origin’ of the dominant parent is used to create a system of psychological isolation around the child. As the process unfolds, these family members are deployed as participants in the Tiger Kidnapping. Sometimes their movements and manipulations of the child are as coordinated and aggressive as a SWAT team.
I ask again; have you ever participated in a kidnapping?
Are you, or your children the victims of kidnapping?
We will go deeper in part two…
Min. Michael Muhammad
The Cost of Appreciation
The 4H Club
HANDLING CRITICISM PT. 2
The Forgotten Fathers
Sometimes a person who was feeling down for a long time suddenly gets happy and light-hearted. It can mean that they have decided on carrying out their suicidal plan. They will suddenly be carefree and jocular. These changes will be a relief to the family member, as they consider that the person is at last getting back to life, when indeed the reverse is imminent.
What is the reverse? Suicide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is now the third cause of death among African-American males between the ages of 15 and 24, behind homicide and accidental injury.
The most mis-understood and under-cared for segment of American society is in fact the Black male. I realize this is hard for some to swallow. Black man is the President of the U.S.A. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Kevin Durant is on full display right now, as wealthy superstars. Nevertheless, the MOST mis-understood and under-cared for segment of American society is the Black male.
Black men have been the object of social constraint, isolation and elimination since the dawn of the so-called “New World”. Black men started out in American society and continue to be viewed as an expendable commodity, who’s only real worth is correlated to his economic value. This economic value has always represented a high rate of return to others, but never to himself. This is not only a contradiction, but a paradox.
This paradox is one the becomes a driving question that weighs heavy on the minds and souls of “conscious” Black men. This paradox is an unseen, intangible inner drive for the majority of Black men across all categories of education and status.
The recent loss of one of Chicago’s most positive and respected public school Interventionist, Khaldun Everage, should have us talking about the deeper issue confronting the psyche and spirit of even apparently happy and highly productive Black men. But the public landscape is currently consumed with it’s annual infatuation with summer-time violence.
It is what happens to Black males in the privacy of their broken homes, desensitized upbringing and educational experiences that are at the core of our relentless fratricidal and suicidal behavior.
Professor Howard Clinebell states that: "Grief is involved in all significant changes, losses and life transitions, not just the death of a loved person. There is evidence that many psychophysiological (psychosomatic) illnesses are related to unhealed grief. In many cases, a major loss was correlated with the onset or dramatic worsening of the painful symptoms that brought them for help. Included were persons with a wide variety presenting problems, job difficulties, substance abuse, psychophysiological illness, and religious problems. Also included were persons with general spiritual malaise-boredom, restlessness, feelings of deadness, lack of creative energy and purpose in life."
We always ask ‘why are Black men so un-motivated and unproductive?’ But, we seem to lack the character to deal with the correct answers. We are so very anxious to dismiss the pains which are ever so relentlessly imposed on Black male development.
The educational and socialization process experienced by Black people in America largely requires us to loose our ‘Blackness’ to have any chance at ‘success’. This loss is slow, subtle and traumatic. How this expresses itself in the development of the personality formations of Black males is a politically incorrect subject at best, loathed by many at worse.
From 1980 to 1995, the suicide rate for black adolescents rose from 5.6 per 100,000 of the population to 13 per 100,000, according to recent research by Clare Xanthos, a health services research specialist. For young black men, these changes represent a doubling of the suicide rate, making it the third leading cause of death among that demographic.
Who even cares for Black males? Do the majority of educators care? Do health professionals care? Do the majority of our women care?
My sister and comrade, Moni Rashad was keen on challenging Black women to think about these types of questions. These are the kind of question adults must force themselves to get understanding. This are the question Moni Rahad help us raise each month at our INSPIRATION SUNDAY instructional messages.
Just 4 percent of the nation's psychiatrists, 3 percent of the psychologists and 7 percent of social workers, are Black.
The data suggest that 80 to 90 percent of people who commit suicide are suffering from clinical depression or another undiagnosed mental illness,” says Dr. David Satcher, a former U.S. surgeon general who now serves as director of Morehouse School of Medicine’s Center of Excellence on Health Disparities.
When any morally rational person survey’s the popular culture in America, they can see how ill our society has become. This illness has become rationalized, sanitized and standardized. Like any illness or contagion, as it spreads it affects those whose immunity has been the most compromised. In the U.S.A., the Black man’s immunity has been damaged in ways unlike any other segment of the population.
How much time and attention do you put toward listening, studying and understanding the unspoken pain of the Black men connected to your life?
Min. Michael Muhammad
One of the prime icons of educational self-development who inspires the work of ArchAngel Human Development; the great scholar and advocate for Black male education, Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu reports in his seminal lectures and books that:
African-American children are only 17 percent of the total school population in America, yet they represent more than 41 percent of students in special education, of which 80 percent are Black males. Eighty percent of all students referred to special education are below grade level in reading and writing. In contrast, Black students are only six percent of gifted classes.
These facts were brought crashing into my consciousness while interacting with a member of the staff of a local Chicago Public School a few days ago. A large part of the work we have been engaged in is youth development. Our program includes workshops and lectures centered around our innovative life skills curriculum, mentoring, one-on-one coaching and counseling, and other key modalities. We provide in-school programming that is integrated into the regular academic schedule of ‘high-risk’ and ‘at-risk’ youth.
This means we have the opportunity to interact with the day-to-day in-school climate. This interaction is very revealing about the many factors contributing to the academic isolation, apathy and failures of the young Black men Dr. Kunjufu has crusaded about for at least the last 30 years.
There are a couple of facts I regularly observe that must be changed immediately if Black males are ever going to capable of reversing the damage that most of America’s education and social institutions have done. 1) Strong, positive, morally upright Black men are extremely absent from public education. 2) Black women must encourage themselves to develop proper understanding of their role in perpetuating fact number one. 3) Too many so-called educators and administrators are pre-occupied with credential recognition, when the objective should be combating a system at war for the minds of Black people. 4) The few culturally conscious Black men in position of authority within education system are often undermined by arrogant, egotistical and emotionally imbalanced Black women.
Now this may offend a few people, but we observe the facts of the above-mentioned behaviors often. These operational under-tones and organizational dysfunction are often the subtle currents that counter the efforts of progressive in-school policy. Often they bubble to the surface in the face of students who see the hypocrisy, the lack of respect and gender gang-banging of so-called ‘educated’ people.
The question that all adults and especially parents must ask is: are you guilty of what I have tried to describe above – in your house?
The hardest thing in the world to do, is to try and instill a positive sense of self in young Black men, when they don’t see anyone (especially other Black women and men) respecting adult Black men – even when they are in the position of authority.
There are certain key human qualities that only a few people are capable of teaching, and fewer are able to exemplify. With the ArchAngel Human Developemnt Institute, we are trying to teach adults how to develop these critical qualities to aid the success of our community. Unfortunately, too many of us really think we know – when it’s blatantly obvious MOST of us never, had them, have not paid attention when we experience them in others and are not even looking for them. These high qualities of which we speak are not conferred by money, good looks, academic credentialing or organizational status.The number one ingredient we are missing is true spiritual development.
Min. Michel Muhammad
In Chicago, only 30% of Black males graduate from high school, of these only 3% of them obtain a bachelor’s degree by the time they’re 25.
Recently, the Chicago Suntimes reported that "a pimp scoured West Side neighborhoods for girls and women he forced into prostitution was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
A jury found the then 32 year old male, guilty on all counts, including 10 charges of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion and sex trafficking of minors. He trolled neighborhoods in search of young, vulnerable victims, and he at first promised love, before forcing the girls into prostitution.
This story is all too familiar. Worst still, we are feeding this beast.
Here is the type of counter-intuitive question raise at ArchAngel Human Development Institute: What is the value of manhood in your family?
To arrive at a reasonable answer to this primary question, let me pose several secondary questions, such as: 1) Do you or your children live in a two parent household? 2) Were you raised in a two parent household? 3) Do you accept marriage as cardinal principle in male-female relationships? 4) How many books, articles or lectures do you experience each month on the plight of children without fathers or male involvement?
If you have affirmative or forward answers to these questions, then it is reasonable to believe that there is some level of healthy value for manhood in your early development or latter social formations.
However, increasingly in the U.S., the trend is away from the preservation of the above mentioned family models. Our society is rushing towards the extreme polarities of the super self-centered and the desperately in need of belonging. Which end of the spectrum are you? If you are a parent, which end are you pushing your children toward?
What self-images are you promoting of yourself? Can you recognize a healthy image? Popular culture has slowly transformed what is considered a healthy male or female image. The images we craft are a direct reflection of the value we hold for what we are as persons. When young children are developing, between 2 years old and 13 years old is when the images he forms of maleness and females is in direct proportion to what is promoted in his environment. The child carries forward the desire to fulfill the standards that correlates to these images.
It is the responsibility of parents to define the appropriate images and standards for children. It is the responsibility of fathers to demonstrate how to respect women from the earliest ages. The father must burn a healthy respect for women into the mind of the child by reinforcing expressions of respect and love for the mother, even in the face of relationship turbulence. The father must show passion and compassion for the mother.
Many of us as fathers have adopted a self-image that is too macho, too concerned with imitating popular culture or too reflective of street culture. These images are frequently on display on male children with earrings, wild hair, cocked hats, etc.
Mass media has generally usurped the power of parents to define images. However, parents must stop compromising their own standards to accommodate popular culture, especially since popular culture is morally, spiritually and emotionally sick.
What makes a teenager or young adult have the predatory impulse to pimp and violently abuse young girls? What changes do adults need to engage in to breed, raise and develop healthy male children?
It’s time that many of us as parents realize it’s time for a character reform. Join us at the ArchAngel Human Development Institute to engage in this necessary task of Self-Improvement at our next Inspiration Sunday.
Min. Michael Muhammad