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Mentoring That Matters

Mentors, Mentees and Mentorship

Mentoring has become more critical today than ever before, and not just for children and youth. Urban Missiology exists to resource and support the mentoring process by presenting themes, circumstances, models, interpretations, stories and symbols that promote connections and opportunities for self-growth and discovery for both the mentee, mentor and the mentoring organizations.

Readers, we invite you to submit stories about people, ideas, and experiences that have mentored you along life’s journey. We look forward to hearing from you. Until that time, we will offer short stories to inspire and motive the best in you. Feel free to submit your own favorite fables and stories. 


6 Ways to Celebrate Women's History Month at Work

By Kelley Katsanos

Apart from centering around the designated theme of the year, Women's History Month continues the conversation of women and their contributions not only in the month of March but year-round. Business owners, leadership teams and others in the workplace can take several meaningful measures to show solidarity and support for their women colleagues and coworkers throughout the year, not just in March.


Here are six ideas to consider championing at your organization:

1. Host insightful "lunch and learns"

Consider coordinating an information session during a lunch break, where presenters can highlight influential women throughout history and the present day. This is a great way to educate staff members on prominent historical figures and celebrate their milestones. Topics can include everything from pivotal women in politics to inspiring women business leaders to famous female inventors who have changed the world.


2. Initiate an employee recognition program

Ask employees to nominate a "woman of the year" to show appreciation for an outstanding woman on your staff. Recognize the winner company-wide by hosting a ceremony at an all-hands meeting or by making an announcement in a company newsletter, email or webpage. You might even honor the recipient with a prize, plaque or poster that includes their colleagues' words of praise. Other awards could also be administered throughout the year, perhaps quarterly, for instance, a "woman to watch" award or a "women who support other women" award.


3. Plan a virtual museum outing

You can learn about trailblazing women past and present through virtual online exhibits, documents, video clips and photographs offered by organizations such as the Natural Women's History Museum. The museum covers a variety of topics related to women's history, including the women of NASA, women in social justice, women in STEM, women's involvement in wars, first ladies and more. They also have a "First But Not the Last" exhibit that documents the stories of women who ran for president. Another to check out is the "Standing up for Change: African American Women and the Civil Rights Movement" online exhibit, which features the remarkable women that spurred the historic fight toward equity.


4. Hold a book club themed on women's stories

From fictional characters to real-life icons, there are many popular books about powerful women and many amazing stories told by women authors to help start meaningful conversations about women's challenges and contributions. Choose a book, give people time to read it, then select a date and place to discuss it as a team. This can even be done virtually, and it can recur often — book clubs generally meet every month or two.


5. Encourage thoughtful reflection and interaction

Inspire employees to interact with each other by inviting them to post notes on a bulletin board or other community space sharing a tidbit about women who have made a positive impact on their lives. Spotlighting incredible women within the company or announcing specific contributions and achievements of the women on your team are other creative ways to spark appreciation and bonding. Activities like this can foster conversations and create deeper connections among employees.


6. Start a business resource group

While planning activities and holding events are great ways to celebrate women's contributions, a long-term workplace culture shift can help you keep inclusivity at top of mind year-round. For instance, creating a business resource group encourages employees to come together and share their common interests and experiences. These groups aren't merely social, however. They can influence the overall organization's approach to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) by sharing awareness and viewpoints across departments, and they may participate in career development, networking, service-project and other opportunities.

34 Black History Month Activities for February and Beyond

INOTE TO READERS:  This excellent article by Tamara Moore, 34 Black History Month Activities for February and Beyond,  was published in We Are Teachers ( on January 20, 2023. Because we appreciate its creativity and insightfulness, it is reprinted here in its entirety in a series of four posts (February – May). These activities can be adapted and used by faith communities and social organizations as well as educational institutions of all ages.

March 2023

NOTE TO READERS:  This is PART 2 of a recommended article by Tamara Moore, 34 Black History Month Activities for February and Beyond, published in We Are Teachers ( on January 20, 2023.

​9.  Learn about Madam C.J. Walker and other Black entrepreneurs

  • Do you know about Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire in America? Click here to learn more about her!

10. Decorate your classroom door for Black History Month

  • Teachers decorate their classroom doors in amazing ways to showcase Black History Month

11.  Honor some of the military’s most courageous veterans

  • From the 54th Massachusetts to the Buffalo Soldiers to the Tuskegee Airmen, Black men and women have long served in the United States military, even when their own rights weren’t secure.

12. Read books with Black characters in honor of the young hero Marley Dias

  • Dias is a young activist who started the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign as a sixth grader. She has compiled an excellent guide to books with Black girl characters. Check out WeAreTeacher’s list of books with Black protagonists as well.

13. Read Black History Month books

  • If you’re looking for more reading activities, these picture books help celebrate Black History Month and educate your students on how these people helped shape history.

14. Learn about the art of stepping

  • Stepping is a form of dancing in which the body itself is used to create unique rhythms and sounds. The website Step Afrika! has videos and information about the history of stepping.

15. Take a virtual trip to the illustrious Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

  • The digital collections of the Schomburg Center, located in Harlem in New York City, feature some amazing online exhibits, interviews, and podcasts.

16. Virtually visit the incredible Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

  • You can browse the collection online by topic, date, or place.

February 2023

1. Re-create Civil Rights Freedom Movement posters:

  • The Civil Rights Movement Veterans site offers powerful examples of freedom movement posters, as does the Civil Rights Digital Library. Review them with your students, and then have them get into groups and create their own to share.

2. Explore Black history through primary sources from the National Archives:

  • Choose from thousands of resources, including this 1970s photo series of Chicago.

3. Learn about famous Black artists:

  • Future Jacob Lawrences and Elizabeth Catletts will appreciate learning more about artists and expanding their talents! Plus, check out these other Black artists.

4. Watch a Black History Month video:

  • Watching videos can be some of the most meaningful Black History Month classroom activities. Check out this list of Black history videos for students in every grade level.

5. Learn about the Black Lives Matter movement:

  • The Black Lives Matter site explains the group’s history while books like Dear Martin and The Hate U Give explore the movement from a fictional perspective.

6. Create a newsletter or magazine with content from Black authors:

  • Have your students generate their own newsletter or literacy magazine to distribute to parents. Include poems and short stories by Black authors, as well as student-generated writings and images that center on Black History Month.

7. Read a Black History Month poem:

  • To enhance our conversations this month, we’ve put together this list of powerful Black History Month poems for kids of all ages.

8. Turn your classroom into a living museum:

  • Choose a notable Black pioneer you’d like to know more about, such as voting rights and women’s rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, dancer Alvin Ailey, or Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest full-time national parks ranger. Then, host a living museum right in your classroom.

4 Short Stories that Will Change the Way You Think

written by Marc Chernoff

Let me distract you for a moment and tell you four short stories. These are old stories – familiar stories. 

The people and the circumstances differ slightly for everyone who tells them, but the core lessons remain the same.

I hope the twist we’ve put on them here inspires you to think differently…

Story #1:  Being and Breathing

After spending nearly every waking minute with Angel for eight straight days, I knew that I had to tell her just one thing.  So late at night, just before she fell asleep, I whispered it in her ear.  She smiled – the kind of smile that makes me smile back –and she said, “When I’m seventy-five and I think about my life and what it was like to be young, I hope that I can remember this very moment.”


A few seconds later she closed her eyes and fell asleep.  The room was peaceful – almost silent.  All I could hear was the soft purr of her breathing.  I stayed awake thinking about the time we’d spent together and all the choices in our lives that made this moment possible.  And at some point, I realized that it didn’t matter what we’d done or where we’d gone.  Nor did the future hold any significance. All that mattered was the serenity of the moment.


Just being with her and breathing with her.


The moral:  We must not allow the clock, the calendar, and external pressures to rule our lives and blind us to the fact that each individual moment of our lives is a beautiful mystery and a miracle – especially those moments we spend in the presence of a loved one.

Story #2:  Shark Bait

During a research experiment a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank. As you would expect, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish. The marine biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fiberglass and a new set of bait fish on the other.

Again, the shark quickly attacked.  This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off.  Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail.  Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition.  Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks.  Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether. The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack.  The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished.

The moral:  Many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark in the story, we believe that because we were unsuccessful in the past, we will always be unsuccessful. In other words, we continue to see a barrier in our heads, even when no ‘real’ barrier exists between where we are and where we want to go.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

Story #3:  The Weight of the Glass

Once upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students.  As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question.  Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?” Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while - nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer - you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long - you will feel completely numb, paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The moral:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.  (Read the Adversity and Self-Love chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

Story # 4:  All the Difference in The World

Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home.  There’s a lake located in one corner of the park.  Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.

This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her.  As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap.  There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap.  She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush. “Hello,” I said.  “I see you here every Sunday morning.  If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”

She smiled.  “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied.  “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim.  It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”

“Wow!  That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.

She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out.  It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”

“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.

“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.

I scratched my head.  “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent?  I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are fresh water turtles living in lakes all around the world.  And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells.  So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”

The woman giggled aloud.  She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”


The moral:  You can change the world – maybe not all at once, but one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time.  Wake up every morning and pretend like what you do makes a difference.  It does.  (Read 29 Gifts.)

June 2022

Be the best that you can be - a short fable...

There was an old carpenter who was going to retire, and because his boss could not bear to let him go, he asked the old carpenter to build a house before he leaves. Although the old carpenter agreed, his heart was already not on his job – he used lousy materials, and the house he built was one of his worst projects. When the house was ready, the boss told him that it was his parting gift to him. The old carpenter was saddened and ashamed to learn that the house he built was actually for himself.

Morale of the story:  Everything we do in life, we are actually doing for ourselves, so we must make sure we do the best.

April 2022

A vision, a dream, an idea, or an imagination is such a beautiful, powerful thing.

by Rev. Dr. Christina Accornero


The transforming process takes someone from inner reflection and finding self-worth, to finding their voice and moving into a place where they might begin to dream. One of the most beautiful ways to explain this type of transformation is to tell the extraordinary story of the “Imaginal Cells” – how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.

After a caterpillar buries itself inside its cocoon, it waits to morph into a butterfly. The caterpillar does not simply shrink a bit and sprout wings. Instead, it sort of disintegrates into a puddle of ooze within the cocoon. If we were to open the cocoon halfway through the process, we would not find a half-caterpillar half-butterfly type creature, but a blob of primordial goop. Basically a mass of death and decay. The goop is made up of a bunch of individual cells that are all basically the same type of oozy cells. 

They are not the original cells changing into these new cells, but rather they seem to come out of nowhere, popping up within the goop. These new cells are called imaginal cells, and they are so completely different from the original ooze cells that they are thought to be a virus or some other form of enemy so the ooze cells begin attacking the imaginal cells. However, even though the imaginal cells are being killed off for not fitting in, they still keep showing up, more and more of them.  

Eventually, the imaginal cells begin to find each other and cluster together. Like attracts like, and the clusters begin to join up with other clusters. The original cells still keep attacking them but the imaginal cells continue to multiply and cluster together.  

Eventually, they get to be a large enough community and they switch gears from simply being a group of like-minded cells into the programming cells. Some imaginal cells start changing into wing cells, some start changing into antenna cells, some start changing into digestive tract cells, and so on. The butterfly eventually emerges as a completely new entity from the original caterpillar. 

Do they hold the same memories, life lessons, and consciousness? Who knows? One would think that for survival of the species, the butterfly would still retain whatever knowledge the caterpillar had learned before entering into the cocoon state.

What if a type of "imaginal cell" could work for people too? It could be like a quiet little thought somewhere in the back corner of someone’s mind telling them that they could make a huge change in themselves, to become less like the caterpillar and more like the butterfly. Many people have gone through this transformation through the coaching process.

People know that they are meant to grow, morph, and change into some new, an improved version of themselves, by the reoccurring theme of those tiny little imaginal cells creating inspirational thoughts. They find that deep “value” – the hidden, intrinsic worth – in the reoccurring thoughts that can both haunt and inspire. These thoughts will cluster together creating themes of healing change, themes of growth, and themes of becoming something completely different.  As the butterfly – the self – emerges, the voice strengthens.

Helping someone find their emerging potential and see – envision – themselves as the fully developed butterfly is a truly awe inspiring process and a privilege to be a part of as a coach.

December 2021

© By Angela M Waters

From "My Inner City Blues; Views from my Reality" 

Available at


For many years I have asked myself about our health care system in America, and wondered if others see what I see.  This was before Covid-19, and many of the other illnesses that plague us today were such a crisis.  I thank God for being a healer.  I was just sharing with someone about when I had my second back accident and it left me in a wheelchair.  I was an undergrad and was in so much pain and depression that I wanted to just die.  I had a personal assistant that would help me get to class and I would lay on the floor because the pain was so great sitting in the wheelchair. I did not want to ask God to heal me; instead, I went to the funeral home and picked out my casket. 

The funeral director said, “I am going to pray for you.”  I was upset that he was going to pray for me, because I didn’t want to be healed, I wanted to end the pain of life all together.  At that moment, I realized that he was willing to do something for me that I wasn’t willing to do for myself, so I prayed.  It seems like the next thing I knew God had sent an angel called Dr. Aujunan.  It seemed like I had known him for a lifetime.  He said he was going to remove my fourth and fifth lumbar disc.  I asked what he was going to replace it with and he said, “nothing.”  I said “fine,” what did I have to lose.  I have not been in the wheelchair since.   As I think about our healthcare system in America and the way that if we get ill even if we had money, it may cost all that we have to pay for the medical care, if we are fortunate enough to get it, the bleak possibility inspired me to write this poem.   





Okay people we better wake up  

We better start taking responsibility for where we are  

And stop trying to pass the buck  


How much did you say you love yourself?  

Well, I can’t tell by the way you treat your health  

We allow the poisons in our food and air  

And walk around like they are not going to affect us  

Yeah, I can tell you care—Responsible Right?  


Our minds are being fed junk and programmed to a reality we know we don’t want to live with,

Did I hear you say anything?  

Did I see you doing anything?  

Or is it just Me?  


You say there is nothing you can do!  

Did you try?  Why did you stop trying?  

Are you saying you would rather live a lie?  

Let me hear it again that pitiful, helpless sigh.  


What have you put out into the universe?  

What positive thoughts and feelings have you sent out?  

If you believe in the law of retribution where you reap what you sow,   

How come you are not sowing?  

Did you just say something when I said we have to be responsible?  


I know I don’t have to rundown the current state of affairs we live with daily,

Just tell me, what are we teaching our future generation?  

And we have the audacity to say “they are our future,”  

Future what?  


Again, I have to say, we must be more responsible.  

I am going to be realistic, and I am not even going to suggest we try to change the whole world, 

I just want to challenge us each to change ourselves.  


If we put demand on ourselves to live the best life we can live,   

To love ourselves in all aspects,  

We will move from our present existence into optimal health,

that affect and effect our community, health mind, body and soul.  


Permission given to Urban for use on their website by Angela M. Waters Bamford 9-23-2021



November 2021

Who mentored General Colin Powell?

Watch the video provided by Harvard University

October 2021

“Anybody who gives their best never regrets it."


The Old Carpenter

A carpenter with many years of experience was ready to retire. He announced to his employer- contractor his plans to leave the house-building business to live a more relaxed retired life with his wife and family. The contractor felt a little upset that his good and experienced carpenter was leaving the job, but he requested the carpenter to build another house for him.

The carpenter agreed with the contractor, but his heart was not in his work as it used to be. He worked quickly and carelessly and used inferior materials to build the last house of his career. It was an awful way to end his career. When the carpenter finished the house,  the employer came to inspect the house.

The employer-contractor looked around the house and, just before leaving the house, he handed the key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my special present to you.” Although it should be a good surprise, he did not feel good as he felt a deep shame inside him. If only he had known he was building his own house, he would have done it all differently. Now he had to live in a home that wasn’t built so well.


As a carpenter, we build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to line up with less rather than the best. Give your best. Your attitudes and the choices you make today will be your life tomorrow, build it with care.

September 2021

Marjorie Lewis.jpg

Rev. Dr. Marjorie Lewis, University Chaplain, Arcadia University, Nova Scotia, and a member of the Urban Missiology advisor board, has shared with us a Report that was released in Canada this month. She suggests that it may be a good point of departure for some local and Pan African conversations on a critical issue facing many in our urban communities around the world.

Black Mental Health Professionals Speak!

Informing NSHA’s African Nova Scotian Health Care Strategy

The main purpose of this two-year study was:

• To contribute to NSHA’s African Nova Scotian Health Care Strategy by gaining insights from Black mental health clinicians, administrators, health promoters, policymakers, and professors about how their cultural beliefs, beliefs about mental illness and help-seeking, and education and training influence how they understand and address mental illness experienced by Black people of diverse cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, income levels, education levels, and other identities.

Study Question

The main study question was:

  • How can cultural competency and structural competency approaches that acknowledge the intersections of race, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, citizenship status, and other social identities be more effectively embedded in research, student and faculty education, university curricula, and clinical training within psychiatric and community-based mental health services, as well as mental health policies at NSHA?

Study Objectives

The main study objective was:

  • To examine the perspectives and beliefs Black clinicians, health promoters, administrators, policymakers, and university professors hold about the applicability and relevance of Western mental health knowledge, epistemologies, and diagnostic and treatment approaches to Black mental health patients of diverse cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, income levels and other social identities in Nova Scotia.

The other study objectives were:

  •  To identify strategies for embedding insights about the intersections of race, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, and other social factors into services and policies at NSHA.

  • To identify strategies for incorporating these insights into university research, student and faculty education, curricula, and clinical training within psychiatric and community-based mental health services in Nova Scotia.

The main purpose of this two-year study was:

  • To contribute to NSHA’s African Nova Scotian Health Care Strategy by gaining insights from Black mental health clinicians, administrators, health promoters, policymakers, and professors about how their cultural beliefs, beliefs about mental illness and help-seeking, and education and training influence how they understand and address mental illness experienced by Black people of diverse cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, income levels, education levels, and other identities.


Study Question

The main study question was:

  • How can cultural competency and structural competency approaches that acknowledge the intersections of race, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, citizenship status, and other social identities be more effectively embedded in research, student and faculty education, university curricula, and clinical training within psychiatric and community-based mental health services, as well as mental health policies at NSHA?


Study Objectives

The main study objective was:

  • To examine the perspectives and beliefs Black clinicians, health promoters, administrators, policymakers, and university professors hold about the applicability and relevance of Western mental health knowledge, epistemologies, and diagnostic and treatment approaches to Black mental health patients of diverse cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, income levels and other social identities in Nova Scotia.


The other study objectives were:

  •  To identify strategies for embedding insights about the intersections of race, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, and other social factors into services and policies at NSHA.

  • To identify strategies for incorporating these insights into university research, student and faculty education, curricula, and clinical training within psychiatric and community-based mental health services in Nova Scotia.



The study used an interpretive, narrative approach (Polkinghorne, 1988, 1995) to collect and analyze the data. This qualitative approach involves data collection methods that enable participants to articulate, define and give meaning to their experiences.



A total of 33 participants from the following three participant categories were recruited for this study:

  • Nineteen Black mental health clinicians.

  • Eight Black administrators/policymakers/health promoters engaged in work on health and mental health.

  • Six Black university professors.


The participants were born in the following provinces and countries:

Nova Scotia, Ontario, Trinidad, The Bahamas, Jamaica, United States, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon


Data Collection was one-hour audio-recorded individual in-person and phone interviews (due to COVID) were conducted with each participant using interview questionnaires.

Summary of Findings

Beliefs About Mental Illness & Help-Seeking:

  • Participants discussed beliefs around mental illness and help-seeking in their culture, including the following: 1) people who have mental illness are cursed and have been victims of demonic possession, a spiritual attack by a witch or wizard, or “voodoo” or “obeah”; 2) mental illness is caused by intergenerational trauma in the form of abuse and other forms of trauma in families, the trauma of being a Black or a racialized person in Nova Scotia and Canada, and the trauma experienced through lateral violence from other Black people; and 3) genetic/hereditary factors are at the root of mental illness.

  • Black people who are members of the LGBTQIA community must often navigate the different avenues available for finding faith and faith communities within and outside religions institutions that have been harmful to them.

  • The lack of cultural literacy around mental health historically, as well as not knowing how to name it has been a deterrent to help-seeking in Black communities.


How Beliefs About Mental Illness Influence Clinical Care, Administrative Work, Policy, Health Promotion & University Teaching & Research:

  • Participants beliefs about mental illness and help-seeking shape their practice, whether it be clinical care, policy, administrative work, health promotion or university teaching and research.6 • The social determinants of health, as well as patients’ life circumstances are the factors that some clinicians give credence to in their practice. • Clinicians who were trained within the Western medical model indicated a preference for that approach.


Experiences Working within Western-Oriented Workplaces:

  • Navigating Western-oriented workplaces is often fraught with challenges, tensions and complications for those providing clinical services, developing policy and teaching and conducting research focused on mental illness in Black communities.

  • The beliefs, worldviews and experiences of mentally ill Black people are often dismissed, negated, or ignored in the mental health system and in university teaching and research, often because clinicians and professors are ill-equipped to address the concerns and priorities of Black people in their work and because they don’t fit into Western understandings of mental illness.

  • Exploring opportunities to strengthen best practices approaches by combining Western and alternative modalities may be an important step in addressing mental illness in Black communities.


Grappling with Cultural Competence and Structural Competence:

  • Offering cultural competency training is meaningless if it is not offered with the proper foundation and acknowledgment of how the health system and decision making can facilitate its application to clinical practice.

  • Although many of the participants struggled to define structural competence, the experiences they shared about how they advocated for patients’ needs around housing, food, jobs and education, as well as their understanding of how decision-making processes within our various social structures impact people’s mental well-being indicated that they were endeavouring to be structurally competent in their work.

  • Structural competence must be taken up by the health system and universities to better address the social, economic, environmental, and political inequalities that impact mental health, especially for racialized and other marginalized communities that are more likely to be struggling with these inequalities.


Summary of Recommendations

Workforce Diversity:

  • Create pathways for Black people who are interested in becoming health professionals by helping them develop relationships with healthcare professionals for mentorship and guidance.

  • Increase the representation of people of diverse backgrounds at all levels of the health care workforce (clinical, policy, decision-making) by reaching out to and engaging people who are diverse based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic status, and education level.

  • Develop retention policies and incentives to retain diverse people in the health care workforce.


Training & Education at NSHA & Other Organizations that Provide Mental Health Services:

  • Expose psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to more literature and evidence based research on diverse populations through academic days, seminars, and other educational events.

  • Provide training on the mental health of diverse populations to staff at emergency units.

  • Implement cross-cultural training and education on mental health at colleges and universities.


Clinical Practice:

  • Hold NSHA accountable for ensuring that equity remains a commitment.

  • Facilitate partnerships between psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other health professionals at NSHA to help NSHA diversify its lens around notions of “best leading practices”.

  • Move beyond the biomedical model to acknowledge and validate the structural determinants that shape experiences, impact mental health, and that influence help-seeking. Mental Health Policy:

  • Incorporate patients’ diverse belief systems around mental illness into mental health policy.

  • Incorporate the concerns and priorities of diverse communities into mental health policy.

  • Ensure that mental health policy captures people’s diverse identities, such as race, gender identity, sexual orientation, culture, age, and disability, etc. University Research & Teaching:

  • Hold universities accountable for providing dedicated funds and spaces for research on mental health and other issues in Black communities.

  • Create a dedicated research pot at Dalhousie University and/or through national funding agencies for Black researchers who are conducting studies on health and mental health in Black communities.

  • Provide dedicated research funding to develop a Black health research institute that supports Black researchers in conducting research on health and mental health and in getting published and that provides Black graduate students with mentorship and training to conduct research on health and mental health in Black communities.


The principal investigator and author of this Report is Dr. Ingrid R. G. Waldron, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health, Dalhousie University. The full report is available at: Marjorie Lewis_Final Study Report Black Mental Health Professionals

August 2021

Meet Mauree Turner: A Disruptor of Politics

By Brienne Walsh

It took sitting with their hospitalized father for Mauree Turner to realize that he

wasn’t an inherently bad person. For much of their youth, Turner’s father had

been imprisoned—leaving Turner with a negative impression of what kind of

man he was. But spending time with him in the hospital after he’d experienced

a car accident helped Turner learn the truth: He wanted to be a teacher but,

as a Black man in small-town Oklahoma, was in and out of prison until Turner

was 13 years old. 

“It was then that I truly understood how Oklahoma’s criminal justice system

keeps people incarcerated long after they’ve left the prison system,”

Turner says.

In fact, the state has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world, and Black people, unsurprisingly, are overrepresented. That conversation with their father was a pivotal moment in Turner’s life that eventually led them to be the first publicly non-binary U.S. state lawmaker and the first Muslim member of the Oklahoma Legislature. 

At the time, Turner, now 28, whose preferred pronouns are they/them/their, was working towards becoming a veterinarian at Oklahoma State University. But after talking to their father, Turner shifted to a career as a community organizer. They worked with organizations including the NAACP of Oklahoma, Freedom Oklahoma and Counsel on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Oklahoma.

“I saw that my communities were hurt, and needed to be healed,” says Turner. 

In 2018, at the encouragement of other organizers, Turner decided to run against the Democratic incumbent in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives District 88—a liberal stronghold in a very conservative state. Turner, who focused on criminal justice reform and inclusivity in their campaign, beat the incumbent and went on to win the general election for the seat on November 3, with 71.4% of the vote.

“I am humbled and amazed that folks put their faith in me,” says Turner. “I usually don’t talk about myself and my identity except with my dear friends, and it was remarkable that people showed up for me.”

The win has also been bittersweet—and, as Turner says, gut-wrenching. In the months after the election, they petitioned their colleagues in the Legislature to adopt gender-neutral language and a gender-inclusive dress code.

But in early January, the Oklahoma Legislature voted to keep the status quo. Turner was devastated.

Even still, Turner was buoyed by the supporters they have in Oklahoma and around the county. “Every time I get knocked down around the legs, the community is right there to pick me back up,” Turner says. Turner plans to keep fighting for people like them and like their father. “For too long, lawmakers in Oklahoma have been writing policies they don’t have to live. To change that, I’m going to hit the ground running.”

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Black Male Educators Create Space for Joy

This Learning for Justice article was written

by Coshandra Dillard

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Black Male Educators Making Safe Spaces


In February 2020, 65 Black male educators assembled on the campus

of Clayton State University just outside Atlanta for a day of community

building. They workshopped, encouraged each other and shared

experiences from their respective classrooms.

The men high-fived, hugged, laughed heartily and expressed gratitude

during workshopping sessions. It was in those moments that they were

free of the white gaze and filled with joy. When Black male educators

gather, they receive what they crave in their school communities: a safe

space to revel in joyfulness despite the way the world views Black men

and the expectations placed on them. This full breadth of Black men’s

humanity, which includes joy, often goes unrecognized or is


The Atlanta event, BMEsTalk LIVE, is a culmination of online engagement in weekly Twitter chats and at social gatherings. Organized by education consultant and former teacher Ayodele Harrison, it is a way to give this small segment of the nation’s educators a chance to bond and grow professionally. The day focuses on personal and professional success analysis, mentorship, pedagogical techniques and school community empowerment.

Attendees assert that the meeting counters the daily isolation many of them feel at school. That’s because Black male educators make up only about 2% of all public school teachers in the United States. Recruiting and retaining Black male educators has been a struggle for schools. In addition to isolation, the “invisible tax”—the expectation that educators of color handle issues around cultural competency, discipline and relationship-building with students of color—makes it more difficult for them to thrive. This pervasive charge means that Black educators are left with less support or end up “typecast” into non-academic roles.

Just as society doesn’t see Black men’s full humanity, the education community also doesn’t see Black male educators as multi-dimensional beings with skills vital to nurturing young minds. The fact that these men must find healing, learning and joy in platforms outside of their schools acknowledges the tokenization and pigeonholing they face. These phenomena result from existing white supremacist structures prevalent in schools, making it more difficult for students and teachers of color to flourish.

According to a 2016 Education Trust report, Through Our Eyes: Perspectives and Reflections From Black Teachers, Black educators “face racial discrimination and stereotyping that leave them feeling alienated and restricted from participating in the school community, impacting their ability to be effective and ultimately their desire to remain in the profession.”

BMEsTalk spaces help Black male educators feel part of a community. They feel valued. They feel seen.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a space that was specifically focused on Black male educators and engaging with each other, sharing the successes, the challenges and the opportunities,” one attendee says in a BMEsTalk LIVE recap video.

This community building—and its subsequent joy—is essential work, the men say. It’s necessary to stay motivated, a feat that can become difficult for those who are thrust into disciplinarian roles or feel tokenized and burned out.

BMEsTalk isn’t the only group of Black male educators doing this work. There are numerous organizations and alliances across the country creating spaces to celebrate and uplift these educators while helping to broaden their members’ career opportunities.

But it’s not enough to acknowledge the need for Black male educators to have a safe space for professional development or celebration. School communities must reconsider how they perceive Black men’s roles in education. They should act more intentionally so that Black male educators feel included in students’ learning. Colleagues need to respect their skills and abilities and see them more fully.

July 2021

3 Principles to building — and keeping — a great relationship with a mentor

by Robert Reffkin


  1. Giving, not just getting

  2. Taking their advice so they know their time was used wisely 

  3. Asking for personal life advice — not just professional career advice

See more....

May 2021

The Effects of the Long Term Care & Nursing Home Crisis:

Why it is Better to Keep Your Loved Ones at Home

By: Kearni N. Warren, Member Political Organizer & Lobbyist SEIU Healthcare PA

The aging population is growing, and by the year 2035, 1 in 5 people will be 65 or older. Also, 1 in 3 heads of households will be 65 or older. Studies show most seniors prefer to remain home while aging and need physical assistance while at home. As people live longer, the decision of how to care for family members is crucial and more prevalent than in past years. Should loved ones go to live in a nursing home facility, or should they stay at home? These questions have become the norm now that home care services are available and offer some families the ability to receive payment for family members' care. These decisions do not only affect seniors, but they also pertain to family and loved ones living with an illness or a disability. When determining how to best care for family, it is essential to keep in mind that people receive better care when they are at home due to the differences in the level of care given based upon staffing issues, low wages, and infection rates inside of the nursing home.


Covid-19 has exposed the previous brokenness within various sectors of our healthcare system. Unsafe nursing home staffing regulations have not changed in 30 years. There have been over 100,000 nursing home deaths due to Covid-19 throughout the country. In Pennsylvania, approximately 70% of all Covid-19 deaths were nursing home residents. Before the pandemic, nursing home staff struggled with 15-20 residents per employee; however, resident numbers have currently increased to at least 30 residents per employee. If you combine overworked and tired staff members with poverty wages, the health outcomes for patients are not favorable. The employee morale is low, resulting in some workers dreading going to work every day, leading to unsatisfactory standards of care, lack of patient attention, and resident abuse. Covid-19 highlighted the lack of transparency concerning the health of residents, and it also showed the high infection rates in nursing home facilities. The amount of quality care residents receive is limited in nursing home facilities due to existing shortages in staff and the number of patient care hours provided.


For example, an AARP study suggests that each nursing home resident should receive a total of 4.1 hours of care per day for adequate health care and staffing to occur. However, the current dangerous and outdated nursing home laws are set at 2.7 hours of care. This situation means nursing home residents are only visited once a day by a CNA or an RN within 24 hours. A non-mobile person may not get the needed repositioning required to prohibit skin breakdown, which results in bed sores. Residents are missing therapeutic range of motion activities that can result in improper recovery and limb stiffness. Residents who are fall risks are neglected and do not receive assistance when walking or going on bathroom breaks. Residents with incontinence are not being washed and changed as needed, and other residents are not receiving daily showers. Workers are often forced to lift heavy residents without the assistance of the Hoyer lift or due to understaffing. Not using a Hoyer lift is harmful to the physical health of workers and the residents. Although home care is not perfect and has its challenges, the level of patient care received at home is much better than in comparison.


The main benefit of keeping a loved one home is the amount of care and dignity family members receive. Families are giving the best gift, the gift of caregiving. When you are a home caregiver, you can spend the most difficult times, as well as the precious moments, with those you love. At home, loved ones are cared for by people who love them and have their best interest despite receiving low wages. Home caregivers decide to care for the family as a choice and seek to make sure every need of their loved one is met. They understand the stark differences in treatment and the possibilities of danger when a family member lives in a nursing home facility and keeps them home. Family caregivers typically care for one person; therefore, the ratio of staff to patient is low, which allows the caregiver to pay more attention to the patient's needs. More attention means frequent bathing, fewer falls, and fewer medical mistakes resulting in lower infection rates, fewer hospital visits, and lower death rates than those living in nursing homes. Family members who stay home receive 24-hour care seven days a week vs. the one visit often allowed in an 8 hr shift commonly practiced in nursing homes. While at home, the patient is in a familiar setting which makes them feel safe and happy. Their daily care routines are not interrupted from having to wait for someone to come into their rooms. Family members who stay home can go out more if physically able, and strangers do not surround them. Instead, they are surrounded by their favorite things and those they trust and love.


In closing, sending family members to live in a nursing home instead of keeping them home poses a greater risk to their health and life. Whether inside the home or a nursing home facility, caregivers have a vital role in keeping patients alive. That task becomes increasingly difficult when dealing with caregiving's everyday stress and the abysmal working conditions nursing home workers are often forced to encounter and accept. Not only are the working conditions of poor quality, but the wages given perpetuate a poverty-based level of living. There is also a low staff-to-patient ratio, and facilities are often understaffed. Hazardous conditions usually exist for workers, but these conditions are dangerous for the residents, leaving them at risk for the poor quality of treatment, high rates of infections, frequent hospitalizations, and death. Our family members who have worked hard all their lives deserve to receive adequate care with respect. They should not have to wait for someone to take them to the bathroom or, worse, until they, unfortunately, are forced to sit in their urine or feces.

April 2021

Murphy Davis:  An Advocate for the Homeless and people on Georgia’s Death Row

Post by Marsha Snulligan Haney


“Not always shall the poor be ignored, nor the hope of the oppressed forever lost”.

Often when we think of mentors the first thing that comes to mind are individuals who spend time mentoring, teaching, encouraging, and sharing wisdom.  However, there are also organizations, often referred to as para-church organizations, that also take seriously the role of mentoring current and future community advocates, educators, and ministers. Because I have realized the important role that such organizations play in urban communities across the country, each time I have moved to a new city to teach theological education one of the first things I do is to seek out such community organizations that take seriously the responsibility of mentoring theological students and creating a public experience of participatory learning. The value of in-service training, internships, course-involved participatory learning, and ministry in context (field education) are invaluable and provide a basis for lifelong education and reflection.


One such organization is the Open-Door Community co-founded in 1981 by Murphy Davis and her husband Eduard Loring (The Cry of the Poor: Cracking White Male Supremacy -An Incendiary and Militant Proposal, author, 2010) in downtown Atlanta. For more than forty -years, first, through the Open Door Community that was located in Atlanta and later in Baltimore, Murphy created and sustained a community with the most vulnerable members of society, the homeless, those on death row, those without health care, and the poor.  The wholistic services provided by the Open Door Community often left visitors and volunteers inspired, convicted, and profoundly reflective. For instance, for several years, included in my semester’s curriculum in the required course ‘Introduction to Missiology’ was the opportunity to participate in experiential learning related to the essentials of Christian mission at various places throughout the city. At the Open Door Community, students had the opportunity to plan a menu, contribute or purchase the food, and prepare and serve meals to homeless persons at the Open Door. After the meal was prepared and before dinner at community tables, prayers were said and the homeless guests were given vitamins, during the meals theological students ate with and got to know the individuals, and afterward they clean up. Depending on the daily activity, some evenings the podiatrist would come, and students could help. On Sundays, volunteers could preach, and some days the students could participate in active protest, such as marching to the state capital with toilets to demonstrate the need for public toilets or protest the execution of those imprisoned on death row.


Surely Goodness and Mercy: A Journey into Illness and Solidarity written by Murphy Davis (2020) is the story of one woman’s 25-year struggle with cancer that she tells not as an individual story, but as a shared social reality.  “The goodness and mercy of community and the Creator follow her as she maps the margins of or unjust medical-industrial complex and discovers a deep solidarity with friends on the streets and death row. We cannot commend highly enough the autobiography-as theology from one of our most respected mentors.” (Elain Enns and Ched Myers, back cover). In the book Surely Goodness and Mercy: A Journey into Illness and Solidarity I could not help but be attracted to those sections that described the participation of volunteers and the challenges of working with such persons to accomplish a specific mission. In the chapter ‘The Worst of Times, Murphy says,

In February, the Open Door welcomed a couple that we came to see as “the volunteers from hell- though of course at that time we did not know their point of origin. I'm not quite sure how we missed that they were not arriving among us bringing goodwill. We wrestled for a few months over asking them to leave - something we had to do occasionally when we simply were not able to integrate volunteers or guests into the unity of our shared life and work”.


Then Murphy goes on to describe an incident with college student volunteers, and then finally she says the word about theological students: 


Then we made another drastic mistake. We brought in a class from a local seminary to live work and study in the community for a week. Our request that they prepare by reading some material we had provided and that they leave behind items like their cars and credit cards were not honored. One student arrived in her shiny Cadillac and parted among our dilapidated fleet worrying aloud about whether it would be scratched or damaged.


When the class of all women began to settle in, a couple of them were frightened and expressed distress about sleeping in rooms without locks. Though it was not said straight out, the concern was related to sharing a household with so many poor people, especially African American men. These students were ill-prepared to understand- let alone embrace - the diversity of our community and we were wrong to swallow their insults.


Murphy Davis passed in October 2020 and will always be remembered for the creative kinds of protest and advocacy for the urban poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless, and death row inmates that she and Ed Loring lived.  Her experience with cancer seemed to deepen her solidarity with the poor. Before her death, she included these words in her last Christmas letter (October 18, 2020):


In the meantime, of course, the tasks ahead of us are daunting. It will be challenging in every new way to stand up to the powers of White Supremacy and unbridled nationalism. The Open Door will continue to provide support to prisoners, published Hospitality newspaper, support New Hope House for Christmas packages delivered to our friends on Georgia’s Death Row and provide families in our area of Baltimore with crises financial assistance. Please continue to support these ministries as the small ragtag bunch continues the work in the face of ever-mounting challenges.  As I depart, I urge you to stay faithful to the poor, hear their cries, and respond with empathy and passion for this beautiful hurting world.


May the fire of justice burn in our bones.


In deepest solidarity your friend, Murphy Davis


Perhaps Murphy is on my mind today because many of the issues that she

dedicated her life to addressing such as eradicating homelessness, making

health care affordable, sustainable employment, and a just criminal justice

system are reflected in Georgia’s key runoff election on January 5, 2021.

Murphy, may your spirit continued to challenge and guide us toward

"a more just world - The Beloved Community.”

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A 2021 Black History Month Blog

By Marsha Snulligan Haney

Social change refers to the way human interactions in relationships transform culture and social institutions over time. Social change has a profound impact on society, and as we know, no community ever remains the same. And when we think about our own and how it was different just one year ago, we can see how rapidly a society can change. Transformation, however, refers to lasting change, enduring and thorough. While the US is experiencing 25 million coronavirus cases, vaccine shortages and no national plan, and 400,103 US deaths attributed to the pandemic, an economic crisis is growing, and the demands for human and civic equity continue. Next month is celebrated as African American History Month, also known as Black History Month. What does Black History Month have to offer? It is my belief that because Black History Month is actually American history, there is much it has to offer as we wonder how do we move toward a better today and a healthier tomorrow?


Look Backward

In 2019, more Americans became aware of the significance of 1619, which

is often used as a reference point for teaching the origins of the enslaved

Africans who first arrived in colonial Virginia from Angola. As a teenager

growing up in St Louis, Missouri, the home of Anheuser-Busch company,

many of us who grew up recognizing the pictures and facts of the great Kings

and Queens of Africa posters donated by Anheuser-Busch through the

1970s-1990s. Not only were these posters found within the public elementary

and high schools, but they were also displayed in our churches and if we

were fortunate in our homes. Hence, there was a constant reminder, pride,

and the importance of black history, and the fact that Africa was the homeland.

Black history as a celebration of the African diaspora is celebrated in the

US and other countries worldwide, including Canada and the United

Kingdom, and devote a month to celebrating Black history. When speaking

of the power of Black knowledge, Dr. Woodson declared, "you must give your own story to the world." If you need inspiration this month, look at 120 Inspiring Quotes for Black History are provided by Lindsay Lowe under the heading:  "Freedom is Never Given", Parade Magazine, January 5, 2021.



Look Around

The 2021 Black History Month theme is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity. The official theme is determined every year by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, an organization founded in 195 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. According to the City of Santa Monica, every "February people across the nation come together for events and activities to celebrate Black History Month it's a time for us to continue our collective honoring and deepening our knowledge of the history and the contributions of African Americans and people of African descent that had been marginalized from mainstream curricula and discussions because of our country's legacy of slavery and institutional and structural racism." (

Henry Louis Aaron (February 5, 1934-January 22, 2021


However, when we look around, we cannot help but acknowledge with sadness that so many of our human rights advocates are passing before our eyes. The passing of the phenomenal icon "Hammer” of “Hammerin Hank Aaron" is one such person. Although Hank Aaron broke baseball barriers and will be remembered as the longtime baseball home runner and Hall of Famer, his legacy will always be more significant than baseball. The racial discrimination and racism he experienced never made him bitter, and though it made him question many realities, he continued to fight for racial equality after his retirement. His life of integrity and legacy will always be more significant than baseball. Current conversations have suggested that a statue is created to replace the confederate Henry Louis Aaron (February 5, 1934-January 22, 2021statue removed recently from the city of Decatur, GA.

In terms of politics, January 2021 began as a whirlwind. On January 6, an insurrection took place at the Capitol, in Washington, DC and there was a violent attack against the 117th United States Congress, carried out by a mob of supporters of Donald Trump, 45th present of the US, in an attempt to overturn his defeat. Seven days later, on January 14, the House voted to impeach Trump for the second time, making him the first US president to be impeached twice. And seven days later, on January 20 another history-making event was witnessed. And yet, several diverse communities (including their ancestors) are finding indescribable joy, hope, and promise as we witnessed the swearing-in ceremony on January 20. The first African American senator from Georgia, the first Jewish senator from Georgia, and California's first Latino senator- all three sworn in by the first woman, African-American and South Asian, to become US Vice-President.

In this image from video,

Vice President Kamala Harris swears in

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.,

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif.,

and Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga.,

on the floor of the Senate, on Capitol Hill

in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021.

Look Forward

Black History Month has meaning for those who recognize it, and there is much work to be done. Despite the promise of equality and the talk of equity, as we look forward, we must be diligent. We must give attention must be given to understanding forces that resist this step onward. Thus we must read reading articles such as 'The Roots of Josh Hawley's Rage" by Katherine Stewart (author of "The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism") to understand "Why do so many Republicans appear to be at war with both truth and democracy?", books by Michael Eric Dyson, "Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America" by books that enlighten us, and by sponsoring and participating in public forums that discuss issues of white supremacy and the intersection of racism and gender equality.

While it seems as if our primary focus during Black History Month is political, it both is, and it is not. The word politics comes from the Greek politika "affairs of the cities, and suggest that all of life in one way or another is political.


Politics is the set of actions or activities associated with making decisions in groups. It speaks to the status, the distributions of goods and services, and other forms of power relations between individuals and groups. Therefore, while protest marches and demonstrations are essential, so also are the judicial legislations: they identified who and what is to be governed by the law, procedures to be followed, and means of enforcement. Therefore, many of the issues related to social change and transformation are political.


However, beneath it all is another reality, a foundation that holds life together and propels us forward, despite its disappointments and challenges. That is the spiritual foundation. We’ve seen it in the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama and we will see it operating in the life of Vice-President Kamala Harris. Religious beliefs, practices, and rituals are helpful because they point us to a deeper level of life, but they must not be confused with religion. It is at the spiritual level that we find meaning and purpose, and creativity. Amid the untimely death experiences, suffering, grief, sickness, unemployment, hunger, isolation, home evictions and systemic issues uncovered by the pandemic, some are re-examining life and rediscovering the human spirit.


While there is so much that could be said on the subject, let the West African Sankofa bird's

image suffice. The literal translation of Sankofa is "it is not taboo to go back and fetch what

you forgot ." What does the future hold for this little girl (and our young boys)? Are we laying

a strong foundation for the next generations? In the face of many challenges and in the quest

for life, and life abundant, we must go deep and rediscover the spiritual roots that have

sustained us for this many generations and provide what is necessary for future generations.


Thanks to The Spiritual Life Organization, we are given spiritual gems in African American

spirituality to reflect upon, share, and learn. Which ones did you hear while growing up?

Which can you embrace in the days ahead?

The Spiritual Life American Proverbs


African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the black racial groups of Africa. The phrase generally refers to descendants of enslaved black people who are from the United States.


A collection of African American Proverbs to inspire you. Wise African American Sayings in the form of proverbs that have been passed down for generations.


A harvest of peace is produced from a seed of contentment. – African American Proverb


A heard head makes a soft behind. – African American Proverb


A hit dog will hollow. Knock on wood. – African American Proverb


A joy that’s shared is a joy made double. – African American Proverb


A lady is a woman who makes it easy for a man to be a gentleman.

– African American Proverb


A penny saved is a penny earned. – African American Proverb


A stitch in time saves nine. – African American Proverb


Ain’t no use askin’ the cow to pour you a glass of milk. – African American Proverb


All poor people ain’t black/ and all black people ain’t poor. – African American Proverb


All that glitters is not gold. – African American Proverb


Ambition is putting a ladder against the sky. – African American Proverb


Arrogance is a kingdom without a crown. – African American Proverb


Be careful what you wish for you might get it. – African American Proverb


Black people must stop acting like crabs in a barrel and work together.

– African American Proverb


Black sheep of the family. – African American Proverb


Burning the candle at both ends. – African American Proverb


Character is what you are in the dark. – African American Proverb


Couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. – African American Proverb


Count your blessings, not your problems. – African American Proverb


Death don’t see no difference ‘tween the big house and the cabin.

– African American Proverb


Diligence is the mother of good luck. – African American Proverb


Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way. – African American Proverb


Do as I say and not as I do. – African American Proverb


Dog don’t get mad when you say he’s a dog. – African American Proverb


Don’t beat a dead dog. Do or die. – African American Proverb


Dreams are wishes your heart makes. – African American Proverb


Each day provides its own gifts. – African American Proverb


Each One Teach One. – African American Proverb


Easy come, easy go. – African American Proverb


Eat drink and be merry. – African American Proverb


Eat, drink, and be merry. For tomorrow we die. – African American Proverb


Family must look out for family. – African American Proverb


Feed ‘em with a long-handled spoon means that there are certain people in life that you have to keep at a distance. – African American Proverb


Fix your face, before I fix it for you. – African American Proverb


Flies can’t fall in a tight-closed pot. – African American Proverb


Give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself. – African American Proverb


Go with the flow. – African American Proverb


God can do anything but fail. – African American Proverb


God does not bless mess. Better safe than sorry. – African American Proverb


Going to be a cold day in hell. – African American Proverb


Hand plow can’t make furrows by itself. – African American Proverb


Hard times make a monkey eat red pepper when he don’t care for black

– African American Proverb


He that lives on hope will die fasting. – African American Proverb


He who hesitates is lost. – African American Proverb


Heaps of good cotton stocks get chopped up from association with the weeds.

– African American Proverb


Hee Hee Hell. – African American Proverb


Hope is the nurse of misery. – African American Proverb


If by chance someone tells you that you got to ease your hand out the lion’s mouth, it means that you must take great care in getting yourself out of a sticky situation.

– African American Proverb


If you ask a Negro where he’s been, he’ll tell you where he’s going.

– African American Proverb


If You Can Huh You Can Hear. – African American Proverb


If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. – African American Proverb


If you don’t have a plan for yourself, you’ll be a part of someone else’s.

– African American Proverb


If you look back, you’ll soon be going that way. – African American Proverb


If you take care of your character, your reputation will take care of itself.

– African American Proverb


If you want to keep something secret from black folks, put it between the covers of a book.

– African American Proverb


I’m not going to lend you a stick to break my head with. – African American Proverb


I’m Not New To This, I’m True To This!! – African American Proverb


I’m Not One Of Your “Lil Friends” – African American Proverb


In the South they don’t care how close you get, as long as you don’t get too high. In the North, they don’t care how high you get, as long as you don’t get too close.

– African American Proverb


It takes a heap of licks to drive a nail in the dark. – African American Proverb


Jaybird don’t rob his own nest. – African American Proverb


Jealous? Hate the game and not the player. – African American Proverb


Life is short and full of blisters. – African American Proverb


Love don’t love nobody. – African American Proverb


Love many, trust few and always paddle your own canoe. – African American Proverb


Mama’s baby…Papa’s maybe. – African American Proverb


Maternity is a matter of fact, paternity is a matter of opinion – African American Proverb


Mothers raise their daughters and let their sons grow up. – African American Proverb


My great-grandmother would say, every closed eye ain’ sleep and every goodbye ain’ gone, which means that things aren’t always what they seem. This proverb lets us know that people are always watching our actions. – African American Proverb


Nothing can suffice a person except that which they have not. – African American Proverb


Nothing ruins a duck but its bill. – African American Proverb


Occasionally a man with a right smart education can’t find his knife when it gets in the wrong pocket. – African American Proverb


Old Satan couldn’t get along without plenty of help. – African American Proverb


Old used-to-do-it-this-way don’t help none today. – African American Proverb


One monkey don’t stop no show! – African American Proverb


Practice what you preach. – African American Proverb


Romance/ without finance/ don’t stand a chance. – African American Proverb


Rooster makes mo’ racket dan de hen w’at lay de aig. – African American Proverb


Talkin’ ’bout fire doesn’t boil the pot. – African American Proverb


Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are. – African American Proverb


The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice. – African American Proverb


The more arguments you win, the less friends you will have. – African American Proverb


The rainbow might be better lookin’ if ’twasn’t such a cheap show.

– African American Proverb


The squirrel can beat the rabbit climbing a tree, but then the rabbit makes the best stew that sort of equalizes the thing. – African American Proverb


The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off.

– African American Proverb


The worm don’t see nothing pretty in the robin’s song. – African American Proverb


To this very day, my grandfather reminds me not to be naïve or gullible by telling me don’t take no wooden nickels. – African American Proverb


Using an analogy from needlework, my great-grandmother used to tell my mother to knit and tuck, meaning that as you work and go about your daily life, you should constantly save or ‘tuck’ something away for hard times. – African American Proverb


Wagon makes the loudest noise when it’s goin’ out empty. – African American Proverb


We ain’t what we want to be; we ain’t what we gonna be; but thank God, we ain’t what we was. – African American Proverb


What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. – African American Proverb


When it rains, it pours. – African American Proverb


When the bait is more than the fish, ’tis time to stop fishing. – African American Proverb


You Smell Like Outside. – African American Proverb


You’ve got to work twice as hard to get half as far as a Black person in white America.

– African American Proverb

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November 2020


The Grind:  A Mentee and a Dual Athlete During the Pandemic

Posted by Urban Missiology


The Newnan Times-Herald (August 22, 2020) featured “Heritage’s James Thorpe- All about the grind”. Heritage High School was supposed to open in two weeks and the six-foot 2-inch-tall, 235-pound linebacker for the Hawks will be the imposing player on the field. He will indeed be playing in college soon, but it will be in baseball and not football.

James Thorpe is a junior dual-sport athlete who excels at both football and baseball. On the gridiron, he plays outside linebacker and running back for Head Coach Micah Alba. He made a splash on the local sports scene back in 2017 when he scored two touchdowns to power Madras to a Coweta County Middle School Championship. But as he grew physically, his interest in baseball grew as well.

“When I was 13, I realized that I could be good at the sport, but I had to put in the work,” he said. “I didn't just want to be the guy who had size but didn't have the skills as well.”

That does not mean he is giving up on football which Thorpe says, “builds character.” “It helps you realize how bad you want something,” he said. “There is a grind to football that I am drawn to, the mental and physical toughness, and that carries over to baseball.”

He is excited about the upcoming year for the Hawks “We have great chemistry; a lot of people are not expecting much since we're moving up to GHSA, but we're going to shock them,” Thorpe said. His explosion on the travel baseball scene this summer playing for Foundation Sports forced college baseball coaches is to take notice. Thorpe's first serious recruiting conversation came before he even got to high school when he was at summer camp in South Carolina. Other schools have come calling as well, but this past summer Thorpe formed a relationship with Butler University baseball coach Matt Kennedy. “Coach Kennedy is one of the most down to earth men I have met; he cares for his players both on and off the field. I had an instant connection with him”.


Based on that relationship and the educational opportunities that Butler offers, Thorpe committed to play his college baseball there. Butler is in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is a member of the Big East conference, and they play their home games in Bulldog Park. With that decision behind him, Thorpe can focus on the next two years of his high school career. When asked who he models his game after, he was quick to share, “Mike Trout- I admire his swing, his attitude, and his mindset. He is the best player in the game and puts it to work. He is working hard no matter the situation, and I want to pattern myself after that.”


Thorpe has studied Trout’s mental approach to hitting and has adapted it to his routine. “I started thinking about my next at-bat when I am still on defense in the outfield. I visualized myself being focused and successful,” he said. “Once I get to the on-deck circle, I am locked in and then I go through my routine in the box; I have zoned everything else out by that time - it is just me and the pitcher.” When asked if he ever gets intimidated by an imposing pitcher, Thorpe gave a simple answer: “No, I love the challenge.” Thorpe credits Heritage Baseball coach Ryan Danbury for helping his approach but said nothing would be possible without the love and his support of his mom, Michelle Dumas. His tone changed somewhat when talking about her.  “She is always there for me; when you watch a tape of a game, you can see her in the background cheering. She comes to every tournament to support me and my dream.” Those dreams continue to take shape with two more seasons of high school ball left, he could set himself up for an MLB draft opportunity down the road. But for now, those can wait. Thorpe is just enjoying the moment of being a Heritage Hawk and loving the grind.

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A Letter To African American Clergy, Presbyterians, and Others

From: Rita Dixon


When asked by Urban Missiology about his sports during the pandemic, Thorpe replied, “The grind of both sports has not changed during the pandemic. By that I mean I am still going to get my work in practicing and in the classroom.


During football at school, we take the necessary safety precautions to make sure no one gets sick, whether that is lifting in groups or practicing in groups just to stay safe.


When I work out for baseball I mostly do it alone or with a friend or two since school baseball season does not allow us to practice as a team this early. I will say GHSA (Georgia High School Association) has been good about trusting Georgia schools and knowing that they will do right to make sure we can able to have all the seasons for any sport. Managing all of that may seem hard, but it’s pretty easy if you love what you’re doing.”

I know that many of you, if not all, are hurting as I am about the policemen killing Black men and women. This latest one, the policeman with his knee on the neck of George Floyd for 7-9 minutes, is just more than I can take without crying out to somebody!!! Then on top of this, a White woman in a New York park tries to get Christian Cooper killed by weaponizing racism. This is just too much for me! My whole being is crying out!!! 

I did talk with 2 very good friends last night and we lamented about these 2 events and the question, ​“What Can we do?”​ This question was asked at the end of Trinity’s Bible Study meeting last night. I am still living with it…”​What can we do?”​ I refuse to concede that we are helpless!!! So I turn to you, my spiritual colleagues and leaders in my church family, with this question, ​What Can We Do? It seems to me that our humanity, our Spirit, INSIST that we speak out, let our voice be heard individually and collectively.

I have a suggestion and pray that you have many more​. . .  ​We can develop a letter-writing campaign to targeted Places and people asking them to speak out, cry out, against these injustices. Just suppose that we write weekly letters and urge our congregations to write weekly letters also to place or person or office asking them to speak out publicly against whatever injustice we are targeting each week. For example, we can target such places as our Presbytery, General Assembly, US Justice Department, The President, Our governor, Minneapolis Justice officials, etc… Each person, group of persons or congregation can target one place or person each week and flood them with letters on the issue of choice. 

Right now I am motivated to call on everyone​ I know to use their voices to cry out against the murderous racist rage which has infected too many elected officials. I don’t believe they can help it. They have been infected by a history of racial oppression and it is worse than the coronavirus. Some injustices we have been forced to witness… children in cages at the border, Black People disproportionately dying from COVID-19 because of health challenges from the stress, the young man killed in February in Georgia by a white man and his son,  etc, etc, etc,

I can hear some of our people saying letter writing will do no good. Letter writing can be an act of prayer for us.  [If Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, or TikTok is more fitting for your context, then encourage people to use whatever means they have to let their voices be heard.] 

It will do US good!!!  WE are saying, to ourselves first of all, and to others “ I matter”, “this hurts”, and “I can act for myself and others”. This is a form of prayer. We are keeping ourselves conscious by weekly acting out our prayer for Justice. The results are up to God. We just prayerfully submit our letters each week. (let’s not substitute an email)

You can finish this. This is my offering for today. I love you and I am praying for all of us to find our voice, our dignity in the midst of forces that are trying to destroy us. 

Ten Inspirational Quotes by John Lewis

by Meserette Kentake July 18, 2020

Kentake Page, founded by Meserette Kentake -


John Lewis was awarded the highest civilian honor of the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Lewis was a prominent African-American leader in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He was among the original 13 Freedom Riders; one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders of the historic 1963 March on Washington; was the leader of the demonstration that became known as “Bloody Sunday. John Lewis will be remembered as a heroic African-American icon who was willing to shed his blood for his beliefs in a better world for his people and all people.

Ten Inspirational Quotes by John Lewis

  • Courage is a reflection of the heart—it is a reflection of something deep within the man or woman or even a child who must resist and must defy an authority that is morally wrong. Courage makes us march on despite fear and doubt on the road toward justice. Courage is not heroic but as necessary as birds need wings to fly. Courage is not rooted in reason but rather Courage comes from a divine purpose to make things right.

  • We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.

  • Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.

  • Second-class citizenship is not citizenship at all.

  • We all recognize the fact that if any radical social, political, and economic changes are to take place in our society, the people, the masses, must bring them about. In the struggle, we must seek more than civil rights; we must work for the community of love, peace, and true brotherhood. Our minds, souls, and hearts cannot rest until freedom and justice exist for all people.

  • When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.

  • I believe in nonviolence as a way of life, as a way of living. I believe that this idea is one of those immutable principles that are non-negotiable if you’re going to create a world community at peace with itself.

  • I know maybe it won’t happen in my lifetime, but I know somehow in some way we’re going to create the Beloved Community, that we’re going to create a national community, a world community that is at peace.

  • We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jails over and over again. And then you holler, ‘Be patient.’ How long can we be patient?

  • If you’re not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take that long hard look and just believe that if your consistent, you will succeed.


Below is a slideshow gallery of 16 photos of Rep. John Lewis:

The C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute

A disciplined advocate of nonviolence, he was on the front lines in the 1960s movement for racial justice.


The civil rights activist C.T. Vivian in Atlanta in 2012. Across the South, he led sit-ins at lunch counters, boycotts against businesses, and marches that continued for weeks or months. Credit...David Goldman/Associated Press


Do you know about the C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute?


The C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute, Inc.
 Passing the Torch to Create a Leadership Culture in Atlanta as a Model for Every City.

The C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute [CTVLI] is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization dedicated to the development and sustainability of communities. The organization was founded in 2008 by Dr. C. T. Vivian to "create a model of leadership culture in Atlanta". CTLVI serves as a hub designed to centralize existing programs and services to work in coordination with local organizations to serve the needs of the community.

The Institute is designed to create an atmosphere where lifelong learning can take place in all stages of life. The CTVLI focuses on four areas that are critical to the success of individuals and communities: Faith, Personal, Education, and Economic Development. CTLVI programs are designed to reach each participant wherever they are, with the goal of taking them where they want to be. By offering classes to the individual and services to the community as a whole, the specific needs of both will be met


The Mission - the Institute is dedicated to developing stainable programs to revitalize underserved communities.


The Vision - a community where All people can thrive.


The Initiatives - the CTVLI offers a range of programs and classes to support life long training, in every stage of life. Our Program services the needs in the following areas:

Faith-Based Development - CTVLI's model for redevelopment and revitalization is designed to strategically impact community infrastructure by encouraging faith-based organizations to expand their service offerings and provide much-needed programs and for their economic development and growth. In addition, The CTVLI Faith-Based programs even offer personal development skills designed to support healthy work/life balance.

Personal Development - being informed and empowered citizens are key to a community's growth and development. CTVLI's model of personal development systems, resources, tools, and curriculums provide mentoring, job training, and life skills that enhance person capacities.

Educational Development 
- our program adds to the foundation that school slay for continuing education. By preparing youth for the global market. CTVLI's model for education addresses the needs and trains the students while the schools educate so that they are equipped to engage in the global marketplace. 

Economic Development 
- Businesses provide jobs, products, and services that are vital to the community's economic development. CTVLI's model of incorporating its business development services promotes sustainability and increases businesses' capacity to generate employment opportunities and profit.


Photo gallery:

Urban Wire: The blog of the Urban Institute

By Hamutal Bernstein, Sara McTarnaghan and Dulce Gonzalez

July 16, 2020

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Strategies from Houston and Las Vegas Show How Local Leaders Can Support Immigrants during COVID-19

COVID-19 has exposed the precarity many workers and families with low incomes face every day and has exacerbated racial and ethnic disparities in health and economic outcomes. Immigrant families have been disproportionately affected.

Immigrants have faced significant increases in unemployment because of the pandemic, yet many immigrant families are excluded from federal relief efforts. Beyond the challenges, all families face as they contend with the economic recession and public health crisis, many immigrants experience chilling effects—or fear of accessing critical health and basic supports they or their children need because they are concerned about risking their immigration status. Federal immigration policies, including the public charge rule that went into effect just before the onset of the pandemic, have increased insecurity and fear in immigrant communities and discouraged families from accepting help from government or private sources.

Many US cities and towns are experiencing the ripple effects of federal immigration policy as these chilling effects collide with the health and economic crisis. In this challenging context, local governments and service providers working to support immigrant communities can provide information and resources to encourage access to the safety net and other supports for immigrant families. To understand recent efforts to support immigrant families and reduce the chilling effects produced by the administration’s expanded public charge rule, we interviewed leaders in government agencies, community-based organizations, and other service providers in Houston and Las Vegas.

Cities have different histories of immigration and varied levels of infrastructure to support immigrants. We chose Houston and Las Vegas because both cities have large, diverse immigrant populations but different policy contexts and infrastructures for serving immigrants. Houston welcomes immigration and has a strong network of immigrant-serving organizations, but Texas state leadership has been unsupportive of immigrant families, while Nevada has a nascent immigrant-serving infrastructure in a state policy context with recent movement toward new supports for immigrants (PDF).

Based on the experiences of immigrant communities, service providers, and government agencies in Houston and Las Vegas, we highlight four strategies that can inform local leaders who aim to support immigrants in COVID-19 crisis response efforts.

  1. Improve messaging and information about the public charge rule. Many immigrants live in multiple-status families, meaning their members have various immigration, residency, and citizenship statuses, such as US-born and naturalized citizens, green card holders, and people who lack permanent residence. To make informed decisions about public program participation, families need more clarity about who is affected, which benefits the rule affects, and how the rule is being implemented. The need for education has become even more critical during COVID-19 when many families are facing disproportionate hardship but may be afraid to seek help. Effective messaging requires clear information, reliable sources such as government agencies, and trusted messengers in service or advocacy community partners.  

  2. Coordinate strategically across public agencies, community-based organizations, and other entities working with or on behalf of immigrant families. Collaboration in localities requires leadership, an organizing body, and other factors but can take many forms. In Las Vegas, collaboration has been mostly informal, based on personal relationships between staff at different organizations. In contrast, Houston conducts more formal coordination through the Houston Immigration Legal Collaborative, a network of legal and social service organizations. Especially in communities with limited infrastructure to serve immigrants, pooling government and nonprofit organization resources and capacities together under one entity, such as Nevada’s new Office for New Americans, could be an effective way to consolidate efforts.

  3. Build a robust legal aid network that has the resources and cultural and linguistic capacity to serve immigrants. Although access to information is crucial, the public charge rule and other immigration laws are complex, and stakeholders in both Las Vegas and Houston recognized that as a key challenge. Frontline staff who serve immigrant populations at health care providers, food banks, public benefits agencies, or other sites must understand the rule to provide families with information that is culturally competent and in multiple languages. Without regular training, service providers will continue to face exhaustion from constantly fighting to keep up with rapidly changing immigration policies. One strategy to improve legal referral networks is a “triage” model, whereby immigrants who will not be affected by the revised public charge rule—green card holders, naturalized citizens, or refugees—can receive standard information via light-touch written resources or Q&A sessions, and other immigrants would be advised to consult an attorney for personalized advice.

  4. Build authentic trust between governments, nonprofit agencies, and immigrants, as this is the bedrock of effective and inclusive support for their communities. Key steps for organizations to build that trust include collecting minimal sensitive information, building linguistic and cultural competency among their staff and leadership, and partnering with trusted organizations for communication and service delivery. Some government agencies and mainstream service organizations in Las Vegas have recognized the need to prove themselves to be safe spaces, where immigrants can come without fear or hesitation for support. In Houston, where there is a more established network of immigrant-serving organizations, even trusted organizations found it difficult to reassure clients about their fears of accepting help. But these trusted relationships are critical, especially as organizations and communities are tested by the current crisis.

Our research emphasizes how difficult it is for local organizations to build trust with immigrants when the federal, state and local policy environment is less than supportive. The exclusion of many immigrant families from federal COVID-19 emergency supports has many policymakers, service providers, and advocates worried about the effectiveness of local recovery efforts to address immigrants’ health and well-being during the pandemic. Excluding immigrant families risks not only their well-being but that of the entire community. The continued implementation of the public charge rule in the context of the crisis risks amplifying chilling effects.

Marco Gamboa holds a flag during a rally to advocate for immigrant workers and families to be included in federal COVID-19 assistance on International Workers' Day, Friday, May 1, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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