The Missing D.C. Girls, Fact, Fiction and Emotion.

I have spent the past few days researching this story so I could write about it with all of the factual information I could find. After 5 days I was able to speak with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and email them. I actually researched and watched local media. I was able to contact local news reporters and received responses and I hope I did my best in weeding out the fake from what is real. Although this story brought up many emotions I wanted to know the facts and what I could do to help.I didn’t want to rush and put up a blog without even having valid information. This blog will be longer than most of my posts. You’ve been warned.

These are the facts that I’ve uncovered. Last Thursday 3/25/17 NBC’s Washington Affiliate published on their Twitter page that a dozen teens ranging from age 14 to 18 were missing. The Washington D.C. Police Department tweeted that there were 10 girls missing who were considered critical cases. The latter was retweeted by a well known personality on Twitter who added the comment and I quote, “No one is saying anything about these girls that are missing.” That tweet went viral and the story began. 

I am sure we all know that when stories are carried they grow additions, people add their own pieces,  exgagerrations. So…let’s talk about facts. According to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children there were from 450-500 missing children in Washington D.C. This number has been consistent since 2014. 95% of those cases have been closed. Lets talk about the term “missing.”  There are children who are critically missing, children missing from care, family abduction, runaways, and long term missing.  Critically missing usually means there is an elevated risk of danger. A child missing from care is one who is missing or has been abducted from the foster care system. Family abductions are missing children who have been abducted or wrongfully retained or concealed by a parent or other family member. Runaway children are missing youth who have run away from a parent, guardian or state care facility  A long term missing child is a case that has remained unsolved for many years. 

As of 3/27/17 there are approximately 250- 300 children missing in The Nations Capitol. No one will verify how many are African American or Hispanic and I’ve asked that question many times. Nearly 2,000 children go missing every five years. If the police department and news media had not posted this story none of us would be discussing these girls. 

Washington D.C. is much like many metropolitan cities; the problems are the same.  Missing teen girls is a huge problem. D.C. police have tweeted 27 photos of missing teens since starting their Twitter page. Most of them have been found. One teen who was reported  missing on 3/21 was found on 3/26 and wouldn’t tell her mother where she was staying. Her name is Katherine Hunter and she has run away many times. There are issues at home. She says, “Many of her friends who run away just want out.”

Here are a few more unfortunate truths. African American and Latino girls are at more at risk of becoming abducted, runaways, and to be critically missing. Just as African Americans and Hispanics are at risk in many other areas of life. Poverty, single parent homes, and abuse are all at the top of the list as to why. Also when a Caucasian child is missing there is more media attention, especially for little girls. When a black or brown child is missing she or he is usually deemed a runaway; a child who is bad. D.C. Councilman Trayon White says, “There was a 10 yr old African American girl missing a week ago and there was no Amber Alert inacted.” He feels if this was a white child or even a child from a better neighborhood this wouldn’t have happened. Most African American girls are labeled as runaways who left home freely. Then after leaving the home they often become victims of rape, sex trafficking, and prostitution.

Now on to the fiction, there were never 14 girls, or 10 or any double digit number of girls missing in a 24 hour period. One of the girls in a few online post has been missing since 2014, her name is Relisha Rudd. There is no spike in missing girls of any race in D.C. , social media is simply being used to shine a light on the issue. Much like the Internet opens the word to things that have happened for years but were hidden. The fact is most of these girls became missing over the past month or two. Which is still scary.

There is hope in the face of despair. Mayor Muriel Bowser says her office will implement 6 new initiatives to tackle the missing person problem. They include boosting the number of officers assigned to missing person cases and expanding the local missing person website. With all of the facts and fiction being uncovered it still doesn’t negate the pain I feel. I am sad that so many girls are running away from home. What are they running from?  All of these children are not just bad. Why run from heat,food, their iPhones? Some run from abuse; sexual, physical, and mental. Some parents don’t give a darn about their daughters. ” Let her go, get out of my house.” What if she runs into the arms of a manipulative pimp, some punk or the local police officer? 
Just a few more truths.  Two D.C. Police officers were accused of running a prostitution ring just last week. Officer Marc Washington is accused of setting up 16 year old girls with adult men for sex acts. One of the girls had been reported as missing. As many as 6 teenswere found at a SE Stanton Rd apartment.Washington was also accused of child pornography for placing the girls pictures on the website  backpage. He also had a mirror in the home with the names of young girls on it. The other officer’s name has not been released.

There are so many layers to this devastating issue. When you break this down whether you believe the facts or the social media sensation, black and Latino girls are endangered. Some are being hurt in the homes of their own families and they run away searching for something. Others are betrayed by officers who have sworn to uphold the law. They are accosted by people who prey on them with promises of money only to rip away their innocence. We as a community must protect our princesses, the first place is in the home. We can’t rely on mainstream media to report them missing. We must use all of our options; TV One, BET, Univision, Telemundo, Black Twitter our publications and our voices.  But we must be accurate and we must be collaborative. If you have any ideas of what we can do comment below or hit me on any of my platforms.

Sources
Youth & Family Division D.C.

NBC Washington D.C. Affiliate 

Washington D.C. Missing Persons

The Center For Missing & Exploited Children

Washington D.C. Police Department

The Washington Post

WJLA ABC7’s Yolanda Traylor 

   
   

Stamp out Stigma 

Stamp Out Stigma

Mental  illness effects 22 million Americans. Most people want to sweep the issue under a rug as if it doesn’t exist. Some mental health issues stem from abuse; in my case sexual abuse from, age 9-12. As result of the abuse, I suffered from depression, low self -worth, and bipolar disorder.

As I entered high school, thoughts of suicide began to take place as well as low self- esteem. This led to my getting pregnant at a young age and becoming a teen parent. As I went into young adulthood, the episodes of bipolar disorder began. I started to experience low lows and high highs. While depressed I would stay in bed, become angry, and isolate myself from others. My manic episodes felt wonderful. I had increased energy, felt on top of the world, and could do many things at once.

I struggled with not wanting to take medicine. My family didn’t understand what was wrong with me. My mother placed me into hospitals, had me talk to counselors, and started me on medications. I would feel better and stop taking the medicine and visiting my therapist. As I entered my twenties, I was married and was an unstable wife and mother. Things would be going fine and I would become severely depressed leaving my husband to care for the children. My ex- husband didn’t understand and we began to argue and physically fight. Our children became voyeurs to our dysfunction and this created a dangerous environment. After eight years, my husband left me.

I am now in my early thirties. I have been through suicide attempts. I have been married, divorced, remarried, and I am the mother of three children. I have written a book regarding my struggles with mental illness, teen pregnancy, abuse, and how I deal with things today. The book talks about my spiritual deliverance; letting go of the past and releasing my mind to the will of God. I am now on medication that works for me. Just like a diabetic or an asthmatic, I have to make sure I stay on top of it. I see a therapist as does my immediate family. I pay attention to my body and my mind. I am not perfect and I still deal with depression, but every day I am on defense to fight this thing. I wish more people knew how important our mental health is, and how this can affect us.

For me the stigma kept me in secrecy. I even  lied to my second husband and kept secrets from my closest friends. I am now managing with meds, yoga, eating healthy, support groups and therapy. I am stamping the hell out of stigma. I spoke to legislators in Austin, TX and will continue my campaign in Wasghington D.C.

 

Spring 2017

Spring has always been my favorite season. Not only were five of my favorite people born in April and May but my birthday is April 10th. I love how the air smells in spring.  I enjoy watching the trees bloom beautiful pinks and reds. I especially love telling winter deuces, goodbye, Ciao. The rain can be a bit much at times but I know that rain feeds the grass, trees, and flowers. In Texas no matter what, the sun comes out everyday. It can rain for hours but right before evening the sun will show its face.

This spring is very special to me. I will turn 40 this spring. I plan to enjoy this year like no other. I plan to fly a kite, roll down a hill, dance in the rain instead of fretting about it. I am even starting a garden this spring. I want to plant tomatoes and peppers to start with. I have a whole list of what I am going to do in 2017 but that’s a whole ‘nother blog. Today is March 20th and from today until June 19 I will embrace  this vernal equinox with happiness, joy, and compassion for the season  and for mankind. Gotta run time for a bike ride.

Bruno Mars: 24K Magic 

If you have not heard the not so new Bruno Mars album that came out November 16, 2016 where the hell have you been? My children were here in Dallas during the holidays and when I heard the first release 24K Magic I was hooked. It’s not as if Bruno has ever disappointed us, EVER! Doo Wops & Hooligans was a great body of work. Big Hits were Just the Way You Are and Grenade. His second album, Unorthodox Jukebox, gave us Locked out of Heaven and If I Was Your Man. He also provided vocals on Uptown Funk a mega hit and karaoke night classic. This album is no different. 

24K Magic is the songs lead track and album title. The beginning of the track will take you back to Roger & Zapp if your old enough or Teddy Riley and Guy… Still too young I can’t help you. Ask your mom and dad.My favorite lyric is Ima dangerous man with some money in my pocket, keep up, so many pretty girls around me and they waking up the rocket. This song is fun, cool, and will get any party started. 


Calling All My Lovelies
is so much fun. The harmonies blend like the spices in a New Orleans Gumbo. Mars makes me laugh by telling us he has all the Isha’s waiting on him. The track is smooth and has a space aged vibe. The high note is beautiful and effortless.  

Finesse is another A1 hit. The track reminds you of the New Jack Swing days when we all wore overalls and airbrushed shirts. It also has that BBD feel. I promise I am 16 again and grooving at a teen club. Thank you Sir Mars. 

Versace on the Floor starts so slow and pretty; what a love song. Then he starts digging in about getting busy. This one sounds like something Michael Jackson would have killed. For me it’s Target panties on the floor but hey we all have to live within our means. 


Straight Up & Down
is a mid tempo hit that makes me wanna ride to the drive in with my man with the sunroof open and a nice breeze. The background vocals on the song again are 3 part harmonies that make you think a barbershop quartet is backing him. This is another one that brings me back to the 90s. A real groove that showcases the music and his voice. It has a hip hop break down that will have everyone doing the wop. My favorite lyric on this one is fellas grab yo lady if yo lady fine. Makes me think if she is ugly walk away from her.  

Perm is a fast track that reminds me of a James Brown cut. His energy is off the hook. When that JB bass line comes in you can’t help but move your body. My favorite lyric is Don’t be stingy with your big ole butt. Cause I can’t stand stingy big booty people. This is another fun one that tells you to get your attitude together by throwing some perm on that mess. Bruno knows all about activating that perm because he has a relaxer most times. Activate your attitude like that perm activates those naps in your head. I agree Mr. Mars. 

Chunky is another fun upbeat joint. As soon as it comes on I am snapping and moving back and forth. Shaking my thang or lack thereof. Even though it’s a fun song he sings the crap on the hook and uses those pipes to hit a stellar high note. The ad libs or licks as vocalist call them on this are perfection. I could only wish all artists would sing the mess out of a party song. This only happens with a Bruno hit.

Too Good to say Goodbye feels like an ode to my hometown native Babyface. So to find out he worked on this song was no surprise. I can see him sitting on a stool wearing all black with one pin curl in the front of his hair. On the first verse even his inflection on I pray it’s never too late is vintage Kenneth Edmonds. The track is captivating and draws you in throughout the song. It also reminds me of the New Edition sound.

That’s What I Like is my absolute favorite on the project. This one is upbeat and one to snap too. He is telling the girl that everything he provides her with are things that he likes.This one also is a throwback 90s with the lyrics I will never make a promise that I can’t keep. Again those ad libs, Lawd Have Mercy. 

This album is pure perfection. Not since Usher’s Confessions album in 2004 have I heard a solid R&B/Pop album. Why did it take me so long to do the album review? I have been listening to this album non stop for a month and it deserves one. From December to January I only listened to 24K but then I started listening to the full album and couldn’t stop. Again the only full album I have listened to and never skipped any cuts was Confessions. It has been 13 years since we’ve had music this good! We have Peter Gene Hernandez to thank.  

This came right on time. I’m celebrating my 40th bday in a month and the party has a 90’s theme. I am all things 90’s, the shows, the music and the clothes. My DJ already knows 24K Magic will be on top of the crates.  I already have my tickets for the 24K Magic Tour October 27,2017. 

  

Moonlight

An Oscar for best picture, critical acclaim, and an all black cast. An actor I admired from House of Cards in a lead role. Janelle Monae as a supporting character; all things that made this movie a must see for me. I’ve been hearing about Moonlight for a while now. I heard it was powerful. I heard that the actors were strong and that the film contained a message. However I had trouble locating it in my theatre.

It wasn’t playing anywhere in my city. I mean nowhere! I live in The DFW area; the FW portion. The movie was not showing in Fort Worth; not in my town of Keller. There was one theatre in the Pearl Arts District where it was showing. I planned to go with my good friend and therapist. I enjoy the artsy area and the many places to dine. But then the Oscars came on and the movie won the highest honor. Actor Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor, and the writer won best writing in an adapted screenplay. Naomi Harris was nominated for best supporting actress but lost to Viola Davis.

All of the sudden Moonlight is playing all over The Metroplex. It’s playing more shows in the arts district and in my little suburb of Keller. So it was perfect, my mother- in- love and daughter were here visiting and we were excited to see the film. The attendant asked if this was our first time seeing it. I heard online that many theaters were taking a survey. The theatre was scarce, three groups of people for a total of ten viewers.

Without giving the entire movie away in this blog, the plot was about a boy who comes into his own as he struggles with his sexuality. He also has a few home life issues; dysfunctional parents and living in the tough Liberty City area of Miami, FL. He meets a man who takes him under his wing but that man is not without his own flaws and struggles. The movie uses great cinematography and transitions. Ali draws you in and makes you fall in love with Juan. You also want to protect Chiron played by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes.

This movie left me feeling conflicted. I wanted it to be great. I wanted to feel wonderful and be blown away with Ali’s acting. Ali’s character Juan was only in the movie for 45 minutes. I was expecting so much more from this great cast. This year I have seen excellent films; Hidden Figures and Fences to name a few. The conclusion left me with so many questions.

I lied, spoilers are coming.

Will Chiron live in his own truth and learn to be honest about his sexuality? I feel like at the end of the movie he could have said, “ I am a gay African American man.” Will he continue to live a lie and also have an existence without love? Being gay is accepted now more than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy for him. He has been bullied most of life because of it. Will Kevin( Andre’ Holland) want to be with him and start a life as a bisexual male raising a son? There are thousands of men who enjoy sex with woman and men. They are sometimes accused of wanting to “ have their cake and eat it too.” Did Barry Jenkins want us to leave the theatre with these questions?

My overall thought on the movie is it was pretty good. I was told and also gathered from the trailers that the meat of the movie would be about the relationship between Chiron and Juan. I was excited to see a father dealing with his son coming out as gay in the hood. That is really not what the movie was about. Juan was not Chiron’s father and the movie was more about Chiron’s life transition. Again I am conflicted, was the movie just okay or just not what I expected? Do I want to love the movie because the entire cast looks like me? Now I’m asking all of the questions.

Although the movie was not what I expected, it was a proud moment seeing an all black cast walk up on that stage and receive the award. There were three wonderful African American stories told this Oscar season. Moonlight was not my favorite but it was a story that needed to be told.

North Carolina Come On and Raise Up!

North Carolina Come On and Raise Up!

imageI had the pleasure of spending my anniversary in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was my first time there but it won’t be my last. I wanted to go to New Orleans since the drive is not far from Dallas where I live; but my husband had a work trip scheduled and invited me to tag along and we could celebrate on the weekend. So we packed and set out for North Carolina. The flight was two hours long and I used the time to anticipate the visit. The people there will all have accents, they will be very friendly, the city won’t be much.

The weather was nice; although it was February it felt like Spring. Our hotel was downtown in an area full of restaurants and bars. The hotel was okay and the guest service reps were nice. We dropped our bags off in the room and headed out for dinner. As soon as we turned the corner there it was, the place we went on our first date in Indiana, The Rock Bottom Brewery. I knew they were in the Midwest but never knew they were anywhere else. That was the first night and dinner was nice. What a great start.

Over the next few days we explored downtown. There was so much within walking distance. We walked and talked with the friendly folks none of who had accents; many were from up north. We met up with some friends at a very nice restaurant and learned a lot about the North side and the South Park mall area. After dinner we visited the mall and spent a lot of time walking. Again the people were personable and diverse.

The last few days we went to the downtown bar crawl and danced and walked back to our hotel buzzed. We didn’t make any plans we just went with the flow. We talked, laughed and cracked jokes and ended up in each other’s arms.. It was much like the old days when we first met. It was fun exploring the malls we were told about and some of the often talked about Charlotte spots.

We went by Duchess from Black Ink Crew’s tattoo shop and I still couldn’t convince Mike to get any ink. He says he’ll never get a tatoo. I just have one. We walked over to Peter from the Housewives of Atlanta’s bar and there was no place to park. We also sampled both Mert’s and The Midnight Café which were both pretty good.

Our final day in The Queen City we found a beautiful park to sit in and watch the sunset. Overall it was a nice town. Kind of reminds me of Atlanta without the traffic, half the population, and lots of culture. The museums were closed on Monday not sure why but that gives us a reason to return. Also I would love to go again and visit the historic areas. This anniversary was very special, not only because of the man I married but because of the place.