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TOPICS

GUESTS
  • Radley Balkoinvestigative reporter and author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.

Memphis police have revealed a sixth and a seventh officer have been placed on administrative leave in addition to the five fired officers over the death of Tyre Nichols, after Nichols was brutally beaten at a traffic stop. On Saturday, Memphis disbanded the police unit responsible for the killing, known as SCORPION, which stood for “Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhood.” We look more closely at these so-called special police units in cities nationwide that operate with little oversight with investigative reporter Radley Balko, author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces” and of the criminal justice newsletter, The Watch. His opinion piece for The New York Times is headlined “Tyre Nichols’s Death Proves Yet Again That ‘Elite’ Police Units Are a Disaster.”


Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to Tennessee. Fallout from the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols continues to grow. The Memphis Fire Department has terminated two EMTs and a fire department lieutenant over their roles in the incident. The police department has also placed two more officers on administrative leave. Five Memphis police officers had already been fired and face murder and kidnapping charges. The five officers were all members of a special unit known as SCORPION, which stands for “Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.”

On Saturday, Memphis disbanded the SCORPION unit, a day after the city released the shocking police bodycam footage of officers beating Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop. Activists welcomed the decision to shut down the SCORPION unit but said much more is needed. This is Amber Sherman of the Memphis chapter of Black Lives Matter.

AMBER SHERMAN: We were definitely happy that they moved in the right direction by permanently deactivating the SCORPION unit, but that means they can deactivate all of them. So, the multilevel gang unit, the Organized Crime Unit all work under the same umbrella as the SCORPION unit, and they need to all be disbanded, as well, because just by ending that unit, that’s a good move, but then you still have these same task forces who are doing that same terrorism, assaulting people, overcriminalizing the poor and Black — the poor and low-income neighborhoods, mostly where Black people live, because we are a majority-Black city. We want to make sure all of those are disbanded so the citizens can actually be safe.

AMY GOODMAN: Increased scrutiny of the SCORPION unit in Memphis has prompted reports from other residents stopped by the same unit. Days before Tyre Nichols was stopped, Cornell McKinney told WREG the same unit violently pulled him out of a car at a gas station where he was picking up a pizza and threatened to arrest him for drugs before saying they were “just playing.” He tried to file a formal complaint but never heard back.

CORNELL McKINNEY: All I heard is a “Freeze! Get out the car! Put your MFing hands up before I blow your heads off! Both of you, get out the car! So, put your hands up!” So I put my hands up. And one of the officers proceeded to come to the car, and he physically pulled me out by my shoulder, with a gun no more than a foot away from my head.

APRIL THOMPSON: Cornell McKinney says he could get no response to his complaints to police internal affairs over how he was stopped without reason. His story is now getting national attention after the dramatic video of SCORPION officers seeming to do the same thing to Tyre Nichols, and going even further.

CORNELL McKINNEY: I was like, “That’s them.” I said, “It’s crazy. That’s them.” I said, “Now they done really hurt somebody. This could have been prevented if the internal affairs took action like I was asking them to do.”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, today we look more closely at these so-called special police units that operate with little oversight. Here in New York City, protests led NYPD to shut down its Street Crimes Unit after officers shot and killed Amadou Diallo February 4th, 1999, firing 41 bullets at him as he reached for his wallet outside of his apartment. Diallo was unarmed. The officers were acquitted of murder charges. Democracy Now! spoke with his mother, Kadiatou Diallo, in 2014.

KADIATOU DIALLO: When my son was gunned down in his own vestibule, he was doing nothing wrong. And that night, no one called 911 saying that any crime was being committed, has been committed that night. They just came with their guns drawn and just executed my son. My family and the community at large called for changes. It seems to me that call has not been answered, because we keep on seeing many victims of the same similar cases, and even different cases.

AMY GOODMAN: This comes as New York City Mayor Eric Adams, himself a former police officer who has spoken out against police brutality and says he and his brother were beaten by police as teenagers, now says he plans to restart a controversial NYPD anti-crime unit that was broken up after protests over the police killing of George Floyd. The units will have a new name, Neighborhood Safety Teams.

No matter what you call them, our guest Radley Balko writes in The New York Times that “Tyre Nichols’s Death Proves Yet Again That ‘Elite’ Police Units Are a Disaster.” Radley Balko is an investigative reporter, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces and of the criminal justice newsletter The Watch.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Radley. Thanks for joining us from Nashville. Let’s start off with what you are saying, that these elite police units are a disaster. Respond to what happened to Tyre Nichols in Memphis and how this illustrates what’s going on around the country.

RADLEY BALKO: Yeah. So, what we saw in Memphis is a very familiar story, unfortunately. What’s happened probably for the last 40 to 50 years or so, going back to the STRESS unit in Detroit in the 1970s, is when crime goes up in a city, the police officials and civic leaders decide, you know, they need to show that they’re doing something, and so they’ll start one of these elite units. You know, it rests on this false assumption that the best way to fight crime in a city, particularly if crime is rising, is to give less oversight to police, to sort of give police more room, more leeway to kind of knock heads, to supervise them less.

And, you know, this isn’t true, but it is a way for these officials to kind of show that they’re doing something or they’re taking crime seriously. And so, what we saw in Memphis was, in 2021, when crime went up in Memphis, as it has all over the country, most likely due to the pandemic, among other factors, they start this unit called the SCORPION in order to, you know, again, just sort of demonstrate that they’re really getting tough on crime.

The problem is, you know, not only is there no evidence or data showing that these units effectively or even correlate with lower crime rates, they probably inhibit the ability to fight crime effectively, because they undermine trust between the police and the communities that the police serve. In order to fight crime effectively, you need to have cooperation from the communities you’re serving, particularly in high-crime areas, and you need people to call the police when something’s wrong. You need them to talk to you when you’re investigating a serious crime. And there are polls showing now that, particularly in African American communities, people are more afraid of the police than they are of criminals. And that’s just not a good way to promote public safety in these neighborhoods.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I wanted to ask you in terms of that: Why are some of these units, or many of these units, then prone to be especially violent? The Intercept, for instance, reported that the special — the Street Crimes Unit and other special units like that in the New York City Police Department represented only 6% of the total officers but were involved in more than 30% of fatal shootings. So, why do you see this tendency in these groups?

RADLEY BALKO: So, I think what these units do is they concentrate some of the sort of more unfortunate or problematic parts of policing into one unit. So, because there’s less supervision and there’s sort of a longer leash for police to kind of skirt the rules, they attract officers who want to work in that kind of environment. And then, those officers, in turn, recruit other officers who are going to — you know, who share their sort of outlook on how policing ought to be done. I mean, when you call a police unit something like SCORPION or STRESS or, you know, these sort of intimidating names, not only do you — that name is designed to intimidate or instill fear in the communities that the police serve, it’s also designed to attract officers who want to be feared.

And so, that’s how, I think, we get some of these units staffed with officers who — you know, in Chicago, for example, one of their street crimes units, that was disbanded, finally, in, I believe, 2011, after a huge scandal involving kidnapping, drug dealing, police officers beating people, planting evidence on people — subsequent investigations found that, I believe it was, four officers on that unit had more than 50 citizen complaints against them, which put them in the very top 1% of the entire department. And that’s a department with over 10,000 officers. To have officers in the 1% of complaints in that entire department in the same unit tells you that that unit was, you know, designed to attract those kinds of officers.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You know, we’ve heard so much in recent years about police reform. We’ve seen in many — in several cities reform-minded police chiefs come to power. But why do you think the police departments of this nation are so resistant to systemic or a change? You talk about the barriers to that kind of change in a city like Little Rock, Arkansas, which elected its first Black mayor in 2018 and sought to bring in a reformist police chief. What are some of the barriers that these cities find?

RADLEY BALKO: So, I think Little Rock is a good example of this problem. So, in Little Rock in 2018, you had a mayor who ran on a police reform platform and won and became the first Black mayor in Little Rock history. He then appoints a police chief who is a reform-oriented police chief, but, you know, that chief was barely in office, and the reforms he implemented to start were not particularly radical. In fact, they were good governance-type reforms that other police departments across the country have had for decades. And there was immediate pushback from the police union and their supporters in the city, to the point where the chief was sort of harassed.

There were rumors spread about him, a lot of sort of racially loaded rumors about harassing white women. They went into his finances. And none of these allegations and accusations ever panned out. There was no evidence for any of them. But he was harassed to the point where he eventually resigned and left the office. And the city police department is now led by an officer who’s in the department for 20 years, not an outside officer — more than 20 years, I think — and who has the full support of the police union. So, you know, there are institutions in place. I mean, policing is something that has evolved in this country since, you know, the 1920s, even earlier in some cities.

There are institutions that have sprung up to keep things as the way they are, to sort of promote the status quo. And so, it becomes very difficult to overcome those interests. You know, we are seeing some reform across the country. We’re seeing the election of kind of reform-oriented prosecutors, city councilmembers, mayors. And particularly after the George Floyd protests, we have seen some really substantive changes on the state and local level. You know, I think it’s just a drop in the bucket for what’s actually needed, but I do think, for the first time in — certainly since I’ve been covering this issue, in about 20 years, we are, you know, seeing some movement in the direction of real substantive change.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to the issue of conspiracy, Radley. The police officers’ lawyers, that are charged with murder, are trying to separate each individual and saying, “Well, once they actually go to trial, you’ll see he didn’t exactly do this.” And then you’ve got the one we have just learned, the white police officer, who was suspended at the time that the others were fired and charged with murder, who you hear saying, in the first stop — he tased or tried to tase Tyre — you know, “Stomp his A—.” I don’t want to say the whole thing there. But the idea of these units working together? And that’s the argument that the prosecutors are making, that unless they’re actually actively stopping the assault, whatever role they play, they’re all working to move in on and, in this case, beat and ultimately kill Tyre.

RADLEY BALKO: Yeah. So, I mean, that’s why I think after the George Floyd protests you saw a lot of cities pass a duty-to-intervene law, which basically says that if police officers see another officer violating someone’s civil or constitutional rights, they have an obligation to step in and try to stop that. Now, those laws are going to be really difficult to enforce, in part, again, because of the police unions. There is a — you know, there’s the — the blue code of silence is probably the most effective “stop snitching” campaign in U.S. history, right? It’s really effective at getting police officers to stop — to stopping police officers from testifying against each other, from turning each other in.

You know, in a lot of these cases — I mean, I’ve written about numerous cases over the years where you have a scandal like this, where you have a police unit that was shown to have engaged in massive corruption, and the only officer who’s ever sort of held accountable is the one who turned the other officers in or who blew the whistle. A good example is Adrian Schoolcraft in the New York City Police Department a few years ago, tried to blow the whistle on quotas that — the arrest quotas that the department had.

And he was — not only was he harassed, he was eventually — they raided his house, and they forcibly interned him at a psychiatric ward, because, of course, you know, if you’re reporting on your fellow officers’ misconduct, you can only be apparently having some sort of mental health crisis, according to the NYPD officers who took that up.

So, I think there’s a very strong sense of sort of camaraderie within policing today. I think police culture has a very “us versus them” mentality. And so, it becomes very difficult to get even the good officers to report and hold the bad officers accountable, because, you know, a lot of those officers, if you do that, you’re not going to remain in policing for very long.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’m wondering — I’ve covered a lot of these incidents of police killings over many decades. And I was surprised — I’m wondering if you are, as well — about how quickly these officers were not only fired, but charged for this killing. It usually takes months, sometimes years or more, to get indictments of officers in police killings. And, of course, many people are wondering whether this had something to do with the fact that there were five Black officers involved in this particular death. Also, the issue of the fact that Tyre Nichols was a FedEx worker in a city that’s the headquarters of FedEx, where more than 30,000 people — it’s the largest employer in Memphis. I’m wondering your thoughts about how quickly there was movement by law enforcement in this case.

RADLEY BALKO: Those are two very interesting theories, that I actually hadn’t considered. You know, it was unusually fast for one of these incidents, but I think there are two other factors at play, or three other factors at play. One is, you know, I think this is one of the substantive changes that I think we’ve seen since George Floyd, even going back to Ferguson, is we’ve seen that prosecutors are more willing to bring charges against police officers in the really egregious cases. Memphis also just elected a district attorney who ran heavily on a reform platform, so I think there was sort of political standing or political support for him to hold these officers accountable pretty much immediately.

But the other thing I think in play here is that that video is just so incredibly harrowing and so incredibly horrifying. I mean, even people who routinely and reflexively defend law enforcement, people on the far right and the right, you know, even they aren’t defending the police officers in this. Instead, they’ve sort of pivoted to this argument that those officers were, you know, affirmative action hires or that this was some sort of example of wokeism in police departments. But I think it’s telling that they’ve turned to that. They can’t — you know, no one can watch that video and not be just completely horrified at the utter lack of humanity shown by those officers, much less try to defend them. So, I think both of — all those things played a big role in the quick application of accountability in this case, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we are going to, of course, continue to cover this case, as well as others around the country. Tyre Nichols will be buried tomorrow. The funeral is Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee. Radley Balko, thanks so much for being with us, investigative reporter. We’ll link to your piece, “Tyre Nichols’s Death Proves Yet Again That ‘Elite’ Police Units Are a Disaster,” author of the book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, also the editor of the criminal justice newsletter The Watch, speaking to us from Nashville, Tennessee.

Next up, we look at how a special unit designed to protect trans women at Rikers Island jail here in New York has fallen apart, stranding many trans women in male jails, where they’ve been harassed and raped. Stay with us.

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A Collection of Political Cartoons by John Slade











































































































See the video below








































It happens everyday in America!

By Jeff Thomas

Black men kill each other at alarming rates all across America every day. Nearly every city’s daily news casts reports, “Today in our city three (or thirty depending on the size of your city) men were shot and killed in three (or thirty) separate shootings.  Police have no suspects in any of the cases.”  And immediately and innately you know that the people killed were black and the killers were black.  This has been going on for the last 30-40 years and no end is in sight.  New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates nationally.  Why do black men kill each other?

First Let’s Dispel a Racist Myth

First thing you have to know is that 99.999% of black men do not commit murder ever in their lives.  That is a fact!  This is not a black man issue.  There is nothing genetically or intrinsically wrong with black men. But the fact remains that daily hundreds of black men across this country are murdered everyday by another black man.  Why does this happen with this subset?

Common factors to Black men murdering other black men

RACE

The first thing about murder is that people usually kill people who are similar to them in many ways, particularly race.  White men normally murder other white men and black men normally murder other black men. 

PROXIMITY

In the black community, these killings are normally city events.  Rarely do you hear of a drive by in the country.  Most of these daily killings occur on the city streets.  People kill others who they interact with.

AGE

Young men engage in risky and violent behavior.  Most of the men dying on our streets are between the ages of 17-35. 

EDUCATION

Nearly 95% have not graduated from college and 65% have not completed high school.   

Socioeconomic Status

100% were not upper class in America. The links between poverty and crime are well documented.  And black men have lived in depression level economic conditions for the last 50 years.

But these are often cited, unsurprising factors.  More salient is what goes into the psyche of a guy who can look into the eyes of another man and pull the trigger at close range or jab a knife with the intent to murder another man?  What are the other factors that contribute to becoming a murderer? Why do Black men kill each other

Habitually Hostile Men

The guy who ain’t never scared and always looking to escalate a situation.  Down for whatever.  Nothing to live for and anticipating the day he will either kill or be killed.  This mindset is cultivated in a limited option, few chances, success deprived life.  This guy has had a number of arguments and fist fights throughout his life.  He hates authority and frequently feels angry or resentful towards people.  He often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.  This guy is a walking heap of rage.  He is always nothing but a gun and an argument away from murder.

The Disrespected Man

A man who feels like everybody but him gets respect.

For this guy, respect is everything and options to express anger or refutation are often limited.   He often seeks to overcome a feeling of impotence. If another who seems unworthy of disseminating criticism or scorn or generally crosses the line of imagined respect, then a high level of response will be meted out.

The Wannabe

When challenged by a non-believing skeptic, this man often acts in unnecessarily violent ways in unnecessarily violent situations.  Often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.

Self-Hate

The daily feeling of isolation, powerlessness and impotence is like being a prisoner of war.  One reason black men grab their genitals is to stress their vitality.  Men who have been literally stripped of the ability to display their manhood – great jobs, big houses, educational attainment and all the other accoutrements of modern society- are literally killing to express their power in life.  Twisted but true.

OCTOBER 2023 AMENDMENTS 3 & 4: SIMPLIFIED

AMENDMENT 3 (FOR)

With HB 47 voters will be asked to decide whether to make increases in how state budget surpluses are spent on pension benefits for retired state employees. Surpluses occur when annual state revenues exceed spending. Of course, this is a desirable situation but not the norm. When it does happen, state law largely governs which worthy causes to spend money on and how much is to be spent.   For budget year 2024-2025, City Business reports that the projected surplus by government officials is appx. $143 million

An amendment passed 1988 is current law. It requires that at least 10% of any non-recurring surplus be used to fundof the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System (LASERS) and Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL).  These payments, however, are scheduled to end in 2029.

2023 AMENDMENTS 3 & 4: SIMPLIFIED

Based on 2022 state actuarial reports, there are over 49,700 LASERS retirees and a whopping 82,600 in TRSL. Louisiana has 4 retirement systems that require funding –

Each is obligated to pay pension benefits to retirees, spouses or beneficiaries. Also 25% of any surplus is carved out for the state’s “rainy day” fund.

The combined unfunded accrued liability for these 4 state retirement systems exceeds $ 17 billion!  In simple terms, this is the gap existing between earned retirement benefits and the long-term ability to pay those benefits. The benefits typically include monthly pension checks and sometimes medical benefits to either retirees, their surviving spouses or beneficiaries. The bulk of state employees are unable to amass significant savings for retirement during their careers. So any interruption or reduction of these payments in their golden years could be devastating.

Passing Amendment 3 allocates a minimum 25% of surplus money to fund the 4 major state retirement systems. This significantly reduces the unfunded liability gap of each system. Louisiana has 147,400 state retirees. Many spent 30 years of their lives serving the state. A yes vote means they become more financially secure in retirement. Even then, legislators would still be able to haggle over how to spend up to 50% of any annual surplus. If the measure fails,  legislators retain heavy discretion and authority over approximately 65% of surplus funds. They can direct this money to other projects that could be beneficial but only to their local constituencies.

HB 47, introduced by Representative Richard Nelson, passed unanimously in the House and passed 37-2 in the Senate.

AMENDMENT 4 (FOR)

With HB 46 voters will decide whether owners of exempt residential property determined to have “repeated public health or safety violations” should have their exempt status revoked, placing those properties on the taxable property roll. A 2023 report by the Orleans Parish Assessors Office tallies 11,227 exempt real estate properties. That is 6.8% of the total 164,524 real estate properties  .

Current state law allows real property owners to submit applications to their parish assessor to have their properties exempt from taxation.  A typical application for exemption requires responding to a myriad of questions. In New Orleans, exempt property counts are prominently displayed and easily identifiable. But the volume of statewide exempt real estate properties is not easily measurable. 

Bad landlords are common in Louisiana and the United States. The overwhelming majority of landlords’ properties are not exempt from paying property taxes. However, a particularly negligent landlord who owns several exempt properties has become the impetus to force change. Tenants of The Willows Apartments, a development with 260 exempt units located at 7001 Lawrence Road in New Orleans and owned by Global Ministries Foundation (GMF) of Tennessee, have filed suit over deplorable living conditions that allegedly have existed for long periods  

Conditions in the Willows Apartments

Similar substandard conditions have been reported at two other GMF owned properties, Parc Fontaine Apartments in Algiers and The Bellemont Apartments in Metairie (Jefferson parish). Common tenant complaints include but are not limited to unrepaired leaks that foster mold, termite infestation, and lack of adequate security on premises. In 2019 a 3 year old child died in a Bellemont apartment determined to have no working smoke alarms. 

Proponents are counting on passage of this amendment to give landlords of exempt properties another strong incentive, besides code enforcement fines already levied, to repair and maintain their leased properties. The aggregate assessors’ appraised value of just these 3 GMF owned developments is over $ 48 million, which would yield over $ 688, 000 in property taxes annually if exempt status is revoked for non-compliance.

Some argue that revocation of exempt status does not ensure that landlords will remedy defects and conditions. HB 46, introduced by Representative Jason Hughes, passed with the required 2/3 vote in the House and unanimously in the Senate.

Do Amendments Turn You On? Maybe if you learned more about them they might. Understanding amendments 1 & 2

Have you ever been excited about amendments on election ballots? No? Me either. They’re just not sexy. And they’re written in the most horribly obtuse language. But they’re essential, so we’re forced to deal with them.

On October 14th, 4 of them are on your  ballot. Let’s take a look at the first 2.  In honor of the direction this state will most likely go in after the governor’s race, we’ll start backwards.  Amendment 2 is up first. Oh, and for future references,

🙋🏾‍♂️ = ?

🤷🏾‍♂️ = beats the sh#t out of me

Understanding Amendments 1 & 2

Amendment 2:

Do you support an amendment to provide that the freedom of worship in a church or other place of worship is a fundamental right that is worthy of the highest order of protection?

🙋🏾‍♂️

Context:

This amendment was born out of COVID when pastor Tony Spell of the Life Tabernacle Church and other COVID deniers made a big stink out of being told they had to stay away from their churches to help stop the spread of COVID. Spell decided he’d rather not and continued having services until he was arrested. A court eventually cleared him on appeal after he argued that Jesus is just as essential as milk. His logic was that if people were allowed to assemble at the grocery store, then they should be allowed to assemble at church too.

Understanding Amendments 1 & 2

More context:

Freedom of Religion, like the Right to Bear Arms, is already held in high regard by a judicial standard called strict scrutiny. This means the state has to jump through all kinds of special hoops to infringe upon these rights.

Maybe this highest order lingo is being inserted to ensure that there’s one more extra hoop to jump through. 🤷🏾‍♂️ It’s up to you and your ballot to decide if it’s needed or not.

Amendment 1:

Do you support an amendment to prohibit the use of funds, goods, or services from a foreign government or a nongovernmental source to conduct elections and election functions and duties unless the use is authorized by the Secretary of State through policies established in accordance with law?

🙋🏾‍♂️

Context:

This is another COVID baby. During the COVID elections a Mark Zuckerberg (the Facebook dude) backed group went around giving grants to help provide hand sanitizer, masks, and other supplies for election workers. The thought was that this would help the elections run smoother and get more people out to vote. Of course, Republicans don’t like it when more people get out to vote because they usually don’t vote for them. So hence the amendment. If passed, Louisiana would join 20 or more other states that have passed some sort of ban on private funds.

More Context:

There’s a dollar, and there’s a string. In politics, it has been repeatedly shown that you can’t have one without the other. It’s up to you and your ballot to decide if we’ve evolved or if masks and hand sanitizer today would lead to corruption tomorrow 🤷🏾‍♂️.

Understanding Amendments 1 & 2

Have fun on October 14th, election day. It just might be exciting.

Stigmas of Therapy in the Black Community

In the vibrant tapestry of African American culture, there exists a mosaic of stigmas and misconceptions that can obscure the path to mental health support. Let’s take a journey through these challenges, which include the fear of airing family secrets, a reliance on spiritual guidance, the perception of therapy as weakness, the notion that therapy is only for “others,” and doubts about its efficacy. We’ll explore these hurdles with the hope of revealing the colorful world of possibilities that come with embracing mental health care.

Unearthing Hidden Strengths

In African American families, secrets can be as closely guarded as treasure chests. The fear of exposing family skeletons can deter individuals from seeking therapy, as they worry that discussing familial issues with an outsider might unleash a Pandora’s box of gossip. But what if we reframed this as an opportunity to unearth hidden strengths and resilience within families, rather than an exposure of weaknesses?

The Power of Faith and Community

The African American community has long found solace and strength in faith, often turning to clergy and congregations for guidance. While spirituality is a profound source of support, it doesn’t have to be a contradiction to clinical therapy. Instead of viewing therapy as a challenge to faith, it can be seen as a complementary resource for individuals navigating the complexities of life.

Rewriting the Definition of Strength

Within the African American community, there’s an image of strength that can sometimes act as a double-edged sword. The notion that seeking therapy is a sign of weakness has lingered for too long. What if we redefined strength to include the courage to confront our emotional challenges and seek help when needed? Strength, after all, can take many forms.

Stigmas of Therapy in the Black Community

A Tapestry of Healing

Is therapy a “white people” thing? Not at all! Mental health knows no boundaries of color or culture. Instead, think of therapy as a unique thread in the rich tapestry of healing. It can be woven to reflect the diverse experiences and needs of African Americans, addressing the specific challenges they face while celebrating their cultural identity.

Successful therapy. Young African American client having consultation with therapist.

Stigmas of Therapy in the Black Community

Conversation as Catalyst

The idea that talking to someone can’t lead to meaningful change is a common misconception. In reality, conversations can be powerful catalysts for transformation. In therapy, individuals can discover new perspectives, coping strategies, and a renewed sense of self.

Conclusion

In the African American community, shattering these stigmas surrounding therapy is like adding vivid colors to a masterpiece. By encouraging open dialogues, spreading awareness of therapy’s benefits, and offering culturally competent care, we can break down the barriers that hold people back from seeking help. In doing so, we unveil the true beauty of mental health, fostering happier, healthier lives within our vibrant and resilient community.

Five principles on consistency and sustainable progress, all backed by research and practice.

Brad Stulberg

If you go for broke you often end up broken. If you swing for home runs you often end up striking out. But if you just put the ball in play—over and over again—good things tend to happen.

When it comes to health, well-being, and peak performance, quick fixes and heroic efforts are the common theme. They are exciting, enticing, and a whole lot easier to sell than slow and steady approaches to improvement, which can sound (and genuinely be) a bit boring. But here’s the thing: slow and steady is what actually works.

According to 2017  data collected by the University of Scranton, only 9 percent of people stick to their resolutions for a full year. Most experience a  stark decline: 27 percent of people fail their resolution after one week, 32 percent after two weeks, 42 percent after one month, 55 percent after six months, and then eventually all but 9 percent of people peter out by the end of the year. I suspect a big reason for this is that people overestimate what they can do in a day but underestimate what they can do in a year. Perhaps you are experiencing this right now with some of the changes you set out to make for 2022.

What follows are five principles on consistency and sustainable progress, all backed by research and practice.

Heroic efforts tend not to end well—resist their allure.

Pulling all-nighters, working out until you vomit, going on extreme diets, and so on may be fun to talk about, and they may even feel good for a bit, but these things usually end in illness, injury, or burnout. Ignore people’s social media posts on this stuff. These efforts are largely dumb (at best) and harmful (at worst). Yes, it is okay to go to the well every once in a while, but these exceptions prove the rule. Even most hard efforts should be repeatable. There is a big difference between comfortable (sustainable), comfortably uncomfortable (mostly sustainable), uncomfortably uncomfortable (can be sustainable in the right dose), and downright uncomfortable (very hard to sustain).

For example, research shows that injury and illness tend to occur when volume and intensity of work suddenly goes up by a significant amount over the one-month trailing average. Though these sorts of empirical studies have largely been performed in sport, I suspect the same theme is true off the playing field, too.

If you are addicted to visible progress you will not last long in whatever it is that you do.

Many people burnout not only after a hard defeat but also after a big success or a meteoric rise. The reason being that the high does not last forever. The popular notion of  just get one percent every day is well-intentioned; it basically says don’t worry about crushing it all the time, simply aim for small marginal gains that add up over time. This is all well and good—and true. The trap, however, occurs when it becomes really hard to get one percent better every day, which happens fairly quickly in most pursuits. At this point, the goal has got to shift from visible progress to sustained and wise effort. This requires:

Progress is non-linear.

When you are brand new to an activity, even if you aim to only get one percent better each day, you might actually get one-hundred percent better every day. As your skill level increases, the gains will become more incremental—ten percent, five percent, one percent, half a percent, a quarter of a percent, and so on. That’s okay. This phenomena is why it is so important to be patient and to enjoy what you do. As the philosopher and master of human potential George Leonard once said, “You’ve got to get comfortable on the plateau.”

What people think versus how progress actually unfolds over time:
There is no such thing as an overnight breakthrough.

A recent  study published in the journal  Nature found that while most people have a “hot streak” in their career, “a specific period during which an individual’s performance is substantially better than his or her typical performance,” the timing is somewhat unpredictable. “The hot streak emerges randomly within an individual’s sequence of works, is temporally localized, and is not associated with any detectable change in productivity,” the researchers write. But one thing just about every hot streak has in common? They all rest on a foundation of prior work, during which observable improvement was much less substantial. What seems like a breakthrough is rarely that. Think about pounding a stone 30 times and having it crack on the 31st. Though it may appear otherwise, it didn’t take just one pound for the stone to crack.

Show Restraint, Even When You Feel Good.

Sustainable progress, in just about every and any endeavor, requires stopping one rep short, at least on most days. This is what allows you to come back and pick up in a rhythm the next day. It can be hard to stop short for folks who are accustomed to giving things their absolute all. The trick is realizing that there is a difference between giving something your absolute all in any given day versus giving something your absolute all over an extended period of time. The former is precisely what can get in the way of the latter.


By Gerald Dannel, Jr.     gjdannel@outlook.com or The Magic Show on TikTok (@jae.zuitdeykalmi)

I use TikTok to showcase my artistry as a magician, and I like the lighthearted and entertainment aspects of the application. Through TikTok, I’ve established connections with fellow magicians, affording me the opportunity to absorb fresh ideas and engage in meaningful exchanges. 

Another friend of mine chronicles their travels through video logs, capturing journeys across the country. There are also local amateur restaurant reviewers which have led me to some of the tastiest culinary establishments in New Orleans. 

Why then is Congress trying to ban the app? Two-thirds of state legislatures, including Louisiana’s, have already taken some steps to do this on college campuses and through state-sponsored networks.

Dear Congress: Save TikTok

The power of TikTok’s genuine, real-life imagery and voices extends well beyond the confines of a printed newspaper column or a TV commentary. The legacy of the late New Orleans comedian Boogie B and his TikTok theme “New Orleans Hood History” remains vivid to illustrate this point: Where would we be without these entries on TikTok to know more about the many facets of New Orleans and Louisiana?

The TikTok approach is simple yet effective, a complimentary means to promoting a new hobby or entrepreneurship with an incredible audience to see a person’s brand.

As an American, I can acknowledge concerns about the platform which Congress and the President are raising: TikTok is mostly used by people on their phones and so the fact that it comes out of China gives concern to many about how this global competitor accesses our content, privacy, and safety. These concerns should be addressed through comprehensive and responsible regulation rather than outright banning an app used by 150 million Americans, and which has grown increasingly important to young African Americans as a safe, alternative media source. 

Dear Congress: Save TikTok

Besides, national elections are around the corner. Why silence a platform used by young voters, like me, who interact with others to discuss issues and candidates? It seems anti-democratic at a time when we need to promote engagement in the future direction of our country.

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, platforms like TikTok have emerged as dynamic spaces that encourage creativity, connectivity, information and economic growth. 

TikTok has redefined the way we express ourselves. With its short-form video format, it encourages users to condense their ideas, stories, and talents into engaging and captivating content. Unlike facebook, it bans political ads, but even so-called influencers can share their ideas safely, without the shaming that often occurs on other apps like the former Twitter.

TikTok serves as a launchpad and its global user base is diverse, transcending borders and promoting meaningful connections.

           I have contacted policymakers like our Congressmen Troy Carter, Steve Scalise and Garret Graves and encouraged them to nurture the positive aspects of TikTok. Their staff responses have been encouraging and indicate that TikTok is working to be protective of Americans online. I encourage these leaders to help Congress address legitimate TikTok concerns through balanced and thoughtful measures.

You read Think504.com.  So, you are highly intelligent, uber informed and just an all-around great citizen.  Not only do you know we are in the middle of an election, but you have a god idea about who you are voting for in the governor’s race.  But do you know about the 4 constitutional amendments? Are you aware of the 2 city charter change amendments and a city tax renewal?  Early voting starts this Saturday.  We want to give you the info about all of this.  We will be on WBOK to discuss theses in detail.  But today you get to see the ballot language and a short description of what they are about.

Constitutional Amendments

CA No. 1 (ACT 200, 2023 – HB 311) – Prohibits the use of private funds in the administration of elections. (Select 1)

Do you support an amendment to prohibit the use of funds, goods, or services from a foreign government or a nongovernmental source to conduct elections and election functions and duties unless the use is authorized by the secretary of state through policies established in accordance with law? (Adds Article XI, Section 6)

Short Explanation- Allows philanthropists or anyone who can afford to pay the costs of holding an election.  For example, New Orleans will spend about $400,000 for the upcoming statewide election.  A philanthropist can donate money to the clerk of court to offset these costs if you vote yes.

CA No. 2 (ACT 30, 2023 – SB 63) – Provides that the freedom of worship is a fundamental right worthy of the highest protection. (Select 1)

Do you support an amendment to provide that the freedom of worship in a church or other place of worship is a fundamental right that is worthy of the highest order of protection? (Adds Const. Article XII, Section 17)

Short Explanation A   yes vote adds more protection to religious freedom.  This is primarily for judges in court proceedings.  It places a high bar to infringe on a person’s religious freedom.

CA No. 3 (ACT 107, 2023 – HB 47) – Dedicates certain payments to be applied to the state retirement system unfunded accrued liability. (Select 1)

Do you support an amendment to require that a minimum of twenty-five percent of any money designated as nonrecurring state revenue be applied toward the balance of the unfunded accrued liability of the state retirement systems? (Amends Article VII, Section 10(D)(2)(b)(ii) and (iii))

Short Explanation – A yes vote increases the amount legislators must spend out of any surplus dollars on the state employees pensions.  The amount increases from 10% to 25%.

CA No. 4 (ACT 48, 2023 – HB 46) – Restricts ad valorem tax exemptions for certain nonprofit organizations. (Select 1)

Do you support an amendment to deny a property tax exemption to a nonprofit corporation or association that owns residential property in such a state of disrepair that it endangers public health or safety? (Amends Article VII, Section 21(B))

Short Explanation – A yes vote allows municipalities to remove the tax exemption for slum landlords. Mold, bad roofs, faulty plumbing and electricity are some of the stated criteria in the new law, if passed.

City Law Changes

PW HRC Amendment Prop. No. 1 of 2 – Art. VI, Sec. 6-102 & 6-104 – CC (Select 1)

Shall Article VI, Sections 6-102 and 6-104 of the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans be amended to move up the deadline by which the City Planning Commission must submit a capital program to the Mayor; and by which the operating budget, the proposed revenue and operating budget ordinances, the capital program as prepared by the City Planning Commission, the Mayor’s capital budget message, and the proposed capital budget ordinance must be submitted to the Council by thirty days so that the Council may have additional time to conduct public hearings and to receive input on budget matters, as provided in Ordinance No. 29370 M.C.S.?

Short Explanation – A yes vote doubles from one month to two months the time the city council gets to review the mayor’s operating budget.  For decades, various councils have complained that they do not have enough time to fully review the city’s budget and properly fund the various departments. 

PW HRC Amendment Prop. No. 2 of 2 – Art. IV, Sec. 4-702 & 4-801 – CC (Select 1)

Shall the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans be amended to establish the Department of Code Enforcement to inspect substandard property and authorize demolition or remediation of property hazardous to the public health, safety, and welfare, and to enforce laws and regulations for maintaining streets, vacant lots, and other places free from weeds, trash, and deleterious matter, thereby reassigning such functions from the Departments of Safety and Permits and Sanitation to the Department of Code Enforcement, as provided in Ordinance No. 29371 M.C.S.?

Short Explanation – A yes vote sets up an entirely new city department and reorganizes code enforcement.  This new department is given clearly defined roles and organizational structure. 

PW School Board Proposition – 4.97 Mills Renewal – SB – 20 Yrs. (Select 1)

Shall the Orleans Parish School Board (the “School Board”) renew the levy and collection of a tax of four and ninety-seven hundredths (4.97) mills on the dollar of the assessed valuation of property within the City of New Orleans assessed for City Taxation, (an estimated $20,450,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of twenty (20) years, beginning in 2025, for the purpose of preservation, improvement and capital repairs of all existing public school facilities, to be levied and collected in the same manner as is set forth in Article VIII, Section 13(C)(Second) of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974?

Short Explanation – A yes vote renews the current millage that is used to fund school building repairs.  After Hurricane Katrina, the city built and renovated 75 school buildings.  This money is spent to maintain those buildings.

We will have a deeper dive over the next couple of weeks and give more details and a look at how you vote might impact the city and state.

If you get out of jail in New Orleans and you don’t have a place to go what do you do? 

 There’s an organization that stands in the gap called The First 72+. Rev. Tyrone Smith along with his brother and four other formerly incarcerated men founded the First72+. Usually, when folks get out of prison the first 72 hours are critical. You’re either looking for a job, public assistance or a place to stay. While enrolled into The First 72+ all those resources and more are provided.  The formerly incarcerated get a new start.

On Sept. 18, 2023, The First 72+ held their grand opening to the new facility – a 3,200-square-foot transitional housing with a total of 8 beds. In addition to the current resources provided, residents can take part in culinary courses and technological literacy programs which will be located on site.  

Formerly Incarcerated Get a New Start

“If this place wasn’t in existence, I think the crime rate would be even higher. The first 3 days you come out of prison it can either make or break you. The first day you don’t want to go back, nobody wants to go back to prison. So, you come out looking for a job and can’t find one and the second day you do it again and you’re sleeping under the bridge and maybe even the shelter. So, you were better off in jail then you are out being free.

After three days, you can’t get no work or no help, you’re going back to the familiar because you know how to sell drugs. You know how to rob and steal because that’s what majority of us went to jail for. This is the place where we talk them off the ledge. We tell them to give themselves a chance, it’s going to be alright”

Reverend Tyrone Smith
Congressman Troy Carter Speaks at the First 72+ Grand Opening

The First 72+ has been able to help more than 2000 people on their journey home from incarceration. “So many guys’ lives are changed. Hundreds and hundreds of men get out and never went back,” said Rev. Smith. You see, Rev. Smith himself is formerly incarcerated.  He served 9 years total in jail. But he’s been off drugs for almost 35 years. He stated that he “was a career criminal.” Released in 1994, he has never been in any type of trouble since. 

Formerly Incarcerated Get a New Start

 This new building makes the group stronger and more effective.  For years they operated from a much smaller and older building.  Since Louisiana remains the mass incarceration capital of the world,  Louisiana has the most formerly incarcerated people in the world.  And with a smaller jail and shorter sentences for non-violent offenses, the city needs this facility.  A properly staffed and fully functional reentry facility makes us all safer.

The First 72+ is a non-profit.  Consider donating!

The mission is to stop the cycle of incarceration by fostering independence and self-sustainability through education, stable and secure housing & employment, health care, and community engagement. Through the leadership and wisdom of formerly incarcerated people themselves, the First 72+ transforms the re-entry experience into one that builds on the strengths and abilities of people returning home from prison and ensures that they, their families, and their communities are given the greatest opportunity to grow and thrive.  The First 72+

When The Great Water Pandemic Of 2023 Ensued.

Governor John Bel Edwards tried. Mayor LaToya Cantrell tried. But in the year of 2023 in the month of September, neither could stop the citizens of New Orleans from buying water.

We had just gone through the same thing with toilet paper. So, one would’ve thought that after the great toilet paper pandemic of 2021 people would have understood the relationship between hoarding and shortages. But that would’ve required people to overcome an essential part of human nature, the inability to think rationally in stressful situations.

“Child, lemme tell you,” Auntie Beverly called and said, “there ain’t a bottle of water left in the Sam’s on the Westbank.” That same day photos of water stacked in closets started appearing on Instagram reels and TikTok feeds. At Canseco’s on Fillmore and Elysian Fields, a lady stood in line with 20 gallons of water in her basket, more than she probably drinks in a year.

Mayor Cantrell declared a state of emergency. Governor Edwards vowed to issue a federal emergency request. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talked of dumping 36 million gallons of fresh water into the Mississippi River.

The 2023 Water Pandemic

Salt was the problem. Yes, salt. Salt and summer. Call it the summer of salt.

The summer of salt happened around the time the planet had started feeling a certain type of way about us. It probably had been feeling a certain type of way about us for a while. Apparently stuffing the planet with more and more people, and scorching the atmosphere didn’t go over well. Finally, the planet expressed its revulsion in heat. Stifling, humid, swampy heat. And no rain.

People Wait in Line to Buy Water

The Mississippi River, the Nile of New Orleans, saw its water flow drop from 300,000 cubic square feet per second to 140,000 because the heat inspired drought. That’s more than half. As a result, a massive salt wedge began back flowing up the river from the Gulf of Mexico.

Lower coastal areas were put on a water advisory. Like don’t drink the water because there’s too much salt in it now, for some people. Word was that by late in the month of 10, the wedge would reach Orleans and other highly populated parishes. Then in those parishes it’d be the same scenario, for some people.

The S&WB issued an advisory. State Health Advisor Joe Kanter released a statement saying there’s no reason to panic. Underwater levees were even erected to stunt the wedge’s flow. And once the soon-to-be federal emergency request was declared there’d be acesss to federal aid in the form of more water. Still panic ensued.

Word was that in some parts of town people had proceeded to buy up all the Fiji water. When the Fiji is gone from the shelves it’s a sure sign that we have reached a Code Red level event. The Fiji was gone. Yet, the wedge was still a month away.   

The 2023 Water Pandemic

“What you think they gon do with all that water in the meantime,” somebody asked.

“I don’t know,” somebody else replied, “store it next to all their unused toilet paper?”

People acted like they weren’t living in America. America is a very wasteful and industrial society. Don’t we all know that? At any given time, there are warehouses full of unused goods. Think of any type of grocery. Think of water. What’s seen on the shelves doesn’t always represent the available stock. So typically, there’s no reason to hoard. That was a hard concept to swallow in stressful times.

In those days, the wedge was always with us. There on the news, creeping its way up the river, a floating wedge of doom. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for your father to call. “I bought 3 cases today,” he’d say. “You know the stuff coming out of your faucet and dispenser is still good,” you’d reply.

Ultimately, the wedge demanded more rationality than we could muster. We succumbed as we always did. I too if I’m being honest. My cousin came over. “What y’all got to drink,” he said. “Anything you want,” I said, “anything except for bottled water.”

Constructing your dream life is a journey filled with excitement, challenges, and uncertainties. Along this path, maintaining confidence can be a crucial factor in your success. Confidence isn’t just about self-assurance; it’s about believing in yourself, your goals, and your ability to overcome obstacles. Let’s explore how to remain confident as you work towards creating the life you’ve always envisioned.

Clarify Your Vision

The first step in building your dream life is to have a clear and compelling vision. This vision should encompass your long-term goals, values, and what truly matters to you. When you have a crystal-clear understanding of what you want, it becomes easier to stay confident in your pursuits. Take time to reflect on your aspirations, create vision boards, and set specific, achievable goals.

Develop Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the foundation of self-confidence. Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and values allows you to make informed decisions and take calculated risks. Regularly assess your progress and adjust your plans as needed. This adaptability and self-reflection will reinforce your belief in your ability to navigate challenges.

Cultivate a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that you can develop your abilities through dedication and hard work. Embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as setbacks. By adopting this mindset, you’ll maintain confidence even when facing obstacles, knowing that setbacks are a natural part of the journey towards success.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

Your environment plays a significant role in shaping your confidence. Surround yourself with supportive, positive individuals who encourage your dreams and provide constructive feedback. Limit exposure to negativity, whether it’s toxic relationships or self-doubt. Seek out mentors and role models who can inspire and guide you.

Take Action

Confidence often comes from acting. Procrastination and overthinking can erode your belief in your abilities. Break your goals into smaller, manageable steps and take consistent action toward them. Each small accomplishment will boost your self-esteem and reinforce your confidence.

Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity

Failure is not the opposite of confidence; it’s a steppingstone to success. When you encounter setbacks, view them as valuable lessons. Analyze what went wrong, adjust your approach, and try again with newfound wisdom. Remember that even the most successful individuals faced failure before achieving their dreams.

Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend. Be gentle with yourself on this journey. Recognize that perfection is not the goal, and setbacks do not define your worth. By practicing self-compassion, you’ll maintain a healthier self-image and, consequently, greater confidence.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Acknowledge your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Celebrate your milestones and achievements to reinforce your belief in your abilities. These celebrations serve as reminders of your progress and can keep your confidence levels high.

Stay Persistent and Resilient

Building your dream life is not always a linear path. You will encounter setbacks, rejections, and moments of doubt. However, the key to maintaining confidence is persistence and resilience. Keep pushing forward, adapt to changes, and stay committed to your vision.

Always remember, remaining confident while constructing your dream life is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, positivity, and a growth mindset. By clarifying your vision, surrounding yourself with supportive influences, and embracing failure as a learning opportunity, you can build and maintain the confidence needed to turn your dreams into reality. Remember that confidence is not a static trait but a dynamic quality that grows stronger with each step you take towards your ideal life.

In the vibrant and culturally diverse city of New Orleans, a pressing issue is affecting many residents. But the African American community is especially impacted. Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACEs) have become a focal point in the city’s pursuit of a healthier and more resilient future.

Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACEs) encompass a range of traumatic events or circumstances that occur during an individual’s formative years, typically before the age of 18. These experiences disrupt a child’s sense of safety, stability, and overall well-being. The ACEs concept gained prominence through the groundbreaking ACEs Study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente conducted the research in the late 1990s. They identified ten common ACE factors that can profoundly affect a person’s life throughout adulthood.

This table illustrates the problems many children endure in New Orleans
ACE FactorDescription
Physical AbuseThe experience of physical harm or injury inflicted by a caregiver or trusted adult can leave lasting physical and emotional scars.
Emotional AbuseVerbal aggression, humiliation, or emotional neglect can negatively impact a child’s mental health and self-esteem.
Sexual AbuseInappropriate sexual contact or exposure during childhood can lead to long-lasting trauma and psychological distress.
Household DysfunctionLiving in an environment marked by domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, or incarceration can create an unstable and unsafe upbringing.
NeglectLack of basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and emotional support, can hinder a child’s healthy development.
Parental Separation or DivorceThe breakdown of a family unit can result in emotional distress and a sense of abandonment.
Substance AbuseExposure to a caregiver’s substance abuse can lead to neglect, trauma, and a higher likelihood of substance use issues later in life.
Mental IllnessGrowing up with a caregiver who struggles with mental health issues can create an unstable home environment and increase the risk of mental health challenges for the child.
IncarcerationA parent’s imprisonment can disrupt family dynamics, leading to a range of negative consequences for the child.
Community ViolenceWitnessing or experiencing violence in the neighborhood or community can contribute to feelings of fear and insecurity.
Children playing in projects

In New Orleans, a historical legacy of racial discrimination, economic disparities, and systemic inequalities contributes to the higher likelihood of African American children experiencing ACEs. Poverty rates in the Black community are disproportionately high. Poverty increases the risk of neglect, household dysfunction, and exposure to community violence. Additionally, limited access to quality healthcare and education exacerbates the impact of ACEs on children’s long-term outcomes.

Building Resilience for African Americans

ACEs are not mere childhood memories. They hold lasting implications for health, leading to an increased probability of disease, disability, and adverse life outcomes. Stress induced by ACEs can alter a child’s brain and body. This elevates the risk of illnesses and making life more challenging. These effects accumulate over time, with each additional ACE compounding the potential for harm.

The effects of ACEs extend beyond individual well-being; they have significant societal health, economic, and well-being costs. Many experts consider ACEs a public health crisis due to their pervasive influence. Marginalized communities often bear a disproportionate burden of ACEs, intertwined with issues like community violence, racism, incarceration, and discrimination.

ACEs disrupt the body’s equilibrium, causing toxic stress that can harm the immune system, emotional regulation, concentration, learning, and anxiety management. The cumulative effects of ACEs can manifest in various psychological and medical problems. The effects include chronic depression, anxiety and chronic health issues.

The ACE survey – comprised of 10 questions – quantifies an individual’s exposure to ACEs during childhood. Each “yes” response to a question contributes to an individual’s ACE score, which ranges from 0 to 10. A higher score indicates a greater likelihood of experiencing negative outcomes later in life. For instance, a score of 4 or more doubles an adult’s risk of developing heart disease or cancer. A score of 5 or more increases the chance of alcoholism by eightfold. And a

score of 6 or more amplifies the risk of further negative outcomes.

The ACE Survey

Please answer the following questions by indicating if they happened during your childhood (up to age 18). For each “yes” response, add one point to your ACE score.

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often swear at you, insult you, or humiliate you or act in a way that made you afraid you would be physically hurt?
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? Or any adult ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
  3. Did an adult or person at least five years older than you ever touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way or attempt to have intercourse with you?
  4. Did you often feel that no one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special, or your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
  5. Did you often feel that you didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you, or your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
  7. Was your mother or stepmother often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? Or was she kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard, or ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes? or threatened with a gun or knife?
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member attempt suicide?
  10. Did a household member go to prison?

Building Resilience for African Americans

While ACEs can have a profound impact on a person’s life, it’s essential to recognize that resilience is a powerful force that can counteract the negative effects of adversity. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences, adapt to challenges, and grow stronger in the face of adversity. In the context of ACEs, resilience can play a pivotal role in mitigating their long-term consequences.

Building resilience involves several key factors:

  1. Strong Support Networks: Having supportive relationships with family, friends, mentors, or community organizations can provide a buffer against the effects of ACEs.
  2. Access to Mental Health Services: Seeking professional help and therapy can aid individuals in processing and coping with traumatic experiences.
  3. Coping Skills: Teaching individuals healthy coping mechanisms, such as mindfulness, problem-solving, and emotional regulation, can enhance their resilience.
  4. Positive Self-Identity: Fostering a sense of self-worth and self-efficacy can help individuals develop a more positive outlook on life.
  5. Education and Employment Opportunities: Access to quality education and employment opportunities can empower individuals to overcome adversity and improve their socio-economic status.

Resilience is the key

Understanding the concept of ACEs and their impact is a crucial step toward creating a brighter future for the city. We must acknowledge the challenges and work together to address them. By promoting resilience, New Orleans can build a more resilient and healthier community. A resilient New Orleans celebrates its rich culture and ensures the well-being of all its residents. Most importantly, breaking the cycle of ACEs is not just a goal but a collective commitment. A commitment to nurturing the city’s most precious resource—its children, who, with resilience, can overcome adversity and thrive.