Reactions from a community advocate to the Ward 8 Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, on the topic of “Where are they now? A forum about finding missing people” Presented by Ward 8 Council Member Trayon White, Sr. and Community Leaders.
“Please clear the hallway!” A sea of people packed Excel Academy PCS, a school for girls in Ward 8, Southeast Washington, DC. Community members chattered with concern and excitement and engaged in side conversations about the lack of questions being answered about where are the missing girls of Washington, DC? Finally, engagement between community and panel stirred the pot of concern, confusion, trauma, pain, and solution.
Tonight, we gathered as a community, held in forum with a panel of Ward 8 Advocates, including the Mayor Muriel Bowser and Roxie Farrow of The Exodus Project.
Members of the audience stood in line to ask questions; however, there were breakouts from the crowd that could not be ignored. You could almost see the trauma rising from the souls of these members, one left, one right, one in the back. That cycled continued throughout the night.
Let it be known, Our trauma is real. Our existence was validated tonight and for those that think we could not hear you; guess who was mixed in the crowd? Counselors/therapists, case managers, and parents of victims comforted those that had vibrant reactions. We were exposed to each other’s pain resolved around the mystery of where are the missing girls of Washington, DC? #WhereAreTheyNow
In response to one of the outbreak comments from the packed crowd, one panelist was quick to validate the pain and anger heard in the voice of one community member, “We hear you…your pain is real...” Bravo to that Sistah!
Strained Relations – Need Improvement
Question: What role do hotels play in the human trafficking of Washington, DC missing girls?
One woman, bravely stated, “my daughter returned home this morning…she was at the Howard Johnson….”, a local Washington, DC based hotel. The community rejoiced in the missing girl’s return home. Unfortunately, all that was offered in protection from the perpetrators was a stay away order and that’s just not enough to protect our young mahogany coated princesses. Our defenses are down with our families not in tact.
Concerns about police involvement were a striking stream of comments among the crowd, “Nothing happens without the police knowing it!” one man yelled from the crowd.
Google: dc police officer arrested for prostitution
Question: How does a police officer begin to think that he can get away with becoming a pimp on top of his job as an officer in Washington, DC?
Bigger Question: Where are the Amber alerts? Keep the conversation going on social media everywhere! Next. Action Steps!
African American Families? Parenting Styles, Parent Issues & Concerns
Incarcerated Parents are Mainly African American Men! How can a black man be a father when there is an attack on his life and livelihood in every attempt to live within the U.S.? Every move he makes there is systematic, historic opposition to cut his chances of survival. Is there a link in the missing girls of Washington, DC and incarcerated parents, particularly their fathers? Are there concerns and injustices of the child welfare system?
Question: Medicaid Insurance for Mental Health treatment, how good is it?
Question: What do we know collectively about the trafficking trends within Washington, DC?
Expressed concerns included over prescribing our Brown children of African descent with ADHD, Bipolar, and Schizophrenia medications, psychiatrists without cultural competence that guide our psychologists, counselors, social workers, and case managers, a trickle down effect of mal-practice – straight up.
What do we really know about the LGBTQ youth experience? The loudest voice (to me) was the voice of a transgendered woman, which hushed the crowd with her pain. Culturally speaking, her voice was like Moses parting the Red sea of other passionate statements being shouted—all valid…We all listened to her as she vehemently spoke on behalf of children that are neglected, pushed out of their families and their home (Washington, DC Homeless LGBTQ Youth!), hurt and abused by people in positions of authority, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.
Healing in the Community – Written in the DNA
In the crowd, you saw Marcus Garvey created flag colors symbolizing the African diaspora, Pan-Africa, the red, the black, the green, waving side to side.
When the moment struck, some threw clenched fists in the air. The clenched fist of a big and tall Black man in front could clearly be seen symbolic of the protective nature of Black men and Black women, standing in solidarity for over two-hours, waiting as patiently as they could, corporately crying out, wailing, expressing emotion, and healing. Mental Health Awareness come thru!
Our men were present, our women were present, our teachers, counselors, case managers, OUR PARENTS – I SEE YOU!! I even saw some brave DYRS workers in the mix.
A note about our Men: Brothas! Kings! We love you! We adore you! Can’t nobody walk and talk like you! Wherever you are, We feel safe! So protect us! We need you! We believe in YOU!
A note about our Women: Sistahs!! Princesses! Queens! Your essence is the epitome of the day! Each and every one of you! You are your own orbit to shine bright within. You are what Beauty defines! You are special and You are Extraordinary!
The Panel & Ward 8 Community Members
During the town hall, the panel’s brow (their facial expression) seemed to be all in unison at some points in viewing the responses of the crowd. I praise them for their ability to adjust and adapt to the situation and stay for the entire time to hear what the community had to say. Thank you and please take care of yourselves because the good work must continue.
A black female police officer panelist, responded to an uproar in the crowd, “what has happened in previous cases of missing girls?” Her response was full of passion and conviction as she stated that she cannot rest until a child is returned home and that it affects her personally working on each case.
Other conversations between independent clinical mental health providers were concerns and accounts of the injustices witnessed in Washington, DC based group homes, foster care, youth juvenile facilities, lack of culturally appropriate practices and treatment of youth, misinformed parents about short -erm and long-term side effects of anti-psychotic drugs on their children, and more.
Pastor of Campbell AME traveled across the street to correct a statement about the church’s community involvement. So actually, this church frequently ministers to the Barry Farms community and very active in advocating for the missing children of DC, especially in Ward 8. A church member and youth addictions counselor also advocated about Campbell’s presence in Barry Farms.
Overall, the panel held it down! The community held it down!! Ward 8 advocates such as Council member Trayon White, reminded us to love one another, support and get to know one another in the community. In the end, we chanted, “We’re in this together! We’re in this together!” He charged us to hug one person before leaving and Barry Farms did the rest. On the way out the building resounding off the walls of Barry Farms housing, “I love you! I love yall! I love you back! “I love you Sis!” You could feel the heartbeat grow stronger of a people that are not broken but bent like the Palm tree in a Hurricane. The end of the meeting you could feel promise, promise for follow-up in 2-weeks, upcoming Sunday night phone conference, a working list of solutions that anyone can enlist their non-profit, company, agency, independent services, etc.
The hosts worked in unison to provide a safe environment and place to express the concerns with such heightened tension. They also provided bottled water and light cheese, veggie, and sliced meat – light refreshments. Thank you!
PARENTS of Washington, DC Ward 8 – We can do this together! We’ve been standing, grinding, and thriving. Let’s Go!
Community Safety Note: Perpetrators see and wait for an opportunity.
Volunteer to watch our children go to and from school.
Follow-Up Town Hall Meeting and Sunday, March 26, 2017 Conference Call
Create a Listing of Independent Mental Health Providers
Learn the signs of human trafficking.
Plan a visit to your child’s school to be visible in the community.
The clinicians, teachers, business owners showed up! You know who you are! Keep advocating and now its time to collaborate our efforts. Get your business cards and licenses because OUR community needs US!
The Exodus Project - @dcexodusproject on Facebook
Psych Your Mind
Akoma Counseling Concepts
Black and Missing Foundation
Town Hall Panelists
Muriel Bowswer, Mayor, Washington, DC
Trayon White, Council Member, Ward 8
Peter Newsham, Chief, MPD
Diane Grooms, Assistant Chief, MPD
Chanel Dickerson, Commander, MPD Youth Service Division
Sharece Crawford, Commisioner, ANC 8C03
Keeon Bassett, Commisioner, ANC 8B07
Phylicia Henry, Director of Operations Courtney’s House
Derrica Wilson, Founder, Black and Missing Foundation
Roxie Farrow, Executive Director, The Exodus Project
Regina Pixley, Advocate, Ward 8
Now is not a time for lack of passion. This is a time to teach what passion is about. To learn to listen and believe when someone tells you their story of trauma, their narrative, their piece about the truth of what they experienced. It happened. We cannot deny it. Therefore, you cannot ignore. We the People will not let you.
It was one of many Town Halls that are to come within the DC communities. What’s the Wizards slogan? DC Rising! It is more than a game. It’s life! And DC, we ain’t going no where and we are coming together to find our girls!
I left with so much pride of the red, the black, the green. Power to the People! Unite!
Be Loud! Be Proud! We make the city Chocolate! #DCtheChocolateCity
Mark this the beginning of the new Collective Dynasty and that’s TaBoo News. Your Welcome ;)