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March/ April 2014

Be You. Uncompromised. 100%






Women Who Have Made History Using the hints on the right, fill in the crossword. Submit your answers at (contact page) . The first 3 correct emails win a CD pack!

Want to Lean More about Women’s History Month? Play more puzzles online:

March/ April 2014

Publisher Get Jayne Consulting, LLC Editor Jayne Marie Smith

With March being Women’s History Month and April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we decided to combine the two in this issue focusing on the common thread: STRENGTH.

Assistant Editor Charyse Bailey Steve Johnson Writers Aseneth Parker Charyse Bailey Dara Walker Harriett Lynn Smith Jason Roberts Jayne Marie Smith Rhonda Welsh Stoyan Francsto Photographs by Abby O.

Women have been called the weaker sex, but we beg to differ. This issue has proof that women are FIGHTERS.

By Jason Roberts Octavia, or 'Lisa' as she prefers to be called, was also shy and even somewhat rebellious while dealing with sadness and anger over the early loss of her mother. That was just one thing that changed drastically when Lisa joined the military at 18 years old. While some family and friends feared for her ability to maintain her confidence and self-esteem in the armed forces after growing up under such sheltered conditions, I had a faith that she would find a way to excel, grow and thrive in that environment.

Fast toward to 2014 and the now thirty-something Lisa has not only served in the Marine Corps, but the Army and now the Air Force as well. She's also a nursing student and Emergency Medical Technician at the hospital near her home in Virginia. The woman you encounter now is more vibrant, confident and sure than the one at age 17. Though she built a

successful career in male dominated field, she is still ALL WOMAN - a beautiful and better one at that to which she credits her experiences, training, service, travels, and vision for her life.

It's March, and I'm riding the subway in NYC with Lisa who's in town for visit. After admiring her for so long, I asked what being a woman in the military meant for her and what it could mean for other women of color. Lisa answers with conviction: During the Revolutionary War, women followed their husbands to war and served as laundresses, cooks and nurses Deborah Sampson served in Gen Washington’s army dressed as a man. She was wounded, discovered, and honorably discharged. Received a pension. Cathay Williams was the first Black woman to serve as a Buffalo Soldier in the U.S. Army posing as William Cathay.

"The thing about being successful as a woman in the military is that I wasn't given special treatment as a woman in the military. I was treated as an equal, as one of the guys and in doing so, they respected me, not as a woman but they respected my ability to do my job with the same respect they'd give to a man. That fact alone felt pretty gratifying & proves how far we've come as women in any workforce or career. I wasn't treated with kid gloves, nor was my womanhood disrespected. I was allowed to prove myself and feel like an equal, and my gender and me being a black woman never got in the way of that."

Women were allowed to join the military during the last 2 years of WWI as nurses and support staff.

When asked her opinion on how women carry themselves in the inner city and military life could improve this, Ms. Nickle chose her words carefully:

400,000 women served as mechanics, pilots, ambulance drivers, nurses, and other non-combat roles in WWII.

“I'm saddened, to be honest, I wish some women had a greater sense of pride in themselves, but I do understand how it could be to grow up without strong female figures in your life.” She adds, “After I lost my mother, I became so rebellious… but Ingrid (her 'adopted' sister who’s was like a mother to her) was a God-send for me as far as having healthy role models go. It helped me immensely. Then my time in the military gave me an even greater sense of purpose, it felt and still feels great to part of something bigger than myself.”

Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act granting permanent military status to women and entitling them to veteran benefits. Congress authorized women to fly in combat missions and serve on combat ships respectively.

Capt. Kathleen McGrath became first woman to command a Navy warship. Col. Linda McTague, the first woman to command Air Force fighter squadron. Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, first woman awarded Silver Star for combat action.

One of those fulfilling moments for Lisa Nickle was completing basic training at the U.S. Marine Corps, which is especially rigorous. She rappelled off a 50 foot tower, learned offensive and defensive combat skills, combat water survival, and leadership and team building. It's this training which cemented the tactical and technical skills expected of a Staff Sergeant, and that are necessary serving as a FLIGHT MEDIC in the U.S. Air Force. p

How To Be QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN By Aseneth Peek Parker At first sight, insurmountable problems will paralyze you in your steps. It is the fear of the unknown that immobilizes us. Looking at what is ahead of you can place you in a state of mental paralysis. Things always look larger, darker, and more overwhelming when we see a crisis arising. These are things I learned while growing up in the informal classroom of my life taught to me by my mother, Lillian Peek. Having survived the harsh turmoil and racism of the South during her youth, my mother learned valuable lessons from her guardian and great aunt, Moriah.

The name Moriah has been interrupted to mean various things throughout history. It possibly means “Seen by YAHWEH” in Hebrew; taken from the Hebrew text given to a mountain range in the book of Genesis. Another definition of Moriah means “The Lord is my teacher.” This refers to the golden topped mountain in the book of Genesis. Growing up with such a woman taught my mother survival skills that she would pass on to me.

“Life is nothing b no circumstance climb to the top

When we arrive on given one job, and t live. As rudimentar truth follows us unt are complete. But complex requiremen eat all your vegetab listen to your teach bring home any C’s climb begins imm becoming more d adulthood. The bul school have to be co whether from a f boyfriend, has to b plateau of our lives. of abuse or rejection The second lesson:

“Never look b down.”

“Life is nothing but a mountain. Under no circumstances can you stop your climb to the top!”

but a mountain. Under ces can you stop your p!”

this scene called life, we are that is to keep breathing and ary as that may sound, this ntil our assignments on earth t as we grow, many more ents surface: Wipe your nose; bles; don’t hit your brother; cher, and my favorite, don’t ’s on your report card. The mmediately and continues, difficult as we grow into ullies we encounter in grade onquered. Our first rejection, family member or a first be climbed over to the next s. We can not stop in the face on.

back and never look

I heard someone say, “The only way to successfully move forward is to look back at where you came from.” While I agree with this, I do point out that the windshield of your car is much larger than the rearview mirror. Although it is good to remember the mistakes, lessons, and challenges we’ve overcome in the past, it is crucial that we maintain our focus on the future. If we look back too long we might find ourselves careening off the side of a cliff and into a ditch. “Never look down.” This was a lesson I learned while living in New York City. Looking downward denotes a lack of confidence. Anyone having lived on the east coast will tell you, all kinds of deviant people will approach and take advantage of you if you give the slightest appearance of being prey instead of a victor. Looking down means you’re not sure of who you are or where you’re going. Lift your head up! Your eyes now face the future with confidence.

Even if you are afraid, your posture tells others you are confidently moving forward no matter what!” The third and final lesson is actually the hardest:

“When you reach the summit, JUMP!” I’m sorry, what? Jump? Why on earth would I jump off a mountain? This is where all the lessons you’ve learned culminate into action. You’ve ascended the mountain. You’ve overcome abuse and rejection. You were told to go back because you’ll never make it, but you managed to ignore all of the naysayers. You already stepped over the obstacles of “I’m too dark… I’m too fat… I’m not smart enough… I’m stuck in an abusive marriage... I’ve got nowhere to go.” You climbed over them all. You’ve kicked rocks and made it to the top! Jump? Yes, of course, there is nothing left to do but soar! Nothing on the top says climb back down. No. Everything on the top says, “Trust Me, I’ve gotten you this far now fly!” In the book of Genesis, Mt. Moriah is the place where Abraham prepared to offer his most precious sacrifice. The decision is yours. You’ve made the climb. The sacrifice is letting go of what you’ve been through in exchange for the limitless future that awaits as you fly. I’m grateful for the lessons passed down from three generations of strong, determined, African American women: my ancestors! p

Somaly Mam

Claressa Shields

Barbra Walters Walters first became a TV personality when she wrote and produced the segment “Women's Interest Stories" for NBC's morning news program, The Today Show in 1962. In 1974, she was the first woman of any network to acquire the title "cohost" of a news program. Two years later she became the first female to co-anchor a network evening news show, ABC News’ flagship program: ABC Evening News.

Delores Huerta

A labor leader and civil rights activist who, along with César Chávez in 1962, co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers.

In 2007, Mam co-founded the Somaly Mam Foundation that supports anti-trafficking groups and helps women and girls who have been forced into sexual slavery. She, herself, was abused until she was 14 after being orphaned in Cambodia. She was sold to a brothel and forced into prostitution as a teen and forced to marry a stranger who physically abused her.

As a teenager, this Flint, MI native became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing in 2012. Prior to the London games, women were not allowed to box in the Olympics. She won the Olympic middleweight title by defeating Russian boxer Nadezda Torlopova, a woman twice her age and size.

Patsy Mink

Violet Palmer

Native of Compton, CA, Palmer was the first woman to officiate an NBA playoff game and first female official to referee in any major U.S. professional sport.

America's first non-White woman elected to Congress in 1964. She was elected to the House of Representatives from Hawaii.

Keli Lee MC Lyte Ulrich Laurel Thatcher

Originator of the phrase "wellbehaved women seldom make history," she's a historian of women and a professor at Harvard University. Wrote the book "Well-Behaved Women" which examines how women shaped history, citing Rosa Parks, Christine de Pizan, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Virginia Woolf.

Kimberly Bryant

Founder of Black Girls Code, an organization whose mission is “to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.”

Executive Vice President of Casting at ABC Ent. Group, she oversees all casting for ABC TV Network. She's responsible for ABC's 143 Emmy Award acting nominations, 26 Emmy awards, and the cast of Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Castle, Nashville, Criminal Minds, Revenge, Once Upon a Time, Lost, and Desperate Housewives. She founded the Casting Project Actors Diversity Showcase series and oversees the Latino and Asian Outreach Initiative which identifies and develops notable diverse talent.

The first solo female rapper to release a full length album in 1988 with the critically acclaimed "Lyte as a Rock," she founded Hip Hop Sisters Network, a non-profit that promotes positive images of women of ethnic diversity. HHSN provides national and international support to women and youth around the globe.

Sylvia Mendez

Antonia Novello

1st woman and Latin American appointed to as U.S. Surgeon General in 1990. During her tenure as Surgeon General, Novello focused her attention on the health of women, children, and minorities, as well as on underage drinking, smoking, and AIDS. Her pressure helped retire smoking ads targeting children such as "Joe Camel."

She was the first student of color to integrate an all White school. In 1947, Mendez's Parents sued and won is the case Mendez vs. Westminister because Sylvia had to attend a "Mexican" school. Their victory desegregated public schools in California and paved the way for Brown v. Board of education.

Hollywood’s Successful Side Chick Syndrome They’re all a Black Woman should aspire to be – Sassy, Savvy, Sexy, and Successful… Oh, and let’s not forget,

Scandalous! Prime Time television hasn’t been this juicy since Sex in the City, except this time the female leads are Black women. While that’s a huge step forward, these leading ladies are a huge step in a different direction from Clare Huxtable or Vivian Banks.

Not too long ago, it used to be commonly accepted that the exciting life of the side piece usually ends a lot like what’s her name who slept with Ashton Kutcher, Jesse James, Tony Parker, Tiger Woods, and so on. After having their photographs splayed across tabloids and televisions, mistresses would become the butt of jokes and recipients of ridicule and harassment. Then, they’d be forgotten by the world, their lovers, and their fairytale endings. That is until Prime Time Television recasts the tale. Now, Twitter is all a buzz about TV’s two new BAPs (like Princess Tiana for those of us who grew up without a Black Fairytale). Just like Disney’s Princess, ABC Disney’s grown up version is also career driven, extremely talented, respected, and successful. Grant it, it’s about time Television showed Black women who resemble the high percentage of us graduating college. Best of all, these strong Black women, though formidable, make strong look sexy instead of scary like it’s usually portrayed. So, what’s the hang up? Well, the booty calls. Rather than showing single women who’ve “got their life” such as Living Single or married women who have their homes, like The Cosby’s or Fresh Prince, these women are knowingly wrecking other women’s homes. While Scandal’s Olivia Pope takes others under her wing, there’s no sense of sisterhood or respect for boundaries when it comes to sleeping with another woman’s husband. Likewise, the title character in Being Mary Jane is devoted to her family, but gets upset with her married boyfriend for not leaving his family.

“…BECAUSE WELL BEHAVED WOMEN RARELY MAKE PRIME TIME TELEVISION ON MAJOR NETWORKS.” …Not counting The Good Wife, Ugly Betty, Hawthorn, Southland, Lincoln Heights, Single Ladies...

Now before we play the race card, the “other woman” card has been played with the renewal of the TV show, Mistresses starring Asian, Black, and White women. Nonetheless, with Black women making news – literally (CNN) – about not being able to find good, eligible, Black men, it almost seems cliché or rather reinforcing to show Black women in love with men they can’t have because those men are married to other women. Poor conflicted men! They are understandably in love with these amazing wonder women just as we the viewers are. Who can blame them? They remind me of the sympathetic husbands in the 1975 film The Stepford Wives. They felt entitled to have perfect wives so they took care of that themselves. These entitled men are the Prince Charmings for our Black American Princesses. Granted, they’re fine and being the leader of the free world definitely counts as being employed. Still, for all the good men in the world, our most admirable Black women on television are enthralled with lying, cheating men.


My concern, however, goes beyond a lack of morals. After all, no adult could justify supporting these behaviors in real life. No. The issue is more complicated than either of these character’s Facebook statuses. These superwomen demonstrate the very self- centeredness that is the underpinnings of the female dog eat female dog mentality coupled with a sense of entitlement that keeps women from making more strides as a whole. Think about it. Sure, Olivia runs her own company and Mary Jane is successful in media, but we know women make up less than 15% of all CEO’s in America, and esteeming this “every woman for herself” attitude certainly won’t help us overcome this. I’m realistic. Prime Time isn’t interested in broadcasting the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but if they’re going to show sistas, showing some sisterhood wouldn’t be a bad idea. p


By Jayne Marie Smith

PURE Magazine had the chance to talk to the creator of one of the most visible shows of Black women on TV today. Princess-Anne Banton-Lofters is the woman behind The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Contrary to the larger than life personalities on the show, Princess is a shy, friendly, down to earth soul whose story can inspire.

********* Our conversation began with a Throwback Thursday photo of a 16 year old Princess with her baby boy sitting in her lap. He is now 21. The comments came rolling in: "Wow, I didn't know you had a child that old…” Perhaps the amazement was over the level of success this 37 year old has achieved compared to what most people think a teen mom can attain. "I am a young mom," she says, "Who made that adversity not be my roadblock." By adversity, she means leaving Jamaica and the dad she never knew and moving to a small town in Canada as a child, struggling with the challenges of coming from a broken home, and growing up with an “iron-fisted” West Indian stepfather. The tensions at home led to rebellion, the rebellion to teen pregnancy, and pregnancy led to having to move out of her parents home at age 16. Taking up residence with a friend while continuing high school as an expecting mom, Princess realized she had to figure out what to do and what she was good at.

"The one thing that has always led me was figuring out how to take what I'm good at and turn it into an opportunity, even if it's for that moment." She began interning as a nail technician before her 17th birthday. By 21, she turned it into a whole aesthetics career, walked into a salon and convinced an owner to let her open her business inside. Achievement breeds achievement. Moving to the big city of Toronto, Princess started a brand new career working as an underwriter with an insurance company, a career for which she initially wasn't qualified without a college degree. Nevertheless, she accelerated through the company ranks over 5 years, during which time she met her husband, an orthodontist, who had just been recruited to Atlanta, GA .

Again, Princess found herself in a place where she didn’t know what she was going to do with her life. This time, her husband pointed out, "Now you can do what you want to do instead of what you have to do." This was great for Princess who knew she didn't want to sit around on a patio sipping wine with ladies with whom she had nothing in common and talking about brand labels. She’s not that kind of a Princess. On the contrary, she is a self-proclaimed “dream chaser” who dreamt of working in television despite not knowing a thing about the industry. Clearly, there’s a pattern.



It started with an idea for a TV show that a friend arranged for her to pitch to the owner of True Entertainment, a production company in L.A.. Only the show was not Real Housewives of Atlanta. While working on the deal for the original show, her friend mentioned a passing idea about successful Black women living in LA . Princess spoke up. “I know women like that in Atlanta! I could make that show in Atlanta.” The response was “Okay. Sure. Go ahead and try” not really believing she could. Plus, they weren’t looking for a show like that. Even so, knowing no one believed her, she went home and put out the word. Partnered with a cameraman she paid $100 a day, Princess began taping auditions and sending them to L.A.. Unbeknownst to her, the studio knew they hit a goldmine. In the beginning there was no budget “The only thing I had was somebody at a production company who believed in me. I had myself and my will. That’s it!” That tiny belief was all she needed. Even more astonishing, she had only been in Atlanta for 6 months!

Princess turned her people watching skills into an opportunity. In Real Housewives of Atlanta, she essentially created an inside peek at the larger-than-life lives of 6 Georgian women from an outsider's point of view. *** It started with culture shock. When the show idea was first introduced, Princess mentioned knowing [in reality observing] women who showed up to parties with furs, hanging on the arms of famous men. She knew these personalities that she watched at parties needed to be on TV. As for casting, it started with Nene Leaks. Someone suggested to Princess that she audition her for the show and when Nene walked in, she literally fit the description of what they were seeking to a tee. “I said to her, ‘I really like you and I want to know who your friends are.’” That was the moment Princess realized she needed these women to know each other and hang out together in “real” reality, not just for TV. “They were dynamic together.” As she meet them, Princess saw “they were alike enough, but different enough that I’d be able to tap into every woman. Connected enough to have the chemistry, but different enough to give women watching a chance to see themselves.” *** Her Initial reaction…“I was shocked because there’s a lot of editing. There’s a huge production value. I wasn’t on set a whole lot. But once I saw the first episode, the truth is, I wasn’t disappointed, but I was definitely surprised watching it edited and fused together. I was like ‘Whoa!’ because it certainly wasn’t my personality to have women fighting and being negative to each other.” How could a girl who is so non-confrontational make a show that’s so confrontational? “I knew there were some great ingredients there for some great television. As the season went on I learned to take it for what it was. Do I agree with everything that happens on the show? No. I don’t, but I don’t think the girls do either! It’s entertainment, it’s their life and its their truth for the most part. Some people are going to like it. Some are not going to like it. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. I do like the fact that people like it. I like watching it.” When asked

which character she relates to best on the show, she chose Kandi Burress. “She’s definitely a business woman, a creative. She’s kind of cool and level. She’s the peacemaker.” ***

“There are messages in the show. I see the episodes when the women can come together and embrace each other despite differences and are able to forgive each other. Sometimes, when you have judgment, you miss those moments in the show where you can self reflect.” She cited Porsha’s emotional journey through divorce and how some women could draw from her strength. “[There are] subtle messages. Find your own message. Sometimes, it’s just entertainment.” p











9 -to- 5

Fighter I want people to walk away knowing that being a champion doesn't come without being a fighter. I want them to know that with God, we all have enough fight in us to fight until we win.

Living is a fight, and my life has been no exception from choosing Christ and a male dominated career path (Emceeing) to being a woman in general and fighting against the voices from my past that discouraged me, tore me down, and contributed to my struggles with selfesteem. Fighter is my personal anthem; my reminder that with God I'm destined to be victorious. I remind myself, that there may be times when I lose "battles" but that doesn't mean I will lose the war. I can't just lay down, I have to get back up, and that through Christ, I am more than a conqueror. I constantly fight with society and its messages of not being enough. I fight with walking in love when people spew hate. I fight with establishing healthy boundaries; killing mediocrity; pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and with doubts that tell me to quit.


9 -to- 5

Fighter When I wrote this song, I thought of women who are integral forces in making "the machine" work, but are often overlooked, under estimated, or under appreciated. I thought of single moms, women bosses, and activists. I thought of breast cancer, AIDS, and domestic abuse survivors who are more than an event or a disease, and aren't victims but warriors.

A strong woman is a woman who knows her strength is granted from God, but understands it's her responsibility to activate it. A strong woman is a leader who is a servant of her family, friends, her people. A strong woman is strong enough to embrace her weaknesses and allows others to come alongside her and help her. A woman who knows needing and accepting assistance doesn't make her weak, but makes her human. A strong woman loves God, herself, others, and those around her can know that love as soon as she walks in the room without words being spoken.





HOW DOES THIS SONG REFLECT YOUR STRUGGLE? a. I think as believers we are always going to be struggling with something at any given point in our lives—it’s part of going through the cycles of mountain high’s and low valley’s. We will always be challenged to rise to the new season. As I grow in my relationship with Christ I have no doubt that “All things truly work together for the good for those who Love the Lord” In my life I have struggled with selfesteem issues, self-doubt, fears, deep disappointments and frustrations. I remember the struggles of being single then being married and now as a new mother. The struggles of balancing motherhood, being the wife of a record producer, being a scholar-intraining, and a professional artist (Whewwwww!!) Sometimes the days are utterly exhausting and there never seems to be enough hours in a day but I am reminded in Philippians 3:14 that I have to press on toward the mark…I have to fight…I have to go harder…that the struggle is not in vain….but everything I do is bringing me closer to Christ and I KNOW with God’s strength I WILL make it and God’s glory will shine!

Honestly, My mom and my husband lol! My hubby is one of the most talented and hardest working people I know and he inspires me so much! But my mom is the epitome of a strong woman who loves God! She has suffered so much in her life and has always remained positive and prayerful! She taught me how a woman of God stays in prayer, fights for her marriage, fights for her children, for her loved ones etc. She taught me to pray not when all else fails but praying before you try anything else! She is truly my hero!

What are some of the things

you tell yourself whenever you feel you’re in a

fight or struggle? a.

I tell myself all kinds of things lol! Anything that I WHO OR WHAT IS YOUR EXAMPLE can to encourage myself…when I was just 5 weeks OF A STRONG WOMAN? post-partum I was invited to sing at a church in NJ a. You know I used to think the stories of the for a Multi-cultural Sunday…I was instantly filled women in the bible were completely with fear and self-doubt! Really?!? YES!! And I am impossible to achieve (like the Esther or ashamed to admit it lol!! The first thing I said to the Proverbs 31 woman---wow I mean she’s myself was “You are not FAT! You are just round SUPER WOMAN!!) I used to think that the and round is a shape so I am in shape Lol” Looking women who fought their oppressors during back on it now I can laugh at it but during that time slavery (i.e. Harriet Tubman), women like I needed to seek God about it because I was Rosa Parks who stood up against injustice worried that I had nothing to offer the body of when the law was against them—these believers as a new mother…not my first time on were the real hero’s and I have been stage but still I struggled! So what did I do I prayed inspired by these women who pressed and read God’s Word and I was brought to onward no matter their circumstances and 2Timothy 1:7 which said “For God has not given us it would seem that rightfully so, history and a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love, and the scriptures have remembered these self-discipline” and also Psalm 139:14 which says wonderful women. And although I continue “I praise you because I am fearfully and to be inspired by the tenacity of these wonderfully made…” As I meditated on God’s word women I realize that I am faced with real I realized that I did not need to worry at all! everyday heroes in my family, in my Because this round-shaped, sleep-deprived new network of friends, and in my church! There mom may not have had anything to offer but the are mom’s who balance work and family God in me absolutely did! I just made myself like nobody’s business lol! Pastor’s wives available and God strengthened my body, my mind, who counsel women in their congregations and my voice and that morning the was powerful! all hours of the day and night, while So whenever I am faced with fear and doubt I managing to still make time for their stand-up and say “No Way FEAR” I am an children and husbands! It’s truly Overcomer in Christ Jesus and I place all my trust remarkable the stories of perseverance I in God. After all, it was HE that chose me to do this have heard. So I give it up to women work and HE will provide everything I need to make everywhere who remain busy loving God, it to the finish line! their families and their communities!

Excerpt from

The MACHO PARADOX: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help By JacksonKatz “I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men:

WHAT STEPS DO YOU GUYS TAKE, ON A DAILY BASIS, TO PREVENT YOURSELVES FROM BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they've been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, 'I stay out of prison.' This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, 'Nothing. I don't think about it.’

Then I ask women the same question... Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence,


the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine. Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car

before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don't go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don't put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man's voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don't use parking garages. Don't get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don't use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don't wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don't take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don't make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.� p

By Harriett L.ynn Smith

As a toddler, the first directive to which I quickly learned to take heed was the word, “NO!” It was a word that projected power and authority, a word that established boundaries never to be crossed, and a word that invoked fear within me.

It had been a long day and night had fallen. I went to bed, but could not sleep. What if my mother didn’t make it? What if she died? Tears of fear and anguished soaked my pillow. My mother said I should believe in God, but she never taught me how to pray. As a 13 year old girl, trapped in fear, only I also learned very quickly and rather painfully that God could help me. If only I could get His attention; when it came to adults, the word “No” better not If only He knew who I was and where to find me. I come out of my mouth. In other words, it was was both powerless and defenseless until That Day. alright for them to tell me “no”, but I’d better not tell an adult, “no”. The door opened into the darkness. I pretended to be asleep … again, as I had done so often since the Well, I’m good and grown now. And looking back, I age of 5. I could smell the stench of his aftershave wish my mother had given me permission to say no lotion … Old Spice. I hated it then and I still hate it to adults, because without it, I was left prey to today. Exposing himself, he misguided my hands, those who would later violate me. As a child facing again and began touching me, again … BUT MY an adult perpetrator I was rendered powerless, MOTHER WAS DYING … I WAS DYING … I could not defenseless until That Day. breathe. Then I heard a loud voice, shouting It was a day in January, 1975, the first and only time “NO”!!! our family ever left the Christmas tree up past New All of a sudden I could breathe again! And the fear Year’s Eve. My mother always said it would bring that once gripped my heart, now gripped his heart, bad luck. That Day, I was taken out of school early and he began to tremble. That Day, I said “NO!” and and told that there had been a terrible accident. My that which held me captive was suddenly impotent! mother was on her way to a doctor’s appointment, The door opened into the light, and the fragrance got off the bus and was crossing the street when a was that of Sweet Victory. That Day, God gave me car turned the corner and struck my mother down. I victory over fear and darkness, and my father never don’t remember how long my mother was in the touched me again! hospital, but it seemed like forever. My mother was in critical condition and was fighting for her life. But After eight long years of sexual abuse, where did I while my mother was fighting for her life in the find the strength to say “no”? hospital, I was fighting for my life at home.

The assumption is that the one who is being abused is weak, powerless, and defenseless. After all, that is how I saw myself, because that’s how I felt and that’s the lie I was living all those years in silence. But nothing could be farther from the truth! That Day, I had a “David and Goliath” moment. The LORD showed up and strengthened me! With my lips I said, “NO!” but That Day, both my father and I heard the voice of the LORD! For my father it brought fear and trembling, but for me that magnificent voice brought about strength and God-given authority. It wasn’t that I found the strength to say “no”; I said, NO!” and the strength that I needed found me.

WHAT I’M SAYING TO YOU… • When you don’t say no, the enemy holds you captive and your silence is your cell. • We each have to confront our own perpetrator and then the power comes. No one else can do it for you. • You have to take authority. No one gives it to you. It’s yours and you have to take it back. Saying no puts everyone in their rightful place: You in your place of authority and them on the other side of your boundaries. • Your view of others doesn’t change; your view of yourself changes - and that’s the most important. It’s all about seeing yourself in truth. (Numbers 13: 32-33) • Once you say “No,” the fear is theirs. They realize: “Oh no she’s going to tell.” You realize their threats were lies. • Once you say no, you regain the control of your boundaries that were stolen from you. • No gives you courage to walk in authority in other areas of your life.



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Dear Night,

By Stoyan Francsto

Blue. Black. Sweet. Subtle. Night. When I played hop scotch and ran around with the neighborhood children, you and the street lights use to be the indicator that it was time for me to go in the house. You were the beautiful canvass I saw in Egypt that was painted with a million stars. You were the watchman that swaddled me like a baby in the night and then lulled me to sleep. Night, not only have you been part of my life but you were also there for my ancestors. You have loaned us the big dipper and the North Star to guide our travels. I thought that you would always be mine but now people are telling me that you aren’t mine anymore. As in any relationship, there is growth and evolution. That is fair and I understand that but where did things go wrong. Night, in the summer you brought cool breezes and fireworks. In the winter you always left me gifts, magical wands that hung from my rooftops and bundles of white fairy dust on my lawn. The only reason I am writing this letter is because we have had such a good relationship filled with love, laughter and memories. This is why I feel the

need to ask you the question: Why do I have to take you back? People have been having conversations with me about you. I wouldn’t listen but they say that you are no good. They say that you are dark. Not in the way you move the sun out your way around 8 o’clock but in an evil way. I heard you make things go bump when you’re around. My eyes swelled up with water as my mother told me, we couldn’t be friends anymore. I am told that I need to be careful and need to take certain precautionary measures to protect myself from you. I have heard that in some parts of the world people are not allowed to embrace you but treat you as a distant stranger. They can only admire you from their windows when the sun rests its head. Night, this might be a lot of information for you to take in. However let me explain why these people have so much to say about you. Historically, women have protested about the things that have happened while they were in your presence.

The stories about you go as far back as times of slavery when female slaves waited for their masters to go bump in the night and take another piece that did not belong to them. If we fast forward to 1877, in London, England women were scared of you because of the violence they faced in the streets when you were around. So then people began to rally; rally against you, rally to claim you and rally to take you back. Some people believe that the first rally occurred in 1976 at the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. The woman there took to the streets of Belgium with lit candles and to protest against the furtherance of violence against women. Other people started to follow suit. In 1976 when they released rape statistics in Rome people started to rally. West Germany was no different as women wanted to move freely but could not because you did not keep them safe. The “Ripper Murders” in 1977, solidified the fact that we needed to take you back. Night, I am coming to you reclaim you as well.

used your presence to cause havoc amongst our communities. Our bodies will refrain from being still and no longer will we go into the night silently. Our voices will be loud and our bodies will rejoice. We won’t just take back the night but we will give it back to our daughters. We will pass it down like warm Christmas memories and grandma’s apple pie recipe. It will be ours. Night, I don’t have a daughter right now but I have sisters and I have a mother. As I bid them farewell at night, as they walk the streets, as they pass friendly strangers, I ask that you keep them. For those who have fallen to the woes of the night, we ask that you honor them. And to the survivors who tightly shut their windows and close all bolts of their doors, we ask that you find them solace. The night belongs to us. We take you back. We will take out the violence and put in effect a disclaimer that the night is ours to cherish, not fear. And every year we continue to celebrate our relationship in April as we continue to Take Back The Night.

My love for your beauty, stillness and peace will not be tarnished by those who use your mystique for mischief. I come to you, night, as a representative of the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives who T A K E B A C K T H E N I G H T D E T R O I T have felt the vengeance of those who hide FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014 | 6 - 9 pm MARYGROVE COLLEGE in your invisible shadows. We request the 8425 West McNichols Rd Detroit, 48221 same liberty that you possess, the freedom Madame Cadillac Building – Alumnae Hall of movement. We and our bodies are claiming you back because others have

Abuse is Not My Life Story

By Jayne Marie Smith April 1st marks the beginning of

Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

It also marks the end of 20 years of silence for me. April 1st began a year-long hell of sexual abuse I experienced when I was just 13 years

old. As with most women, the abuse wasn’t just sexual, it was mental, emotional, physical, and subtle. Over the course of 20 years, I buried what happened to me, I wallowed in what happened to me,


I was tormented

by flashbacks and fear, and finally I sought counseling.


While it did not provide all the answers, it gave me a safe place to unearth the questions I had buried for so long. The main question I asked my therapist was, “What is healing? What does it feel like?” I had spent nearly 2/3 of my life on this side of the abuse. I didn’t remember what it was like to not be afraid or to struggle with negative thoughts about myself. After all, was I supposed to pick up where the innocent 13 year old girl was abandoned? More importantly, I didn’t understand what my identity was to be now. Am I victim? A survivor? Does my identity have to be tied to what happened to me at all?

It was a chance meeting with the founder of a sexual assault center that brought clarity to why I was asking these questions. I knew of the center from looking it up after the last time I was raped. But I realized I didn't want to tell her. I didn't want her or anyone to know I was "one of them" - a victim or a survivor. Then it dawned on me: I am ashamed. I had been living with a deep sense of shame about what happened to me and on some level still blamed myself. I don't want rape or the stigma (whatever it may be) to be attached to me. At any rate, I realized that there are 1 in 5 women who have been sexually assaulted, abused or raped. 1 in 5 is a lot of people, but most of us don't wear signs around our necks about it. We don't mark it in our Facebook bios like a relationship status. We blend in. We don't want to be recognized. But what are we There are too supposed to do? How do we handle it?

many of us to feel


sorry for us. Most of us just want to forget and resume life. We don't want to have to keep this violence and violation with us always. It's not something we want to be proud of, associate around or identify with. We just want to put it away and be quiet about it. We know being quiet endangers others and we want to do something about it, but being raped and sexually abused strips your sense of power. It feels like you're endangering yourself to come forward. In reality, that’s just another lie in an evil crime filled with lies.

So, Victim or Survivor? Who are we now? Do we have to exist in light of this crime? Or is there some third option of making peace with our past?

I thought of the quote: “Don’t let your struggle become your identity.” And It struck me. Oprah and Maya Angelou didn’t let their childhood rapes define them. I don’t think of

“Oprah and them as victims or survivors, though I know their pasts. I think about the fullness of life Maya Angelou that these women have lived. Rape or sexual abuse was not didn't let the defining event in their lives. Not even the word survivor childhood rape seems appropriate for them, because who they are does not define revolve around what happened to them. All of these women are them.” singers, actresses, preachers, media moguls, poets, and strong, successful women.

So there I had my answer. It’s not that sexual abuse has to be a secret or that it has to be a banner. It’s merely one thing that didn’t defeat me. It’s not a point of a shame, and if I chose it can be a point of pride. More importantly, all that I accomplish on this side of it, is a show of strength. My life did not begin or end at sexual assault. It is in my past, but it’s not in my present or my future.

What defines me is what I do; and never what was done to me. p

By Rhonda Welsh


and unashamed

The story I tell in the poem, Naked is my story of being a free spirited 21-year-old woman in love with life and blackness and freedom. I tell the story of people’s tacit accusations. I tell the story of miraculous emotional healing. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed December 7, 1941 is a date that will live in infamy. Well, so too is December 7, 1989.

I wanted Rhonda to share the backstory of the poem Naked featured on PURE, Vol. 1 in response to a review from a guy who distracted by the word Naked who missed the story of a woman being healed from rape. This poem was included for all the women who don’t yet have the courage to tell their stories. - Mahogany Jones

In 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii. In 1989, an unknown man attacked me. He kicked down my front door, dragged me down three flights of stairs and raped me on the floor of a basement laundry room. My quaint studio apartment with the Murphy Bed and the great floors instantaneously morphed from my eclectic haven to the scene of the crime. I had just moved in four days before and I reveled in my freedom. I had dreams of decorating and entertaining and inhabiting my own space. It was my first apartment. It was my first time moving away from my mother’s house. It was the first violation of my adult body. It started as a 2:00 a.m. knock on the door. I was alone wearing underpants and my prized Afropop Worldwide with Georges Collinet tee shirt. When I would not open the door, he started kicking it. Terror flooded me. He kicked and kicked and the wood started to give way. He kicked right through the door and the locks never unbolted.

The entire time that he was on top of me I prayed out loud. My assailant looked me in the eyes at

one point and said, “I don’t know why I am doing this.” I answered, “Because you need Jesus.” To this day, I don’t know how I had the presence of mind to utter those words. Almost immediately, before he could ejaculate disease or a baby into me, he went flaccid. He threw his weapon into the washing machine and ran.

There are bits of other women’s collaborative experience represented in the poem as well.

I climbed back up the stairs in my ripped tee shirt with my panties in my hand. By the time the officers arrived I was almost incoherent. It was a young, handsome, black male officer who turned to me in the squad car and quietly but firmly said, “A lot of times when this happens to young girls they think it is because of something that they did. You didn’t do anything to make this happen. This is not your fault.” I’ll appreciate him for the rest of my life. I held on to his words later when two brash, insensitive female police officers questioned me. One of them kept insisting the assailant was my boyfriend. I held on to his words weeks later when a close family member told me that I was raped because I was such a hostile person. And even later when my Pastor’s wife was visibly uncomfortable and kept trying to give me generic “Date Rape” brochures, I held on to his words. There seemed to be an unspoken agreement that I had done something wrong. I held on to that beautiful young man’s words. I became terrified when anyone knocked on the door at night.

I don’t know why God made himself known during my rape. I don’t know how I remembered faith in the midst of It was horrific. But, somehow, within a few such a heinous act. I don’t know why I months, it was not. The fear started to was given the gift of that compassionate miraculously subside. I didn’t understand it but I police officer. I don’t even know why my felt better much faster than the articles and books emotions were healed so quickly. But I said that I would. was healed. True, miraculous healing that allowed me to move on to fulfilling I am aware that most women do not share my relationships with men and resume the experience. They are often plagued for years and love affair with myself. years. Rape colors their relationships with men and their relationships with themselves. Rape It was, and still remains, my life’s sucks away self-esteem. greatest miracle.

Words that are Stronger than Rape Each quote below has ONE (1) missing word. Find that word in the puzzle, and place it in the correct quote. Submit your answers at (contact page)

The first 2 correct emails win a CD pack! 1. “Violators cannot live with the ________: survivors cannot live without it… If we don't assert our _______, it may again be relegated to fantasy. But the ________ won't go away. It will keep surfacing until it is recognized.” Chrystine Oksana 2. “Sexual abuse injects poisonous _________ into its victims’ hearts and minds. “You’re not worthy” is one of them.” Carolyn Byers Ruch 3. “You are not to _________. There is nothing you did to make someone hurt you, nor is there anything you could have done differently to prevent or stop it.” Robert Uttaro 4. “Healing takes _________, and we all have _________, even if we have to dig a little to find it.” Tori Amos 5. "When we _________ we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. but when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to _________.” Audre Lorde 6. “You can _________ rape. You never forget it—don't even think that. But you can ________ it and go on.“ Maya Angelou 7. "It wasn't long before I became uncomfortable with feeling like a ___________.“ Gabrielle Union 8. “Everyone is looking for that __________. I know what it feels like to not be wanted... you can use it as a stepping stone to build great empathy for people.” Oprah Winfrey

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PURE Magazine [Mar-Apr 2014]  

This issue is all about STRENGTH! Special Interviews: Creator of Real Housewives of Atlanta, Princess Ann Banton-Lofters & Urban Gospel Sing...

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