It’s domestic violence awareness month too

 

A year ago, I went on a semi-rant about the NFL’s lack of involvement with domestic violence awareness (you can read all about it here). This year I am taking my rant a tad bit louder. Let me start by saying, I LOVE FOOTBALL. My favorite teams is the Jets. I am a loyal supporter even when they disappoint me. However, i am also a health educator and have a responsibility to educate the public about health issues. So despite my love, for football, educate I will.

On December 3, 2013, HuffPost Live aired “NFL Domestic Violence,” after Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend and later himself. According to HuffPost Live, 21 of 32 NFL teams had a player charged with domestic violence that year. Even still, the NFL has not stepped up to the plate and taken an active role in addressing domestic violence. While I appreciate their involvement in the breast cancer movement, domestic violence is just as important of a movement. While I commend players like Chris Canty and Chris Johnson on speaking out against domestic violence the NFL needs to step up as an organization and not only acknowledge but carry out programming to discuss their employees roles in all of this madness.  

According to a The Guardian article, “Reports of domestic violence increased by 10 percent in areas where the local National Football League team lost a game it was expected to win.” I challenge the NFL to do more. While domestic violence is not exclusive to the NFL, there is no question that the problem exist at an alarming rate.  More needs to be done to decrease this number. I am sure that it can be done seeing as how both Chris’ have stepped up to the plate and are doing.

It’s been a blessing and a curse. I have seen the savageness of domestic violence. I have been afraid that one day I would get a call that would change my life. It is easy to say what we won’t do or allow to happen. Honestly, none of us knows just what we will do. All we can do is hope that we won’t be a victim.

Words of Wisdom:

“In violence we forget who we are.”  – Mary McCarthy

In health,

Maliyka

The Song I cry: Justice for Black America

September 23, 2013, makes 2 years that I sat and penned this open letter to the Georgia Board of Pardon & Parolee in Memorandum of Troy Davis. The words came from my heart. They were words that I believed in and still do. It breaks my heart that they did not listen to a word anyone said.

I am Muslim and in the Islamic faith the death penalty can be employed but in order to do so there must be CREDIBLE witness. By CREDIBLE they must be of good character. There cannot be a doubt that they are telling the truth. Are these steps ignored in Islamic countries? Of course because man is wicked and rather than follow God’s law they are always trying to implement their own law. It is for that reason alone that I cannot support the death penalty. In this country alone, history has shown us that far too often people are imprisoned with sh*tty evidence and spend their whole life incarcerated. Then one day, new evidence emerges and all the judge and the prosecution can say is, “We are sorry.” You’re damn right you are sorry. But guess what sorry doesn’t cut it. Sorry will not bring that the years they lost. The relationships destroyed. The abuse suffered. Sorry does not mean a damn thing in the grand scheme of things.

It is no secret that we are all human. Of course we make mistakes however, knowing that we are not exempt from fallacy how can we employ the death penalty. While I am sympathetic for the family who lost a husband, a son, friend, etc. that does not mean that vigilante justice at the hands of the prosecution should be employed.  The fact remains that the evidence showed that there may have been a flaw in Troy’s prosecution. There was a chance that he actually could have been guilty. To murder him still is the greatest travesty of justice. It shows that we are no worse as a country than the country that speak blasphemy about. Indeed, we are hypocrites.

This country is so quick to ensure that justice is meted out for Blacks who kill Whites. Any hint of guilt and the gavel is smashed down with a resounding, GUILTY!  Unfortunately, that same practice is not employed when roles are reversed and it is White killing Black people. David J. Leonard talks about this in his recent post, “White Victimhood and the Media Erasure of Black Death”. Troy Davis was yet another injustice rooted in racism. As was the murder of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Darius Simmons, Bo Morrison, James Craig Anderson, etc. All of these men were murdered yet there was no outcry. There was no one screaming Death Penalty except maybe the much ignore Black America.

It has been 2 years, and while I don’t speak of Troy Davis often, I will never forget how America continues  to collect blood on its hand. This country was founded with blood on its hands. From the trickery employed to stealing land from its native people to the kidnapping and enslavement of Black people. I will continue to fight for the rights of Black America. I will continue to scream JUSTICE for the INJUSTICE. One day I will be able to say, “Victory is mine.”  Until that day my armor is on and my weapon of choice…advocacy is armed and ready to go.

Even with a Black president in Office, equality for Black America still has not arrived. Racism still exist. While there is no question that things have gotten better the fact remains, that the more things change…the more they remain the same. While we do not have “Strange Fruit“, hanging from trees anymore we have bodies being dragged in chains behind cars or run over by trucks. We have police officers employing excessive force citing it was an accident. We have health inequality, education inequality, pay inequality, etc.  You name it we have it right along with the few stories of success mired in racial experiences. No racism is not gone from our country it continues to breathe over us quite forcibly. It is because I know and accept this that I will continue the fight for equality that men and women like El-Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), Martin Luther King, Jr. Medgar Evers, Shirley Chisholm, Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, David Walker, Fannie Lou Hammer, Bertha Gilbert, etc  started. I will not be silenced nor will I allow those who wronged the dead and as well as the living forget their part that they played. Their day of reckoning will come be it in this life or the next. Until then I will fight on!

Words of Wisdom: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  –Martin Luther King, Jr.

In health,
Maliyka

Education is key: An organization doing their part

ImageI get overjoyed when I hear of others selflessly giving of themselves whether it be time or money. I even more overjoyed at this organization’s desire to help all. As a Muslim who has been on this earth long enough to see Muslims painted with the same broad stroke…terrorist< I am extremely happy that there are a lot of Muslim organizations i.e. Muslims who refute those claims on a daily basis.

My heart is full at the efforts that the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) has put forth to enable to children to have the tools that they need to succeed in school. As Muslims, we are taught that we should learn from the cradle to the grave. The problem is, that you need the proper tools to do this. With so many parents struggling to provide food, shelter, and clothing sometimes the necessary things needed to obtain a quality education fall to the wayside. In a time when things are so expensive sometimes food on the table outweighs 3-ringed binders.

Across the country, ICNA will be giving out school supplies to all children in need regardless of their religion. I commend them for their efforts and wish them success. Hopefully, this endeavor will grow and be in every city in the United States. To do that, they need donations. I support this organization not only as a Muslim but as a philanthropist who believes in supporting quality philanthropic organizations.

You can go here to find the nearest donation site. Here’s to all having a happy and healthy school year. 

Words of wisdom: “Charity looks at the need and not at the cause.” -Jewish Proverb

In health,

Maliyka

The March on Washington: 50 years laters

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This coming Saturday along with hundreds of others, I will be embarking on a journey to where 50 years ago one of the greatest men marched for civil rights of African-American people. While others will be sleeping in the bed, my younger brother and I will be boarding a bus at 4:00 A.M. in the morning for the about 5 hour drive.

Fifty years ago, I wasn’t even born and my mother was only six years old. Yet, it is important to me that I be there to pay homage to those who treaded the path through the blood of the slaughtered. It is important that I stand and say that, while we have come aways we have not fully overcome. Many would like to believe that a Black President of the United States has made racial equality all the more better. That could not be furthest from the truth. We still live in a world where racism is clear. Rather then them calling you N*gg* to your face they are doing other things.

Have you ever wondered why, Black people make up least amount of the population in tis country yet are at the top of the list for everything negative. There are more black in prison. There are more blacks that suffer from chronic conditions. There are more blacks infected with the HIV/AIDS. More blacks die from breast cancer. Health disparities are seen in black neighborhoods.

So yeah, I felt that I have to be there on Saturday to march for the rights of people who are still being denied basic things like adequate education and health care. They are being denied the right to live and grow old. They are being gunned down because they seem to be a thug only because they are wearing a hoodie or didn’t turn down their music. They are being policed by crooked police who use their guns and badges like billy clubs and waterhoses.

I have been fortunate to be blessed with a lot in spite of my race, my gender, and even my religion. I believe that I have a duty to get on a bus and let this country know that while they have come a long way…they still have a long way to go when it comes to valuing the civile rights of black people. After all, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Words of wisdom: “The revolution is at hand, and we must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery. The nonviolent revolution is saying, “We will not wait for the courts to act, for we have waited hundreds of years. We will not wait for the President, nor the Justice Department, nor Congress, but we will take matters into our own hands, and create a great source of power, outside of any national structure that could and would assure us victory.” For those who have said, “Be patient and wait!” we must say, “Patience is a dirty and nasty word.” We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free gradually, we want our freedom, and we want it now. We cannot depend on any political party, for the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence” John Lewis

In health,
Maliyka

Why I won’t sign: Kaitlyn Hunt

kateFor several years, I have been a member of change.org, signing petitions. Some of the petitions have been questionable and did not deserve my support. However, I just pressed skip and kept it moving. Recently, a petition popped up and after reading it I had to shake my head.

Here is the thing, when it comes to homosexual relations, I really do not care. At this stage in my life, I feel that if you are happy with your lifestyles/choices/orientation so be it. My name is Maliyka A.A. Muhammad and my main concern is me. You want to get married….knock yourself out. I hear marriage is tiresome and puts you in a whole other tax bracket with Uncle Sam plus divorce rates are high for heterosexual couples. But hey, if that is what you want who am I to stand in your way. This society has bigger issues to deal with like stopping cancer in its tracks. Eliminating HIV/AIDS infections. Combatting childhood obesity. You know real superman issues. Determining who should or should not get married really doesn’t fall under that category. As my sister once said to me and I ran with it, “If you like it…I love it.” I am cool with a lot of people who choose to sleep with someone I wouldn’t that goes for some of the opposite sex too. Some of these people are as close to me as my blood sisters. I have met their significant others. It is all love and then some.

Moving on to Kaitlyn Hunt. You can view the petition here or not. The short version is that Kate is a lesbian who recently turned 18. Her girlfriend is only 15 years of age. As soon as she turned 18, the girlfriends parents went and pressed charges claiming that Kat turned the gay. Kate has been charged with “lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12–16 years of age.” Now do I think that the parents are…WACK…LAME…CORNY…A CORNBALL…basically a non-factor…yep sure do. Do I think that Assistant State Attorney is perpetuating a parents disgust at their child’s lifestyle…absolutely. However, that does not take away from the fact that Kate committed a crime. The fact remains that the girlfriend, is not of the legal age consent. Regardless of how unrealistic it is, Kate was supposed to break it off with her girlfriend the minute that she turned 18. And in truth, her parents should have been parents instead of her friend and warned her of the potential consequences. If they did well than as my grandmother would say, “A hard head make a sore behind.” If they did not…shame one them. As a parent sometimes you end up being the bad guy…deal with it. I know I appreciate my mother for all of her bad guy moments. It was one of her bad guy moments. Go figure him and her evenetually broke-up for other reasons thank GOD.

While I am in favor of equality and I do agree with Bridget Crawford’s perspective, which can be read here , the fact remains that Kate did in fact commit a crime. Two wrongs do not make a right. 18 year old boys who have a 15 year old girlfriend should be charged and in many cases they are especially if the girl is white and the boyfriend is black and live in some backwater town.

I was once a young girl, and I had a boyfriend who definitely belonged under the jail given our age difference. Things like statutory rape were not in our vocabulary. At least not in mine. As an adult, I think about how selfish that decision was and am grateful that no one ever got arrested on my behalf. Funny thing is that, in my younger brother’s case my mother let his little girlfriend know that he could indeed go to jail for dating him. Although, he was mad at me I had to let him know that she was correct.

As the battle for equality comes to head with same-sex marriage being legalized in so many states real conversatiion need to be had. No means no even if she is a girl/boy just like you. The legal age of consent in almost all states is 17. If you are older than 17 and they are not, it is statutory rape. Domestic violence is wrong regardless of who are sleeping with. Same-sex relationship do not mean that a relationship is going to be easy. Even these relationships have their ups and down. Unfortunately, even in love there are consequences. This happens to be one of those Romeo & Juliet ones. I wish Kate luck in her legal battle. While I do believe that the punishment is indeed extreme and prejudicial, the fact remains that she was wrong. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

Words of Wisdom: “I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

In health,
Maliyka

Giving is good for your health: The “Help Robinson” Cause

Rob's fundraiser Now if you are following me, then you know that I ENJOY community service. When I accepted an award back in January, a part of my acceptance speech was, “To whom much is given, much is required.”  I live my life in service and fellowship with those who have the same belief when it comes to SERVICE!

The principle of service is so near and dear to me that it is my focus for today’s post. In honor of man-up Thursday I salute Rob Robinson! Rob, is an elementary school teacher where I rest my head every night, the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Over the years, Bed Stuy has had its ups and downs. It went from being a crackhead’s haven and no one wanting to come in to a gentrified dwelling and everyone rushing in to snap up its historical brownstone. Here’s the thing, gentrification doesn’t benefit everyone. As a matter of fact, gentrification tends to push out people. The people who were there when crack vials and needles littered the streets are not considered when gentrification takes root. Rob teaches the children who gentrification would seek to cast aside.

Knowing this and holding steadfast to the Igbo and Yoruba Proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child,” Rob has made it his mission to make sure that the young ladies experience what some of them seem to believe is a but a dream never to come true. This man is on a mission to take the young ladies in his class plus a young lady in foster care and one who recently loss her mother to the American Girls store in NYC. This is what I call a REAL man. He cares for home and heart as well as others!

I don’t know about you, but in a way I was privileged. We didn’t have much but I know that I had more than some of these young ladies even begin to imagine that they can have. How can I not support their dream? How can I not share their dream with others. I hope that you find it in your heart to make their dream come true. These children come from struggling backgrounds. There is no way that their mothers could begin to put out the dollar amount necessary for them to go to the American Girl store. Now I wouldn’t ask you if I haven’t done so already to give to this cause. It is indeed a worthy cause. Children deserve to grow old on special moments. I know I have. With that being said, I hope that you find it in your big generous hearts to give to the “Help Robinson” cause.  Believe it or not, there really is a health benefit to of giving! If you don’t believe me click here to read all about it.

Words of Wisdom: “One knee does not bring up a child.” ~Tanzanian Proverb

In health,

Maliyka

Do you need Plan B…

plan b The morning after pill and I are intimately acquainted. I am sure that it is acquaintance of a lot of women. Both of my experiences happened when I was over the age of 18 and did not have to worry about the pesky issue of parental consent. One of my experiences was way before they made “Plan B,” rather they gave me a pack of birth control pills and told me to take half of the pack almost in a hr interval or something like that. The second time around it was less pills but the result was the same…nausea being one of them. The difference between the first and last time I needed to stop something before it started, I had to go to a health provider. The second time, it was to my local pharmacist.

First things first, what exactly is the morning after pill or Plan B as it is now called. For all the lost and confused, don’t make up stories. It is not the same thing as the abortion pill. If you are pregnant unfortunately it won’t work.  The morning after pill works by delaying ovulation when sperm meets egg by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. Depending on the type of pill, thickening of the cervical mucus may occur. That is it. Mystery solved.

A few years ago, legislation was put in place to make the morning after bill available over-the-counter. The catch, you had to prove that you were age 17 or older. Recently, a Federal judge ruled against the age limit going so far as to blast the Obama administration stating that,  “It had let election-year politics trump science and were making it hard for women of any age to obtain emergency contraception in time for it to work.” As a result of the ruling, the morning after pill will now be able to girls/women 15 years and older. The FDA has a mnonth to make it happen and it looks like they are making ithappen.

That’s great news right? Perhaps. While there is nothing wrong with giving a 15-year-old control over her body afterall a long time ago she would have been a married woman by that age she must also be responsible. The morning after pill should not be used as a form of birth control. It should not give one license to engage in risky behaviors. If the morning after pill is not taken within the window time period more than likely it will not work. Even if it is taken in the window period it may not work. This is no miracle pill. It an emergency option for an unplanned situation. Yes young people have sex. That is clear given that teenage pregnancies occur. However, most of these teenagers really do not understand the consequences involved with having sex.

So yes while I see no issue with making the pill available to those who are considered to be legal adults, I need adults to understand that conversations must be had with our young people. We must take our heads out of the sand and stop denying that they are having sex. They are and sometimes more than grown people. We all know about abstinence. Most adults actually see the benefits even though they love sex you can raise your hand and some will even admit that they should have waited. These babies may have women parts but they don’t really understand how said parts work. For them sex is something to do. It is really more than that. It is emotions, heartache, headache, frustration, etc. It is devastation, accidents, incurable diseases, nine months later. So while the morning after pill is available to even more girls/women than before, lets not delude ourselves into thinking that a problem does not exist. It does and until we are honest with ourselves that issue will remain.

Words of wisdom:  “Sex: the thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble.” ~John Barrymore

In health,

Maliyka

You got the Baby Blues….

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Let’s talk pregnancy! Now before you start scratching your head and saying hey, isn’t today Mental Health Monday don’t worry. You will see the connection shortly.

So for 10-months you carried your precious bundle of joy. You had a normal, safe delivery and now have a gorgeous baby. You should be happy but you are not. Why? Don’t worry, this does not mean that you are a bad mother. What you are going through is not uncommon. It is what is known as “Baby Blues” and should subside a few weeks after birth. Some telltale signs that you may have the blues include,  anxiety, irritability, and weepiness. Think about it, your body just went through a huge ordeal. For almost a year, you were on hormone overload carrying new life and then poof, you are not carrying that load anymore. Your body is now changing and it has to play catch-up.

Medication is not necessary to treat baby blues. A little TLC should work just fine. Know that it is okay to cry. Hopefully, you have a support system. Your support system should know that you are not crazy. Their main role should be to just listen to you and encourage you.  You should also try to make time for yourself. Yes, you are a new mom and babies don’t care about your schedule. However, this is where your support system should come in. Even if it is only 20 minutes to practice some deep breathing exercises  make sure to make time for you. Not making time for yourself can cause your baby blues to postpartum depression (to be discussed at a later date).

There is no question that women rule the world. After all  we were the fair sex chosen to bring new life into the world. However, with that beautiful blessing sometimes our bodies tells us that we need a break. Baby Blues is one such way. After being pregnant and delivering a baby, you deserve a moment or two to regroup and breathe. Don’t worry you can get right back up and be woman to the rescue.

Today’s prescription: A good cry never hurt anyone. Everyone could benefit from shedding a tear or two. It is the weight of the world being released.

 

In health,

Maliyka is health

 

The mental illness no one wants to talk about: Suicide

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A few weeks ago, I came across a video that literally had me in tears. In this video two women talked about their experience with attempting suicide. They were young and African-American. As sad as it was, it was enlightening.

For many years, suicide as been coined as a “white” person problem. Over the years, it has turned out o be furthest from the truth. According to the CDC, the most recent data shows that the highest suicide rates were among American Indian/Alaskan Native males with 27.61 suicides per 100,000 and Non-Hispanic White males with 25.96 suicides per 100,000. This group even had the highest rates for females. The Asian/Pacific Islanders had the lowest suicide rates among males while the Non-Hispanic Blacks had the lowest suicide rate among females. What is alarming is the rate for black men. The rates of suicide among black men are four times higher than black women. That number was from 2009 which, was not to long ago. The data also shows that between 1980 – 1995, the suicide rate among Black people ages 10-14 increased 233%, as compared to non-Hispanic whites.

The question is why? Going back to the video that the two women posted, they blamed their suicide attempts on being molested and bullied. Researchers blame it on socioeconomic (SES). The theory is that poverty causes mental illness and suicide is a result of succumbing to that mental illness. For black men, it has been theorized that the root of the problem goes back to slavery. The emasculation that was experienced has now become a part of the black man’s life making him more susceptible to mental illness and therefore suicide.

The reality is that, we must accept that mental illness is an issue and take steps to address it. Yes, from a religious perspective I believe that suicide is an eternal sin that is punishable by God. In the Muslim faith, it is believed that the way a person kills themselves will be the way they kill themselves in hell. Even still, while I don’t have any concrete numbers I am sure that some Muslims have killed themselves suicide bombers aside. We all understand the power of rather however, when someone is so mentally distraught directing them to only pray is not the best thing to do. The fact that someone is note playing suicide shows just how fragile their mind is. A fragile mind is the devil’s playground. The devil will have a person believe that a wrong is so right.

The reality is that suicide exist among people as a whole. The time has come when we must stop shoving its existence into a far corner. I commend these two college educated women who happen to be members of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.. I hope their courage and honesty inspired someone o reach out and seek help from a professional. I hope that it inspired people to be vigilant among their friends or families. Suicide is usually preceded by numerous signs that are often times ignored. Don’t be afraid to get butt into your loved one’s lives if you think that something is wrong. You just may save their life. If you can’t help them there is always someone who can. Give them this number, 1-800-273-8255. It’s the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States

Words of wisdom: Suicide: a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

In health,
Maliyka is health

PMS and Insomnia

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As much as I love being of the femal persuassions, I can honestly say that sometimes being a girl just plain sucks pun intended. 21years ago I fully became puberty. I went from thinking that it was a joke to realizing that it was the real deal holyfield. Nothing about it was pleeasant and nothing still is. I can’t recall whether I really experienced PMS symptoms then. My skin didn’t go through an ugly transformation with all kind of little dots resting upon it. My junkfood intake was not through the roof. I was pretty okay, at least compared to now.

Fast forward to now and let me tell you PMS is the devil by another name. As I have gotten older, the torment that I experience before my period is just as bad as my actual period. Aside from the cramping before the cramping, my appetite puts a glutonous person to shame. After eating everything but the kitchen sink, I become so bloated to the point of pain. And a few months ago, I couldn’t sleep. These are just a few of things that I have to go through to honor my monthly committment to womanhood.

Not being able to sleep is completely new to me. I actually didn’t notice that it was a problem until I was marking all of the symptoms that I was experiencing in my trusty little application for my phone. This little application, Ovuview is really the greatest tool known to man. Aside from the obvious symptoms such as an increased sex drive, bloated, acne, I saw insomnia. Then it clicked. Not being able to sleep and having to force myself to sleep…Insomnia. Waking up for whatever reason and not being able to sleep…insomnia. I realized that I could add yet another sympton to my ever growing symptomatic life.

Well what do you know, it seems like I am not the only woman who experiences insomnia during the pms stage.

After doing some research, I found out that during the PMS phase it is quite common to experience insomnia. It would seem that after ovulation, progesterone levels are high and can make you drowsy. A few days before your period, both your estrogen and progesterone levels drop. This is typically the time when difficulty sleeping happens. This is exactly when it happens to me.

If you are having this problem and feel yourself being negatively effected speak with your health care provider. There is treatment available. For some light therapy may work. Others may need progesterone supplements. Personally, I drink a nice cup of tea. My favorite is Yogi’s Moon Cycle.

Either way, they say knowing is half of the battle. Now that I know, I still can’t sleep but at least I am not going crazy wondering what is wrong with me. I can still function. Probably more than what I was able to.

Words of Wisdom: Men truly could not handle having a menstrual cycle.

In health,
Maliyka is health