Building my fan base in Vietnam and Ukraine

african-2399049_1920

Sister said keep readin, he will bring you the truth. The UK and Russia are some of my biggest fans.

Advertisements

Community paint by a wonderful artist

2017-04-20 18.35.31

 

One more chance to paint!

Mural ‘SHERMAN PARK RISING’

COMMUNITY PAINT DAY

with Mayor Tom Barrett

We (City of Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services, Safe and Sound, and artist Tia Richardson) would like to invite the community out one last time to help paint the mural ‘Sherman Park Rising’ alongside Mayor Tom Barrett, Aldermen Stamper II, Alderman Rainey and other elected officials.

FRIDAY AUGUST 4th, 4pm-5pm
4715 W. Center St. Milwaukee, WI

You may have seen the new mural being painted during scheduled paint days. While completion is still a ways away, it is generating an overwhelming amount of positive support from people honking their horns as they pass; residents rolling up their sleeves to help paint; by grilling hot dogs and sweeping the lot. This reflects the vision of the mural – everyone working together to build a brighter future by raising one another up.

Community Paint Day with the Mayor” will provide a chance for elected officials to issue praise and commentary on the impact of this budding mural. While the mural is still undergoing transformation – reflective of the community – this will be an opportunity for everyone to participate in bringing the vision to life, network, and imagine the bright future of Sherman Park. A completion ceremony will be scheduled later in the summer.

Please share with your neighbors and networks!

Sincerely,

Tia Richardson
 
Integrative Community Artist
COSMIC BUTTERFLY DESIGN

Good night, Vietnam

 

indian-1158803_640

 

My overseas readers have deserted me.  Meanwhile I was reminded of the power of in , person friendship. I attended a workshop today on the problems created by adverse childhood experiences. I had experienced several including racism, alcoholism, metal illness, domestic abuse and being exposed to smoking. But education, resilience, friendship and having a goals and hope helped me overcome my ACES. I saw myself as young gifted and black, not poor me.

Will I be appointed to the Milwaukee Mental Health Board?

weirdos

This picture includes people from the Milwaukee County Committee I co-chair.

 

These are facts that might have been omitted from the application I submitted to County Executive Chris Abele to serve on the Milwaukee Mental Health Board. I was nominated for the Milwaukee Mental Health Board this spring and it was a top 10 experience. Up there with my prom date, receiving my draft number and going to New York to become a hippie. Many of these are things that might not have shown up if someone was doing a thorough background check on me. I have attended one of these Mental Health Board meetings and I said I was in favor of creating a peer run respite in Milwaukee. Which I still am. I have a number of other names by which I have been known, what you might call aliases. In the 7th grade I was known as that black bastard by an asshole I had to fight with. By high school I was a traitor because I refused to stand up for the pledge of allegiance. I was living in a racist city where the school board operated two separate school districts, and there was nothing separate but equal about them. And I was quite certain I was not going to be just a number.

I was very radical in my youth because I was excited about the people of Africa regaining their freedom. I wanted to see Portuguese troops leaving Africa by whatever means necessary. I was a little too young to understand what had happened to Patrice Lumumba. I was a baseball fan but I did not live and die on whatever Willie Mays had done. The song Young Gifted and Black helped define me and my generation. We were poetin.

But times have changed and so have I. My lovely brown hair has turned gray. Some of the heroes I admired have been killed. Counterrevolution has killed many of our African freedom fighters. After protesting the US military, I allowed myself to be drafted. As a man of 66 years I have a long career behind me and a relatively short career ahead of me. A lot of this depends on which of my 93 year old mother’s genes win out and whether I am found guilty of driving while black (or brown, which technically, I still am). I am working my 40 hour shift at the agency you help to pay for. I co-chair a Milwaukee County committee. And I write about things in my blog that appeal to me. I have never been rich. I have outlived my father many years and I stand for black lives matter. If those are the kind of traits you want represented on a body that helps make mental health decisions in Milwaukee County, then by all means go ahead and pick me. If not, I will always be Kenyatta.

 

My first GA

 

kidschalice2

In June, I went to my first General Assembly, which is the annual membership meeting o the Unitarian Universalist Association. It was a electric experience. I thought to myself, after so many years of identifying as an atheist, I really am part of a religion. A very particular type of religion with certain basic tenets and and a wide amount of choice. This revelation comes after meeting with a dear friend recently who discovered the very same thing. The Unitarian Universalists lack a lot of things tat hold churches together. There is no fear of going to hell. In fact that was one of the things that drew the Universalists together. If there is no fear of eternal damnation, how do you hold people together?

I found in this gathering a lot of what holds us together. It is love. We have people who pray. We have people who are recovering from traditional Christianity. My friend is healing herself after having been part of a very strict cult similar to the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And, as the joke goes, “there are a lot of atheists who haven’t kicked the religion habit.”

One of my favorite hymns includes a line “even to question, truly, is an answer.” Going to General Assembly exposed me to a wide variety of African-Americans. I saw people who were part of a walkout many years ago when the church lost thousands of African-American members over its failure to follow through on a commitment it had made to them. I saw people the the Black Lives Matter to Unitarian Universalists and the Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Ministries. In my upcoming blogs I will describe some of these experiences in great detail. There is always more to the story.

Those old sexist ads

I just saw pictures of old sexist newspaper ads on the Buffalo News website. The ads included the usual hair, appliances, men’s shirts and men are so much smarter than women. What I found was that no one looked like me or anyone in my family. Back in those days, African-Americans didn’t buy shoes, have children, wear clothes or eat. So no one thought to market anything to us. It was as if we didn’t exist. I am part of the first generation of African-Americans who appeared in ads for the general public. In the black media, we existed. I remember seeing OJ Simpson running through airports. I remember the Miller Lite All Star ads with retired players.  Now there are ads featuring us all over the place. There are gay and lesbian themed African-American ads.  There are interracial couples with their little beige children.

This is the new America. The one that some people find threatening.  Father knows best is gone but somehow those old guys from the sexist ads have reappeared.

Some assembly required for leadership

Some assembly required, indeed. Some people are looking at this title and wondering, what are you building, Kenyatta? A robot? So, today, I answered the call for the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board. When I had received an earlier invitation from the Mental Health Task Force, I put it away, and probably even deleted the email. I strongly considered myself a grassroots worker who was not concerned with systemic change. But several factors suggest that is not entirely true.

I was part of several quality improvement groups that Milwaukee county had created. Many of us who were peer support specialists said that we were undervalued and often told to perform menial tasks. I remember a woman who worked at the crisis resource center bragged about her expertise as a dishwasher. No amount of dishpan hands will make you a peer support specialist.

One of my big moments was addressing the Grassroots Empowerment Project during one of their Empowerment Days. I remember advocating for higher reimbursements for dentists who care for people who are living on Medicaid. The empty mouths of young people who were on SSI informed my plea. The medications people take may damage their teeth and their behavior, getting into fights, may damage or even destroy their teeth and people simply neglect themselves and their bodies as I discovered before I sought help.

A sustained effort was chairing the City County Supportive Housing Commission which approved several projects. However, there was a contradiction for me. Even while sitting up there with all these highly paid specialists, I was at great risk of being evicted due in large part to my low wages as a peer specialist.

As a system, we need to ensure that Milwaukee County employees and people working for agencies contracted by the county are paid living wages. In the past, use of restraints was a major problem in the mental health complex. It was discussed at the Mental Health Board meeting that I attended. So that is one thing to pay close attention to as we transition from the mental health complex to the smaller community facilities that will replace it. The other thing that advocates should pay attention to is what Milwaukee County does with the money that taxpayers will be saving as the system moves towards more community services. What community services will we be paying for and what is the quality of those services? Forward.