(GUARDING OUR LITTLE DARLINGS MENTAL IMPORTANCE, NEEDS, DEPRESSION, & ECONOMIC DIVIDE)
Project E.N.U.F.F.™ “G.O.L.D.M.I.N.D.E.D. – Collaborated grassroots, outreach youth violence, personal safety, mental wellness, & economic empowerment program.
The Healthy DC & Me Leadership Coalition, a 501 C3 non-profit, along with the M.I. Mother’s Keeper 501 C3. mental health advocates, and its’ community partners are launching their city-wide “inner-city” youth initiative, Project E.N.U.F.F.™ “G.O.L.D.M.I.N.D.E.D. program with community centers across the District of Columbia, as well as with schools on the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
Packaged to educate, empower, and to hold today’s youth accountable for solutions related to matters of violence occurring in their neighborhoods & schools through a series of customized Project E.N.U.F.F.™ interactive personal, historical, economical, philosophical, mental wellness, and musical teaching expressions, all designed to engage, expose, and equip today’s youth with sustainable, “cycle ending”, core service messaging that will immediately impact their daily living, behavior, health, social, educational readiness, and survival. Every Night Under Fire & Fear many youths in the Nation’s Capital go to sleep afraid, ashamed, without the tools that they need to change their lives. ENUFF is enough! Mental Health Matters!
To successfully combat youth violence, poverty, and impeding social determinants affecting inner-city youths and young adults residing in the Nation’s Capital. To effectively impart life changing, learning experiences, foundational, and historical accountings to end generational disconnect, cycles of despair, and self-destruction among youth populations that are plagued with drug usage, low graduation rates, unstable living environments, perpetuated violence, undiagnosed mental health & trauma exposures. Help individuals to recognize the presence of systemic divides, which has contributed to an insurmountable presence of youth orchestrated gun-violence, suicidal realities, substance abuse, negligent adaptations, self-destruction, homelessness, & unaccountable criminal behaviors in order that accountable, healthy behaviors can emerge.
EXAMINING THE PROBLEM:
In July 2022 the Washington Examiner reported that Washington, D.C. ranked #1 for the highest rates of youth poverty & homelessness. In addition, D.C. ranks 12th for the highest rate of youth drug users, and 7th for the highest rate of “disconnected” youth between the ages of 18-24 who are not in school, working, or being educated on a higher level. Additionally, Washington, D.C.’s 2022 homicide rate increased by 14%, and the robbery rate increased by 24%. Further exasperating matters involving the decline of youths living in the Nation’s Capital is the prevalence of outsized concentration of extreme wealth for White and non-Hispanic families which averages 81 times more than the wealth of Black households in DC. DC has the largest percentage of Black residents living below the poverty line, represented by 21.6%, as researched by the Brookings Institution. Alarmingly, DCist.com reports that 41% of DC youths experience major depression without receiving the appropriate mental services and resources needed. Sadly, District students are currently performing on lower levels than that of surrounding jurisdictions, with many youths dropping out of school or failing to graduate with a sustainable plan to succeed in society.
Financial difficulties lead to increased major depression. Research supports the understanding that “hurt people, will hurt people”. It is time to break the systemic cycles and to help marginalized families and children of the Nation’s Capital to overcome.
As mental health and trauma informed advocates our coalition is gravely concerned with the lack of available comprehensive, educational programming on the community and school levels for African American and lowincome youths living in the Nation’s Capital, who continue to demonstrate a need for higher learning, increased living standards, and access to programs that will reverse the wealth inequalities that plague their existence and forward mobility as viable and productive citizens. There is a clear link that exists between social and economic inequality, and poor mental health, as well as the ongoing gun violence epidemic in DC.
Thus the Healthy DC & Me Leadership Coalition is introducing its’ Project E.N.U.F.F. “G.O.L.D.M.I.N.D.E.D.” Youth Anti-Violence Outreach Initiative to combat the persistence of the existent housing, labor, healthcare, educational, & economic discrimination by educating, engaging, and empowering our youth with the necessary knowledge and skillsets to change the trajectory of their choices, outcomes, and experiences, while also introducing the basic fundamentals and benefits of having a wealthy “mind”.
AN AMERICAN MENTAL HEALTH HISTORY LESSON:
DR. GWENDOLYN L. KIMBROUGH, Ph.D.,
and “HEALTHY DC” leader.
Slavery in America was based on the idea that race was the sole basis for life-long enslavement. Laws were passed to maintain a false racial hierarchy where white people were naturally superior.
After the war of Independence the government continued to pass laws to maintain the false racial hierarchy which treated all Black people as less than human. Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States, said that “…this is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government of white men.”
Barack Hussein Obama, born August 4, 1961, a Black man, became the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017 to the chagrin of many powerful white men, began to equalize at least one of the social determinants impacting the health of Black Americans via access to affordable health care. Donald Trump, the 45th President of this land of ours from 2017 to 2021, subscribing to the same philosophy as President Andrew Johnson unleashed; made mainstream; and advanced the false notion of racial differences…with white folk being of a superior strain and Black folk being of an inferior strain. A significant segment of this country has been emboldened by that myth and proudly wear racism on their sleeves while aggressively shoring up governing institutions and political processes to be discriminatory towards people of color. Restrictive and repressive voting laws are being passed to limit Black people’s participation in the governance of this country. The establishment of tax laws and regulatory restrictions which make the rich richer and the poor poorer abound. Black folk are being stalked and gunned down to assuage the hatred housed in the souls of some whites. The social determinants impacting the physical and mental health of Black people are being exacerbated.
People ask, “What are the social determinants of Health? In general, the social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the condition of daily life. As a people, Blacks in this country have lived a collective life of secondary citizenship. All aspects of social well-being have been suppressed. Blacks are this country’s disenfranchised citizenry. Public Health experts have codified social conditions which have the greatest influence on our physical and mental health into five areas:
- Neighborhood and Built Environment
- Health and Healthcare
- Social and Community Context
- Economic Stability
The Social Determinants of Mental Health overlap:
- Social exclusion/Isolation
- Poor Neighborhoods
- Poverty/Income Inequality
- Low Education
- Adverse early life experiences
- Food Insecurity
- Poor access to Quality health care
The joint Economic Committee just released a report on “The Economic State of Black America in 2020” and the findings are revealing. Inequities still exist that relegate tens of millions of Black Americans to second-class status with far fewer opportunities to achieve good health, political influence, prosperity and security than other Americans. Black Americans take home less income, are far less likely to own their homes and live shorter lives than their white counterparts. Black Americans are twice as likely to live in poverty than white Americans. The wealth gap between white and Black Americans increases with education$68,200 to $399,000. Large disparities exist in the quality of secondary schools leading to worse outcomes for Black Americans. Blacks are incarcerated nearly six times the rate of whites and make up 33% of the prison population despite comprising only 13% of the general population. Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men. Black American’s life expectancy is 3.6 years shorter than white Americans. Black voter turnout decreased in 2016 due to voter suppression. Black Americans suffer higher rates of infant and pregnancy-related mortality. Discrimination contributes to worse health outcomes. Health insurance rates for Blacks rose under Obama and fell under Trump.
On the mental Health side: Black Americans living below poverty are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those living over the poverty level. Adult Black Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites. Black American teenagers are more likely to commit suicide than White teenagers. Serious mental illness rose among all ages of Black Americans between 2008 and 2018.
Historical adversity, which includes slavery, sharecropping, and race-based exclusion from health, educational, social, and economic resources, translates into socioeconomic disparities experienced by Black Americans today. This social determinant, in turn, is linked to mental health: people who are impoverished, homeless, incarcerated, or have substance use problems are at higher risk for poor mental health.
Black lives have been minimized by institutional suppression and inequalities. They are again being hunted and killed because the false premise of racial superiority has been let out of the box and validated by significant aspects of this nation’s leadership.
Blacks are killing themselves and they are killing each other due to the mental health issues deriving from an inability to control one’s own destinies or those of their children. Feelings of depression, anxieties, and hopelessness abound because measures of who they are… and what they are …and who they can become are imposed on them by institutions and people who do not acknowledge humanity.
So where does that leave us? Some might say, “up a creek without a paddle”. Yes, the situation is challenging. Yes, the situation is troublesome. Yes, the situation cannot be easily solved. A resolution of the situation may well be inherent in your commitment to advocacy …Dr. Smith with the United Nations world Approach and “Healthy DC’s” President, Dr. Hamilton’s local focus.
You touch the hearts and minds of people as you advocate for the allocation of resources to fit their well-being fairly and equitably. It goes without question that longitudinal advocacy is powerful. But do not forget the richness of horizontal advocacy. Teach and advocate resiliency in those that you represent. Emphasize the necessity of retaining hope, operating as a collective, using fiscal resources to advance targeted objectives. Encourage self-esteem and confidence in one’s own worth. Help those for whom you are advocating to know the power of their vote and the importance of exercising that power no matter the cost. Make them understand the value of their own history and to embrace the knowledge that they have a historical lineage that goes far beyond these shores. Foster an understanding that the situation imposed on us, be it immediate or long term, is just that!…an IMPOSITION. It is not who Blacks are. It is what “majority’ America wants us to believe that they are …because only that belief validates for them some type of racial superiority. We must not give them that misguidance. It is a false narrative, and it continues to be damaging for Blacks and society as a whole.
We’re building a movement of mentally aware healthy communities one youth at a time. We’d like to discuss your motivations for moving forward. For more info.: www.healthydcandme.org www.mimotherskeeper.com
Program Outline: (12-week duration; 1 hour class)
● Course & Student Introduction.
● Project E.N.U.F.F. Anti-Violence Pledge (Mandatory).
● Introduction to Journaling.
● Gold Assignment.
● Black History Moment.
● S.A.M.H.S.A. Wellness
● Close-out Affirmations
● Musical Unwind “Put Your Guns Down” with Kingdom Life Outreach community partner.
● Don’t be ashamed, you are not alone!
● Tell someone as soon as it is safe to do so!
(police, school advisor, community advocate, parents, friends, counselor.)
● Be brave & be a friend!
● Invite a friend to sign the petition & pledge to end youth violence!
● Your mental health matters! We care!
● Be accountable. Always find another way to communicate positively!
● Become a Project E.N.U.F.F.™ Youth Ambassador!
Every night under fire & fear
Got to figure a way out of here,
To all my peers that I know truly care
Let’s stand tall & declare,
This is our community, this is our land
Time to all lend a helping hand,
“Every night under fire & living in fear”
We are the future, so stand up and cheer!
TOGETHER WE WILL END YOUTH VIOLENCE!
WE ALL MATTER!
*To register your group, or to speak with Dr. Hamilton: Call (240)274-9436.
*On-site & Remote Classes Availability.
*All program materials will be provided by Healthy DC & Me Leadership Coalition.
*Minimum Class Size requirement: 10
*Maximum Class Size requirement: 20