Students called n word, chased through woods on field tripPosted: Sep 19, 2013 12:42 PM CESTUpdated: Sep 19, 2013 11:06 PM CESTBy Steven Yablonski, Managing Editor – emailBy Karen Lee – email HARTFORD, CT WFSB -Imagine sending your child on a class trip, then finding out she and her classmates were called the “n” word and chased through the woods. It was part of a slavery re-enactment that some parents said crossed the line.Additional LinksParents explain controversial field tripOne couple said their 12-year-old daughter came home from the field trip with horror stories, and now theyve filed a complaint against the school district.”I ask that you imagine these phrases being yelled at our 12-year-old child and their friends,” parent Sandra Baker said at a Hartford School Board meeting. “Bring those n-word to the house over there. N-word if you can read, theres a problem. Dumb, dark-skinned n-word. How dare you look at me?”Baker said screaming that at children on a field trip is abuse.”They intentionally terrorized them and abused them on this field trip,” she said.Sandra Baker and her husband James Baker have been on a 10-month fight with the Hartford School District that theyve now taken to the school board.It started during the past school year when their daughter was a seventh-grader at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. She and her classmates went on a four-day trip to the Natures Classroom in Charlton, MA.On the third night, there was a slavery re-enactment that Sandra Baker said none of the parents knew about.James Baker shared his daughters experiences with the Hartford School Board.”The instructor told me if I were to run, they would whip me until I bled on the floor and then either cut my Achilles so I couldnt run again, or hang me,” he told the school board.They pretended to be on a slave ship.They pretended to pick cotton.They pretended their instructors were their masters.The Bakers said the program told kids they didnt have to participate in the Underground Railroad skit, but were only told about the re-enactment 30 minutes before it began.”The fact that they used the n word. I mean, how dare you say that to my child and call it an educational experience. How dare you say that to any child.” Sandra Baker said.She said she cant believe the school has been taking part in the trip for years and never saw a problem with it. Shes filed complaints with the state Department of Education, Human Rights Commission and offices of civil rights.”Its a town of people of color,” she said. “Really. I mean, Hartford. You could not see something was wrong with this?”The Bakers said they pulled their daughter out of the Hartford School District.Channel 3 Eyewitness News reached out to the Natures Classroom and hasnt heard back.Copyright 2013 WFSB Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. by Taboola
Dark Days: Life in Crack City.Crack killed everything.”
– Nas, 2012
It was a chilly spring night in 1984 and I was returning uptown from my cashier job at Miss Brooks, a fast food coffee shop located near Rockefeller Center. Working from four to midnight, after closing a few of the staff usually went out for drinks. By two a.m., I’d downed one more pint before walking over to Columbus Circle with the short order cook Xavier.
Although we both lived on 151 Street off Broadway, Xavier was a recent transplant from the Bronx and I had dwelled in that neighborhood since I was four. Today that nether world between Harlem and Washington Heights is now “Hamilton Heights,” but in those days, we didn’t really call it anything but home.
When I moved there in 1967, the working class neighborhood was a literal melting pot of races, religions and cultures that included southern Blacks, like my grandmother, holdover Jewish families who hadn’t migrated to Long Island, more than a few Puerto Ricans and two Asian families.
Like some kind of urban coming-of-age novel, I have fond childhood memories of 151st Street and apartment 1-E, many that include the array of friends who lived in our building at 628. Boys and girls together, we played stickball in the street, had Saturday afternoon trips to the Tapia movie theater, where we watched Blaxploitation and kung-fu flicks, and crowded into each other’s apartments where we spun the latest soul records, watched cartoons and had sleepovers.
Group therapy model for refugee
and torture survivors
Ibrahim A. Kira PhD*, Asha Ahmed PhD*, Vanessa Mahmoud, Msw* & Fatima Wassim, MA*
The paper discusses the Center for Torture and Trauma Survivors’ therapy group model for torture survivors and describes two of its variants: The Bashal group for African and Somali women and the Bhutanese multi-family therapy group. Group therapies in this model extend to community healing. Groups develop their cohesion to graduate to a social community club or initiate a community organization. New graduates from the group join the club and become part of the social advocacy process and of group and individual support and community healing. The BASHAL Somali women’s group that developed spontaneously into a socio-political club for African women, and the Bhutanese family group that consciously developed into a Bhutanese community organization are discussed as two variants of this new model of group therapy with torture survivors.
Key words: group therapy, refugees, wraparound approach for torture treatment, community healing
There is an increased concern about the relevance and effectiveness of current mental health programs and existing interventions
*) Center for Torture and Trauma Survivors CTTS, Georgia, USA. email@example.com
that are derived from individualistic western cultures and based mostly on addressing single personal identity trauma, for example sexual abuse, with clients from different cultures and with refugees and minority populations who are cumulatively traumatized with personal and collective identity traumas.1-3
In general, treatment of refugees who have survived violence and torture is complicated and not manuals-bound. Most evidence-based traditional group therapies have been developed to address specific single personal identity trauma, e.g., sexual abuse, or post such single trauma symptoms using different cognitive behavioural, psycho-dynamic or other theoretical and technical approaches. However, refugees and torture survivors went through, and are possibly still going through, a host of different trauma types that include personal and collective identity traumas and which have cumulative effects. Cumulative trauma dynamics are different from the dynamics of single trauma.4 Additionally, refugees and torture survivors usually belong to different cultures which are more collective than individualistic and may belong to different religious heritages other than those form which such group therapies were developed.5 It is important to adapt current evidence-based group therapies, regardless of their theoretical and
technical approaches, to address cumulative trauma and collective identity traumas that clients endured, or are enduring, in order to be acceptable and effective with refugees and torture survivors. Most refugee populations and torture survivors come from collective cultures and the core (or index) traumas for most of them are collective identity traumas. In the case of ethnic persecution, which is a collective identity trauma, the group character is even more evident. The traumatized refugees have become victims of persecution and or torture because of their belonging to a certain group. In collectivistic culture, healing usually take place within the group context. When people get persecuted because of their group characteristics, a group therapy seems logical and has more therapeutic potential. In collectivistic cultures, it is common for families and community elders or religious or political leaders to be the first source of support for personal problems or health concerns. Family group therapy and community work can be especially effective. Using modified or newly designed group interventions can be a potentially effective component in a wraparound multi-component, multi-model process for treating victims of political violence.6-8
Torture consists of different traumas that target an individual or group. Collective identity is an important factor in this complex trauma. The multi-systemic, multi-component, wraparound psychosocial rehabilitation approach for torture treatment addresses the three systems affected by torture: The individual, family members and the group.6-8 Group therapy for torture survivors is an important component of this model. Group therapies in this model extend to community healing. Groups develop their cohesion in order to graduate to a social community club or initiate a community organization. New graduates from
the group join the club and become part of the social advocacy process and of group and community support and healing. Following this model, the Centre for Torture and Trauma Survivors (CTTS) currently conducts family and women’s groups for Iraqis, a Burmese men’s group, a Bhutanese family group, and an African women’s group of members who survived both torture and HIV (caused by rape during torture). In the following, we describe two of these groups as two variants of the model where each ends up establishing a sustainable community organization, the Bashaal women’s group and the Bhutanese multi-family group, albeit in different ways.
Bashaal: a comforting shoulder In August 2006, CTTS began a thera peutic group for Somali, Ethiopian and other Sub-Saharan women who had suffered war trauma and torture. The group was led by a Somali case manager/community liaison and a consulting therapist. They were able to combine the case manager knowledge of Somali culture and language with the therapist’s experience with trauma and dissociation. They began the group by focusing on the common thread of female genital circumcision.
In the following months the group focused on the women’s support of each other, the importance of their faith and culture in their survival, and their need for help in interfacing with systems. In the process of addressing day-to-day concerns and health problems, the women began to talk about the trauma they had experienced.
Three group changes have marked the growing empowerment of the women. In November 2006, the group members took “ownership” of the group by naming it Bashaal, which refers, in Somalia, to a late afternoon women’s gathering in the pres‑
C L I N I C A L EXPERIENCE
ence of wise elders, a time to share their stories of troubles and triumphs. They share ginger tea and dates, while relaxing after the day’s chores. The second significant change was to move the group from the offices of CTTS to a community room in the heart of the Somali and Ethiopian community, near the main Masjid mosque. The organization and use of the center was negotiated by the physician, with the support of the Somali community. The room is furnished in a traditional Sub-Saharan manner and is cared for by the women. In the summer of 2008, a new therapist started a second women’s group with the Somali case manager/community liaison, while the first group continued as a self-sufficient group, sometimes mentoring the new group!
The group has interpreters and various interns who assist and visit and who help members reach the goals they have set for the group. The goals of the group are:
a) To give members a safe place to gather and to talk about their concerns, including their recovery from torture;
b) To assist in the acculturation and immigration process by discussing cultural and religious differences they encounter;
c) To increase members’ feelings of personal empowerment and mastery in various aspects of their lives through trad itional women’s handicrafts and basic living skills;
d) To diminish symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and depression through psychotherapy and support;
e) To form a social organization that brings women out of isolation and that can eventually be maintained by members with a steady core membership.
After an initial assessment of the potential group members’ experiences with torture and trauma, using the instruments devel‑
oped for the Center for Torture and Trauma, approximately 20 members were selected by the case manager for membership in the group. Meetings are held once a week, on Fridays, prior to Jumah (Friday) prayers. Participants are transported to meetings or arrive via public transportation. Refreshments are often served, particularly tea and sweets. Members greet each other traditionally and get to know the rules of the group. Confidentiality, privacy and safety are emphasized in the group.
The therapist facilitates a therapeutic group process, incorporating relaxation breathing and guided imagery for stress relief, pain management, and relief from intrusion phenomena. The group is organized around a theme or activity each week, pre-selected by the members and the therapist the week before. Themes include: immigration experiences, parenting, marriage, communicating with doctors, tribal conflict, difficulties in protecting and raising sons, finding husbands for daughters, maintaining authority with children, memories, nightmares and dreams, financial difficulties, cultural differences, divorce, losses, grief, rage and loneliness. Activities can include crocheting, knitting, quilting, drawing, sewing, simple automobile maintenance, driving tests, scrapbooking, jewelry making, etc. These activities are all activities they can continue outside of the group. They are normalizing, calming and soothing to the members. While they are working on a project they hold their discussions, just as one might on a visit to a friend. Within this context, the shame and guilt that they might otherwise feel when thinking or talking about many issues is diminished. Members look forward to these meetings every week. They report using their crafts as ways to calm and soothe themselves at home when times are difficult. They are supportive and respectful of one
another. They cry and laugh together and celebrate each person’s small triumphs or significant losses. In this way, the group is truly a comforting shoulder for each woman.
Bhutanese Multi-family Therapy Group for Torture Survivors’ Families
The group started in November, 2008, consisted of between five and eight families. The group was led by a bilingual mental health counsellor, and a Bhutanese case manager/ community liaison co-facilitator who has a masters degree in Political science from Nepal. The goals of the group are:
a) To give members a safe place to gather and to talk about their concerns and their stories, including their recovery from torture;
b) To assist in the socio-cultural adjustment;
c) To increase members’ feelings of personal empowerment and mastery in various aspects of their lives;
d) To diminish symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and depression;
e) To form a social organization for Bhutanese torture survivors who continue to support each other after the group and advocate against torture and oppression, which helps with the continuation of personal and community healing, advocacy and social support.
However, the focus in the first stage switched to survival issues, because of the new added traumatic stress, arising from the dire economic situation in US at the time. The therapy focused, at this stage, in developing assertiveness training, problem solving skills, using humour, laughter and other skills, for example, journaling and making to do lists.
Clients are encouraged to share their story but they are not pushed to. Most of
the members are interested in discussing religious topics. They are also interested in discussing the politics of Nepal and Bhutan. The experience one time of a member who was very quiet in all sessions, but who spoke up for the first time about politics and gave his opinion, shows the relevance of this topic to group participants.
General Principles for torture groups:
1) Helping clients regain control of their life. Also, providing a safe space to practice control during group time. For example, letting them have cell phones and giving them the choice to answer it (it could be from their job agency, sick relative, etc.)
2) Giving them choices and teaching them to choose for themselves. Letting them make the rules for the group and then adding more important ones if necessary.
3) Abstaining from re-traumatizing by recalling memories of torture. Encourage, not force them to share about their torture. Most of them are afraid, guilty, embarrassed, feel responsible for what happened to them.
4) Most importantly, establishing and gaining their trust. Making them feel very comfortable in any way possible. Talking about their history, where they came from, history behind their country, learning about their culture and its practices. Letting them educate the therapist and case managers about the conditions they came from. Talk about politics and religion, their favorite movies, songs they like.
5) Using laughter and humour: Laughing is the shortest route to the heart. Strat egies of telling jokes and laughing in the moment helps them forget about their pain for now. Talking about the
new host culture, inviting them to share any funny events relating to the host culture that they experienced are helpful interventions.
6) Using art and other creative activities. Collage was liked by all members. Telling stories by looking at some emotion cards, writing letters of gratitude, accultur ation activities, educating about the new culture and its practices, having them draw their interests, hobbies, strengths, accomplishments, successes, and positive focused therapeutic activities were all utilized.
7) Balancing power dynamics in the group was important. Getting down to their level and accessing them, reflection of power in dress, seating in the group, not practicing too much control, or making strict rules were important.
8) Letting them vent and complain because they have no place else to do that. Listen to them closely without any judgements, supporting them, but not letting them obsess about complaining and intervening when they are complaining too much.
9) Help problem-solve. Brain storm with them to solve the current problems in their life (ranging from filling forms to accessing transportation, getting jobs, learning English, etc.).
10) Help create a cohesive bond between them, so they have access to support outside the group setting. They can help each other which will help them feel good about themselves if they can help others.
11) Teach basic coping techniques with stress, adaptation to a new culture, find out how well they cope currently and find strengths in them. Learn their ways of coping and help reinforce those if they haven’t been coping well.
12) Psycho-education about their symptoms and how it relates to their overall traumatic experiences, about PTSD, how it is affecting their life and how they can minimize the symptoms, cope with them, take care of themselves.
13) Teach them the importance of self-care. Most of them are very modest, generous, put others first and leave themselves out.
14) Getting them involved with community events. Invite them to attend events related to the celebration of torture survivors, cultural celebrations, and potlucks.
15) Teach them assertiveness, conflict resolution, parenting skills. Help them practice/role model newly learned techniques in the group and get feedback.
16) Letting them tell their story without forcing them, but a little probing may be necessary. Make sure they feel safety and trust.
17) Find out about their religion and spiritual strengths and practices. For most of them that is the first resource or coping strategy to turn to their religion.
18) Involve their family and community.
The Bhutanese group provided another model for achieving the community organization goal. While community organization in the Bashaal group happened spontaneously, in the Bhutanese group it happened intentionally. The case manager, the co-facilitator of the group, who is a Bhutanese community leader and previous political science professor in Nepal, initiated the call for group organization after the sixth session, and started to help them apply for non-profit status. In this model the case manager, a Bhutanese leader himself, who has a master’s degree in political science, initiated establishing the non-profit organiza‑
tion for the Bhutanese community of torture and non-torture survivors. The organization celebrated cultural events and organized art and craft expositions and participated in the Georgia coalition of refugee stakeholders.
Summary and conclusions
Torture consists of different traumas that target an individual or group. Collective identity is an important factor in this complex trauma. The multi-systemic, multi-component, wraparound psychosocial rehabilitation approach for torture treatment addresses the three systems affected by torture: The individual, family members and the group. Group therapy for torture survivors is an important component of this model. Group therapies extend to community healing. Groups develop their cohesion to graduate to a social community club. New graduates from the group join the club and become part of the social advocacy process and of group and community healing. The Bashal Somali women group and the Bhutanese multifamily groups are variants of this model. The women’s therapy group has developed to be a social club for Somali torture survivor women that convenes and arranges social activities and work on arts and crafts. They hold their events to celebrate and sell their products and to lobby against torture in the community at large. The Bhutanese group provided another variant of the model for achieving in community organization goal. While community organization in the Bashaal group happened spontaneously, in the Bhutanese group it happened intentionally. The case manager, the co-facilitator of the group who is a Bhutanese community leader, initiated the call for group organization. While the CTTS group therapy model with its variants have a theoretical face and validity, future studies are needed to provide empirical evidence of its effectiveness in achieving and sustaining its goals.
The U.S. government’s 40-year experiment
on black men with syphilis
by Borgna Brunner
“The United States government did something that was wrong—deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens… clearly racist.”
—President Clinton’s apology for the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment to the eight remaining survivors, May 16, 1997
Copyright © 2003 by David Otieno Akombo, Ph.D
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be an extremely debilitating condition that can occur after exposure to a terrifying event in which grave physical harm occurred or was merely threatened. Traumatic events that can trigger PTSD include violent armed conflict like that of Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi, and Sudan. Others may include personal assaults such as rape or mugging, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat such as the veterans who are serving in Iraq or those who served in Vietnam and the Gulf Wars; rescue workers involved in the aftermath of disasters of the World Trade Center, survivors of accidents, rape, physical and sexual abuse, and other crimes; immigrants fleeing violence in their countries; survivors of the 1998 Nairobi US Embassy Bombing among others.
Effective treatments have now been developed to help people with PTSD. Research is also helping more scientists to better understand the condition and how it affects both the brain and body. Different forms of music such as drumming are becoming an important therapeutic tool. Drumming exercises greatly reduce stress among Vietnam veterans and other victims of trauma, apparently by altering their brain-wave patterns.
The effect of drum in the treatment of diseases should not be disputed. Since our ancestors first struck sticks and rocks against the ground, drumming has been a sacred ritual in many societies.(1) This belief emanates from the fact that throughout the world, the drum has been used for healing purposes. The traditional peo
ples of Africa, the Aboriginals of Australia, the Balinese of Southeast Asia, the Native American Indians, the ancient Celts among others all used drumming to bring the rain, the sun, a bountiful harvest, successful hunting and good health.(2) The drum has also been used in tribal societies with shamanistic traditions while communicating with the gods. In West-African wisdom teachings, Cottel (2001) noted that emotional disturbance manifests as an irregular rhythm that blocks the vital physical energy flow. Cottel also refers to current medical research which has shown that stress is a cause of ninety eight percent of all diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, immune system breakdowns, among others. Recent biofeedback studies (for example, Spintge 1992; Harner 1990; McIntosh 1996) show that drumming along with our own heartbeats alters brainwave patterns (increasing alpha) and dramatically reduces stress. Unlike the western cultures which rely on material evidence such as infection from bacteria or viruses, cell production such as cancer, or genetic defective chromosomes, the non-western cultures, relate to the diseases from a cultural perspective connecting the etiology to the metaphysical world. Their understanding of the disease etiology is embedded in their cosmology. For example the Luo tribesmen of Kenya believe that HIV/AIDS is caused by a curse. In this perspective, a curse is viewed as evil pronounced or invoked by another living person or the spirit of the dead. Among the Luo tribe, drum ensembles are performed with the object of exorcising the bad spirit from the patients.
Among the many African tribes, regular and balanced meter are regarded as a sign of good health. Even in improvisations, the performers are expected to render an exact replica of a standardized musical practice. These mythologies that relay regular and replicated rhythms to heal the person in an immediate and powerful way by removing blockages and releasing tension can be seen in the performance of a Kenyan tribal ritual dance, ngoma of the Taita as well. During this performance, a glissando is played by the lead drummer by gliding his left hand from the middle of the drum to the edge (kusira ngoma). By doing this, the drummer not only provides an expressively emotional pattern at the climax of the healing ritual but also provides a functional significance to the healing process because it is during this moment that the drummer sedates the pepo spirit to descend and exorcise the evil spirits from the patients. Kusira ngoma, which literally translates into “going beyond with music,” is the climax of the healing ritual and its ultimate extreme. This is the stage at which the patients shiver, fall to the ground and ultimately go into trance. During this healing ceremony, the master drummer controls the emotions of the patient while the patient unlocks his or her inner subconscious mind. In the middle of the performance when the interlocking parts become intense, the patient is induced to a state where they start to dance pathogenically as they respond to the mwazindika drum, letting their souls soar into the supernatural world to meet the deity. In a similar supernatural mediation, Cornelius (1990: 127) found that the Afro-Cuban bata drums were believed to be capable of talking and communicating directly with the Orishas, Yoruba gods. But this power of the drum to be able to speak is also possibly seen as a catalyst to helping people to talk. Ms. Ruth Noonan, a practicing music therapist in Longmont United Hospital in Colorado has observed that in her recent practice, she has witnessed the drumming helping a patient to regain speech:
by Guest Contributor MK, originally published at Prison Culture
Last week, I was privileged to organize an event for a project that I am affiliated with called Girl Talk. As part of the event, my friend, the brilliant Dr. Beth Richie, spoke about her new book Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation. I can’t recommend the book any more highly.
Beth suggested on Thursday that the book is to some extent autobiographical, in part tracing her personal involvement as an activist in the anti-violence against women and girls’ movement. In reading the book, I found my own story also represented in the history that she illuminates through her research.
Today, I want to focus on one key aspect of the thesis that Beth advances in the book. She contends that the “success” of the anti-violence against women and girls’ movement in passing legislation and gaining public legitimacy was in large part due to the increasingly conservative political climate that was emerging in a parallel way. That conservative political climate emphasized a “law -and-order” and “tough-on-crime” approach to addressing social problems.
Beth pointed out in her talk that many activists within the anti-violence movement (particularly women of color and queer people) spoke out about the fact that increasing criminalization would adversely affect certain populations. Their voices, however, did not win the day. (Click Links Above for Rest of Article)
- When anti-violence backfires (salon.com)
- Social-service aspect of anti-violence plan set for release soon (goerie.com)
Accessing traumatic memory through art making: An art therapy trauma protocol (ATTP)
The Arts in Psychotherapy, Volume 34, Issue 1, 1 January 2007, Pages 22-35