Advice

Don’t Let Leaders and Activists Dupe You

Duped

Photo Credit: One Hundred Hearts

When trying to lead a righteous movement or advocate for a noble cause, one must have an authentic commitment to truth and justice. You cannot have a genuine commitment to justice if you’re not willing to tell the whole truth, which includes the whole truth about yourself—not just the whole truth about others. It’s easy to tell the truth about others, to expose others, but never forget to give a full account of your truth. Although in this moment of “alternative facts” it may seem that truth and truth-telling don’t matter, they still do. In fact, they’re more important than ever. Those calling themselves leaders and social justice activists have an obligation to tell those they’re leading the whole truth—even when it’s unsettling.

One way to know if someone has integrity is to learn what he or she does in private. Most of the time, of course, we cannot know what people do in private. When they engage in corruption in private, however, that corruption has a way of telling the truth on them in public. Once we discover their corruption, we shouldn’t immediately attempt to justify them and/or their corruption. We have to hold our leaders and social justice activists accountable.

Never deify a human being.

Before you place too much investment in leaders and social justice activists, do the work necessary to gain an understanding of who they really are. Don’t just listen to a few of their speeches. Don’t just attend a few of their rallies. Don’t just look at their nice physical appearance. Research them, ask them probing questions, and discern their values and principles.

Yes, no man or woman is perfect, but do your due diligence to discover if a leader and/or activist you support truly aligns with your values and principles.

If you find out that a leader or activist you support has a record of committing fraudulent acts, will you continue to trust this person? Yes, the person may have engaged in these acts years ago, but was he or she honest with you about past wrongs? When people have committed certain wrongs, no matter how long ago they happened, those misdeeds may warrant reassessing your connection to them. You can value their productive work, but when you continue to lend your support to corrupt people—and “stand by your man or woman”—you become complicit in their corruption.

Integrity is telling the truth when it hurts. Integrity is telling the truth when it may cast you in an undesirable light. Integrity is not misleading people about who you are. Integrity is not permitting people to advertise you as someone you aren’t.

Understand this: If a person does not have integrity, he or she isn’t committed to justice. Why? Because integrity and justice are inextricably linked.

We all have a responsibility to hold ourselves accountable to honoring truth and justice. We all fail truth and justice when we allow people we have exalted, placed on a pedestal, to trample on truth and justice. If we’re willing to let these people lie to us, then we have to question our own commitment to truth and justice.

Ethical principles should reign supreme over unhealthy ties to people.

Closely examine the leaders and social justice activists you support and determine if they’re holding firmly to the values and principles you desire them to maintain. If you discover they aren’t who you thought they were, and aren’t principled individuals, then don’t foolishly continue to lend your support to them.

Make wise decisions about who and what you elect to champion.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Everybody Doesn’t Want You

Flirting

Photo Credit: Getty

If someone jokes around with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person is seeking an intimate relationship with you—even if the jokes are sexual. When an individual gives you a compliment, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she desires an intimate relationship with you. People helping you out of the goodness of their heart aren’t looking for sexual favors in return; in fact, when they’re truly doing it out of the goodness of their heart, they’re not looking for anything in return. When someone shows you some attention, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she wants you. If you believe any attention shown to you means someone wants you, then you need a serious wake-up call: you’re not irresistible. Don’t flatter yourself.

People can be so vain. Before you think someone is seriously flirting with you or pursuing you, ask him or her. If his or her jokes, playful flirting, compliments, and/or general interactions with you make you feel uncomfortable, tell him or her.

You should, however, gain a proper understanding of why you feel uncomfortable in the first place. Could you feel uncomfortable because you actually like what the person is saying and/or doing and you don’t know what to do with your own feelings? Try to understand your own feelings before you attempt to comprehend someone else’s.

Yes, people can employ jokes, playful flirting, compliments, and their general helpfulness to mask their true intentions. Even if they are doing this, are you being harmed? If you feel they are creepy, then let them know you want them to stop. You have that right.

Don’t make a big fuss about nothing, though. Stop creating problems where no problems exist.

Get over yourself.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Faking Happiness Makes Your Unhappiness Transparent

Trying to fool people you’re happy when you’re not is a self-sabotaging practice; you’re deceiving nobody and denying yourself time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow. Ostentatious displays of imaginary “happiness,” especially following tragedy or heartbreak, does not reveal true happiness: it exposes your cowardice, your unwillingness to sit with the pain, the heartache you’re confronting.

Even though the pain of tragedy or heartbreak is unsettling, one should never resort to facades, misrepresentations. Sit with your pain in private first, and when you’ve given yourself the proper time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow, then you can publicly share your authentic happiness or demonstrable progress towards it.

Loss, betrayal, dishonesty—all dimensions of the human condition we face. How we respond to them determines how we emerge from them. Do you want to emerge more liberated, more empowered from them, or do you want to live imprisoned in self-doubt, eternally vexed by your toxic response to them?

Fake it until you make it—a vain, otiose philosophy—spoils any chance you have to advance beyond unhappiness. In fact, this fallacious and disingenuous philosophy is rooted in unhappiness.

You cannot experience emancipation when you’re committed to shackling yourself to unhappiness. The previous sentence evokes Audre Lorde’s powerful statement of resistance to enslaving one’s self to the control of an enemy: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Unhappiness cannot be eradicated with the tools of unhappiness.

In the midst of your storm, find hope, hope in what’s possible beyond the storm. The storm can be ephemeral; the storm can be surprisingly enriching. Your commitment to truth in the storm will lead you safely on the other side of it. On the side of the storm is joy, peace, and gratitude.

Joy is enduring and more fulfilling than happiness. To arrive usher in happiness, one must begin a serious gratitude praxis, a praxis that ultimately leads to joy.

When you embrace gratitude, a life of gratitude, you enjoy the beauty of life: you savor victories and effectively process disappointments. Disappointments are natural human experiences, but we should never live in fear of disappointments; we should live in expectation of one thing—the good.

A spirit that expects the good, found in the heart of a person committed to permitting herself or himself to receive the fruits of truth, love, and justice, is necessary to maintain joy and peace.

Allow nobody or anything to displace you from joy and peace.

Always remain honest with yourself.

Although in this late stage of capitalism, where Guy Debord’s notion of “the society of the spectacle” is decidedly more pronounced, you may feel compelled to project a phony public image, which leads you to becoming nothing more than a spectacle, love yourself enough to give the world your truth. If you’re not happy, then don’t display a happy facade.

Give the world your best—even if your best is a temporary period of unhappiness. The world knows you’re human; don’t try to be a robot, falling prey to self-deceit. 

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Don’t Let Disappointment Defeat You

Overcoming Disappointment
Photo Credit: Everyday Feminism

Disappointment is a natural part of the human experience; take time to learn from it—never hide from what it invites you to confront. One grows stronger when he or she learns to discover what disappointment offers, but fear causes people to attempt to bury the initial pain and restlessness it materializes. The pain indicates an undesirable, yet necessary pressing against love residing in you; the restlessness, love striving toward healing. Given a chance to run their natural course, pain and restlessness buttress your interior life: they engender resiliency, crucial to surviving and thriving in an often callous world.

Resisting the perception of vulnerability as weakness, a chink in your spiritual armor, inadequate emotional intelligence necessitates courage. To be fearless in the face of adversity, fill yourself up on faith and hope, joy and thanksgiving, rest and gratitude. Doubt, failing to develop a critical reflective praxis, denying vulnerability time and space to speak—all stifle your progress. Extracting value from disappointment requires one to use her or his organic processing tools—reading, writing, and meditating—leading to a higher, more enlightened self.

After reading yourself through disappointment, after writing yourself through heartache, and after meditating yourself through the unpleasant experience, you birth essential knowledge about resistance, resistance to malevolent forces aiming to destroy you. This knowledge of resistance grants you power to shine light into darkness, power to bring tranquility to tottering people and places—and regimes on the brink of ruin.

When you offer peace to chaotic people and places, two guiding principles are important to maintain: stay focused on the mission and understand that you will face opposition—often formidable opposition. Recognize that your opponents, those trying to thwart your continuous progress, suffer from brokenness, requiring someone like you, someone committed to truth, love, and justice, to move them from a barren place to a fecund place.

Misunderstood by many, disappointment torments people. Frightened, they become docile bodies held captive by it. At some point, however, these docile bodies must shatter the manacles of oppression and depression disappointment imposes.

Bondage, it’s dreadful. The more one surrenders to subjugation, the more she or he will accept it. What subjugated people fail to resist, they fail to comprehend.

Mentally and spiritually enslaved people, blinded by ignorance, face inevitable destruction—unless liberators come to their rescue. Resistance can crush bondage. But how? By unseating the false authority granted to bondage.

You have the power to dethrone disappointment’s reign of terror in your life.

What’s holding you back, though?

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison    

Liberate Yourself from People Using You

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Post-Examiner

When you transition to living a life free from allowing folks to take advantage of you, it’s a liberating experience. It’s not about revenge against those individuals who have used you; it’s about giving yourself a chance to be, to live, to breathe. If you’re living a life where you’re constantly serving every beck and call of others, then it’s time to stop. In fact, it has been time for you to end such an unhealthy, unproductive lifestyle.

Recognize that people will continue to take advantage of you as long as you allow them. You must muster the will and courage to stop doing this to yourself. After all, those people who have used you could only do what you permitted.

Once you close the door to users ever being able to use you again, leave that door closed forever.

When you’ve truly given yourself an opportunity to live free from leeches, folks always with their hands out looking for what you can do for them, it’s time for you to celebrate. Celebrate what? Celebrate your newfound freedom, or the rediscovering of such freedom. You deserve it!

You don’t have to announce you’ve closed that door to those individuals forever. Let your actions inform them. When they see your actions speaking, they will see your new liberated self.

People will start to realize they need to give you something before you continue to pour into their lives. This new liberated self isn’t about embracing selfishness—it’s about granting yourself the right to experience personal equity and justice. One shouldn’t passionately fight for equity and justice for others and not extend that same equity and justice to herself or himself.

Yes, those who have used you will begin to make some of the following comments: “You’re acting funny now,” “You’re acting brand new now,” “You weren’t really for me in the first place,” and “You weren’t doing things for me out of the kindness of your heart; you were always looking for something in return.” That last comment really strives to make you feel guilty and compel you to return to a life of bondage.

Never taste the sweet nectar of freedom and then revert to bondage.

Fight for you; fight for your freedom.

If people who have only taken from you want something now, respond to them by inquiring about what they plan to do for you in exchange for what they desire. This dramatically changes the power dynamics: it moves you from being a pushover to the person who holds all the cards.

When you understand that you hold all the cards, you will exercise your power to thwart attempts to victimize you.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison   

Make Some Sacrifices to Get What You Want

Quid Pro Quo

                                     Photo Credit: Minnesota Lawyer

Although you may hold a position that you are not willing to do something someone wants you to do to obtain something you desire, you may want to consider making a sacrifice for it. Yes, this defies conventional wisdom: don’t sacrifice your values; don’t sacrifice who you are for anyone and anything. Is what you need to do to receive what you want really forcing you to sacrifice your values and/or who you are? Face this reality: Successful people take risks and make sacrifices.

Don’t do nothing to risk your life or health, however.

In our present reality, you have to give something to receive something. Although during the impeachment proceedings for President Donald Trump the notion of quid pro quo, “a favor for a favor,” has become a dirty term, a quid pro quo in many contexts is fair. As long as the favor on one side is equal to the favor on the other side, a quid pro quo shouldn’t be viewed as a problem; in fact, it’s fair.

Too many folks want something for nothing. While I am a philanthropist and give much of my time to charitable causes and helping others, I understand how damaging it can be to one’s life when your giving and receiving are in a chaotic imbalance. You cannot pour from an empty vessel. When you are constantly giving and never receiving anything, you’re not taking care of yourself.  Unfortunately, when you need something from the same folks you have helped, most of those folks will not be there to help you.

For over 32 years, I have been a person who has given and given to people—with little being received in return. It’s time for me and others like me to stop feeling guilty about asking people to give us something in return for what they want from us. You’re not a criminal for looking for something in return from others who want huge favors from you. Be kind to yourself by treating yourself justly and demanding others to treat you justly.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Don’t Be Easily Broken: Develop an Indomitable Spirit

Image result for A Black Woman Crying

Although everyone experiences challenges and problems, one has to decide whether he or she will allow those challenges and problems to defeat her or him. Life will continue to present one challenge, one problem, after another; this is an unavoidable fact of life. Understanding this reality, it’s unacceptable to perceive every challenge or problem that emerges as a crisis.

You can talk about “you don’t know my story” and “you don’t know the things I’ve gone through,” but, at some point, you must be frank with yourself: These statements have become self-defeating crutches. I’m not lacking empathy and undervaluing “your story” and the “things you’ve gone through.”

Here’s my question, though: When are you going to stop using your past in ways that inhibit your growth? And I mean true growth.

Growth is not waking up one morning with optimism and the next with pessimism; optimism the following morning and pessimism the next—a depressing vicious cycle. Real growth begins when you truly start holding yourself accountable for your part in why you’re not progressing and breaking or broken.

Stop focusing on what others are and aren’t doing to and for you. Just concentrate on what you need to heal and grow. In fact, authentic self-care commences when one discontinues investing time in critiquing others and invests more time in developing an indomitable spirit.

How are you engaging in authentic self-care when you’re worried about everyone else? Worried about what everyone else is or isn’t doing to and for you. That’s not self-care—that’s being undisciplined.  

You’re on a path to developing an indomitable spirit when you no longer feel it necessary to concern yourself with how others have mistreated and are mistreating you. One gives himself or herself a chance to operate with an indomitable spirit when he or she takes ownership of what is necessary to own, and when he or she focuses on what is essential to be the best version of himself or herself and what is essential to achieve one’s dreams and aspirations.

If everything defeats you, if every challenge or problem overwhelms you, then you will face a harsh truth: You will maintain a defeated spirit until you’ve truly had enough of it.                

Overcoming a defeated spirit begins with acknowledging it. Next, start living a life of real gratitude. Living a life of true gratitude involves appreciating every moment and finding the goodness in every moment.

An indomitable spirit is rooted in gratitude.

When certain thoughts arise and when you make certain comments, ask yourself a critical question: Are these thoughts and comments rooted in gratitude?

Liberate yourself from a defeated spirit by resolving to live a life centered on gratitude. When you’re intentional about living a life centered on gratitude, you’re well on your way to an indomitable spirit.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tips for Domestic Violence Victims

Domestic violence is a growing problem in America, and it affects more families than we know, especially since many incidents of domestic violence go unreported. However, if you or someone you know is involved in an abusive situation, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Those who commit abuse don’t often stop on their own so it will be up to you to escape this situation.

Proving Domestic Violence

When it comes to getting out of an abusive situation, this is not something you may be able to do without help. An attorney will help you gather as much of the supporting documentation as possible when attempting to build a case. The evidence needed will often be based primarily on your own testimony and the testimony of witnesses who may have seen the abuse or the injuries caused by the abuse.

Additionally, medical records outlining the treatment you received and police reports for past occurrences may be used as evidence. While past offenses can’t be introduced in most criminal proceedings, cases involving domestic violence are different in that respect in many states. Your attorney can explain the laws in your own state and how they will affect your case.

Even where you may not have enough evidence to go to trial immediately, you may still be able to obtain an order of protection against the abuser. While the burden of proof at trial is to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, there’s a much lower burden in obtaining a protection order. Depending on your state’s laws, you may only need to show that abuse has occurred or is likely to occur in the future.

Helping a Victim of Domestic Violence

If you believe a friend or family member is the victim of domestic violence, it’s important to know how to approach the situation. Direct interference may do more harm than good and could end up with you getting yourself victimized as well. Instead, speak to your loved one and ask about the situation in a nonjudgmental way. The goal should be to get the individual to open up about the abuse and to ensure the victim knows you believe her or him about the abuse. One of the greatest problems victims face is their loved ones often doubt that abuse has occurred.

Express your concern, but don’t try to tell the individual what to do. Many people make the mistake of telling the victim to leave the situation without realizing the risk of more abuse is higher at that point. The decision to leave should be the victim’s sole decision. Always remain supportive of victims of domestic violence. Remember that this person may have no money of her or his own, no place to go, or no means of support. Offer what help you can to the victim so that the person will feel secure in her or his decision to leave the abuser.

You can recommend seeking counseling from a domestic violence support center. Trained professionals will be better equipped to give your loved one the more practical help she or he may need. When the individual does make the decision to leave, you may also suggest consulting an experienced domestic violence attorney. A legal advocate can assist victims with obtaining legal protections that play a part in keeping the victim and children safe from future harm.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Resources 

Attorney Bradley Corbett | Domestic Violence

HG.org | Evidence Needed for a Family Violence Protective Order

Refuge | Support a friend or family member experiencing domestic violence

 

A Closer Look at the Adoption Process For Birth Mothers

Adoption

When a woman has an unplanned pregnancy, she has options, including placing her baby in an adoptive home. While an unplanned pregnancy might seem devastating for a woman, the newborn child can become a wonderful gift for someone else. In the past, adoption was a secretive process, and an unplanned pregnancy by a single woman was considered shameful, but today, most people are more open about unwed pregnancies by single women, and this means that there are more adoptive options. The adoption process involves several stages—from the initial decision to post-delivery care.

Birth Mothers Can Make More Decisions For a Child Before the Adoption

A birth mother can make more decisions about her baby, including helping to choose the adoptive parents. In some cases, she might select an open adoption that includes meeting the adoptive parents or receiving information about her child. Alternatively, a birth mother can decide to have a private adoption, or she might not want to meet the child until he or she is an adult.

Birth Mothers Can Receive Money For Medical and Living Expenses

When a woman wants to place a baby in an adoptive home, the adoptive parents can pay for her living, medical, and legal expenses. The regulations concerning these expenses differ in each geographic region, and if the birth mother changes her mind, then the adoptive parents are often not reimbursed.

Birth Mothers May Need to Contact the Biological Father

In some regions, a biological father has the right to care for his child, so the birth mother must provide information about the father before an infant is available for adoption. By having the correct information and release forms from the biological father, a woman can place her child in an adoptive home legally.

Birth Mothers Cannot Reclaim a Child Later

Protocols are in place so that a birth mother cannot reclaim a child later. The amount of time for reversing the decision to relinquish a child to adoption varies, but in most cases, it is only a few weeks. This ensures that the infant receives the best care, so it is important for a birth mother to understand this regulation.

The Birth Mother Isn’t Involved in the Child’s Upbringing

In many cases, a birth mother isn’t involved in the child’s upbringing after he or she is placed for adoption, and this includes open adoption situations. If an adoptive couple decides to divorce, change religions, or move to a new location, the birth mother cannot stop these events.

A Birth Mother Doesn’t Need to Pay an Attorney or Adoption Agency

The process of adoption is expensive, but the adoptive parent or couple is responsible for the fees. This makes it easier for a woman with an unplanned pregnancy to place her baby for adoption. The agencies and attorneys arranging the adoptions can charge thousands of dollars in fees, but the birth mother doesn’t receive payment for placing a child for adoption.

Birth Mothers Can Use Private or Public Adoption Agencies

A woman who wants to place a baby into an adoptive home can choose a public adoption or a private adoption. A public agency is an agency operated by the government; a private adoption process is planned by an attorney. Also, religious-based adoption agencies exist that will place an infant in a home where the parents are committed to a certain faith.

The Adoption Process Is More Respectful Than in the Past

Today, when a birth mother wants to place her child in an adoptive home, she is treated with respect instead of being treated as if she is doing something shameful. Birth mothers are also taken care of after the adoption process ends with professional medical care and psychological counseling. An adoption agency or attorney will make sure that the birth mother is able to continue living her life in a healthy and safe manner.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

How Domestic Violence is Threatening Family Life in America

Domestic Violence

Toxic relationships can affect all of us. Sometimes toxic relationships can escalate into something violent. Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent family crimes in the world. While statistics vary in different countries, every country in the world battles with high rates of this horrible blight on humanity. Based on statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the prevalence of domestic violence in America is staggering.

Domestic Violence Statistics

Annually, more than 10 million Americans are victims of domestic violence. One out of every three women and one out of every four men have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. The numbers are even more startling when you look at the statistics per minute. On average, 20 Americans are victims of domestic violence per minute. That means in a day 28,800 Americans are battered. Out of this number, over 20,000 of them reach out to local abuse hotlines across the country every day.

In a country with so many freedoms, it is astounding to see so many people perpetrate crimes of imprisonment and abuse against others. Unfortunately, every American knows several victims of these crimes. Sadly, many people fail to see the signs until it’s too late to stop the heavy toll it can take on victims and their families.

Because of the increasing prevalence of domestic violence, it is imperative that victims understand their rights. It should always be understood that no person is entitled to a relationship with another person and no one is entitled to treat another person as a slave or property. 

The Toll of Domestic Violence

When domestic abuse enters a family, it can adversely affect everyone in the home and can become fatal for the victim(s) if not addressed expeditiously. Women are the primary victims of domestic violence and are often victims of stalking. In fact, one in seven women in America are victims of intimate partner stalking in their lifetime. If these issues arise, it is essential to seek safety to take care of your family. Even the accusation of abuse can be damaging to a family, causing families to split apart, or worse, potentially leading to a death. The best advice for anyone, including the accused and accuser, is to follow the guidance of an attorney. Domestic violence attorneys understand the law and criminal justice system.

It should be noted that most abusers will try to excuse and deny their behavior. Because of this, it is vital to realize this is all part of their attempts to continue to dominate and control you. Once the safety and security of your family has been established, domestic abuse victim advocates and attorneys can work with you to ensure the necessary proceedings are handled to cut ties with the abuser safely and legally.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison