The BeMore Pledge, more than mere words, acknowledges and addresses the need to act in the interest of Black women’s well-being, committing oneself to stand against physical, mental and emotional abuse of Black women and girls.
It’s an initiative from the BeMore Campaign developed by the Family Partnership as a culturally competent model to facilitate African American men speaking with young men about ending violence against women and girls, realizing the importance of having healthy relationships.
Sam Simmons, SAFE families manager at Family Partnership, notes that idea of taking the pledge is meant to “put a positive public face on men dealing with domestic violence and [help] them consciously engage in the solution, consciously think about it.
“The BeMore Campaign originally began with the pledge from a previous program called Women and Men Take a Stand before we received federal funding [for] the BeMore project. That’s what it’s based on, the foundation of our work to start with. So, we went back and developed this pledge,” says Simmons.
The wording states (with the first word of each part spelling out MEN CAN, I pledge to: Model the role Black men can take to break the cycle of violence against women and children; Engage other Black men and boys to develop violence-free lives; Nurture Black young men and boys to create communities free of gender violence; Challenge violent and abusive behaviors in whatever forms they take; Advance behaviors and beliefs that promote healthy and safe relationships; Never engage in dating violence.
This goes hand in hand with three principles of change adopted by BeMore that entail skills development, leadership development and community solutions.
Along with the BeMore Pledge, the BeMore Campaign utilizes a most practical, quite effective counseling aid, I Am the Face of Domestic Violence. The DVD sensibly shows how abuse, instead of only being perpetrated by a sadistic monster cornering his victim behind closed doors, commonly comes at the hand of someone — perhaps in broad daylight — letting a small thing like petty jealously get so out of hand that he assaults his partner during what should’ve been no more than a minor misunderstanding at worst.
BeMore Campaign Project Coordinator David Collier notes, “The DVD has been helpful in groups mainly because it provides a scenario that the young people can relate to. It also gives us examples to refer to instead of just speaking at the groups. Many of the millennials are visual learners, so we are generally able to spark a conversation about what a healthy relationship looks like based on viewing a clearly unhealthy relationship.”
Simmons adds, “It’s a great conversation starter, because we have an idea where young men’s heads are at with regard to relationships. It works well. It’s short. And it has folks that look like them. Folks they can relate to.
“It works great in the community, especially when you’re working with young people and let them talk.” Simmons explains that I Am the Face of Domestic Violence is the basis for planned radio and television public service announcements “with Black men from all different walks of life.” Quite suitable, since abuse is by no means limited to any particular social strata.
“What moved me to want to be involved in this campaign,” says Collier, “is the lack of understanding amongst African American males of what domestic abuse is. More times than [not], Black men think that if you don’t ‘put your hands on someone’ it’s not abuse, but the most damaging types of abuse can be emotional and psychological.
“I also want Black men to understand that it is their responsibility to be in control of their actions when it comes to their behavior. Black men have to realize that they must take a good look at themselves in their interpersonal relationships and try to fix themselves before trying to concern themselves with what others are doing to them.
“Hurt people hurt people, so a lot of the pain that Black men are projecting towards others comes from the conditioning effects of the historical trauma that has been passed down generationally. Black men must seek healing from their pain, and this starts with them acknowledging that they are hurting,” Collier says.
“This campaign can help because it focuses on what men can do to take action against all forms of abuse against women and girls. Men [need] to challenge their way of thinking and not be afraid to go against social norms.
“The sooner men stop trying to control the women in their lives and focus on building healthy relationships, the [sooner]…we can break the cycle of abuse. But it starts with each individual making a commitment to change [his] own behavior. If every man took the pledge that they would not personally engage in this type of behavior, change is inevitable.”
For more information about the Pledge Campaign, please contact David Collier, BeMore Mentor Project Coordinator at 612-728 2056 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.