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OneRouge Community Check-In: Week 198

Did you know that 2024 has seen some pretty amazing advances for women in Louisiana?

In the words of modern day oracle, Shirley Chisolm,  “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” The women invited to talk this Friday are doing precisely that! Learn with us and our featured speakers as we talk "Making it do what it do: Women who advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion"



Casey Phillips: Greetings, everyone. Good.  Ooh, we have got some powerful human beings on the call today. All right. 

Pepper Roussel: You have not said anything but a word, friend. Nothing but a word. 

Casey: This is a true statement. Pepper, how you doing today?

Pepper: I am warm. I had a few weeks ago, a few weekends, I don't know, time is an illusion.

I was in Lexington Kentucky at a Kentucky Black Soil Conference for black farmers, small farmers. And I picked up, This really incredible West Loop coffee, which is locally grown and roasted, and I'm having that on this morning. Man, I will tell you, these Kentuckians  know their brew. This has got me with the vapors, child, the vapors. It is warm! In here on this Friday, but is that.

Casey:  Is it safe to say that is the first Vapors and Trapper John M. D. references of 2024 today? It's been a power fact morning, y'all. Yes. 

Manny Patole: To be fair, we also have Bonanza Little House on the Prairie. And why can't I remember Michael Land is the third one?

Patrick Tuck: Highway to Heaven. 

Pepper: Oh yeah. Walking the highway.  Which I would say is unusual.  

Manny: Showing why they never cross paths is still beyond me.

Casey: So folks in this moment of, in this moment of levity, right? It's in the, I'm gonna, I'll bring it center, center the conversation for today. This is hard work in this world. It has been hard work for decades. It has been hard work for centuries and the powerful beings that are on the call today. It is, if you listen to most of them speak out in the world, they will say through the hard times, you have got to smile. You have got to find joy with each other. Because if not, you burn out, right? And you can't be here to continue to fight for the people that we all fight for. So please forgive the Little House on the Prairie reference. But we were keeping it light this morning because sometimes we got to keep it light when we go into the heavy. So Pepper, I will turn it over to you after this warm welcome to all of our friends on this Friday of One Rouge. Appreciate y'all. 

Pepper: Fantastic. Thank y'all so much for being here. You know how much I enjoy you spending  your Fridays, part of your Friday mornings with us. We are winding down Women's History Month, but we are celebrating women who advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion on this call. And Casey is absolutely right. We do have some powerful human beings on here who are in the cut, as he would say doing the work, living this life. We will, as always give each of our speakers five minutes to let us know who they are, what they do and how our coalition can be involved. We'll start with timeless tape.

Ms. Tate: Your five minutes starts now. All  right. Good morning. Good morning, everyone. So many beautiful faces. Before I get started, I want to just say I want to honor this space and thank y'all for having me in this space. All these beautiful faces. I hope I can pour some wisdom, some honey into this space. All right. So my name is Timeless Tate. Pronounce she, her, hers. I often go by Miss Tate. I prefer that. And so my organization is called the Feminine Gardens.  And so the Feminine Gardens is basically a wellness business. provide wellness services  for women and queer folks.  And we also big on advocating for diversity of mental health spa and also different things is dealing with mental health services. So yeah, and then, so what does that mean? So I provide two major services. I'm also a certified sleep coach. So I provide sleep health sessions, virtual and one on one. You can also go to my website to see that as well, which is I'm a certified stress management coach. So that's another service I provide and so help folks reduce the stress,  help us get into their spirit to be more grounded, things like that. And also provide relaxing gift bags with different relaxing products, homemade and organic and herbal.  I also do community wisdom. workshops. So that basically means different workshops of different things is going on. It could be third gender workshops. It could be things dealing with health and wellness, things like that. And also you have an online book space where people can show up. It's a seasonal thing. Why do I specialize in a book a year or maybe two books a year? That's black women centered. And we talk about whatever the book is talking about in this group space.  And so I'm happy to bring this, what I call holistic wellness business. Into a space that's virtual so anyone can access it because we need it y'all. We definitely need it We need more holistic care more things that is Guided for us as black and brown indigenous folks  We need things to pour into our souls because oftentimes of society. It's not doing it. Let's be honest  And so we need more things like this. And I have a thing where I always tell folks we need medical doctors and pharmacies, but you deserve more than just that.  You need holistic medicine women. You need massage therapists. You need light, sound therapy. You need chiropractors. You need so much more in your toolbox of health and wellness and spirituality. So I always tell folks to just  expand the horizon and health and wellness because it's going to spin your own spirit and your own.  I'll say my divinity.  And yeah, I don't want to just be talking and talking. I'm open to questions. I'm open to hearing with God. Beautiful wisdom is coming through y'all as well. 

Pepper: No, thank you, ma'am. I appreciate it. It looks like we've got a full house. So thank you. We're gonna reclaim your time a little bit later on if you don't mind. Mickey Chapman, who was waiting in the weight room a little bit before I opened up the doors. Ma'am, if you would not mind sharing who you are, what you do and how the coalition be involved. We appreciate it. 

Micki Chapman: Hi. Yes. Good morning. My name is Mickey. I am a licensed master social worker and a mindset coach.  And first of all, thank you guys for having me in this space. Thank you so much to you for inviting me to be a part of this space. So what I do is. Along the holistic lines as well, but addressing really trauma. So I've done work in a lot of case management and what's called community violence intervention and gang or gun violence intervention. And what that entitles is People don't realize that a lot of black bodies hold on to trauma differently than the ways that we've been taught what traditional trauma looks like, and that can be passed down generationally. So in order as a black social worker, first of all it's important to understand how trauma presents itself. And black bodies. Why certain individuals respond the way that they do. Everything is not just an anger response or somebody is difficult to work with. So I break down how it presents in the mind and the body and in the spirit and just the ideology ideologies behind it. And educate people about that. Additionally, I teach people how to be mindful of their feelings. their actions and not to run from it. A lot of times we have shame and guilt around what we're feeling and sometimes we just need to sit in those feelings and accept it. So I know a lot of times when people think about mindfulness they think about just touching grass. Hey, which that can be a part of the, of course, I love to tell people go outside, touch grass, get some air, but what does that look like for a little black boy or a little black girl who only knows how to display their anger and they don't know why they're feeling angry and they have a parent in that household who doesn't know how, doesn't know how to teach them how to emotionally regulate.

Those feelings because they also have trauma and other things that they're dealing with too. It's just basically getting to the root of what their trauma looks like and that's a whole family system and how we can start from the bottom and work our way up through families. Yeah, like I said, a little bit about me, like I said, a licensed master social worker. I've been touched a little bit of everything from  disaster case management, emergency case management. I've worked in many nonprofits, like I said, being out in these communities. Yeah, that's a little bit about me. I don't want to go on and on. 

Pepper: Thank you. I'm not going to make you keep talking, but I have many questions and I would encourage anybody who is hanging out with us while our presenters are introducing themselves. Please drop your questions in the chat and I will wrap back around to them. But I do want to say that, it doesn't have to be a child who has no idea how to, why they're angry. I was just seething a couple of days ago and couldn't figure it out. Eventually I did. Not just generally salty Manny, but which could happen, which really just could happen. But there was a reason behind it. And I want to hear a little bit more about how your mistake your products. And. It is Dr Chapman, correct?

Micki: No, not yet. We're going to speak that into existence now. 

Pepper: All right. How the work that y'all do, right? So how y'all are advocating and how we can make this happen. Also, there's a question for you. How can we connect with you? But we're gonna ask for Victoria Williams to. Yes, I see you got on your computer, child. I was waiting.  Please let us know who you are, what you do, and how the coalition can be involved.  

Dr. Victoria Williams: Yeah, I was here trying to figure out which resume, which bio should I  span from? Because, Lord, I do a lot in New Orleans. But as we all do, I'm sure we all have so many multiple hats that we wear in this work. But I am Dr. Victoria Williams. I am a licensed, licensed master social worker. That's why I shout out to Ms. Chapman licensed Master Social Worker. I'm a doula. I am a, I call my, I deem myself a maternal child health consultant. I've been in so many facets, a perinatal community health worker. I do have a doctor in healthcare administration. I've created programs but my current role is advocacy and outreach. Lead for birthmark, doula collective. I'm also a member, owner of the one and only Birthmark Doula Collective here in New Orleans. We're, I'm saying one and only, meaning that we, there are not many collective collectives of doulas. That. And have a cooperative model. And so we have a cooperative model and we are all those who sit at the table with us have ownership into the company. So we are a doula led doula ran company. And unbeknownst to the public, I think people don't think that we're black on, but we are. When the majority of your owners are black I deemed that you are black on. And so we are black on my, my expertise spans between all different types of fields, but I've worked in the hospital community built programs. And now I have the. The great privilege of writing policy and developing policy on behalf of black birthing people across the state of Louisiana. And so I'm just like, Whoa my project started as a working group that we were like, Oh yeah, let's come together. Three or four different organizations. We came together and we were like, Let's support policy advocacy work that's happening in the community through other organizations. Let's put together a working group. Let's see what, let's say, lift Louisiana is hosting or what they're championing. Let's see what star is championing. Let's see what saws light is champion. And we'll just see. Hey, we'll just ride with them. And  then we created the mama plus policy agenda, and we wanted to mimic that policy agenda after the mommy bus issued by VP Kamala Harris. And we're like, yeah, this is like nine titles. They represent, it really showcases all the social, all of the areas in which black people are  disproportionately marginalized. I don't know, it's really no better words to say that we don't have access to. So it's, we're making sure that we, all the social determinants of health care exam or our address, we want to increase the workforce. For black doulas for also black birth workers. We want to make sure that the health and wellness of black women as they birth is on point. I know that you guys, I was going to send this article just to have a discussion about, but they recently had an article posted about the air quality here and how it's causing. Babies to have childbirth, birthing people to have preterm labor or premature babies. And I think that is indicative of, like they say, the health of your mothers is the, is really. It tells a lot about how the state really thinks about you. And so I'm on the ground really fighting for what can we do as a community to make sure that the health and wellness of all black, all birthing people and all black people are well. I don't know. What else can I say? I can say a lot.

Pepper: I don't know. But listen, I'm trying to figure out how many licensed master social workers do we have on this call? 

Victoria: Because we are  here. I see that. I see that. Thank you. A lot of people don't know  what a doula is. And I just want to just give you a quick definition of that so that you can know that, Literally, if you've assisted a person non medically, mentally, physically and I'm not we just recently had a politician tell us that anybody can call themselves a doula. No not per se, but everyone has supported a person doing a very traumatic experience, right? You may not have all the tools that you need, but. We have a community and I think that doulas came from a space of community it came from a space of people being able to support other people during very traumatic experience. Life and death is birth and death. And like they say, you got one foot in the grave when you give birth, because it is a very transcending experience. And if you don't have the support there that provides that That energy and that frequency of love, then, a lot of people are born in very traumatic situations. A doula is a non medical support person that provides emotional, physical, mental, spiritual support to a person during labor. Birth C sections. Let's make sure we lift that up. C sections and any type of loss that happens during the prenatal postnatal period. So before and after birth we're just

Pepper: Thank you, ma'am. I appreciate it. I want to shift.  There we go. Ellen Frank, Helen Frank. Sorry. I dropped the H. Helen Frank is next up. Please let us know who you it's a natural transition into what you do and how folks can be involved. Your 5 minutes. 

Helen Frink: Victoria is an honor. And, my favorite good morning, y'all. I'm Helen Frink. I'm the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood  in Louisiana. A lot of people who don't know think, oh, Planned Parenthood they don't exist in Louisiana right now because abortion is legal. Not true. We have not provided abortions in Louisiana ever and keep our doors open post the jobs decision. sexual health education services at our clinics, one in Baton Rouge and one in New Orleans. And then my work is focusing around advocacy. So out in the community, doing all the things like the people on this call do sharing the gospel of the work and the resources. And especially right now during legislative session, being down at the Capitol staying plugged into bills and processes and discussions and committees about what's going on and fighting for expanded access to abortion, protecting access to reproductive health services defending against further attacks, whether it's against sexual education Things of that nature, or we, of course do a lot of intersectional work as well around our LGBTQ  friends, family, neighbors of course black health equity, all the great things. I will ask you to do one thing today. And my phrase of the day is two clicks. That's it. I'm going to drop a link in the chat. On Wednesday, the committee the house health and welfare committee will hear a bill to protect proactively access. To birth control in Louisiana, we've seen a lot of conversation nationwide and other states. Like you saw in Alabama, I'm sure with the IVF conversation is that now that abortion has. Lacks  protection on the federal level it that doesn't that's not it. The line does not stop there. Whether it is intentional or not that means a lot of other reproductive health and services are under further attack because the definition has changed and what is considered life and protection  It's different now. It's not just about abortion. It's about many things. But birth control is an easy, to me, an easy level playing field of we need access to this service, especially in the face of abortion being illegal in this state. We need access to birth control, not just to prevent. Pregnancies, but for many other health issues as well. If you do my two clicks, it will help you populate and send an email to your representative to encourage them to move this issue out of committee and to the House floor. My other phrase of session is we may not have the votes but we do have our voices so working hard to make our voices heard, especially on these key issues that I, it seems like we can all agree on oh, yeah, we need access to birth control, but I promise it is not a given and we need our voices heard. If you do my two clicks, that's it. Then you'll also, I'll also make sure you're getting our general legislative updates every single Monday. We're sending out what I hope to be is highly synthesized information about what's going on at the Capitol. It can be really overwhelming, really confusing, really jarring. But we try to make it uplifting, fun, engaging and easy to digest with our 3 2 1 countdown. Three things to catch you up two things to prepare you for the week, and one action to take. Lots of things I could talk about with Planned Parenthood, but I will just say that we do provide a lot of education, training, and services. We are really focusing now on training the trainer's efforts. We have a laundry list  of amazing education services that we provide and courses anywhere from pre k to  the nursing home. And again, every time I engage with our education team, I learned something. So there's always something to be taught and something to be understood. So if you interact or engage, especially on a community engagement training education level, and you're interested in providing some sex ed, sexual reproduction information, I'm going to drop my email in the chat and my cell phone number, reach out, would love to get you connected and get you trained. 

Pepper:  Phenomenal. This is amazing. And so the questions are popping up in my direct messages, but that's all right. Cause here's what we're going to do. We've got one more Kirsten, so yesterday I was just like Robbie. Notice that's not your name because  there's a judge that I know who does food advocacy down in New Orleans as well. And so I was just like, I wonder if they're related. Anyways, you're not. Please let us know  who you are and what you do. 

Kirsten Raby: Thank y'all so much for having me speak today and following the amazing people that I have so proud of all of y'all's work. So I am Kirsten Raby. I am the director of programs with STAR sexual trauma awareness and response. Yes. What we basically do is provide services to all survivors of sexual trauma. And as I'm sure a lot of y'all on this call already understand and know, that doesn't necessarily mean just survivors of rape. That is everything on the spectrum from sexual harassment to rape. And that encompasses so much more. As well as interpersonal violence. We, while we don't deal directly with domestic violence, there are so many amazing Organizations who do, but we understand the intersections of both. So we do work with survivors who have experienced both of those traumas at once. The services we provide are all free of charge. We are not only in Baton Rouge, but we're in New Orleans and Alexandria and we provide counseling services. Our advocacy services are our biggest and really our longest standing program with STAR. They are the people that go out and they are. In the hospitals and at the accompaniments with court and at the with law enforcement and everything else. They are there from day one with survivors and they are the ones that are advocating for them in other spaces and providing resources and referrals to amazing organizations such as y'all on this call.  Our counselors are amazing. We have PLPCs and LMSWs  and they are providing amazing services using EMDR practices and other play therapy.

We provide services for kids too. And then we have our legal services. We are 1 of. the only standalone sexual assault center in the state that provides legal services in this way. Very proud of our programs for sure. And then we have our social change group, and they are the people that are going out and meeting with other organizations to provide services to help them better understand how they are protecting Their employees, their students, whoever against sexual trauma. And they're also providing education services and things like that. So looking at people's policies and procedures and giving feedback, and we've worked with universities and smaller scale, more small scale schools just to provide that service and make sure that they are doing what they can to protect people. Yeah. And so that's what we do. We have a 24 seven hotline. We do a lot of work as Victoria was talking about earlier with the legislature. Our CEO has been there this week trying to push for some changes especially in terms of reproductive health and sexual violence and education. So very proud of all the work that we've been doing and hoping to do a lot more of it as we move forward, given this new administration and the things that  they Do not value that we do. So thank y'all again. 

Pepper: Thank you, ma'am. As I struggle to get off mute. The things that this administration doesn't value, honey, that's a whole different conversation. Not for today.  But especially not with the rain and the street flooding going on. I'm just, I don't have it within me on this fine Friday. So we're going to shift to Tia Fields. Please let us know. Who you are, what you do and how you are connected to all of these amazing women who are doing this work. 

Tia Fields: Good morning and happy Friday. One Rouge family and friends. I'm Tia Fields. I'm the one Rouge community coordinator advocate. You will see me taking up space where space is needed to be taken. And everything champion for all types of people. Brown, black, indigenous  Big, small, tall, all people of all different walks of life. As a community coordinator, I believe in championing for everything that's important to our community members and how I'm connected to most of the women on the call is through just personal advocacy with Ms. Tate, I'm a part of the cab for. women on HIV. I am a big champion for HIV and HIV decriminalization with Miss Mickey. I've worked with her in countless efforts with the Baton Rouge Community Street team. Just in personal life as a friend and a mentor. And then with everybody else, it's just, Oh, can't forget Victoria. I met her over the weekend on Wednesday with 10,000 women and just championed for the rights and maternal health of women. And I'm glad that you guys accepted my invitation to be in the space collectively. I like to see and create more space for people to champion and what it is that they're doing in the community and how we can further just push the needle on a collective impact. And I'm going to shoot that right back to you, Pepper. 

Pepper: How did this happen? I got three minutes and 45 seconds left.  

Tia: Hey, I'm a fast talker. So you get it out.  

Pepper: Listen, I didn't even have time to put a meme or excuse me, an emoticon on women on Wednesday that Helen I gave a big shout out to there are pretty amazing things that are happening all around. And again, just making sure that we are clear that these are absolutely women who advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Now  many of you, if not all of you work with in some version of trauma informed care. Thank you. And so my open question to you, getting where you fit in, is how is it that you are carrying, besides, salt baths and walking on grass, how is it that y'all are not only caring for yourselves, but also in broad strokes, encouraging those who are not specifically in the medical field to care for others? Come hang out with us at the Capitol. Yeah, we're going to need some like bath salts or something. Kirsten?  

Kirsten: I was just going to say, like self care is extremely important in this work, right? Like we hear it, it's like the buzz thing, but it really is so important when you're doing trauma work and working with communities. So it's important to disconnect from it all. It's important to have your boundaries in place. That's a big thing for me. I do my best not to work at home. Sometimes it's. You have to, but I do my best to, when I get home, I'm done. I turn off notifications because especially in this type of work, like we're constantly seeing it, it's, we're constantly on. If you go somewhere and tell somebody what you do, they are immediately disclosing or discussing their needs or what has happened. So I've gotten to a point where if somebody asked me, what is it that you do? I tell them I'm an engineer. I've decided I'm a civil engineer because that's like the most nobody's going to ask me questions. Nobody wants to know what the civil engineer does. So if I'm getting my hair done or something and I don't want to talk about it I'm just, I'm a civil engineer girl. I don't.  So 

Pepper: Come on, Miss Micki, what'd you say? 

Micki: Okay, now it's my turn to struggle with the but I agree completely with Miss Raby. I, like you said, self care is the buzzword and people think that's just, Oh, nice baths and long walks. But for me, it's, I know we do a good job of wanting to be in these spaces with each other as professionals and we share a common mission. And we're all goal oriented, trying to be change agents. However, sometimes. I don't want to do that. I don't want to be around other people fighting the good fight. I want to be as people say it, as the younger kids say it, I want to be outside. I want to be a like, I am not a professional after certain hours. So sometimes it's just going to have a drink is going to just be silly somewhere, going to a dive bar. And sometimes for me, I know this could be depends on who has kids and who doesn't, but just spending time with family too, and centering you on what's most important. I found myself in that trap of. Always fighting the fight for other people. And then when I got home, I was exhausted and I had nothing left in me to give to my family. It's like getting for yourself night in the kitchen, these dishes gone way, these clothes gone way. And they, the community was getting more of me than my own family was. Sundays are family days until my daughter starts talking too much. Okay. Calm down, but sometimes you just have to learn how to just take that hat off completely like she said Kristen is a engineer Sometimes i'm not even mama I'm like, leave me alone. So you got to learn just when to let your hair down and see the joy in life too. 

Pepper: Fantastic. I want to be outside. Ms. Tate.  

Ms. Tate: Yes. Good wisdom. All that wisdom. I love what I heard from Kirsten and Ms. Chapman. And so one thing I'm going to add to this wisdom. is for me, how I like ground myself. And when I do the work and sometimes I'm gonna take a break or something, I realized that my spirit has more to offer in this lifetime and in the next one. And so for me, it goes back to having my spirituality as a foundation, a space of a prayer room, no matter where religion you are, it's a space to just be centered and know that you are. More than what you're giving. We have more things to be doing in this lifetime and in the spiritual world. And so for me, that gives me peace because in my human space, I may have to work to pay bills, right? And heal people, but my spirit space, I'm just existing. I'm just being, I'm just there. And I think that's a very indigenous a very African, very Native American way of seeing life as well, to make sure that you honor spirit and outside of the human form. And so I think about that as well.

Pepper: Much love.Victoria?

Victoria: Yes. So I basically changed, I love changing words and language. And so I don't use the word self care. I use restorative care because a lot of people feel like self is selfish. And definitely in, in the mother world in the maternal world, this idea of motherhood is supposed to be so selfless activity, but I believe that we should restore it. We should continue to restore something that we already have. We have self care. We should be caring for self and restore that. A lot of times it's even when I think about the social work code of ethics, it is always, baffling. They give these scenarios of if you are in danger, what should you do? And it's always self first  you get on the airplane, put your mask on first. So just constant, that constant reminder that you are a, being inside of ano, like you are the nucleus.  And so if, how can you take care of other people if the nucleus isn't strong? And I hate using the word strong, but isn't secure.

How about that? And security could be, basic man blows basics, the basics, we won't love, we won't water, we need food, we need shelter. And so making sure that we just keep those at the forefront of our brains our brain is, let's say Teflon to the bad and velcro to the good, the opposite. Teflon to the good slide off and the bad sticks. Okay. So making sure that we intentionally have those moments of goodness that we continue to resonate with. 

Pepper: Beautiful. I am so glad this question came up, Helen. 

Helen: Okay. Those who know me well and have known me for a while know that. I'm definitely a hyper focused person. And once I get locked in on something, I stand and preach about it, whether it's the mayor's office, city data, Navajo Parenthood  and in the spirit of being outside and celebrating and being together  I promise I'm not just being a shill when I say the best event of the year is our Baton Rouge spring celebration with Planned Parenthood. So if you're in the Baton Rouge area or will be or want to be on April 4th  6 to 9 p. m at Chelsea's Live. I would invite all of you to be my personal guests. If you are available, please send me a text or an email and I will put you on my list. Open bar, free food, DJ, My own mama said it was the best party. She'd ever been to last year and we're coming bigger and better this year. So perfect timing with legislative session to take our brains out of the work grind and into the celebration grind would love to have y'all there. See, it's raving. It's what's up. I'm sad that we'll miss you. But again  yes, gorgeous. I'm dropping my email, but yes, we'd love to see you. And again, Casey knows I love a party. I love a hang. I love a concert. It's like the only reason I keep living. Bonnaroo is in June. Mardi Gras is in the spring. And then football season in the fall. It's like the only thing that's keeps me going. 

Pepper: Sounds like it's time for a tailgate. So there is a question in the chat that I do want to make sure that we open up for everybody for the especially not everybody is over here looking at the chat. The question is what obstacles do you face as an African American woman in this space and as a doula compared to mainstream medicine? And I find that question really interesting because I want to say it was last year or so that we had a doula on a friend of mine who was saying that it's the disrespect, right? It's the, and it's something I want to say, Victoria, that you alluded to but do you absolutely want to hear through your lens from your perspective? 

Victoria: Yeah, you feel, I love being in spaces where people think I'm not supposed to be. And so there's a little bit of. Slight arrogance that comes out of me just to being in those spaces and making sure that I can be in those spaces. And also, I, the obstacles I face. They live like they're live and in the open and it's really, I'm from Birmingham, Alabama. I came to New Orleans to get my master's in social work from Tulane. And I will say that  Tulane was the first place that I experienced racism and I'm from Alabama. And it was really hard. So being in Louisiana in this space and being like at the Capitol doing this work, you feel a lot of  Ooh, disrespect around the profession that we do. And this idea that, birth work, maternity, child health. Oh, y'all just, y'all just want to save everybody. And you're not really thinking about the numbers and how much it costs. And no I can't put a value to the person's life. I just want them to live like period. I didn't need them here. And so what. What's my biggest problem is that we so many people have to die in order for you to take it serious. And I think that is one thing that I really face in this space around this like overtness of you don't matter. And that's a struggle. And that's why I'm so glad we had the conversation about restorative care because there, we have to separate ourselves from this work because we don't. This is one of the reasons why I got out of. Building programs and more up to the lobbyist area, which is harder, but I realized that building programs and doing the work on the ground is so great and impactful, but what's really better is if I make them do what they said they were going to do, which is protect our lives. 

Pepper: Oh,  hold up. Who said they was trying to protect our lives? 

Victoria: They didn't say it, but what I want you to do is, they didn't say that, you right, they know it, nobody told me, nobody, they didn't tell me, they didn't tell me that, but I know what I want you to do is these little, it literally is so funny because it's black and white, it's literally paper that has rules and it's so funny. Going through this process, I've learned so much but yeah, we can ask them to do what we need them to do.  

Pepper: Fair enough. Yeah. Fair enough. So help me understand and I enjoy asking stupid questions because it's  it makes me feel like there are some things that I don't know, and I should know, and just a check, a self check every now and again. How do people get to your services?  Oh, yes. So I everybody question. That's an everybody question. So I'm sorry, please. 

Victoria: I'm a birthmark do collective. We are here in New Orleans and we provide, wellness services to families. We do maintain mostly virtual and we have Put our email, sorry, our website in the chat, but if anyone knows of anyone who is experiencing any type of like perinatal, prenatal, we do postpartum care. We do doula services. We have a lactation clinic. But yeah, so I'll drop us in and you can get a free intake and talk to a provider and they'll be able to direct you in any through any situations.  

Pepper: That's fantastic. Thanks a ton.  All right, so we've got Helen has dropped the website for Planned Parenthood, Gulf Coast, which are so hard, dot org for appointments, programming and information about the work that they do there. We've got Ms. Tate has given us the feminine gardens dot com. Wow, thank y'all. For letting us know how we can get Ms. Raby to get to the Star Hotline. Speaking of hotlines, if memory serves, there was a hotline for that, which was  introduced not long ago.  Suicide prevention as well at so help me  understand. Do you work with in support of  in conjunction? Like, how does your hotline work in  respect to relative to these other services that are available?

Kirsten: Sure. So our hotline is 24/7. We are, it's managed by amazing volunteers. And basically anybody can call at any time. And they will walk you and talk you through whatever you're experiencing at that moment. If it's somebody needing services immediately Obviously, they'll do some de escalation work with that person and make sure that, so they put a a report in every, for every phone call, that information goes directly to our advocates the following day and our advocates follow up and they'll do intakes over the phone and start the process for them there. If it's somebody going to the hospital or they're at the hospital, if they're at the hospital, then the same, the nurses or someone at the hospital will give us a call and let us know that they want our services will dispatch a part time medical advocate or one of our on call advocates out to the hospital, and they'll be there with them. But if there's somebody presenting a suicidal on the line. We, our volunteers go through 40 hours of training and they are well equipped to work through that. But we also, if it's something that they cannot deal with, then they will refer them out or they will talk with one of the counselors and be sure that person has everything that they need. 

Pepper: Wonderful. So the volunteers, right? So that feels like a way that we can connect with you. What sort of training do you need? Always doing well, welcoming volunteers. We do them. We do our trainings twice a year, 20 hours online and 20 hours in a virtual session. Again, it's very extensive. We talk about. Everything from a crisis intervention to the advocacy work that we do, and just like background on what sexual trauma is and understanding it better. And then right now we're also hiring. I'm gonna go ahead and plug that for part time medical advocates. And that's the people that we do dispatch to go out to the hospitals on the weekends and the evenings. And we're hiring for a new counselor in Baton Rouge and a managing attorney here. So if y'all know anybody. 

Helen: Is that posted on y'all's website, the roles? 

Kirsten: Yeah, it's all posted on the website. 

Helen: Okay, great. Apply right there. Yep.  I'm sending it out to a couple folks. 

Pepper: Thank you. That's wonderful. So thank you all for being here. I really appreciate it. What  is, what are your words of wisdom? What do you share leaving with us? Besides the stuff that I think we've already got in the chat. We've got job announcements. We've got show up on Wednesdays come party with us. What should we take away from this moment that you haven't already said?  

Helen: What I will say and be brief and then hop off because I got to get on my legislative strategy call to plan for next week. It's very daunting what's happening at the Capitol, especially with this governor, especially with this governor, especially with this governor. It is somehow worse than we anticipated but it is more essential now than ever that we are not only understanding what's going on at the Capitol, but having really important critical conversations with our friends, families, and neighbors. Do not take for granted that the people in your life understand that. For example, birth control is not something that's guaranteed in the state. Abortion is a very hefty, heavy topic but we're in a different landscape now. There's more than just abortion to speak on. So I encourage you and invite you and welcome you with open arms to have these conversations that like I'm having with y'all today that we have to have our voices heard. Honestly, especially in the face of how grueling things are right now. And again, really trying to make it easy for y'all and digestible and 2 clicks. That's it. I'm dropping my link again. So you can stay connected again, conversation and storytelling, as I'm sure the vast majority of, is our most powerful tool. Plug in where you can. I know, especially if you've on this call are connected. But again, just do whatever you can and put that on the people around you, that if they love you and care about you, then they need to be speaking out and protecting access to sexual reproductive health. Thank y'all so much for all that you do. 

Pepper: Ms. Tate?

Ms.Tate:  All right. So I hope I can hold a little space. I have some things that I wrote down. I want to share some wisdom to legal folks. I'm on this day, this beautiful day. Okay. First and foremost, I want us to support black brown indigenous holistic wellness businesses.  You deserve a life more than pharmacies and medical doctors, although they are very important. We do need them. Deserve more forms of healing, sound healing massage therapy healing, sleep therapy healing, all those type of things. I also go to therapy and tell family members and friends to go as well. When we heal individually, our community heals as well. So have someone sit with you about how you feel and your emotions. Y'all have great healing. Go vote and also be aware of the laws in your city and nation. We need more folks to be civic engaged. As someone said earlier, there is a lot of things going on y'all affecting us. And my phone is going off, don't know what to do. It's time for us to stand up. And even a revolution. We need to do that. And so also I leave with y'all always be open minded, loving and caring to diverse, different cultures and people. It's including our elders, including our LGBTQ communities. It's including our disabled communities. Everyone needs to be having a feeling of love  and we all spheres in the universe.

Figuring this thing out, right? And so I always bring it into every space to make sure we understand we are holding space in this universe for other folks.  And so I'm going to leave off with my couple things that I'm going to be doing. I'm part of the amazing community of the advisory board for Black Women's HIV Health. That's an amazing person here who is a happiness and champion in that. So please, whenever you see us at the Black Women's Learning Institute, that you support us, that means support, things like that. Also, I am being today, I'll be at the. In New Orleans, giving herbs and giving different healing things at the ethers, euphoria in New Orleans tonight. So please check me out, come through, get some herbs and check out all the other healers and folks in the room and also checking out at my website. If you need any sleep help, if you need any stress management help, just go ahead and go to their website, and all blessings and peace and wellness. Thank y'all.  

Pepper: Oh, blessings, peace and wellness. Thank you so much.  All right, holding the space open for any more comments from our guest speakers this morning.

Micki: If I could, I would just like to go ahead and add that Two major points on my end is to remember your why.  I think a lot of us  start off meaning well. I know when I was a fresh graduate out of school, the question I used to hate to be asked was, what are you going to do with your degree? And I felt like I had to have an answer right then and there. And I just made up anything. Honestly, I was like, Oh, I'm gonna save the world. And then it didn't work out that way. I am quick to leave a space where I feel like I am not being effective. And I've even taken space off which is why in a spirit of transparency, I don't operate a website right now because I felt like I was doing more of the motions than actually doing the work. So remember your why if you get to a point of where you're just burnt out and I know we hear that phrase a lot. If you feel like you're burnt out, you're having compassion fatigue. You're not caring the same way. Linking back to that self care. Please take that time as much time as you need for yourself to remember your why and maybe if you need to pivot and shift gears, please do so because we're only strong in this work if we are literally strong as much as we can possibly be. Also, I want to also leave with meeting people where they are. The first time that I was ever introduced to legislative session and into, when I was just a baby in this work, and I saw the people who were our elected officials had no idea the plight in the trials and tribulations that we were going through. And, a lot of us sit and say, tell people to vote, tell people to do this, but everybody's job is, I'm not going to say it's not everybody's job to vote, but it's not everybody's job to show up in this space. Some people only know how to show up for themselves, how to pay their rent, how to get their kids through. So if we help them, like Victoria mentioned earlier with those hierarchy of needs, maybe they can show up to a neighbor and say, I heard about this. Did you hear about this? And that's. How they know how to show up in their communities. So remember just to meet people where they are, not just at legislative session, not just at community events. But again, I'm gonna sound like an alcoholic cause I keep bringing up bars, but if it's having a conversation with that person at the bar, if it's at a park, if it's somewhere where you can spark a little flame, meet them exactly where they are. So that's very comfortable. And if that takes you being uncomfortable, then you're just uncomfortable, but you got the mission accomplished. That's it.  

Pepper: That's what's up. I will suggest, though, that you can actually bring alcohol to a park, but that's a different conversation. Victoria, you came off mute.  

Victoria: Yeah, I would say my one statement is no person should birth alone. This is simply a call to action for us as a community to recognize that our need for comprehensive supportive systems Nobody should birth alone. We should all be standing in community with one another through the ebbs and flows of life. And I think that a lot of times, I say what funerals, births.  Marriages, weddings, people, that's the only time people really know how to show up for you. And they just drop you after that same thing with broke, after the first six weeks, they're like, Oh, you're good. Even the doctor tells you that you're good. And a lot of people who have, who believe in what the doctor is saying, will believe that when we know that postpartum lasts forever, you are forever post partum. And not postpartum meaning depression or a symptom we're saying like you're after you're forever after having a baby or having an experience. And yeah, just making sure that we stay in community with one another and really choose joy, like J O Y, really choose joy over anything. 

Pepper: Okay, Kirsten. 

Kirsten: Yeah. So I will just leave with two things, Micki, I love, I say all the time, meet people where they are, because you can't do anything beyond where they are showing you what they are able to do in that moment. And I love that phrase.  And just believe people, believe survivors of all trauma and violence, because they are the only ones that know their story. And they are the ones that can show you and tell you what they need and how to better their environment. So I think even as we go into these legislative sessions. Understanding that none of us in this room have all the answers, but we need to believe the people that we are supposedly serving believing them in their needs and what they want to accomplish for themselves and in their communities so that we can go out and be better advocates for them. So just believe in people, believe in survivors. Nobody wants to have experienced the bad things that they've had to experience. So we need to give grace where grace is due and show up for people that can't quite show up for themselves. 

Pepper: Nice. Tia? Somebody else who is struggling to get off mute. How you put yourself back on mute? 

Tia: There we go. I said I choose peace, but please do not walk up on me wrong. In the words of the great Erykah Badu I believe that everybody should take up space where space needs to be taken. Your gifts to the world can save a life and motivate people. So just always be in a space of gratefulness and know your power and take a space.

Pepper: Gorgeous. So before we shift into community announcements and we're going to lead off with Jamie Casey, anything you want to add?  Love, peace and grace. All right. What is going on in South Louisiana tonight, this weekend, y'all, Jamie? 

Jamie McClung: Yeah, thanks. Thank y'all for taking time to share all your wisdom today. I just really appreciate it. I'm like, man, now I have to talk after this. But I work for Propel. I know some of y'all, I try to pop in here when I can. We do tuition free classes. Medical assistant training and sterile processing tech training and certification for 18 to 26 year olds in Baton Rouge. And we've been slowly growing. I'm the only sourcing person in Baton Rouge. So if you haven't heard about it, it's because it's me and only me on the ground. But that's why I'm here today to share with y'all. We kicked off a March cohort with 30 students. And so I'm a bit behind on recruiting for fall. And so here to say if you work with 18 to 26 year olds if you want a flyer, you want to just connect and talk more. I don't want to spam you. But here is my email. And you can reach out and tell me exactly how you want to connect. And I can send you just a flyer. Like you can say, Jamie, send me a flyer. I can just reply and send you a flyer. That's all I need to know. Or we can hop on a zoom, we can meet up, whatever. So that's the big thing is 18 to 26 year old high school diploma. Those are the requirements. I help them through the whole admissions process as well, so they have a person there the entire time. And they get coaching through the whole program too, with our really amazing coach who is from Monroe. And mainly meets with them via Zoom, but does meet with in person as well. That's the biggest thing. And then my only other plug is. We have a job opening. So it is for a sourcing and partnerships person, which is half of my job. I'm transitioning out to go to law school in the fall. So I'm really invested. Yes. Yes. Similarly, I think to someone that spoke earlier. I'm ready to do the higher up things. Victoria. I think it was you maybe and I want to work. Yeah. to fight the government to do things for us more. So we're looking for someone to come on, I think at the beginning of May, and that's the link that I just put in the chat straight to the post. And we'll overlap two ish months, so  I'll be able to work with them and make sure they get onboarded. So if you know someone, Please share. Would love that, especially coming from this group. And knowing that they'll be invested in the community. So if you know someone and highly recommend them reach out or send it to them. So thank you. Pepper

Pepper: Fantastic. Cannot wait for you to get your superpower because that is indeed what a bar card is.  We've got a couple of things that I'll mention in a minute. Marcella. 

Marcela Hernandez: Good morning. Good morning, everyone. And thank you so much for choosing social workers today. I felt very much represented. So thank you. It's actually social work month. Just FYI.  Yes, you picked the right people today. Thank you. So today I just want to invite you today at 6pm. We have a very exciting event. We are launching our Red Stick Unification Cup today is the kickoff this tournament is a soccer tournament, and it's set to bring all of our communities together through the universal language of sports and today we are, the match is between United States and Vietnam. And like I mentioned before, it's today at 6 p.m. at the Break Olympia Stadium. So we just want to invite you to come, bring your family, your friends, we're going to have food, we're going to have entertainment. And this is really going to be a time where all of us can just get together, bring your jerseys from the different soccer teams that you have. And just come and have fun and see how diverse this city is.  So today, 6 p. m., Break Olympia Stadium U.S., Vietnam. We'll wait for you. Thank you. 

Pepper: Nice. Reverend Anderson.  

Reverend Anderson: Good morning. I'm  not having the vapors pepper, but I do have a couple of announcements. The first one is many of you may not have realized that tomorrow is an election day and elections matter. And so in addition to all the people who  stand as Democrats and Republicans, having a lot of things they're supposed to vote for and that's a closed election.  Baker has a major election. And it is their mayor, their police chief, their city councils. So I can't stress enough. We have to make sure people recognize that there's an election, but there's also something really important that happened this week. And I wanted to make sure everybody knew about it. March 18th was Gideon's day. So for people who don't know what that means, it's the 61st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Gideon V. Wainwright, which essentially is where we get what we consider the modern day public defense system. But in this same week, it is also the tragic implementation of Act 22, which means that our entire public defense system in Louisiana, with the stroke of a pen, is Got turned into a one man game. And so now literally there's one human being appointed by the governor who will impact the lives of over 145, 000  people who are represented in the state of Louisiana by public defenders, 37 public defender offices and over 850  attorneys. One individual who only is beholden to the governor of the state of Louisiana, this governor. And so in honor of Gideon's Day and Women's History Month, I wanted to share just a couple of things. So we have some legendary women in public defense. One of them is Elena Bloodworth. Who is the executive director of the National Association of Public Defenders, who also was the spearhead attorney for the Baton Rouge Police Department narcotics scam. Commissioner Kimball at the 19th JDC. Was the commissioner who actually handled the exoneration of Archie Williams, who is celebrating his fifth anniversary after serving over 22 years when he was innocent. And that happened this week, five years ago. And I had the privilege of being there. And then last but not least. The amazing attorney, Jessica Hawkins, who is a current public defender is one of the two attorneys that spearheaded  the brave cave investigations. So in this week where we sometimes don't remember the point of public defenders, Over 90 percent of all the people in our criminal justice system have to be represented by these amazingly under resourced and underpaid and under recognized folks. And so I just wanted to take a moment to say, first of all, shout out to those people who do this work. But a reminder that we have an 84 percent exoneration rate in Louisiana. Everything on the news does not turn out to be factual. And with that, please don't forget to vote. 

Pepper: What public defenders are for, you know what Reverend Anderson, I should have muted you long before you said that, but we're going to let it go. As an FYI public defenders only represent Folks who are citizens of the U.S. If you are an immigrant and you come to the country, that's how folks end up representing themselves with language barriers. Jamie when you are going through the process of becoming an attorney, please look for ways to volunteer and help out with folks who are vulnerable in ways that we would not ordinarily understand. Oh, Lord. I, you know what, I don't know what bat signal I put up for licensed medical social workers on this fine day, but  Marcella. 

Marcella: You should never forget about us, regardless of your profession, regardless of what you're fighting for. So now that go ahead. 

Dauda Sesay: Just want to just extend my invite to Jamie. If you're looking for organization and sister show where you wanted to volunteer, get some experience with the refugees and immigrant community. We're more than welcome you and to get that. And I just want to reinforce Marcella announcements earlier. We have the first BR unification cup happening. The kickoff is happening to the team USA versus Vietnams. And come see how we are bringing communities together using. the beautiful sport of soccer. It is one tournament that doesn't have any boundaries. Let it come together at the Olympia Stadium 6:30. And the cool part is we're gonna be doing the parade of flags. Each country that represented 16 countries that are represented. Will be powering with their flags. And first, this is happening in the city of Baton Rouge. It's a World Cup style tournament. So the opening marches today and the mayor would kick, we do the kickoff of the first ball today's event, and we got other council members that will be joining us as well. The tournament is happening every week starting today. Saturday, we will be at the Independent Park on the 23rd, which is the first game is 12 and then another game at 2 p. m. So we're going to be having three games in a week. That is the coolest thing!  Yeah, so it's going to be a weekly, it's going to be weekly, which is Friday. Evening at the Bobang Stadium and then Saturdays at the Independent Park. So we're capturing both angles  of the city in the Gadiag  area and in the mid area as well. So thank you and pass it back on to you people. 

Pepper: Gorgeous. All right. You'll just run a real quick. Junior League is having their touch a truck event tomorrow from nine to three.Earth Day is going to be next month, April 20th, Baton Rouge Community Farm. Ploy EBR is hosting a regional job fair. Please don't forget the Red Stick Unification Cup. Today is World Water Day. Yeah.  

Manny: For the civil engineers.  

Pepper: Indeed I heard that like World Doula Week is starting today. Jolt Con is tomorrow. There is a question, can people visit or spectate? Jolt Con? We'll come back to that. Let's see. Maternal, Black Maternal Health Advocacy Day is April 17. Save the date. All the stars are blooming. Oh, that's sweet. Yes, indeed. I sent the bad signal. Licensed Master Social Workers, unite! Thank you all so much for sharing part of your Friday with me. We went a little long and I appreciate you being here as long as you have been so that we can make sure that all of the things that are going on are given voice. Yes, you can totally visit JoltCon. It's at t. Allen or is that Elaine?  

Helena Williams: T.T. Allain, College of Business.  

Pepper: T.T. Allaine, College of Business. Fantastic. From 9 to 2 on the morrow. Thanks to all of our speakers. Thanks for all of you for being here. I genuinely appreciate the voices that not only you lent to us on this fine Friday, but in general, that you are indeed women who advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion. And hopefully I'll see y'all outside until then. I'm right back here next Friday. Same bat time. Same bat channel. Much love. Y'all have a great weekend.  Thank you, everyone.




Community Announcements

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