All posts by Terry Howard

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller. He is also a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Shenandoah Valley Hit, BlackMarket.com, The Echo World, the Appreciate You Magazine, The Valley Trail and co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, and recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award.

Domestic Violence: My Trouble Remembering Kim – by Terry Howard

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

On the way to I forget where recently, I was listening to the radio during which the news was, not surprisingly, about the coronavirus pandemic that’s sweeping the world. Businesses are closing, schools are closed, and people are strongly encouraged to stay home.

However, I was suddenly stunned when one report cited surges in reports of domestic violence when an increasing number of “stay home” directives are being issued. For me, there are few things more troubling than the thought of anyone suffering from domestic violence. More disturbing is the unsettling image of victims forced by edict to remain home with her abuser.

And on top of that, feelings of helplessness when grappling with what to do before – or what you could have done – when you find out later that the victim you knew was further abused …or worse… is unfathomable. 

Which takes me to petite little “Kim,” a credit union cashier of no more than 110 pounds soaking wet.

When we left church one Sunday afternoon, I saw Kim and her spouse who I’d not met heading to their car. But they drove off before I could say hello and introduce myself. The next day I went to that credit union to take care of some business.

“I saw you at church yesterday Kim and had hoped to introduce myself and my family to your spouse, but couldn’t catch up with you,” I said as I completed a deposit slip.

“Can I share something with you Terry?” she whispered while leaning closer to me to make sure no one was within earshot. “When we were halfway home my husband used the Bible you probably saw him carrying to hit me over the head because something upset him. He’s my second violent husband.  Because I only seem to attract abusive men, it’s all my fault.”

Recalling that conversation with Kim haunts me to this day, even after I assembled literature on domestic violence and slipped it to her in an envelope a few days later.

Was that enough? Did I further jeopardize her by sharing literature and he was to find out? Was there more I could have done? What can we do to help as outsiders to help people like “Kim”?

True, there are social services available, police (911), agencies and churches. But how can we help the victim who fears getting caught reading literature on the subject, let alone utilizing external resources?

And bring this into today’s realities, how can we help victims who are trapped at home because of a pandemic with no end in sight? Where once they could escape to a job outside the home, that’s no longer an option.

Well, if a home visit is not possible or safe, consider using technology. Check in on someone you know, or suspect, being abused by phone or text, particularly if they’ve evidenced signs of physical (and emotional) abuse. But here you should consult with local resources for other ways you could help since the abuser may monitor her phone calls and text messages.

You could also muster up enough courage to speak directly to someone you know, or suspect, may be a domestic abuser and point the person to resources for counseling and anger management. Here again, an expert can provide a composite profile of a typical abuser along with what and what not to do if you may be weighing speaking to him directly.

Will this help prevent domestic violence? I don’t know. However, this does present opportunities for education on domestic violence and sharing resources to those we know – or suspect – may be its victims. The National Domestic Violence Hotline – https://www.thehotline.org/ – available around the clock in 200 languages – is a good one to start with along with local resources.

For me, there’re few things more upsetting than regret for not doing something (e.g., intervening in alcohol/drug, tobacco abuse) you could have when you hear later about a tragic outcome you may have influenced differently.

So, what became of Kim? As much as I want to know, a part of me doesn’t want to know.

And that eats away at me to this day!

Relish the inconvenience – by Terry Howard

I’m not the only soul who’s discombobulated by the coronavirus pandemic. Heck, it’s got me twisting, turning and loading up on toilet paper without the foggiest reason why. But on the upside, it’s made me reflect on the inconveniences the virus has heaped on us and, strangely enough, how we should perhaps “relish the inconvenience.” Case in point is a trip to Germany years ago.

You see, it took me 25+ hours to go from Dallas to Germany, double the time it took me on previous flights. But, inconvenience aside, that trip turned out to be one of my best ones ever. That’s why I suggested then and suggest now that we make “relishing the inconvenience” a health and wellness priority, a core competency in a global economy.

Continue reading Relish the inconvenience – by Terry Howard

N-word 2020 – by Terry Howard

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

Years ago, I penned a piece, “The N-Word Still Stings,” a day after having the word – rather, the dagger – hurled at me from beer guzzling cowards on the back of a pickup truck while I was out walking in the neighborhood. Which brings us back into the N-word conundrum in February 2020. It continues to raise its ugly head – during African American History Month 2020, mind you. During “post racial America,” mind you. During America “made great again,” mind you.

You see, in a small city in the South, one still reeling from an acrimonious removal of the name of a Confederate general from the local school, a white kid called an African American classmate the “N-Word.” And the black kid’s mom went ballistic. When the local newspaper picked up on this controversy, it published it. Soon the small city deteriorated into a city-wide freak out along racial line.

Continue reading N-word 2020 – by Terry Howard

A perfect stranger – by Terry Howard

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

I drove through town on the way to, I forget where, when I observed scores of places of worship of varying sizes – megacomplexes to storefronts – doting the landscape. Along the way, I wondered what it was like inside each of the ones I never sat foot in; how their services are conducted, and would I be welcomed in them.

Now when I reached my destination – ah, now I remember, a newly-opened bookstore – and browsed the shelves, I came across an eye-catching book, “How to Become a Perfect Stranger- The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook.” So, just like that my “prayers” were answered.

Continue reading A perfect stranger – by Terry Howard

Consider the hourglass – by Terry Howard

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

Hey readers, this narrative is for you personally. Each of you.

But before reading further, picture an hourglass and imagine you seated in the top. If not you, envision someone else you know and care about sitting there. And although this may be a stretch, visualize your city of residence, perhaps one that’s splintering along racial lines. Now further picture the sand beneath you slowly slipping into the bottom.

Hold your image for now. hourglass

Continue reading Consider the hourglass – by Terry Howard

When anti-Semitism raises its ugly head – by Terry Howard

Terry Howard
Terry Howard

In one of the most memorable forewarnings in social history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!”

Hold that premonition in the front of your mind now and in the days, weeks and months ahead. If you remember nothing else about this narrative, I urge you to remember that line.

“Donna” is a writer. She’s also Jewish, does podcasts and publishes a newspaper column. She takes risks with the topics she takes on which has, on an occasion, drawn the ire of hate groups in the US and from abroad. Yet “Donna” just keeps on writing.

“Donna” is also a friend and, as one can certainly understand, finds the recent spate of violence against Jews more unnerving than maybe for those of us who aren’t Jewish. (For her safety, I’ve chosen not to publish her actual name or location.).

You see, I reached out to her recently after the horrific anti-Semitic attacks on Jews and Jewish establishments which culminated with stabbings of multiple people at a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home in New York. I wanted assurance, first and foremost, that she and her husband were safe. I also needed advice on what those of us who aren’t Jewish could do beside uttering the usual “thoughts and prayers” before moving on the other things.

“Thank you, Terry. My husband has my back as do many friends and colleagues like yourself. Yes, what is happening is horrifying. These are scary times to put it mildly.”

Vintage “Donna,” she then turned adamant.

“I have no intention of going underground like many Jews do nowadays, and folks who know me know that about me. If my dad was still alive, he’d be proud but would have a bloody fit. “

“Yeah, ‘thoughts & prayers’ don’t really fit what’s happening. I’d say try visiting your local synagogue and ask if you can attend a Sabbath service. Stay after for the “oneg” (fancy word for snacks) and get the flavor of the congregation. Bring some folks with you if they permit. And get to know the people. Maybe you could write an article on what this anti-Semitism craziness looks like from an African-American perspective.”

Now like so many, we’re often left with what else can we do personally before moving on before the next assault grabs our attention. So in addition to the aforementioned advice from “Donna,” I reached out to several colleagues, including long-time friend, “Lisa,” an Asian-American. We shared our collective disgust with what’s been going on and exchanged ideas about what we in the non-Jewish community could do.

“Terry, I do believe strongly in prayer, so I would not discount the power of prayer. However, one addition may be to include more prayers out loud specifically on those facing religious persecution for their beliefs as I hear similar concerns from my Muslim friends and colleagues as well.”

“One thing we can do is to continue to support great venues that promotes shared values of kindness and how to be an upstander for human rights for all by remembering the past but also recognizing the work is still needed around the world today,” shared another colleague who asked to remain anonymous.

Said another, “A unified effort to focus on shared values of peace, harmony, love, respect, and creating a sense of belonging and inclusion for all would be my wish. If we can amplify the light of the world more to drown out the hate speech and those doing evil in the shadows, we can reach more people who are desperately in need of that hope.”

“Stemming the tide of hatred should start in the school where kids at an early age can learn the basics about tolerance, respect for differences, compassion and sharing,” shared author and playwright “Sheila,” who added that we all can speak up forcefully in the face of injustices.

Added “Lisa,” we can support organizations that promote religious understanding with donations or promoting them on social media and following and liking their posts too.” 

There’s no doubt that Jews have taken anti-Semitism very seriously. We who aren’t Jewish must do the same.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere! – oops, did I say that already?

A New Year’s Legacy Check for Men – by Terry Howard

Hey fellas, years from now with your legacy in mind, how do you think you’d respond to your granddaughter or niece who asks, “Grandpa, what did you do personally to make the world and workplace better for me and women in general?” Jot down your answer to this question along with a few New Year’s resolutions, ones that you can do, and put them aside for now. 

Go ahead, we’ll wait.

Let’s look at the challenges that lie ahead when it comes to fostering a more gender inclusive world. But in somewhat a departure from the norm, I’ve decided to talk to those on the seldom mentioned other side of the word gender…men!

So guys, here’s a list of questions for a deeper analysis and reflection. If you are a white male, man of color (Asian, Latino, African American) or gay male, answer these from your worldview or personal experiences:

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SAFETY ALERT Part 2 – by Terry Howard

A personal action plan for the holidays!

Picture this: There’s a beautifully manicured house a few blocks from yours. The hedges are lit up with Christmas lights. A new BMW is parked in the driveway. Just outside the door, there’s a nice 11’/24’ picture of your neighbor’s son on a poster donning his black and yellow basketball uniform. All is well right? Well, yesterday you learned that the house, which was empty at the time, was burglarized. 

Question: Based on this actual description, what were the clues for potential burglars that the house was there for the taking? (The answer is at the end of this article).
Continue reading SAFETY ALERT Part 2 – by Terry Howard

SAFETY ALERT Part 1 – by Terry Howard

Sometime between a Sunday afternoon nap, raking leaves from my yard and watching NFL games in my “man cave” yesterday, I received the following message from my friend Troy from Houston, an emerging author. I read it several times and immediately determined that it must be shared broadly:

Yesterday my wife and I stopped at a local 7-Eleven to gas up her car. The card reader on the pump didn’t work, so I headed inside to pay for the gas. While I was inside, a white male in his mid-50’s drove up in front of the car and got my wife’s attention. She rolled her window down and this man told her that she had a dent in the back of her car. She opened the car door and was about to get out as I walked up. She told me what the guy had said about the dent. I looked at the car and said, “What dent?” He got out of his truck, came and looked at the back and said, “My eyes must have been playing tricks on me.” Got back in his truck and drove off.

Continue reading SAFETY ALERT Part 1 – by Terry Howard

Our Gift of Harriet – by Terry Howard

His name is Stan Maclin. He lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia, having moved there 20 years ago. He is the founder and curator of the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center in that city.

It should come as no surprise then that Maclin’s Center has garnered national attention and many phone calls ignited by the recently released movie “Harriett,” the story of Harriett Tubman who single handedly made many forays deep into the south to free slaves.

When asked why he started the Center, in words that undoubtedly flowed from his mouth hundreds of times over the years, Maclin said that he wanted to open a place where African Americans can learn about their history, identity, and culture. He wanted to be able the educate future generations so that history does not repeat itself.

Continue reading Our Gift of Harriet – by Terry Howard