Queensborough CC Taking a Stance Against Violence

Yesterday I got to visit one of the largest community colleges I’ve ever been to– right in my own backyard. Queensborough Community College is doing it big, with a vibrant, diverse, active and engaging community!

We had a solid turn-out for our Girls Fight Back! program, and incredible support from the men on campus. I think for the first time in my 5 years of speaking I had more men than women line up to chat with me after the program. They weren’t just passively showing support, they were engaged and wanting to be a part of the solution. Hoo-rah!

Perhaps one of the reasons the gents were so present was for the reason that didn’t actually hit me until mid-seminar. We talk in our program how a lot of students on campus don’t think much about violence. You’ve heard it before: “Violence is something that will never happen to me. Our neighborhood is safe. Things like that don’t happen here.” This is often the mindset in small communities or rural areas, like my hometown. But here in NYC, I assure, violence is something that everyone is aware of all the time. Sadly, you are always on alert, even in broad day light in a “safe” neighborhood. The students I spoke to yesterday are unfortunately not strangers to violence in their neighborhood. But the great news is they are taking proactive steps to make their campus safer and learning to be their own best protectors in any situation. They want to make their neighborhoods safer today and safer for the future generations. Can I get a hell yes?!

Thank you Queensborough Community College and the Student Government for having me to your beautiful campus and for refusing to turn a blind eye to violence. I had a great time throwing down with you all and look forward to doing it again soon!

Until next time…
Light and Love,
GFB Bree

Stephen F. Austin FIGHTS BACK!

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Stephen F. Austin State University is such a cool crew, with contagious energy and that serious FIGHT BACK! spirit. I got to see this not only during our seminar, but in on-campus events surrounding my presentation.

As we point out in our program, no matter how safe a school, neighborhood or city might be, violence is unfortunately something that touches all of us. SFA saw this first hand, with an attack on campus several days before our seminar and one literally the same night I was speaking on their campus. The students told me all about it, and how in both cases they believed the attacker was not a student. Scary stuff. But the INCREDIBLE news is that in both instances, the women fought off the attacker and were able to get away.

Hell. Yeah.

See what I mean about that fight back spirit? The truth is this can happen on any campus, and I’d like to give Stephen F. Austin a standing ovation for taking the initiative to make their campus a safer place by educating students with programs like Students Fight Back! Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your brave community and most importantly, for fighting back.

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And a special shout out to Student Activities Association, one of the hardest working campus organizations I’ve seen! They did such a stellar job planning the event, getting badasses in seats and getting the community hyped up about making the campus safer. You all are making a difference, truly. Can’t wait to come visit you all again reeeeeeeeal soon!

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Violence Today

I’m sure anyone who would turn on CNN and learn of a mass shooting in their hometown would lose their breath, as I did, when I learned what happened in Pittsburgh Tuesday night. I fell asleep watching the news, not having any specific details of the incident. I saw the phrase “random act of violence” flash on my screen as I turned off the lights…but I knew better.

I know that violence is almost never random.  I know that there are almost always warning signs. I know that people who commit mass shootings have likely planned it for a long time and often have told someone along the way.  I know that there will be at least one person in the aftermath saying “I knew this was going to happen”.  

The media had already proved most of the above to be true before I got to work the next morning. The gunman had published an online journal for nearly 10 months, detailing his troubles with women and his loneliness.  It outlined the women who had avoided him and some that he felt had taunted him. He also discussed the lack of a support system in family and friends. It’s hard to read, but important in learning. Even a lonely gunman can recognize that, as he mentions his “practice papers” and notes, giving permission to publish them as “some people like to study that stuff”.  

It’s actually in this continuous cycle of learning that I find I am most frustrated. With every shooting in a gym or a school or an office- we promise to learn more. With every attack or sexual assault on a college campus or in the community- we promise to learn more. With every new story of a husband who killed his wife after years of abuse- we promise to learn more.  We promise to learn more and are grateful for the solemn warnings. Personally, I don’t think I can bear anymore of these “warnings”.

At some point we need to stop learning and apply what we now know. We know that violence is a huge problem that is getting worse every day.  We’ve been warned. We need to attack it with such force that there should barely be time to sleep! We need to stop saying “I knew it” and start saying “I know it”.

Perhaps this is my sad rant at continuing to see Facebook updates of friends who were affected by the Bridgeville shooting. I can’t help that I’m frustrated hearing again and again, “I can’t believe this happened here, to us”. To be clear, I am speaking in general terms. I’m not proposing to know everything about this particular case, the people involved, or what anyone should or should not have done.  Instead, I’m proposing education. If for no other reason than to take the shock of violence out of the minds of people who will find themselves completely unprepared should they be faced with it.

For every act of violence there are people that have a plan. They want to talk to you about the warning signs of mental illness and depression, they want to teach your children how to survive a school shooting, educate you on sexual assaults, promote awareness of hate crimes or teach you how to fight back.  

I’m so proud to be a part of Fight Back Productions, spreading the message and the knowledge of being your own best protector. I’m hopeful that people will continue to be open to learning more from FBP and other organizations who are fighting everyday to make things better.