Heshima Project aims to end woman on woman violence
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 11:10
Just one year ago on September 18 Dominique Frazier, an 18-year-old, Bowie State University freshman, was stabbed and killed with a pair of scissors by her roommate.
“This kind of senseless violence is difficult to understand,” wrote Bowie State officials in a university-wide statement. “The entire university community is distressed that this type of violence has occurred in their midst.”
The two girls, according to police reports, had argued after the accused shut off music playing on Frazier’s iPod.
This tragedy -- a result of woman on woman violence -- shocked the small Maryland historically black university, which at the time was celebrating its homecoming.
“We don’t want to be one of those schools,” said Chimi Boyd-Keyes, director of N.C Central University’s Woman Center. “I knew something needed to be done when I began to not just see cases with females physically fighting but actually using weapons.”
Woman on woman violence has become one of the top infractions at N.C. Central University, according to Gary Brown, director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
Boyd-Keyes and Brown are determined to address the problem with the Heshima Project. Students held responsible for violent acts may dismissal from the University.
“From this program I hope to see female students become enlightened and to make better decisions when faced with conflict,” said Brown.
Heshima, the Swahili word for “peace,” is designed to address woman-woman disputes with conflict resolution tips and other strategies.
Planning for Heshima began last fall and the project is scheduled to be up and running by October 15. All women found responsible of assault and battery or endangerment will be required to complete the a five-step program.
According to Jonathan Livingston, an NCCU psychology professor, there is not much research explaining woman on woman violence in the African-American community.
“Any time you have a group of people with significant needs and lacking resources -- it opens doors for chaos,” said Livingston. “I think this is what the issue boils down to.”
The issue is even central to popular culture which legitimizes African-American women’s rage and loss of control in programs such as “Love-n-Hip Hop,” and “Basketball Wives.”
When Evelyn Lozada, star of “Basketball Wives,” explained her violent behavior to Iyanla Vanzant on “Iyanla Fix My Life,” she put it this way: “That’s how every woman in my family dealt with conflict. That’s how my life was. My life -- it’s always been chaos."
It’s a cycle of violence that the Heshima Project is designed to break.