Penda Lynn James

By contributing writer Penda James

On December 6, 2011 a woman I had recently come to know took a cocktail of her own medication in an attempt to end her life. Our interaction had been sporadic but we spoke frequently; there was no indication to me that she was suicidal. Her decision greatly penetrated me; I was distraught about what I thought I could have done to prevent her from making this decision. Questions plagued my mind: Did I speak to her when I saw her last? Was I really listening when she was talking to me? Why didn’t she talk to me?

The experience made me realize how suicide and suicide attempts had touched many people in my life. I pondered on the fact that many in my circle could no longer verbalize their dreams and aspirations with passion. I felt the weight of their stories on my back and it was a heavy burden. I couldn’t visit her at the hospital even though she asked for me. My husband went in my stead and encouraged me to be supportive when she came home. That encouragement sent me on a mission to find strengths about my friend. I wanted to combat every negative with a positive, NO MORE EXCUSES. When I embarked on my mission, it reignited a passion for my business.

I started InSCRIBEd Inspiration, LLC., in 1999 to serve writers as a writing coach and an editor. Most people don’t realize that they need a coach until they get stuck trying to finish a project and need a push. Although I am passionate about the work I do, I had been giving my services away instead of promoting myself as an entrepreneur. I thought I was doing people a favor by helping them. Truthfully, my business was becoming more of a burden than a blessing. While walking with my friend through her healing process, I recognized that “the act of doing something that seems contrary to your own best interests” is one definition of suicide. Wow!

My list would be long if I had to outline ways I had been doing things that seem contrary to my own best interests. Ignoring my passion to help people pursue their dreams was transforming me into a zombie with no creativity or zeal. I had been prostituting my business to maintain friendships, giving away my services at the cost of not spending time with my family. It took my friend’s suicide attempt to help me digest the fact that my dreams were dying and my business was on life support.

In my quest to learn things about my friend, it came to light that she loves to read and edit. I created a challenge for us, “I am going to write a book in thirty days and you are going to edit it for me.” In March of 2012, I embarked on a journey to write a book that would confront excuses that hold people back from pursuing their dreams. Every day I wrote a chapter and emailed it to her. She responded with constructive criticism and pushed me to write on a deeper level. While focusing on my book, I noticed that my business was also growing; people were actually seeking me out to edit their books for them. What a change!

After thirty days we not only had a finished book, but we invited a group of friends to join us for a discussion. At that meeting I challenged the women to run after their dreams with intentional tenacity. I stood in the meaning of my business when I had breakfast with those women in May 2012. It became clear to me in that moment that InSCRIBEd Inspiration exists to not only support writers, but to find ways to help people achieve their highest goals. With my friend, her passion for editing and reading helped birth my book Girl, Pray for Me which has led to how I found meaning in my business.

In this season of my life, I am seeking to create my legacy. Like Maya Angelou, Hugo Chavez, Nelson Mandela, and Dr. Dorothy I. Height, I want people to be impacted by my work. Beyond catch-phrases and quotes, I want them to internalize and act upon the power of their own dreams. Through a near tragedy, I learned three things about the meaning for my business: 1.) the value of embracing a friend, 2.) the importance of fighting complacency and 3.) to never let the passion for my business die.

Bio | Penda James
Penda L. James has a Master of Education degree from Bowling Green State University. At Wilberforce University she nurtured her love to help writers as the Editor in Chief of the Mirror Newspaper. For almost 20 years she has worked with numerous types of writers including song writers, playwrights, students, pastors, novelists, poets and others who wanted to tell their story. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her dancing daughter and humble husband. Connect with her at

“Hands Off”

Last Saturday was simply amazing for No More Blows as an Organization. We held an event in honor of Teen Dating Violence Month!! We had 20 teen girls and 10 adults.

This was our first event for the teens. Before we left they were ready for the next one. While planning the event I ask God for resources and to make sure He would get the glory out of the event.

That happened we discussed three topics : Purity Matters, Love Does NOT Hurt and True Love Waits. Topics the teens were NOT shy about at all. Almost half them were sexually active.

The highlight of the night was the breakthrough of one of the adults. It was very heart felt and amazing. Yes it was a teen event BUT the message was for all!!!

Just a little bit about our weekend as an organization. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram to see ALL pictures of the event. No More Blows is how you can find us!!!

Oh one last thing we also released balloons in honor of ALL teenage victims of dating violence.

Please share with us what you did or will do in honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Love, peace and hugs,

Kia A. Richardson


Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.. Are You Aware?


Unhealthy relationship behaviors often start early and lead to a lifetime of abuse. That’s according to Choose Respect, a national initiative to help adolescents and young teens age 11-14 form healthy relationships to prevent dating abuse.
Every student, parent and teacher needs to be aware of the prevalence of teen dating violence in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in eleven adolescents is a victim of physical dating violence.

The following ten facts are from Choose Respect’s “Get the Facts: Dating Abuse Statistics” and “About Choose Respect: Dating Abuse Fact Sheet”:

Each year approximately one in four adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Approximately one in five adolescents reports being a victim of emotional abuse.
Approximately one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
Dating violence among their peers is reported by 54% of high school students.
One in three teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by his or her partner through violent actions which included hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, and/or choking.
Eighty percent of teens believe verbal abuse is a serious issue for their age group.
Nearly 80% of girls who have been victims of physical abuse in their dating relationships continue to date the abuser.
Nearly 20% of teen girls who have been in a relationship said that their boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm in the event of a break-up.
Nearly 70% of young women who have been raped knew their rapist; the perpetrator was or had been a boyfriend, friend, or casual acquaintance.
The majority of teen dating abuse occurs in the home of one of the partners


Why Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Matters To Me




Shynerra’s Law born of tragedy


ON A Sunday morning nearly five years ago, my sister called with dreadful news: Shynerra Grant had been shot and killed the night before. The boy who shot her then killed himself.

The news pierced my soul. I joined in mourning with her mother, Cheryl Rucker, other family members, and numerous friends who knew the 17-year-old Start High School graduate.

I did not know Shynerra. But I knew people who knew the delightful teenager and her mother, whom I met after the tragedy. Although Ms. Rucker was distraught about the murder of her only child, I was moved even then by the apparent calmness that seemed to possess her.

Why would I mourn someone I had never met? I knew about her family and how excited they were that Shynerra had just graduated from high school. They had just celebrated with a graduation party. They were looking forward to her attending Wilberforce University, where she had won an academic scholarship.

But that time was snatched away from Ms. Rucker and from Shynerra, who had desperately tried to escape the former boyfriend who had stalked her for months.

Journalists are constantly exposed to tragedy. We build a shield around ourselves so we don’t break down when we learn about one horrible event after another. Every now and then, though, adversity touches us in a way that reminds us that we are not as tough as we try to be to do our jobs. For me, this was one such incident.

As I learned more about the terror that this beautiful young woman and her family endured for months, I grappled with this question: Why do boys and men think it is OK to try to rule or control girls and women – whether present or former girlfriends, wives, or estranged wives?

Shynerra was not the only young woman who sought freedom from an abusive and obsessive boy.

In 2003, 18-year-old Christina Deal of Oregon was found dead in a vacant industrial park. Her murderer, then 21 years old, was sentenced in 2004 to life in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 2019.

Johanna Orozco of Cleveland, now 21, survived a 2007 attack by an obsessive former boyfriend, then 17 years old. He shot her in the face, causing disfiguring injuries. He was sentenced to 27 years.

Like many other teenage girls being stalked, Shynerra sought help from the authorities. Lucas County Juvenile Court issued an order that forbade the boy from coming into physical contact with Shynerra, either touching or trying to talk to her.

That was not enough. Shynerra needed a protection order. But at the time, there was no such provision for a minor, as there is for adults.

There is now. But it took the injuries and deaths of teenage girls to bring it about. It also took the unfailing persistence of Ms. Rucker; Christina Deal’s mother, Elizabeth Deal, and state Rep. Edna Brown of Toledo, who repeatedly introduced measures in the General Assembly to carry out her resolve that teenagers should get better protection when they accuse someone of a sex crime, stalking, or felonious or aggravated assault.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ted Strickland signed Shynerra’s Law. Now, juvenile courts throughout Ohio can issue and enforce orders that protect one minor from another in cases such as these.

That’s a relief and a victory for all concerned. I still don’t have an answer to why boys and men – and now and again, girls and women too – become abusive.

This much I do know: It has to stop.

Rose Russell is a Blade associate editor.

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