I AM...

I am whatever YOU think I am until YOU get to KNOW me. This is true for everyone else too, of course.. so don't make assumptions about anyone or pass judgment; ask questions. You might just make a new friend.


Sunday, December 5, 2010


DOUGLASVILLE, GA -- The mother of a Douglasville teenager who was beaten to death said she purposely didn't watch the interviews with the teens that were charged with his murder. Monique Rivarde said there will be a time for her to hear from the suspects. In separate jail house interviews with 11 Alive News, three of the four suspects charged in the brutal beating death Bobby Tillman, professed their innocence. Two of them offered their condolences to Tillman's family. 

At her Douglasville home Wednesday night, Tillman's mother said she did not watch the interviews. "Because I feel they don't deserve any of my energy," Rivarde said. "I don't want to think about them. I don't think they deserve the time for me to think about them. Douglas County Sheriff Investigators arrested Emanuel Boykins, age 18, Quantez Mallory, age 18, Horace Coleman, age 19 and Tracen Frankliln, age 18 after witnesses told them they saw the four teenagers beating Tillman. 

Tillman died after one of his attackers stomped on his chest so hard that it cracked a bone that pierced his heart. "I don't know what they thought but it was obviously no regard for another human life and for them not to be even 21 and have that much anger, it's sad," Rivarde said. 

Rivarde says she has been overwhelmed by the love pouring in for her son. She says there will be a time for her to deal with the suspects. "It's just negativity and I don't want to focus on that," she said. "When the trial comes I'll see things and I'll hear things and I'll deal with it then, but right now I just want to concentrate on celebrating my son's life." 

On Tuesday night over a hundred teenagers gathered at Chapel Hill High School for a candlelight vigil. Tillman graduated from the high school last May after spending one year at the school. Before his senior year, Monique Rivarde moved her family to Atlanta from Los Angeles to keep her children away from violence. 

She said she wants to help kids before they get to jail. She said it's time for good kids to take a stand. "They're scared to stand up because they're scared it may happen to them," she said. "If one stands and they're uplifted for that and congratulated and rewarded, then it will help other kids to stand." 

Rivarde said there are more good kids than bad kids. But the good kids don't stand out. Her message: "Stick together, look at the bigger picture, forget about the little stuff because your life is so important," she said and then reflected. "You get one life and now my son's is gone." 


As we look to 2011, we have to ensure that our prevention approaches are the following: 

Strengths-based: This values individuals and communities as key social agents of change not only with dilemmas, uncertainties, and responsibilities but also with considerable brilliance, resilience and creativity. It allows space for community members to see themselves as the solution rather than the problem.

Participatory: The process of creating programs and policy efforts must include community input which can be imperfect, messy, and time-consuming. Yet it can also be deeply invigorating, inspiring, and necessary if service providers are to remain anchored in the realities of the communities they profess to serve. 

Sex Positive:This means being uncritical of desire, disease, or power while engaging in discussion about community sexual ethics. It is essential to focus on the sex people are having; how they feel about sex; how they seek to experience and learn about sex and bodies 
before, during and after sex. Sometimes sex happens in irreverent celebration, communion and joy, and other times it happens in the silence of self-reflection or in the poetry of anonymous park sex. Sex cannot be turned into a two-dimensional, unexciting activity because we are trying to reduce new infections. We must address desire not repress desire.

Self-Reflective: Sitting with unanswered questions is often uncomfortable, but the process can support our work. We agree. We disagree. Sometimes we argue stubbornly and defend our positions. Again and again, we challenge one another and our community partners with fundamental questions which can then lead to solutions. 

Staying anchored in a simplified approach to HIV prevention with messages about using condoms and getting tested is not enough. Flexibility and openness will be key in the continuing development of new efforts to reduce new infections



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