Posts by MarkHardie:

    Black Dolls Matter: Play therapy reduces anger and violence

    September 8th, 2015

    By Mark Charles Hardie.


    “Crazy Tyrone”–not his real name–was an infamous gang leader who was feared on the tough streets of Los Angeles. By the time Tyrone was twelve years old, he already had a vicious and bloody history along with a lengthy arrest record. When he reached adulthood, he was known as an “O.G.” or “original gangster” which is a respected label in the American ghetto. Tyrone was the type of guy that soccer moms in the suburbs are conditioned to avoid and fear.

    Then one day his life changed forever.

    It happened when “Crazy Tyrone” was hit by a Cadillac Escalade on Crenshaw Boulevard while he was tagging graffiti on a building. The impact of the accident thrust him into unconsciousness. Tyrone remained in a coma for nearly two months. When the gangster awoke from his coma, he was a changed man. His entire memory of being a gangster was completely erased.

    This former criminal took on the innocence of a small child. He no longer engaged in crime or thug life. Instead, Tyrone began to spend his days and evenings playing with Barbie dolls, hand puppets, Lego building sets, and other toys. The unfortunate car accident returned this one-time gang banger to the innocence of a baby. What can we as a society learn from Tyrone’s remarkable transformation from sociopath to childlike tenderness?

    When I viewed Tyrone playing with his Barbie dolls, I was inspired with a new and creative idea to help transform the hearts of hardened thugs and hooligans. I began to ask myself if childlike games and play therapy can help to heal our society from entrenched criminality. Today, the crime statistics are staggering and somewhat dramatic.

    According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2013, an estimated 1,163,146 violent crimes occurred nationwide. Aggravated assaults accounted for 62.3 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement in 2013. Robbery offenses accounted for 29.7 percent of violent crime offenses; rape (legacy definition) accounted for 6.9 percent; and murder accounted for 1.2 percent. Although the FBI states that crime is on the decline, these statistics indicate that violent crime is still a major problem in the United States.

    As Americans, we must ask ourselves the following poignant questions. What if arresting and incarcerating people is not the most effective way to reduce crime? What if play therapy and doll therapy are helpful approaches to reducing anger, lowering criminal intent, and healing the hearts of so-called gangsters and thugs?

    In 1985, Dr Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D. started a company called Childswork/Childsplay to publish therapeutic board games, card games, puzzles, and therapy boards. These tools, along with dolls and doll houses, are used by many psychotherapists to help resolve both intrapersonal and interpersonal issues affecting their clients.

    As a person raised in the harsh inner city, I know firsthand the terror, pain, desperation, and extreme poverty faced by millions of struggling people. I also know that arresting and incarcerating a person does not heal the heart and soul of the person. In fact, quite often prison inmates learn to become better criminals while they are locked away in prison. In the American prison population, a prisoner often <em>advances</em> from inmate to goon to convict to general. Too much of the focus of the prison system is placed on harsh punishment rather than rehabilitation and creating moral citizens.

    Perhaps play therapy is one of the solutions to the crime issue. According to the Association of Play Therapy, there is a profound value in play and play therapy when practiced effectively with proper training, research, and support.

    Instead of simply putting more Americans behind bars, perhaps we can use proven methods such as play therapy to heal the minds of criminal offenders. Guided by therapists trained in both psychology and criminology, potential marauders and inmates can act out their anger and frustration issues using toys rather than by committing crimes. It’s certainly more productive to work out one’s issues in play therapy rather than becoming a hoodlum and exploding in violence.

    Perhaps innovative approaches are needed to increase public safety and social peace. Imagine an American society in which we focus on healing the criminal element rather than merely punishing them. Imagine if prison wardens were to provide play therapy to each inmate in both state and federal prisons. Imagine rehabilitating gang members rather than relegating them to the dark shadows of the rejected underclass.

    The new Universal Pictures film “Straight Outta Compton” about the 1980s era gangster rap group <em>NWA</em> has spawned a new debate about violent music lyrics and crime in urban America. After viewing the film, I increased my efforts to provide psychotherapy to street hustlers. Even gangster rap music could focus more on creating honest, hardworking, and civic minded citizens rather than depicting wanton violence, misogyny, and hate-filled retaliation. Roughly translated, <em>NWA</em> means hoodlum with attitude. Instead of promoting gangsters with attitudes, we can focus on creating decent citizens with compassionate hearts.

    In his “I have a dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King said, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Although many people fear crime, one must not lose hope and give in to despair. Instead we can use play therapy in order to change the minds and hearts of those people who live on the margins of society. In this way, we can reduce crime by creating compassion, responsibility, and good citizenship.

    *The late “Crazy Tyrone” passed away many years ago. His name has been changed to protect his identity.

    Crime statistics from FBI website:

    Information regarding Dr. Lawrence Shapiro and play therapy:

    Comments Off on Black Dolls Matter: Play therapy reduces anger and violence

    Overcoming Self-Hatred: An African American Disavows White Privilege

    July 29th, 2015


    By Mark Charles Hardie.


    Special Assistant to Governor Pete Wilson of California

    Khalid Hussein*, a well-known and mysterious conspiracy theorist in Long Beach, California befriended me when I was 11 years old. He was an intense man committed to racial separation. He believed that the primarily white neighborhoods of the city such as Belmont Shore and Naples Island should be separated from the primarily minority areas of the city such as East Long Beach and North Long Beach. At the time of my childhood, the public schools in the city were largely segregated along racial lines.

    Khalid almost invariably wore black boots, all black leather clothing, and a Nazi swastika stitched to his left arm. He strongly identified with the ideas of white power. Many of the young people in our neighborhood admired and respected Hussein partially because of his fierce and charismatic oratory. He would often deliver racially-charged speeches in front of our high school.

    One Sunday evening, Khalid and I strolled down the street and entered an elementary school in one of the more affluent neighborhoods of the city. As I stood next to the tennis court, Khalid Hussein initiated me as a full member of the white power movement. I committed myself to white power, and I literally became a self-hating black American. I was transformed into a black youth who supported white dominance.

    There I stood a young, brown-skinned preteen born in Southern California, and I had become a supporter of white power. Yet somehow I sensed no confusion. Instead, I sensed power. As a child, I learned to associate whiteness with supremacy, dominance, and power. Ever since I viewed  the music videos “Sweet Child of Mine”, “Welcome to the Jungle,” and “Paradise City” by the rock group Guns and Roses, I felt a strong attraction to white power. I desperately wanted to reflect a white identity.

    At that moment I was led in a prayer in which I pledged my allegiance to Third Reich Bishop Ludwig Muller, and I promised to support then South African apartheid leader P. W. Botha. Both Muller and Botha were admitted bigots. I was told to denounce Nelson Mandela which I did. Yet I felt that I needed to accept white power in order to survive and thrive in white America. I believed that I-as an African American-would only be able to survive if I promoted white dominance. From my perspective, accepting white power seemed like my only choice. I was a convict in a prison of total oppression. Deep within my soul, I had a choice between promoting whiteness or accepting catastrophic failure as a man with an enslaved soul. I was chained to a false dichotomy.

    I was a member of the white power movement for most of my preteen and teenage years. My white power beliefs began to slowly change after I befriended a Jewish girl named Sarah*. She invited me to a Sabbath service at a synagogue. During the service, I was impressed by the Jewish prayers and songs.

    A few years later, while in my late teens, I traveled to New York City where I visited the Crown Heights neighborhood. After arrangements were made by a Jewish acquaintance I had a personal meeting with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of the Chabad Lubavitch  Hasidic Jewish group. I passionately told Rabbi Schneerson about my support of the white power movement. After listening to me, the influential rabbi replied, “Heb Rachmones” which was translated from Yiddish as “Have compassion.” The rabbi asked me to abandon my white power beliefs.

    After meeting with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, I decided to distance myself from the white power movement. I then informed my former mentor Khalid Hussein that I was no longer a member of the movement. Rather than promote hatred and white power, I decided to become a supporter of civil rights and social justice. In my high school,  I joined various ethnic student clubs in order to learn more about ethnic diversity.

    Today, more than 25 years after I left the white power movement, I am now a serious and committed advocate for empowering the poor and oppressed. As a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Organization for Women, and the World Jewish Congress, I stand firmly in support of the declaration written by Thomas Jefferson that all human beings are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights. I now believe that all races and ethnic groups should work together to make our would more peaceful, more harmonious, and more just.

    I now follow the examples of great leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Rosa Parks.  I will dedicate the rest of my life towards speaking out against racism, bigotry and hatred. In order to support fundamental fairness and colorblind compassion, I have created an organization called “A Trillion Points of Light”. Together, we shall overcome injustice and create caring communities.

    *Khalid Hussein’s name has been changed to protect his identity. *Sarah’s name has changed to protect her identity. The goal of this essay is not to promote and further instances of racism, hatred, or oppression. Rather, the objective of this essay is to help others overcome self-hatred and internalized oppression.

    Mark Charles Hardie is an attorney, journalist, and published author. He is a military veteran who has published five books including “Black & Bulletproof: An African American Warrior in the Israeli Army”. He earned a Doctor of Law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Riverside. Mr. Hardie was an international student at the University of Costa Rica and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law. He is the founder and chief executive officer of “A Trillion Points of LIght”, an organization that supports social justice and fundamental decency.

    Comments Off on Overcoming Self-Hatred: An African American Disavows White Privilege

    Iran’s Nuclear Deal, the Arab League, and Israel: The Alignment of a New Order in the Middle East

    July 28th, 2015


    By Mark Charles Hardie.



    According to the New York Times, opinion in the Arab world is divided over the recent nuclear deal between Western powers and Iran, with some Arab states believing the deal will empower Iran and increase Middle Eastern instability. According to an article by Ben Hubbard of the NY Times, Saudi Arabia and its regional allies see Iran as the driver of much of the region’s violence and oppose the nuclear deal which they view as flawed.

    Similarly, the state of Israel has expressed concern regarding Iran’s nuclear deal. Therefore, there seems to be an alignment of positions between Israel and many in the Arab world against Iran’s potential development of nuclear weapons technology. This new alignment provides a unique opportunity to restructure the relationship between Israel and the Arab League.

    Today, the Arab League continues to deny the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. In fact, last year Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo released a statement proclaiming that the Arab League refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state. However, in light of mutual opposition to Iran’s nuclear deal, the time has come for the Arab League to accept Israel as a Jewish homeland and form a new Middle Eastern order.

    A new path is necessary that will lead towards greater acceptance and recognition of Israel while protecting Palestinian human rights. Specifically, it is proposed that the Arab world offer Israel membership in the Arab League.

    There are seven reasons for the Arab League to admit Israel.

    First, by granting admission to Israel, this would help create an Arab-Israeli alliance against Iran’s nuclear deal and pave the way toward comprehensive and long-term peace and stability. As an Arab League member, Israel would be able to freely engage in direct strategy sessions with Arab states. The Arab League would be transformed into a forum for regional strategy and cooperation.

    Second, Israel, as a member of the Arab League, would boost the economies of Arab countries and move  towards an Arab-Israeli trade agreement. Products made in Saudi Arabia, for example, could be marketed in Tel Aviv and vice versa. Furthermore, the Middle East would evolve into a stable economic zone and attract more foreign investment. By joining the Arab League, Israel and the Arab world would effectively end the self-destructive boycott of Israel. Business and investment would be separated from political conflict.

    Third, approximately twenty percent of Israel’s population is made up of Arab citizens. Accepting Israel into the Arab League would grant acceptance to Israel’s Arab population as well. Logically, the Israeli Arab is a fundamental member of the Arab world. It therefore follows that this population should have a voice in the Arab League. By granting membership to Israel as a whole, both Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs would have a forum to discuss military, political, social, and economic matters.

    Fourth, Israel, as a member of the Arab League, would likely increase military and security cooperation throughout the Middle East, stabilizing the balance of power in the region and building mutual trust.

    In fact, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, one of Israel’s largest weapons developers would be able to market products to the Arab world such as ‘Iron Dome: Defense Against Short Range Artillery Rockets’. This technology would offer strategic protection against a potentially aggressive Iran which has a well-develop missile capability.

    Fifth, the Arab League and Israel would jointly develop a agenda in the war against terrorism. Terrorism has negative ramifications for both Israel and the Arab League, and a majority of people in the Middle East seek a safe and stable region in which security is preserved. A joint Arab-Israeli war on terror would help to crush terrorism and vanquish purveyors of political violence.

    Sixth, the Arab League would benefit from Israel’s expertise in the high-tech industry. From computer software to Internet security protection, Israel is known as one of the world’s high-tech leaders and the Silicon Valley of the Middle East. As a member of the Arab League, Israel would be able to market its advanced technology to Arab states.

    Finally, Israel and the Arab League together would be able to develop a joint tourism policy. Currently, the situation of conflicts in parts of the Middle East prevents some tourists from visiting the region. By accepting Israel as a member of the Arab League, the Arab world would send a message to potential tourists around the world that the Middle East welcomes tourism and leisure investment.

    The acceptance of Israel into the Arab League would lead to a reinterpretation of both Israeli nationalism and pan-Arab nationalism. The very concept of Israeli nationalism, for example, need not be viewed negatively by the Arab League. Instead, perhaps the Arab League can view Israeli nationalism as a successful blueprint for its own self-determination, military success, and economic development.

    Since Western powers have proposed a nuclear deal with Iran, the Arab League and Israel need a strategic realignment to bring about a new order in the Middle East. The situation in the Middle East is like a high stakes chess match and Israel and the Arab League must not allow Iran to achieve check mate. The time has come for a new strategy and a new alignment of power and peace in the Middle East.

    Comments Off on Iran’s Nuclear Deal, the Arab League, and Israel: The Alignment of a New Order in the Middle East