The Culture of Male Incivility: A Global Pandemic

It is now an undeniable fact, COVID-19 has peeled off layers of social inequities and revealed some of our deepest vulnerabilities. Systemic and systematic racism now widely acknowledged, have further unveiled tentacles of hate and oppression. Our venerated institutions of government, law, justice, education, health care, religious denominations, corporations, and so many others, have all been tainted by racism. In the past five months revelations from these same structures that were created to protect, defend, and socialize, have shown that they too are complicit. Why did it take some of us this long to see truths that were staring right at us for centuries? Miseducation and denial created a cocktail of intoxication mixed with our own consumeristic drives and our thirst for entertainment, numbing us deeper into our own oppression.

The health pandemic has also forced us to look at the racial pandemic from all angles, including within. For, yes, we have all internalized oppression. We have internalized the supremacist maxim, that Anti-racist Educator Jane Elliot calls, “whiteness is rightness.” Forcing ourselves to live our lives perennially trying to achieve “white standards” that were created to denigrate and destroy our uniqueness. We have had to acknowledge that the roots of racism are so embedded in our souls that we, both people of color and people of European descent, have believed lies that normalized the drinking of our own poison.

At the same time, while numbers of victims of domestic violence have risen to unprecedented heights prompting the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to call a “ceasefire” on its “horrifying global surge”. Yet, we continue to conveniently ignore the culture of male violence and incivility that is dominating our world today. From the highest offices of the land to the streets of our cities, male violence and incivility towards women has become pervasive. Another pandemic that we sometimes seem unable or unwilling to eradicate. But, large part of our unwillingness is a result of our own complicit dance with internalized patriarchy. Internalized patriarchy would have us entertain notions that try to justify that women are indeed inferior to men.

The patriarchy has been part of our indoctrination and male supremacy has been normalized. As a result, we still have laws that do not protect women, cultures that still uphold women as sub-servient, and religious denominations with (mis)interpreted and applied theologies that see women as deserving of male domination.

Two very recent public incidents illustrate this normalization.

In popular culture, a male artist* reveals that he had an affair with a married celebrity, Jada Pinkett- Smith. Besides the scandal that it generated, we see a wife willing to publicly speak her truth before her husband, actor Will Smith. Putting herself on her own Red Table, a popular symbol of truth-telling and confession; her husband acknowledges her truth and forgives her. However, the backlash from younger women on social media towards Jada, is revelatory of women’s internalized self-hatred. They took to their platforms to call another woman, like themselves, every derogatory terminology available. Days later the male artist debuted a song with lyrics that revealed explicit details of their sexual encounters during the affair. Yet, very few if any females rose in condemnation of his uncivil behavior.

Not long after this incident in the halls of the U.S House of Representatives, Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) took to the floor to pronounce one of the most eloquent and stirring speeches on male incivility of this generation. She recounted that she had been accosted by a male colleague*, from the opposing party. He pointed his finger in her face and in front of reporters, called her debasing and derogatory terms. Ocasio-Cortez’ speech presented several reckoning points:

• Male incivility is not new.
• Male incivility is acceptable.
• Male incivility is part of the culture of male supremacy.
• Male incivility is accepting dehumanizing language and violence against women.
• Male incivility is systemic.
• Male incivility is supported by the same institutions and structures that were created to protect and defend its female citizenry.

Male incivility is indeed our third global pandemic. Like racism it has been around for centuries. Every nation, and every culture has been impacted by it. It occurs in the privacy of marriages, when it comes from men who swore to love and protect women until death. It also occurs publicly, in communities, before the eyes of our children. It fills our airwaves, with music with misogynistic lyrics that equate the debasing of a woman with love for her. It is pronounced in churches that use the Bible to promote women’s subjection to abusive men.

Male incivility destroys. It crushes women’s spirits. It steals their joy. It slowly dims the glow in a woman’s eyes. Male incivility uses violent words, language, and actions to perpetrate and dehumanize women. Whether it be a woman’s reputation or her politics, the purpose of male incivility remains the same, to “put a woman in her place”. This putting in one’s place is truly the ultimate sabotaging of a woman’s soul. Like racism, it seeks to silence her, debase her, question her agency, and invalidate her humanity. As women, we need to break every cycle of internalization that would seek to violate the essence of our humanity. We need to hold each other accountable and we need to hold men accountable to this quest. The culture of male supremacy, at all levels and in every institution,  needs to be questioned, rejected, and broken. The time is now.

*Names of both the male celebrity and representative mentioned in this blog as perpetrators of male incivility will remain unmentioned. We refuse to honor their names in this space.

For more on this topic watch: The Pink Room  (Live on August 2nd at 7:30 PM)



We have all received them, either thru an email, WhatsApp message, Messenger, Twitter, or any other way, fake new messages are an everyday thing. And all of us have once clicked “forward” as soon as we finish reading it, with the best of intentions, whether it’s protecting the health of our friends and loved ones by sharing the latest warning, trying to help other people through prayer, and so on.

Hoaxes or fake news take all kinds of shapes: from infallible medical advice (which are actually inventions without any scientific basis) to false or very old news (such as the chain that asks to pray for Christians who are going to be executed tomorrow in a certain country, and it turns out that is a 5 years old message).

These falsehoods are sometimes innocuous beyond making us waste a little time, but sometimes they can be really dangerous. In my country, for instance, as soon as the health emergency of COVID-19 began, the news went viral that the coronavirus would die at 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 F). I could not believe my eyes or the lack of judgment of people who did not stop for a second to think that the human body stays around 37 degrees Celsius (100F), if this news were true, there would be no pandemic, the virus would die as soon as it enters our bodies. However, a few days after this information was viral in WhatsApp, a local television reporter interviewed a man on a boardwalk by the beach, full of people pleasantly walking in the sun, and the reason given by this man was that it was totally safe, because the heat of the sun would kill the virus.

So how can we avoid becoming part of the problem? It is quite simple. Upon receiving any such message, let’s take a couple of minutes to analyze it. What is its origin?  Does it quote any reliable source? If it has the author’s name, we can google it. Better yet, let’s take keywords from the message and google it, if it has been around for a few days, chances are that we will find information that it is false, since there are specialized websites that expose this kind of fake viral news. A concrete example, a few days ago I received a message that eating foods with high alkaline content protected the body against covid-19.  I wrote in Google search the words: food, alkaline, coronavirus. Immediately I got result after result, all articles explaining in a scientific way, that eating alkaline food will not have that effect. It is important to select just a few keywords from the text you received, to get good results in Google search.

If we don’t find anything about it, before forwarding, stop and think: if what I am about to forward is not true, is there any danger if the person who receives it acts accordingly? Can what I am about to share cause fear, anxiety or unnecessary worry? (especially when the person who receives it, can do nothing about it, as in the case of conspiracy theories). And finally, is it really necessary for me to resend this, since I couldn’t check whether it’s true or not?

To finish this post, a bonus:  the World Health Organization has published a list of false news about covid-19.


En casaNorka

Survival is Your Main Priority Right Now

Living in Queens, New York, one of the epicenters of the pandemic in the USA, illness, death and sorrow of strangers, acquaintances and loved ones are daily headlines. As part of the 4 Real Women International Sisterhood, I also get a view into the how the tentacles of this pandemic have inflicted havoc on the world. This Corona Virus does not seem to discriminate; people of all colors, ages, genders, nationalities, religions and ethnicities have died. It has also manifested that the human family is undeniably inter-connected.

However, the virus has come to reveal some deep social vulnerabilities that have divided us long before its arrival.  In greater numbers men, and specifically blacks, people of color and immigrants have been victims. For men, the long held socialized tendencies of not accessing medical help with regularity could be great part of the cause. For the second group, long held social inequalities are part of the issue. While a lot of mention is made of comorbidities prevalent in both groups, (hypertension, diabetes, etc.) very little reference is made to other conditions that are perhaps greater offending factors.

  • Living in crowded geographical settings with reduced green space,
  • unaffordable housing,
  • houses, apartments and basements with low square-footage and high numbers of occupants,
  • air pollution,
  • limited access to affordable healthy food options,
  • lack of medical provisions through a system that barters health, not as a human right but as a commodity.

These are serious factors that are leaving us victimized by and unprotected from the virus. Added to that, information about the virus seems to change weekly. The virus is novel in its manifestation. As Dr Tricia Penniecook reminded us during the C.A.R.E Connection Series, there is a lot about how this virus behaves that scientists are still finding out; our best bet is to maintain protective measures.

To the previous factors, let’s add the fact that women are in large numbers on the front line of this pandemic.We are the care givers and essential workers at home and in society. Statistics reveal that 80% of health care workers in the US are women. For women the pandemic hits even harder.  While we are caring and working, we are also grieving the loss of our fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, cousins and husbands. And, for women of color and immigrants, we are also sheltering in communities that are deeply impacted by COVID-19.  For women, this pandemic is all encompassing, it touches almost every aspect of our lives.

In the midst of this daunting panorama, like me, you have seen the mindless behavior of friends who throw social distancing to the wind and insist on sharing unmasked pics and selfies in close proximity. You’ve also seen the lines of women waiting to get their nails done, or large numbers of people at the beach, parks or on the streets, after their state leadership prematurely lifted social distancing guidelines. You’ve also seen the crowds, of mostly men, waiting to buy the new Air Jordans. And, like me you have perhaps wondered what would possess them to behave this way? But, I am sure that you have also heard your Christian friends boast that either they have, or can, overcome COVID-19 because their belief in God has inoculated them from the Corona Virus. False equivalencies that have resulted in the death of many Christians, including ministers.

Your phone and social media feed are probably crammed with alarming videos shared and posted by well-meaning folk. With “experts” who assert that Gates, Fauci and Zuckerberg are out to get us. That this is population control at its best. That this is an attempt to inject us all with vaccines that will cripple us mentally. That COVID-19 was bio-engineered; intended as a weapon of war.

If being caught between these doom-like realities and conspiracy theories, were not cause for heightened anxiety, we can now add the relaxing of social distancing guidelines way before scientifically recommended. A relaxing of guidelines centered in the fear of a failing economy. The hard facts are that the unemployment numbers are staggering and money in the streets could probably give the economy a jolt of life. Some politicians, pundits and well-respected TV celebrities have even been bold enough to state that we should be willing to sacrifice the elderly and even our school-aged children to save the economy. Unfortunately, none of them stated that they were wiling to put their grandparents, parents or children on the line of sacrifice. For the truth is, that they are not the ones dying in larger numbers, it is us. It is our men, our women, our children, our parents, and our grandparents.

These really are life and death decisions. Your decisions matter because standing in a line for vanity sake, going to a crowded beach, or taking a selfie or pic to look cute with your friends, are not innocuous actions. In fact, they are self-centered. At the same time using religion to undercut common sense and pitting science against the Bible is highly presumptuous. Because yes, it is your right to choose to get infected, but you could potentially also infect someone I care for. And, yes, I get it; we are all suffering from Quarantine Fatigue. This is a lot, but not enough to sacrifice your life. One day it will end; right now we are in survival mode. Survival, by whatever means necessary. Prioritize your survival and that of your family. Your survival means my survival.


4RWI welcomes new Education & Career Strategist Coach

4 Real Women International Inc welcomes Dr Tricia Penniecook as our Education and Career Strategist Coach. In this role she will create and provide personal and group career and academic coaching to 4RWI Volunteers who serve in the USA, Latin America and the Caribbean.

A native of Costa Rica, Dr Tricia Penniecook is a Public Health physician, who has practiced, administered and taught in that field in the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica. The Vice-Dean for Education and Faculty Affairs at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, Dr Pennicook’s personal, academic and professional accomplishments are numerous and noteworthy. She also serves in numerous local, university, national and international boards, taskforces and committees.

Her more than twenty-years of experience in leadership positions in practice and academia have allowed her opportunities to coach, mentor and sponsor women and men in their career and academic journeys.

In her personal mission statement Dr Penniecook espouses a global and inclusive framework that is congruent with the 4RWI philosophy of empowerment. She asserts that she became a physician to heal. Preventive medicine allows her the opportunity to preserve health and wholeness; a philosophy of health grounded in faith that inspires her to treat the whole person, acknowledging that a patient’s beliefs, support system, connectedness and environment have as much influence on their health and healing as any medical advice or prescription. She is a public health professional because inequities exist, and health professionals bridge the gap. They guarantee that everyone, from the not yet born to the oldest, and everywhere, from the most remote village to the most progressive metropolis, have the conditions that are necessary to live healthy lives. This commitment to health equity stems from her life-long belief system in social justice and responsibility. She believes that health is a complex construct. There is no silver bullet or simple solution. More than two decades of experience have confirmed her belief that it is the responsibility of public health and academia to create, educate and support leaders of different passions, interests and experiences; leaders who will understand and embrace their responsibility in achieving health equity through practice, research, advocacy and policy development.

Tricia is married to Richard Blanco, PhD. Together they have three sons: Tyrell (18), Tony (16) and Jonathan (7). As a proud mother of three sons, she finds special fulfillment in encouraging women and girls to make wise decisions to walk in their purpose.

For 4 Real Women International Inc it is an honor to have Dr Tricia Penniecook as part of our team of directors and coordinators.


4rwi welcomes new Branding and Marketing Coordinator

4 Real Women International Inc, welcomes Adriana Cal as our new Branding and Marketing Coordinator.

Adriana resides in Montevideo, Uruguay South America with her teen-aged daughter and husband. After 7 years of residing in Queens, New York Adriana and her family returned to Uruguay in 2007.

An self-taught web and graphics designer with over fifteen years of experience developing hard and soft marketing resources for individuals, associations, congregations, and corporations, all over the world. She is also a certified PC Techinician and a professional photographer. Adriana’s journey is one of self-determination mixed with amazing gifts.

In 1999 Adriana purchased her first PC and was fascinated by the Internet and the web pages is contained. She was amazed at the idea that anyone could create a web page and literally publish it to the world! She immediately began her research to find someone who could teach her how do this. At the time there were no instructors on web site building in Uruguay, and there would not be any for about a decade. So, she decided to build her own web site. It was a labor intensive process. But, when she finally figured it out, she developed her first web site, called “Create Your Web” and decided to provided step by step instruction to help people design their own websites. When her site came out, she was offered a position to be the technology writer in a popular techie magazine in Uruguay but she was already preparing to migrate to New York.

Once in New York she began designing for websites congregations, clubs, and a local doctor. Then in 2005 she was contacted by Norka when she began to post her series of blogs in English and Spanish on what was then 4 Real

As for her graphics designing skills, Adriana claims that Norka once asked her to design a flyer. She let her know that did not know how to do this and Norka insisted that she try. She did and the rest is history. Adriana has been the graphics and web designer behind the 4RWI brand since its very inception.

Adriana, is gifted. She devour technical manuals, accesses new software and digital platforms, and like second nature, understands and begins to use them in no time. In 2009 she had the opportunity to take a PC repairs course and 90% of what they taught she already knew.

In 2017 her interest in photography grew. She always received a lot of compliments for the photos she took with her phone. She then decided to purchase a camera and bought and read about 10 photography books and manuals. She then registered in photography course, but once gain she already knew about 90% of what they were teaching.

Proficient in both English and Spanish, Adriana takes great pride in her work for 4RWI and is constantly working to make the 4RWI website and all branded digital resources appealing.

The Board of Directors of 4RWI Inc enthusiastically welcomes Adriana Cal to its team and looks forward to her continued contributions.


4RWI welcomes new Interim Administrative and Internal Communications Director.

4 Real Women International Inc, welcomes Chantal Fulgencio, as our Interim Administrative and Internal Communications Director.


Chantal graduated from East Stroudsburg University in 2016 where she studied Political Science Pre-Law, French and Spanish. She had the privilege of being chosen as the Undergraduate Commencement Speaker. While in College Chantal was a legislative intern in the Pennsylvania State Senate. After graduation, she worked for a brokerage and reinsurance firm in New York City and served as a Youth Development Peer Coach at New York University. Chantal points to these experiences as significant to her personal and professional growth.


Chantal took a year off work and had the life changing opportunity to travel with her parents around the world. Together they traveled to over 50 cities, 25 countries, and 6 continents. Chantal believes that this was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. Not only did she grow closer to her parents in a literal sense (they were always staying in very close quarters), but overall as a family they elicited strength and resilience as together they encountered both hardships and beauty throughout their travels.


Chantal has stated that she learned that the world is such a fascinating place and it’s people are a representation of that. “I will forever be grateful to the many cultures, food, languages, and people I’ve met along the way who’ve created permanent places in my heart.”


Chantal currently works as a College Assistant at Queen’s College. Where she is grateful for the leadership and mentorship opportunities offered to her by the wonderful faculty and staff.


An aspiring change agent, go-getter and lawyer in the making. Chantal plans to take the LSAT exam in early 2020 and be enrolled in law school by next fall. Of particular interest to her are immigration and family law.


A polyglot Chantal is fluent in Spanish, French and English. With extensive leadership and volunteer experience, Chantal has been a UNICEF Family Sponsor, volunteered for Angel’s Closet, and weekly assists her church with the housing and feeding of homeless families in her community. In 2018 she was the recipient of the NAACP Activism Award of her local chapter, and was also the recipient of the Shirley Chisholm Award at East Stroudsburg University.


In July 2018 Chantal attended and graduated from the first level, of the 4RW  Leadership Academy 4 Women, hosted by 4RWI Inc. That year she also volunteered as a Social Media Intern at VoWCon. Chantal looks forward to working with the organization in this new capacity.  She feels both humbled and honored to be working with such inspiring and powerful female leaders.


The Board of Directors of 4RWI enthusiastically welcomes Chantal Fulgencio and looks forward to her support in this critical administrative role.


4 Real Women International Inc welcomes new Donor Relations Coordinator

Kayla Celeste Cato is a first generation American born to parents who hail from Jamaica. In December of 2016 she received her Bachelors of Science degree in Early Childhood with a dual degree in Special Education from East Stroudsburg University. After a year of working in the intensive special education field, she went back to school and recently graduated from Queens College with her MSED in Literacy Education.

Today Kayla is the Development Associate at The Spence School – a private & prestigious all girls school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In her role she extends the mission of the school through fundraising, communications, event planning, and alumnae relations.

Kayla was first introduced to 4 Real Women International Inc in November 2017 when Founder and CEO, Norka Blackman Richards invited her to VoWCon. Inspired by this “magical experience” she participated and graduated as a Team Player from the 4RWI Leadership Academy in August 2018; then later attended VoWCon in October 2018. Eager to continue her growth and development in this organization, she facilitated the 2019 LEAD graduation and developed the first ever 4RWI Phonathon.

In this new role as the Donor Relations Coordinator of 4 Real Women International Inc, Kayla aspires to use her experience, knowledge, and understanding from above to organize fundraising campaigns that will contribute to the impeccable work of 4RWI and their mission of empowering women and girls all around the world!

The Board of Directors of 4RWI is excited about welcoming Kayla and look forward to many donor relationships that she will foster in support of the organization’s mission.


Curazao Netherlands Antilles Conference for Women

Founder and president of 4 Real Women International Inc, Norka Blackman-Richards, was the keynote speaker at the Curazao Netherlands Antilles Conference for Women. The event took place on June 7 to 9, 2019 at the Sentro pa Desaroyo Integral Israel Leito (SDIIL) in Buena Vista. SDIIL sits 1,000 persons. And the event filled the auditorium to full capacity. Curazao is a Dutch Caribbean Island situated off the coast of Venezuela.

Blackman-Richards’ emphasis during the conference was on helping to see their value and encouraging self-care and self-agency. Many of the participants shared how inspired they were by the presentations.

Plans are currently underway for a mass convention for women and girls hosted by 4 Real Women International to take place in September of 2020 in Curazao.



LEAD! 2019

On June 30, 2019 4 Real Women International will be opening its doors in both Brooklyn and Queens to host the Leadership Academy for Women. We expect to host over 100 women, who want to invest in self-growth. We need your help to make this possible. Click on this link to donate.

Our budget to run both academies is over $12, 000. Over 50% of the women who attend need financial assistance to pay for our one-time registration fee.

Please support this great cause and invest in the life of a woman who wants to create a change in her life and make a difference in her community.

Click on the link to donate.



Free Mammogram Screening

On Tuesday June 4, 2019 4RWI Brooklyn partnered with Mt. Sinai Hospital and collaborated with the offices of Brooklyn civic leaders Assemblywoman Latrice M. Walker and Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel-41st District, Brooklyn to provide women of the community with access to no cost Mammogram Screening. More than twenty five women from underserved communities in Brooklyn attended the event, received information, education, and breast cancer screening services.