Everything You Need to Know About 988

Movement Strategy Center Chats with Tansy Hall McNulty, Founder and CEO of One Million Madly Motivated Moms (1M4), About the Launch of 988

On July 16, 2022, 988 is finally going live — a sort of sister service to 911, 988 will replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255, which will remain in service after July 16) as a nationwide number for individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts, mental health or substance abuse emergencies, or emotional distress. A first step in reimagining crisis support in the United States, this easy to remember, three-digit number (call, text, or chat) is confidential, free, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers will be connected to trained English and Spanish language crisis counselors with interpretation services in over 150 languages.

We (virtually) sat down with Tansy Hall McNulty, Founder and CEO of One Million Madly Motivated Moms (1M4), to discuss the launch of 988. As founder of 1M4, Tansy leads an ongoing effort to compile and share a comprehensive guide of local and regional Mobile Crisis Units all over the country — an often safer alternative to calling the police for Black families in need of mental health support. When 988 legislation was passed, in 2020, Tansy, 1M4, and their resource were in demand — this collection of crisis units and co-responders would be a jumping off point for 988’s network of operator-counselors and the mobile crisis units we all hope will follow, as 988 secures funding and expands.  

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

MSC: What is 988? 

THM: 988 is a federal mandate that was created back in December of 2020, that we would have a short, easy to remember, three digit number for suicidal thoughts, mental health emergencies, and behavioral health emergencies. Effective July 16th of this year, 2022, 988 will go live nationally. 

MSC: When should we call 988 instead of 911? 

THM: 911 is for criminal behavior or medical and physical emergencies … 988 is for those who are having suicidal ideations and those who are experiencing mental health emergencies, or emotional distress. So these are times that you need a counselor, someone to talk to, someone to de-escalate … The hope and the intention is for it to be a national dispatching center for mental health emergencies. That infrastructure is still being built, however … It will not be ready on July 16th in all places — so I want people to be aware that when you call 988 in these situations, depending on where you live, you may still have an interaction with a law enforcement officer.

MSC: How is 988 funded?

THM: 998 will be funded much like 911, in some states … Look at your cell phone bill, and look at the breakdown. On your bill you’ll see something that says 911. Everybody who has a cell phone is paying … 12 cents a month or 15 cents a month for 911. And that’s so it’s a fully funded organization and entity and that means it doesn’t run out of money. Well 988, ideally, would be funded the same way, but some states are running into issues with this additional fee, because it’s become politicized. So, some states are actually leaning towards a one-time grant opportunity to fund 988 and to fund the call-takers, those who will be servicing the 988 systems. The issue with having a one-time grant is it’s one time. And this is something that needs to be sustainable, so that it can continue, stay funded, stay helpful.

 "The issue can be that sometimes the states take over and they don’t want communities to drive solutions, when we know communities keep communities safe."

MSC: What are some gaps that 988 does not address? 

 

THM: The hope is for 988 to one day be fully fleshed out, to be able to release mobile crisis response teams, or mobile crisis units as well call it on our website — it’s just not there yet, they’re still building the infrastructure for that. And a big portion of that, too, is the need for funding — you have to be able to fund things for them to work, you have to be able to pay people … When you’re this close to someone going through rough times you need to be compensated well for that. So the funding is needed; and consistent, sustainable funding — not these one time things.

We also need community involvement — we have some community response teams on our website but there are so many others out there … I’m hoping they’re able to be funded through 988 too. The issue can be that sometimes the states take over and they don’t want communities to drive solutions, when we know communities keep communities safe.

 

MSC: How can we help make 988 better?

 

THM: Our involvement is needed, because a system that you are not a part of, you’re not considered. It’s very important to be a voice at the table; or just a voice on the other side of the phone. The opportunities to become a call-taker, to become someone who is the voice … Listening to what they need, what they’re saying, providing them the best outlet for help — and the outlet could just be you, listening. It’s amazing to me what happens when people just listen; when people actually feel heard. 

We need people on the other end of the phone who sound like the community that’s calling them. So if you’re someone who is empathetic to other people, who has a will to listen … Look up opportunities for employment, to be the voice someone hears when they’re upset … If you are someone who cares about people, who cares about solutions, who cares about public safety, the safety of individuals going through rough times, consider being a call-taker, consider going through the training to become one of those counselors … who are trained to de-escalate, to provide a soothing voice to hear you out in your darkest hour. 

"We need people on the other end of the phone who sound like the community that’s calling them."

MSC: What can we do until 988 launches and while it’s being developed?

 

THM: Right now you can go to our website and look up our mobile crisis units. Look at your state, look at your area, find who’s in your area who can respond to your needs. Particularly if you’re someone who has had or knows of someone who’s had suicidal ideations, or someone who has manic episodes — become familiar now with the guide and the people in your area, before you need them. It’s always best to build familiarity before you need that help. So you can know what their processes are and you know the group that’s going to answer the phone … I encourage you to call [their administrative phone numbers and] just talk — say, what can I expect? I have a family member or a friend who has these things that happen every now and then, what would happen? I don’t want to engage the police — will they be encountered? 

On our site it will tell you. We interview the people to ask them — will you include law enforcement? Some said yes, every time; some said only if a weapon is involved — ask them those questions, talk to them. [Save their] numbers now, so if … something happens with [a] loved one, or [you] see someone going through some distress, and it seems like they need help, [you] can call this number and know they have a better chance of surviving that interaction.        

You can all help us build out our guide. If you look at our list and you know there’s a mobile crisis response team that’s local to you [that isn’t listed] … Please share with us: go to our website or email [email protected], and send us the name of the organization. We will call them [and ask] them the same questions … just to make sure we understand how they respond.       

 

MSC: How do I know 988 is something safe that I can trust?

 

THM: We want … to [hear] what’s actually happening in the community. So, after you call 988 we would like to know what happened — so we can document it, we can keep up with it, we can actually report back to the implementation team.

Even for our mobile crisis guide: when you contact these different units, we would like to know what happened, did they get you the help they needed? 

I was in contact with a woman in New York … Her nephew was having back to back manic episodes, and when they happen back to back they increase in intensity. They put him on a list — it was a six month wait to get in with a psychiatrist. The family did not want to engage law enforcement, it’s a Black family. So they went to our guide, and they called their local mobile crisis unit, who put them in contact with resources. They ended up actually taking him to the ER, because at some ERs – it should be all but it’s some – there are psychiatrists on staff that you can get in with. So he was able to avoid having to interact with law enforcement by referencing our guide. 

And his aunt, the one who contacted me, was extremely grateful that she had that resource, that information. So we want to know from others: when you use our guide, what happens? We want to hear your stories, hear your experiences, we don’t want to share your name … We just want to know your experience so we can get better. We can let individuals know, who are in positions of power — you didn’t do what you were supposed to do, or you did, you did an excellent job, tell your colleagues [and share your knowledge in] keeping people safe and truly caring for people when they need us.  


The MSC Storytelling Series: Jacqui Patterson

In this installment we get to know researcher, advocate, and activist Jacqueline “Jacqui” Patterson founder and executive director of the Chisholm Legacy Project former director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program; co-founder of Women of Color United; and proud board member of MSC.

“It wasn’t a coincidence, it wasn’t happenstance.” So says Jacqui Patterson — activist, founder of the Chisholm Legacy Project, and MSC board member — on how she made her way to Movement Strategy Center. 

She was introduced to MSC through Movement Generation but if it wasn’t that it would’ve been something else: “the universe … draws like-mission and like-spirited people together.” She knew from the beginning there was alignment in work and in mission and it became clearer as Patterson participated in MSC’s movement support work — the Transitions Labs, the facilitation of conversations and meetings, and the cultivation of projects. “There are so many points of resonance and alignment in everything that MSC does … Whether it is the heart of the people … Or the way that they facilitate conversations about collective organizing toward the world that we want, MSC has been an inspiration, a catalyst, and a facilitator of radical imagination and a radical love in action.”

Patterson hails from the southside of Chicago — a very urban place not far from the other, more suburban side of the tracks. Her neighborhood offered many of the great touchstones of city life — ice cream trucks, block parties, and community. But also some of the worst: there were gangs, the sound of gunshots weren’t uncommon, and concerns about her brother simply existing as a Black boy in America were pervasive. 

Her family blended two cultures — her mother came up to Chicago during the Great Migration from Dublin, Mississippi; her dad immigrated there from Jamaica. The result was an upbringing steeped in both Deep South and Jamaican influences: a culture of food (collard greens plus curried chicken) and music (rhythm and blues plus reggae). Patterson’s ancestry is in sub-Saharan Africa; her common history involves those ancestors being stolen from their homelands and brought to unceded territories in both the United States and Jamaica to become the enslaved labor behind the economy and the infrastructure of those respective lands. 

She says, “I am who I am out of that history and that story. And, I am who I am in celebration of the rich cultural heritage and in resistance to and in reparations from how the heritage and ties to nation and community were interrupted by colonialism. I do what I do to both celebrate and treasure that cultural heritage.”

There are so many points of resonance and alignment in everything that MSC does … Whether it is the heart of the people … Or the way that they facilitate conversations about collective organizing toward the world that we want, MSC has been an inspiration, a catalyst, and a facilitator of radical imagination and a radical love in action.

Her work reflects this. She is working to restore “linkages in some ways to the motherland,” and “address, redress, and correct the carnage and the aftermath of colonialism and where it has left our communities as a result of the systemic exploitation, extraction, and oppression.” The work centers on Black and BIPOC communities all over the world; and is in partnership with all “the aligned and the allied — anyone who is allied and aligned with the mission of Black liberation.”

For her, liberation ensures “that all people have self determination and have what they need to be whole and thriving.” And it starts with accountability — “my purpose is to be in service to the quest for self determination and liberation of Black frontline communities.” 

So much of that begins with being very “intentional about who is not even being thought of by those sitting at the table — much less are they even at the table.” In terms of climate justice, Patterson wants everyone to have a seat. Thus, a focus on chronically ignored Freedman’s Settlements — communities, many unincorporated, established by those “just emancipated from enslavement.” 

One, a community of only about 100 people outside Dallas, is Sanbranch, Texas. Stunningly, this unincorporated village adjacent to one of our country’s wealthiest cities has never had running water. Their well water was contaminated in the 1980s, and today, residents rely mainly on donated bottled water — not just for drinking, but for cooking and bathing. Stories like these are at the center of the Patterson-founded Chisholm Legacy Project — an organization that connects Black communities on the frontlines with the resources necessary to implement transformation. 

It isn’t easy work. And that’s why Patterson so valued the aforementioned Transitions Labs — these safe spaces offered community and reflection. A way to, at least metaphorically, refill your cup. These gatherings also made it clear that “all the work around social justice and systems change is intersectional.” A priceless opportunity “to explicitly be engaged with folks who are doing work from gender justice to education justice to general economic justice and so forth, and to really come together and talk about this notion of Just Transition and this ideal that we want as a society.” She acknowledges the concept “might sound utopian,” but for the frontliners in attendance that discussion and that space is “a necessity in order to survive and thrive as people.”

All the work around social justice and systems change is intersectional.

It can be hard for outsiders to understand what these retreats and workshops were like. Patterson describes them as a chance to step “away from the day to day, the list of deliverables … The nonprofit industrial complex.” Crucially, they offered an opportunity to discuss the roles and purpose of both the individuals and the organizations across various movements in “a space of ideating … Set up to accommodate all learning and being styles.” 

Attendees showed up with “a selfless sense of mission, so there was a level of trust and safety there.” And the work — deep conversation and reflection, “the practices: tai chi, somatics, embodiment … Various exercises that got you out of your head and into the culture” — fostered intimate connection. “We can go whole days, weeks, or months without thinking about that larger arc,” so the safe space to simply “think and be” was invaluable and unlike so many other gatherings and workshops.  

It was at one of these Transitions Labs in the Redwood Forest — “a generative environment” — that Patterson felt everything sort of gel: her work, her goals, her collaborations with MSC. The activity at hand involved focusing on “developing a seed of an idea and being with people who were like-minded, like-focused, and like-spirited who were also growing their own seeds.” The seed that “began to truly blossom” for Patterson that day — while laying on the floor with her peers and remembering the iconic book the Bridge Called My Back, a collection of radical writings by Black women — involved “work specifically focused on supporting the wellbeing of Black femmes.”

That “unformed dream” turned “into an action plan … That birthed the fourth element of focus of the Chisholm Legacy Project — the focus on Black femme support.” Patterson explained that she had observed the “level of weight on Black femmes in terms of holding so much, our families, our organizations, the movement, in the case of Alabama and Georgia — actual democracy. Yet so often you see our sisters in the struggle are so weighed down by that.” 

Sighting stress, premature deaths, and all the ways these weights can negatively manifest in the health of her peers inspired the project’s steadfast support of wellbeing. She believes this concept of “community care, organizational care, movement care — instead of just preaching self care to someone who is always going to put themselves last” is crucial to the future of the movement.   

Today, Patterson feels honored to continue to support MSC as a board member, calling the work “a blessing.” Likewise, she values “the opportunity to continue to be in relationship with the innovations team that is doing amazing work,” citing her participation as a founding member of the National Association of Climate Resilience Planners. She looks forward to “continuing to support Climate Innovation’s (soon to be renamed People’s Climate Innovation Center (PCIC)) team” and ensuring “that the communities that we work with — including the Black femme climate justice leaders — are able to connect with and be nurtured by the rich range of offerings that MSC has,” especially in terms of climate resilience planning and training and Black youth leadership development.

And, circling back to the Freedman’s Settlements and towns like Sandbranch, she looks forward to growing “the ways that MSC’s fiscal sponsorship and regranting programs can benefit some of the most marginalized Black communities in the United States.” She continued, “the hope is that MSC and the Chisholm Legacy Project can together support the self determination and liberation of these communities all over the nation.”

She also hopes that others — new friends of MSC, new members of the collective movement ecosystem — get the chance to experience something like MSC’s Transitions Labs. They so deeply and positively affected Patterson and she recalled — with a lot of laughter and a little bit of embarrassment — one opportunity where participants were invited to write letters of appreciation to each other. Other people maybe wrote one or two and I literally sat there and wrote super sappy love letters to everyone. I was just feeling literally just full of so much love for everyone who participated.” 


Honoring Our Connections and Putting Love at the Center

Practicing our Future Now: Beloved Communities Network and Movement Strategy Network present: Living the Practices of Transformative Movement Building, Part 2

 What do we need to consciously practice to be the people who reflect our shared vision? How do we honor our connections, build community trust, and put love at the center?

Maintaining a sense of radical imagination about the future helps us better understand our collective past. It is our duty to use our collective imagination and use it to shape and direct the tide of change ourselves. 

On December 15 and 16, 2021, Movement Strategy Center (MSC) co-founder Taj James chatted with activists, facilitators, and cultural influencers in a multipart conversation exploring how to live the Practices of Transformative Movement Building on Facebook Live, sponsored by Movement Strategy Network and Beloved Communities Network (BCN). 

In the second segment, we invited filmmaker Wolfhawk Jaguar, Kerri Kelly of CTZNWELL, founder of the Big We, Anasa Troutman, to grapple with big questions including, how can I be the best ancestor now, for the future we all deserve? Listen to these culture builders as they discuss the lessons of radical connection and deep embodiment. Jaguar reminded us that our true power lies in our vulnerability; and that practicing to be reflective of a shared vision of regeneration requires that we center love and build trust in our communities. 

Discussion centered on the four elements at the core of transformative movement building and include leading with audacious vision and bold purpose; deeply embodying the values at the heart of the vision; building radical and deep community around the vision; and using all of that — vision, embodiment, and connection — to strategically navigate toward the future. 

Watch the entire conversation below.

The conversation echoes the juicy conversations on Beloved Communities Network Radio. Catch up on the first season of BCR at Beloved Communities Network’s YouTube.


What Do We Want and How Deeply Do We Want It?

Practicing Our Future Now: Beloved Communities Network and Movement Strategy Center Present: Living the Practices of Transformative Movement Building, Part 1

What do we want and how deeply do we want it? What choices can we make that bring ourselves and our whole communities forward through unpredictable conditions? 

Maintaining a sense of radical imagination about the future helps us better understand our collective past. It is our duty to use our collective imagination and use it to shape and direct the tide of change ourselves. 

On December 15 and 16, 2021, Movement Strategy Center (MSC) co-founder Taj James chatted with activists, facilitators, and cultural influencers in a multipart conversation exploring how to live the Practices of Transformative Movement Building on Facebook Live, sponsored by Movement Strategy Network and Beloved Communities Network (BCN).

In the first segment, guests included Autumn Brown of AORTA and Aisha Shillingford and Terry Marshall of Intelligent Mischief. They talked about the lessons shared with them around transformative movement building. They also discussed the courage and hope it takes to imagine a future that collective traumas might otherwise dim. 

Brown reminded us to look for folks practicing the future now and memorably declared that “Blackness is a sight of magic … One of the most magical forces on earth.” Marshall and Shillingford reminded us to look to ballrooms, raves, or cookouts — places where people practice community and can find hope.

Discussion centered on the four elements at the core of transformative movement building and include leading with audacious vision and bold purpose; deeply embodying the values at the heart of the vision; building radical and deep community around the vision; and using all of that — vision, embodiment, and connection — to strategically navigate toward the future. 

Watch the entire conversation below.

The conversation echoes the juicy conversations on Beloved Communities Network Radio. Catch up on the first season of BCR at Beloved Communities Network’s YouTube.


MSC's 73 Questions with Aisha Shillingford

Movement Strategy Center Chats with Aisha Shillingford of Intelligent Mischief in a 73 Questions-Style Interview

Movement Strategy Center and Intelligent Mischief present MSC’s 73 Questions with Aisha Shillingford, creative director of Intelligent Mischief. This is our take on Vogue’s iconic 73 questions and in it we discuss Afrofuturism, art and design, movement building, social justice, the Golden Girls — all for MSC’s first-ever #GivingTuesday and End of Year Giving campaigns.

Credits
T
alent: Aisha Shillingford 
Videographer: Auden Barbour
Produced by: Movement Strategy Center 


It seemed like an open and shut case.

Movement Strategy Center on How Philanthropy Must Evolve


It's Time For A Vision That Is More Humane

Movement Strategy Center Stands with Cuba, Haiti, and All Victims of Imperialism

“The Brothers in pain tinted with blood on the island of Cuba” by @alejandro_sin_barreras


Condemning Violence and Colonialism and Stands with Palestinians

Movement Strategy Center's thoughts on Israel and Palestine

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This week, Muslims around the world are celebrating the end of Ramadan and the holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr. In Palestine, however, days meant for families and communities coming together in joy and prayer have been marked by brutal violence and oppression. As we view the images of families being evicted from their homes and brown-skinned people being viciously attacked by officers, we at Movement Strategy Center are struck by the parallels to the struggles of low-income, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA communities here in the United States.

As we fight for the preservation of indigenous sovereignty for Native communities here in the US, how can we turn a blind eye to the occupation and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories?

As we speak out against police brutality and militarism here in the US, how can we remain silent when armed officers storm into a mosque full of worshippers using teargas and stun grenades?

As we seek to transform our world towards racial equity and economic justice for all, how can we ignore the system of apartheid that the Israeli government has established against the Palestinians?

We can’t.

As an organization whose goal is to support movements working to dismantle unjust systems of inequality and oppression, we must add our voices to those condemning the persecution and killing of innocent civilians, including children. We welcome and echo the many statements in support of the Palestinian people from community leaders and elected officials. Unfortunately, the lack of empathy for the Palestinian people has become so normal that many withheld any condemnation of the Israeli government’s violence until rockets had been fired from the other side.

We are well aware from the police brutality we see here at home that the monopoly on violence belongs to the powerful, and that the right to self-defense is not afforded to people with brown and black skin. We must also not forget that it is American tax money being used to supply the weapons and training behind this violence.

The lethal hold used to kill George Floyd is also used by Israeli officers on Palestinians.

Just as we call for the de-escalation and an end to violence in policing here in the United States, we call for the de-escalation and an end to violence from the Israeli government.

For our brothers and sisters spending their Eid holiday mourning their family members under an endless barrage of bombing and brutality, we send our deepest condolences and radical love.


Relief, reflection, a reminder to keep fighting

Movement Strategy Center thoughts in the wake of Derek Chauvin's conviction

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We at Movement Strategy Center acknowledge Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the egregious murder of George Floyd last May for what it is: A bittersweet victory that won’t bring Floyd back. His loss is one his family and our communities will forever contend with.

We hope Chauvin’s guilty verdict signifies an opportunity in Minnesota and across this country for more accountability in the age-old brutal violence against Native Americans, Blacks, Latinx, and other people of color at the hands of law enforcement.

Does it mean an authentic and honest federal investigation of police brutality at large in Minneapolis will occur? Does it mean that our representatives at the Federal level will be re-energized and refocused on last summer’s police reform bill bearing Floyd’s name?

Does it mean that we and our communities will continue the fight to transform the role of law enforcement and what it means to keep our community safe?

You better believe that MSC and the communities we represent and support will continue fighting with love and intention for radical change!

It is very clear that if not for Darnella Frazier’s footage of Floyd’s slow and tortuous murder, the intentionally false narrative of the Minneapolis police department would have prevailed.

So yes, we are not stopping our fight for honesty, accountability, and equitable justice for Black lives, Brown lives, and the lives of the Indigenous and poor.

Let’s not forget that while Chauvin’s verdict was being determined, we learned that instead of using other methods to defuse a dangerous situation, police in Columbus, Ohio killed Ma’Khia Bryant — a 16-year-old Black child.

These over-policing and shoot-to-kill tactics resulting in the senseless killing of people must stop!

Per The New York Times, roughly 1,100 people are killed by law enforcement officers each year, with at least 64 fatalities occurring between March 29 (the day testimony in Chauvin’s trial began) and April 21. More than half those recent deaths were among Black and Latino individuals.

So we must always say their names: Duante Wright, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Tony McDade, Michelle Cusseaux, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Natasha McKenna, Stephon Clark, Jayne Thompson, Walter Scott, Bettie Jones, Philando Castile, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Eric Reason, Dominique Clayton, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, and every other Black life extinguished by law enforcement officers.

And we must pressure our elected officials. We must demand restorative justice and equity within our public safety and criminal justice systems. We must support our movement leaders in their tireless work dismantling systems of inequality and oppression. And, we must step up and speak out for true justice for our Black and Brown Brothers and Sisters!

Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd; and to the friends and families of all victims of police brutality.


Supporting Our AAPI Friends and Neighbors

Movement Strategy Center stand with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community 

Movement Strategy Center (MSC) recognizes that the world we live in is dominated by white supremacy and Anti-Blackness, and we have spent our first 20 years incubating a diverse coalition of BIPOC- and women-led activist organizations as they tackle systemic racial and environmental inequities from the ground up.

Our staff, board, and movement leaders are devastated by the tragic murder of eight victims in Atlanta, Georgia last week. This crime, committed by a white male, claimed the lives of eight individuals — six of whom were Asian women. We stand with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in solidarity, now and always — as violence against our AAPI neighbors and friends has escalated over the last year in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and the incendiary remarks of the former United States president.

On the same day as this brutal shooting, Stop AAPI Hate — an organization formed just last year to prevent Coronavirus-related discrimination — released a report stating that nearly 3,800 hate crimes had been reported against AAPI individuals (mostly women) in the last year alone. We call on our elected officials and philanthropy at large to stop overlooking AAPI populations and organizations. In the meantime, here are some actions you can take to help fight violence against AAPI communities; and here are three pieces that highlight the voices of and issues facing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders right now.