VIDEO: The Fight of 9-Year-Old Josef Miles

In protest of Westboro Baptist, a Topeka boy speaks out for love and cultural tolerance.

It was a simple act made unique because a worldly 9-year-old carried it out. Back in May 2012, Josef Miles of Topeka, Kansas, held up his notepad that read “GOD HATES NO ONE.” The act alone showcased a beautiful message of peace and was made all the more poignant because he was bordered by the hateful signs characteristic of a Westboro Baptist protest. Josef and his mom, Patty Akrouche, have been featured in countless news stories, including on NPR and The Huffington Post, but she was kind enough to tell me about her personal fight, and Josef even provided us with a video. First, Patty’s fight:

“My fight in life is to get men to step up in their communities and become mentors and big brothers to the growing population of boys with absentee fathers, such as my son Josef. He is currently waiting for a big brother. He is 201st on the waiting list and sadly, there is a severe shortage of good and strong positive male role models here in Topeka that are willing to make the commitment.”

As a mother, she has not stopped at only finding Josef male role models, but she’s also being the change she hopes to see within her community. She’s recently started a book discussion club at the Shawnee County Juvenile Detention Center, where the vast majority of detainees are male and, as she’s discovered, also without male role models in their lives.

She said this of Josef’s fight in life: “It’s for nations to stop fighting, to concentrate not on our differences but our universal similarities. He wants the world to stop sweating the small stuff and giving importance to the things that do not matter and focus on the issues that do matter, like putting an end to groups that promote hate. He is also making a concerted effort for kids to learn how to be accepting and tolerant of those from different cultures and religious beliefs. Joe feels very strongly about changing the world’s perception about Topeka and the marred image that the Phelps/Westboro Baptist Church has portrayed of the city and its citizens.”

Now, here’s Josef in his own words:

Read more in Cameron Conaway’s series, “What’s Your Fight?” on The Good Life.
Image credit: Patty Akrouche
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About Cameron Conaway

Cameron Conaway is a former MMA fighter, an award-winning poet and the 2014 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. He is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet, Bonemeal: Poems, Until You Make the Shore and Malaria, Poems. Conaway is also on the Editorial Board at Slavery Today. Follow him on Google+ and on Twitter: @CameronConaway.

Comments

  1. Patty Akrouche says:

    Thank you Cameron, for letting Josef share his views.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    The biblical passage that says homosexuality is an abomination also says it’s an abomination to shave your face. Where is the sign “God Hates Razor Blades”? It says that it’s an abomination to have meat and dairy on the same plate. Where’s the sign saying “God Hates Burger King”? It says it’s an abomination to wear cloth made from two different kinds of thread. Where’s the sign that says “God Hates Cotton/Poly Blends”? It seems odd to me to choose this particular passage and ignore all the others. I know there are farms out there where sheep and goats are put in the same field. Apparently God hates that, too. Where is the outrage about that?

    Glass half-full, though: the passage only mentions men specifically, so being a lesbian is totally cool with the man upstairs….

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