In Alabama, Black Lives Don’t Matter…..unless they are Unborn

Read this ridiculous story:

A pregnant woman shot in the stomach is indicted in her unborn child’s death

Black Mother

Once again, Alabama is at the forefront of a nationwide debate over the rights of pregnant women.

This time, the controversy stems from the case of a pregnant woman who was shot in the stomach and is now charged with manslaughter for the death of her unborn child.

A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Marshae Jones, 27, based on her alleged role in starting a fight that led to the gunfire, CNN affiliate WBMA reported.

The indictment, however, may or may not lead to prosecution, according to a statement from the Jefferson County District Attorney Bessemer Division’s office.

“While the Grand Jury has had its say, our office is in the process of evaluating this case and has not yet made a determination about whether to prosecute it as a manslaughter case, reduce it to a lesser charge or not to prosecute it,” Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice Washington said.

“We will announce our decision only after all due diligence has been performed.”

The law firm of White Arnold & Dowd in Birmingham said it is representing Jones.

“The unprecedented decisions made in this matter have brought harm to Marshae and to the reputation of the state of Alabama,” the firm said in a statement. “Our goal is to support Marshae through this process, to vigorously advocate for her exoneration and to ensure that a grave injustice does not occur.”

The fight was about the baby’s father

Jones was five months pregnant in December when she got into a fight with another woman outside a Dollar General store in Pleasant Grove, just west of Birmingham, the station said.

Authorities say the dispute involved the baby’s father, AL.com reported.

“It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby,” Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid told AL.com shortly after the shooting.

He said the fight caused the other woman, Ebony Jemison, to react and defend herself. He would not describe Jones, the pregnant woman, as a shooting victim.

“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,” Reid said.

But that characterization incensed critics who say Alabama keeps prioritizing fetuses over women.

Last month, the state passed the country’s strictest abortion law, which makes virtually all abortions illegal. The law says doctors who perform illegal abortions could face up to 99 years in prison.

The Yellowhammer Fund, which helps women who are unable to afford an abortion or the costs of travel, said Jones’ indictment is ridiculous.

“Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun,” Executive Director Amanda Reyes said in a statement.

“The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act.”

According to Alabama law, manslaughter happens when:

— A person recklessly causes the death of another person; or

— A person causes the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute murder, “except that he or she causes the death due to a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation recognized by law, and before a reasonable time for the passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself.”

Manslaughter is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Jemison, the accused shooter, initially faced a charge of manslaughter, AL.com reported. But a grand jury declined to indict the 23-year-old.

The Pleasant Grove Police Department has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.

I’ve been saying for years that when you exalt the right of the unborn to live, you destroy the rights and dignity of pregnant women. And this case shows exactly that issue.

The pregnant woman was UNARMED and the other woman had a gun. It is illogical to call the shooting an act of self-defense. It is even more illogical to prosecute the mother-to-be for her fetus dying. But that is what happens when a black woman is pregnant and you want to make an example of her instead of punishing the real criminal. Racism and sexism in a southern state wrapped up in one ugly package. It is sickening proof of how corrupt the justice system in Alabama is and that state should be facing a nationwide boycott over this.

Cell phones are NOT a luxury now

I found an interesting statement on Tumblr about homeless people.

“If it’s so hard to be homeless, how come they all have nicer phones than I do?”

If you work with the homeless, you hear this sentiment a lot. A lot.

Everyone who hates seeing their tax dollars go to the needy seems to think that this is the ultimate “gotcha”. How can that person possibly be homeless if they have a nice cell phone? How can homelessness really be so bad if you have an Android? How can social programs be underfunded when their clients have iPhones?

You want to know why the homeless have smartphones? There’s a couple of good reasons:

  • It’s leftover from a previous, more stable life. Homeless people aren’t video game characters, they don’t just spawn on street corners, fully formed. Most people do not experience long-term homelessness – the average homeless person is on the streets for less than a month. These are people who used to have jobs, apartments, cars, etc, until some sort of catastrophe put them on the street. You might lose your apartment or car, but most people own their cellphone outright, and can hang onto it when something bad happens.
  • It was given to them by a concerned family member or friend. Most homeless people do actually have non-homeless family members and friends who care about them. Their family might not be able to let that person live with them at the moment, due to addiction or mental health problems, but they still need a way to get in touch with that person and check in on them. Giving them a cellphone is the easiest way to do that.
  • It was picked up second-hand. People upgrade to the newest device all the time, and when they do that, many of them will sell their old phones. It’s easy to find cheap, secondhand cellphones on the internet or in pawn shops, and they’re a valuable tool worth having.
  • It was given out by a social services agency or charity. When you work with the homeless, getting in touch with them is one of the biggest challenges you face. You need to be able to get hold of them at a moment’s notice to let them know about appointments, openings in important programs, updates on applications, and all sorts of other crucial information. Instead of wasting hours and gas driving around looking for people the old-fashioned way, many social agencies just give out cheap phones to their clients, to make sure that they can always contact them.
  • It doesn’t have a plan. Many people who see a homeless person on a cell phone assume that that person is also paying for a costly phone and data plan. That’s usually not the case. Many homeless people use pay-as-you-go phone minutes that they can top up whenever they happen to have the money. Even without any minutes, phones are valuable – free public wifi can be used to make phone calls, look up information and stay in contact with friends.
  • It’s for emergencies. By federal law, even old, deactivated cell phones are able to place calls to 911. Sleeping rough is dangerous, and it never hurts to have a phone nearby, even if its only use is to call for help.

Cell phones are probably the single most useful tool any homeless person can have – you can use them to look for shelter openings, hunt for jobs, navigate transit, stay connected to friends, find resources and information, remember appointments, wake yourself up on time, call for help, and entertain yourself through long and boring days. They are an essential tool, not a luxury item, and it’s unfair to suggest that homeless people somehow aren’t suffering just because they have one.

Instead of asking why that homeless person has a phone, ask yourself why they don’t have a safe place to sleep tonight.

Need I mention that cell phones are also a lot cheaper than paying for a house or apartment? Or even a car?

Rewriting a Sexist Story to Make it Just

It is shocking how rigged our laws and our so-called justice system is with regards to women that are victims of domestic violence. Read this story:

Florida Woman ‘in Fear of Her Life’ Arrested for Turning Her Estranged Husband’s Guns Over to Police

A woman in Florida was arrested for theft June 15 after turning her husband’s guns over to police. She was reportedly afraid for her life.

Courtney Irby, 32, of Bartow, Fla. allegedly went to her husband’s home on June 15, took two of his guns, and brought them to the Lakeland Police Department. This happened while her estranged husband, Joseph Irby, was in jail for allegedly trying to hit her with a car. He was arrested June 14 on domestic violence charges.

After Courtney Irby turned over the weapons, authorities arrested her and charged her with two counts of grand theft and one count of armed burglary.

A police report obtained by the Miami Herald said she was “in fear of her life.” The Herald also notes that the wife had obtained a restraining order against her husband. Joseph Irby told the Miami Herald from jail that he planned to press charges against his wife.

On June 20, a Polk County judge released Courtney Irby on a $5,000 bail. She was ordered to make no contact with Joseph Irby and prohibited from possessing a firearm, according to the Miami Herald.

According to a report from the Brady Center released last October, over 525 women on average annually were murdered by a partner using a firearm between 2006 and 2016.

Since when it is theft to act in good faith to prevent a possible act of murder and expect the police to protect and serve you, not betray you?

If the events had occured in a just and logical manner, this is what would have happened instead:

Florida Woman ‘in Fear of Her Life’ Turns Her Estranged Husband’s Guns Over to Police

A woman in Florida was commended for turned her husband’s guns over to police. She was reportedly afraid for her life.

Courtney Irby, 32, of Bartow, Fla. went to her husband’s home on June 15, took two of his guns, and brought them to the Lakeland Police Department. This happened while her estranged husband, Joseph Irby, was in jail for trying to hit her with a car. He was arrested June 14 on domestic violence charges.

After Courtney Irby turned over the weapons, authorities promised to keep the guns until the legal issues with Joseph Irby were settled in court.

A police report obtained by the Miami Herald said she was “in fear of her life.” The Herald also notes that the wife had obtained a restraining order against her husband. Joseph Irby told the Miami Herald from jail that he had no intention of shooting his wife.

On June 20, a Polk County judge denied Joseph bail. He was ordered to make no contact with Courtney and prohibited from possessing a firearm indefinitely, according to the Miami Herald.

According to a report from the Brady Center released last October, over 525 women on average annually were murdered by a partner using a firearm between 2006 and 2016.

I blame opponents of gun control and the officials in government that are bought and paid for by those gun nuts for what really happened. Will we EVER learn to stop treating firearms like they are toys to play with?!

Oh, and please let us dump that idiotic “all suspects are innocent until proven guilty” nonsense in cases of domestic violence. That favors the criminal and endangers the victim too.

A Conversion to Unitarian Universalism

Before you read this, read my earlier critique of A Conversion to Mormonism.

Now I will share a story about becoming a Unitarian Universalist (UU).

https://www.uuworld.org/articles/search-truth-meaning

A search for truth and meaning

I would not be the kind of person I am today if I hadn’t kept searching.

Aneesa Shaikh | 6/1/2019 | Summer 2019

I discovered Unitarian Universalism around age 13, after a long and unsatisfying search for a spiritual community that matched what I felt I needed. I was newly separated from the faith I was born into and had never been more confused about what I believed.

My parents met at Baylor University, my mom a first-generation college student from a very poor Missouri family and my dad a first-generation immigrant who had just arrived in the United States after growing up in India and spending a few years in Nigeria. They were an unlikely match. My mom was raised Southern Baptist and my dad Muslim, further adding to their differences. When they got engaged, my mom converted to Islam so she could marry my dad. She had always been a religious woman and found herself quite liking the community that came with the Muslim faith, and once my sister and I were born, it seemed a given that we would be raised as Muslims. And so we were, and I have many fond memories of Ramadans, Eids, and Jum’ahs from the first thirteen years of my life. I never really had any problems with the principles of the faith or their manifestation in my life and in fact felt very connected to the Five Pillars of Islam and was proud of my faith.

A common feature about converts to Unitarian Universalism is that they come from families that are already interfaith (or at least the parents come from different religious backgrounds) and thus are already open-minded about religion even before they come to a UU church. I was raised a Southern Baptist too, BTW.

But at some point shortly after my maternal grandmother passed away, I started to question whether or not I believed in God, and I knew I needed to look within a bit more. I slowly started to accept that the belief in God was so central to Islam that I didn’t feel I could continue to practice it anymore. I told my father, who was understandably upset to hear his 13-year-old daughter make such a decision. Things were awkward between us for a short while, but at some point he came to me with words I’ll never forget: “Aneesa, I realize that in this situation, I can either be angry that my daughter has made a choice I likely won’t be able to change, or I can be proud that I’ve raised a daughter strong enough to think for herself and make her own choices.” Both my parents ended up supporting me in this journey, and I am eternally grateful for their willingness to let me search freely and responsibly for truth and meaning.

Assuming my theory about “spiritual orientation” is accurate, it is clear that hers was NOT Muslim at all and instead she needed to find a different religion to fit her needs. But if she had lived in a theocratic state like Saudi Arabia or Iran, she might have been given no choice in the matter. Indeed, in some Islamic states, leaving Islam can merit the DEATH penalty!

So began my journey to find something that suited me better. I went with a friend to her synagogue but didn’t quite find what I was looking for. I went to different churches with a few other friends but couldn’t quite get behind that either. I read about Buddhism, the Bahá’í faith, United Methodism, and almost everything in between. But nothing felt right.

The reference to the Baha’i Faith leaped out at me, for obvious reasons. I’d love to contact her and find out in more detail her impressions about it.

One day, while surfing the web in a last-ditch effort to find something I felt connected to, I haphazardly Googled “liberal faith community Bellevue, WA,” and stumbled upon a blog post about Unitarian Universalism. The author was reflecting on their first experience at a Unitarian Universalist congregation, and their description of the community seemed exactly what I’d been looking for. I found a UU church just a few minutes from my home and decided to check it out the next Sunday. One of my parents dropped me off, and I went in by myself. I was greeted immediately by a somewhat confused-looking member of the congregation who was wondering who I was and why I was there all alone. She asked me what I was looking for, and I said, fully expecting to be met with a weird look, “Well, I’m kind of Muslim, kind of atheist, and really confused, so . . . I guess I don’t really know what I’m looking for.” To my complete surprise, she put her arm around me, smiled, led me into the sanctuary, and said, “I think this is just the place for you.”

Can we bury forever the assumption that children below a certain age are incapable of making decisions on their own about things like religion or politics? Chances are that if she had entered a more conservative church, she might have been forced to deal with the police and then Child Protective Services. Only because she went to an UU church where children are clearly expected to think for themselves from the start was this teenage girl treated with the respect she deserved.

It was, indeed, just the place for me. I kept going back every week after that, and eventually roped my sister into joining me. She liked it, too, so we started going together, and at some point my mom joined us. One Sunday, timidly, my dad joined us as well and found himself enjoying it. Within about a year, the whole family was going, and I think it was a really good thing for us. We still keep Islam very close to our hearts, and it will always be a part of our mixed-up, complex family culture. But we are all very different people, and Unitarian Universalism gave us the freedom we all needed to develop our deeper beliefs and figure out what worked for us as individuals. It significantly changed the way I live my life. It made me more mindful and reflective, taught me to think more inclusively about the big picture, and opened doors to otherwise inaccessible opportunities.

I was recently shocked to learn that there were Islamophobes among UUs trying to drive a wedge between UUs and Muslims. I don’t think any of us should be tolerating those stunts after reading this story about people from a Muslim background becoming UUs.

One of these was Thrive, the UUA’s youth and young adults of color multicultural leadership school, which taught me about cross-cultural leadership and opened my eyes to several new aspects of my own identity. I co-led a workshop at the 2014 General Assembly in Providence, Rhode Island; have given several mini-sermons; and have a huge, incredible network of friends, mentors, and teachers within the UU community. I have also been forced to confront the reality that no institution is exempt from institutionalized systems of oppression. It was disillusioning at first to realize that even within something as seemingly perfect as Unitarian Universalism, white supremacy and other oppressive structures are not only present but prevalent. But this understanding has enabled me to more holistically work toward justice and liberation in all aspects of my life.

In a cult like the Baha’i Faith, criticism of the leadership would be forbidden and the critics would be expelled. No one has been expelled from the UUA as a result of controversies over racism or transgender issues that have cropped up recently. Instead, we work out those issues, openly and with an genuine effort to find inclusive solutions. And the leaders themselves openly admit to being wrong occasionally. Censoring dirty laundry is never good because it then never gets washed.

I wear a chalice necklace every day to center me and remind myself of what is important. I think often about how different my life would have been had I not discovered Unitarian Universalism, and I always find myself thinking that I would not be the kind of person I am today if I hadn’t kept searching until I found what felt right. Unitarian Universalism has truly changed my life and continues to do so—it challenges me, frustrates me, teaches me, informs me, calms me, and transforms me in ways I never expected.

I salute this beautiful young lady for her courage, intelligence, and dedication. I hope this story gets shared everywhere!

Aneesa Shaikh

Aneesa Shaikh

 

So….why were we fighting the Germans in World War II?

It is common knowledge that the Germans under Nazi rule had racist and anti-Semitic policies that resulted in the deaths of millions. We fought a long and destructive war to overthrow that government. And yet….

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/05/europe/gi-babies-britain-dday-gbr-intl

Britain’s mixed-race GI babies want to know why they were given away

(CNN)A wedding ring and a photograph are all Leon Lomax has left of his mother, a woman he has longed to know his whole life.

 

Leon’s white British mother met his African-American GI father during World War II, when he was stationed at RAF Birch, an airbase in Essex, southeast England.
When Leon was born in December 1945, his mother, who was unmarried, left him in a children’s home. He has a “distant memory” of what he thinks was the last time he saw her — remembers “standing in the corner of a crib and crying real hard.”
Leon, now 73, is still haunted by the choice his mother made. For decades, he has wondered: Did she want to give him up, or was she forced to?
“I just want to know what conditions she was under,” he tells CNN, from his home in Ohio. “I always thought about trying to find her.”
Leon is not alone.

Social stigma

Historian Lucy Bland estimates that around 2,000 mixed-race children were born in the UK to British women and African-American servicemen between 1943 and 1946.
The US Army refused permission for black GIs to marry their pregnant white girlfriends and so the babies they gave birth to were branded “illegitimate.”
The social stigma of having a mixed-race child out of wedlock was too much for many mothers to cope with, and so many of the children were given up.
Between a third and half of the babies are thought to have been placed in children’s homes, according to Bland, who told some of their stories in her book, “Britain’s Brown Babies.” (The term was coined by the US press in the 1940s).
Of the 45 former GI babies Bland interviewed, Leon was the only one later adopted by his father.
Corporal Oscar Lomax was already married when he met Leon’s mother Maud, but after returning to the US at the end of the war, he tracked Leon down and had the-then three-year-old flown to the US in January 1949.
“My heart did a complete flip-flop,” Leon’s stepmother Betty told the Pittsburgh Chronicle in an article celebrating his arrival. “I took him and his little hands were so soft. He asked my name. I told him ‘Mommie’ and the man’s name was ‘Daddy.'”
But there was to be no happy ending for Leon — his stepmother died suddenly when he was eight years old, and his father sent him to live with a succession of aunts and uncles.
There was always someone missing, “kind of like a void,” he says.
Leon did eventually trace his mother, but it was too late. Maud had died two years previously — all he got to visit was her gravestone. That “kinda broke my heart,” he says.

Search for identity

When African-American GIs, many of whom came from the Deep South, served in Britain the US Army forced them to abide by the “Jim Crow” racial segregation laws.
But many white British women paid no attention to such rules and attended “black-only” dances and pubs, where relationships were formed.
“When the black GIs wanted to marry some of the white women and asked the officers — who were all white — they invariably refused,” says Bland, professor of social and cultural history at Anglia Ruskin University. “It wasn’t a legal thing but this is what they did, which is outrageous.”
Lucy found one case in which a black GI who said he wanted to marry his pregnant girlfriend was told by his commanding officer “if you do that you will be charged with rape, and the penalty for rape is death.”
Such attitudes mean that many of the “brown babies” — now in their early 70s — have spent a lifetime searching for their identities after being separated from their parents.
Around 20 of the so-called “brown babies” were placed in a nursery at Holnicote House near Minehead in Somerset, southwestern England, where they were raised until they turned five. Once they reached this milestone they were fostered, adopted or sent to homes for older children.
Deborah Prior and Carol Edwards, both 74, were given up by their mothers and sent to Holnicote House in 1945. Their best childhood memories are from the five years they spent growing up amongst nature and other mixed-race children in the beautiful home.
“Every day was a summer’s day,” recalls Carol. “We were just like one big happy family.”
“They never knew what to do with our hair though,” laughs Deborah.

‘All white faces’

It wasn’t until they were packed off at the age of five, far away from everything they’d ever known and other children who looked like them, that Deborah and Carol say their struggles with their identity began.
Deborah was adopted by a childless couple named Sid and Queenie who lived on the other side of the country. “It was my first memory of feeling really scared. I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing.”.
“I was the only black kid in the community — it was horrifying and there was no preparation,” she says.
Carol was never adopted; instead, from the age of five she was moved from one children’s home to the next. “It was all white faces,” she says. “I found that strange.”
After decades of searching, Deborah managed to find her mother, but only got to meet her once, briefly, on the condition — set by her half-sister — that she didn’t reveal who she was.
A war-widowed teacher, who already had two children when she fell pregnant, Deborah’s mother told her: “You look familiar.” Three little words, but enough for Deborah to believe that her mother knew her real identity.
“I have no idea who my father is to this day… that name died with my mother,” she says.
Carol tracked down her father, but theirs wasn’t the reunion she’d hoped for. Instead it was an awkward meeting, surrounded by extended family.
“I felt really uncomfortable… there were questions I wanted to ask but I didn’t want to do it in front of other people,” Carol says. Her father died two years later.

Lifelong love story

In contrast to Leon, Deborah and Carol, Dave Greene, 74, grew up knowing exactly who — and how loved — he was.
His mother Joan Bagwell was just 18 years old when she met his father, Corporal David Greene, a photographer in the US Army, in Yeovil, southwestern England. He invited her to a dance and a lifelong love — albeit one separated by the Atlantic Ocean — began.
“It was a very strong relationship despite all the opposition,” Dave explains, detailing the racism and abuse the couple faced at the hands of white US servicemen and locals alike, simply walking down the street together.
Corporal Greene, from North Carolina, wooed Joan’s family with homemade peach cobblers and was well received by her parents — but they drew the line at letting their daughter move to the US.
“She told me she would have loved to have gone to the States because he always kept in touch,” said Dave. “But I understood, when I was a little bit older, that she didn’t get all the letters — my gran kept them aside, she didn’t want her going off and marrying this black guy.”
By the time Dave was born in August 1945, his father had left the UK, but he sent money to help Joan raise his child, and continued to urge her to join him in America.
Joan refused to give in to pressure and give Dave up — despite facing the joint stigmas of illegitimacy and racism.
“She was a very strong woman, she would not have anything bad said about me,” Dave says.
Eventually, Joan married a local man who brought Dave up as if he was his own son, and stood up for him in the face of racist abuse.
But Dave says she continued to hold a torch for his father. “My mum could always remember his Army number,” he says, adding that she was “obviously totally smitten.”

Missing puzzle piece

When he was 12, Dave and his mother received Valentine’s cards from his father.
Dave and his father wrote to each for a couple of years until a change of address meant that they lost contact for decades.
Then, when he was 53, Dave managed to track down a phone number for his father, and called him up, asking the man at the other end of the line if he had been in England during the war? When he replied: “Yes, Yeovil,” The missing piece of the puzzle fell into place.
Dave and his father spent the next two hours talking. “It was like we’d never been apart. It was closure and it was emotional,” Dave says.
A month later, in July 1999, Dave flew to New York to meet his father for the first time.
“I don’t think there was a lot said,” he remembers. “It was a physical embrace. I did ask if it was okay to call him ‘Dad,’ and he said, ‘Of course it is, you are my son.'”
Dave’s father died in 2009, his mother a year later. “I don’t think she ever got over him,” he says.
Dave was lucky enough to know both his parents, but for hundreds of Britain’s other mixed-race GI babies, the search for answers about their identity continues.

I want to focus on two particularly disgusting passages in that story.

{{{The US Army refused permission for black GIs to marry their pregnant white girlfriends and so the babies they gave birth to were branded “illegitimate.”}}}

{{{“When the black GIs wanted to marry some of the white women and asked the officers — who were all white — they invariably refused,” says Bland, professor of social and cultural history at Anglia Ruskin University. “It wasn’t a legal thing but this is what they did, which is outrageous.”
Lucy found one case in which a black GI who said he wanted to marry his pregnant girlfriend was told by his commanding officer “if you do that you will be charged with rape, and the penalty for rape is death.”}}}

You’d think that the black GIs would be commended for wanting to take responsibility for the women they impregnated. Instead, they, and their children, were condemned regardless of what they did or intended to do.

That and the fact that these men risked their lives for a country that treated them and their children with such utter contempt.

The Jim Crow policies and laws were evil, just as the Nazi ones were. And there are people in their 70s still living with the stigma of what was done to them through no fault of their own. We Americans were a nation of HYPOCRITES!