Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Mistake of Being a Black Mother

Being a person of color in the United States has proven to be a very unfortunate thing if you're facing the justice system. By now you've probably heard of Shanesha Taylor, the homeless (Black) mother in Arizona that left her children in the car while she went into a job interview, because she had nobody to leave her children with. The children were heard crying, Police was called, Taylor was arrested in suspicion of child abuse and the children were placed in the custody of Child Protective Services. 

The story is an unfortunate one. In the one hand Taylor shouldn't have left the children in the car, but in the other hand I understand that she probably felt she had no choice. She needed a job in order to feed her children, herself, and provide a home for them. 



In stark, sharp contrast is the story of (White) Catalina Clouser, also from Arizona. The 21 year old was upset that her boyfriend had been arrested with a DUI, went to a friend's house and got high. She then proceeded to leave, put her baby in the car seat on top of her car, and drive off with the baby still on top of the car. She "drove 12 miles home before realizing the baby wasn't inside the vehicle. The tiny tot was discovered by a passerby, still in a car seat and miraculously unharmed, in the middle of a highway." 

What was she sentenced with? Oh, nothing, just probation. 

One was going to a job interview to better her life, and that of her children. The other one just wanted to get high.  But that's just the nature of the beast, because if you're a Black mother, you have to make sure you make no mistakes. According to a national study by the US Department of Health and Human services "minority children, and in particular African American children, are more likely to be in foster care placement than receive in-home services, even when they have the same problems and characteristics as white children" [emphasis added].


A different study, "of Philadelphia hospital records discovered that African American and Latino toddlers hospitalized for fractures were more than five times more likely to be evaluated for child abuse, and more than three times more likely to be reported to child protective services, than white children with comparable injuries."
What's becoming increasing clear is that in this country, if you're going to do something wrong, you just have to make sure your skin color is white.


*If you'd like to a contribute to a Change.org petition to help Shanesha Taylor, you can do so here

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