Monday

Crackas, Niggas, and Justice for Trayvon Martin, part 3

Approach...Confront

After I'd gone through my attempts at trying to lose a person who was following me, my next course of action was to pause and wait--scope out the area to see if this creepy person is still in the vicinity. Again, I reemphasize that I did not go home immediately for fear that this person is lurking, trying to determine my final destination. Once the coast is clear, I proceeded home, perhaps in another non-direct route...just in case.

If this stranger finally caught up to me either via discovering hiding/waiting location or merely via crossing pathways, the panic that would ensue would leave me in a questionable situation. Would I run? Would I speak? Do I prepare to fight with whatever I had on me? When solo, I have often pretended that I had a weapon on me when I had forgotten mine at my house. I walk with my hands in my jacket pocket or one hand in my purse, thinking that would be at least a deterrent. I probably look something silly to anyone paying attention to my moves.

I have also been in several situations where I have gotten on my cell phone, and remained on my cell phone, for enjoyment AND for comfort, in uncertain situations. In fact, when people knock on my door, I often tell the person on the other line what is going on...to prep them...just in case I need a back up (from a distance).  When the situation is certain, I inform my friends what I am about to do, and then I get off the phone so that I can take action. My friends are keen in their detections.

And so I thought about this as I watched Rachel Jeantel's testimony in the GZ trial. The defense attorney tried to emphasize to Rachel that Trayvon had "confronted" GZ. The word confront has a negative connotation...well actually there are several definitions:

con·front
verb (used with object)
1.to face in hostility or defiance; oppose: The feuding factions confronted one another.
2.to present for acknowledgment, contradiction, etc.; set face to face: They confronted him with evidence of his crime.
3.to stand or come in front of; stand or meet facing: The two long-separated brothers confronted each other speechlessly.
4.to be in one's way: the numerous obstacles that still confronted him.
5.to bring together for examination or comparison.
However, the word approach, which the defense attorney used after Rachel's repeated insistence that Trayvon did not confront GZ, is a more innocent word:

ap·proach
verb (used with object)  

1.to come near or nearer to: The cars slowed down as they approached the intersection.
2.to come near to in quality, character, time, or condition; to come within range for comparison: As a poet he hardly approaches Keats.
3.to present, offer, or make a proposal or request to: to approach the president with a suggestion.
4.to begin work on; set about: to approach a problem.
5.to make advances to; address.

And yet Rachel still denied that Trayvon had approached GZ.

"No, sir...."

"He got close to Trayvon"

"I did not say Trayvon approached the man, sir"

I definitely appreciated her adamance. What Rachel had emphasized logically flows with the idea of someone who is being followed and is discovered. Trayon had no need to approach nor confront GZ because GZ was already in his pathway, running up on him. It was GZ who sought to confront.

As GZ told it, Trayvon had already circled his car, in the dark, perhaps appearing to say something. But GZ, who was on the phone with NEN, rolled up his windows as Trayvon neared. Why would Trayvon need to approach/confront this stranger a second time?

The defense attorney tried to insist that Rachel knew Trayvon was about to start a fight. He also indicated that that was why Rachel didn't "come forward to the police." To which Rachel replied,
"He would not allow me on the phone with him if he were about to have a fight."
Defense also tried to trip Rachel up by stating the obvious--that she wasn't there so she couldn't really know. 
"I don't know, sir...I wasn't there, sir."
And my response to Don West would have been,
No shit, sir.
But Rachel left us all with this classic line,
That's real retarded, sir.
Yes, it is retarded to think that she wouldn't know if her own friend Trayvon, with whom she had traded texts all day, with whom she had spoken to all day, with whom she had a history with...real retarded to think that she wouldn't know that Trayvon was running, out of breath, trying to lose GZ, and approached by GZ.

But then again, when you fixate on the Cracka aspect of it all (instead of the creepy) it is easy to lose focus.



Sunday

Coming Out of the Abortion Closet

The Daily Kos inspired me to interrupt my recent Trayvon Martin posts (that I just wrote after a looong Randi James writing hiatus) to talk about abortion. Thank you. I'm coming out of the abortion closet, again (see previous post: Abortion in Florida).

I have had sex, gotten pregnant, and had abortions. They went hand-in-hand.  If there was any other way to keep from having a child, short of not having sex, taking hormonal birth control, using condoms, and forcing pregnancy in order for adoption, then perhaps I wouldn't have gotten an abortion. But as it stands, I like to have sex, hormonal birth control is something I do not trust and has a shitload of effects, condoms have effects too that people don't often speak about, and no one is forcing me to be pregnant, sick, miserable, and have a distorted body plus recovery. Fuck. All. That.

The only reason I was ever "scared" of abortion is because of what I had listened to "everybody" say that was bad. I never personally knew any woman that had had an abortion that could potentially share with me its "horrible" experience.

Okay, there was another reason I was scared of abortion: It was because my mother was intent on "forcing" me to get one.

When I made the choice on my own as an adult it was much different. After I sought the wisdom of two Black pastors, one woman at my college, and one random man in the community church, I came to the decision on my own. Actually, I probably didn't need their help at all. I think what I tried to do, was get them to convince me NOT to do it. Thank GOD they did not play that role because me and my already living breathing baby would have been [more] FUCKED.

After the abortion was done, I actually couldn't believe how easy and quick it was. The nurse/doctor's description of the procedure was extremely accurate. I was awake and alert for the entire TEN MINUTES. I kept wanting to get up and leave, because I felt just dandy.

And so an abortion was that much easier the next time I ended up pregnant. My biggest hurdle was the money.

I've never tried to convince any women to have an abortion. I talk about it as an option just like choosing the dinner menu. My friends are pro-choice, but only one of them has had an abortion--and even that friend was previously staunchly against abortion for herself. I'm not interested in birth control that broke or failed. There is a failure rate with everything with typical use. And most people are just damn typical. No need to beat them up about.

The truth is that I believe that abortion can be your first option, not your last. I am actually pro-abortion. My typical remark to someone who feels like they are in a shaky situation is, "You can just have an abortion." And I am no more a fan of not having multiple abortions than I am a fan of multiple pregnancies. If abortion is your "birth control" (you know, that phrase that some 99% pro-choicers like to throw out in dismay), that's cool, too. I see the effects of women having unwanted children every day. That reality is much more harsh.

I do it because it works for me. If I were to get pregnant again, I'd probably have an abortion. But so far, with the depth of knowledge about my menstrual cycles, coupled with condom use in certain situations, withdrawal method in others, and $20 for a morning after pill here and there, I'm good.  It works for my body, my mind, and my finances.

Thank you for reading.

Rj

Crackas, Niggas, and Justice for Trayvon Martin, part 2

Being Followed...

As a child, my mother, along with the school system and the media, taught me to run and yell if a stranger was following me. Never approach approach him (and I do mean "him" because that was the profile of a stranger). Blow a whistle. Go somewhere safe and tell an adult [that was in a position to help you, preferably a police officer...but its not like officers are just standing/sitting around at every corner]. Scream, kick, scratch, and bite if it came down to it.

As I got into my teens, the stranger protocol was amplified and strategy was involved. Get a good glimpse and remember identifiable characteristics along with the license plate number. Don't run in a straight path, especially if he has a gun or is shooting. LOSE HIM. If it comes down to it, fight for your life by any means necessary: hands and feet, sticks and bricks and the knife or razor blade that was supposed to be in your purse/shoe.

As an adult and as a product of my experiences, I have become hypersensitive to certain events. Although I have never been abducted, I am weary about people following me. When I'm driving, especially after having recently stopped somewhere, I'm observing my surroundings and looking out my mirrors. This awareness may be the result of living in or near environments where at any moment, things are about to pop off. But the strangeness of it all, is that I have never really felt that way when I'm in or around "the hood." (Remember though, that I didn't grow up in the hood.) These fears manifest when I am solo out in the suburbs or even in areas of the city that aren't so colorful. White men look at me. They smile and inch closer to me at stoplights. And because I'm not generally attracted to white men I can't figure out if they are genuinely attracted to me and thus trying to get my attention, or if they are fetishizing me. As one white man said:
I just want to see your chocolate lips sliding up and down this white cock. 
Excuse me?!

Were I to be followed, my instinct would be to LOSE the person first. This attempt at losing him may involve passing my neighborhood, going way out of my way down the street, and circling other areas or my own area. The reason that this is in my best interest is because if I were to take a direct route to my home, I now open up a new vulnerability: this stranger knows my route, address, and therefore has access to me AND my family. That's a big, stupid no-no.

And so I thought of this while I was watching Rachel Jeantel's testimony in the GZ trial. I imagined Trayvon Martin having this awareness that a white man was following him, wondering what the man's next move would be while figuring out his own moves. I imagined how Rachel must've felt. She told Trayvon to run, but at first he said, "Nah." Running is what girls do, I imagine, especially when faced with the possibility of an unknown man. Trayvon was a young man though, and perhaps his first inclination was not to run. Running might be an expression of cowardice. But either the kid in him, or the strategy in him, eventually took over because he did run--evidenced the detection in his voice by Rachel.  I know when the person on the other end of my line is running or has been running. The detection is not only in the voice but the way the air, and body, hit the speaker. And when in doubt, just ask.

Once you think you've lost the person, what do you do next?
If the stranger reappears, what is your course of action?


Crackas, Niggas, and Justice for Trayvon Martin, part 1

Creepy...

Growing up, my mother taught me to fear white men. I don't know the personal basis for this fear that my mother was passing to me. White men were attracted to my mother. I recall respectful comments made to her and many glances while I was a child at her side. And although both of my parents grew up around all Blacks, I grew up around mostly white people. Therefore, most of my friends were white. There was no problem I could see with it from my vantage point.

Because of my parents' work schedules, I was often left alone--early mornings and throughout the afternoon. My mother had instilled a great fear in my about white men being perverts...aka rapists. At that time, there were a couple of high profile cases involving serial killers/rapists. I would lock myself in my room before and after school, paralyzed, trying to secure myself from what seemed like my inevitable rape by some random white dude.

Fortunately that never never happened. When I was raped, it was by my spouse, who happened to NOT be a white man. This situation was much more likely to happen than the stranger rapes we are taught to be "avoid." And I have never really had an attraction to white men. Something within me finds them...creepy...wondering if they are molesting children in their doubles lives with a white plumber's van somewhere.

And so this came to mind when I watched Rachel Jeantel's testimony at the GZ trial. Rachel reported that Trayvon called the man (GZ) "creepy." Rachel also mentioned that she made reference to the man as a "pervert."  I imagined how this may have weighed on the psyches of young, Black people like Rachel and Trayvon. I don't know their experience with white people, or white men in particular; but surely this creepy white man set off a red flag...evoking mental and physical responses.

What do you do when you suspect a creepy person is following you?
What do you teach your kids about this hypothetical situation?



Monday

Judge Explains Why Domestic Violence Injunction Was Denied in the Agbebaku Case

I just happened upon this opinion piece by Judge Jeremy T. Simmons. Let me know what you all think.

The Limitations of a Domestic Violence Injunction: The Rebuttal 

 On June 6, 2012, the Tampa Bay Times reported this story regarding the matter of Agbebaku vs. Agbebaku. You can take a look at the article and more importantly the comments to the story. This is my rebuttal to what, in my opinion, is the belief that the resulting homicide of Ingrid Agbebaku is somehow a result of the domestic violence injunction not being entered. Let me start off by saying that my heart goes out to Ingrid Agbebaku’s family, the minor children, and even to Eugene Agbebaku’s family.... read the rest here and then come back and read my response.



 My response: This judge has just wholly informed us that there is nothing that the law can do to protect victims of domestic violence. Protection from violence lies in the hands of the potential victim. Maybe a new alarm system would help, if you can pay for one. Maybe you can change your locks, if you can afford it. Maybe you can get a guard dog, as permissible by your landlord or community. Or maybe you should invest in gun classes and a good .45, glock or 9mm. Preservation of your life is your responsibility. Many of us already knew this, but ask yourselves why the law continues to stand in our way while we continue to beg for its mercy. Spread the word.