Tragic, Senseless Losses…

I was planning to post my “Five for Friday” fun facts, but decided to put it off until next week. Two tragic, senseless events occurred this week, but there has been little reported about them. Most outlets, everywhere I look, are fawning over the Drumpf and how “presidential” he’s suddenly become because he knows how to launch missiles and drop bombs. That is supposed to be the last resort, when all other things have failed – but this jackass is determined to do anything to distract from the scandals and valid questions surrounding his administration, and it appears to be working.

The two events I’m referring to are, first, the shooting in San Bernardino. Karen Smith, a teacher, was shot and killed by her estranged husband on Monday, 10 April. One of her students, 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, also died after being caught in the crossfire; another student, aged nine, was wounded. Karen hadn’t been married to her husband very long, and it was apparently troubled. She was staying at the homes of relatives in order to hide from him, yet he showed up at her place of employment – a school – and took her life, then his own. From NBC News:

Out of fear of her estranged husband, Karen Smith began staying at the homes of relatives in order to hide from him, family sources told NBC 4 Los Angeles. Adam Smith said her death came as a surprise, and that his mother and her husband had problems but he never imagined Anderson was capable of this.

The four adult children declined to discuss Karen Smith’s relationship with Anderson further, but they opened up about their mother’s love for her work. Karen Smith, a grandmother of three, home-schooled her children for eight years before she pursued her career as a special education teacher. As both mother and educator, she formed a tight-knit bond with her children.

“Personally, she was my rock, my best friend and my world,” Jennifer Smith, Karen Smith’s daughter, said. Jennifer Smith, who became a teacher like her mother, said Karen Smith’s impact last long after her students left her classroom. “Oftentimes former students would contact her and thank her for helping them graduate from high school,” Jennifer said. “Children were the light of her world and their success was hers.”

Adam Smith agreed, saying that during his mother’s 10-year career, she enjoyed seeing her students succeed and excel in their work. After their mother’s death on Monday, Karen Smith’s children were still reeling from the loss. “She didn’t deserve to die like this,” Adam Smith said, his voice catching.”

The sickness and evil of people like Cedric Anderson cannot be overstated enough. Psychos and sociopaths, for whatever reason, become obsessed with the person they feel has “wronged” them. Their desperate attention-seeking becomes more and more dangerous, to the point of stalking, baiting, bullying, and other types of harassment. They can’t accept it when another doesn’t want them in their lives, and take the rejection so personally that they blame the other person instead of looking at themselves to see where the issue lies. Everything is the fault of someone else, in their twisted, broken little minds.

The loss of a caring, loving teacher is such a shame, as is the death of a young boy who had his whole life ahead of him. Two lives tragically cut short, because some damaged-beyond-repair cretin couldn’t handle the fact that his marriage was over, and his actions were the cause of it. Domestic violence affects many, and the most dangerous time for a person escaping an abusive relationship is when they’ve physically left it; this shooting shows that fact in a glaring light.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam: 14 March 1952 – 12 April 2017

The second event is the mysterious death of Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman, and the first Muslim, to serve on New York’s highest court. Her fully-clothed body was pulled out of the Hudson River on Wednesday, 12 April, a day after she was reported missing. No cause of death has been announced, and the results of an autopsy conducted yesterday were inconclusive, but her death is being treated as a suicide – and that irks me to no end. From Al-Jazeera:

Tributes were paid on Thursday to Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman to serve on New York’s highest court. Police pulled Abdus-Salaam’s fully clothed body from the Hudson River on Wednesday, a day after she was reported missing. The 65-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. No cause of death has been announced.

There were no signs a crime had been committed in her death, a police spokesman said on Thursday. Law enforcement officials speaking on condition of anonymity told US media that investigators were treating the death as a suicide. One of the officials said both the judge’s mother and brother had died in recent years around Easter, the brother by suicide.

Results of an autopsy conducted on Thursday were inconclusive. “The cause and manner of death are pending further studies following today’s examination,” Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the city’s medical examiner, said in a statement. Abdus-Salaam was widely reported to have been the country’s first female Muslim judge. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo hailed Abdus-Salaam as “a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all”.

“As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state’s Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer,” Cuomo said. “Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come.”

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said her colleague will be “missed deeply”. “Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her,” DiFiore said. Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said her example and work on civil rights issues were inspiring to women, Muslims, and African Americans. “Her story was a story of success, empowerment and inspiration,” he said.

The president of the New York State Bar Association, Claire P Gutekunst, noted Abdus-Salaam grew up poor in a family of seven children in Washington, DC, and “rose to become one of the seven judges in New York’s highest court, where her intellect, judicial temperament and wisdom earned her wide respect”.

Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She became a public defender in Brooklyn after law school, the New York Times said, representing people who could not afford lawyers. She went on to serve as a lawyer for New York state government and city’s office of labour services. In one of her first cases, she won an anti-discrimination suit for more than 30 female New York City bus drivers who had been denied promotions.”

Is it possible that she committed suicide? Sure. Do I believe that it was a suicide? Not really. It’s difficult for me to believe that, especially in light of this recent assault on another Muslim woman, which happened on Monday in Milwaukee. From the Huffington Post:

Police are investigating the vicious assault Monday of a Muslim woman in Milwaukee in what the local community is calling a hate crime. The 58-year-old woman, who does not want to be identified, told Fox6Now a man armed with a knife attacked her while she was walking home from her mosque early Monday. She said a car pulled up alongside her and he hopped out, demanding that she remove her hijab. “I tried to fight him,” she told the local news channel. “‘Don’t take my hijab,’ you know? So he threw me on the floor then he beat me like an animal.”

“Before he hurt me, I said ‘today I gonna die,” she recounted to WISN. “I gonna die.’” The council of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, where the woman attends mosque, described the assault in a letter to its members this week: He then grabbed her head and removed her hijab and began to attack her. She is a petite woman in her late 50s. She tried to resist. Her nose began to bleed from the hits she suffered. Besides punching and kicking our sister in the head and back while she was on the ground, he also had a knife. The jacket she was wearing has a long vertical cut in the back and also a cut on the arm of the jacket. Our sister suffered a cut on her arm that, alhamdulillah [praise God], was not serious. As expected, she was terrified. The attacker did not ask for money nor did he take her phone. The attacker then returned to his car and sped off.

The woman managed to walk home, where she then suffered a seizure, her lawyer, Munjed Ahmad, told The Huffington Post. Ahmad said the woman is epileptic and the attack likely induced the seizure. A friend later arrived at the woman’s home and called 911. She was transported to a local hospital where she was sedated and released the following day. Ahmad told HuffPost the woman suffered a bloody nose, a laceration on her arm, a bloodied face, a black eye, and bruising on her face. Her hijab and a copy of the Quran she was carrying were both bloodied during the attack.”

This is just one of many hate-driven assaults perpetrated upon Muslim people. The ignorant, racist hate-mongers out there think that anyone wearing a head-covering, such as the turbans worn by Sikhs, are Muslim. A Sikh gentleman was shot in his own driveway here in Washington state, in the city of Kent, back at the beginning of March. Attacks such as these are just the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately. Denying the amount of vitriol and hate that has surfaced since the selection of the Drumpf is being blindly, willfully ignorant – and in some ways, being so is the worst crime of all. Unfortunately, Sheila Abdus-Salaam might not get the due justice deserved, even though she did much good for a lot of people. It’s entirely possible that her religion and her career made her a target for multiple reasons, and a crime of opportunity can look like a suicide if it isn’t investigated thoroughly. The fact that her death has barely made a ripple on the news or across the interwebs shows how little people care about the death of Black people in general, and Black women in particular…and that’s a shame.

So Much Ugliness…

You just have to wonder what the fuck is going on in the world these days. I stay informed because keeping one’s head in the sand isn’t a solution for anything, so I check out what goes on in the USA and around the world – and sometimes I regret doing so. Here’s what happened in the past week:

On Friday, 20 September, 13 people were injured in a shooting at a park in Chicago, Illinois. A 3-year-old boy was the youngest victim, who was shot in the cheek but expected to survive. From the BBC:

Rev Corey Brooks shows three-year-old Deonta Howard recovering from a gunshot wound at Mt Sinai Hospital in Chicago 23 September 2013

“A three-year-old boy and several others were in a critical condition after the attack in a park on the city’s south side.

Witnesses said one or two gunmen opened fire. Police told local media the boy was the most seriously hurt.

Chicago saw more murders last year than New York City, which has a population three times bigger.

Julian Harris told the Chicago Sun-Times that his three-year-old nephew was wounded in the cheek after gang members opened fire at him and others.

“They hit the light pole next to me but I ducked down and ran into the house,” Mr. Harris said. “They’ve been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night.”

The dozen or so injured in the shooting at Cornell Square Park ranged in age from 15 to 41.

An unnamed neighbour told the Chicago Tribune: “Man, it was a lot of shots. Man, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. A little boy got hit in the face.”

On Friday, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told the Associated Press news agency an assault-style weapon with a high-capacity magazine was used in the shooting.

Supt. McCarthy said several victims are believed to be gang members and that investigators suspect the attack to be gang-related.

Firefighters used hoses to wash blood off the basketball court once police had finished examining the crime scene.

Chicago police officer Amina Greer said 10 ambulances were needed to transport victims to nearby hospitals following the shooting at 22:00 local time (03:00 GMT) on Thursday.

At least two other minors, ages 15 and 17, were among the victims, according to media reports.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement: “Senseless and brazen acts of violence have no place in Chicago and betray all that we stand for.

“The perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

At the time of this post, four young men have been charged with the crime.

Prabhjot Singh, a Sikh professor at Columbia University and prominent advocate, was attacked and beaten by a group of youths in New York City, who yelled anti-Muslim slurs and they kicked him in the body and face on Monday, 23 September. More from Al-Jazeera:

“NEW YORK — A Columbia University professor was attacked by a group of 15 to 20 young men on bicycles Saturday in Harlem in an alleged hate crime against Sikhs.

Police said one of the men pulled Prabhjot Singh’s beard while the teenagers yelled “get Osama” and “terrorist.” Singh, who wears a turban and is a public advocate for interfaith dialogue, was kicked several times to the body and face.

“There were about 20 of them,” Singh said. “A few surrounded me, started punching me and pulling my beard.” He was hospitalized for his injuries and received surgery for a possible fracture in his left jaw, according to a statement.

Amardeep Singh, program director of the Sikh Coalition, a national advocacy organization founded after 9/11, said the incident is a part of systematic discrimination against Sikhs in the United States.

“What happened did not happen in a vacuum,” he said. “Here in New York City, we regularly receive reports that Sikh school children are called ‘bin Laden’ or ‘terrorist’ by classmates and sometimes endure physical violence.”

Sikhs have suffered from a spate of attacks in recent years based on prejudices against their religion. A recent Stanford University survey showed that 70 percent of turban wearers in the U.S. are misidentified as Muslim (48 percent), Hindu, Buddhist or Shinto.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded in the Punjab region of India in the late 15th century and has no ties to Islam.”

It’s just so senseless and sickening. Things like this make my blood boil, especially when there are unthinking asshats who dismiss, diminish, and justify things like this whilst screaming about some “anti-white racism” bogeyman they’ve created in their tiny minds.

A soldier moves to take up a position outside an upscale shopping mall, seen background, in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday 21 September 2013.

In Nairobi, Kenya, the Westgate Shopping Mall was stormed by al-Shabab militants who used grenades and guns to lay siege to the building, killing 68 people and injuring dozens more. This happened on Saturday, 21 September, but it took a few days for local forces to end the siege. The BBC and Al-Jazeera had a lot coverage of these incidents, more so than most other national sites I looked at. Sadly, renowned Ghanaian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor was one of the victims of that attack:

“John Dramani Mahama on Sunday said in a statement: “I am shocked to hear the death of Professor Kofi Awoonor in the Nairobi mall terrorist attack. Such a sad twist of fate.”

Awoonor, 78, was killed and his son wounded at the Westgate mall, Ghana’s Deputy Information Minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu said. He added that Awoonor’s son has been discharged from the hospital.

Awoonor was scheduled to appear at the Storymoja Hay literary festival in Nairobi on Saturday.

Kwame Dawes, a cousin of Awoonor as well as a poet who was in Nairobi at the time of the attack, said Awoonor and his son were separated when the shooting started.

“I think the son went to pick up something at the mall. Professor Awoonor was in the parking garage waiting for him,” Dawes told the AFP news agency. 

“The son was shot while he was inside the mall. We don’t know at what point the professor was shot.”

Religious extremism is certainly nothing new, and it’s interesting to note that the social constructs meant to divide all people, whether they are politics, religion, ‘race’ and/or ‘class’ – they are the ones which people question the least and believe the most. As long as these constructs go unquestioned and unchallenged, things like this will become more and more commonplace everywhere. You’d think that we all would want better for ourselves! Aren’t we tired of occurrences like this? Life is so precious…why it’s meaningless to some people, I’ll never know.

Last but not least, I read about the 1813 racist text messages between two teachers in Pennsylvania on the Field Negro blog the other day. Those disgusting texts are shocking, to say the least…sadly, I can’t say that I’m surprised by them. Anyone who believes that people who are teachers, doctors, attorneys, first responders, or any other so-called ‘public employee’ can’t possibly be racist is a deluded fool. I’ve experienced racism at the hands of people in those professions at one time or another during my life, so this latest incident is nothing new. I wonder when others will stop pretending to be shocked at the racism that is prevalent in this country – I would guess that those who are surprised aren’t old enough to know better…it’s really nothing new under the sun.

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