Posted in ACLU, C-Haze, Current Events, Discrimination, Heather Ellis, KKK, Ku Klux Klan, Missouri, News, Police Officers, Race, Racial Profiling, Racism, Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart, the Heart of America and Racism’s Ugly Head

Ah yes…

The issue of race has again reared its ugly head… this time, at Wal-Mart.

In 2007 a black woman named Heather- then a college student from New Orleans- was in Kennet, MO to visit family. She took a trip to the local Wal-Mart with her teenaged cousin to pick up a few things, and after shopping, the two opted to stand in seperate check-out lanes. Heather realized at some point that her cousin’s line was moving faster than her own. She left the line she was standing in and joined him, butting in front of several patrons to do so.

The customers that Heather moved in front of were not happy that she wasn’t willing to wait her turn, and told her so. At one point, the customer directly behind Heather put her things onto the conveyor belt while the two exchanging heated words. Heather, in response, angrily moved the woman’s things off the belt, replacing them with her own merchandise.

Heather claims that while this was occuring, other customers began hurling racial slurs at her. Witnesses dispute this, saying Heather was the one hurling insults, and that she was so loud, patrons at the rear of the store could actually hear her. She went “ballistic”, they say.

Upon paying for her items, Heather became further enraged when the cashier refused to give her back her change, opting instead to call the police.

The officers, upon arrival, stated that they tried to escort Heather to the parking lot, asking that she leave the facility because she was causing a scene. They said she became extremely beligerent, and was cursing, yelling that she wasn’t going anywhere without her change. Heather states that while attempting to escort her to the parking lot, one of the officers told her she should “go back to the ghetto”.

The incident ultimately escalated to the point that the officers chose to arrest Heather. When attempting to place the handcuffs on her, it is alleged that Heather kicked one officer in the shin, and busted the other officer’s lip. She was booked on charges of resisting arrest, assaulting police officers and disturbing the peace. While being placed in the police car, Heather’s cousin claims he saw her getting her head, repeatedly, slammed against the vehicle. When asked why they were being so rough with her, the officers responded that “she cursed”.

If  convicted, she was looking at a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Heather has always claimed the charges were blown up, and disputes all of the allegations against her but two- she admits she did switch check-out lanes at the Wal-Mart to join her cousin in line, and she does admit to touching another customers merchandise after it was placed on  the conveyor belt.

She has always believed that she was the target of racism.

The incident has opened old wounds in Kennet, MO, a small town with a history of racial intolerance.

Minorities- mostly black and hispanic- have for years accused the all-white Kennet police department of racial profiling. The ACLU staged a peaceful protest in Kennet after Heather’s arrest. The KKK joined the crowd of onlookers during the protest, carrying signs with swastikas and Klan slogans. At the end of the march, officers reported finding business cards allegedly printed by The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan stating that the Klan had been there, and that the “next visit will not be social”.

Heather, this past week, finally stood trial for the charges against her. Her lawyer, the well-known Missouri criminal defense attorney Scott Rosenblum, did not use the issue of race in Heather’s defense. It is important to note, she has no criminal history, has graduated from college since the incident, married, and is a school teacher.

Just as the case was given to the jury for deliberations, Heather reached a deal with prosecutors. In exchange for their dropping the more serious felony charges against her, Heather has agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. She will do no jail time, instead receiving a suspended sentence, one year of unsupervised probation, and will attend court-ordered anger management classes. If she completes the class and breaks no laws over the course of the next 12 months, the conviction will be sealed, and will not be part of her permanent record.

So what really happened that day in 2007 at the Wal-Mart in Kennet, MO? Was a woman unfairly targeted because of her race? Or was the woman, who just happens to be black, at fault here?

Unfortunately, we will likely never know.

Racism is all too real, and sadly, small town America is not exempt from this ugly fact. In actuality, many would claim small town America is where racism is at its worst.

The problem with this particular case is that we wouldn’t even be having a racial discussion at all, had Heather behaved herself. Had she stood in line, not butted in front of anyone, simply paid for her things and gone home, none of  this- not her arrest or her subsequent racial allegations- ever would have come to pass. By her own recollection, no one had given her any trouble whatsoever until she jumped in line and was confronted for doing so. It’s not as if she had been harassed from the moment she came into the store… it wasn’t until after she began displaying inappropriate behavior that people began reacting and saying inappropriate things.

It is not in dispute that Kennet, MO has had racial problems in the past. It is important to note, however, that the ACLU has never gotten itself involved in that particular town until Heather graced the scene. 

Seems to me that the ACLU would have had more success in bringing this town’s racial issues to light had they chosen to protest on behalf of some of the many minorities that have been targeted in that town while they were actually obeying the law. People who were simply driving through the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time, and were stopped by racially profiling police officers. Not some half-crazed black woman who was being treated just fine- as just another customer- until she decided to raise a ruckus, cause a scene, and show her ass. 

As minorities, we must stop using racism as a defense to our own bad behavior. We cannot expect to be taken seriously when, by our own admission, we are treated badly after behaving badly.

We have to do better.

The ACLU and the NAACP both have picked some terrible examples of late in an attempt to showcase racism in America. Be it this particular case or the one in Cambridge, MA when a black Harvard Law Professor acted a damn fool and was consequently arrested by a white police officer.

In both cases, racism was never a factor until after the minority in question behaved completely inappropriately.

Heather committed a crime in Kennet, MO, and unfortunately, because of her bad behavior, that town’s legitimate history of racism will not be discussed. We have missed yet another opportunity to hold a responsible conversation about the ills of racial disparity in America today. Heather has given the people of Kennet, MO, an excuse not to have to analyse their own behaviors and prejudices. They can simply look to her outlandish behavior, shrug their shoulders and say, “Just another black person behaving badly”.

The sad truth is that in this case, and in too many others, they’re right.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, Funny, Humor, Music, Single Mom

The Myth of the 3D Glasses

I need to have a word with this Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana chick, as I have unwittingly had to dedicate the better part of my weekend to her.

The reason for my despair is the showing of Ms. Montana’s “Best of Both Worlds” concert in 3D on television tonight.

I, of course, have heard nothing over the past 24 hours other than my daughter’s incessant wailing- “We just have to go get the 3D glasses! We have to!”

Well I tried dammit.

I looked everywhere for those stupid glasses and have come to the conclusion that they do not exist. There is not a single store in the entire metropolitan area that still has them in stock, and no one in the city- or elsewhere, for that matter- has any more of the TV Guide issues that supposedly contained them either.

I heard a rumor that Wal-Mart had them… so I called the store closest to my house.

“Yes, I’m calling to see if you have any more of…”

The person on the other end of the line didn’t even let me finish my sentence.

“No m’am, we are out of Hannah Montana glasses”

“How the hell did you know what I was calling for? I didn’t even get a chance to tell you…” I was sort of surprised. Wal-Mart employs psychics now?

The lady just laughed at me, explaining that every single call she has taken over the last 48 hours has been an anxious parent in need of these elusive glasses. She happily informed me that no one has them, and that they sold out the first day they came in.

I think the dumb glasses are a myth, and I’d bet a week’s salary at this point that it was all just a publicity stunt… an urban legend that will likely be debunked first thing Monday morning on snopes. Millions of parents all over the country will come to realize that they were the butt of the newest Disney joke.

My daughter’s watching this much-anticipated concert even as I type, and by the way she’s acting, you’d think this teen sensation is currently in my living room- in the flesh.

I am absolutely amazed at Disney’s ability to take a kid, slap a wig on her head, and somehow turn her into an entire industry.

Sigh.

I’m in the wrong damn line of work.

Posted in C-Haze, Funny, Humor, Single Mom

Internet, Staple Guns, Quitting Smoking and UPS

 

I quit smoking. I did it 2 days ago, cold turkey.

No smoking

I’ve certainly had the expected cravings… and have even felt homicidal a time or two. In addition, I am overly emotional. Yesterday, when my oldest daughter gave me a hug and thanked me for buying her a new outfit, I promptly burst into tears.

Last night was the most exciting of all. I’m real jumpy since I quit smoking, and have a lot of what I can only describe as nervous energy.

I’ll explain.

I recently switched internet/cable providers. I went from broadband/cable to DSL/sattelite dish. The new company chose to send me a self-install kit to get my new internet service up and running. No installation fees!! Yay!

There were a few minor challenges from the start. First, UPS refused to deliver the equipment to my home, on account of my not being there, and therefore being unavailable to sign for the package… so I had to run out to the UPS office and get it myself. Next, since I’m switching to DSL, I had to figure out where my phone jacks are located. I should probably already know this, right? But I didn’t. I only had a cell phone until 2 days ago… I couldn’t have told you if I even had phone jacks, let alone where they were located. After my search, I realized I had another minor bump. The phone jack, the one that’s closest to my computer- which is in the living room- isn’t really that close at all- it’s in the kitchen. So in addition to having to grab the internet install kit, I needed to pick up a super-long phone cord. No big deal.

Except when you’ve just given up smoking, that is.

Regardless, I managed to pick the stuff up, and get my ultra-long phone cord with only the most minor of meltdowns.

Side note- to that nice UPS guy, I am so sorry for threatening to bust your clipboard over your head if you didn’t get off the phone with your pregnant wife and find my package NOW!!. To the people at that little corner store where I bought the phone cord, I truly apologize for my 3 year old squatting and pooping in aisle 5. I further apologize for tearfully trying to bribe you to take her- and keep her- forever. I was kidding, I swear.

Anyway, so I get home, open the package and pull out the install CD.

That’s when I realize my CD Rom drive is broken. For Christ’s sake!! What’s next?!?!

From my diagnostic poking around, I realize my youngest daughter has shoved rubber bands and a sales receipt in there. Damn thing is just plain broken.

How the hell do I run the install CD with no CD Rom drive?

Sigh. Off to Wal-Mart I go. My thought was to buy an external drive,  something small and cheap, that I can plug into my USB port. PERFECT plan. Except Wal-Mart didn’t have any external drives.

By this point, I am absolutely psychotic, and on a mission. My options are to either figure out how to get myself connected to the internet OR buy a pack of cigarettes with a vodka chaser. Since I’m not quite ready to admit defeat in the ciggy/vodka department, I instead decide that my only choice is to forge ahead with the internet. I WILL have internet tonight, dammit! So I buy an actual CD Rom Drive, only doing so after lecturing the Wal-Mart lady about how many potential customers her organization is losing by not providing external CD Rom drives.

 <—– THIS is what I had to buy!

Leaving the store I realize I have no idea how the hell I’m supposed to install this thing. All I know is that without something to run that install CD on I’m not getting online. Besides, how hard can it be? There are instructions in the box!

Once home, I realize the directions are no help whatsoever. They use big words that only computer geeks would know… so I immediately threw them away. All they did was confuse me anyway.

Before long, I am sprawled out on the kitchen floor with my computer- in about 47 different pieces. I had managed to dismantle the entire damn thing, and I can tell you all I recognized on that floor was the CD Rom drive. Happy to have located it (WITHOUT those stinkin’ directions, I might add), I removed the old drive and put the new one in, careful to hook everything up exactly as it had been before I’d preformed surgery on it.

Holy Hannah, it worked!!

After a few minor bumps (I guess I should also apologize to that kind tech support lady at AT&T. I truly did not mean it when I said I was going to climb through the phone and physically assault you, if you didn’t hurry up and get my internet to work- I mean really- people can’t climb through phones!), I was online and happy.

So what if I have a 9,000 foot phone cord dragging on the floor from my living room, past the bathroom and into the kitchen? That’s what I figured staple guns were for. Only when I happened to casually mention to my mother that I intended to staple the living daylights out of that phone cord to get it permanently affixed along the ceiling- and therefore NOT dragging across my floor- she told me that I was facing certain death. Seems she lacks the confidence that I can take a metal staple gun and manage to shoot metal staples into an electrical cord and live to tell about it. Either that, or she believes I will staple myself in the head on accident. Then, what will the children do?

 

So for now the cord is laying there on the floor (and it’s quite ugly, I might add). For the record, I do not believe I will electrocute myself if I carry out my original plan with the staple gun. I do, however think it is entirely possible that I will staple myself in the head. Either on purpose, or on accident, you decide. I figure that might push me over the edge and make me fall right off that wagon.

Here’s to the internet, and addictions. Sure does make life interesting when you have ’em both!