Stopping (Constitutionally) Sanctioned Violence against Women of Color

On March 3rd, 2009, Aniysah was taken from her mother’s arms by New York’s Family Court System and placed in the care of Aniysah’s father who has a history of domestic violence offenses. Furthermore, there were no records verifying that she would be taken to a safe living environment or that she was enrolled in school. Questions about her health and well-being went unanswered. That was over 150 days ago. To date, Aniysah remains lost in the family court system. A system where black and brown children go missing every day. A system where black mothers like Aniysah’s are often left to fend for themselves in a brutal, dogged battle just to make sure their children are safe. On the surface, this case appears to be a simple custody dispute, however, if one digs deeper it is a story about the injustices of New York’s Family Court System and how it fails brown women and children daily and how it can be used to further terrorize and re-victimize survivors of domestic violence.

Here at Document the Silence, one of our goals is to break the silence surrounding violence against women of color, particularly those who are poor and working class. Moreover, we want to raise awareness about how this violence informs and intersects with various aspects of our culture, including the media, and the legal system. Thus, we think it’s critical to point out that the “Where’s Aniysah” campaign is not only about the failings of the family court system but is also about domestic violence and how it has shaped the legal struggles of Aniysah and her mother, Angeline. As a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of Anyisah’s father, Angeline is a living testament to the “intimate” connections between experiences of abuse among women of color and the mistreatment they experience in the family court system. Because of the case is still pending we cannot list all the facts of the case in this email, but you can find all the facts on our website.

It’s time to hold the family court system accountable. Document the Silence asks that you join them in the “Where’s Aniysah?” campaign by posting information about this case on your blogs, online social networks and throughout your community (http://documentthesilence.wordpress.com). At the website you will also find a petition, and suggestions for what you can do to demand that justice is served on August 24, 2009. We especially encourage you to leave comments on the site expressing your support for Aniysah. Also, please feel free to forward this email.

If you are in the New York City area, please show your support for Angeline’s case by coming to her next family court hearing on August 24, 2009 at 11:00 am. The courthouse is located at:

Courtroom E-123, Annex Building
Justice Fernando M. Camacho
125-01 Queens Boulevard
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

If you can make it to Angeline’s next court hearing on August 24, 2009, please let us know by emailing us at: WheresAniysah_Campaign@yahoo.com

Thank you in advance for doing your part in breaking the silence surrounding injustices against women and children of color.

In solidarity,

Fallon S. Wilson, Document the Silence Organizer

"Skinny-Bitches are [NOT] evil"

 

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fwjdtzk1Zs&feature=related

In 2001, Mo’Nique in Queens of Comedy came to the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis. She enters from a rotating pyramid. As she steps on the stage, she gives Memphis its props, and then says to all the “fat girls”  “…stand y’all fat asses up and take a motha-fuckin’[sic] bow.”

She goes on to exclaim:

“Godt-dammit[sic] big women,  Alright big girl  you’d better represent it godt-dammit[sic]. You’d better do it, ya [sic] fat ass. I love ya baby-girl, you handle yo[sic] shit. Fuck you skinny bitches, Na! Fuck you skinny anorexic bulimic motha-fuckas [sic], what?!….Look at ‘er[sic] shakin’, bitch cause ya hungry…Skinny women are evil and they need to be destroyed, baby.”

A Gay Man's Struggle: Leviticus Said "Man Shall Not Lie With Man"

religion

 

In High School I went to a church that rallied students to stand in front of abortion clinics with red tape covering their mouth and black marker written on the tape displaying one simple word. “Life.” I never personally went on these escapades, but there was already a contradiction building between my personal life and my religious life, my God and my homosexuality, my religion and my passion for civil liberties.

Beginning from before I was able to read, before I was old enough to understand what homosexuality was, before I began to have an attraction to any type of sex, I knew one thing…being gay was wrong. And I knew this single fact because of my up bringing in the church. The bible verse that is most frequently used against homosexuals in the church is in the Torah, in the book of Leviticus “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination”(Lev. 18:22).

blog 8 pic1

 

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH MAN

Now times the last ten lines by one hundred and you will understand how many times I heard my pastor and his raspy Baptist voice speak this line. I was brainwashed. As a little kid I was taught to think being gay was wrong. And I didn’t have a problem with that for quite a while, until I realized and came to accept that I had some homosexual tendencies myself. 🙂

It is funny how this bible verse is repeated so often, yet the bible verse a couple chapters later that tells “God’s People” not to eat shellfish is often ignored at the very same Baptist Church Friday night-fish-fry.

blog 8 #2

The other frequently used bible reference that is used to quickly give evidence to all homo-phobs that homosexuality is wrong, is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In this story God “supposedly” destroys a city of gay people, because…well…when I was a kid in church, I was taught that God destroyed the city because the people were gay. I encourage everyone not to just listen to these traditional and bigoted pastors about what the bible says, but listen to the theologians that give the other side to this argument.

Youtube wins again…check out the first gay man to be the head of a Episcopal Church. 

The Bible Tells Me So

The Push for "Precious"

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca_vv6urOCY

Just last week, I stumbled upon a movie trailer on YouTube that really caught my attention.  The independent film, Precious, tells the story of Claireece “Precious” Jones, a Harlem-bred, morbidly obese, pregnant, HIV-positive, illiterate, junior high school student who struggles with low self-esteem.  If that isn’t already an earful, Precious’ story is further complicated by the presence of her welfare-collecting mother (played by Mo’Nique), who verbally and physically abuses her on a daily basis.  While the film’s overall tone appears to be overwhelmingly bleak, Precious manages to find refuge with her compassionate and empowering schoolteacher.

Cruel Summer


R.I.P. John Hughes

It’s been a tough summer for 80s babies. Though Purple Rain–and my sister–turned 25, those of us who remember taper-legged jeans and neon colors the first time around have had a rough summer vacation with the death of Michael Jackson and now John Hughes. Frankly, the shit is freaking me out. I’m getting old(er).

The Problem with "America's Next Top Model"

A couple of months ago a good friend of mine asked me to accompany her to America’s Next Top Model auditions here in chicago.

shes a huge fan of the show, and can pretty much tell you everything you want to know about all 12 cycles. shes also always wanted to be a model… and since this cycle is focused on petite women (5’7″ and under)… it seemed like her perfect chance…

i tend to be pretty shy and private, so i’ve never had any desire to be a model at any point in my life. but… recently i’ve been working on being more adventurous and expanding beyond my own worldview… and i wanted to support her… so i decided to tag along…

Where's Aniysah? A Campaign to End Violence Against Women of Color

This week, I am going to feature a blog I wrote for Document the Silence which is a website I co-founded dedicated to ending violence against women of color. Right now, we are in the midst of mounting a national online media campaign todsc_0138 document how domestic violence and the family court system work in tandem to re-victimize women of color survivors. The title of the campaign is “Where’s Aniysah?” It is a campaign about the (in)justice system and how it fails brown women and children daily. Specifically, it is a story about a mother named Angeline and a daughter named Aniysah. The blog I wrote below gives more details about the case.

A Tragic Story of Continual Violence against Women of Color: Anyisah’s Mother’s Story, Angeline

Here at Document the Silence, one of our goals is to break the silence surrounding violence against women of color, particularly those who are poor and working class. Moreover, we want to raise awareness about how this violence informs and intersects with various aspects of our culture, including the media, politics dsc_03711and the legal system.  Thus, we think it’s critical to point out that the “Where’s Aniysah” campaign is not only about the failings of the family court system.  But, it’s also about domestic violence and how it has shaped the legal struggles of Aniysah and her mother, Angeline.  As a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of Anyisah’s father, Angeline’s story is a testament to the “intimate” connections between experiences of abuse among women of color and the mistreatment they experience in the family court system

As word continues to spread about this campaign, we’ve received two important questions about Aniysah’s story that, when considered, illuminate the ways that Anyisah’s father used the legal system to continue to terrorize and harass Angeline and Aniysah.

Many people have emailed us asking, “How did Anyisah end up in family court system?”

Answer:

  • Angeline separated from Aniysah’s father because he was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive.  Angeline has documentation of his abuse and the court orders forcing him to take anti-battering classes. Judge Fernando Camacho issued an Order of Protection for the father to stay away from Angeline and Aniysah, May of 2005.
  • Even though Angeline separated from Aniysah’s father, he continued to harass and terrorize Angeline and Aniysah by fabricating lies to Child Protective Services (CPS) and filing for full custody of Aniysah. June 2005 – October 2006 Judge Morgenstern issued several Orders of Protection for the father to stay from Angeline.
  • Judge Morgenstern granted the father unsupervised visits on the weekend with Aniysah at the father’s mother’s house. However, just as the unsupervised weekend visits begin, Aniysah begins to display unusual behaviors. She told the social worker that someone named “grandpa” touched her inappropriately. Aniysah developed a rash between her legs and Angeline takes her daughter to the doctor and the doctor reports the rash to CPS as a possible issue of child abuse. At this point, the doctor at the emergency room reported on the possibility of Aniysah being abused while in her father’s care.

The second question people have asked us, “How and why was Anyisah taken from her mother, Angeline?”

Answer:

  • The law guardian appointed to the family’s case within the court system continued to make false accusations by suggesting that Angeline is fabricating lies about the father sexually abusing his daughter. However, Angeline has not once reported these accusations and the Child Protective Services’ reports as well as the emergency room reports show that Angeline never once accused the father. These reports were filed independently by the doctor and the social worker.
  • In response to the Law Guardian’s lies, unlawful actions, and inappropriate behaviors, Angeline wrote a letter to Judge Morgenstern explaining how the Law Guardian is fabricating lies as well as not following protocol and proper procedures for reporting on Anyisah’s care when she is with her father. Judge Morgenstern disregarded Angeline’s complaints and maintained that the law guardian was following procedure.
  • Without any legal recourse to protect Aniysah, Angeline moves with Aniysah to Utah, where Angeline’s mother lives, to protect Aniysah and herself. While in Utah, Angeline starts a new and renewed life for Aniysah and herself.
  • While Angeline is in Utah, Judge Morgenstern summons her to court.  However, she was never contacted in Utah. The papers were delivered to her old lawyer who she was no longer a client of. She documented proof that she informed the law guardian that the old lawyer no longer represented her beginning in August of 2006. Because Angeline did not show up to court, Judge Esther Morgenstern granted the father custody of Anyisah even though Judge Morgenstern knew the court file contained the returned notices showing that the mother had never been served.
  • Angeline’s 20 year-old son wanted to see his mother. Angeline came back to New York where she decided to have dinner with her son. While having dinner the cops come to arrest her and take Anyisah because of the warrant that was issued.
  • Because Angeline did not have any family in New York to provide care for Aniysah, the police officers were informed by Child Protective Services that they had to take Aniysah to the paternal grandmother’s home.
  • It has been 122 days since Angeline has seen Aniysah on March 3rd, 2009. She has only seen Aniysah on two occasions each one hour visits each costing of $125.00 each visit.  She has had no physical or phone contact with her daughter at all during the month of August.

Overall, Angeline’s story shows how domestic violence and being a woman of color in the family court system are “intimately” tied to the injustices women of color endure when trying to protect their children and themselves. In order to advocate for Angeline and Anyisah, we must see the complexities of her case and how Anyisah’s father could continue to harass and abuse Angeline and Anyisah through the court system. A court system that ignores black and brown women because it fundamentally sees poor and working class women of color as women who are incapable of making sound decisions about their lives and the lives of their children. This is a systemic problem.

With respect to Angeline’s case, the two judges who have chosen to ignore the facts of Angeline’s case and the law guardian who has been unethical in her testimonies are equally complicit in the abuse of Anyisah and Angeline. They, like Aniysah’s father, must be held accountable because they represent a legally sanctioned system of abuse. “Where’s Aniysah?” is a cry countless numbers of women of color cry daily when having to negotiate the terrains of domestic violence and terrains of the family court system. Where’s Aniysah . . . Where’s Aniysah . . . and how do we protect her and her mother from continual abuse.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AybEcaiR_DI

It’s time to hold the legal system accountable. Document the Silence asks that you join them in the “Where’s Aniysah?” campaign by posting information about this case on your blogs, online social networks and throughout your community. You can find out more about this campaign to stand against injustices against our children in the legal system by visiting the Document the Silence. There are additional facts and information about Anyisah’s case, and suggestions for what you can do to demand that justice is served on August 24.  We especially encourage you to leave comments on the site expressing your support for Aniysah and any details about what you plan to do to help.

Blacks and BAD HAIR

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0KHbK81QxI

I am looking forward to the theatre release of this comic documentary Good Hair about black folks’ obsession with ‘good’ hair. Chris Rock’s drive to start this project came when his daughter asked him why she didn’t have good hair. My best friend feels that “most people don’t think about [hair] in terms [of self-hate] as much these days.  It’s almost viewed as good grooming, particularly for Black women…like brushing one’s teeth.” I want to expand the discussion to include black men as well because we too process our “nappy” hair.  So for me honestly, it is not about self-hate it is mostly about good grooming and appeal.