Wednesday, January 16, 2008

4 Little Girls: From Birmingham to D.C.

The Democratic presidential candidates, specifically Obama and Clinton, have moved the U.S. mainstream media to turn their attention to debates of race and gender. However, nothing of substance is coming out of all of this discussion. That is, unless you are particularly interersted in whether "Billary" really dissed Martin Luther King, Jr.

In focusing on issues of race and gender in this way, the media get scintillating sound bites, but do little to provide us with meaningful information regarding issues such as race and gender inequality and discrimination.

This brings me to "4 Little Girls (2008)." These are not the four little girls murdered by terrorist-racists in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. I am referring to the four little girls killed this month, in the shadows of this nation's capitol, by their mother Banita Jacks. This tragedy is where race and gender debates should pick up. How can this family of women disappear from our communities and not be missed? Are we really that invisible? Must we always first have a voice to get help if our partners have died, our utilities shut off, and our mental health ailing? What if all of these things prevent us from finding our voice and from screaming for assistance? Perhaps Ms. Jacks did find her voice; clearly too many failed to listen. Why is it that law enforcement could not gain access to Ms. Jacks home to save her children, but COULD get in to evict her and her four little girls to return her home to a bank? Are Black women's lives worth less than property? And, if the four little girls had been alive when deputies came to put them out in the January cold, where exactly were they to go? What were Banita, Aja, N'Kiah, Tatiana, and Brittany to do?

At least twice now, we have lost "4 Little Girls" to tragedy. In 1963 the Birmingham church bombing mobilized our communities. 45 years later, we are still losing our little girls. Shouldn't this be enough to shift our focus to meaningful race and gender, and class and policy debates?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog has captured my sentiments exactly. I also did not understand why the authorities were unwilling to intervene on the children's behalf, but were prompt in responding to the eviction order.