It’s never a good feeling to lock the door to your home, and not know when, if ever, you can really return.
At present, my husband, my 81 year old father and I are hunkered down in a hotel in central Florida. Our home in Miami is in the path for a direct hit from Hurricane Irma; the storm may follow us to where we are, causing us to consider running again. We are luckier than most in that we are able to leave town, and not head to a shelter. Hurricane shelters, contrary to how one sheriff in particular portrays them, are not centers of crime and assault. It is literally a a building (often a school) in a safer area that allows you to lay a blanket on the floor until the danger is over. A shelter is safe but not at all comfortable.
Many of my friends have chosen to stay put in their homes. There are many reasons why folks do not leave. Some can’t afford the crazy airline prices out of town; others worry that it is too late to leave, and don’t want to get caught in the storm due to traffic jams on the major highways.
Recently, it has come to light that some in the media show great disparities in how they report the aftermath of hurricane, based on race. Many of us reflect back to Hurricane Katrina, where there were pictures of residents doing whatever they need to do to survive. Unfortunately, when white folks were depicted taking food or items from stores, they were portrayed as survivors. When people of color did the same, they were portrayed as looters.
The reason given was that my license plate cover was too dark. I never thought it was, nor had I been warned for this previously.
In the past, I had my prosecutor’s badge to protect me — not anymore.
I’m the number two in the state for the most powerful civil liberties organization – the ACLU.
And I felt fear.
I placed my hands over the steering wheel, in full view of the officer. When he asked for my registration, I made sure to move slowly, with my hands continuously in full view.
He commented on my sports car, and my President Obama pin hanging from my rear view mirror. He also commented on my novelty license plate. My plate can be construed in several ways — commonly it is thought to support Black Lives Matter. In truth, the plate is a combination of mine and my husband’s initials. I don’t correct people, because I support intelligent policing. I always liked the double entendre.
Please my latest in Huffington Post on the continuing saga of Dr. Dao, who was violently dragged off of a United Airlines flight.
This week, many people were left in shock after viewing the troubling video of 69 year old Dr. David Dao being dragged from his seat on overbooked United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville. Amid the public relations nightmare for the airline, another story has been emerging — that the doctor is a convicted felon. Dr. Dao was involved in issuing fraudulent prescriptions, possibly as part of a destructive romantic relationship. He was convicted in 2005, having lost his license to practice medicine when he was first indicted in 2003. After a long battle, probation, and paying his debt to society, he received his medical license again in 2015.
Knowing the background actually does explain why he was so reluctant to get off the plane. It was reported that Dr. Dao stated he had patients who he needed to attend to in the morning, which is why he refused to relinquish his seat. Dr. Dao was probably was thinking “I am certainly not missing my appointments so soon after getting my license back”.
Yesterday, Florida Governor Rick Scott overstepped his boundaries by removing Florida 9th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala from handling the Markeith Loyd murder case for her refusal to seek the death penalty. The defendant has been charged with the Orlando murders of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon, and Orlando Police Lieutenant Debra Clayton.
State Attorney Ayala explained her decision, stating that she was no longer seeking the death penalty in any of her cases, because “Florida’s death penalty has been the cause of considerable legal chaos, uncertainty and turmoil.” She further said capital punishment often leads to years of appeals and other court hearings, and that it costs more than a life sentence. Florida law gives every state attorney the discretion on whether or not to seek the death penalty.
Ms. Ayala holds the distinction of being the first African American state attorney in the state of Florida. Elected in November 2016, she assumed office at the beginning of this year. In her short time in office, she now also holds the distinction of being the only prosecutor removed in this fashion by this governor.
John R.K. Howard, photo from Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office
Chicago 4, courtesy of Associated Press
Hey RLD Family, and Happy New Year!
My newest post in the Huffington Post tackles the recent attack on a disabled man in Chicago. Before you flip out — read the article until the end.
What’s Fair is Fair: Give the Chicago 4 Probation
It has recently come to light that four young people in Chicago brutally assaulted a disabled young man. They filmed the entire incident on Facebook Live, and broadcast it for all to see. He was kidnapped, forced to drink toilet water, and was beaten repeatedly. Brittany Covington, Tesfaye Cooper, Jordan Hill, are 18. The last offender was Covington’s 24-year-old sister, Tanishia Covington. This crime was particularly heinous because of the fact that the victim was attacked not only for his disability, but for his race, as well purportedly supporting a different political viewpoint to the offenders.
This crime is horrible and must be punished.
In October 2015, three young men in Idaho assaulted a disabled young man. John R.K. Howard, 18, and Tanner Ward, 17, were charged as adults with felony counts of forcible penetration by use of a foreign object. A third teen was charged as a juvenile. The history of their interactions with the victim included racial slurs, taunting him because of his race and disability. The victim and the offenders were on the same high school football team. The young men forced the victim to sing racist songs, and beat him on prior occasions. The prior harassment ended in these young men holding the victim down and inserting a metal hanger in the disabled victim’s rectum; they then kicked it repeatedly. The victim has now been institutionalized; it is not a stretch to conclude that it is partially because of this despicable crime.
The prosecutor in this case argued that this was not a sex crime, and that the racial component was not as bad as it seemed. The defense attorney and the prosecutor reached an agreement that would include probation as a punishment with no prison time; there is also the opportunity for the charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor at a later time.
As we bring 2016 to a close, I wanted to share the stories on the blog that were the most popular this year. I’ve put the link to the post in the title, so go ahead and click to read it again…or for the first time if you missed it.
This Presidential election definitely brought out some strong feelings — and the outcome came as a surprise to many. I shared my thoughts as to “where from here” and my resolve to fight for what is rightfully mine as an American. My forefathers planted trees on this land, and I intend to stay and enjoy the fruit of their labor.
My response to the crazy and factually incorrect comments regarding slavery made by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly appeared in the Huffington Post. It remains the most commented on and liked piece that I have done so far. We must be vigilant to make sure that those who wish to revise history, whitewashing it and trying to minimize the effect it had on this nation, are held to task.
This piece was published in the Huffington post as well. It was in response to some of the horrific shootings by police that we saw this year. Not every case merits an arrest; if an officer can articulate legitimate reasons for being in fear, then the shooting is justified. The focus must remain on deescalation tactics to reduce the number of fatal shootings, and shining a light on those shootings that are not justified to ensure that everyone is equal under the law — facing consequences when the law is broken.
An innocent and sweet Old Navy ad featuring an interracial family drew the ire of Internet trolls. As a result of the racist backlash, many families started to post pictures showing what love is. I was no different; not only did I post pictures of my husband and I, but I penned a piece to discuss some of the challenges that we face as a couple. At the end of the day, as long as you have a love and communication, you can overcome anything!
And the number one post of 2016 on the Resident Legal Diva is:
This was one of the toughest pieces for me to write. Actually, writing it wasn’t that hard; reading and sharing it was the difficult part. My friend suddenly passed away earlier this year, and left a hole in my heart that can never be filled. This was a tough year for me with regards to friends and family transitioning to the next life. All we can do is cherish those we love while we have them, mourn those we have lost, and keep them alive in our hearts through our beautiful memories.
This year I also took a gander at vlogging! I did three videos — check out the links below.
So for 2017, what do you want to see on the blog? Do you want to see more articles? More Diva Talks videos? More Diva Reads where I discuss articles of interest that I have been reading? I’d love to hear from you, sound off in the comments below.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and amazing New Year. I’ll see you on the flipside!
I am an African American woman in an interracial relationship.
I have never been so terrified about the state of affairs in our country.
Last night, we elected a new President, who has alienated a variety of groups with his rhetoric, and has given a voice to the white supremacist right.
I know what that hate looks like. I’ve endured the nasty looks with attempts to demean my relationship. I’ve endured attacks on my credibility and ability to perform as an African American attorney (subtle as well as blatant). I have seen the eyes of resentment of my success as a professional woman of color.
Please see my latest article addressing the violence we have seen in recent weeks in the Huffington Post.
Usually I Wait.
When there is a high-profile case, a police shooting, something that has tensions and emotions riled up. I wait. I wait until all the evidence comes in, I try not to rush to judgment, I wait in order to look at things as objectively as possible.
Then I saw the Falcon Heights shooting video.
And I cried.
I cried for a woman that I do not know and have no connection to. I cried, because I watch her come to the realization that her boyfriend has just been killed right in front of her. I felt her agony as a victim of crime.
Check out my latest piece in Huffington Post “I’m Melba with the Good Hair”!
Hair: a woman’s crown and glory.
As a little girl, I could not wait until I got to the eighth grade. For my eighth-grade graduation, my mother finally straightened my hair. To me, that meant I was a big girl. I can now do all those fun styles, rather than wear my hair in a more conservative braided style.
For six years after that, I struggled with my straightened hair. I roller set it, I did an “S” Curl (cousin to the Jheri curl) and did a variety of styles, none of which made me happy. Finally, in my junior year of college, I found braids. The heavens opened up and angels sang — what liberation! Other than the 14 hours I spent in the salon getting the braids done, I felt so free! Finally, I could wash and go. No curling irons, no blowdryers, no horrible smell of chemicals burning my scalp in an effort to conform.