NO INNOCENT BLACK CHILDREN?
A fascinating piece penned by the Tulsa Voice’s Hannibal B. Johnson examines how racial biases affect the perception of African-American children. In Oklahoma, Johnson reports, black children are suspended at a rate roughly three times higher than that of white children, a disparity that is consistent across the nation. Further, a 2014 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study found that participants (college students) viewed black children aged 10 and older as “significantly less innocent than other children of every age group.”
Such data echoes what many have claimed for decades, that the presumption of innocence that is supposedly the hallmark of the American legal system (and culture) does not apply equally to persons of color, a fact that further fuels the school to prison pipeline as well as other disparate treatment black people experience, particularly at the hands of persons of authority. In closing, Johnson recommends that we combat implicit bias by acknowledging it, caring about it and acting to eliminate it. Sage advice.
Payday loans are either a lifeline in a crisis or a scourge on poor communities, depending on your perspective (and how much you need cash). Obviously some are better than others, but Scott Tucker’s payday loan might take the cake for the worst of the worst. Kansas City’s The Pitch reported that on Oct. 13 Tucker was convicted of running an illegal $2 billion payday loan business, which charged people illegally high interest rates of as much as 700 percent.
Not only that, but Tucker, who was convicted along with his attorney Timothy Muir, tried to get away with his criminal scheme by—get this—claiming the business was actually owned and operated by Native American tribes. (Haven’t we already done more than enough to the Native American people?!) The Pitch added with obvious glee that Tucker and Pruitt face as much as 20 years in prison; the government is also seeking to confiscate $2 billion of Tucker’s ill-gotten gains.
The Bhutanese community of Burlington, Vermont was stunned when Aita Gurung allegedly took a meat cleaver to his wife and mother-in-law, killing the former and seriously wounding the latter. Seven Days attended the Oct. 18 Hindu funeral of Yogeswari Khadka, 32, and interviewed several family members for a story that may have revealed the secret that led to the slaying: mental illness. Gurung’s younger brother, Suk, told the paper that his brother said “he was ill and didn’t have long to live,” on Sept. 30 and that he, Suk, urged Khadka to check him into “mental rehab.”
Due to concerns for family honor, Bhutanese families are unlikely to report domestic disturbances, and are often untrusting of police, Seven Days noted. Mistrust of authority figures was exacerbated for Bhutanese of Nepali-ethnic origin by atrocities committed by such figures in their home country, Bhutan, as well as in Nepali refugee camps that many, including Khadka and Gurung, fled to after the Bhutanese king expelled 100,000 of their people. The family later came to the U.S. as refugees, where relatives told Seven Days Gurung struggled to adjust and began abusing alcohol. Days prior to the attack, Gurung had turned himself into police for domestic violence, but Khadka denied he’d harmed her; he also asked to be admitted to UVM Medical Center for mental health issues, but later asked to leave and called his wife to pick him up, which she did. Gurung is in custody awaiting mental competency and sanity evaluations.
The plight of our countrymen and women in Puerto Rico has tugged the heartstrings of all Americans since Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. Florida, unsurprisingly, is experiencing a wave of refugees from the decimated island. You may be somewhat intrigued to learn that Worcester, Massachusetts is also experiencing an influx of Puerto Ricans.
As Yes! Magazine reported, last week the Worcester City Council put the screws to the city manager to find more affordable housing options for the Puerto Ricans fleeing uninhabitable towns on the island. The council unanimously voted to draft a report on how Worcester “can increase affordable housing opportunity and help facilitate citizens looking to resettle from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” including specific action items on how the city can prepare itself and ease the transition for their fellow Americans. Makes Florida look like a real Mass-hole, doesn’t it?