Kamala Harris Never Locked Poor Black Mothers In The Panopticon Over Truancy

Day after day, I am flooded with dedicated trolls who spread maladroit (IMO) misconceptions about Kamala Harris that they obviously obtained from the opinion section of our “legitimate” media. If I were not media savvy myself, and a dedicated fact-checker, I might be in danger of falling for the okey-doke, just like those silly little trolls I block religiously do. I’d be factless in an alternative fact universe, and we can’t have that. I am known for bringing receipts. Far be it from me to say that I’m smarter than the average news junkie, that I have the best facts or even the best opinions. I let others say it for me, and then I hurry up and retweet them before they change their minds.

Do you think you know Kamala Harris from the many harsh opinion articles that flooded the web after she announced? You don’t. Many a Dem seems to think she’s a mean old baddie cop, one who locks up poor mothers maliciously, especially ones whose children missed a day of school. “Kamala locks up POOR BLACK MOTHERS IF THEIR KIDS PLAY HOOKY!!” has been a common refrain for months. It’s stupid, and it’s a lie.

In an article from Huffington Post, we see a woman named Cheree Peeples who was arrested due to her child’s truancy. This particular truancy stemmed from a number of unexcused absences that accrued due to her daughter’s battle with Sickle Cell Anemia. Now, I am a mother of a child who has severe autism, and there were times when I could scarcely console her enough to get her to cooperate with dressing and bathing, let alone to school. I’d hate to be pulled from my home early some morning, arrested, and sent to the magistrate for not being Mary Poppins. I can’t even sing.

My curiosity eventually got the best of me, so I looked into the case. And what I found was a bit weird. Peeples was probably (I didn’t find her charging documents) prosecuted under the law Kamala pushed for, but it appears that her arrest had nothing to do with the statewide law at all, unlike another mother who was prosecuted and sentenced to 180 days in jail. But that mom wasn’t BLACK, inner-city, poor, or in possession of any excuse for not sending her child to school, so we don’t hear stories about her case.

Though Kamala says she regrets the law being used to punish families, the attacks against her are often based on pieces written by people who cannot name one mother Harris locked up during her time as DA. That is the only period of time she would have had discretion over which cases were filed. Why is it that we can find no testimonials from mothers in the San Francisco area that Harris locked up? Because under the original version of the truancy law, the one Harris implemented, zero parents were sent to jail.

The article that blames the state’s truancy law, which Harris supported, as being responsible for the arrest of Peeples links to an article that tells us which program she was prosecuted for being in violation of. It also says the mother indicated that officers offered not to prosecute her if she would agree to attend parenting classes. She refused. She decided to fight. She fought for two years before the state gave up, and dropped the charges.

From the Orange County Register:

Holding parents accountable for truancy is part of Orange County’s Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership, a program involving local schools, law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office, Community Services Programs and the Orange County Probation Department. Since the beginning of the year, police in cities from Anaheim to San Clemente have identified 43 schools where students are exposed to gang activity. When any of the fourth through eighth graders at the schools start showing problems with behavior, academics or attendance, teachers, counselors and police step in.

The truth is, California has been using the criminal justice system to hold parents responsible for their elementary school-age children being truant for years.  I don’t know why the author blames Harris, when in fact, the child in question was in an Orange County-sponsored program called G.R.I.P,  and it is a program that predates the law Harris pressed for at a state level. It may not have seemed fair, or even been fair for officials to include her child in that program, regardless, the program existed long before the statewide truancy law.

What is GRIP?

GRIP is school-based program. Participating schools are selected or targeted by local law enforcement agencies, based on prevalence of gang activity and violence in the surrounding community.

GRIP does not work with gang members, but works with 4th through 8th grade students in the targeted schools who have displayed behavior indicating risk for later gang involvement.

Kamala Harris championed a different program during her time as DA, the program includes a “TARC” center, and it obviously has a different focus than the program in Orange County, although they were implemented at around the same time.

From SFUSD:

The TARC Center

  • Consolidates Truancy Intervention Resources into a “one-stop” location here students and their families can receive assistance from a variety of City agencies and departments, all working collaboratively.
  • Addresses Individual Psycho-social and Academic Needs to keep students on track towards completing school.
  • Engages Students for Re-introduction to the classroom.
  • Offers Referral Services to community-based organizations that may support in the truancy prevention action plan.
  • Provides Follow-up for tracking students’ progress.
  • Utilizes Legal Resources to address chronic truants.

These are clearly two different programs, so it’s apparent that the title, “The Human Costs of Kamala Harris’ War on Truancy” is complete fucking bullshit.

Peoples was caught up in the hugely complex forces Harris and her tough-on-truancy stance unleashed more than a decade ago.

Um? Not to nitpick or anything, but if the child was targeted, or profiled by Law Enforcement for their GRIP program in Orange County, how the hell did Harris unleash “hugely complex forces” when she was nowhere near Orange County and had nothing to do with the GRIP program? Is Kamala responsible for EVERY program that predates her term? Or just the cases involving Black women?

Truancy laws in the state of California left room for the prosecution of parents since 1977, and Peeples’ child was said to be in the GRIP program which focuses on Gang diversion. Had the Truancy law not passed, Peeples likely would have been prosecuted in the same manner as the parents in the program had in the years before. Prosecutors didn’t give out free passes before the law came into effect, they simply shifted from using one method to another after the new law came into play.

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which is the charge used before the truancy law, carries up to 1 year in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine; the Truancy law carries up to 1 year in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine. I see no big difference in consequences.

From Huffington Post:

California law has made it possible to prosecute parents of truant children since at least 1977. That year, the state defined a truant as a student who was more than 30 minutes late to school three times, or who had missed three days of school, without a valid excuse; a truant’s parents could be fined $100 on their first conviction. Truancy wasn’t technically a jailable offense at the time, but prosecutors who wanted to see jail time often charged parents with the crime of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

I know this is true, because I lived in the City of Los Angeles in the early 90s, before moving away, and went back in 1997 to finish High School, and I WAS truant. Constantly. The program GRIP is reminiscent of a gateway drug to the CRASH units we hid from on Cattaraugus, when we snuck past the on campus LAPD to ditch school, and hopped the gates by the lunch area at Hamilton High School to get free. We were accosted, assaulted, and arrested (Not me, too slick) by some of the biggest assholes in SoCal, until the year 2000, when the program was ended.

So, while I can clearly see the problematic nature of a program that uses law enforcement to arrest mothers of sick children for truancy, I cannot see how Kamala, and her push to take HER program statewide, is at fault for a program, GRIP, that began years before the statewide truancy program she backed came into play. You would have to convince me that the prosecutors would have not simply used the Delinquency laws they had been using up until the day the new truancy laws went into effect, if you wanted to change my mind.

As far as Peeples’ two-year-long battle with Orange County is concerned, Orange county is racist as hell, and I say that without rancor, it is what it is. I lived in Tustin for a while, so I know from first-hand experience how horrible the institutions there treat black women, especially those who cannot work full time and must accept assistance from the state. Do I blame Peeples for blaming Kamala for not understanding what it is like to be poor, black, and a woman in a place where blackness is despised? I do not. I blame Orange Country for despising blackness, for putting this woman through a 2-year long struggle for what amounts to no reason whatsoever, and for putting her child in their gang diversion program, GRIP, in the first place.

I, a cowardly woman when it comes to dealings with Orange County Police, would have simply chosen to take the parenting classes if I were Peeples. This does not mean she was wrong to choose to fight it out. Perhaps I have a belief in my own ignorance that forces me to doubt I know anything about anything, parenting included. I like classes,  I hate going to court, and I would hate to have a criminal record of any sort. But, she was right, and I am weak.

That Kamala Harris spent her career as Attorney General locking up people for their kids playing hooky, is automatically assumed at this point. The idea that she originated using the court system to solve truancy has become a common belief, regardless of the fact that California prosecuted parents long before she ever took office. Let me just say this: If you’re looking for one villain in this story, you will be looking forever. Our system isn’t simply broken, it was built on the shoddiest of foundations in the first place; in every crack and crevasse lie another opportunity for a black life to be destroyed. And that, quite frankly, is not the fault of Kamala Harris.

 

A Bernie Sanders Supporter Reported Me To The FBI

FBI Logo

Originally, I had intended to write this long ass screed about how oppressed I am, because much like Bernie Sanders, I enjoy nothing more than broadcasting how horribly I am treated by society. It has taken me nearly a month to investigate what happened in July that led to my getting a call from the Capitol Police. The results of my investigation didn’t make me feel oppressed, necessarily, though maybe they should.

In the end I feel just a little bit sad, a little bit angry, and completely over Bernie Sanders even being a consideration for me at any time, ever. Thankfully, I don’t go to the polls until right before they close, and since I’m in Alaska, we generally have a winner by that time, so my stupid vote doesn’t even count for shit. Remember that for when I get high and mighty. Anyways, it happened like this…

There I was, minding my own business, and trying to avoid the swarms of Bernie supporters that flooded my account daily to accuse me of not being sufficiently leftist, or of trying to set Bernie up on a Rape Charge by talking about (this is not rape) Al Franken (apparently GF mentioned waist grabbing, which is also not rape, but I wasn’t in that conversation).

Then I got a call from a strange number. Like most people, I answered it, just in case I had won Publisher’s Clearinghouse, (never entered) or maybe even a long lost relative was trying to find some family member that I don’t know. This happens from time to time. Instead it was the last person I would ever expect to hear from. A cop. No, not Kamala, unfortunately.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I rarely have any dealings with the police, I generally only hear from them if I contact them myself, or a certain person (who shall remain nameless) has gotten himself into trouble again. Once he said he was police, I got confused, I said, “Well, you must have the wrong number. Who are you looking for, again?” I mean, I clearly heard my name, but yeah right, no way in hell are the cops looking for me. He apologized and said he was looking for “Bianca.” Um? That’s MY name. WTF?

So, I said it was me, but, I was still sure he wasn’t looking for me. Then, dread overtook me. “Who died? Is everything okay? What happened, just tell me.” I just knew one of my relatives had to be dead, or must have killed someone, oh, I was about to get all crazy, tears were forming, ready to drop, and I saw myself both identifying a body, and simultaneously trying to defend a guilty cousin, but…. I was wrong. He was calling for me.

I asked him what this was all about, and he assured me everyone was okay. Curiously, he asked me where I lived, and I said, “Well, you just called me.” That made me suspicious, why wouldn’t a cop know where I was? He said he was just confirming, and gave me his office number to call right back if I wanted. Later I did call and hang up. Yeah, it was the police, and YES I KNOW THEY KNOW I CALLED, AND HUNG UP. SO WHAT? They called me first, so it’s okay for me to do that. But, I digress. It was clear he was a cop at that point, so I immediately got a bit irritated that he had made me nervous, but I kept cool, thinking wtf could this even be, identity theft?

He asked me a few basic questions first, I answered, but I ended with, “Okay, just tell me what this is so we can clear it up quickly, because whatever it is, yeah right, I’m not in it, it’s got to be bullshit.” I said something to that effect, and he laid it on me. Was I intending to murder Senator Bernie Sanders? Was I planning any trips? Had I been to Dc? No. No. WTF is this, hell no! The FBI had gotten a hot tip from a supporter of a sitting US Senator that I am armed and dangerous, and also ready, willing, and possibly PLANNING a trip to D.C. to murder Bernie Sanders. I immediately began rolling my eyes so hard they damn near won’t stop rolling to this day, a month later. I remember giving a deep sigh, and thinking, “Here they go with this shit.”

He was explaining how hard it was to identify me (it’s super easy), and how it took him a minute to track me down (takes Berners 35 seconds), and how he had spent a good minute looking through my tweets to, I suppose, find some violent tendencies. Poor guy.

The looking through my tweets thing is probably what took the longest (I am fucking prolific), especially since he would have had to contact Twitter to see them (account is deleted), since I was still in the process of changing my persona, and moving to a different account to try to hide from the Bernie-bros. I had decided in February that their obsession with me was unhealthy for ME, and I opened another account. It was just hard to convince people to move with me. And nobody wanted to hang out with me on my Game of Throne account. It’s kinda pathetic how regular me gets no love, I guess I’m just fucking boring compared to my alter egos. Meh, fuck y’all. Back to the matter at hand.

The officer filled me in on my major crime, and y’all? It some fearsome shit. I mean, I could go to prison, and immediately become a top OG off of this destroy, kill, slay, super-thug mega killa crime shit. (Can’t nobody catch my fade on crimes, for real.)

I had typed, into my very own browser, the words– and I did this of my own free will, I was not possessed by Al Capone, or the Queen of Florencia, or Snoop from The Wire. I typed, “I’m going to light Bernie Sanders up with these receipts.” or some raggedy, boring, redundant, been said a thousand times by me, you, yo mama, and yo cousin too type of drag I’m ALWAYS saying. I vaguely remembered a Berner saying something stupid about that tweet at the time, and I had explained to them that nobody was going to believe their bullshit since I am KNOWN for Bernie receipts.

I did what any hardened criminal would do when asked about my possible violent intentions. I laughed. Okay, so, I am not quite sure if that’s a normal reaction, or if I just laugh too much. Why has it gotten so ridiculous that they thought the fucking FBI would be fooled by an out of context tweet about “lighting Bernie up” with ANYTHING that’s not a weapon. Now, I have since realized, that they do, in fact, see receipts as deadly weapons, because saying anything that can be construed as negative about Bernie is a serious crime.

The officer said he had looked around the web, and he saw places where I was being discussed, I legit did not want to hear, so I stopped him so I could explain Bernie-bros to him. I know I ended the rant by saying, “Not everything is free! Why won’t they stop saying FREE” He agreed. Everything cannot be free, somebody has to pay, and clearly it would be the both of us. The investigation was over. I immediately took to Twitter to screech about it because I was shaken up. Why would someone call the FBI over such trivial bullshit? Swatting. Such bullshit. I will discuss it more later.

People bought me weed in the aftermath, just to make me feel better, and I am grateful to each and every one of you. If I were more organized I would have sent thank you notes, and I will, they’ll just be a little late, and I kinda need email addresses.

Even-so, I am still not quite myself. I don’t feel Brave all the time, usually I feel more resolute. I even changed my name from Wonderbitch, just because it made men instantly combative, and women too. When you take a strong name, people tend to want to break you; when you are a woman of color, those people will often be white. And they’ll be your “allies” more often than your so-called enemies. Being a highly visible woman of color on Twitter, or any social media, is often a full time job more than an activity to entertain oneself; it’s unpaid labor that we do to make sure that the voices of Black women are heard, through us. And while it can be painful to log on daily, and face the constant negativity that bombards us just for being Black, loud, and free, it is also a labor of love in it’s own way.

As it stands, I have been bothered by a young man who is ostensibly the one who reported me to the FBI as a future terrorist, or assassin. I was shown a screenshot of someone threatening to report me again, he was blocked, so I had to unblock him to see what I was being reported for this time.

Electioneering. Many ridiculous accusations came my way, I don’t actually have the energy to argue with idiots all day anymore, so I re-blocked him after replying to the post where he tagged the FBI, just letting them know that, once again, it was utter bullshit.

Do I blame anyone? Of course I do. I blame a culture that has become so concentrated in our own bubbles, that people see someone they perceive as slightly to the right or left of them as a dangerous foe. But more than that, I blame a nation that uses policing against blacks in such a systematic, and casual way that a young white man thinks nothing of reporting an innocent Black mother to the FBI for not liking his candidate for President. That’s why he did it. Is the candidate to blame? No, I don’t think so in this case, but I do think it is very unhealthy to feed anger to angry young men, to point at the moderate, and say, “There is your enemy, they are in your way. Never compromise!” Anger must have a target, and though I am to the left of Sanders, my blackness paints me as the Moderate, and my lack of Bernie love cements me in that sphere. I don’t know who to blame.

I won’t go into my perceptions of that young man, his issues are his own, and my only hope is that he has a stable structure in place, and people around who care deeply for him, and his future. And sure, I was screeching about vengeance, and payback, but, this is me we’re talking about. I don’t do revenge. I hold grudges, and collect receipts.

I will be documenting this election whether the Berners like it or not, and I will not spare them as others have in the media. I am not a journalist, I am not worried about access, or becoming the target of Bernie’s swarms. I already am the target.

Over 150, 000 people have been blocked by me over the past month, so if you are a good decent person who is blocked, I am sorry. You were following an asshole, and I block-chained them, you just got caught up in the mix.

I will be debunking some stupid shit people say about Kamala soon, and I will post the first episode of my podcast at this site, and will continue until further notice. If I get support for my blog and podcast, well hey, makes sense to keep it up. If not, that’s okay too, we have really great women of color writers out here, so I would ask that you at least support one of them. The pay gap is a real deal for us, and i see so much talent overlooked, and obviously underpaid. I would love to be able to pay them for posts, but we are just beginning, so I’ll hold off on jumping the gun.

It’s been a rough start because of the FBI thing, I just have not had it in me to write. I don’t know if that means I was shook, or it just fucked up my mentals, but I’ve been trying to get back into the groove. So, expect more posts, more podcasts, and hopefully less FBI drama.

Love y’all, so you take care of yourselves; nobody else will.

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