Monthly Archives: March 2007

A TIMELINE IN THE MURDER OF A YOUNG BLACK WOMAN

 INVESTIGATORS RETURN TO MURDER SUSPECT’S APARTMENTPossible weapon found in dumpster

07:14 AM CDT on Wednesday, March 28, 2007
11 News Staff report Shern-Min Chow’s 11 News report| Raw video: Suspect’s aunt speaks out | Jason Whitely’s report on Shepherd’s court appearance | Raw video: Investigator’s search suspect’s apartmenthttp://www.khou.com/topstories/stories/khou070326_ac_suspectfamily.1bfa5ec.html

Harris County investigators returned to the apartment of Tim Shepherd, the ex-boyfriend of the Texas A&M coed who went missing March 15.

A crime scene unit from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office was on scene as investigators pulled items from the murder suspect’s apartment Monday afternoon. A collection of tagged brown bags could be seen on the entrance porch of the apartment.
Investigators also brought out what appeared to be a roll of carpet and several large bags of evidence.

11 News

Harris County Sheriff’s Office crime scene investigators used an ultraviolet device to scan the porch of murder suspect Tim Shepherd’s apartment.

Sheriff’s investigators were also seen on the porch of Shepherd’s apartment using an ultraviolet device to scan the wooden surface. It was the type of device used to search for blood evidence. Neighbors had told police that the murder suspect was seen burning items in his barbecue pit and at one point they could smell what they believed to be burning hair.
Monday’s search came just as community activists are scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday morning demanding Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies search a landfill for the remains of Tynesha Stewart.

11 News

Timothy Sherpherd appeared in court again Monday morning. Later that day investigators combed through his apartment and used an ultraviolet device to scan his outside patio.

The activists say they don’t believe Shepherd’s story about the death of the young Aggie coed and think there could be more evidence to be found. Stewart’s family members though said Monday night that a search would be “too traumatic” and that they do not support the push for a new search.
The Harris County District Attorney was also not confirming or denying a report that a search of a trash dumpster last week uncovered a knife in a bag as well as a pair of sweatpants.
Meanwhile, Shepherd made his second court appearance Monday, but for the first time, more on his background was revealed.
Timothy Wayne Shepherd’s aunt said she thinks her nephew “just exploded” because he had not dealt with the death of his father and then murdered his ex-girlfriend.
Shepherd faces a murder charge for killing 19-year-old Stewart, then dismembering her body and burning her remains on his patio grill.
When Shepherd returned to court Monday morning for a brief appearance he had family in the audience. His grandmother, Shirley Shepherd sat in the fourth row of the 183rd District Court with her pastor, Tommie C. Phillips. She wept when he first walked in to court wearing a yellow jumpsuit. That color signifies he is on suicide watch.

11 News

Timothy Wayne Shepherd is charged with killing 19-year-old Tynesha Stewart, a Texas A&M University student who was home for spring break.

Outside court, Janice Shepherd explained that Timothy was always good growing up but had difficulty getting along with his mother in his teenage years after discovering his stepfather was not his biological father. Janice Shepherd said Timothy’s father, Robert Miller Shepherd, died in a motorcycle accident in 1979 when his son was an infant.
“It’s a disgrace what has happened. It really is. He should have gotten a mental evaluation. He should have gotten some help. But his family turned its back on him. It’s a disgrace,” Shepherd’s aunt, Janice Shepherd, said.
Phillips told reporters the Shepherd family can’t explain why Timothy would do what he is charged with. The pastor also offered prayers for Stewart’s family and friends.
Stewart disappeared March 15. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said Shepherd confessed to strangling her with his hands. Investigators say he then dismembered her body in his apartment and burned her remains in two grills on his second floor balcony.
“He was a very sweet kid. He really was. He just exploded. All that was down inside of him,” Shepherd said.
Saturday, Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas said nothing remains of the 19-year-old’s body.
“It’s horrific. Absolutely horrific. The thought of it and how it’s going to affect the family is overwhelming almost,” Prosecutor Marie Primm said.
In court, his attorney did not ask for the $250,000 bond to be lowered.
“The family believes the best place for Mr. Shepherd is in the safety of the Harris County Jail,” Defense Attorney Chip Lewis, said.
Shepherd was reportedly active in his church’s youth group, but strayed from the congregation after high school.
He delivered pizzas for a while but was unemployed when investigators say he committed one of the most gruesome crimes Harris County has ever seen.
Shepherd could get up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine if he is found guilty of murder. Primm said the case will next go to the Grand Jury for an indictment during the next 90 days.
As for past run-ins with the law, Shepherd’s record indicates only one prior offense: an arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession back in 2002.
**********************************************************************************************

EXAMINING THE EVENTS IN THE TYNESHA STEWART MURDER
11:47 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

By Juanita Jimenez / 11 News

Timothy Wayne Shepherd remains in the Harris County Jail on $250,000 bond.He’s charged with murder in the killing of 19-year-old Tynesha Stewart, a Texas A&M University student who was killed while home for spring break.

TIMELINE

March 15 – Tynesha Stewart last seen after she and Timothy Wayne Shepherd left her mother’s apartment in Humble. It’s believed the 19-year-old was dismembered and her body parts were burned in two barbecue grills on Shepherd’s northwest Harris County apartment patio. Shepherd’s neighbors said he was barbecuing at all hours for two days at a time, at his apartment.

March 16 – Shepherd’s neighbors become alarmed after seeing dark-colored smoke billowing from Shepherd’s patio. A firefighter and Harris County deputy arrives at the apartment; Shepherd says everything is under control.

March 17, 18 – Neighbor sees Shepherd carry the grill and the smoker to the garbage bin.

March 19 – Tynesha Stewart is reported missing. March 20 – The Harris County Sheriff’s Office homicide division launched its investigation into Stewart’s disappearance.March 21 – Investigators interview Shepherd for 10 hours. After being released, he contacted community activist Quanell X. Quanell X persuaded Shepherd to tell him what happened to Stewart. He then led authorities to the garbage bin where he claimed to have placed Stewart’s body. That night Shepherd was charged with strangling Tynesha Stewart’s murder.March 22 – The sheriff’s office says it won’t conduct a search in a landfill for Stewart’s body.March 23 – HCSO reversed its decision not to search after public outcry. The department then says Shepherd may have been dismembered.

March 24 – Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas announces there would be no search because all the remains had been burned.

March 26 – Timothy Shepherd appeared in court again. The Harris County Sheriff’s Department detectives return to Timothy Wayne Shepherd’s apartment to further investigate the disappearance and reported murder of Tynesha Stewart. Shepherd’s attorney says his client should stay in jail for his own safety because of public outrage.

March 27 – Community activists call for authorities to search for Stewart’s body and say the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is inept to handle the investigation.

From the time this story broke almost three weeks ago, it has been a combination of turmoil for the deceased young lady’s family, cold, callous disregard from the sheriff’s department, anger and rage from the citizens of Houston, a call from a well-known rescue group to search for the young lady’s remains, to a defendant who constantly has changed his story again and again, from the time the public became aware of this missing young lady.

Tynesha Stewart was a pretty, young student attending the Texas A* M University. She had a promising life ahead of her. But, that life was cut short by her murder at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, Timothy Shepherd.

The following is a composite of how her life ended, how her family reported her missing to the office of Sheriff Tommy Thomas, whose office told the family that the young lady probably went off away on her own, and that they, the family should come back the following Monday to report her as missing; how 3 days later, due to callousness because of inept follow-through, the sheriff’s department allowed precious time, and evidence , to be lost in not starting their investigation procedure sooner, rather than later; how the ex-boyfriend’s confession started out as his having put the young lady’s remains into a garbage dumpster near his apartment complex; how his story changed again, and again:   1. he killed her, and dumped her body in a garbage dumpster;  2. he killed her and dismembered her, putting her remains into plastic trash bags, and then put the remains into a garbage dumpster;  3. now this latest revelation, that he killed her, dismembered her, and burned her remains on a barbeque grill, on his apartment patio.

His apartment patio?

In broad daylight?

An entire human body burned and charred to ashes on a barbeque grill?

But, the question remains:

“Where are the remains of Ms. Stewart?

Surely no one can be expected to believe that Ms. Stewart’s remains were completely charred into ashes just from the flames of a barbeque grill. There does not exist any known mass-manufactered grills sold in America that can reach the temperature needed to reduce a human being’s remains to ashes, without the temperature reaching at least 2,000 to 2,500 degrees Farenheit.

And add to the fact that Sheriff Thomas refused to initiate a search for Ms. Stewart’s body at the two nearest dump sites (Atascocita and Brazoria), because he said that the cost to search would be expensive (around $500,000), and that Ms. Stewart’s remains would be buried ubder 35,000 to 45,000 tons of garbage, made the effort to search for her vain and futile, so he therefore saw no reason to search for this young lady’s body. His callous disregard alerted a huge public outcry at his and the sheriff department’s coldness in not  at least trying to conduct a search for this young lady.  This sheriff was more concerned with how much it would cost to search for this young lady, and the time in man-power that would be put into looking for this young lady’s remains under tons and tons of garbage. Meanwhile, her remains were being buried under more and more trash as the sheriff mulled over whether it was worth it to conduct a search for her.

In the mean time, anger at his department swelled.

Many citizens e-mailed news stations and the major newpaper and poured out their outrage at this man’s contempt for this young lady. Many were angered and questioned if this was the mayor’s son or daughter, would he or she be treated so wrongly, and no major search given for that person? Many called the sheriff and let him know how wrong his decision was not to even try and search for this young lady, not to mention the time the sheriff allowed to pass (3 days before the sheriff’s office would start a search for the young lady); the time the ex-boyfriend had to dispose of crucial evidence; and the total disregard towards the family when they brought their daughter’s disappearance to the attention of the sheriff’s office.

The two major dumpsites stopped all work procedures at their sites to allow for the search and to keep any further garbage dumps from accumulating more garbage on the possible areas where Ms. Stewart’s remains might have been found.

Texas A * M University offered to donate $500,000 to offset the cost to the county, to aid in the search for Ms. Stewart’s remains.

Equusearch, a volunteer search organization, offered their help to search for the young lady, even if the sheriff’s department did not deem it necessary or worthy of doing. Many citizens offered their help to search, even if it meant exposing themselves to germs and physical injury. They cared more for this young lady’s remains being found and returned to her family so that she could receive a decent burial and for her remains to be put to rest.

Their response to the sheriff’s department was that if there was even a slenderest of chances of find this young lady’s remains, at least TRY. Try to search for her, instead of writing her off as not worthy of being given validity as a human being.

Finally bowing to public presure, Sheriff Thomas capitulated, and decided to conduct the search.

But, then other events transpired to change this.

The ex-boyfriend then confessed that he had burned Ms. Stewart’s remain on of all things, a barbeque grill at his apartment, and then put her remains into the common dumspter. By then, the santitation trucks had taken Ms. Stewart’s remains to be distributed to various nearby dumpground sites.

Once again, Sheriff Thomas called off the search again. While watching the TV news reports, the look of relief that washed over his faced was unmistakeable. Now he did not have to search for her. Now he did not have to do the job he was elected for.

And by now, the ex-boyfriend and been arraigned.

Valuable time and evidence was lost because of this horrid handling of this young lady’s death.

And now we have a beautiful young lady whose promising life was cut short by a vicious, cold-bloodied murder. A young lady who will never get a chance to live, never get a chance to fulfill her potential.

And added to this sorrowful story is the utmost contempt shown by one human being (Sheriff Thomas) towards another (Ms.  Stewart).

But, there is one very important question not being asked in all of this:

If this was a young white woman who went missing, and her parents went to the sheriff to report her missing, would he have taken so long to start the search as he did for this young black lady?

Would he have shown so much obstinance in not immediately using all the resources at his command to search until he exhausted all leads to search for this young lady if she was white?

What do you think?

The following are news reports on from the time Ms. Stewart was reported missing until her ex-boyfriend was charged.

The stories have all been updated.

Missing Aggie’s friends: Ex-boyfriend was a stalker

06:58 PM CDT on Saturday, March 24, 2007

By Jeff McShan and Wendell Edwards / 11 News Raw video: Quanell X on body dismembered | Seized drug money used for search, Rucks Russell reports | Wendell Edward’s report from the vigil | Jeff McSchan’s update on search planFriends and family of missing Aggie Tynesha Stewart describe the man charged with her murder as jealous and controlling.They say Timothy Shepherd, who police said confessed to strangling and dismembering the young coed last week and throwing her remains in dumpsters, was stalking Stewart prior to her death.Authorities say the search for Stewart’s body could begin next Wednesday at a landfill in Houston and another in Brazoria County.The decision comes after intense pressure prompted county commissioners to approve emergency funding for the search.

KHOU – TV

 

The volunteer search organization Texas Equusearch announced Friday it was set to launch an extensive search for Stewart.

It was an amazing turn of events, because just a day earlier the Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced that a search would be too costly and practically impossible. However, an overwhelming response from the community, which at one point tied up the sheriff’s office phone lines, made a big difference.

Even Texas A&M’s vice president for student affairs called the sheriff’s office to say his office had been flooded with calls from former students offering to help – financially or otherwise – conduct a search.

KHOU-TV

Tynesha Stewart

The community’s message was clear: At least try to find Stewart.

Even national political leaders put on the pressure.

“I have to accept the community’s outrage. I accept it (and) I am ashamed by our initial steps taken by our law enforcement,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee.

In what could only be considered a change of heart Sheriff Tommy Thomas asked the Harris County Commissioner’s Court for $500,000 in drug seizure money to fund a search. Commissioners in an emergency called meeting gave unanimous approval to the expenditure.

More resources

Official: Ex strangled missing Aggie

Probable cause affidavit

To volunteer for the search call Texas Equusearch at (281) 309-9500. Both lines manned around the clock.

On Monday the sheriff’s office, Texas Equusearch and the landfills’ operator Waste Management will meet to go over a plan. Already an area of a landfill in Atascocita had been marked off in preparation for a search. The same was being done at a landfill in Brazoria County. Miller already put out a call for volunteers.

“Of course we would all like to start tomorrow, but that is impossible. Right now, we are for sure going to start Wednesday,” he said.

Those who will be directly at the site going through the tons of debris will have to take extra precautions.

“They’ll have to get proper vaccinations, proper certification as well as protective gear,” said Michael Lavengco of Waste Management.

Jackson-Lee said the planned search also sends another message. “Criminals can’t now dump in dumpsters and say that’s the way to get rid of my evidence because no one will ever search again,” she said.

Earlier in the day, the suspect in Stewart’s disappearance and likely murder, Tim Shepherd, appeared before a judge. Investigators said the woman’s ex-boyfriend had admitted to killing Stewart and dumping her body in trash bins.

Officials said too he is under a suicide watch after having tried to kill himself. Defense attorney Chip Lewis argued that Shepherd’s bond was too high.

Shepherd will appear in court again Monday.

Meanwhile dozens of Texas A&M students attended a vigil at the university campus in Bryan-College Station where Stewart was remembered as someone who wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

(http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou070323_ac_shepherdcourt.b22fe12.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheriff: Suspect dismembered, grilled Aggie’s remains

11:06 AM CDT on Sunday, March 25, 2007

Associated Press Click to watch videoHOUSTON — Law-enforcement officials said Saturday that there are no remains to be found in the killing of a 19-year-old Texas A&M University student last week because the suspect in the case burned the woman’s body in a grill at his home.“We have determined through this investigation that the defendant dismembered Tynesha Stewart and . . . he burned the body parts,” Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas announced. “As a result of this, there are no remaining body parts . . . There will be no search. There is no need for a search.”

11 News

Authorities believe Tynesha Stewart was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

The announcement closed a heated debate in the Houston area over whether law-enforcement officials should launch a massive and expensive search of the area’s overflowing landfills in hopes of finding any of Stewart’s remains.

That debate was triggered Thursday when the Sheriff’s Department announced there would be no search because there was little chance of success. At the time, the public had been told that Stewart had been dismembered, and that her body parts were scattered in commercial trash bins throughout the area, meaning they could be in several area landfills.

Tynesha Stewart

Send your condolences to Tynesha Stewart’s family Sign our Guestbook | View our Guestbook

But Thomas said he knew then, but could not disclose, that there were no body parts to find. He said investigators were unable to release that information to the public or to Stewart’s family at the time because of the ongoing investigation. Stewart’s family has since been advised, and understands why there will be no further search, Thomas said.

Investigators say Timothy Wayne Shepherd, 27, confessed Wednesday to strangling Stewart, his former girlfriend, because he was angry she had begun a new relationship. Stewart was home in Houston on spring break at the time of the killing. Shepherd, who is charged with murder, is being held on $250,000 bond. His attorney, Chip Lewis, has not returned calls for comment.

HCSO

Tim Shepherd remains on suicide watch in jail.

Thomas said Stewart’s family had requested privacy and would not respond to media inquiries.

Officials first thought that Shepherd had disposed of the body in a large commercial trash bin that had since been emptied, but they now say Shepherd dismembered the body at his home and burned it in a grill on his patio.

Although human remains generally require extremely high temperatures to destroy, Thomas said nothing remains of Stewart. He would not discuss how the body could be entirely destroyed.

Also online

Official: Ex strangled missing Aggie

Probable cause affidavit

Thomas said he had received numerous angry e-mails and messages as a result of his decision Thursday not to search the landfills— “probably the toughest decision I’ve ever made in my career,” he said.

Six of the Sheriff’s Department’s 19 full-time detectives were assigned to the case, which attracted widespread interest throughout the area because of the gory details and the sympathy generated for Stewart’s family when it was believed her body may have been dumped in a landfill.

“This certainly turned out to be one of the most heinous crimes I’ve ever seen in my 38 years (in law enforcement),” Thomas said.

(http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou070324_mh_stewartburned.13ac0702.html)

 

 

 

 

Neighbors horrified by coed’s death

05:52 PM CDT on Sunday, March 25, 2007

Associated Press Click to watch videoHOUSTON — The acrid aroma billowing from the two barbecue grills on the balcony of Apartment 224 didn’t smell like barbecue.  And the black smoke rising from the leaping flames didn’t look like a normal cookout.What, neighbors at the Red Oak Place apartments wondered, was going on in the second floor apartment where 27-year-old Timothy Wayne Shepherd lived? What was he burning at all hours, for at least two days?

11 News

The search for Tynesha Stewart’s remains was abandoned after authorities said there was nothing to be found.

The answer turned their stomachs.

According to law enforcement officials, Shepherd had been

burning the body of his former girlfriend, Tynesha Stewart, a 19-year-old Texas A&M University student. Nothing remains of Stewart’s body, Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas said at a press conference Saturday.

“I just don’t know what to think about it,” said Louis Evans, whose balcony faces Shepherd’s in the quiet tree-lined enclave in northern Houston. “I thought he was a nice normal person. I guess you never know what your neighbors are doing.”

Tynesha Stewart

Send your condolences to Tynesha Stewart’s family Sign our Guestbook | View our Guestbook

Shepherd has confessed to strangling and dismembering Stewart, who was home on spring break, because he was angry that she had started a new relationship.

Officials first thought Shepherd had disposed of the body in a large commercial trash bin that had since been emptied, launching a heated debate over whether the Sheriff’s Department should conduct a massive and expensive search of area landfills for Stewart’s remains.

HCSO

Tim Shepherd remains on suicide watch in jail.

Shepherd, who is charged with murder, is being held on $250,000 bond in the Harris County Jail. Telephone message left with his attorney, Chip Lewis, were not immediately returned. On Sunday, the door to Shepherd’s apartment was covered with plywood boards.

Thomas, the sheriff, said Stewart’s family had requested privacy and would not respond to media inquiries.

Stewart was last seen March 15 and was reported missing March 19. The next day the Harris County Sheriff’s Office homicide division launched its investigation.

Also online

Experts detail red flags for relationship violence

Sheriff: Suspect grilled coed’s remains

Official: Ex strangled missing Aggie

Probable cause affidavit

That same day, March 16, neighbors first noticed the unusual activity—and the unpleasant odor—on Shepherd’s balcony.

“The smell was awful,” said Evans, who also became alarmed after seeing a blaze shoot out from the grills. “I was wondering:

What is he burning? Not cooking, but burning. There is a difference.”

At times, Evans said, the flames from the grills leapt dangerously close to the roof of the balcony. Evans says he called 911, but when firefighters arrived, the flames had calmed and Shepherd assured them everything was under control.

A leasing agent at the apartment complex also noticed the thick dark smoke and the intense flames and asked Shepherd what he was doing, Evans said. Shepherd told one neighbor that he was barbecuing food for a wedding.

But Evans says his suspicions were immediately aroused after he learned that Shepherd’s ex-girlfriend had disappeared.

“When I found out someone was missing, I put two and two together myself,” said Evans, who said neighbors have been stunned by the grisly nature of the crime. “This has thrown everything off for those of us living here.”

(http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou070325_tnt_aggielatest.174e9f1a.html)

 

 

 

 

Neighbor’s horrified by coed’s death

11:02 AM CDT on Monday, March 26, 2007

Associated Press Karla Barguiarena’s 11 News reportThe acrid aroma billowing from the two barbecue grills on the balcony of Apartment 224 didn’t smell like barbecue.  And the black smoke rising from the leaping flames didn’t look like a normal cookout.What, neighbors at the Red Oak Place apartments wondered, was going on in the second floor apartment where 27-year-old Timothy Wayne Shepherd lived? What was he burning at all hours, for at least two days?

KHOU-TV

Tynesha Stewart

The answer turned their stomachs.

According to law enforcement officials, Shepherd had been burning the body of his former girlfriend, Tynesha Stewart, a 19-year-old Texas A&M University student. Nothing remains of Stewart’s body, Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas said at a press conference Saturday.

Shepherd was in court Monday morning. He is charged with murder, for which he could get life in prison, and his bond remains at $250,000. No future court date has been set.

“I just don’t know what to think about it,” said Louis Evans, whose balcony faces Shepherd’s in the quiet tree-lined enclave in northern Houston. “I thought he was a nice normal person. I guess you never know what your neighbors are doing.”

Tynesha Stewart

Send your condolences to Tynesha Stewart’s family Sign our Guestbook | View our Guestbook

Shepherd has confessed to strangling and dismembering Stewart, who was home on spring break, because he was angry that she had started a new relationship.

Officials first thought Shepherd had disposed of the body in a large commercial trash bin that had since been emptied, launching a heated debate over whether the Sheriff’s Department should conduct a massive and expensive search of area landfills for Stewart’s remains.

HCSO

Tim Shepherd remains on suicide watch in jail.

Shepherd, who is charged with murder, is being held on $250,000 bond in the Harris County Jail. Telephone message left with his attorney, Chip Lewis, were not immediately returned. On Sunday, the door to Shepherd’s apartment was covered with plywood boards.

Thomas, the sheriff, said Stewart’s family had requested privacy and would not respond to media inquiries.

Stewart was last seen March 15 and was reported missing March 19. The next day the Harris County Sheriff’s Office homicide division launched its investigation.

Also online

Experts detail red flags for relationship violence

Sheriff: Suspect grilled coed’s remains

Official: Ex strangled missing Aggie

Probable cause affidavit

That same day, March 16, neighbors first noticed the unusual activity — and the unpleasant odor — on Shepherd’s balcony.

“The smell was awful,” said Evans, who also became alarmed after seeing a blaze shoot out from the grills. “I was wondering:

What is he burning? Not cooking, but burning. There is a difference.”

At times, Evans said, the flames from the grills leapt dangerously close to the roof of the balcony. Evans says he called 911, but when firefighters arrived, the flames had calmed and Shepherd assured them everything was under control.

A leasing agent at the apartment complex also noticed the thick dark smoke and the intense flames and asked Shepherd what he was doing, Evans said. Shepherd told one neighbor that he was barbecuing food for a wedding.

But Evans says his suspicions were immediately aroused after he learned that Shepherd’s ex-girlfriend had disappeared.

“When I found out someone was missing, I put two and two together myself,” said Evans, who said neighbors have been stunned by the grisly nature of the crime. “This has thrown everything off for those of us living here.”

(http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou070326__ac_aggielatest.e73615.html)

 

Investigators return to murder suspect’s apartment

Possible weapon found in dumpster

12:26 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

11 News Staff report Shern-Min Chow’s 11 News report| Raw video: Suspect’s aunt speaks out | Jason Whitely’s report on Shepherd’s court appearance | Raw video: Investigator’s search suspect’s apartmentHarris County investigators returned to the apartment of Tim Shepherd, the ex-boyfriend of the Texas A&M coed who went missing March 15.A crime scene unit from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office was on scene as investigators pulled items from the murder suspect’s apartment Monday afternoon. A collection of tagged brown bags could be seen on the entrance porch of the apartment.Investigators also brought out what appeared to be a roll of carpet and several large bags of evidence.

11 News

Harris County Sheriff’s Office crime scene investigators used an ultraviolet device to scan the porch of murder suspect Tim Shepherd’s apartment.

Sheriff’s investigators were also seen on the porch of Shepherd’s apartment using an ultraviolet device to scan the wooden surface. It was the type of device used to search for blood evidence. Neighbors had told police that the murder suspect was seen burning items in his barbecue pit and at one point they could smell what they believed to be burning hair.

Monday’s search came just as community activists are scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday morning demanding Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies search a landfill for the remains of Tynesha Stewart.

11 News

Timothy Sherpherd appeared in court again Monday morning. Later that day investigators combed through his apartment and used an ultraviolet device to scan his outside patio.

The activists say they don’t believe Shepherd’s story about the death of the young Aggie coed and think there could be more evidence to be found. Stewart’s family members though said Monday night that a search would be “too traumatic” and that they do not support the push for a new search.

The Harris County District Attorney was also not confirming or denying a report that a search of a trash dumpster last week uncovered a knife in a bag as well as a pair of sweatpants.

Meanwhile, Shepherd made his second court appearance Monday, but for the first time, more on his background was revealed.

Timothy Wayne Shepherd’s aunt said she thinks her nephew “just exploded” because he had not dealt with the death of his father and then murdered his ex-girlfriend.

Also online

Sheriff: Suspect grilled coed’s remains

Neighbors horrified at coed’s death

Probable cause affidavit

Shepherd faces a murder charge for killing 19-year-old Stewart, then dismembering her body and burning her remains on his patio grill.

When Shepherd returned to court Monday morning for a brief appearance he had family in the audience. His grandmother, Shirley Shepherd sat in the fourth row of the 183rd District Court with her pastor, Tommie C. Phillips. She wept when he first walked in to court wearing a yellow jumpsuit. That color signifies he is on suicide watch.

11 News

Timothy Wayne Shepherd is charged with killing 19-year-old Tynesha Stewart, a Texas A&M University student who was home for spring break.

Outside court, Janice Shepherd explained that Timothy was always good growing up but had difficulty getting along with his mother in his teenage years after discovering his stepfather was not his biological father. Janice Shepherd said Timothy’s father, Robert Miller Shepherd, died in a motorcycle accident in 1979 when his son was an infant.

“It’s a disgrace what has happened. It really is. He should have gotten a mental evaluation. He should have gotten some help. But his family turned its back on him. It’s a disgrace,” Shepherd’s aunt, Janice Shepherd, said.

Phillips told reporters the Shepherd family can’t explain why Timothy would do what he is charged with. The pastor also offered prayers for Stewart’s family and friends.

Tynesha Stewart

Send your condolences to Tynesha Stewart’s family Sign our Guestbook | View our Guestbook

Stewart disappeared March 15. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said Shepherd confessed to strangling her with his hands. Investigators say he then dismembered her body in his apartment and burned her remains in two grills on his second floor balcony.

“He was a very sweet kid. He really was. He just exploded. All that was down inside of him,” Shepherd said.

Saturday, Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas said nothing remains of the 19-year-old’s body.

“It’s horrific. Absolutely horrific. The thought of it and how it’s going to affect the family is overwhelming almost,” Prosecutor Marie Primm said.

In court, his attorney did not ask for the $250,000 bond to be lowered.

“The family believes the best place for Mr. Shepherd is in the safety of the Harris County Jail,” Defense Attorney Chip Lewis, said.

Shepherd was reportedly active in his church’s youth group, but strayed from the congregation after high school.

He delivered pizzas for a while but was unemployed when investigators say he committed one of the most gruesome crimes Harris County has ever seen.

Shepherd could get up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine if he is found guilty of murder. Primm said the case will next go to the Grand Jury for an indictment during the next 90 days.

As for past run-ins with the law, Shepherd’s record indicates only one prior offense: an arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession back in 2002.

(http://www.khou.com/news/olcal/stories/khou070326_ac_suspectfamily.1bfa5ec.html)

Understanding the mind
of a possible killer

11:32 PM CDT on Monday, March 26, 2007

By Nancy Holland / 11 News Watch Nancy Holland’s reportThe possible murder and dismemberment of Texas A&M coed Tynesha Stewart likely has many asking, “how could anyone do that?”A psychiatry expert suggests even in cases with odd twists murder is not so hard to understand.“This rage that was building inside him just went berserk and he just wanted to lash out on her,” said Dr. Patricia Averill of the University of Texas’ Harris County Psychiatry Center.That rage does not sound too dissimilar to what Timothy Shepherd’s aunt said the day the murder suspect appeared in court. She said her nephew, “just exploded.”

Also online

The latest on the Tynesha Stewart case

How did a young man who people called a “nice guy” not just murder his ex-girlfriend, but then coolly dismembered and burned her remains on his patio as police suspect and other sources said he confessed to doing.

Shepherd’s aunt traces it back to when he was a teen and discovered his real father died in a motorcycle wreck. To really understand said Averill you need to go even further back.

11 News

Timothy Wayne Shepherd is charged with killing 19-year-old Tynesha Stewart, a Texas A&M University student who was home for spring break.

To one’s childhood.

It is in those earliest years she said she would look for the real clues.

“I would look for somebody who possibly was, as a child, cruel in some ways to those who were less capable than themselves. Maybe animals. Just some mean streaks, not being empathic or concerned for hurting others,” said Averill. “I would look for that kind of anti-social behavior because typically for somebody to do this there had to be very little empathy for her and very much on focus on himself. That usually starts early in life.”

Then again, maybe there were no clues at all.

After all most of us break up with a string of people in our lives and the result is nothing really happens.

“It’s very scary, because you can’t predict,” said Averill.

Perhaps he was just a nice guy who was also a time bomb.

(http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou070326_tj_sherperdsider.45dd4ae.html)

 

Group slams handling of Stewart case

05:23 PM CDT on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

From 11 News staff reports Community leaders slam handling of case | Raw video: Suspect’s aunt speaks out | Raw video: Investigators search suspect’s apartmentA group of community leaders Tuesday slammed the Harris County Sheriff’s Department’s handling of the Tynesha Stewart case.The press conference was called by members of the Nation of Islam, NAACP and Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee’s office.The group said they wanted to clear up what they called a series of half-truths, reports of what they say may or may not have happened to Stewart. They said unless there is a search, no one will really know what happened.Stewart’s ex-boyfriend, Timothy Shepherd, is said to have told authorities last week that he killed Stewart and put her body in a Dumpster.

11 News

Harris County Sheriff’s Office crime scene investigators used an ultraviolet device to scan the porch of murder suspect Tim Shepherd’s apartment.

Authorities said he allegedly dismembered her body and burned it, quashing a search.

But the call came Tuesday that a search must continue.

“We want the truth,” the Rev. Robert Mohammad said. “No matter where that truth leads us, we want the truth. We respect the wishes of the family, but we too are a family and we too have been traumatized by the rollercoaster that we, the community and the greater public have been put upon — not only by the heinousness of the crime that has been described to us in all of the public pronouncement, but also in the unqualified incompetence of the mishandling of this case by the sheriff’s department.”

The department has not yet commented.

Stewart’s family members said Monday night that a search would be “too traumatic” and that they do not support the push for a new search.

Stewart Family and KHOU – TV

 

Another search for evidence

Harris County investigators returned to the Shepherd’s apartment Monday.

A crime scene unit from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office was on scene as investigators pulled items from the murder suspect’s apartment Monday afternoon. A collection of tagged brown bags could be seen on the entrance porch of the apartment.

Investigators also brought out what appeared to be a roll of carpet and several large bags of evidence.

Sheriff’s investigators were also seen on the porch of Shepherd’s apartment using an ultraviolet device to scan the wooden surface. It was the type of device used to search for blood evidence. Neighbors had told police that the murder suspect was seen burning items in his barbecue pit and at one point they could smell what they believed to be burning hair.

11 News

Timothy Sherpherd appeared in court again Monday morning. Later that day investigators combed through his apartment and used an ultraviolet device to scan his outside patio.

The Harris County District Attorney was also not confirming or denying a report that a search of a trash dumpster last week uncovered a knife in a bag as well as a pair of sweatpants.

Shepherd faces a murder charge for allegedly killing 19-year-old Stewart, then dismembering her body and burning her remains on his patio grill.

When Shepherd returned to court Monday morning for a brief appearance he had family in the audience. His grandmother, Shirley Shepherd sat in the fourth row of the 183rd District Court with her pastor, Tommie C. Phillips. She wept when he first walked in to court wearing a yellow jumpsuit. That color signifies he is on suicide watch.

Also online

Timeline of events

Sheriff: Suspect grilled coed’s remains

Neighbors horrified at coed’s death

Probable cause affidavit

Outside court, Janice Shepherd explained that Timothy was always good growing up but had difficulty getting along with his mother in his teenage years after discovering his stepfather was not his biological father. Janice Shepherd said Timothy’s father, Robert Miller Shepherd, died in a motorcycle accident in 1979 when his son was an infant.

“It’s a disgrace what has happened. It really is. He should have gotten a mental evaluation. He should have gotten some help. But his family turned its back on him. It’s a disgrace,” Shepherd’s aunt, Janice Shepherd, said.

Phillips told reporters the Shepherd family can’t explain why Timothy would do what he is charged with. The pastor also offered prayers for Stewart’s family and friends.

11 News

Timothy Wayne Shepherd is charged with killing 19-year-old Tynesha Stewart, a Texas A&M University student who was home for spring break.

Stewart disappeared March 15. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said Shepherd confessed to strangling her with his hands. Investigators say he then dismembered her body in his apartment and burned her remains in two grills on his second floor balcony.

“He was a very sweet kid. He really was. He just exploded. All that was down inside of him,” Shepherd said.

Saturday, Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas said nothing remains of the 19-year-old’s body.

“It’s horrific. Absolutely horrific. The thought of it and how it’s going to affect the family is overwhelming almost,” prosecutor Marie Primm said.

In court, his attorney did not ask for the $250,000 bond to be lowered.

“The family believes the best place for Mr. Shepherd is in the safety of the Harris County Jail,” Defense Attorney Chip Lewis, said.

Tynesha Stewart

Send your condolences to Tynesha Stewart’s family Sign our Guestbook | View our Guestbook

Shepherd was reportedly active in his church’s youth group, but strayed from the congregation after high school.

He delivered pizzas for a while but was unemployed when investigators say he committed one of the most gruesome crimes Harris County has ever seen.

Shepherd could get up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine if he is found guilty of murder. Primm said the case will next go to the Grand Jury for an indictment during the next 90 days.

As for past run-ins with the law, Shepherd’s record indicates only one prior offense: an arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession back in 2002.

(http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou070327_ac_stewartfamily.6a8d069.html)

 

Activists want landfills searched for Stewart’s remains

05:29 PM CDT on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

By Jason Whitely / 11 News Jason Whitely’s update| Community leaders slam handling of case | Raw video: Suspect’s aunt speaks out | Raw video: Investigators search suspect’s apartmentThe murder of Texas A&M student, Tynesha Stewart, has taken a new twist almost daily.

KHOU-TV

Tynesha Stewart

Now community leaders are slamming the Harris County Sheriff’s Office over the handling of the case.

The NAACP and the Urban League say they think deputies bungled the Stewart investigation from the beginning by waiting three days before accepting a missing person’s report from the 19-year-old’s family.

“They insulted them by simply saying not enough time had passed and she was a grown woman and she’d probably show up. That was on Friday. They went back on a Saturday. No one was available to take a missing persons report they were told to come back Monday,” said Nation of Islam’s Minister Robert Muhammad.

The Sheriff’s Office says there’s no record of that.

Also online

Timeline of events

Sheriff: Suspect grilled coed’s remains

Neighbors horrified at coed’s death

Probable cause affidavit

Two days later deputies arrested Stewart’s boyfriend, Timothy Wayne Shepherd for her murder.

Investigators say Shepherd strangled his ex-girlfriend, dismembered her and then burned her remains on two patio grills.

Shepherd, who said he was angry that Stewart had started a new relationship, is being held on $250,000 bond.

The sheriff’s office went back and forth before deciding not to search a landfill where Stewart’s body parts are believed to be.

But now those upset say deputies should at least make the effort especially since county commissioners approved $500,000 for the effort.

It’s doubtful that will happen though.

Tynesha Stewart

Send your condolences to Tynesha Stewart’s family Sign our Guestbook | View our Guestbook

Tuesday the Sheriff’s Office said it released the area that was staked out for a search back to Waste Management.

Equusearch, said Tim Miller, backed out, too. “The family contacted us and basically said ‘You know what, we’re trying to put our lives back together. It’s going to be way too painful if the search goes on so would ya’ll just please step back away from it and not do the search.”

At least two prosecutors in the case have said they don’t need Tynesha’s remains to go to trial.

Whether they can win despite these issues is what worries many.

The D.A.’s office is not revealing what other evidence it has in this case.

Neither are detectives.

They picked up new forensic evidence from Shepherd’s apartment Monday night.

The 27-year-old murder suspect returns to court April 26.

For more background on the Tynesha Stewart case and to hear from the suspect’s family click Details.

(http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou070327_jj_a%2mstudentmurder.7f4659a.html)

 

Landfill seaches not uncommon

10:34 PM CDT on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

By Jeremy Desel / 11 News Jason Whitely’s update| Community leaders slam handling of case | Raw video: Suspect’s aunt speaks out | Raw video: Investigators search suspect’s apartmentFrom the beginning, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said it would not search for the body of Tynesha Stewart.

KHOU-TV

Tynesha Stewart

It was no doubt going to be a gruesome and daunting task. A body or possibly body parts buried beneath thousands of tons of trash.

“Just the tons of trash that has been dumped in the past week, there’s a very slim possibility being able to locate anything significant,” said sheriff’s office spokesman John Martin.

Despite the slim possibilities, there are examples of where such searches have been successful.

Also online

Timeline of events

Sheriff: Suspect grilled coed’s remains

Neighbors horrified at coed’s death

Probable cause affidavit

In Denver last year, authorities spent 52 days searching for a murder victim who had been missing for six months. The search covered not one, but two landfills including one of the largest in a 10 state region.

After nearly two months of searching, a body was found.

Tynesha Stewart

Send your condolences to Tynesha Stewart’s family Sign our Guestbook | View our Guestbook

In San Diego, Calif., authorities searched a landfill for the body of a two-year-old boy, declaring, “No one should be buried in a landfill. Ever.”

In September, Lubbock police searched a landfill for two months finally finding the body of 16-year-old Joanna Rogers who had been missing for two years.

The search for Lori Hacking in Salt Lake City, Utah made national news after her husband admitting to dumping her body in a trash bin. After several weeks, her body too was found.

In Aruba, Houston’s own Texas Equusearch looked for weeks for missing Alabama teen Natalee Holoway. That search included a landfill. Equusearch founder Tim Miller said he was ready to begin searching here too.

Equusearch has done it before, including the search for Kendrick Jackson in a Baytown landfill.

The list of where police have taken on the daunting task of searching a landfill is long.

Oceanside, Calif.; Harrisonburg, Va.; Vintondale, Penn.; Menominee, Mich.; Trenton, N.J.; Tucson, Ariz.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Jacksonville, Fla. There is even a search taking place in Virginia that is now in its fourth day.

In all but three recent cases, victims were recovered despite the odds.

It is doubtful those cases will influence the decision to search or not to search for Stewart.

At least two prosecutors in the case have said they do not need the Texas A&M coed’s remains to go to trial.

Whether they can win despite these issues is what worries those demanding a search.

The NAACP and the Urban League said they think deputies bungled the Stewart investigation from the beginning by waiting three days before accepting a missing person’s report from the 19-year-old’s family.

“They insulted them by simply saying not enough time had passed and she was a grown woman and she’d probably show up. That was on Friday. They went back on a Saturday. No one was available to take a missing persons report they were told to come back Monday,” said Nation of Islam’s Minister Robert Muhammad.

The Sheriff’s Office says there is no record of that.

The groups were demanding a search be conducted.

But, Stewart’s family was in agreement with investigators that a search was not warranted.

With that, Equusearch backed out too.

“The family contacted us and basically said ‘You know what, we’re trying to put our lives back together. It’s going to be way too painful if the search goes on so would ya’ll just please step back away from it and not do the search,’” said founder Tim Miller.

The D.A.’s office is not revealing what other evidence it has in this case.

Neither are detectives.

They picked up new forensic evidence from Shepherd’s apartment Monday night.

The 27-year-old murder suspect returns to court April 26.

For more background on the Tynesha Stewart case and to hear from the suspect’s family click Details.

(http://www.khou.news/local/stories/khou070327_jj_a&mstudentmurder.7f4659a.html)

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MORE CONTINUED DEVALUATION OF BLACK WOMEN IN AMERICA

My thanks to Sharon’s Muse (http://sharoncullars.blogspot.com) for this story of perverted justice. Please, let’s all show our support of young Shaquanda. She needs our prayers, our letters, and our voices to speak up for her in her hour of need.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Free Shaquanda Cotton

A 14-year-old black girl is entering her second year of a 7-year sentence for SHOVING A HALL MONITOR who sustained no injuries. OK, the girl was wrong to shove the woman in the first place, but 7 freaking years?!!! Until this ruling, Shaquanda had never been arrested before. She is not due to get out until she is 21. She is going to spend the remainder of her teen years behind bars with actual felons. If you don’t understand the whole picture, note that the same judge who gave Shaquanda seven years just gave probation to a white teenager for arson. Probation. You see the picture now?

When I read this, I had to take a moment to breathe it was so fucking upsetting. It’s 2007, not 1937, but obviously Paris, Texas is unaware of that fact. What is also maddening is that the harsh sentence appears to be retaliatory because Shaquanda’s mother was very vocal about the rampant racism at the girl’s school. Once her mother started speaking up, Shaquanda found herself being written up for things like having her skirt an inch too short or filling her art cup to the brim. Based on these pitiful write-ups, in addition to the shoving, her teachers and administrators recommended that she be sent to prison.

Shaquanda has a blog with mailing addresses to the judge and governor, and I’m listing them here, also. I am appealing to all of you who read this blog to actually put pen to paper and protest this travesty. And if you have a blog, please pass on the info below. If nothing else, we have the power of the pen and keyboard. Truly, if you choose to remain silent, you are basically saying that what is happening to this child is OK.

Shaquanda receives mail at:
Ron Jackson Correctional Complex,
Unit 2, Dorm 4
P.O. Box 872
Brownwood, Texas 76804
1125308

Paula Mooney is urging that protest letters be sent to Judge Chuck Superville, who handed down the sentence:

Honorable M.C. (Chuck) Superville, Jr., Judge
Lamar County Courthouse
119 North Main
Paris, TX 75460
Phone # 903-737-2410
Fax # 903-785-3858

Letters can also be sent to Texas Gov. Rick Perry through his website.

Read the Chicago Tribune story that brought this travesty to national attention.Addendum: Here is information to contact Governor Rick Perry:

Mailing Address
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Delivery Address
Office of the Governor
State Insurance Building
1100 San Jacinto
Austin, Texas 78701

Citizen’s Opinion Hotline: (800) 252-9600
[for Texas callers]

Citizen’s Assistance and Opinion Hotline: (512) 463-1782
[for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers]

Office of the Governor Main Switchboard: (512) 463-2000

Office of the Governor Fax: (512) 463-1849

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TOWARDS A NEW TREATISE FOR BLACK WOMEN: DISPATCHES FROM NEAR THE VANGUARD

When Michelle Wallace wrote her ground-breaking book entitled  “Black Macho, and the Myth of the Super Woman”, she was widely hailed by many admirers. But, on the other hand, she was even more widely assailed by many others: white people, black men, and even some black women. Her desire was to start out writing a book about all the many things done to the black woman, all the many things done that happened to the black woman that the black woman in turned mainly reacted to. Along the way while writing her book, Michelle came to the realization that black women had become spectators in their own lives, and as a result of that had abdicated responsibiltiy of their lives, and in the process, agency, self-actualization, self-realization, and self-autonomy over their lives. In her book, Michelle realized that black women must do more than merely react to any and all stimuli surrounding them.

Michelle envisioned black women who would take their lives into their hands and fully and truly live lives of meaning and substance. She wanted black women to realize the importance their lives had. She wanted black women to realize that they were more than a group of women who have had bad things happen to them.

She wanted black women to recover, reclaim, and become reacquainted with their history of glories, accomplishments and triumphs. She wanted black women to step up to the plate, and take on the responsibilties that come with being women, and all that comes with it.

I do want very much for black women to learn of and recognize the many unknown contributions that black women have made time and time again in this country. And I do want for black women to realize how desparately they need, as Michelle Wallace pointed out at the end of her book, “Black Macho and the Myth of the Super Woman”, that black women need to write THEIR OWN HISTORY, and not to continue to let anyone write our own history for us. That is the self-preservation that black women must learn and commit themselves to.

And I agree wholeheartedly with Michelle on this quote from her book:

“In the past the black woman had always provided the black man with an atmosphere in which he was treated as the equal of any man. That included resisting him when he was wrong.”

Black women need to return to this and stop being dormats for black men, or for any man for that matter. Black women need to go back to challenging black men to be men. If many black women can prevail against the racism AND sexism that we face in this white-run country, then, surely, black men can prevail as well. And that means not letting a black man into her life who will drag her down to a level of degredation. If she must stand and be a woman, then he (the black man) must stand and be a man.

Black women should not see themselves as victims, and definately not as Super Women. They are neither of those images. And, yes, the future is something black women alone can control as to what they will become, as opposed to what they have reacted to that has been done to them.

The black woman of today must become proactive, not remain reactive. For, only then can she start to build her own reality that can truly represent what she is and can, become.

For, as long as we allow white men, white women, black men, or anyone to tell their idea of what a black women is, or has been, in America, we will continue to be pawns at the mercy of all the negative stereotypes, lies and myths that the non-black woman world has been espousing about us for so long.

Black women have been feminists in this country before there ever was a term to describe the very act of feminism. Black women during slavery and segregation were feminist when they spoke against slavery, and when they spoke against Jim Crow segregation. Of course, being black women, many people did not heed the value of what black women said. No one listened to black women when they fought against the lynchings of black men, women and children, (except for the many black men who worked with black women to put an end to lynchings), and those who did not do the listening were mainly the people whose race was doing all of the lynchings, and could have stopped this inhumane barbarity. No one listened when black women spoke and fought against rapes of black women by white men, (except the many black men who spoke out against the rapes of black women and black girls), especially many white women who would not listen when black women implored of them to work towards the end of rape and degradation of black women, by asking white women to take their white men to task for these acts of barbarism.

But, that did not stop black women from championing their causes through the years. And it still has not stopped some black women from continuing to speak the truth, no matter who hates to hear the truth.

I am advocating that black women take the proverbial bull by the horns and create their own image of who they are. Their own analysis of who they are. Their own understanding of what their priorities are.

Learning and understanding their history, would be a momentous step in that direction for black women.

When you do not know your history, you will be bound to commit the same past mistakes over, and over, again.

Not knowing your history puts you at a huge disadvantage.

Not knowing both the good and the bad, the proud and the profane, puts you at anyone’s mercy to say and perpetuate anything, and everything they can against you.

Black women in America are terribly in need of asserting their OWN identity. Not someone else’s.

Only black women can speak for themselves. Only black women with their unique history in this country can create from themselves what kind of woman they will present not just to the world, but, most importantly, what kind of woman they will create and present to themselves. Not a stand-by-your-man woman. Not a have-a-baby-out-of-wedlock woman. Neither type of those examples serves to create an identity of a black woman who has come to terms with her history in this country, neither do those two examples serve to create an indentity that speaks truly of ALL black women. Until black women come to terms with the need to create an identity that is positive, capable, creative, resourceful (all of which many, many black women have been throughout the long history of this country), until then, black women will be at the mercy of someone else’s idea of what they think a black woman is, of what they think a black woman can only aspire to be, of what they think only a black woman can be. Black women can only find it in themselves to be what they can be. The resourcefulness, the creativity, the major impact that many black women have had on this country has sadly been lost from the minds of many young black women. Many of them can not even begin to know of the huge accomplishments that so many black women have done in this country, because so many of those young girls do not know their proud history.

White women know of their history in this country. Well, some of them do. White women know of their image in this country.

But, how many young black girls, or young black women, know of their proud history in this country? The major impact that black women have had on the movement to abolish slavery, the movement to abolish Jim Crow segregation, the many unsung and unknown black women of the Civil Rights Movement, and especially the many black women of the three waves of the feminist movement?

Sadly, many young black girls do not.

I know the young black lady I am mentoring knows very, very little of her history in this country.

Does that bring tears to my eyes? Yes. Am I doing something about it? Yes. In addition to her I am working on a “Book Reading Club” with young black people at the volunteer organization S.H.A.P.E. here where I live, to inform them of their proud history in this country. I know that is my duty to them, the young of the future, and if I do not fulfill that duty to help them create an understanding of their history, and an understanding of themselves, then I will fail to pass on something that can give them a sense of self-direction, a sense of self-actualization that they will need to create, and hold onto positive and fruitful images that can speak truthfully of themselves.

Black women will not find the “Black Woman” though anyone else.

Only through themselves.

Black women must self generate their own images.

And the stand-by-your-man-even-when-he-is-not-standing-by-you woman image, the have-a-baby-out-of-wedlock-and-let-the-man-off-the-hook-at-the-detriment-of-the-child images do not speak of black women. And this should not speak of the many black women who do not ascribe to this mentality.

They certainly do not speak for me.

I know that my image of me does not in any way jibe with those two referenced images. Never has and never will.

And so too, do those images not jibe in any way with the millions of black women who live in this country.

As much as black women work hard to make ends meet, as much as black women with all of the racism and sexism that we face, and we still do not give in and give up, that some black men have the audacity to castigate and denigrate us shows how less of a man some of them are, especially those who create children and don’t have the balls to take care of them.

And on the subject of IRs, any black man who attempts to tell a black woman whom she can or cannot marry, should check himself first. If more black women would practice self-preservation, instead of so much blind loyalty to black men and the black community, there would be many black women who would be happier. Since some black men take so many black women for granted, one day those same black men (those who know who they are) are going to wake up and find that that well has run dry, and by then many black women will have moved on (hopefully) and found happiness, joy and peace in their lives with men who love, cherish and honor them for all the beautiful qualities they have.

Any black man who cops an attitude as to whom a black woman marries, but, he does next to nothing to take care of his own responsibilites, can expect to have nothing to say when black women finally wise up and live their lives for themselves instead of wasting their lives away on so-called men who are selfish. Only then, when black women let go of their blind loyalty that does none of them any good, and when they finally start to open their lives up to men (no matter what the man’s race), men who truly love them, then will those black men who took black women for granted so long finally realize what they are losing.

And by then, black men who have considered black women to have been their ace in the hole for so long, an ace in the hole to be taken for granted, will have no one to blame but themselves. Some black men have relegated black women to being “Stand By” equipment, there laying to the side, put into the corner, to be used at the discretion of some men who have nothing but contempt for the woman. Nothing but callous disregard for the woman’s feelings, nor respect for her needs or desires.

If he is not taking care of his children, if he is not contributing to the support and help of the black community, if he is being nothing but a parasitic entity, then he of all people can say nothing about the personal decision of whom a black woman will spend her life with.

Gold-diggers.

Not black women.

Bitches.

Not black women.

Hos.

Nope.

Black women are none of the above.

But, it does not take much to figure out who is.

A well-known black man said these words in 1964 about the black man’s taking the black woman for granted. About the black men (those who know who they are), continually crying for respect from everyone around them, but, on the other hand, showing the least amount of respect for those who have had his back for centuries, for generations.

And that person who has had his back in many ways than he can remember, is the black woman.

The black men (those who mistreat and disrespect the black woman), need to heed and live by this great man’s words:

“The black man is going around saying he wants respect; well, the black man will never get anybody’s respect until he first learns to respect his own women! The black man needs to start today to shelter and protect and respect his black women!”

Malcolm X, from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, as told to Alex Haley, Ballantine Books, New York, 1965, pg. 241.

Questions for those of you reading my words:

Since the overall premise of negating and denying black women their agency, their autonomy,  speaks to the control of  black women’s sexuality, a black woman’s humanity, what are the perceptions on what a black woman is?

When you think of the words, “black woman”, what images come to mind?

Since there are some people who do not wish to see black women with white men in IRs, but, instead would prefer to continue to see black women and white men remain aversed towards each other, would you consider the reasons behind this way of thinking as trying to keep black women and white men away from each other because, if truth be told, the real “movers and shakers” of both communities are the black woman and the white man, respectively?

Is the desire from some people to keep black women and white men apart from each other, not just by way of social/residential segregation, a way to keep the real “worker bees” of each community away from each other, because if these two groups (the black woman and the white man), ever married in large numbers, that there would be a major shift in the racial paradigm of this country?

Would you consider that the reason marriages/relationships of prominent black men (Tiger Woods and his nanny; Seal and Heidi Klum, etc.), are celebrated and given much media play, as opposed to the marriages/relationships of prominent white men (George Lucas and Melody Hobson, for example), is because this society wants to continue the celebration of white female beauty, and the continued devaluation of black female beauty?

Yes, black women’s beauty is under continued attack, daily, weekly, yearly. But, the appropriation and imitation of white women’s beauty serves no purpose but to subconsciously negate all things beautiful of black women’s features. Black women’s features are unique and beautiful, and are in no way less than any other woman’s beauty. Less shame of what we have that is inherently unique to us would be a starting point to eschew all things white, especially white beauty, and develop a love of all things black, especially black beauty.

Black women must differentiate between their problems and the problems of white women. What may work in many ways for the white woman, cannot, and do not, always work for many black women. Black women must stop living the Lie of the Myth of the Super Woman. This myth/lie is killing many black women. For generations black women have been lying to themselves, falling for the destructive killing machine of the Super Woman myth; a myth which has caused many black women to submerge, to curtail, to strangle, to stifle their most basic humanness:  That they are not women, but, instead, are to be held up, and seen as nothing more than beasts of burden. Beasts of burden to be worked to death, physically, mentally and spiritually by all around them.

 Black women need to stop being the self-sacrficing Mammies to black men. We need to stop being the self-sacrificing Mammies to white men, white women, and all others. Why continue to raise men/people who should have already been raised? Why continue to put aside, invalidate and jettison overboard your self-respect, your total humanity, your very life for some men who could careless for your health, your well-being? Men who are so selfish that they do not care for the destruction they are causing to you?

It is your body, your life, your sanity, that you, and you alone, should safeguard at the utmost. You owe yourself a life well-lived. And as black women who have given time, and time again, to white men, white women, and black men, and others, after having given more than your all, only to find that you have so very little to show for it, isn’t it about time that you, BLACK WOMAN, will finally decide to do some soul-searching as to what is really best for you? Isn’t it about time for you to cut the rope, to let any and all millstones that hang around your neck, be severed and allowed to sink away from you, so that you may fully RISE and be the very best that is within your potential?

Shoulsdn’t you want, and demand the very best of yourself, the very grandest, the most spectacular of yourself?

For by demanding the highest pinnacle of yourself, then can you demand, yes, demand, the very same of others.

Black women, develop a PHILOSOPHY.

Black women, demand of yourselves a WAY OF LIFE.

A way of life that you are willing to stand for, a way of life that you will not abandon.

A way of life that you are willing to put to your life on the line for.

But, it must be a way of life that serves YOU well. A way of life that is no longer the old sacrifice, give all, think of everyone but yourself life.

That life is more than old, it is more than dead. It has destroyed your health, your mind, and your very soul for more than you care to remember.

Black women, enough of the soul-murdering that we have suffered from in this country.

Enough of the invisible silence, that invisible curtain that has been drawn down on us by so many in this country. So many have been ready to not give us the benefit of a doubt. So many have deemed us irrelevant. So many have rendered us invisible. So many have written us off time, and time, again. Enough of settling for less than for ourselves.

Enough.

Break free from the jail that we have been put into. The jail where in many cases WE have given our jailers the key, and have allowed them, many times with our own help, to lock us up in both our body and our mind.

That so many black women are having troubles in their lives, that so many black women walk around with health issues that are killing them (hypertension, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, morbid obesity) is an indication that many have not taken the position of being the leaders of their own lives, their own fates. This debilitation of the health of many black women is the result of the savage toll that a racist and sexist society has exacted upon the well-being of so many black women. Black women must not only advance as individuals, but, also  advance in the interests of the black community. The plight of the black community is horribly obvious.  And it is not enough for black women to better themselves in this life. They must better themselves, and also in the process, better the black community.

Having a baby OOW is not the answer.

Allowing a man into their lives, no matter his race, who will drag them down into oblivion, is not the answer.

Black women must cease the misuse of their bodies with every and any man who comes into their lives. For too long, many black women have allowed into their lives men of various races (Nigerian,  Arabic, Latino), who entered those women’s lives only to use them as sexual toilets, men who have bought into the lie that black women are to be used, and not given the respect and honor that all women are due. Then after having used the black woman, those same men would go off back to their own race to marry women of their own race, after using and spurning the love that so many black women gave them.

Black women must cease this self-destructive behaviour which not only destroys their bodies, but, destroys many black women’s self-esteem and respect for their bodies. Black women must cease treating themselves as vessels of some men’s selfish sexual misuse. Black women owe themselves more respectful treatment of their bodies. No man is worth the loss of your virginity, or celibacy, just because you feel you must let him into your life because you feel that you have no other options if only to have a man in your life to avoid loneliness. Yes, black women are human; but, you also owe yourselves the best you can obtain in your relationships with men. Black women, stop selling yourselves short. You deserve the very best of life in this world while you live. Do not settle for secondbest, do not settle for that which harms and destroys you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

 Good, decent, mature, loving men are out there. You have to be receptive, aware, and patient in recognizing them. Do not just let a man’s WORDS alone dictate the how he really feels about you. Listen to what he says, and watch him in his actions. You will know how he will treat you, when you see if his words match his ACTIONS.

Giving up and living lives of quiet desperation, is certainly not the answer.

 But, black women have to come to the terms that unlike the black women of the past, black women have freedoms that their grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, could only dream of.

And with freedom, comes responsibility.

The responsibility to take your life into your own hands and be the director, the leader, the navigator of your own fate.

Not anyone else.

 Black women have to ask themselves this very important question:

 “Who will I allow to have the last decision on how I will live my life? The rest of the world, OR me?”

Black women must not let all those who’ve sought to label, name and weave webs of lies and myths about them have the final word. Advancing aims, philosophies, values, and principles that give agency to black women, realities that give potency to advancing a way of life that helps, rather than hinders, will give creative range to lives of full living, instead of half-living, or in some cases, no living at all.

I will end my post with the words written at the end of Michelle Wallace’s book. For her words ring true today, as true  and as relevant today, as they did when she wrote on the Myth of the Super Woman in 1979:

 “Yes, it is very important that we never forget the tragedy of our history or how racist white people have been or how the black man has let us down. But all of that must be set in its proper perspective. It belongs to the past and we must belong to the future. The future is something we can control. When I began this book, I thought it would be about what the black woman is, but this book has turned out to be about what has happened to her. She has yet to become what she is…

“This history of the period has been written and will continue to be written without us. The imperative is clear: Either we will make history or remain the victims of it.”

posted by Ann

LINKS:

http://www.blackculturalstudies.org/wallace/hellandback.html

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,916811-1,00.html

http://blackvoices.aol.com/entmain/music/critno10604/20050302

REFERENCES:

“Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman”,  by Michelle Wallace, Verso, 1991.

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WHAT CAN THE WHITE WOMAN SAY TO THE BLACK WOMAN?

I originally read the profoundly beautiful essay, “What Can the White Man Say to the Black Woman?”, by Alice Walker two years ago and it had quite an impact on me. I questioned what could the white woman say to black women? They too had a hand in committing atrocities against black people, most notably in the many white women who stood by and did nothing to challenge the racism that POC suffered under, as well as the sexualized gendered racism that millions of WOC endured at the hands of white men. In honor of Ms. Walker’s essay, I wrote my own on what can the white woman say to the black woman.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For 400 years she stood by and watched black women, men and children be sold on the auction block;

She stood by and watched the children of rape, the slave master’s children, torn from the arms of crying mothers;

Mothers who loved the child who were forced onto them; the innocent children who would be damned to a life of slavery because the white slave father decreed it so.

What can the white woman say to the black woman?

When she stood by and watched black women work in the fields doing the work that was the domain of men;

When she stood by and looked on as black women labored under the burning sun in the cotton fields, in the master’s kitchen, in the rice fields, chopping cotton, hoeing lands, plowing behind mule teams.

When she stood by and watched the constant pillaging of black women’s honor, heard the painful screams and cries of black women and girls who were raped by the white slave master, the white son, the white overseer, the many white men who visited the plantation, who used black women and girls like so many sexual outhouses, like so many sexual toilets.

What can the white woman say to the black woman?

What can she say to the Native American sisters of black women, native women who saw their land taken from them, little, by little, by greedy Europeans who cared nothing for the values and love of the land that the native peoples had; the reverence for the non-ownership of the land, a reverence that Europeans disrespected and denigrated by cheating and stealing the land from the native peoples until there was nothing left, save reservations onto which the whites crowded the original peoples who walked this land in the millions, and only now, number in the thousands;

What can the white woman say to the black woman?

When all the world over, culture, after culture, fell prey to the rapacious onslaughts of white domination: Africa, Asia, Central America, Mexico, South America, the Carribbean, Australia, Polynesia.

The Pequot.

The Cheyenne.

The Nez Perce.

The Zuni.

The Zulu.

The Matebele.

The Khoisan.

The Humong.

The Aboriginals.

Cultures that had thrived for thousands of years only to be destroyed in a generation by the enslavement of the indigenous peoples, peoples who had no protection against the Maxim, the scourge of measles, smallpox, mumps.

People whose languages were stripped from them.

The Fulani, the Ibo, the Yoruba, the Mandinka as they were herded onto slave ships through the cruel Door of No Return on Goree Island and at Elmina Castle. Whole races of people who could only look back in sorrow on the only world they had ever known, a world they would never see ever again, as they were hearded into the belly of the slave ship into a living nightmare;

A nightmare of being transported through the Trans-Atlantic slave trade on slave ships where for every one slave who made it through the voyage, one living human being also died; where male slaves were packed below deck,”spoon-fashion” so as to allow maximum space for numbers of humans to waste away in their own feces, vomit, and flux, which killed so many on this 3 month voyage; where above decks the defenseless black women and girls were subjected to the most gross sexual abombinations and perversions imaginable; where the sick and dying were tossed overboard, while still alive, to the jaws of the hungry sharks, sharks who learned to follow the trail the slave ship left in its wake, the trail and stench of death.

What can the white woman say to the black woman when even at the end of slavery, when white men continued to rape and impregnate black women and girls, she stood by and did not speak up in their defense, where she allowed the mass spectacle of lynching to take the many lives of innocent black men, women and children, human beings whose flesh was charred and smoldered to remains that were passed around after lynchings as souvenirs?

Lynchings she attended with glee and joy, as she and the rabid mob consumed foods she had prepared for the festivaties of brutal carnage, foods to be eaten as if at some pincic, some party, some carnival of death?

What can the white woman say to the black woman?

When she has been spared the degradation that so many native women, black women, Asian women, Latina women suffered, because she was put upon the pedestal of white purity by the white man, so that he could pursue his most base desires in the rape and debasement of so many women of color?

What can the white woman say to the black woman?

Here is what the white woman can say to the black woman.

She can say I stood by for so long and watched the untold suffering of so many non-white people go unabated, century after century.

She can say I stayed silent, when I should have spoken up more often.

She can say I should have helped more than I hindered, I should have stood firm against anything that was told to me about my supposed frailty, fragility, and virtue, qualities that ALL women had, that all women had a right to have had acknowledged, and that I was not the only woman in the world who lived and walked this Earth, as there were other women who cried, who bled, who hungered, who thirsted, who lived, who died, just as I could.

Women who had just as much a right to BE in this world just as I had.

She can say I will now, finally, learn to follow, and stop belittling the accomplishments, the capabilities, the desires, the needs, the life experiences of women of color, because they too, have a story to be told, they too have validity and value in this world.

She can say that she never was in a position to be a leader, that she never had the right to have self-appointed herself as the final arbiter of what is and isn’t feminism, classism, or racism, that her’s was NOT the final voice on all things and issues that affected women and men of color.

She can say that when she was leading, she should have been following, where she could have put a stop to much of the cruelties of genocide, hatred, and decimation of native peoples the world over, she instead, stood by in silence and watched the world go down in madness from the legacy of slavery, imperialism, colonialism and destruction of all people and cultures non-white.

She can say I ask for forgiveness for all my indifference in the horror of all that non-white peoples have suffered in this world at not only the white man’s hands, but, also at my hands;

She can say I will work to free your people from the stultifying crippling effects of pollution let loose in your neighborhoods by way of dead animal incinerator plants, sewage treatment plants, and waste factories.

She can say that she will open wide the free access of education to all children; better health care for all citizens;

She will work hand-in-hand, with women of color to lower high infant mortality rates, rampant drug abuse, short life spans, inadequate sub-standard housing.

She will say that she will no longer be an impediment, an obstacle, a barrier to the fulfillment of more healthier lives of the children of women of color. She will accept that she should do for the childen of women of color that which she so easliy and freely does for her children, by looking at the children of women of color as a joy and not as a threat.

She will say that she will finally truly be a true sister to her darker sisters of color, by agreeing to listen to them and learn what she can from their wisdom, that she will cease trying to be the leader she never was, for she never understood where she was going.

She can say I will be content to sit, IN SILENCE, for 250 years, and meditate on this.

This is what the white woman can say to the black woman.

WE ARE LISTENING.

by ANN

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THE THINKING BLOGGER AWARD

Rachel of Rachel’s Tavern (http://www.rachelstavern.com) tagged me with five of her favourite not-so-well-known blogs that fight the good fight. I am returning the tag with my five favourite blogs that I think are great reads that promote lively discussion, and thought-provoking  consciousness and soul searching.

Here they are:

The Blog and the Bullet:  http://blogbullet.wordpress.com

Stephanie’s  Journal:  http://httpjournalsaoljenjer6steph.blogspot.com

The Angry Black Woman:  http://theangryblackwoman.wordpress,com

Yolanda Carrington:  http://www.genderracepower.com

 Woman of Color Blog:  http://brownfemipower.com

Kudos to all the great work these blogs do!

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CHICANA FEMINIST WRITINGS: ROOTS AND RESISTANCE

This comment was originally posted over at Yolanda Carrington’s blog,  http://www.genderracepower.com,  on January 4, 2007, under the post:   “Yolanda’s Politics Shift in a Major Direction”, on her website, “The Primary Contradiction.”

 Black women are not the only women whose well-being and thoughts are on my mind.

I do not want to forget the many other women of color who have suffered for so long in this world under white domination. Like black women, Latina, Asian, Native American, Australian Aboriginals, Pacific Islanders, Central and South American, and women at the top of the world, ALL  women have stories to tell.

 And it does not hurt to tell their side of the story.

 As one woman to another.

As one woman for another.

CHICANA FEMINIST WRITINGS:   ROOTS AND RESISTANCE

Chicana feminists have struggled and fought to find their voices in the world of feminism. Their struggle had been vastly ignored and rendered almost invisible. And it is a challenge for them to be heard and recognized for their part in the liberation of all women, as they too have a part and a voice in feminism that is uniquely theirs.

The political roots of Chicana feminism began in the 1960s and 1970s. These roots are based in a political knowledge of the historical emergence of the Chicano people and their connection to their Indian ancestry. It is also based on an understanding of 500 years of resistance, an understanding of contemporary aspects of class and race relations in America, particularly the American Southwest, known as Aztlan.

Much needed is an understanding of the Chicana outlook/dimension to assess the experiences of Chicanos and thus a perspective that is the intersection of race, class and gender.

STRUGGLING TO SPEAK

Contrary to people’s opinions of them, Chicanas were never passive nor entirely submissive to cultural restraints, yet these restraints did limit their voices. They were born into a culture of silence where they were to be seen, not heard. The religion of Catholicism brought to them by missionaries influenced many of their world views and taught them values of piety, humility and bearing their crosses in silence “for blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Consuelo Nieto noted:

“For the most part, the Church has assumed a traditional stance toward women. It has clearly defined the woman’s role as that of wife and mother, requiring obedience to one’s husband. . .

“Marianismo (veneration of the Virgin Mary) has had tremendous impact upon the development of the Chicana. Within many Chicana homes, La Virgen—under various titles, but especially as La Virgen de Guadelupe—has been the ultimate role model for the Chicana woman.

“Mary draws her worth and nobility from her relationship to her son, Jesus Christ. She is extolled as mother, as nurturer. She is praised for her endurance of pain and sorrow, her willingness to serve, and her role as teacher of her son’s word. She is the Queen of the Church.

“Some Chicanas are similarly praised as they emulate the sanctified example set by Mary. The woman par excellence la mother and wife. She is to love and support her husband and to nurture and teach her children. Thus may she gain fulfillment as a woman.”

When Chicana women sought to bring forth their voices in the women’s liberation movement, the feministas were told they were “anti-family, anti-cultural, anti-man and therefore, anti-Chicano movement.” Within the Chicano movement, Chicanas struggled for political equality and escape from the relegated tasks of dishwasher and secretaries. Similar to Stokely Carmichael’s statement that “the only position in the movement for women is prone”, Chicanas faced the same problems that black women faced in their quest for a more equal feminist outlook on class, race and gender struggle. A lot of Chicanas felt alienated, if not exploited by certain organizations of the Chicana movement in the types of jobs that she was being given or relegated to:

“When a freshman male comes to MECHA (Movimiento Estudiantil de Aztlan—a Chicano student organization in California), he is welcomed. He is taught by observation that the Chicanas are only useful in areas of clerical and sexual activities. When something must be done there is always a Chicana there to do the work. “It is her place and duty to stand behind and back up her Macho.”. . . Another aspect of the MACHO attitude is their lack of respect for Chicanas. They play their games, plotting girl against girl for their own benefit . . .They use the movement and Chicanismo to take her to bed. And when she refuses, she is a vendida (sell-out) because she is not looking after the welfare of her men.” (1)

It was an act of boldness for Chicanas to reject the role restrictions placed upon them and an even stronger step to address the “triple oppression” they face. Many Chicanas looked at the feminist movement in suspicion, viewing this search for identity as an “Anglo-bougeois trip”. Some confronted what they felt they had to decide what they valued more, the culture or the individual. A Chicana activist from New Mexico shared a similar experience:

“[In 1971] I was called a white woman for organizing a Las Chicanas group on the University of New Mexico campus. I was not only ostracized by men but by women. Some felt I would be dividing the existing Chicano group (the United Mexican-American Students, UMAS), some were simply afraid of displeasing the men, some felt that I was wrong and my ideas “white” and still others felt that their contribution to la Causa or El Movimiento was in giving the men moral support from the kitchen.” (2)

Chicana feminists articulated a support for political unity:

“While it is true that the unity of La Raza is the basic foundation of the Chicano movement, when Chicano men talk about maintaining La Familia and the “cultural heritage” of La Raza, they are in fact talking about maintaining the age-old concept of keeping the woman barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. On the basis of the subordination of women there can be no real unity. . . .The only real unity between men and women is the unity forged in the course of struggle against their oppression. And it is by supporting, rather than opposing, the struggles of women, that Chicanos and Chicanas can generally unite.” (3)

In the areas of health, Chicanas were acutely aware of the discrimination they faced:

“Anglo women contend with the cruel prejudice doctors have towards women patients. Chicanas must contend with doctor’s racism, insensitivity to the Chicano culture and the lack of bilingual medical staff. In addition, economics limit her choice of medical facilities to state and county health clinics which usually have inadequate health services. Depending on the availability of a bilingual volunteer among the patients, most doctors treat monolingual Spanish-speaking patients with less than adequate diagnosis.” (4)

The extent to which the law served the needs of Chicanas was also called into question by Chicana feminists. Del Castillo, for example, tells of a story of a Mexican woman who was in the process of divorcing her husband when he broke into her house and raped her. She took her case to court but found that because she couldn’t speak English she faced a situation of ridicule in which the lawyers and the judge laughed at her:

“That’s an insult to me as a Mexican woman and to that woman and to all Chicanos because here is a Mexican woman who is hoping that she can depend on the law, on the judge, to set this matter straight and he laughs at her in addition to which he admonishes her and tells her off for not knowing English. Furthermore, he wanted her to pay him, the husband, damages when he raped her in front of her children! So is there in fact any justice, or does racism impede justice for us?” (5)

The experience of Chicana prisoners was also an issue for ChicanA feminists. An article entitled “Chicanas in Prison” appeared in the “Regeneracion” in 1975 (Madrid), and another appeared in “Encuentro Femenil” in 1974 entitled “La Pinta: The Myth of Rehabilitation.”

Chicanas wrote about sexual stereotypes (Gonzalez 1973; Suarez 1973) and the “Chicana: The Forgotten Woman” (Delgado 1971). Bernice Rincon wrote “La Chicana: Her Role in the Past and Her Search for a New Role in the Future”.

The working class perspective of many Chicana feminists led them to an analysis of Chicana employment issues and labor struggles. Anna Nieto-Gomez wrote “Chicanas in the Labor Force” (1974). A 1971 volume of “Regeneracion” contained a testimonial by Maria Moreno, an agricultural worker. She entitled her statement, “I’m Talking for Justice.”

CHICANA WRITINGS:   1975-1981

Chicana feminists continued to write about feminism. Rita Sanchez addressed the development of the Chicana voice in “Chicana Writer Breaking Out of Silence” (1977). In 1977, Martha Cotera published “Chicana Feminist”, which was a collection of essays she had written between 1970 and 1977. Martina Cruz “Essays on La Mujer”, (1977).

The combination of these and other writings established four major points:

1. The Chicana is not inherently passive—nor is she what the stereotypes say she is;
2. She has a history rooted in a legacy of struggle;
3. Her history and her contemporary experiences can only be understood in the context of race and class analysis;
4. The Chicana is in the best position to describe and define her own reality.

Writing by the Chicana, by its very act, is a rebellious move against a traditionally imposed silence; a rebellion against other’s definitions of who she is and what she should be.

The result was a new Chicana. In Chicana poetry, “La Nueva Chicana”, is captured in a poem by Viola Correa:

“Hey,
See that lad protesting against injustice,
Es mi Mama.
That girl in the brown beret,
The one teaching the chidren,
She’s my hermana.
Over there fasting with the migrants,
Es mi tia.
These are the women who worry,
Pray, iron
And cook chile y tortillas.
The lady with forgiving eyes
And the gentle smile,
Listen to her shout.
She knows what hardship is all about
All about.
The establishment calls her
A radical militant.
The newspapers read she is
A dangerous subversive
They label her name to condemn her.
By the F.B.I. she’s called
A big problem.
In Aztlan we call her
La Nueva Chicana.”

THE STRUGGLE TO BE HEARD

To declare themselves was one thing. To be heard was another.That struggle still continues and it is tied to a past which had to create elaborate mechanisms to channel their voices. The National Association for Chicano Studies, formed in 1972, brought together Chicana scholars “in order to encourage a type of research which it felt could play a key part in the political actualization of the total Chicano community” (from the Preamble). The most notable example was the panel at the 1982 National Conference organized by Mujeres en Marcha from the University fo California, Berkeley.

Interestingly, some of the same issues discussed were prevalent during the seventies, in particular the notion that Chicanas were divisive and duped by the “white women.” The men did not like the way the women raised issues. Women responded with considering the men as “stepping on their toes.” Some of the discussion centered around whether Chicanas should be shaking up the status quo and causing conflict or whether they should have refrained and thus avoided the defensivness and discomfort of the men. While many of the men of the NACS were resistant to those issues, those who were present were at least making an effort to engage in dialogue with the women in confronting the issue of sexism in the Latino community.

Ironically, while women in NACS were insisting on the distinction between their feminism and that of white women, women of color were faced with the racism and class discrimination at the annual National Women’s Studies Association and within the association in general. In 1982 Chela Sandoval wrote a report on behalf of the Women of Color who attended the 1981 NWSA conference. The group called themselves the National Third World Women’s Alliance and the report was entilted “Feminism and Racism: A Report on the National Women’s Studies Association Conference”. (6)

While NWSA and the women’s movement in general had been fraught with contradictions and limitations for women of color, many had hoped that this conference would make possible a dialogue to deal with the many differences. But there was dissent and internal turmoil between the women of color and the white women.

On the fourth day of the conference, the Third World women initiated a coalition meeting with an equal number of white women—nearly two hundred women altogether. The enthusiastic meeting resulted in the following resolution:

“This has been a racist conference in its structure, organization, and individual interaction despite its theme. Be it resolved. . .next year’s conference be organized around the same theme, with the leadership of Third World women, in cooperation with NWSA organizers, and that the location of the next conference be changed from another rural area, Humboldt, California, to a place more accessible to Third World women, such as Los Angeles.” (6)

According to Sandoval, “The coalition’s resolutions were met with a great deal of irritation” and that for many, “the issue of racism was worn to the bone.”

“By the last assembly meeting most delegates were ready to move onto, as they called it, “more pressing issues.” The continued “haranguing” by the Third World delegates was seen as “idiosyncratic,” “selfish,” and as “unnecessarily divisive to the movement.” The resolution was not passed.In spite of the one successful coalition, by the end of the conference the division between the Third World and white women had become intensified and cemented with antagonism. It was an ironic ending to a movement conference on racism.” (6)

The same problems continued at the NWSA conference in 1990 with a mass walkout of women of color. The 1981 conference, however, was significant for what had become a women of color alliance among Chicana, Black, Puerto Rican, Asian and Native American women.

White feminist theory which often excludes the life experiences of women of color, functions as a prevailing theme. Dominant discourses generally fail to allow for and accept the differences of different viewpoints that women of color can bring to the table. Chela Sandoval, calls this “academic apartheid”, “methodology of the oppressed”, and “hegemonic feminism” and juxtaposes it with “U.S. Third World feminism.” Third world feminists object to hegemonic feminism’s sole focus on gender, always at the exclusion of the just as important realms of race, class and culture. “Ain’t I a woman” is a question that women of color have been asking since Sojourner Truth first raised this question with the white suffragists of her time. The racial conflict of the suffragette movement of the 19th Century (and the 20TH Century) happened because of the priviledged position of white women to white men, and the jockeying for social/and economic acceptance of white men in positions of power alongside, if not completely equal to white men, by white women, a factor that still continues to plague, and influence race relations between white women and women of color.

This “oppositional consciousness”, in that white feminists present an opposition to the varied aspects of Chicana feminism (race, gender, class), leads to a repression and disregard for the experiences of Chicanas, and, serves as a basis for Chicanas alliances with other women of color (Black, Asian, Native American).

Chicana women have confronted many issues that have affected them in their lives. Racism, sexism, classism, to name just a few. These and other concerns have served as the basis of not only Chicana activism but also of the further development of Chicana writings. In light of the many struggles to speak and be heard, it is a great triumph that Chicanas have continued to speak and have continued to develop a rich collection of poetry, literature, humanities and social science writings.

The benefits are there for those who wish to discover them. For those who wish to seek them out.

REFERENCES:

1. Mirta Vidal, “Chicanas Speak Out. Women: New Voice of La Raza” in “Feminism and Socialism.” ed. Linda Jenness. New York: Pathfinder P, pp. 48-57.

2. Jennie V.Chavez, “Women of the Mexican-American Movement.” Mademoiselle (April) 1972, pg. 82.

3. Mirta Vidal, “New Voice of La Raza: Chicanas Speak Out.” In “International Socialist Review,” October, 1971, pp. 79, 31-33.

4. Anna Nieto-Gomez, “La Feminista.” “Encuentro Femenil”, 1974. 1.2:34-37

5. Adelaida R. Del Castillo, “La vision chicana.” “La Gente de Aztlan” (UCLA), Vol. 4, No. 4 (March): 8-10.

6. Chela Sandoval, “Methodology of the Oppressed”. University of Minnesota Press (October 2000).

ALSO:

Chela Sandoval, “The Chicano Studies Reader: An Anthology of Aztlan, 1970-2000 (Aztlan Anthology Series, V. 2), et. al. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Publications (November 2001).

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